Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Haven, New Ideas

As I mentioned yesterday, the compound has been renamed. New Haven is what we're calling our community, though I have to admit to a little apprehension. We've weathered a lot of storms (literally, as of yesterday, since it finally started raining) but as much as we want to meet the expectation that comes with such an auspicious name, some of us are worried that we'll fail.

Not that we aren't trying, of course. We've just seen what happens when people get too comfortable with their achievements and stop thinking as cautiously and creatively as they once did. I know it might seem silly to some of you out there, but the concern around here isn't that we can't meet the expectations we've set for ourselves, but rather that we'll grow lax and careless.

That being said, we've got some really impressive things going on right now. The outer wall (as we've begun to call it) is going up at a good pace now that we've got water to spare. Will is working on new defenses that are, for lack of a better word, fucking NUTS.

He arranged a small scale demonstration for us this morning. Basically, his idea is to defend the walls with a series of, well, potato guns.

Will is a redneck in ways that are vast and mysterious.

For those of you who don't know what a 'tater cannon' is, it's simple: you take a length of PVC pipe, about the size you'd need to fire a potato out of. You screw on a larger section at one end with a cap. You jam in a spud, fill the large section with hairspray or some other flammable compound, and light that bitch up. Most folks used to drill a wee hole in the reservoir section and install a flint lighter, like the ones that ignite gas grills.

Will's design is similar, but so much more awesome. His prototype uses an old propane tank filled with pressurized air, hooked up to a piece of pipe that gets filled with gravel rather than vegetables. He and Becky worked together to make a sabot that would keep the air from going around the rocks (sabots are basically just sheaths for projectiles to accomplish this) and showed us as soon as they finished testing it themselves.

The zombie they hit, one of just a few wandering a hundred yards or so outside the walls, didn't have a chance. I got a little worried when Will and Becky carried their contraption through the front gate and the zombie came toward them. They might be afraid of coming near this place now, but not enough to turn away an easy meal.

Twenty feet away, and shotgun blast of pointy rocks later, no more zombie head.

This is just one small demo of Will's larger idea. We've got a lot of old propane tanks lying around, and we can bring in many larger ones. We use a lot of propane, and still haven't used up the supplies from the closest facility we take the gas from.

I'm interested in the idea that Becky had, which is to turn some of these things into mortars to fire dynamite from if needed. Will wants to build a huge system of these homemade guns on the inner wall, though he's having some trouble overcoming the need to pressurize the tanks. After he modified the one he used, it took him an hour of pumping to get it to lethal pressure.

I go off on tangents a lot. I meant to talk about how we're trying to make something new and better out of our community, and all the other jazz that comes with it. But frankly, I can't think of a better example of that idea than this. A whole new wall, defended on every side by these terribly effective weapons. Capable of launching stupidly powerful explosives into whatever swarms of undead may come. Using materials we have plenty of or at least easy access to. It's a wonderful instance of taking plentiful resources and using pure human ingenuity to make something useful out of them.

Gabrielle has made headway into making medical supplies and medicines. Becky has done wonders with chemistry in creating explosives from animal fats and whatever she used to make the final product (I don't ask. I really don't want to know.) Others are taking heart from those examples and are trying new things. People look at the unused junk around them and they're starting to see possibilities where none were clear before.

There isn't better proof that we'll break new ground and become better than we were. I only hope that once we cross that horizon, we can stay the course and never forget the path that took us there.

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