June 15, 2010

If you're so smart, why don't you want to work with your hands?

"They started out studying aerospace engineering, creative writing and urban planning. But somewhere on the path to accumulating academic credentials, they decided that working with their hands sounded more pleasant -- and lucrative -- than a lot of white-collar work. So bye-bye to term papers and graduate theses, and hello to apprenticeships to become plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics and carpenters."

Via Instapundit
, who says these hands-on kinds of jobs "are harder to send offshore." I'd like to add that, quite aside from the problems with the job market these days, that there is no reason why individuals with strong intellectual aptitude need to be tracked into jobs that fully employ the mind.

Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it? There are jobs that enhance the contemplative environment for your mind. (What are they? Carpentry?) If you have a good mind, why not keep it for yourself instead of selling it to an employer?

Isn't physical labor preferable, even — especially! — for the most intellectually gifted persons?

167 comments:

Oligonicella said...

"Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it?"

You've never done hard labor, apparently. 'Cause it sure sounds like you think those kinds of jobs are done on autopilot.

Don't, I repeat don't, let your mind wander as you weld, work with electricity, gas or construction. You can die. Not even digging ditches. I've seen a man cut off several toes with a spade.

HDHouse said...

yes and by a long shot. I was a professional musician before getting into advertising. The musician life with the endless solitary practicing was rewarding and you didn't take your job home with you every night.

I think of "Norm" or some of the other DIY shows and envy them a great deal.

Expat(ish) said...

Well, it will be interesting to see how many peeps on this blog have done any actual sustained for-low-wage labor. I have - I worked around 40/hours/week during most of high school and then dropped out of college and started working during an earlier recession.

Which is one reason i went back to school at night and got me a real degree - I wanted to come home not smelling of sweat, grease, and dirt. I also thought it might be cool to meet women who didn't chain smoke, date first cousins, or erect 50 foot walls to keep male co-workers at bay.

Maybe things have changed.

Hard work is exhausting mentally. Especially if you have to keep your educmacation under your hat. (Hint, you do.) Plus that sh*t is dangerous. Even washing dishes you can get a 19 stitch cut. (I know.) You may think a faculty meeting is boring and difficult - try paying attention to a stream of dirty dishes for 8 hours trying to make sure that you don't cut the bejebus out of yourself. With your boss yelling at you.

Plus there is no status and that is not helpful when wooing the fairer sex.

The trick here is to learn to do something useful (e.g: civil engineering, programming) or get a good general purpose degree (e.g. - economics, statistics). There are not, never have been, and never will be enough in-track jobs for urban planners, sociologists, or wymons studies majors.

-XC

Calypso Facto said...

Andy Rooney said "Don’t rule out working with your hands. It does not preclude using your head." A statement I admire.

Though like most lefties/CBS pundits, he restricted the application of his own advice to his hobbies.

Richard Dolan said...

The problem is with the word 'preferable.' One size doesn't fit all. Each has to find his own way, in this as in everything else.

Weren't you listening to Eve Tushnet in that great diavlog?

Hoosier Daddy said...

I was a professional musician before getting into advertising.

Yeah that's real physical labor there.

holdfast said...

I have a friend who left his practice as an IP lawyer to become a cabinetmaker. Part way through law school he started renovating his house, and enjoyed the work so much that he decided then and there to become a cabinetmaker, but finished law school and practiced for a few years to make enough dough to buy all his tools. And his undergrad degree was engineering.

LarsPorsena said...

"Well, it will be interesting to see how many peeps on this blog have done any actual sustained for-low-wage labor.."

I can assure you, my plumber does not sustain himself with low wages.

Hoosier Daddy said...

When I got out of college in '90, there weren't much in the way of jobs for entry level childrens with college degrees. While I was in college I worked for a refractory company and did some installation work in the various steel mills. That was my only real work experience and got me a job on the spot with a company doing furnance maintenance at US Steel and Bethlehem. I spent the next 4 years, 7 months and 14 days working a lot with my hands and I must say, while I hated the environment, the work was extremely dangerous, you did get a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. (one of which was not being burned to a crisp or otherwise maimed)

prairie wind said...

My dad, who studied philosophy and physics in college, used to say that he did his best thinking while he was milking cows.

I agree with Olig...manual labor still requires intelligence.

Freeman Hunt said...

Or at least don't be directed into thinking that a great mind is always best channeled into the social sciences.

Methadras said...

I'm the son of a Master Mechanic. I worked in his shop growing up. Even though I didn't follow in his footsteps (my brother did), I went about acquiring another aptitude in Mechanical Engineering. I've been at it 25 years and I can take my skills anywhere in the world if I need to. So far my skills have sent me into northern california, but it's a living and I can keep a roof over the head and the food on the table. You have to go where the money is.

Derek Kite said...

I laugh almost every time I run into a university educated person at work.

Inevitably they either make less than me, or are utterly miserable at their job.

A funny, true story. I was working in an office installing some equipment. Everyone there had university degrees. There was a pay stub on a desk. I, a second year apprentice at the time, was making more money.

