In which I get taken to school

So, in December, I graduated.

No, I’m not trying to generate accolades or comments. Monetary gifts are always welcome, but not required. (If you do want to help support the Five Minute Wood Worker, consider dropping by my storefront on CafePress. Shameless plug over.) I’m mentioning this because it might help explain why I’ve not been prolific in posting.

An external shot of one of the courtyards at the West campus of Cuyahoga Community College
An external shot of one of the courtyards at the West campus of Cuyahoga Community College

I find myself sitting here, filling out applications, trying to raise funds to complete a couple of goals, and wondering if it would be better to go back to school (again) and try to get two more degrees in 18 months. There’s also a possibility that I could transfer these additional two Associates degrees to another school, where I can then get an additional Bachelor degree without taking an additional class. Not that I’m trying to play the system, but if the opportunity exists, why not explore it?

Now, the family likes Chinese food. (Give me a moment, and it will tie back in.) We don’t often get it, because it is not the cheapest meal around, and the local Chinese restaurants are… well… let’s just say they aren’t high on our list of places to go. Even after the Zombie Apocalypse. And the end of the world. Or even if there were no other places to eat. So, the youngest one used some of his birthday and Christmas money to treat the family to Chinese food, including the drive out to the nearest good place.

At the end of the meal, I enjoy the fortune cookie. (Don’t most of us?) Inside, the cookie has it’s typical mystical slip of semi-prophetic and mysteriously omniscient and weirdly (and blandly) applicable statements. I’m looking forward to some mildly applicable statement like “don’t pick your teeth while driving,” or “the best journeys begin with the first step.” Instead I find a sledgehammer.

The debate rages on: hand tools or power tools?
tools of the trade?

“You can spend forever learning the tools of the trade, and never learn the trade.” Words of wisdom. From a quick little cookie. Not normally deep, and had I received them at any other time, I might have simply overlooked them, grimaced, shrugged, and tossed it away. But it came at a time when I needed another insight.

One of the appeals of academia is that you are insulated. Inside the walls of learning, there is no need to perform, no pressure to face the world, no requirements on you beyond passing the classes. Sure, some students also have monetary issues, but if you go right from high school to college, you haven’t really experienced any of these. The most you might feel is a car payment, insurance payments, college tuition costs, and food.

If you are older than high school age, though, the pressures of life have made themselves known. You have debts to pay, some of them having been generated by your education. Life has come and left gifts on your doorstep; some of them might be financial, and some of them might only be considered gifts in the sarcastic sense. Some might be in the form of other individuals that share your time or space (or both). But you know the weight of responsibilities, and obligations.

Escaping back into school would be exactly that right now: escaping. I could use the extra education, I have no doubt. And some of the opportunities I was looking at could use a “higher” form of degree. (An Associates is still a degree, but some businesses are looking for Bachelor degrees, Master degrees, or some other expensive paper to prove you haven’t done anything but think you can.) But that little fortune cookie, with the unexpected little statement, pointed out a truth that I had overlooked, and the revelation came at an opportune moment.

Sometimes, the poet comes out when you least expect it.
Sometimes, the poet comes out when you least expect it.

Sure, I could go back to school and learn more things about being a good businessman. I could learn more tricks to make furniture. I could learn all sorts of great theories that I might be able to remember or find some way to apply them, years down the road. Or, I could gird up my loins, screw my courage to the sticking spot, take a plunge, and try my hand at the trade I have in mind.

While it is not the guaranteed option, I choose to make things. Words, furniture, saw dust, money. Yes, I have opted to not go back to school at this time. Yes, I’m bringing you more content on this site. Yes, I’m going to work in the field.

So while the meal was just a little something to make us feel better, and the whimsical little fortune cookie was not meant to matter, the timing could not have been better. Keep this in mind, when you look at your current projects. Sure, there might be a little something that comes along. Normally you might not even notice it. But sometimes, that little thing can be the inspiration behind a completely different direction or product.

Don’t turn away from them. Embrace them. Enjoy them. (And tip your driver. Especially in the snow.)100_1753

So, you can look forward to new posts and new projects coming from me. Probably not weekly as I had originally intended, as I do have these college bills coming in. But I do plan on getting one decent project out per month. I’m hoping to get video posted every other week, even if it’s just a little quick tip or snippet of what I’m doing. (Hopefully, I’ll be able to get a video camera to do this. I’ll be using the phone in the mean time.) But I plan on getting projects of multiple sizes out this year, so stay tuned.

If you’ve done wood working before, or if you’ve never picked up a tool or thought of making things, I hope you will find something in the site that catches your eye. I’ve got a couple of projects on my wish list that I will be doing this year, and I am working on the list of what will be completed when. That list will be published by next Friday.

I’m also going to try to do a “Tool Tuesday” entry, where I will be highlighting and demonstrating tools of various shapes and forms. Some will be of advanced use, some will be simple. (Given current financing and inventory of my remaining tools, plan on the advanced stuff coming in the summer.)

Yes, I’ve been reinvigorated. By a Chinese fortune cookie. Make what comments you will. I owe it a thanks. (And you, as well.)


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