If you’re like me you don’t remember much of high school. Either you’ve blocked it out or didn’t pay attention or you were too busy worrying about how much the other kids you don’t talk to anymore liked you. Regardless of your reason there is a gray cloudy mass of memory where this formative period should be.
Somewhere after high school I figured out learning was incredibly fun and somewhere in there I figured out how to learn. At the very least I figured out how I learn. The birth of the Internet has helped that post-academic awakening immensely. I’ve had so many “So that’s how it works!” moments I don’t know where to start. Most recently those moments have come while I’ve been learning about electronics, woodworking, and cooking.
The shop classes I had in middle/high school were so useless as to border on a criminal waste of taxpayer money. Birdhouse anyone? Spot welded dustpan? How about a nice galvanized aluminum notepad holder? Let’s see if we can set the bar low enough to be swept into that dustpan shall we? I can only hope that the students of today have a more interested and engaged bunch of instructors than I did. This is not to say all of the instructors I had were bad, there were some gems to be sure (Hola, Mrs. Reisenberg), but most I couldn’t remember if I wanted to. The ones I do remember expected more from me, pushed harder, and cared enough to be disappointed when I screwed up.
I actually do remember my three fingered middle school metal shop teacher, but only as “Mr. Stumblebooger”. He couldn’t seem to get my name right so I returned the favor and his real name has been lost to the gray cloudy mass. I remember him being a very interesting person with stories about visits to Saudi Arabia where his friend, to demonstrate how safe it was there, took his wallet and tossed it on the floor of the airport only to return several hours later and find it exactly where they’d left it. “Over there they cut your hand off if you get caught stealing” he’d say. I think the moral was more “don’t take my stuff” than “don’t steal” but I can’t be sure.
I remember him, his class was a loss.
So the things I’ve been playing with lately have me all jazzed up with lernin’. I’ve been playing with electronics for the first time since the days of the confusing 101 electronics projects kit. Never before had I heard the analogy of electricity-like-water and it has made me understand everything far more clearly. Also, reinterpreting the mishmash of an electrical diagram as just a network for electrons (electrons as packets for you other network engineers out there) has made even more sense of the mysterious world of electricity.
Thanks to many incredibly valuable resources;
http://www.makezine.com, http://howstuffworks.com, http://instructibles.com, and the DIY movement http://www.diynetwork.com/ , http://www.doityourself.com/ I’m constantly learning how to do new things.
I’ve also been cooking like mad. I love it. It has all the best parts of a geek hobby. It’s got science, gear, gadgets, experimentation, etc… Here is something that is fundamental to your daily existence that you have unlimited creative control over. It can be incredibly complex, very simple, or both depending on how you want to approach it. It is also cheaper and healthier than the fast food or restaurant alternative (think preservatives and fat). Ultimately you get to eat your creation which is immediate punishment or reward. You get better quickly.
Alton Brown of Good Eats fame has been an incredible resource in my culinary education so far. He does a great job of making all the magic that goes on between ingredients accessible and interesting. Also, since I dig books, and there is no shortage of cookbooks, I get to expand my library. Thanks to Curry Cuisine I’ll be trying my hand at grinding my own curry this weekend. Don’t be shocked if a recipe or two ends up on this page.
I guess that’s all for now, more about specific projects later… let’s move on.