Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Today in the wood shop...

This is spring break week at Clear Spring, so I've been attempting to get some time in my own wood shop. But I have clean-up to do at school and had a crew here yesterday installing replacement windows on the house. If you are a craftsman, it is difficult to watch others work without feeling compelled to lend a hand. It is one of the hazards of being somewhat skilled, and having a sense of quality in how things should be done. Fortunately, the crew and I have come to terms with each other through other rounds of installation, and they take my interference with some degree of friendliness and respect.

Otto Salomon had said that if a person knew how to carve a parcel pin or cut dovetails he (or she) would become a much better consumer, and hold the work of others in society to a higher standard, and so by all students learning the manual art of woodworking, the whole human culture would rise to a higher level.

In our ongoing struggle with AEP/SWEPCO, we keep encountering a mountain of deception and ineptitude. The have asked the Public Service Commission for a rehearing, as they are used to getting their own way and are offended when the Commission balks at giving them everything they want. In fact, they found fault with the judge's demand that they alert bee-keepers in time for them to take precautionary action before spraying toxic herbicides to keep the right of way sterile of natural forest growth in perpetuity.

They claimed that there is no problem with them running the extra high voltage power line close to a school because the Rogers, Arkansas School Board did not object. They failed to note that the Rogers School board is represented by the same law firm that is trying to force through this power line. Of course that would raise a serious question as to whether or not that lawyer is giving his best to one client while ignoring his equally serious responsibility to the other. No doubt they've fabricated some excuses for that.

Please forgive me for going over all this power line stuff in a blog dedicated to hands on learning. But there are lessons related to the hands that can be acquired by examining what amounts to a mountain of malfeasance, and a low point of incomprehensible incompetence. Fabricating excuses is not the same as making real stuff.

In crafting real things, rather than sitting on the sidelines of learning, you learn that there is such a thing as truth, and that all things have cumulative consequences. You learn how to either fix mistakes or forgive them and move on. You learn your own interconnectedness with community and that what you do has real effects that can have unforeseen complications. You learn to care for materials, and to care for the earth from which all materials have come. And you learn some self respect... the kind of self respect that would make an attorney think twice before using his position as lawyer for a school board to keep that school board from protecting kids from the impact of an extra high voltage power line.

But maybe that's just me. I know that craftsmanship can lead to unreasonable expectations in a society that is in free fall. Turning things around requires us to take matters into our own hands.

On the very same subject, the president of Bard College wrote an editorial in Time Magazine this week claiming that SAT's are part hoax and part fraud. When students are called upon to do real things no artificially fabricated testing is required. the college president thinks we need some new and more accurate means of testing. I suggest a solution that would likely not occur to a college president... that schools approximate real life and for kids to do real things.

Today, I will put hinges on the silverware chest and send it off to American Woodworker Magazine for beauty shots.

Make, fix and create...

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