There are exceptions everywhere. But a person skilled at his work will be appreciated and content no matter what he or she is doing. The disdain for the plumber that dared question the One was disgusting. And considering the failure of our betters at their responsibilities not surprising. I have often run into disdain by those with inferior skills.

Derek

Hoosier Daddy said...

I agree with Olig...manual labor still requires intelligence.

If not a pretty solid awareness of your surroundings. I know from personal experience in the mill is the quickest way to being killed or seriously injured was becoming complacent.

Methadras said...

I'd love to be a stone mason if there were any jobs for it.

garage mahal said...

I worked in the woods cutting firewood for a few years. Two guys, we made $75 cash each for every load cut, split, and thrown on the truck. 3 full full cords every load, it took around 3 1/2 hours to load, and depending where we were delivering, 1-2 hours. This is all *if* the skidder started in the morning.

prairie wind said...

The disdain for the plumber that dared question the One was disgusting.

YES. We must remember that encounter between Joe and O because it presaged everything we've seen in this presidency.

AJ Lynch said...

During the summers, I worked as a laborer for a bricklayer and drove a truck in college [Teamsters union Local 628 job) and worked for a carpenter and in a hot factory in high school.

Being the solitary laborer for the bricklayers made me realized I should go back to college.

When I hear "experts" say we should raise the social security retirement age to 70, I know that "expert" never had to do physical labor for a living. Many so-called white-collar jobs are also physically taxing. Does Althouse think she could do the full-time prof gig at age 70? I bet Pogo, a doc, is hoping he will be retired from doctoring before he hits 70. I know I am [fyi I count beans for a living].

traditionalguy said...

I have heard that the best paid mechanics labor is for trained Elevator Technicians. The Otis and other elavator companies take in summer interns and offer further trainingg and a great job to the best of the group. There is also great job security in that field.

AllenS said...

For employment, I worked on a 4 color web offset press. They don't run themselves. Once you press the RUN button, and after IMPRESSION, you have to set the color and get the registration correct. The fold and the perforation have to be on. Any problems should be done on the fly. Climb into one of the printing units at full speed and try cleaning a roller. When I got home, I changed clothes and did farm work so I had feed for the beef cattle.

I've always liked to work with my hands.

Look how smart I turned out.

HDHouse said...

Hoosier Daddy said...
"Yeah that's real physical labor there."

yes it is.

AllenS said...

Methadras, if you want to email me, I'll show you my Facebook page and you can see some of my awesome stone work.

traditionalguy said...

Further information derived from representing a Custom Millwork maker/installer for bank buildings and fancy lobbies in Commercial buildings, is that carpentry work is down 60% too now. The super rich playing in the show off mode are shrinking fast, unless you are a favored person recieving political graft. Only the Government in DC still has unlimited money.

Expat(ish) said...

@LarsPorsena - Ha, yeah, well my "official" plumber for inspectable jobs charges me $75/hour. But he has a truck full of tools and equipment and has to pay someone to answer he phones, pay his bills, pay his taxes, and pay for his insurance. I'd be shocked if he was pulling $50K/year. (Hint: $75/hour for 50 weeks/year is $150K gross.)

And the guy who does most of my plumbing is well qualified and takes cash and I pay him $20/hour.

-XC

howzerdo said...

I had jobs that were sometimes physically difficult, and/or low-status, low-pay before finishing my education.

My cousin went from being an art director in advertising to carpentry. His life has been much happier as a result. However, I do think it is important to distinguish between low-wage jobs and "working with your hands." Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, masons etc. can be creative, highly skilled occupations that make good money.

Also, "working with your hands" does not always mean being able to let your mind wander, and some jobs are extremely hard physically, as other commenters have noted. My brother left meat cutting to go to college; all of his older colleagues were missing fingers and had joint problems from working in the cold.

Some aspects of farmwork, such as mucking stalls, while physically intense, do allow one to contemplate deeper subjucts without risking injury.

Titus said...

I am surprised that you would say that working with your hands and body keeps your mind free.

Those jobs require a mind.

You sound terribly elitist.

Titus said...

I come from a family that worked with their hands and body. They didn't have any fancy degrees but they were still smart people.

I find your post about this incredibly offensive.

garage mahal said...

Also, I worked for 2 days pouring cement footings for my friends dad. My job was to fill the wheelbarrow with cement and delivery where needed. My friend's dad was royal SOB who kept screaming at me that it wasn't dropped *exactly* where he wanted it dropped. He said *WHEN IS SAY RIGHT HERE, I MEAN RIGHT HERE!*, pointing to his feet. So I delivered the next load alright, right *on* his damn feet. And was fired immediately. And I think I was literally paid in change, like Napolean Dynamite at the poultry farm.

Perry The Cynic said...

This is an odd notion. Would you advise an extraordinarily dexterous person to work with their mind so they can "keep their hands free so they can do what they want with it"? If not, what asymmetry between hand-skills and mind-skills are you suggesting?

