Why I hate Norm Abrams

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David Nebenzahl wrote:

What do you expect? It's Berkeley, where the odds of using any tool for its intended purpose (as opposed for deviant sexual practices between consenting gophers) is next to nothing. They are good at "building" Molotovs and joints there, I have to admit ...

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Tim Daneliuk snipped-for-privacy@tundraware.com
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Tim Daneliuk wrote:

LOL, those were my thoughts exactly. Someone from Berzerkely finding something to whine about, yeah, why am I not all that surprised?
Jon (who also enjoys watching NASA launch rockets into space, and doesn't feel that incompetence should be encouraged to make idiots feel better about themselves).
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On Sun, 23 Aug 2009 15:42:10 -0700, "Jon Danniken"

It is pretty sad that part of the launch reporters feel the need to report that nothing is falling off the shuttle, though. :)
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Jon Danniken wrote:

Well, in fairness, Berzerkely did give us BSD Unix ... sort of ... with the help of the best and brightest from the then Bell Labs crowd. This ultimately gave us TCP/IP and the internet. The irony is that this was funded by ARPA - the research arm of the Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeevil government military technocrats. I wonder how many of the smelly hippies stumbling against the cause of the day realized that their CS department was building a technology infrastructure designed to be survivable (by the military) in the face of nuclear exchange.
As to Norm - I rather like his show. I am smart enough to realize that you do not build an armoire' in 22 minutes plus commercials, even with every tool Porter Cable makes. I also don't much care for his aesthetic sensibility. BUT ... it's nice to watch a master craftsman doing his job. It's an good insight into how grown up WWing is done for us relative rookies.
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Tim Daneliuk wrote:

There were certainly quite a few brilliant minds to came from that area at the time, that is certain. Pioneering minds, embodying the spirit of the West, as it were.

The thing I got from watching Norm was the intricacies of his jigs. While the 30 seconds he showed using the jigs didn't illustrate the time spent in creating and aligning the jigs, it still sparked the concept in my brain that the prepwork was really the fundamental reason for success in making things.
Jon
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I used to giggle as I drove past the Berkeley city limits signs that said "A nuclear free zone." to eat lunch on top of a nuclear reactor. The reactor is gone now, replaced by the new CS department building.
The giggle on the government is that ARPA funded a network that could survive a nuclear exchange as well as attempts by any government to control it.
A minor nit pick is that TCP/IP predated BSD Unix by a few years. BSD Unix certainly helped with TCP/IP domination of computer communication.
-- Doug
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On Tue, 25 Aug 2009 16:28:32 -0500, Douglas Johnson

I worked for Watts Bar nuclear plant back in the 80s. A common saying on the job was........The government pays TVA to build the plant, and pays the NRC to make sure they can't do it.
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The thing that scared the crap outta me was an episode on 60 Minutes investigating NRC inspections of powerplant construction, specifically the containment vessels for the nuclear material, the heart of the plant. They interviewed more than one inspector who, years after the fact, admitted to passing sub-standard construction under not so genteel persuasion by shady unions. The ol' "we know where your family lives" kinda thing. No telling how many currently operating plants (do we still have any?) are iffy. A good example of the shaky nuclear power plant industry in this country is Rancho Seco in N CA. The China Syndrome was not bogus science fiction.
Funny we should make fun of France, for they have an excellent nuclear energy record and actually export energy to other countries. "Freedom Fries", my ass.
nb
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On Sun, 23 Aug 2009 13:25:43 -0700, David Nebenzahl

First off I don't think it's fair to lump Hometime in with TOH. The latter no longer offers any educational value whatsoever while the former does a pretty good job. And they have even spent time showing how to assemble knock down cabinets, so if that's over their heads then please don't ever let them touch a hammer. In any case the idea is really to give the homeowner some idea of what goes on so they are better able to ask the right questions of the pros, not necessarily to make them able to do it themselves.
Norm, well I doubt I would be where I am today if it weren't for him. Sure everything always goes swimmingly for him, and really you learn the most from your mistakes and by never showing anything going wrong that opportunity is never presented. As the saying goes, the difference between an amateur and a pro is the pro knows how to fix his mistakes. But for the format of the show it just isn't feasible.
There's a lot of accumulation of knowledge that has to happen. If Norm makes it look easy and people try and give up, that really isn't Norm's fault. But if he gives you a look at what is possible and you find your own way from there, that's a good thing. There's a lot of well equipped shops out there with everything but someone who knows what to do with it, but that's true of every hobby.
-Kevin
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

