Coping: Skill-Passing

I want to share a couple of very interesting conversations I had yesterday with two friends of mine on the topic of parenting.

One of the fellows is mid-40’s, lives here in East Texas, and is in the process (who to say this?) of “waking up” to the new reality that is beginning to appear on the internet.  He’s backing away from the old-style politics and is moving ahead as one of us “NuThinkers.”  While he’s got a ways to go, he’s very bright and making good progress.

Somehow, we got onto the subject of parenting (he’s got a teenaged son) and he spends a good deal of time with him, going to school sporting events and so forth.

And then we got onto the topic of gardening and doing things around the ranch.

“Say, did your dad ever teach you survival skills?” I asked him.

Oh, sure,  He taught me how to hunt, how to field dress a deer, put in a garden, and do construction around our ranch,” he told me.  There was a warm look to him as he recounted some of his learnings at his father’s side.

I dug into my pocket and dug out my pocket knife, which I handed to my friend who looked at it with some appreciation.  “Hey, this is an old Case knife, isn’t it?”

I then recounted the many adventures I had been on with my late father; times during which that old knife played a key role.  Mostly, when we were fishing in early Augusts for king salmon on Puget South in the Seattle area.  That was the knife that I learned to use to “plug cut” herring so they would flip over when slowly trolling, in a way that seems irresistible to salmon.

“Let me ask you,” I continued, “Have you taught your son how to field dress a deer, put in a garden, or bang 16-penny nails?”

After a moment’s thought he replied to the effect “No, now that you mention it…guess I’d never thought about it that way before…

I then offered some encouragement for him to do that, noting that it’s not just the time we spend with our kids that helps them later in life.  It’s also the things we do with them. 

It’s in the working at a task together that builds the teamwork and let’s our kids see how we think, not just about something as shallow as sports, but how to nurture plans, put meat on the table, or solve a carpentry problem.  (Which is where I learned some very creative combinations of swear-words as my thumb told me that my 16-penny nail-pounding skills could use some work.)

I felt pretty good about that conversation…and I’m damn near certain there’s going to be one more young person coming up with a whole assortment of new skills that he didn’t have prior to this week.

Then I happened to chat with a friend up in the northeast.  Same kind of age-range, son is active in sports, except in stead of tennis team in high school, his son is seriously into hockey.

Oh, sure, he helped me finish out the lower level of our house,” my friend up there told me.  “He was my little slave.  I taught him how to measure, cut wood, nail…you know, the whole thing….”  His pride and pleasure at the recall came through the phone loud and clear.

Just wondering….”  I said as we moved onto other topics.

But those two conversations seemed particularly important to me.  Because it into perspective the idea that it’s not the amount of time you spend with a child that forms them.  It’s in the task-sharing so that they can get a sense of manhood, womanhood if female, and personhood in general that’s key.

It’s something to think about as another weekend shows up.  Watching television together (South Park, or Simpson’s reruns, anyone?) may count as “clock hours” to borrow a concept from education.  But is there any practicum being passed along?

Think of it as “skill-passing.”  It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.  But it does take some awareness and intent.  Thought I’d mention it.


Something very odd has happened around here.  We used to get a fair number of World of Woo-Woo (formerly WuJo)_ reports.  Encounters with the odd, out of place, and just unexplainable cases of how the Universe was not following its hard and fast rules completely.

The WoWW cases had involved things disappearing one place, show up another, and other phenomena – like missing time, as well.

But here’s the odd part:  All these things seem to have gone missing.  I haven’t had a decent WoWW report in the past three weeks, or so.

If you sent in a report, please resend it.  Otherwise, we will be forced (however reluctantly) to conclude that WoWW is something that comes and goes in cycles…

Send your reports to and put WoWW in the subject line, if you would, so my email router puts it in the right pile… thanks.

Yet Another Prepping Thought

As the situation in Ukraine heats up, this from reader Gregory is interesting:


Your repeated admonitions regarding Putin’s likely action of taking-names-and-kicking-ass post Sochi has caused me to add an unusual item to my SHTF preps:  a Russian-language course!  Okay: maybe I’ve seen RED DAWN too many times [the original – since the remake has us squaring off with the N Koreans] or my paranoia is finally raging unchecked… but what the Hell?  I’ve always wanted to learn a 2nd language anyway… I just figured it would be Italian.  What it won’t be is Korean -that language is just as difficult as those who scream it in Pyongyang.  On the other hand, lead is still the greatest single translator around, isn’t it?  I just think it’s more civil to yell  “I’m gonna’ blow your ####ing head off in about 10 seconds…”  in my aggressor’s native tongue.    It would show I care…

You might want to consider Chinese, though…or Spanish

The Great Airplane Scandal

Reader Bill reports he’s scandalized by my admission that this may be the year that we sell our dependable (and fund) old Beechcraft.

