Archive for May, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

I had a birthday recently and my 21 year old daughter brought over a novel gift which gave me much delight. With help from friends she took a bunch of pictures of hands at work. She then created a frame array and painted a design. My other daughter baked a chocolate cake (from scratch). She has a gift for cooking and especially baking which is not a great thing for the waistline but our taste buds love it.

When our daughters were young they did spend time using their hands. I remember the miniature Fimo sculptures they would make and the art work and the sewing. I bought them a rotary tool at one point and it did get a little bit of use. Today the 21 year old is doing her art and the younger one cooking but social media and hanging out with friends takes up much of their time.  After baking a quantity of cupcakes the other day my daughter said she found it relaxing. I think she forgets about that aspect of making food when she is on the computer or on her phone texting (which she has never described as relaxing).

I regret not teaching them more about fixing and doing renovations in the home. I will try to help them learn those skills when they become homeowners. If you have stories about raising a family and what you did or didn’t do to encourage tinkering and creating stuff with tools and objects, share your experiences.

I recently came across a Wall Street Journal article that talks about efforts being made to foster this way of living and engaging with the world.

Fear of Faucets

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

The 18th Skills Canada National Competition just wrapped up in Edmonton. I really wanted to be there but going to Hot Docs was my priority. I did read about it and one article caught my eye. According to a survey conducted by Skills Canada almost half of Canadians admit they don’t know how to install a bathroom or kitchen faucet.

At one time when you went to the hardware store and puchased a part there was either no instructions or you needed a special tool to install it in place. Nowadays replacement products are a lot more user-friendly. So why the hesitations. I believe that if you don’t have an early-in-life familiarity with using your hands to build or repair you are going to be afraid of changing that faucet. If you have been raised your whole life in a rural setting and never ventured into the city, you are going to be nervous walking down the main street.

I recently replaced a toilet valve at home. I had never done this before and was a little nervous, partly because it was Saturday afternoon and the stores close at 5 pm. We could have been without running water until Monday morning. The toilet valve was straight forward but the connection from it to the wall was not that obvious. The recommended choice was to replace the gangly group of galvanized fittings with a flexible hose. Armed with tools and the parts needed I tried to loosen the existing pipes. They wouldn’t budge. I didn’t want to risk breaking the pipe coming out of the wall. That would definitely mean calling a plumber. As it turned out I could attach the new toilet valve to the old fittings after all and with no leaks.

What a great experience. I used communications skills to talk with the store clerk about what I needed. I used my brain to figure out the instructions for this application. I used my body to get in the best position to wield the tools needed for loosening and tightening.  I used evaluative skills to figure out a plan B when plan A failed.

Now let me think, I have wanted to change the bathtub… hmm?


Sharing the project at Hot Docs

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

On Sunday I headed off by train to Toronto. I am here until Thursday night. My schedule at this international documentary festival, in addition to seeing a few great films, is to pitch “Working Hands”. No firm deals yet, but people seem to like the concept. I can tell that when I see heads nodding as they look at the PITCH.

I have given some people with whom I have chatted a ‘Key Chain ID kit’. In this kit there are two rings, string, 10 numbered beads and six coloured beads. If they lose their keys or tote bag, the finder can phone the number on the chain. The point of this souvenir is they have to make it with their hands, a concrete symbol of what this project is all about.

Some basic instructions: Tie the string with a double knot around the small ring, slip the beads onto the string, tie a double knot on the end being careful to place the knot close enough to keep the beads close together, snip the ends (not too short) with sharp scissors (cuticle), slip onto the larger ring, attach to keys or bag. If the holes seem too small to pass the string, snip the end to a fine point. The creation you just made is not strong enough to BE a key chain but is meant as a tag or label.