Topic for the day.
The Case for Working With Your Hands
By MATTHEW B. CRAWFORD
Published: May 24, 2009
Changes in the economy have had the surprising effect of making the manual trades more attractive as careers.
Matthew B. Crawford lives in Richmond, Va. His book, "Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work," from which the linked essay is adapted, will be published this week by Penguin Press
Denmark photo gallery has been added...
a shop in Holte, Denmark
Det Lille Bondehus (The Little Farm House)
03/25/2009, Farum, Denmark
A new place to live for the crew; 9,500 miles from Radiance. (15,400 km)
Our part of the house is the furnished 'right wing' in the photo; a little apartment formerly rented out as a Bed and Breakfast. Furnished is good since we showed up in Denmark with only our suitcases.
We actually chose the smallest rental place of all those we looked at. Must be the 'cosy quotient' that we're used to after all these years on the boat.
03/25/2009, Farum. Denmark
Living room in the winter light.
-as it looks before we move in. It kind of has a peaceful Shaker feel to it with simple furniture and no clutter. That probably won't last.
But we are pretty sure the TV is 'gonna go'.
Radiance at 56 degrees north. Well, only the crew
Steen and Angela
03/22/2009, Denmark via Thailand
We are in Denmark.
About boats: some say that if three smaller incidents/breakdowns happen at the same time, then you might be in a critical situation.
We have been lucky over the last two years, (yes, some luck is involved), not to have experienced any critical situations with the boat. We have had a pretty good record regarding the sailing, anchoring, dinghying, mechanical... boat stuff. We have also always kept Radiance in good mechanical condition. So far, knock on wood, Radiance has given us no reason to doubt her ability to continue for many more miles, which we plan to do again in the future.
But, we have not kept ourselves in as good condition. We have left small issues unattended. So three little incidents that separately would have been manageable to fix, all happened at the same time; nothing critical, but issues that needed to be addressed. Our initial plan was to address them while in Australia, but with the current global financial situation, getting work permits in Australia proved to be nearly impossible. We decided to head to the US to work and rejuvenate, but alas, it was not to be...
The US Department of Homeland Security informed us there would be a nine to twelve month processing time for Steen to get his work visa back, not to mention how long it might take to get his official green card back. (We had written in an earlier posting that Steen had lost his green card because we had been out of the US for more than twelve months). For some reason, as cruisers on an American boat with an American address, we hadn't thought his green card would have been in jeapardy.
Anyway, we have chosen to travel to Denmark to work, (hopefully), and live and to have access to all those little important things like healthcare, dental care and child care, along with a close proximity to friends and family. So, here we are.
Concerning the boat, we were lucky that Radiance was in Australia, which was not only a good and safe place to leave Radiance, but also that Australian Customs actually allowed us to leave the boat there for three years without any import fees. So it turned out to be a perfect place to leave Radiance while we took care of ourselves.
We left the piles in downtown Brisbane 3 days before flying out of Australia for Denmark. The trip took us back down the river and 15 miles north, through Moreton Bay, up to the small town of Scarborough. We had the opportunity to re-learn an old lesson. 'Do not sail out of a river mouth into open water at max ebb tide; especially if there is a good onshore breeze.' It gets really choppy and steep.
We anchored in Deception Bay for a few days before hauing the boat out. The bay was okay but very shallow. We anchored in 8ft of water which was quite uncomfortable when the sea breeze picked up in the afternoon. And don't go swimming in that bay; a good-size shark cruised by Radiance the day after we got there. I am glad I saw it before deciding whether or not to jump in. There's nothing like murky water and shark dorsal fins to curtail any thoughts of leisure swimming; not that we really had time for such activities anyway.
Scarborough Marina is a nice place to haul out. They are quick and professional. The place is clean and well kept. We hauled out the day before we flew out of Brisbane. It turned out that we had under-estimated the time it would take to pack down everything on Radiance. Steen had to go back the next day for the last few things, but that wasn't really a big deal since our plane for Denmark left at midnight. The hotel was kind enough to store our bags for the afternoon, and let Angela and Malou hang out by the pool, without charging us an extra day. So, we all got through the day and were in a good mood when we got into the taxi heading for the airport.
The trip from Australia to Thailand and then to Denmark went great. The service and food on Thai air was good. The tiny beautifully dressed Asian attendants took good care of you with good food and drink.
Malou did a great job. She slept most of the way to Bangkok. In Bangkok, where we had an eighteen- hour layover, we decided to venture out of the airport to see something. Luckily, we could leave our bags at the airport at a storage place - for only five dollars a bag. That wouldn't have been possible at LAX; there is no onsite bag storage at LAX, and if there were, it would have been a lot more than five dollars a bag.
