The AFTERLIFE EPITAPH – Mar. 30th, 2009 #19, Vol.1

“Better late than never.” Does that excuse this issue being late?

I’ll file that with, “it’s not the destination  — it’s the journey!”

After a week of Spring Break with my kids in lovely Scottsdale, we had to depart. Giving us three days to drive 1,400 miles, I never dreamed that snow and wind would destroy our SPRING Break! After about 400 miles through a desert blooming with flowers and green mountains, we arrived in Alburquerque to a flashing sign that warned us the highway was closed from the edge of the city to the Texas border. We found a motel and watched the Weather Channel, seeing that Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas were also having a wonderful end of days due to snow and wind. I joked we were going to just live in Albuquerque. God didn’t care for that quip.

We awoke to find that the highway was still closed, so genius that I am, I decided to head south and swing through the lower secondary roads. They were closed. Further south we went, through towns with three buildings and two people. I suppose when we found ourselves crossing the “Trinity Site” (the patch of New Mexico desert where they tested the first atomic bomb) it was obvious we were off the beaten path.

We did get to see the “Smokey The Bear” monument, a lava field and the town of Old Lincoln where fans of “Young Guns” were posing for pictures in front of the Tunstil shop. It was time to decide if we should continue east on the small roads and into Texas or swing north, back to highway 40. Opting for a nice, smooth, radiation and lava-free road, we swung north to find the highway was now closed at the Texas border. Yet another night in New Mexico and a 400 mile jaunt to move 200 miles down the road from Albuquerque.

The next morning brought even more problems. The Santa Anna winds were blowing so hard I couldn’t get the car past 50MPH in the headwind and my youngest son’s case of gas made us wonder if opening the windows to brave the wind was a fair exchange. Dusk brought new challenges as the dashboard lights in my car decided to die on the eve of the next day when no Toyota dealer would be open. A pen light served to let me know I wasn’t redlining the engine and when the magic gas-go juice was all gone.

But, as with all travels, there was an end. The diarrhea dried up, we arrived home and slept for many wonderful hours in our own beds and the local car dealership will fix my dashboard lights tomorrow. Next year these will all be fun stories, or therapy will have wiped them from my memory.


Quotes from the deceased

“It’s at the borders of pain and suffering that the men are separated from the boys.”
 ~ Emil Zatopek


Eulogy for The AFTERLIFE

“The e-mail looks great Jon, as does the blog. It’s interesting to have such long posts rather than 100 individual items. Will look forward to seeing how your comments develop.” – Anthony Pafford, JellyPop

Anthony, we get a lot of e-mail, rather than posts, but our spam filter is catching more and more these days. I guess it’s a form of success!? – JS


Pod people!

Believe it or not, the modern cargo carrier, loaded on ships by the hundreds of thousands (millions, dare I say without research?), have only been in their present form for about five decades. Well, one of the finest and most innovative uses of recycling and green technology, those old containers are making a splash as housing and building materials.


While a number of resourceful people have converted shipping containers into make-shift shelters at the margin of society for years, architects and green designers are also increasingly turning to the strong, cheap boxes as source building blocks.

Shipping containers can be readily modified with a range of creature comforts and can be connected and stacked to create modular, efficient spaces for a fraction of the cost, labor, and resources of more conventional materials.


De Maria Design Redondo Beach House

With its modern lines and appealing spaces, the award-winning Redondo Beach House by De Maria Design, turns heads. The luxury beach-side showpiece was built from eight prefabricated, recycled steel shipping containers, along with some traditional building materials. According to the architects, the modified containers are “nearly indestructible,” as well as resistant to mold, fire, and termites. Seventy percent of the building was efficiently assembled in a shop, saving time, money, and resources.

One of the containers can even sport a pool! The lessons learned from Redondo Beach House are being incorporated into a line of more affordable, accessible designs, soon available as Logical Homes.


London’s Container City

Conceived by Urban Space Management, London’s Container City first sprang up in the heart of the Docklands in 2001. It took just five months to complete the original 12 work studios, at a height of three stories. Shortly after that a fourth floor of studios and living apartments was added.

Container City was designed to be low cost, as well as environmentally friendly. Recycled materials made up 80% of building supplies. Architect Nicholas Lacey and partners and engineer Buro Happold used component pieces to build up adaptable living and work spaces.


Container City II

Container City I was a success, and in2002, Urban Space Management added an addition, dubbed Container City II. Reaching five stories high, Container City II is connected to its earlier iteration via walkways. It also boasts an elevator and full disabled access, as well as 22 studios.



