Friday, February 4, 2011

Know that you Know that you Know.....

Remember the old Schoolhouse Rock PSA's that ran during Saturday morning cartoons? (do they even have Saturday morning cartoons anymore??) In their theme song were the lines "It's great to learn, 'cause knowledge is power".
They were onto something.
This post qualifies as "Stuff that rolls around in my head from time to time..."

It's important to know stuff. And that fact works on many levels.
On a basic social, entertaining, and somewhat pedestrian level:
It's important to know:
- 3 good "clean" jokes.
- 10 relevant-to-many-occasions Bible verses.
- A local place where you can get a good burger/taco (preferably with a good jukebox).
- How to parallel park (and drive stick shift...and drive around the closest big city to you without a map/GPS).
- How to rub/braise/smoke a rack of ribs.

I could go on and on with this list. There's literally thousands of stupid things the average person should know how to pull off. I'm sure there's tons that you'd like to add. Feel free to do so in the "comments" section of this blog.

Now, go a level or two deeper.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about home ownership and home maintenance. It went something like this:
"Back when our grandfathers were our age (30 somethings), what percentage of them would you say knew how to, and had the in-house resources to, change out a length of water pipe should it burst in the middle of the night in the middle of Winter?"
"Maybe 90-95%."
"I think that's right on. Now...When our parents were our age, what percentage of them could change out a length of water pipe should it burst?"
"Maybe 40-50%."
"That also, is probably close to being right on. Now, what percentage of homeowners our age, in our day, could change out a water pipe should it burst in the middle of the night, in the middle of Winter?"
"I dunno, maybe 10%?
"I think that's probably right on."

Do you agree?

What's happening here? This example of replacing a water pipe can be extrapolated out to include a huge array of skills:
carpentry, electrical, plumbing, automotive repair, fabrication, small engine repair, gardening, farming, home/business maintenance, accounting, you name it. The bottom line is that there is a major decline in "skill sets" for the average American.

The fact is....we are becoming more and more increasingly unskilled by the generation....and many are forced to rely on the few that continue to maintain that knowledge. And that "few" can pretty much charge whatever they want for their services.

I know of a family that had to pay $900 to replace 2 1/2 sheets of sheet rock due to some minor water damage. That's a $100 job at best....but...if you don't know how to do the work...you are at the mercy of those who do. They can sit and charge you whatever they want because, hey?!, what's your alternative? Let it sit and rot?

If one were to burst a water pipe in the middle of the night tonight and had to call a plumber...it'd cost you $250 (at least) before they even walked through the door. that's before they'd charge you $125 an hour plus materials to fix a water leak. (note: replacing a 4 foot piece of 1/2" copper pipe wouldn't cost more than $25 in materials). But...the fact is...you can't do it...they can...you are at their mercy.

Again...I could go on and on with stories and examples of why it's important to know how to do stuff. I'll spare you...

I dunno why I'm even posting this...maybe it's because there's 8 feet of snow everywhere. Roofs are collapsing all over the Commonwealth. There's going to be TONS of roofing/gutter/plumbing work to be done once this snow finally melts and there's going to be thousands of residents who are going to pay 30x over cost to get a job done that they could have done themselves with a little initiative, know-how, and a fraction of the $$ that they are going to shell out for someone else to fix it for them.

For anyone looking to get educated in these areas....
- there's TONS of DIY websites with thousands of videos posted on hundreds of different subjects. I learned how to change out the front brakes on my minivan as well as learned how to lay laminate flooring by watching these vids...and saved hundreds in the process vs. hiring someone to do the jobs:

http://www.diynetwork.com/

http://www.ehow.com/videos.html

If you are more of a "hard copy" learner...pick up the Home Depot "orange book". It's got just about everything you would need to know about any home improvement/maintenance issue that would arise.

I guess, for me and mine, it all comes down to preparedness. I have a desire to have a working knowledge of just about everything that I'd every have to deal with in maintaining/fixing/protecting/providing for my home. I've accumulated lots of knowledge/experience. I have TONS to learn.

I see things...like what is going down in Egypt right now. I think of the fathers there. I think about what is going through their minds. How to care for, maintain, provide for their families. What to do to protect and feed them. I want to hold a cache of resources and knowledge should that level of adversity every come against my community and family.

I guess at the end of the day, some stupid Saturday morning commercial kind of summed it up:

"Knowledge is Power"

Well...I don't need power...I need provision....and protection....and Knowledge helps bring about those as well.

That's enough for me. .

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