When I was in school our shop teacher was giving a demonstration on how not
to use a band saw and cut his damn thumb off. They should have made him
"Teacher Of The Year." That was the kind of lesson that sticks with you.
Unfortunately I no longer work much with wood, MS has destroyed those nerve
tracts governing mathematical calculations.
afaik all king county (seattle area) schools had the requirement. schools
there were pretty well funded at the time. lots of special classes for both
learning challenged and gifted students. even then i think most of us knew
we were getting a decent education. looking back, it was really good.\
seems nowdays with all this 'standardized testing' bs all the teachers i
know are just completely frustrated.
You had to take shop? I never had to take, but I
did take a year. My father was born in 1898 and
he never had to take shop. But he did for 4 years
of high school. I'm curious, what time frame and
what state required such a thing? I could see CA
None the less, I agree with you. But as the world
gets more complicated, fixing things requires more
knowledge and some people are barely able to tie
their shoes. Hell, they can't even check to see
if the appliance is plugged in before calling the
Contrary to the BS you keep hearing from
educators, people are NOT getting smarter. More
people that ever are being mis-educated; although
that has always been common in small groups large
groups of mis-informed people result with the
current technology. Kooks and kook believers are
as common as ever and always will be.
Springfield, Illinois, in my experience: required the first two years of
*junior* high school, optional the third (foreign language or shop required,
pick one). That was in the late 1960s. No idea whether that was a state
requirement or a local one, but there it was.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt.
And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Thanks. State education boards and local school
boards go thru periods of insanity fairly
regularly and there is no telling what they may
make a requirement or delete from the required
list. I would not have suspected the Midwest.
Jeff, I totally agree with just about everything
Even if you don't have an insatiable appetite for
stuff, you still get screwed. All sorts of
interests push one toward efficient stuff that you
simply cannot fix, e.g. "improved" gas furnaces
that require all sorts of electronics and a failed
board can only be replaced, not fix, even if one
bought all the tools to figure out what went
wrong. Or new cars completely controlled by
Or play computer games. I find that it's not so
much the fixing as the finding out that is most
I wouldn't worry to much about giving them advice
that may be dangerous if not carefully followed.
They are driving auto and may kill you and they
are also likely to be the ones that are into a
variety of highly dangerous activities which
hopefully will end their gene line.
Nah: Don't give up!
Fixing things that is.
One aspect that no one has mentioned is 'confidence', along with a sensible
appreciation of one's own capabilities!
Being proud of a general ability to 'fix things'; is to be aware of danger
and how avoid or get oneself and perhaps others out of a jam. To have in
fact an ability to 'survive' as well or better than anyone.
Also to appreciate what one is not capable of, must learn more about and/or
leave for someone more expert than oneself?.
I'm not happy with the "Duh! I didn't thunk that thing would catch fire;
just cos I put in a 30 amp fuse when the 15 amp blew ...... ", school of
thought! Also with people who are dangerous to themselves even when they
have the right equipment.
I'm happy my son is capable. He's interested to be that way. Others ask him
to read and analyse the fault codes of their engine computer, take a look at
their vehicle brakes, check a defective electrical outlet, reprogram a
computer, to explain when their audio system 'sounds funny', answer question
about why and do they need a CO detector, find out why an electric motor
won't start, how to wire up navigation lights on a sail boat or utility
trailer, handle propane safely and/or many other technical matters. So one
knows he is aware and most likely to do things rationally, confidently and
survive most situations; except perhaps an airplane crash, a Tsunami or
He's not much of a carpenter and he knows it. But I wasn't the least
surprised having known him for the last 25+ years when I heard that during a
trip to Africa he was chiefly responsible, along with his equally capable
best buddy, for getting a woman, her car and child out of a mudhole. And
then getting the car started again.
Another couple of people who turned up were not technically capable and were
deemed "Bloody useless"!
Youthful impatience and unkind perhaps; but knowledge of how to organise and
the confidence to use whatever was available and at hand, on the part of
himself and buddy saved the day.