Need some flexibility with security? Need a temporary structure or small vacation home? Going off the grid? The Port-a-Bach system from New Zealand’s Atelier Workshop might be a good fit.

Costing around $55,000, Port-a-Bach sleeps two adults and two children comfortably, in a dwelling that folds up into a fully enclosed steel shell. It comes with large internal storage cupboards and shelves; a stainless steel kitchen; bathroom with shower, sink and composting toilet; bunk beds and dressing room. Fabric screens allow you to shape internal space, as well as shelter the outdoor deck area.

Bach (pronounced Batch) is Kiwi slang for “Bachelor Pad,” and refers to the many small cabins that dot the famously picturesque country.


Cove Park Artists’ Retreat

Set on 50 acres of gorgeous Scottish countryside, Cove Park is an artist’s retreat designed to stimulate and reinvigorate. Urban Space Management first brought in three repurposed shipping containers in 2001, and the center became so popular that more units have been added.

Doesn’t look like your average shipping box, does it?


All Terrain Cabin

Canada’s Bark Design Collective built the All Terrain Cabin (ATC) as a showcase for sustainable (and Canadian!) ingenuity. The small home is based on a standard shipping container, and is said to be suitable for a family of four, plus a pet, to live off the grid in comfort and style.

The cabin folds up to look like any old shipping container, and can be sent via rail, truck, ship, airplane, or even helicopter. When you’re ready to rest your bones, the cabin quickly unfolds to 480 square feet of living space, with a range of creature comforts.


The Ecopod

Another container home designed for on- or off-grid living is the Ecopod. Made from a shipping container, an electric winch is used to raise and lower the heavy deck door (power is supplied by a solar panel). The floor is made from recycled car tires, and the walls have birch paneling (over closed-cell soya foam insulation). The glass is double paned to slow heat transfer.

The Ecopod can be used as a stand alone unit or with other structures. It is designed to minimize environmental impact.


Adam Kalkin Quik House

Want your own container house? There’s a six-month waiting list for the Quik House by architect Adam Kalkin, who is based in New Jersey. The distinctive Quik House comes in a prefabricated kit, based on recycled shipping containers (in fact a completed house is about 75% recycled materials by weight).

The standard Quik House offers 2,000 square feet, three bedrooms and two and one-half baths, though larger options are also available. The shell assembles within just one day, and all the interior details can be finished within about three months.

The Quik House comes in two colors (orange or natural rust bloom), and the estimated total cost, including shipping and assembly, is $184,000. You can add even greener options such as solar panels, wind turbines, a green roof, and additional insulation (to R-50).


LiNX Temporary Structures

Dublin-based designer, Richard Barnwall, envisioned this design, dubbed the LiNX as a temporary structure for construction workers. The two-storey model pictured is to be comprised of four 20-foot containers. Such designs offer flexibility and rapid deployment, and may even work for more permanent homes.

daily_green_news-430094226-1237326360Ross Stevens House

Industrial designer Ross Stevens built this distinctive house in Wellington, New Zealand. Repurposed shipping containers form an intriguing contrast to the surrounding hill. In fact, the unique home makes use of the hill itself, expanding interior space beyond the containers.

Parts of the Ross Stevens house are surprisingly spacious and comfortable. There’s even a cool table made from a repurposed door.


Student Housing Project Keetwonen, Amsterdam

Billed as the largest container city in the world, Amsterdam’s massive Keetwonan Complex houses 1,000 students, many of whom are happy to secure housing in the city’s tight real estate market. Designed by Tempo Housing in 2006, Keetwonen is said to be a roaring success, with units that are well insulated, surprisingly quiet and comfortable.

Each resident enjoys a balcony, bathroom, kitchen, separate sleeping and studying rooms, and large windows. The complex has central heating and high speed Internet, as well as dedicated bike parking.

Keetwonen has proved so popular that its lease has been extended until at least 2016.


Site-Specific Exhibition

Site-Specific and Buatalah Studio were asked to design a green building exhibition for Baan Lae Suan Fair in Bangkok. They came up with a design for a family of three, made out of four reused shipping containers and prefabricated modules. The home reuses graywater and incorporates spaces for growing food.

For more “green homes”


Kill me before I try these!

Bubble gum cocktail wieners. There’s nothing that mentions if they are wiener-flavored. I once tried pickle-flavored gum. I’ve been sick to my stomach for many years since.



I was just kidding!

