Vol. 20: MakeShift: Property Condemned

An urban spelunking misadventure.

By Lee D. Zlotoff

Photos by Jen Siska

+ Downloads & Extras:

Property Condemned

The Scenario:

You belong to an amateur but dedicated group of "urban archaeologists" who have made it their mission to document the vanishing details of your city's history. You notice while driving home late one afternoon that a classic building your group has often admired is now fenced off and slated for demolition. You decide that a quick in and out — a few notes and some photographs — will serve your mission well.

Parking out of sight, you ignore the "No Trespassing" signs, load your minimal gear in your coat pockets, and easily scale the fence to gain access to the building. Guided by your small but powerful LED flashlight, you wend your way up the creaky wooden staircases, snapping pictures all the while with a compact digital camera.

The Challenge:

As you cross one of the upper stories, you suddenly crash through some floorboards and find yourself wedged in the hole tight, up to your armpits. What's more, the drop has forced the splintered edges of the broken floorboards downward along your body. So even though your arms and shoulders seem OK, if you try and lift yourself out, the boards act like a giant, wicked Chinese finger puzzle and just dig in deeper, wedging you in even tighter.

You don't know how far the drop is below you, and the hole is so tight that it's doubtful you could get your shoulders through it anyway. Hanging there all night in hopes that the wrecking crew might find you in the morning might be an option — except that the massive rats could probably put a serious dent in you by then. So, intrepid archaeologist that you are, how are you going to get yourself out of this one?

What You've Got:

You have a flashlight and camera, both of which are within reach. You've also got a working cellphone and a Swiss Army knife (or Leatherman tool) — except both of those are in your coat pockets, which are below the hole. And, is it just your imagination, or is that rat in the corner actually smiling at you?

Send a detailed description of your MakeShift solution with sketches and/or photos to by Feb. 19, 2010. If duplicate solutions are submitted, the winner will be determined by the quality of the explanation and presentation. The most plausible and most creative solutions will each win a MAKE T-shirt and a MAKE Pocket Ref. Think positive and include your shirt size and contact information with your solution. Good luck! For readers' solutions to previous MakeShift challenges, visit makezine.com/makeshift.


Additional content for this article, available only online.

MakeShift 20: Analysis, Commentary, and Winners

by Lee D. Zlotoff; March 22, 2010 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 20: Jordan Mocaby's Most Plausible Winning Entry

by Lee D. Zlotoff; March 22, 2010 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 20: Isaac Hathaway's Most Creative Winning Entry

March 22, 2010 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 20: Joey Novak's Honorable Mention Entry

March 22, 2010 | Technorati | del.icio.us

MakeShift 20: Jack Webb's Honorable Mention Entry

March 22, 2010 | Technorati | del.icio.us

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