Most advanced crafts require plenty of brains. Yes, there's the part where your body runs as a muscle-memory-driven machine; but there's also smart and creative tool use to plan, design, and execute. Learning how to apply tools is mind work (and at its best, is a very satisfying integration of hand and mind).

The most extreme mind-freeing experience I know, is classic assembly line work featuring human robots using nothing but muscle memory for hours. Their work environment has been intentionally sterilized to remove all stimulation to their mind (to avoid distractions). Presumably those workers are totally "keeping their minds for themselves." But I really can't figure out why to romanticize that.

There *is* something satisfying in creating tangible things you can hold and say "I made this." But this doesn't separate "hand" from "mind" work; it separates creative from service and supervisory work. I can have the "I made this" experience with software just fine; it merely requires *making* something rather than "managing" some "process". (Hmmm, what do you *make* on the job?)

Cheers
-- perry

Oligonicella said...

garage, if you'd have done that to me, I'd have cracked up. Then I would have explained what I really meant. Then again, I wouldn't have prompted the response.

edutcher said...

If I could, I would. I was even terrible in shop.

The irony here is that it used to be anybody who couldn't find work in any other white collar job went into programming. Now, the programming jobs are all going away and everybody will have to be a bricklayer or something.

I'm sure my grandfather is spinning.

Titus said...

My father was a farmer and owned a construction company that laid blacktop on roads. He never went to college but he is one of the smartest men I know.

One thing he did know how to do was manage his money. Everything he purchased he paid for in full including houses, apartment buildings, gravel pits and cars.

I, on the other hand went to an Ivy League school and don't have a pot to piss in. That is one of my fathers sayings. Yes, I make quite a bit of money but in terms of savings...fuggatiboutit.

AllenS said...

When working with cement like garage was talking about, I always duct taped the top of my boots so cement can't fall in them. Cement in the boots, makes for a long day. I wheel barrelled cement last summer, and I think that might be my last cement work for someone else.

Old Dad said...

I put myself through grad school working as a handyman, mostly roofing, minor repairs and small to medium remodels. I loved the work and made excellent money, set my own schedule, and met lots of interesting people. Many, probably most of my customers were professors. It's cliche, but I swear, some couldn't change a light bulb. I charged, for those days, handsome money for doing things that a mormal adult could easily do himself--snake a toilet, unstop a drain, wire and outlet.

And never, ever underestimate the intelligence of a tradesman. Some of the most brilliant people I've ever met worked with their hands. Probably the smartest and definitely the richest person I've known was a farmer. He grew up hardscrabble poor in Mississippi and died owning several thousand acres of the best delta dirt on either side of the river (including a small unincorporated town. He was a realy good guy, but he'd rip your heart out in a business deal, and oten did.

g2loq said...

They treat us like Mules:
http://mikerosebooks.blogspot.com/2008/09/work-intelligence-and-blue-collar-vote.html

Titus said...

One summer I sat on top of a conveyor belt and picked out huge wires from the concrete before it went into the crusher. I sat about 50 feet up and the crusher was below me. I wore a mask and earphones. It was 1991 and I made like 20.00 a hour. The pay was great. I commuted to the site with two guys nicknamed "Indiana" and "Sparrow". They drank Pabst Blue Ribbon during lunch break.

Rialby said...

Speaking of working with ones hands, looks like Al Gore decided he needed to.

LarsPorsena said...

When I worked construction lots of the guys were "keeping their minds for themselves." They came to work stoned and stayed that way all day. Whilst on scaffolding at height "keeping their minds for themselves" made me very nervous.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Well, it will be interesting to see how many peeps on this blog have done any actual sustained for-low-wage labor.."

Depends on what kind of manual labor you are talking about and what your position in the business is. Grunt? Owner?

My first job was cutting the pits out of apricots, cutting the bug infested parts and mold into slop buckets. (1.25 an hour) It required standing for hours and bending your back over a tray to lay the 'cots on for drying. I have been a waitress, cocktail waitress, cook in a restaurant and bank teller (which also required a lot of standing) during my youth, college years and shortly afterwards.

All LOW skilled jobs with corresponding LOW pay.

If you are talking manual labor that requires skill and training, now we are into jobs that can provide sustainable living. (Carpenter, plumber, mechanic, manufacturing, construction trades etc.)

Not all jobs can pay the same. Not all skills are the same or needed at the same levels. This is why the concept of a "living wage" is counter productive and damaging to low wage/entry level earners.

I can assure you, my plumber does not sustain himself with low wages.

And rightly so.

My husband has been a self employed plumber/well/pump/water systems design business, for over 20 years. It requires a lot of manual and mental skills including an understanding of physics (friction loss etc), pumps, water tank calibrations psi, water systems design for domestic, commercial and agricultural purposes, understanding of basic plumbing concepts, knowledge of laws and regulations pertaining to plubming and contract law. Also math concepts, geometry, algebra. The ability to envision in three dimensions a projected plumbing project, calculate the amount and type of materials needed. Basic job costing and accounting skills.