I’ll try the damn wiener gum but I don’t know if this is just an art piece or a sick (although innovative) way of making a buck from these tough economic times. A one-shot, backward suicide revolver. The AFTERLIFE would like to remind readers that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Makes a perfect gift for your AIG agent.




Aw! Shoot, that’s cute

These plush guns and war themed stuffies from the French artist and designer James Lassey are innovatively weird.

My only real concern is if anyone were to mistake the rifle for the real thing which, of course, would lead to you having a less than brilliant day.


His website on doudoupop is well worth checking out for more examples of his dark, macabre and yet funny designs.


Hard to swallow?

It’s a sexyful, delicious, weird.


Violenta fashionistas!

Portuguese retailers Clothes in Closets got inspired by that idea that some shoppers can be brutal when it comes to sales. In order to promote their big sales, the result was a shopping bag that comes with built-in badass brass knuckles for handles.

The message is clear—the store has sales that are good enough to get into a fight over.

The creative campaign was created by Leo Burnett (Lisbon, Portugal).




Wearable websites

If you have a company website, this is the ultimate marketing tool—if you don’t mind total strangers scanning you with their camera phones. When a cell phone scans an “Extended Identity” T-shirts, it will visit the coordinating website. The shirts feature a datamatrix barcode, known as a “tag.” Using a mobile phone camera, a person can take a photo of the tag which is read by software on the phone. From there, it launches a browser and takes you to the website.

The shirt can be customized to link to any website, social networking page, photo, video or music file. That includes Facebook and MySpace, as well as Augme’s own profiles which are designed with mobile-viewing in mind.

In Japan, reading barcodes using a mobile phone camera has been common for a long time. There, people regularly access websites and exchange contact information using printed barcodes that can be found in classified ads, on billboards and business cards. Increasingly, barcode-reading software is being installed on mobiles in Europe and North America. That includes the Nokia N93, N93i, N95 and E90. For phones without built-in barcode reading software, a free download is available at The application lets users find free tag-reading software for particular phones. 


I see 3D

A company using a technology developed over 10 years ago by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology allows it to make anything from a computer-aided design plan and turn it into a 3D product.

Early this year at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas, MetalTec Innovations, a division of Irwin-based ProMetal/Ex One Company, let visitors see what their finished product looked like after it has seemingly been cast in metal.

In this case the unique process is much quicker, doing in about 10 hours what traditional casting methods took from weeks to months to do.

What’s the criteria for being able to make a product? If it can be scanned as a virtual object, it can be made.

Because potential customers have had a hard time figuring out what the technology could do, the company focused on hardware to begin with and has moved into other products as people see their finished work.

Using a revolutionary printing process, artists there are able to take any computer-aided design plan and — in a perfect marriage of art and math — turn it into a solid, three-dimensional product.




Let there be light!

If you’re like me and thinking tidying up means stuffing everything inside drawers, boxes or toilet tanks, you need Chong Mingliang Sky’s fantastic USB key-holder. The design acknowledges that important things like keys should have a designated place. The holder comes with five matching USB keys, each with its own keychain attachment. Once plugged in, the flame-shaped LED above it lights, giving the appearance of candles from a distance.



Spruce up your debt maker!

Dress up your credit cards with these self adhesive stickers from Charles & Marie. The stickers don’t cover up your name or credit card number, just the standard art-by-bank portion.



LEGO (Lethally Edged Gouging Object)

Remember playing with Lego as a kid? You no doubt looked at photos of great Lego houses, cars, and neat contraptions that you desperately wanted to recreate—perhaps you even dreamed of creating your own Lego weapons, too. Now you can build all the neat things you wanted to—it’s time to relive your youth! An automatic Lego gun would have put a whole new spin on kindergarten. A former Lego Manager and former Lego Designer have released an insider how-to book; surely they must be living underground now to avoid the Lego hit teams looking for them.

Two ex LEGO employees, Ulrik Pilegaard (senior designer) and Mike Dooley (Mindstorms boss), have written a book about LEGO hacking. Forbidden LEGO is full of dangerous projects which break the LEGO house rules, from the “High Velocity Automatic Lego Plate Dispenser” to the “Candy Coated Catapult.” In fact, breaking rules and folding non-lego objects into the mix are so important that each project has a “LEGO Rules Broken” list.




These are the times to “LEGO” of conventional thinking. Innovation is the key to success in the current climate of fear and loathing when it comes to change. So, we say change brings dollars. Make cents?

Jonathan Schneider – Archangel of Creativity



2 Responses to “The AFTERLIFE EPITAPH – Mar. 30th, 2009 #19, Vol.1”

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