Talk of PC tools reminds me of what I often saw working on the PC's of
friends and relatives AFTER they had tried to repair, replace or upgrade
something on their own. I've seen keyed connectors of every sort jammed in
backwards in ways I thought impossible. I've seen PCI-E boards installed in
machines too old to have proper slots for them (for non-techies think of
European wall plug jammed into US outlet). It made me realize that people
have very different conceptual views of how easy or hard some things are.
DIY PC upgrades were presented as easy, and many were - until you hit the
first even mildly unusual situation. Norm makes it look so easy - and can
always do another take if it's not!
Another example would be all these "flip your house" programs that I think
powered a great deal of the last housing boom by making it look *so* easy to
flip a house. I know a lot of people who bought structurally unsound homes
or ones that had defects so serious they might never sell again in the
frenzy. For a little while, there was always someone just as stupid,
willing to buy, without "due diligence," a termite or mold infested home as
the prices kept soaring. The media hardly ever said "can it last forever"?"
They were too busy selling the boom with ads, articles and TV shows
alongside real estate agents, mortgage brokers, local government taxmen and
anyone else who could make a nickel selling a house to a turnip. Who knew
that protecting even dumb consumers from themselves would, in the long run,
have protected the entire economy?
I think one of the problems is that Norm and lots of others make
craftsmanship look easy by bringing an ocean of knowledge to a problem that
most people can't appreciate. It's like that old engineering joke about the
PE that sends a detailed bill for his job:
Knowing where to put the bolt - $5,000
The fun on real jobs comes from aggressive flippers gutting load bearing
members or something just as serious. (I confess, I recall TOH getting
snagged on one very long beam acting as a lever that affected the roof
suspension.) It's knowing what to do when something very unusual happens.
It's knowing where to look for signs of repeated basement flooding BEFORE
closing! (-: It's making sure your 200A panel isn't actually being fed by
old 60A feeders. It's like the old first year intern's joke about
procedures involving insertion of some sort of test equipment: "Call the
surgeons, it's stuck and I can't get it out!!!"
The plus side is that eventually, a real dumb DIY that has bitten off more
than they can chew will, at some point, hire a pro. It's after the
experience gained by the material ruined, people can actually appreciate
that they are paying for more than they can see. They can stand by in awe
and say "Gee, he knows how to drill into the bedroom wall without shorting
out the lights. I'd say one giveaway consistent with amateur home repair is
the obvious lack of squareness. Tyros eyeball but pros either use a level
or have one "built into their brains" that's just as good.
Which is probably the subject for another thread: What are the hallmarks of
a good contractor, in any field?
That's almost been done (remember "Home Improvement?")
The problem with PBS is that it gets a lot of "donations" from the folks who
make stuff they install. If they make it look too bad or hard the
effective sponsors will not be happy.
Yeah well, the percentage of time I sit down at the TV looking for
something "deep" or "profound" is pretty close to never. I'm almost
always trying to accomplish *something*, and time spent in front of the
TV is time that's a-wasting. When I finally decide I have absolutely
nothing better to do and all I desire is sit down, relax, and waste some
serious time, mindless entertainment is what I seek and Red Green fits
the bill quite nicely. There's nothing deep about it, and that's the
way I like it. I quite enjoy Hee-Haw too, thank you very much.
See Nad. See Nad go. Go Nad!
To reply, eat the taco.
Well, don't take this personally but for many of us the shows are equal
to or shallower to our learning curve. Basically we get ideas or learn how
to do a specific detail. We don't need to see the mistakes, we have that
I feel that if the shows start with identifying the difference between a
board and a screw that 99.9% of the viewers would get bored very soon. Take
the "Router Workshop" for instance, same old routine over and over and over
and over..... Then I get fixated on the "knot" on the old man's head and all
I remember from that point is RRRRRRRRrrrrrrrr, bla bla bla, rrrrrrrr, bla
I believe for our society to gain knowledge and advance intellectually that
we should always challenge ourselves. I don't like the idea of dumbing down
a class or instructional video to the lowest common dominator of it's
students intelligence level. If the show seems a bit too advanced, take a
look at the other 95% of what is showing on the DIY channel or watch a
Trying to lump the NYW with the rest of these DIY operations is like
trying to compare a VW bug with a race car.
Personally I wouldn't consider building more than maybe 20% of Norm's
projects; however, every one of his projects illustrates at least one
new method to solve a problem that is unique.
The specialized fixtures, and some very interesting problem solutions
using a lathe, are just a couple of things that come to mind.
Yes, that damn brad nailer drives me nuts, yes he is dangerous with a
paint brush in his hand, but the shows are well written, the camera
work is quite good and the plans I have purchased were complete and
OTOH, most of the rest of these DIY shows are little more than shills
for the remodeling industry or totally inept wood butchers.
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