Friday, February 25, 2011


I'm not sure why I'm writing this post, but I hope you find it interesting.

My grandfather (on my father's side) was an incredibly talented and versatile man. He was an excellent mechanic, woodworker, fisherman, gardener... if it involved working with one's hands, he was good at it. My father on the other hand was not particularly skilled in any of these things. Fortunately, I inherited my grandfather's skills rather than the lack of them from my father. I like to think I can fix almost anything. My motto has always been, "If it can break, it can be fixed.".

Years ago, long before flat screens, I had a very nice 37" TV which just up and quit. Most people would just throw it away and go buy a new one. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I opened it up, looked it over and found what appeared to be just one, tiny, burnt out resister. I bought a new resister and soldered it in. Subsequently the TV came back on and provided us with service for another 5 or 6 years. I spent about 39 cents for the resistor - as opposed to $500.00 for a new set.

I taught myself, with virtually no one's help, skills in heating, air conditioning and refrigeration. Before it was all over, I got get paid, and paid well, to take a bag of tools up to a rooftop and figure out what was wrong with a compressor the size of a car engine in a mechanical room the size of a small house. I can still do it today. Plus, I doubt if I'll ever win any bass fishing tournaments, but I guarantee you I wouldn't come in last.

One thing I've learned about fixing things is that technical knowledge is far less important than attitude and motivation. When it comes to fixing things, its always amazed me how much the average man knows yet refuses to apply. Once, while training in the field an HVAC/R apprentice, I got tired of answering his incessant questions. I told him, "You know the answer to this problem, but you don't know you know it.". Facing a difficult repair, I decided to ask him questions rather than provide him with answers. As it turned out, he figured out the solution on his own. I told him to pretend the next time that he alone, by himself, would have to figure out the answers to the next repair. He became a pretty good tech after that.

I think as a nation we have become a people who want all the answers presented to us sealed in a tube. We simply don't have the intellectual passion to break open those tubes, find out how they are built, and judge for ourselves if they are valid and useful. Inquiry, the weighing of alternatives, doubt, radical new ideas and solutions, all frighten and fatigue us. Without much of a struggle, we've ceded the power of independent thought to the incoherent stupidity of the mob.

Frankly, I often find your opinions to be obdurate, insensitive and block headed.


I've never doubted your capacity to spit in the eye of anyone who tries to tell you what to think. And that's a compliment Steve, from one guy who can fix things to another.


1 comment:

  1. A wonderful, humble and touching story. Thanks.

    I must say that I think you sold your ultimate conclusion a bit short - its not just this nation at fault, I think its a planetary desire to leave the 'difficult things' to someone else.

    IMHO, it's all part of an apparent desire to abandon personal responsibility and accountability. After all, if *YOU* tell me what needs to be done, and I agree to follow your lead, then when those tasks subsequently do not work (or doesn't accomplish the stated goal), then *I* can't be held accountable, now can I?

    Sadly, this principle applies with equal force to diverse topics such as racism, claims of racism, affirmative action, excessive government spending, AGW, corporate boondoggles, union intimidation, holocaust deniers, ponzi schemes, etc., etc., etc.

    Nevertheless, there *are* bold folks such as you and I (and many others) who are around to point out the true state of the Emperor's Clothes as we spit in their collective eyes. (At least such happens when we can be dragged away, kicking and screaming, it seems, from continually spitting on each other.)

    Nice company to be in, from one blockhead to another. ;-)

    - Steve