Tag Archives: How-To

cranderson enterprises accELeration speedcrutches

I knew since December last year, when I ripped my anterior cruciate ligament clear off my femur and tore my meniscus a bit, that I’d need a surgical operation to fix it. Just after arriving back in Vancouver from the DR Congo in March this year, my surgery date was finally given to me: April 10th, 2012 at UBC Hospital. I knew then that I had only a limited time to create… the fastest crutches ever.

In order to do this, I first carried out many (fractions of) hours of rigorous scientific research online (Google Image search function) to find the best idea someone else had come up with, then do something completely different.

One guy I found in my research had added a beer holder to his crutches to make them faster. Unfortunately, his design doesn’t take into account the S factor (shaking of beer) which means that a closed beer, in his crutches and travelling at the speeds at which such speedy crutches must travel on a daily basis, could easily explode — or at least lose a lot of its carbonation. Not good for mouthfeel. Anyways, I hadn’t the time to devise an ingenious gyroscopic sling system to keep a beer from over-shaking while held by a crutch moving at supersonic speeds, so in the end I didn’t use any of his engineering ideas (I may do so in the future, however).

Crutch beer holder. Photo copyright: Claire Howell, http://www.flickr.com/people/midwestbass/

(photo copyright: Claire Howell, http://www.flickr.com/people/midwestbass/)

I also found a young lady’s detailed instructions on how she made her crutches faster, including the mathematical calculations she used. Unlike the beer holder crutches, I could find no engineering flaw in her design – it’s clear that her crutch land speed greatly increased once she modified them; plus, she even got compliments on the design from passers-by. Much like designing the Koenigsegg Agera R, it’s very difficult to build something that is both incredibly fast and also aesthetically pleasing, but some people seem to have that gift. A number of the engineering concepts found in her pink rhinestone-studded crutches have been adapted to include in my design, although in order to protect my trade secrets I cannot tell you which of these elements I’ve incorporated.

Pink rhinestone crutches. Photo copyright: Katie Brown, http://downtownkatiebrown.blogspot.ca/

(photo copyright: Katie Brown, http://downtownkatiebrown.blogspot.ca/)

A quick warning to those who aim to create their own, faster-than-slow crutches, when doing rigorous scientific research online: There are numerous companies selling so-called crutch “covers” and “accessories” to make your crutches look faster, but I guarantee you that they do just that: they make your crutches look faster. They will not increase your crutch land speed in any way; they might even slow you down!

Now, having explained all of this to you, I hereby present: the cranderson enterprises world premiere of accELeration speedcrutches, the fastest fully homologated, zero-emission high-visibility speedcrutches ever designed.

Features include:

  • Super speed
  • Amazing acceleration
  • Very quick
  • Make you go faster

Before and after photos:

Before: regular crutches
After: black cranderson accELeration speedcrutches
Before: regular crutches
After: black cranderson accELeration speedcrutches
Before: regular crutches
After: black cranderson accELeration speedcrutches
Before: regular crutches
After: black cranderson accELeration speedcrutches
Before: regular crutches
After: black cranderson accELeration speedcrutches

The EL wire bits I needed to make my crutches faster, from the Vancouver Hackspace:

EL wire supplies from the Vancouver Hackspace

The result of all this hard work? accELeration speedcrutches with the kitchen light on:

accELeration speedcrutches with light on

accELeration speedcrutches with the kitchen light off:

accELeration speedcrutches with light off

Two studio close-ups of the accELeration speedcrutches:

close-up of accELeration speedcrutches
close-up of accELeration speedcrutches

Yours truly showing off the crazy speed of these super fast accELeration speedcrutches:

cranderson accELeration speedcrutches (EL wire crutches) in use

A video of the fastest recorded crutchrun in history, using cranderson accELeration speedcrutches, can be viewed by clicking here.

How-To: The Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman Haircut

One cool evening in Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo, a colleague asked me to cut her hair. I was flattered that someone had seen in me the same natural artistic ability I had long seen in myself but which I failed to make noticed by those around me; at the same time, I must admit to feeling confused at the request, having never cut anyone’s hair in my life (unless you count shaving my own head, or snipping off locks of my at-the-time toddler sister’s hair, after we got chewing gum stuck in it).

Being a logistician, when in the field my Leatherman multi-tool is never far from reach. Scissors, on the other hand, were at least ten meters away (this is equivalent to about six seconds at my average walking speed, recorded on several occasions as 6 km/h). The mathematics of convenience (aka laziness) clearly dictate that the Leatherman was the correct choice to cut my colleague’s curls. Of the many options available to me, I chose to use the serrated saw blade, having as logic the basic idea that cutting a loaf of bread is far easier with a serrated bread knife than with a non-serrated meat knife. Whether hair is more similar in nature to bread or a roast was a question that only occurred to me later on.

Rock Your Hair

Instructions: For the simplest and fastest Leatherman haircut, get your client’s hair in a ponytail, and ask him or her to hold around the base of the ponytail. You grab hold of the other end of the ponytail of hair with your non-Leatherman hand. While maintaining the ponytail fairly taut by pulling it away from your client’s head, begin sawing back and forth at a quick pace, without applying any downward pressure; the saw will carry itself downward as it cuts through. When finished, dispose of the newly shed locks or pass them on to someone in need.