At the Bangkok airport, we were approached by a taxi driver who spoke very little English but wanted to take us to a crocodile wrestling and elephant show, about 30 minutes from the airport. We weren't sure what our plans were. There wasn't a train from the airport, only buses and taxis. Downtown was so far away, he told us we would be stuck in traffic too long to see much. So, we went with him, and the crocodile place turned out to be a kind of zoo. It was one of those old fashioned zoos where all the animals are in small concrete enclosures. The zoo claimed to have the best crocodile conservation and breeding program in Thailand, but by modern zoo standards, their treatment of the other wild animals, (many held on short chains for photo purposes), was pretty horrid.
The surrounding neighborhood was really poor and dustier than we had expected. We thought it looked more like Mexico than a Southeast Asian county. We were expecting green and humid, but it was more of a light brown with a temperate climate.
The taxi driver arranged to pick us up at the zoo after two hours, which he did. Then he drove us to a place called The Ancient City, a 300-acre area where they have reconstructed ancient Hindu temples and built some newer ones to look authentic. It's landscaped and is supposed to be an overview of what you might see if you traveled throughout Thailand. We took a golf cart around the grounds on our own tour, (Steen driving), and it was really nice. Again, the cab driver waited for us and then took us back to the airport. We spent about 4 hours on his time and he charged us the equivalent of 30 US$ total. They must not make very much normally. It sounded quite cheap to us. I read somewhere that the average daily income for Thai people is about the equiv. of 5 US dollars.
It is cold here in Denmark, and it was quite a shock to walk out of the airport into the March weather after 2-1/2 years in the tropics, (says Steen; Angela, however thought it was refreshing, and she generally loves the cold weather). We stayed the first few days with Jorgen, Steen's friend, (as it has become our custom when we arrive in Denmark). After a few days we went to see Bedstemor and Bedstefar (Malou's grandparents). That is where we are now. We actually have the place to ourselves since Steen's parents left for Africa 2 days after we got here.
So, now we are looking for a job and a place to live...(update: we've just found a great place to live). Neither is as easy as we could have hoped for, but we will get it done.
That's the news for now. Upcoming: photos of our awaiting rental place attached to a beautiful traditional thatched-roof farm house in Farum, Denmark.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
The Story Bridge seen from our deck through our suncover.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
LED lights on Radiance
Our LED Christmas lights
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Radiance as one of the few boats with Christmas lights.
LED lights that use virtually no power. Half of the strings 220 volt and half of the strings Solar powered LEDS.
Makings of the candle
The makings of the calendar candle from previous photo.
Candle from Christmas
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Our homemade calendar candle garden, decorated with seeds and things we found at the Botanic Gardens just up on shore by the moorings. And also some Nissen (Danish elves) a friend in Denmark made.
At this point we needed some more special green grass from the Gardens. We had to make a stealth mission at night to go pick some more from one of the landscaped beds.
01/04/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Malou in her role as Mary
Joplin photos online
Angela Rose Aquino
A link to a Joplin photo blog that I came across today. Joplin, Missouri, my home town. Photos take by a college student.
revised: Jan. 6th
I meant to say this next part earlier, but will add it now after Clint's observent comment. Thanks.
These photos are not representative of Joplin as a whole; neither are they images you might see in a Chamber of Commerce brochure.
They don't show the beautiful historic homes, tree-lined boulevards, the thriving parts of town or the newly built medical complexes, shopping centers or fancy neighborhoods.
I really like the theme of these photos.
I like them because the detailed views of some dilapidated downtown areas contrast interestingly with the shot of the simple and beautiful natural surroundings. They contrast, but the shots elicit similar responses from me: appreciation and familiarity.
Appreciation for the quirky parts of town...quirky like a location for a David Lynch movie. Some of the photos show places I went with friends; places we didn't think our parents knew about or at least would ever go... (not Union Station though) I never went there. The 'Chat Piles' on the edge of town could be a magical landscape on a moonlit night in the summer, the white chat from the mines reflecting the moonlight like snow.
The photos also capture some of the clear low light of winter days and the fall leaves on the tracks, and the sculptural quality of the trees after the dangerous but beautiful ice storms.
Happy New Year! w/addendum
01/01/2009, Brisbane, Australia
Happy New Year and best wishes for 2009.
What's on my mind as we start the new year? Well, a lot.
You might be sorry I finally decided to write. Maybe I just needed to put some things in print. So...
The following views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the rest of the crew of the s/v Radiance.
Addendum to previous posting:
I do not profess having perfect manners.
I think good manners can suffer when one becomes defensive.
To show good manners even when one is defensive is probably a sign of good upbringing, training, or breeding, possibly mixed with an even temperament.
