|Feb. 11th, 2008 12:19 pm A great weekend's reflections|
I had a great weekend... I spent most of it outside, finally carrying out a project that I've been contemplating for weeks: building a leveling ramp for the travel trailer that I bought a couple of months ago. While my hands were busy working on the ramp, my mind could wander... 1 comment - Leave a comment
The weather this weekend was simply gorgeous... The weather forecasters blew the forecast by 10 degrees, but in the good direction; it was in the mid-70's both Saturday and Sunday... ;-) I love living somewhere that I can comfortably wear shorts, in February. ;-) So one of the things I reflected on was how much I enjoy the climate in the Bay Area.
Another thing I reflected on was how thankful I am to have the construction skills that I learned as a kid in Arizona. While I'm by no means a master carpenter, I think I'm at least a half-way decent apprentice or maybe even a mediocre journeyman... I know how to design stuff that's solid and functional, and how to build it. I know the basic tools and materials of the trade; I know to use pressure-treated lumber for this project because it's going to be sitting in the perpetual puddle of water in the street out front of our house, and that you need to use specially-treated fasteners with pressure-treated lumber so that they don't corrode; I know when (and how!) to use a table saw vs. a circular saw. The tools I have are nothing fancy, but I get a certain satisfaction from knowing that they're mine, and how to use them, and how to take care of them.
Besides carpentry, I also have a basic working knowledge of plumbing, wiring, and welding. I understand how cars work, and what (almost!) all the components under the hood do. This is all stuff that I learned as a kid, mostly by living on either my grandparents' ranch or my parents' 2-acre horse property (complete with corrals, arena, workshop, and tack/feed barn that I helped my Dad build and maintain).
Some of these skills, I learned in high school Agriculture classes... My high school's agriculture classes were like an overview of all the other vo-ed courses in the school. In each semester, rather than a 15-week in-depth class on a single topic (carpentry, welding, or accounting, say), we got 3-week overviews of all of each of those topics and more. We got 3 weeks of basic frame carpentry (what you'd need to build or repair a barn), then 3 weeks of basic electrical wiring, 3 weeks of basic oxy-acetylene and arc welding, 3 weeks of basic plumbing, and 3 weeks of basic accounting. It was a great way to learn a little bit about a lot of different topics.
Since I spend most of my time at a desk, doing brain work, this weekend's project was a pleasant change of pace. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoy Burning Man so much every year; for me, at least, it's a chance to go and build stuff, using skills and abilities that I don't otherwise exercise very much.