I clearly remember that at one point not too long ago your Beechcrate was the primary method for saving your butt if things really go bad bad.  You were going to jump into the Crate and FLY AWAY to a better place.
Now I did not endorse that strategy because there were too many problems, like for example if you were trying to escape radiation, there might be radiation everywhere.  And of course, what makes you think there will be a safe place to land within your possible flight zone?
Still, I am scandalized that you are glibly putting aside a fun and useful part of your life over perceived money savings.  Hmmmmmmm.  Will Ham Radio go next ?   Methinks your life will be pretty boring down the road if you divest yourself of all your toys…

To begin with, the old Beech is sitting, as we speak, in the hangar, fueled up, pre-flighted, oil checked, everything set to take off and fly anywhere in the country at the drop of a hat.  My medical’s current, health is good…it’s just time that matters.

On  this, the reality is that I looked at the logbook since we finished up our big trip last summer and I haven’t put 20-hours on the plane.  In fact, so far this year, I’ve managed to fly 7/10th’s of one hour…just time to go up, do three full-stop landings, taxi over to top off the fuel, and get back to work.

Unless I come up with a block of time to do some serious flying – like going up to Alaska, which we’ve kicked around, or going out and flying the Bahamas and down to the Dominican Republic, I might only put 20-30 hours on the plane this year. 

The only corner of the country we’ve missed so far is Key West, and we have talked about that, too.

I’m not the only one in my age group who is thinking about when’s the right time to leave the hangar.  A long-time friend has a great airplane (JetProp, which is a Piper Malibu conversion to a Pratt turbo prop power plant) who is thinking about the same thing.  It’s not the flying…it’s the other stuff that goes with it.  In his case that includes the addition of instrument currency requirements and, because he’s a turboprop driver, a lot more recurrent training to keep insurance reasonable.

Our insurance is fairly cheap for the airplane ($650 a year) and it’s gets us anywhere in less than half the time that driving does.  BUT, since I don’t have time to finish (or keep) an instrument rating current, weather plays more of a factor.  If the weather is crappy, we simply don’t go.  

There are plenty of stories around, like this one, about people who don’t keep the “rust off” their flying skills.  You have to fly in order to be good…and that takes practice.

A number of years ago, a cousin of mine lost part of his leg (below the knee) when it was off motorcycle riding.  He had to lay the bike down and he paid the price.  That’s why such events are called “accidents.”

That was one of the factors when I decided to give up my Yamaha Virago shaft-drive and call it good after about 75,000 miles of incident-free riding.

Similarly, I lived on a sailboat and sailed pretty much everything from southern Alaska down to the Mexican border with one minor grounding that didn’t require assistance, or do any damage, being the only issue in 11-years and 15,000 miles of sailing.

Another lesson from my old Porsche 930:  I know it is not possible to drive at 2-3-times the posted speed limit very often and not get thrown in jail for speeding, or to slam into a deer that doesn’t have its ears tuned-in to an approaching air cooler grabbing gears… 

I’d actually hit a deer back in about 1987 when I was driving my old ‘73 911-E about 25-miles north of Portland, one night.  Damn deer had jumped a fence and came out of nowhere.  The car was repairable ($6k) but I was driving the speed limit at the time.  I remember that one clearly.

Life’s got some lessons:  One of them is that it’s OK to play hard (really hard) if you have your head on straight.  But when you get a sense that the time to quit one thing, or other, is coming, then you’d be a damned fool not to pay attention.

My son has a wonderful time skydiving – and just recently bought his new rig as he’s about 80-jumps into that now.  But like me, I expect one of these days he’ll wake up, look at his (adrenaline-junkie satisfying) hobby and say to himself “It’s time.”  And then he’ll go onto something new.

The bottom line:  Hobbies wear out.  I bet most of our readers have been through two, three, or even more hobbies in a pretty serious way.  Master something, enjoy dominating it for a while, and then move one.

So if you’re scandalized that (except for the Alaska trip) the airplane will be offloaded at some point, then so be it.  What keeps people young, refreshed, and interesting, is continually doing new things, taking on new personal challenges.  Once you get something right, on to the next challenge, please.

Except ham radio and golf.  There is a class of sport (yes, ham radio is a sport) where the main opponent is you.  And there’s always something to learn there and the failure modes *(unlike airplanes, scuba diving, and smacking deer with a speeding car) are less catastrophic. 

Coming Up:  This weekend in Peoplenomics, we get into some of the economic prospects for the Ukraine crisis….and that will lead (following Saturday) to a pretty neat discussion of something I call “adaptive economics.”

Until then (or Monday)… have a great weekend, and write when you break-even…