And in some cases a really strong stomach and a strong back.

It doesn't require a college degree and as stated.....really hard to outsource your plumber's actual work to someone in India.

Plus, as the owner of the business, he can tell bad clients to go pound sand.

:-D

Paul said...

"I was a professional musician before getting into advertising.

Yeah that's real physical labor there."

You'd be surprised. Besides hours of practice everyday on a wind and a stringed instrument I have the joyful experience of lugging my 100lb amp, 60lb pedalboard, at least one strat and a tenor sax, and a couple of bags of cables and misc. stuff, music and mic stand...and depending on the venue it may entail dragging the whole shebang on a cart up a steep SF city street, or worse, piecemeal up a long flight of stairs. I lift weights and mountain bike just so I can carry my gear! (I'm only partially kidding.)

Then there's setting it all up, four hours of often hard playing (and when the music is inspiring it's impossible not to be highly physically involved, dancing and undulating). Tearing it down, schlepping it all back to the car, loading it up and driving god knows how far and often I do it twice and rarely three times in a day.

My father had a PHD in chemistry from Princeton, switched to electrical engineering (he learned electronics in the Navy)and worked for IBM. A brainy guy with a high level white collar job, but he could build anything, did fine cabinetry woodworking, built amplifiers (he built me 100 watt tube amp from scratch when I was a kid) fix anything around the house, and genuinely enjoyed working with his hands. He taught me a lot of skills that I have used my whole life and I too enjoy working with my hands.

It's a travesty that vocational training programs have disappeared from school curricula.

Oligonicella said...

Paul --

"It's a travesty that vocational training programs have disappeared from school curricula."

Colleges. They're trying to destroy vocational schools. You can even get a friggin' degree in farm machinery maintenance.

garage mahal said...

Paul
You play for free right, and get paid to lug your shit around.

Titus said...

Can we all agree I am really interesting?

Gay, from Wisconsin, went to a fab college, make tons of money, love the farm-breakfasts on the farm in Wisconsin are big this time of the year, worked construction, have an Indian husband from the UK who has a British accent-the british accent plus the brown skin is a major turn on, have a killer body.

What's not to love, really?

Expat(ish) said...

There seems to be some confusion here: high paying trades work is the tippy top of the iceberg of all non office work.

Why do you think builders were so excited to see illegal aliens come over? The work is good enough (though usually not nearly as good) and much lower in cost.

For every group of experienced roofers like the ones I carried shingles up for (HARD work) there are a dozen jack leg guys who will do an ok job and your roof won't leak. And they cost less and make less.

Most of these kids leaving college for trades are gonna end up in a dead end lower-middle-class existence. But they'll be home for kid baseball.

-XC

Paul said...

"Paul
You play for free right, and get paid to lug your shit around."

Hah! That's about right!

Tibore said...

"Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it?"

An old high school teacher of mine had a college classmate that went that route; said he decided to work at a factory job despite getting a masters because it left his brain free. Never met that teacher's friend, so I could never confirm the story, but I don't believe he was making the story up.

I, on the other hand, much prefer my current position (IT work) over manual labor (CD factory, home component (read: doors, door thresholds, etc.) factory in high school, apartment yard maintenance and theater lighting/electrical/effects grunt in college). True, part of that is the pay, but another part is that those other jobs just ground on and on. They seemed to me to be far more like a hamster in a wheel than anything else; you ran yourself ragged just to stay in place. Whereas in my IT positions, you were consistently working to implement, update, and move forward from where you were.

Granted, "moving forward" may not be a characteristic of every "mental" job. And "running to stay in place" isn't guaranteed to be the result of every physical one; another smart IT guy I knew teamed up with some family members to have a home-building business on the side, and there was some exterme satisfaction in finishing a house. But, my point is that my own experience leads me to much prefer jobs that are more mental work than physical.

The downside of working mostly with one's head: Diabetes. Sitting in place for over a decade whilst slurping down sodas messed me up. But that's my own damn fault for not exercising. Still, though, having a manual labor job gets one more exercise during the day than an IT job does.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@OldDad

Many, probably most of my customers were professors. It's cliche, but I swear, some couldn't change a light bulb.

LOL... It never ceases to amaze us how all these super smart college educated lawyers just can't seem to remember that if you leave your house (vaction or second homes here) vacant in the winter with the heat turned off, water in the pipes......that when the temp falls to -5 degrees at night and doesn't get over freezing for daytime highs..........Your freaking pipes are going to explode.

Hey dummy....water freezes at 32 degrees!!!

Titus said...

Last night my husband and I went out to dindin in Harvard Square which is two blocks from my loft.

It was fab. The night was beautiful, the company exceptional, the meal was meh-he's a vegetarian so when we go out to dindin all the meals are meh.

Our lives will be changing soon though. He has been in the US for 7 years and his Visa expires in July so he will be leaving. I will be returning to Wisconsin for a few months and then on to Bangalore for a few months and then back to Scony. After one year we will decide where we are going in the US.

