Friday, September 19, 2014

Chile, blueprints — and a car for each one

As it's traditional already, more poor pictures. This time coming from my brother's phone. Let's pretend we are still on the 90s, ok?

That's my dad's house. Around 2000 square meters on the side of a hill. It's not very sunny but we hope we can grow some veggies anyway. There are several fruit trees on the empty right side of the terrain that give fruits every year, but they could use some pruning and caring.

My dad lives alone there, and he's getting older by the day. Two years ago he got lung cancer. The chemo worked and he's still living well... but you never know. That's another reason on the list to move back to Chile. (Amongst the others, low population density, fresh water supplies, olives and avocados growing locally... plus all the advantages of underdevelopment.)

For a few years I've been wanting to do something different than science. I don't particularly fancy sitting all day in front of computers. It was fun for a few years, but you cannot live like that. We came to Graz as an intermezzo... saving some money and then moving somewhere else. We didn't have it clear a year ago. Long-story short, after 3 months or so we decided that Europe was not the place to be anymore.

I came 6 years ago or so, to Holland. It was a nice change from Chile, and not only because of the constant rain.

A small political parenthesis.

In 1973, there was a coup in Chile and Pinochet came int power. That is, Milton Friedman, the chicago guy, came to rule the imagination of the Chileans. A tv in each living room and a car in front of each door. That was the promise Pinochet told us, while torturing and killing was going on not so secretly.

Historically,  Chile was the first place in the world where the neoliberal politics came to be implemented in such a complete and total way. The water of Chile is privatized, try to picture that. This was before Reagan and Thatcher. As I like to say, we Chileans come from the future.

So, I finished my degree in physics, realized I was not so stupid, and sent a mail to a professor in Holland to apply for a PhD. We met in Brazil in a conference, talked a bit, and done, to Amsterdam the tickets. Not quite so. I ended up in Enschede, pretty much the farthest from amsterdam you can be in Holland.

It was before austerity, and the bail out of the banks, and Greece, and Spain and the 50% of unemployment of the european youth. It was nice. Plenty of parties, bikes and cash. Yeah man, this is how democracy looks like. Development. All the nice things we wanted to be in Chile were true here. I imagined that all the germans were talking about hegel each time they spoke german amongst them, so little I knew about the world.

Then, what it was bound to happen happened.

Let's summarize that under the name of Brussels.

So, Brussels happened and Europe sank. I would say it sinks exponentially, and each year, it sinks more than in the previous 10 years, accumulated.

And Chile was again on my face. Neo-liberalism applied to every sphere of the human. There is no place to hide.

If everywhere is the same, at least in Chile I don't need to pay rent and I can work if I want as a carpenter — nobody will ask me there for a visa. And if I liked so much that social-democrat life of the good old holland, why not try to build it over there? The good living is not something you have access to just by changing your country, it's something that you build with your own hands.

That's pretty much it.

Of course I will miss the beautiful doors, the architecture, the old Boyle and Lorch lathes...   but they are remnants of ways of life long ago gone. And maybe it's fine like that. Maybe that path is closed because it ended up in what we are now. The same with Japan of the Edo period. There was something lacking in that way of life that made it succumb to techno capitalism, just like everywhere else (except perhaps of Bolivia, those women don't care about anything).

Anyway, the picture of the top shows what is going to be my workshop once in Chile: the small two squares next to the upper top entrance. (My dad lives on the upper house, we will live on the lower house. There is a swimming pool btw). They are already too old and need to make them again, so I will build some Neojapanesechilean timber frame structure, the walls out of clay and straw.

I have the workbench almost done over there (and also a few planes):

Yes indeed, the top is not wide enough. I wanted to make a shorter top (had enough wood for that) but while making the bench I was also making a handrail for my mother's stairs and the extra lenght came handy.

The legs come from a bench that my dad had made a few years ago, that's why there is no dovetail on the front of the leg, maybe I glue a piece later. It anyway works, and the top looks awesome. It's some kind of mahogany from peru I got for 50 euros, wide and straight grain, we don't have so many wide trees in Chile, and peru is a quite close, hence the wood is cheap.

Anyway, back on topic, I have to design the workshop, and for that I will start posting here the design. Since I'm horrible at drawing, I only use 2D diagrams, more like engineering drawing than carpentry. I found in "The Complete Japanese Joinery" that they do something similar.

This is a house:

For the sake of simplicity, that is. And this is how you draw the members, say the vertical one at A1

Easy peasy. That's a post with a square tenon, 2 mortices and a notch in the middle. Just an example, but you get the idea. 64 of these, and you get a house. Or at least that's the theory. I like it because it's simple and everything is numbered unequivocally — as long as you plan enough, and follow your plan, your house should build itself.  

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