You don't learn that by accident it takes an interest in working both
practice and theory.
And if one is not 'fixing stuff' inclined and more interested in poetry or
music that's fine too. We need all kinds.
Have fun doing what you like and probably good at!
I am surprised that WA had such a requirement
(city?), since my home state is Idaho. That
sounds like "family living" or some such name for
a course that was generally aimed at dummies. By
the 70's home ec was dumbing down and even letting
guys take the course. I like the "and something
else useful." I suppose that the students were so
well versed in reading writing and arithmetic that
something useful like balancing your checkbook was
needed to peak their interest in learning. Enough
of the irony, but sometimes you would just like to
slap some sense into some "educators." Speaking
as a former teacher and son of a 2nd grade teacher
who said, "Teachers are some of the dumbest people
its a fine balance. one guy can get away just fine with what another
cannot. some people seem to have a sense for safety issues and an intuitive
sense for what will fly and what wont. others are like a little kid running
across a glass covered beach, blissfully and ignorantly dodging cut after
cut, for a while.
electrical work is definitely one thing i try and steer people away from if
it is clear they dont have a clue. if you cannot tell which wire is hot,
neutral and ground without asking the newsgroup, if you dont know which wire
goes to which wire when you connect your stove, if you dont know why there's
black tape wrapped around that white wire (or even worse, if you dont know
when or why YOU need to wrap black tape on the white wire), you need to call
the answers to all the above questions are given in any home wiring book.
if you dont have the time to read a time life or similiar book on elementary
home wiring (and these things are written for about a 6th grade education),
and expect some magic step by step guide written for you on the newsgroup by
someone who cant see your house, and may be guessing anyway, you are asking
I apologize for biting your head off but I have been attacked on this
forum as a "code bot" for trying to offer safe code compliant advice on
this forum. What gets my goat is the idea that people believe that
anything that works should be OK. Electricity kills and it only takes a
tenth of an Ampere. Worse still the person who did the incompetent work
is not the only one at risk. There are some crafts that dabblers should
stay out of and electricity is one of them. I do a fair amount of work
with sweat equity projects and I take the time to give sound advice
here. If I didn't believe in DIY work I wouldn't do either. The
counter point is that those who want to DIY their electrical work have
to take the time to learn to do it right. Some of the stray anger to
which you were subjected comes from thirty plus years of fire and rescue
service. I have responded to a number of electrical fires and deaths
and the image of a burned child never leaves you once you've seen it.
The upshot of all of that is that I will help those who are willing to
take the time to learn to do it right but I have no use for the clueless
"it's just color to color" types who set the land mines in the walls and
ceilings of homes and are so proud that they saved some hundreds of
dollars by not hiring someone.
A few mos ago, my B+D coffeemaker blew a heat sensitive fuse-link, a
thermal fuse, (OK,I was in the shower and had forgot to load the thing
with H2O). Fair enuff, it saved the house, butt... what really got me
fuming was the slimy way the thing was put together, with one-way
robotic screws recessed a couple of inches up in these narrow plastic
tunnels! No screwdriver in the joint would get a grip on those heads,
and I've got dozens of them, from hex to torx.
I attacked the heads with a tiny drill bit, butt...those screwheads
were hard and rounded, so the drill kept slipping off into the plastic,
grrr. Finally got a little dimple in the top of one screw, then by
reversing a bigger drill bit and pushing down just enough, i got the
thing to spin a bit, then a bit more, etc...
No wonder nobody fixes stuff like that. I use a Palm Pilot at work, one
of them got dropped in a creek. Just needed to be opened up and dried
out, but who's got a torx screwdriver that tiny? Couldn't find one
anywhere. Go get another Pocket Pal.
The coffemaker, i decided to toss after all. Not trustworthy once it's
been tinkered with. Fire insurance, liability, etc...
I'm a fixer, but there are limits to what's fixable these days, for
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