How fabulous am I really? Pretty Fab.

I also have pretty big hog, 8 1/2 inches, cut, mushroom head, hard to get your mouth around.

Hagar said...

On a construction project, the sourest people tend to be the crane operators. They are also the highest paid, but union rules forbid them doing any work other than operating the equipment, so most of the time they just sit there watching everybody else work.
The happiest people tend to be the common laborers because there is always something for them to do, and they get to switch around and do different things.

I am a klutz lacking any manual skills or talents, so I became a professional engineer, and I can't really think of anything else I would want to be. As for salary, I always checked the wagescale for a carpenter foreman, and if I was keeping pace, I figured I was getting paid.
Some would say that is not a fair comparison, because the union guys only work when called up, but that is not true for a carpenter foreman, who will normally be a "company man" that the contractor wishes to keep on hand even if it means paying him through some periods with nothing much to do.

I should also point out that though an "education" is available at college, it is only so if you choose to take advantage of it, and there is nothing to stop you from acquiring a "liberal education" ("book larning") on your own outside of college. Won't cost so much either.

Oligonicella said...

Tibore --

Gods, I left IT for exactly the reason that it had become a hamster wheel. Fantastic cash, horrid environment.

Titus said...

My Indian husband can blow his load three times in one night. That is too much for me.

He wakes me up constantly just so he can blow.

I am like Punjab, enough. I call him Punjab.

Titus said...

Do you know that many of the big farmers in Wisconsin hire Mexicans? Russians too.

Titus said...

When having sex my Indian UK husband tells me to spit in his palm so he can lupe up his dick.

MadisonMan said...

Manual jobs I have had are limited to snow-shoveling, grass-cutting, and paper delivery.

My best friend does construction, still. It's killing his body, slowly but surely. And what oligonicella says: Let your mind wander and you put yourself and your co-workers at great risk. But he does make beautiful things.

DBQ: The physical scientist in me feels constrained to point out that, while ice always melts at 32 F, not all water freezes at 32 F. (Pedantry off)

MadisonMan said...

Do you know that many of the big farmers in Wisconsin hire Mexicans?

The CSA we belong to -- I think it's the most famous one in Wisconsin -- hires Mexicans each year. The newsletters we get usually describe the difficulties encountered by the people they hire in acquiring the right paper work to come and do their jobs -- jobs they are highly skilled at now after doing them for years (they hire the same guys year after year).

The paperwork is getting more and more onerous each year.

Titus said...

My Indian UK husband likes to push my head down by his hog when he blows.

So I become a bekokke.

What does that say about our relationship?

Actually, to be honest I tell him to put my head down there before he blows.

Michael said...

I once packed Popsicles from 2 in the morning to 10:30. The Popsicles came down the line relentlessly like the brooms in Fantasia. It was ghastly, but I got to meet people who would do that job for the rest of their lives. After three days I could do it as well as people who had done it for a decade.

Another summer I worked in "quality control" for a major cosmetics company, in the warehouse. At the direction of our boss we hid and screwed around from 8 in the morning until about 2:30 when we commenced destroying the bottles of perfume or hand lotion that had been wrongly labeled or were otherwise unworthy of sale. We then worked until around 7 in the evening thus racking up overtime and making the boss look good.

The hardest was working for a moving company at which time I learned that pianos always belong on the second floor and that giant refrigerators can be moved by a single person knowledgeable of the proper use of hand trucks. I can still do it.

The corporate job was an eye opener as it had nothing whatsoever to do with productivity but rather with racking up hours. I could have done the work of the whole crew in half a day if allowed. If you worked too hard in that job someone would have a pinch of wisdom like "where's the fire son?" Working on the line packing those pops was in between. Deadly dull. The moving job was where I learned that the drivers were entrepreneurs and the harder and faster we worked the sooner he could pick up another load. If you worked it hard and understood the packing process you would get a great tip from the driver.

I made a goodly amount of money in graduate school hustling nine ball, but I don't count that as manual labor.

holdfast said...

Army reserves all the way through college and law school - 8 months of classroom, then 4 months playing outside in the summer - not a bad deal. As a combat engineer, I got to dabble in various construction activities (concrete pads, culverts, constructing footings for bridges, some road construction, and lots of fun with jack hammers), along with the really good stuff like using mass amounts of C-4 and assembling military bridging.

Methadras said...

AllenS said...

Methadras, if you want to email me, I'll show you my Facebook page and you can see some of my awesome stone work.


Done.

Hagar said...

Garage Mahal, Allen S, and anyone else.

"Cement" is Latin for glue, "Portland cement" is the gray, powdery stuff in Portland cement concrete that glues the sand and gravel ("aggregates") together.

And you don't "pour" it; you place it - carefully and as directed.

DADvocate said...

If I had it to do over, I'd find a profession that involved working with my hands, probably being some sort of craftsman. My grandfather was a machinist for Mosler Safes.

Many older banks still have safe doors that contain his handy work including the oldest operating bank in Maysville, KY close to where I live. Kinda cool.

