2020-12-07 4 min read


Notes, 2020-12-07.

In the interest of holding myself accountable - and, presumably, in the interest of transparency - a few of the things I *really* want to get done before the end of the year:

  • Setting up a semi-proper woodworking area in The Prepared’s workshop, which requires some light electrical work, a little construction, and a huge vinyl strip door to be installed.
  • Building a table saw outfeed & woodworking bench a la Ron Paulk, but with some industrial-ish flair (the plywood sawhorses are clever, but not super convenient for my purposes).
  • Setting up this newsletter’s guest writing calendar for 2021, a task I’m now about a week behind on and which would benefit from your feedback, if you’ve got any.
  • Making a lightweight but reusable crate for our assembly house to ship The Public Radio’s PCBAs down to us in NYC - something I finally started hacking on last week.
  • Finishing up an essay I began in April - the completion of which would validate the idea that, yes, writing is indeed an important part of my professional life.

This is, of course, way too much work to squeeze into three weeks; I hope you all are planning a little more realistically than I am :)

-Spencer Wright

The most clicked link from last week's issue (~22% of opens) was the hori hori, but honestly you should just browse all of our favorite tools of 2020 if you missed it.

On the Members' Slack this week, we're choosing the book for our next reading group. Options include The Toyota Way, Behemoth, The Perfectionists, and The Death and Life of Great American Cities.

Planning & Strategy.

  • Design for redesignability (DFR) is the practice of assuming that your contract manufacturer will redesign anything you send them anyway, so you may as well leave some of the details vague. It’s apparently common in the toy industry, where the volume of injection molded parts is high and tooling cost is too.
  • An evocative and informative (some good engineering minutiae here) cultural history of plexiglass. “Pandemic plexiglass is deployed as part of a preventative, conservative practice, a means of maintaining social and biological order that, in turn, promises epidemiological and economic resilience. Yet the plexi shields and hoods are little more than the architectural equivalents of hydroxychloroquine, snake oil neatly packaged in capsules and vials — jury-rigged shells mocked up so that we can keep working and consuming and pretending that social space hasn’t split open at its long-deepening fault lines; that the worker on the far side of the screen isn’t standing there all day, at risk. These anti-glare barriers allow us to look right through to a seemingly familiar quotidian, denying the need for long-haul adaptation. They’re a temporary accommodation, like an umbrella, to be put away when the sun comes out again.”

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

  • Korean Air’s stop-motion LEGO video showing their COVID cleaning operations.
  • Two video angles of the Arecibo telescope’s collapse, synchronized.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


Capsized cargo ship sawed in sections with an enormous chain.

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