Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Kindergarten Goals

When my mechanically adept son went to Kindergarten so many years ago he had a great teacher.  She could recognize and appreciate that this was not an average, just out of day care tyke.

The first week of school the students were all supposed to pick a goal for the year.  I imagine they were expecting something along the lines of:  "I will learn all my letters", or "I will be brave riding the school bus".

My son said: "I want to learn how to be a better carpenter".

And so that was his official kindergarten goal.  And he did become better although after a while his inclinations ran more towards metal than wood.

As a post retirement student I don't actually have to write down goals for my instructor.

But I just want to be a better machinist!

And it is not as easy as you would think.  I am not dim witted.  I have a good understanding of how machines work.  I have at least tinkered with various gadgets and tools for decades. But it does not help.

I guess with regards to metal working I come in knowing just enough to be dangerous.  I first have to unlearn quite a few ill conceived and sometimes unsafe short cuts to get to a better and more precise level of work.  And so many tasks are comprehensible but unfamiliar.  Measuring down to 1/1000th of an inch is tricky.  I find myself measuring often and being too cautious in making my lathe and milling cuts.  Inevitably I fall behind.

And having been an ER doctor does not help either.  Lets review.  In the ER you can call a helicopter and fly the most complicated stuff away.  Not an option.  When splinting broken bones or suturing a laceration you just have to get it close.  Nope, Steel Don't Heal.  You have to get it spot on and to specs.  A large part of medicine in all specialities - well maybe not Radiology or Pathology - is being able to "read" patients and interact comfortably.  This is of no help.  The metal ain't listening.

I guess there are a few reasons to take heart.  I start out so ill informed that I will without question increase my knowlege base by a greater percentage compared to the rest of the class. And my worries that I might not be challenged in retirement....these appear to be without basis.

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