Titus said...

I have never teabagged my Indian UK husband.

FYI-not all gays Teabag.


We dont do any but action either.

My doc told me I have the prostate of a 13 year old and I intend to keep it that way

Mr. V. S. Gupta said...

Titus, please not to be talking about the sex with the peoples we do not know. This is to be kept private.

And the talk about the hog, it is just not right to do this. You must learn the discretion. And 8-1/2 inches? I am thinking not so much.

Titus said...

My Indian UK husband has an uncut hog and I like to play with the foreskin.

It is so foreign and interesting.

I ask him if he keeps any "notes" or confidential shit in there.

He said "no".

prairie wind said...

Hard labor jobs where I imagine you could let your mind do its own thing: collecting garbage, cleaning, baking/cake decorating, driving a truck, fixing fence, milking cows. All of them let you work in solitude (of a sort) and don't require heavy-duty decisions. The truck driver, of course, would have huge decisions to make at any moment in traffic, but that would be balanced by the long hours on the road.

Hard labor job where you had better not let your mind slide away: branding cattle.

Trooper York said...

Thats why I went into bra fitting.

It's very hands on. So to speak.

Titus said...

To be totally honest I am shocked that I have been able to have sex with the same person for over a year.

Sometimes I have to fantasize about others but still it is amazing.

And Mr. Gupta cook me some tabouli and couscous now bitch.

jimbino said...

The best thing about manual labor, including gardening, is that you don't have to drive to the gym every day for an hour-long workout.

Instead, you get paid for your daily 8-hour workout.

Titus said...

When speaking with friends from India my husband speaks Hinglish.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Hey any other Hoosiers ever had to detassel corn? ;-) Meade? AJ?

I wonder if I'm going to cause flashbacks....

Oligonicella said...

Hoosier Daddy --

"Hey any other Hoosiers ever had to detassel corn?"

No on both counts, but one of my first jobs was topping turnips for 5¢ a bushel.

Titus said...

I detasseled corn Hoosier at Kaltenbergs In Waunakee Wisconsin.

Summer of 1987.

Mr. V. S. Gupta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Methadras said...

Hagar said...

I should also point out that though an "education" is available at college, it is only so if you choose to take advantage of it, and there is nothing to stop you from acquiring a "liberal education" ("book larning") on your own outside of college. Won't cost so much either.


MIT offers all of their classes online for free. You just won't get credit, but at least you'll know what they all know.

Titus said...

All this manual labor talk is getting me horny.

There is an auto parts store a couple blocks from my expensive and fab loft. The guys that work there are inked up and hot. When they are outside smoking their butts I scream at them that they are so hot when driving by in my BMW black 328xi.

They hear me and pull their pants down. The entire experience makes me want to blow.

Seriously, the most important thing I will miss here is all the hot brownies.

There are no hot brownies in Wisconsin.

No matter where I go I am bombarded with hot brownies around here. Car Wash, Target, Grocery Store, Car Service Center, etc.

I am going to be devastated when returning to Wisconsin and see white, pasty, unattractive peoples.

garage mahal said...

Hey any other Hoosiers ever had to detassel corn? ;-) Meade? AJ?


I planted potatoes for a summer for Frito Lay. My job was to sit on the back of the planter all day and make sure these metal conveyor belts all had potato seedlings in every cup.

Titus said...

George Mahal is trying to save face my being one of the working class.

Instead, we know him a jew basher.

So sad.

edutcher said...

Expat(ish) said...

Well, it will be interesting to see how many peeps on this blog have done any actual sustained for-low-wage labor. I have - I worked around 40/hours/week during most of high school and then dropped out of college and started working during an earlier recession.

If the field is cast wide, I once did driver's licenses in PA, very minimum wage, manual. Not manual intensive, but a lot of customer service - and I have never given a waiter/waitress, cashier, etc. attitude or a hard time since.

Trooper York said...

Thats why I went into bra fitting.

It's very hands on. So to speak.


We all have to make our sacrifices for our daily bread. I'm sure your favorite song is, "Down in the Valley".

AllenS said...

garage,

Was this at Antigo? I've been there, and was surprised at the size of the potato(e) farms there.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

I planted potatoes for a summer for Frito Lay. My job was to sit on the back of the planter all day and make sure these metal conveyor belts all had potato seedlings in every cup.

Well after my first summer of doing it I have to say that cleaning out porta potties in July when its 95 degrees actually was more appealing.

Titus said...

I am so horny right now I would consider doing Allens.

Titus said...

I am fucking horny right now.

Do any of you get so horny that wherever you are you have to stop and bust a nut?

AllenS said...

I'd pull out my knife and cut you to pieces.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well lets just say that perhaps this Great Recession has the mixed blessing of getting the current generation out of its sense of entitlement by forcing them to take those jobs that Americans supposedly would not do before.

Going home sweaty and filthy with aches and pains tends to put life in a bit more perspective. Maybe a bit of manual labor needs to be worked on those narrow shoulders this generation seems to have.

