Assuming I get some un-interrupted quality time and a bit of relief from my financial woes, the following is a list (in no particular order) of things I would like to accomplish before I depart this mortal coil.
I had an idea of how to build a tubular house, using pre-cast concrete sections. When completed, the structure could be partially covered with earth, to so minimize its presence and to maximize green space. Only three forms are needed to build any desired arrangement of rooms and it is tempting to try a model, but I expect the best way to visualize it would be as a rendering in AutoCAD. I'll need to brush up on my skills there, before I make the attempt. Any local CAD gurus about??
I've invented a new kind of staircase. I know: how many ways can you gain altitude in a house, but this is neat in the way it stows and deploys. I'll need some help and some financial backing to pull this one off but I think that a working model would be quite do-able so I'll push in that direction. It would be a perfect adjunct to the tubular house idea.
I would like to build an Art Car. To that end I am looking for a "beater", i.e. a car or truck that looks like hell but that is mechanically reasonably sound.
I've designed a small aquatic vehicle that can do what the "Flip Ship" does. My proposed vehicle would be between 30 and 40ft in length and have outboard engines for power. The central hull would have a diameter of approx. 4ft and when the vehicle was semi-submerged it would allow the "driver" a view of the ocean at a depth of approx. 25ft. It has occurred to me that such a project would be a major time and money-sucker and I really don't have the space to build it in any case. Therefore I want to build a 1/12 scale model using as many off-the-shelf components as possible. Using PVC pipe and other plastic fittings it should be possible to whack out a 3-D mock-up in a couple of months.
I had a wild idea that it might be neat to set up a series of workshops, available to the public, at intervals along major highways. These facilities would be like the old missions which were located a day's horseback ride apart, but using modern equivalents and assuming population densities they would be, say, in every city with a population of more than thus and so or an hour's drive from smaller communities. The "monks" would be replaced by experienced volunteers. Expenses would be covered by royalties from successful products that owed their beginnings to these facilities. The idea is that when someone has a "brilliant idea", they could go somewhere and have access to the tools needed to whack out a prototype.
I want to buy a used RV (a reasonably priced little 22- or 24-footer), grab the critters and my sweetie, and travel about the western United States for a month or so, visiting distant friends. I would like to take a laptop computer with me to document the trip but the way things are going I think I'll have to take along my old IBM Selectric instead...
I want to start a museum of mechanical contraptions off the beaten path, in a renovated barn not too close to a major city and not too far from a hamlet. I would put there loaned stuff from many of the collectors, restorers and users of mechanical contrivances, as well as my growing collection of same. Clocks, hit-and-miss engines, steam engines, etc: all would be fair game. The idea would be to set up something like the East coast's great Owls Head Transportation Museum, scaled back enough so as to be do-able by an individual of modest means.
I want to set up a bar and restaurant on the Moon. I want to spend my declining years in 1/6 gravity, providing the best culinary experience away from "home" for weary astronauts who by then should be busy building the dream that we once all shared.
I want to live past my 1,000th birthday. I want to survive the decay of my mortal remains through the use of cybernetic prostheses, as they become available. I suspect that if I live to do so I will eventually resemble something out of a horror movie, but design engineering could conquer those little cosmetic problems in time.
I would like to do a number of pieces for Art/Life magazine and in fact I have several projects in the works. The trick, of course, is having the time to carry them through...
I have an idea of how to build a "one-design" car-toppable steamboat. It has a modular power plant that could be transported separate from the hull, in the back of a station wagon. Two people could assemble the vessel and launch it from a pier, without the need of a launching ramp or a trailer for transport. I would like to get a prototype in the water before the end of this century.
Although the knack of reading and understanding musical notation has eluded me forever, I have a yen to learn how to play a musical instrument. The cello makes pleasing sounds and I would like to take a whack at it. Haven't a clue as to where to go to get started, though...
I want to build a high-speed poppet-valve steam engine. There are two groups I know of who are building high speed steam vessels for the express purpose of breaking the world's longest-standing speed record, i.e. that of a boat driven by a reciprocating steam engine, which has stood unchallenged for nearly a century. Although I don't believe I could break any records, I have a yen to go a bit faster than 7mph, my vessel's top speed. To date, the fastest steamboat in the California Delta that I know of achieved a mere 11mph and I believe that an enclosed-crankcase short-stroke steam engine could perhaps double that number.
I want to build a ball run kinetic sculpture, one with ramps, bells, spinning gizmos and all the trimmings. I have been very impressed not only by the workings of these, but by the workmanship that is done to produce these marvels. They are simplistic, but in a minimalist and elegant manner that appeals to my machinist aesthetic.
Goals I have actually accomplished
In 1999 I finally managed to move to Northern California, to a place with more elbow room than I had in Santa Barbara. I traded a 2,100 sq. ft. house on a 1/3 acre lot. for a 1,600 sq.ft. house on nearly 2 acres. Although the house is tight, the shop is not. In the old digs my shop was broken up into a bunch of task-specific sheds; all of them pretty tight and none of them heated. Now I have a place with a good sized workshop of perhaps 1,000 sq. ft. for machining, welding and woodworking; a seperate medium-sized shop for electronics and a 400 sq. ft. shed for all of the crap that would otherwise pile up under and on workbenches. I finally have a 200 ft. setback from a quiet dead end road, with an entrance that allows safe passage in and out for a vehicle towing a boat trailer and the driveway is big enough to turn the rig around and park the boat as well. The neighborhood is doggie friendly and the meadow is fenced. So far I haven't had to pay any bribes to the local politicoes and the local constabulary leaves me alone.