[snip]
As has been written here many times, Norm probably didn't frighten Maloof or Krenov a whole lot. We all wince when the glue bottle, the brad nailer, or the poly brush come out, but he probably had more influence on the popularity of hobby woodworking than anybody. Even if a fan never brandishes a jig saw in anger, there can be an appreciation of the effort (and talent) involved involved in making a decent bench or dresser and that can't be bad for those trying to make a buck.
    mahalo,     jo4hn
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Well said. As a matter of fact, I'll bet he never tried to scare either of them.
Norm's job is to inspire. What bonehead thinks you will learn the secrets of fine woodworking, plain woodworking, or anything else actually, buy watching him for 22 minutes a week?
I must say though, when he starts to finish something, I go get a more coffee. He is scary. I see those beautiful woods that are no less than precious down here in S. Texas being slathered with a "special blend of stains" and then covered with several coats of poly... it is painful.
But Norm, Tom and the boys do help me make money. I honestly cannot tell you how many jobs I have gotten where the homeowner started and couldn't finish. I have one waiting on me now where the homeowner was inspired to put Hardie on the back of his house. He put the board on wrong and it leaks. It is broken in places where he tried to pull the nail out that he bent. He didn't paint it, and now it has a bad case of efflorescence. WTF is that, right? It ruins the paint job if it isn't treated. Worse, he bought ALL the siding and stored it improperly. It might be ruined.
He started the project two years ago.
I just finished one where the homeowner tried to do his own roof repairs, fascia replacement, siding replacement and painting of the house. He got exactly one piece of siding out and replaced. Then it was either too hot, too cold, rainy, or not a weekend that was open. His wife signed the contract while he was trying to tell her that he "could get on" some of the remaining work right away. She told me he started 3 years ago!
My own BIL loves to watch those shows, and gets in deep so fast they pay me to fix his "projects". He is a great guy and means well, but he just can't grasp what goes into remodeling/repair. The very first time I worked on their house, my sister gave me a list of things that were in various stages of repair/disrepair that he had started. He likes to go buy a tool, one he saw on the shows, and thinks that will also give him the skills as well.
It is always funny to me how so many men, especially white collar guys, feel like their own job is sophisticated, difficult and takes years of hard work and dedication to master. Yet when they see a blue collar guy, they may respect the work he does but they feel like they can do the same work (or near to it), at just a bit slower pace. Just a bit of practice on the weekends, and they are good to go.
Yeah, right.
But they do indeed make me money. By the time they wave the white flag, they are so sick of having their backsides chewed off by their wives they will gladly pay a fair price if they are assured of actual completion.
So at the guy that "starts the job but can't finish" house, how many entry way doors have I repaired/reinstalled? How many interior doors have I hung/rehung? How much crown molding have I put up that was in the garage for a couple of years? How many cabinets have I installed/ reinstalled? How much refinishing have I redone on cabinets and tables?
Couldn't tell you. But there have been many times these guys have paid my bills! I say long live those guys, and shame on any of you folks that actually think you can get more than a quick snapshot of a good tradesman working in 22 minutes.
Robert
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<snip>
As someone who started building model airplanes before I was 10, I got started early.
Worked thru high school at a hardware store back in the days when the owner expected you to know how to help customers solve problems.
Especially on Saturday morning when someone, who was in the process of moving, walked in with a handful of pipe fittings and a look of impending disaster on his face.
How does he get the stove reconnected at the new place so his wife can cook dinner tonight?
The list goes on, but you get the idea.
Went to school on a CO-OP program.
Translation: 3 months in class, 3 months working in industry.
By the time I had finished school, had acquired a pretty decent skill set of academic engineering skills and the ability to understand what was required on the production floor to implement them.
Hated working on cars but otherwise there was NOTHING I wouldn't try.
Fear, what's fear?
A few years later, had a house and wanted to expand a concrete patio slab and maybe build a shed roof over part of it.
Laid out the area, stripped the grass away, and set the forms.
Had a couple of loads of foundry sand delivered and got very friendly with a wheel barrow to move that sand from the drive apron to the back yard where it provided the base material for the slab.
Had gotten prices for concrete, I was ready to go.
Before I committed, decided to call as concrete guy in the neighborhood whose son just happened to be in the same class as my daughter.
He reluctantly agreed to look at the job.
Told me prep work was OK but my forms needed a few more stakes and of course would need mesh.
Mesh? What the heck is "mesh" I thought.
I found out.
Also told me it was a half day job.
As all this was going on, next door neighbor came over and indicated that they were planning to expand their patio someday and maybe if both jobs were done the same day, maybe we could work something out.
Needless to say, we did.
The day arrived, the contractor was on time with his equipment, and things got started.
The contractor got organized, the concrete truck showed up, and things got started.
I was impressed.
First the gas buggy gets a load of concrete from the truck and brings it back.
(I was going to try to use that wheel barrow)
As the crew started to work that concrete, I was impressed by how little I really knew about how to lay concrete.
I was also very grateful I had hired somebody who knew what they were doing.
I decided then and there to add concrete laying to the jobs I hire out, the others being car repair and brain surgery.
That was 40 years ago.
If I had tried to lay that concrete, it still would not be done.
Lew
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I had been thinking I might exchange deckblocks for a concrete pad under my shed (and if that goes well, maybe someday a foundation for a whole detached shop). I had also been thinking I'd do it myself. You didn't tell us what sort of details you would have missed that the contractors didn't. What's so important that isn't obvious (to me)?
- Owen -
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I had been thinking I might exchange deckblocks for a concrete pad under my shed (and if that goes well, maybe someday a foundation for a whole detached shop). I had also been thinking I'd do it myself. You didn't tell us what sort of details you would have missed that the contractors didn't. What's so important that isn't obvious (to me)?
- Owen -
Please don't take this the wrong way but have you heard, I don't know enough to know what I don't know?
Would you consider putting a vapor barrier down under the slab? Do you plan on mixing all of the concrete yourself? What strength concrete will you be using? What thickness? Will you have footings? What kind of reinforcemet will you be using? What kind of soil will you be pouring on top of? That is a "start"
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"manyirons" wrote: ------------------------------------------------- You didn't tell us what sort of details you would have missed that the contractors didn't. What's so important that isn't obvious (to me)? ------------------------------------------------------
Remember, "A picture is worth a thousand words"?
Go watch concrete being laid.
Lew
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What if the contractor is a hack?
When I built swimming pools (gunite crew), I watched many a deck being laid. Fully half had to be torn out (that's also me on the 90lb jack) and redone cuz the contractor and his crew were either drunk or incompetent. The only thing I learned about laying concrete from that dolt was, do it right the first time. (I learned it, he didn't)
nb
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