MadisonMan said...

Dad de-tasselled corn (He grew up in Iowa, so of course he did). He does not have fond memories of it.

Speaking of corn, why is it that the newest member of the Big "10", Nebraska, has a cornhusker as a mascot when nobody works that job anymore? Why have an obsolete profession as a mascot? It makes no sense.

Titus said...

Allens is making me horny with his tough talk.

What else would you do you hunk of a man.

garage mahal said...

Allen
Good guess, this was on one of there Ag Research farms. Frito Lay has spud farms all over N Wisc.

Titus said...

My father has a hunting lodge in Bruce Wisconsin.

Perhaps we could meet there AllenS for a little rendezvous?

You bring the lube and I will bring the porn.

How big r u?

bagoh20 said...

The worst job is one that is demanding neither physically nor mentally, but after a hard day of physical labor the resulting satisfaction is complete and delicious. Mental work just doesn't do that regardless of how successful. In addition, much of what we do as mental work in office jobs is just not real accomplishment. It mostly creates paper that soon finds it's home where it is never seen again.

When at my office job, I often fantasize about having a job digging ditches where I would know exactly what needs done, do it and forget it until the next day.

It is just a fantasy though, because the worse job I ever had was picking tobacco at age 15. It was very physical and unpleasant, but that was sweetened up by a 60 cents per hour wage. I was living large. Take that Puff Daddy.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

Nebraska, has a cornhusker as a mascot when nobody works that job anymore? Why have an obsolete profession as a mascot? It makes no sense

Kinda hard to come down on Nebraska when Notre Dame as a frickin leperchaun don't ya think?

garage mahal said...

I'd pay to see a reality show with Titus and AllenS hooking up. What would it be called though, Survivor?

kent said...

O/T (although no more so than AllenS and Titus playing "Love Connection," really):

Pelosi: Ethics Are Overrated

AJ Lynch said...

Detassel corn?

No- I am from Philly where the only thing we detassel are Yankee fans.

AJ Lynch said...

Garage:

I think it would be called "Titus takes one last trip - to the Undertaker"

Ann Althouse said...

I think people are misunderstanding what I meant to say. I wrote, "Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it?" That didn't mean that you don't have to use your brain while doing physical work. Obviously, you have to pay attention, etc. etc. My point has to do with avoiding mental work, which requires structuring your brain and using it in work so that you don't use it to have a life of the mind that has nothing to do with commerce.

Take driving, for example. You have to pay lots of attention and think about what you're doing or it's terribly dangerous, but when you're off on a long drive, you can think about a lot of valuable things other than driving, and at the end of a long day of driving, you could enjoy reading a book and writing. But if you had a desk job that involved reading difficult material and writing reports and so forth, what would you do after work?

Lynne said...

The skilled trades can make you a decent living. Constantly climbing up and up the ladder in an endless chases to the executive suite doesn't turn everybody on, you know.
I've worked on a loading dock, packed Teflon powder on a production line, been a Time/Life book operator, worked retail, been a dancer and done a bit of movie extra work and written for an online magazine before spending 15 years in an office job.

(Yeah, my complete work history reads like Verbal Kint; I realize that.)

The one job I ever felt forced to walk out of for the sake of my sanity- I really was turning into a total bitch.

Different occupations fit different people. I spent 15 years trying to convince myself that I was supposed to want that office job, and pushing myself to stay.

Sometimes what everybody says you're supposed to want is not want you are really suited for.

I've watched people make themselves physically and mentally sick trying to pretend otherwise.

Find out what you are and bethat.

Or as near as you can and still make a living.

At the very least, don't take an all-or-nothing job (craftsman or office!)that bars you from exploring your ideas and having hobbies in your off hours.

Sermon over. Sorry

Luke Lea said...

After graduating from college I made that choice a long time ago, first as a carpenter, later as a landscape gardener (which took up even less of my mind). Made good money too. But now Mexican immigration has driven the price way down and those middle-class, blue-collar opportunities no longer exist. Maybe in a generation they will re-appear -- but only if there is an immigration moratorium, which I support.

Meade said...

"...an Indian husband from the UK who has a British accent..."

Dot not feather?

TosaGuy said...

Mike Rowe of 'Dirty Jobs' and Ford commercials on working with one's hands.

Methadras said...

Ann Althouse said...

but if you had a desk job that involved reading difficult material and writing reports and so forth, what would you do after work?


Trust me, speaking from experience, all I want to do after a long day at the desk is to just go back home and vegetate and not be bothered. Eat some good food, drink some good drink, maybe have a cigar to unwind and not again, not be bothered until I'm ready to interact with people. That usually takes about an hour and then I'm mentally refreshed until sleepy time and I get to do it all over again. yay!!!

AJ Lynch said...

I watched a fascinating show on Nat Geo TV the other night. It showed a ship that was designed and built to install deepwater windmills. The ship was made so that it would travel out to the area where it would build the windmills and once there, it was literally jacked up out of the water [for stability]. The technology was unbelievable and I suspect a lot of it originated from the oil drilling industry.