Preparing for the Leatherman haircut
Cutting hair with a Leatherman saw

It worked!

Leatherman haircut complete

Not only did I manage, in less than ten seconds, to cut my colleague’s hair, but we were able to provide a hair piece for another colleague who, like me, no longer has a full head of his own hair.

Finding new use for the waste resulting from a Leatherman haircut

Stay tuned for the next Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman how-to: the Loopy Logistician’s Leatherman Martini!

The Leatherman saw used to cut hair

En cas de panne sèche

If you happen to pick up a Land Cruiser at a remote border crossing in Côte d’Ivoire one day, well over 100km from the nearest fuel station, and you find that your colleagues on the Liberian side of the border have kindly drained all the diesel out of the two 70L 90L fuel tanks, hence explaining why they were three hours late arriving, there are a number of potential solutions to get you out of your predicament.

Liberian border crossing at Pekanhouebli

The first solution is that you were already prepared, and brought some diesel in 20L jerrycans with you to the border, attached the roof of the vehicle that transported you to the border crossing (let’s call this Land Cruiser A, and call the other one Land Cruiser B).

Metal jerrycans

If you didn’t think of this, the next best option is to syphon some fuel from one of Land Cruiser A’s fuel tanks into one of Land Cruiser B’s fuel tanks using a syphon tube. Of course, while trying this option you may realise that Toyota had you in mind when they installed anti-syphoning guards in Land Cruisers, making it virtually impossible to get the syphon tube into the fuel tank of Land Cruiser A.

Syphoning fuel

Once these first two solutions have been eliminated from your list, there is a third option available: open the drain plug on the bottom of one of Land Cruiser A’s fuel tanks and place a container underneath to catch the diesel as it slowly pours out the small hole. To do this, you should park the vehicle on level ground or, if possible, on raised tracks so there’s more ground clearance between the bottom of the fuel tank and the container you’re using to catch the diesel. This is very time-consuming, as a Land Cruiser consumes about 13L/100km, and the fuel drains out of the tank pretty slowly. You’ll also be taking fuel from the very bottom of the tank, which means you get all the mucky sediment settled on the bottom, which is not good for your vehicle. Hopefully the fuel filter in Land Cruiser B can remove most of the sediment before it gets to the engine.

Draining fuel from reservoir

The fourth and final solution available, aside from parking the vehicle and coming back later (and probably finding it missing upon your return), is to buy fuel from a friendly Italian aid worker who happens to have just opened an office 50 metres away from where you’re trying to drain fuel out of your tank, and who happens to have made a fuel run the day before to stock up on hundreds and hundreds of litres of diesel, and who happens to have seen you from his office window trying the second and third solutions.

Disclaimer: The postings and views expressed on this site are mine alone, and do not represent the position or values of Médecins Sans Frontières.

Thinking outside the puddle

Have you ever got your car stuck in a big puddle, unable to dig the mud out from under the car to get moving again, because there’s so much water it just keeps filling the mud back in? Probably not. But, if it should ever happen to you, I suggest you think outside the puddle.

Our Mitsubishi L200 (a 4×4 pickup truck) entered a seemingly shallow puddle only to suddenly sink into a very deep part of the puddle. Within a second the rear differential was already sitting in the mud at the bottom of the puddle, so we were stuck.

Stuck in a puddle, you can't get out of

We got the shovel and hoe out, and tried to dig the mud out from underneath in order to get the vehicle moving again, but the puddle was too deep: water just kept pouring the mud back in under the car and making it sink further. Keeping the engine running to make sure water couldn’t get in and destroy it, we began waiting for people to walk by. Soon enough, we had 3 young men down to their boxer shorts trying to help us get unstuck, but still no success!

After about half an hour, a young man wearing a red sports jersey with Chinese lettering happened upon us. He took our hoe, and started walking off into the tall grass at the side of the road, forcing the grass down to the side to make a bit of a path, without explaining his strange actions.

Dude takes our hoe and walks off into the bush

After a minute or so, we began to understand: the young man first cleared some of the grass and then began loosening up the soil at the side of the road. He then began digging a trench about half a foot deep and two metres long, perpendicular to the road, leaving some soil at the edge of the puddle to keep the trench dry while working.

A trench starts to take shape at the side of the road

Once they judged the trench sufficiently awesome, my driver broke the dyke and the water began to flow out of the puddle.

Breaking the dyke

To speed up the flow of water out of the puddle, one guy continued lengthening the trench farther away from the road, and my driver and one other passer-by used their hands to push the water faster toward the trench.

Speeding up the flow of water into the trench to drain the puddle

Within ten minutes, the water level was low enough to dig out a bit of mud and for a dozen people (by this time, quite a crowd had gathered around) to stand only ankle-deep in the water. Together they rocked the vehicle side to side for about a minute while the driver revved the engine and pumped the clutch until the tires gripped well enough to drive out of the puddle and onto a dry part of the road. In total, the car had spent nearly an hour stuck in the puddle! Check out how happy my driver was afterwards:


The moral of the story: think outside the puddle. If you’re stuck, and the road is at the same or higher level than the surrounding area, put your civil engineering hat on and try emptying the puddle.