Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I have been making a turn latch for a small cabinet as well as doing other things. I had two classes at school today, and if the snow comes tomorrow as expected, I'll get lots of shop time for the rest of the week. The turned knob fits through the hole being drilled on the drill press and the latch will be cut short, get some further shaping and will be glued in place on the knob's end. It engages a groove cut on the inside of the cabinet. Turn to open.

Blest are the horny hands of toil. -James Russell Lowell.
Work first, then rest. -John Ruskin

The Smell of the Wood
Oh, I like to open the door to my shop;
Each morning anew it elates me.
What incense is there, what perfumes so rare
As the smell of the wood that elates me.
The sunlight of a hundred years is there,
The winds from a thousand hills;
The dews from countless star-lit nights
And a murmur of mountain rills.
There's the feel of the orient and the jungle breath
In the smell of the wood that greets me;
There's the breath from rains and winter snows
In the smell of the wood that meets me.

What matter if others can sail the world around
And view all the grandeur for a year and a day,
I have ever ready a ship to command;,
A breath fills the sails and my boat is away.
It carries me back through the years that are past
Over wide oceans and far-stretching seas,
I have but to breathe and my journey's complete
I've traveled the world, though I sit at my ease.
Oh, the smell of the wood, what magic it holds,
(What treasures are ours oft least understood),
Though the walls of my shop encompass me round
I can sail far away on the smell of the wood. -A. E. Gray
Some of my friends from high places tell me that research to prove the value of the hands in learning is a wasted effort, as research is too often false in the first place. It does seem that human beings are not necessarily rational. We are more moved by feelings than by intellect and the recent Super Bowl game is an example. Forgive me if I have resorted again to poetry. By neglecting hands-on learning for our nation's youth, we are wasting lives. And so we have to make personal decisions. Do something about it. ASAP. DIY, and TIY (teach it yourself, as most schools are no longer giving your children much of what they need most).

My regular readers will remember my kind words about Costa Rica from my visit during the first week of January. Others, it seems have the same opinion, including Nicholas D. Kristoff of the New York Times. In his editorial, The Happiest People, he states:
What sets Costa Rica apart is its remarkable decision in 1949 to dissolve its armed forces and invest instead in education. Increased schooling created a more stable society, less prone to the conflicts that have raged elsewhere in Central America. Education also boosted the economy, enabling the country to become a major exporter of computer chips and improving English-language skills so as to attract American eco-tourists.

I’m not anti-military. But the evidence is strong that education is often a far better investment than artillery.

In Costa Rica, rising education levels also fostered impressive gender equality so that it ranks higher than the United States in the World Economic Forum gender gap index. This allows Costa Rica to use its female population more productively than is true in most of the region. Likewise, education nurtured improvements in health care, with life expectancy now about the same as in the United States — a bit longer in some data sets, a bit shorter in others.
Costa Rica has actually been measured for its happiness on an index which leaves the U.S. languishing in the dust. We're in 20th place. If we have become a relatively less happy nation of comparatively declining intellect, there are places we can look for a better role model. Make, fix, create.

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