This really misses the point. Shows like TOH aren't meant to provide all-encompassing A-Z instruction for people who have never held a hammer in their entire lives, that's probably not possible on TV as there are too many things people have to experience themselves to really understand. They know there are some things we'll pick up quickly (that's why they have experts who coach the homeowners through the basics) while there are more complicated jobs aimed at those who already know the difference between a jigsaw and a drill press.
Watching a video isn't a substitute for having the tool in your own hands and learning how to use it via the time-honored method of making mistakes. TOH and similar shows provide ideas to people with some experience of using tools, with tips and guidance to made the job easier, and frankly with inspiration--"Hey, I think I could do that." Expecting such a show to teach someone how to tie their shoes and wipe their nose is ridiculous, that isn't the purpose. Anyone who has done household repairs and upgrades knows it will take a lot longer and involve a few mistakes as compared to a TV show, who believes otherwise?
NYW is a whole different animal, it's aimed at people who already have a garage full of tools and some idea of how to use them--that Norm appears on both shows is irrelevant. Seriously, who expects things to go together as easily as Tommy or Norm make it look? What a misplaced complaint, but if the guy gets paid to write such foolishness I suppose he's laughing all the way to the bank.
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Nonsense. In the later shows, it was just getting ridiculous. Insanely expensive hi-tech options that any home owner, renovating or not, if they were well off enough to afford it, they were at a level where they probably didn't give a good goddamn about the technical merits/details. Just, "Here's my account. When will it be finished?" There was often no owner even on camera, just what's-his-face and the contractor. "Well Rick, tell us about these new boron fiber impregnated laminates. I understand they're the exact same ones used in the latest space shuttle toilet paper."
Sure pal. I'll take a dozen to go.
nb
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notbob wrote:

Of course they feature some razzle-dazzle stuff that no homeowner is likely to be able to install himself, but that doesn't invalidate the basic premise of the show. Many of us could handle framing or drywall or painting but would think twice about trying serious plumbing or wiring. That's no different than being unable to handle the high-tech stuff on today's shows, it's just a matter of degree. I agree that the "This Old Mansion" thing is sometimes carried too far, but the companies supplying that gee-whiz technology help to pay for the show too. And five minutes later Tommy is showing us how to install a garage door or sharpen a chisel--it ain't all big-bucks high-tech stuff.
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I agree that the "This Old Mansion" thing is

PLUS! Tommy keeps us up to date on all the new Festool stuff!
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