I feel I have been put on the defensive by those I have met who carry definite assumptions about the United States and about Americans. I'm inserting here a key issue in international affairs. (Is the United States a sum of it's citizens, and is an American necessarily representative of the United States? In other words, what is the distinction between personal identity and national identity?) Another blog posting.
I sometimes make them even though I know they rarely stand up to close scrutiny.
I do not believe, however, that I would make statements like the following: "Don't most people in your county carry guns?", or "We have heard that Americans do things 'over the top'".
Like one, like many?
Steen, Malou and I went to a social gathering last month. I won't say what gathering because it might not be fair to that 'group of people' we went to see. Anyway, as Americans visiting Australia, we were guests, in a way, at this gathering. Within twenty minutes of our arrival, a man from the club told me the following story.
"I knew someone who worked in America. He came back (to Australia) with some stories... none of them good. He said while he was working there he met a woman from Boston who seemed educated; she was doing the New York Times crossword; and she said to him, 'So, if it's summer in Australia when it's winter in the U.S., then what month is it there now?'
Then he told me another story about one of his friend's American business contacts from Houston. The man from Houston was going to be moving to Australia with his wife and children for business reasons. The American apparently said on the phone to the Australian, that he hoped his kids would be able to pick up the new language ok.
The man telling me these stories thought they were very funny and for some reason assumed I would also. I didn't. I told him I would be quite surprised if either story had even a hint of truth. I thought to myself... even if they had been true, I fail to see why anyone would begin a conversation with a visiting American with such insulting material. I lost interest in conversing with this person after that.
Out and about:
Steen, Malou and I went out looking for a really good hamburger. We walked all over downtown looking for a promising restaurant or café. There are at least two McDonalds downtown, probably more, and I sometimes like McDonalds, but this day we were looking for what you might call a serious burger. Lunchtime was slipping away and we finally found a little café, with a counter inside and seats outside, that had burgers on the menu at a fairly decent price. I went in alone and ordered two cheeseburgers, a coke and a mocha. (Malou had fallen asleep on Steen's lap outside.) The girl behind the counter taking my order looked at me a little too long, so I clarified by ordering two hamburgers with cheese. (The menu board said hamburgers... and near the bottom said for cheese, add 80c.). Then another woman behind the counter came and stood beside the first girl and said to me with a very serious look, "We don't make McDonald-like cheeseburgers here."
I just gave her a blank stare back. Okay, I'm thinking, why would you say that to me?
All I could say was, "I'd like two of Your cheeseburgers", as if that hadn't been quite obvious since I had just ordered them. The place was full of customers waiting for their order. Apparently I was the only one speaking with an American accent, which apparently told the woman behind the counter that I would only like McDonald's cheeseburgers. And, no she wasn't trying to be friendly or funny. She was quite serious. I was glad we were eating outside because this minor little episode happened one week after meeting the insulting gentleman at the social gathering, and I was not really in the mood to be stereotyped. The burgers came and were gorgeous; exactly what we had wanted. At least that bit turned out all right.
You see, it's these little remarks, over and over, along with statements I've received from some cruisers that go something like, "Yes, I've known boats who've tried to stay away from the anchorages where the Americans were."
Can you imagine that remark in reverse; an American cruiser saying anything like that about boaters from another country? I can't.
So, I apologize for my bad manners. Everyone displays them sometimes, but I haven't recovered from the hurt I've received, (and I've left out the bad stuff), from careless and callous remarks about my country and my countrymen.
Is this a cyclical phenomenon, this Anti-Americanism? Maybe, but that doesn't justify it and it doesn't mean that when the cycle turns, if it does, that those interacting with Americans will be any more unbiased.
To end: of course, most of the cruisers and locals we met in the islands and elsewhere were positively wonderful. Should I just ignore the rest and not be affected by their words? No. Because this current Anti-Americanism is not based solely on our foreign policy, on our national stance on the environment, on Guantanamo Bay, on Iraq, on Israel. No, it's more overarching. Some of the negative remarks I've received have had nothing to do with our foreign policy. They touch on our culture, our television programs, our food, our physiques, our social policies, our educational systems, our clothing, our holiday traditions, and on and on.
I haven't quite worked out my thoughts on the possible dangers of this type of stereotyping, but I think it's dangerous.
Personally, I know the United States has some problems. What country doesn't? I know that we use more natural resources than we should. I have fought to change that. I could list many examples of national policies that I don't agree with, and of course, many that I do.
But, my words to those from other lands: Don't insult me; talk to me. Don't pre-judge me; get to know me. And don't think that just because I may not agree with every action of the United States, that I will think it's ok for anyone to insult my heritage. Simple manners would suffice.
So, what do you really think?
That's all for now.