It was definitely more complex than detasseling corn :) or Yankee fans.

AllenS said...

garage mahal said...
I'd pay to see a reality show with Titus and AllenS hooking up. What would it be called though, Survivor?

Well, in keeping within the topic of this post, per commenters:

The detasseling of Titus.

Topping turnips for free.

Nothing says boots like cement.


How's that garage?

Christy said...

When I was about 6, and angry at having to help Grandma with the dishes, I plaintively asked, "But what do you think about while doing dishes?"

"What I'm going to do next," was her totally unsatisfactory answer.

I always swore I went into engineering so I'd never have to can another green bean for the rest of my life. Only these days, canning green beans doesn't seem so bad.

Having had multi-year projects most of my career, I found more immediate satisfaction and sense of completion in sewing. (Mom was big on making sure we had lots of manual skills.)

JAL said...

Who was it that joked earlier on Althouse's Gore Divorce thread that Al Gore probably had a fling with Laurie David?

Shazaam!!

Trooper York said...

That was me. He had a three way with Laurie and a polar bear.

Synova said...

Some authors say that if you've got a day job it shouldn't be writing while others figure that if writing is what you know how to do then getting paid for it only makes sense.

The idea is, if you wear yourself out at your day job and your entertainment or hobby is doing the same thing you never get a change of pace or a break. If you've been struggling creatively with how to most accurately use terminology all day and you go home and do the same thing it's likely going to wear on you.

It's sort of a joke that the home renovations of a general contractor never get done. So the desk jockey who does his cabinets and kitchen tile after hours and on weekends has a pretty kitchen and the contractor still has the sink sitting over a bucket. (Yes, I know not everyone, just often enough to seem a trend.)

The cobbler's kids have no shoes.

My brother is a general contractor (his wife would never let him leave things undone at home) and when he was in school he faced the expectation that he OF COURSE would prefer a desk job, that the obvious thing would be, since he was smart enough, to get an engineering degree. What's there to chose?

You're smart... aren't you going to be a lawyer or doctor? You're sharp... aren't you going to be an architect or engineer?

But maybe you'd rather build things, work outdoors, or labor in a way that gives you a physical work out or lets you interact with people all day instead of sitting at a desk.

Maybe you'd rather work with your hands than sit on your butt all day. Maybe you'd rather vary your mental load so that work is distinctly different than play.

We really do seem to value college jobs over technical school jobs as if one is better than the other and if a person has ability then they will obviously need to go to college.

Just yesterday I was talking to a lady at the continuing education office at UNM because I want to go back to school. But what I want, really want, is a particular technical certification... which financial aid is not available for. I could probably get better aid if I went back for my degree. And while it would be satisfying to graduate college it's not going to answer the practicality and necessity. It's just *not* better on account of it being college.

Bob_R said...

Michael - Yeah, moving furniture was hardest physical labor of any job I've had. More than farm work or construction. Pianos aren't so bad since they are designed with handles with moving in mind. Washing machines are terrible - sharp metal that cuts your hands. Stoves are the worst - a washing machine covered in grease.

Trooper York said...

In fact I have photo's!

Richard Dolan said...

"But if you had a desk job that involved reading difficult material and writing reports and so forth, what would you do after work?"

Well, how about some gardening or maybe a run on the promenade or just a walk home over the Brooklyn Bridge? And then you'll be ready to dive in to whatever else you want to do - read a book, listen to music, head for the gym, whatever. Your dichotomy between manual work/office work as it relates to "what you do after work" isn't making a lot of sense.

Turn it around: If you had a manual job involving really difficult physical labor, what would you do after work? The implied answer is: crash, because you won't have the energy for anything else.

Bottom line: There's no hierarchy of better/worse here, no job that is objectively preferable to some other. What works for you probably won't work for someone else (I can't imagine anything I'd want to do less than teach in a law school, for example).

Ignorance is Bliss said...

When my daughter was about seven we had recently bought a house with an attached garage, but no door from the inside of the house to the garage. Being fairly handy, I decided to add one myself. I was trying to figure out just where to place it, based on existing studs, the size of the door, and room for the framing around the door. I had written down the various numbers and was working out the positioning, when my daughter walked over and asked what I was doing. I told her I was working on adding a door. Oh, she said. I thought you were doing math.

Great teaching moment.

This week she graduates high school, and will be starting at one of the country's best engineering colleges in the fall.

Trooper York said...

I bet Tipper is crushed.

But not as crushed as Laurie when that fat fuck was pounding her.

Bob_R said...

I think the big point on this subject is that the law of comparative advantage still holds. You should really try to do what you are best at - try to be as productive as you can. If you rule out things like physical labor for reasons of social pressure you will probably be miserable and earn less money than you are capable of to boot.

I agree with previous posts about the intellectual challenges available in the trades, but people have not talked enough about starting your own business. There are a lot of possibilities for working for yourself as a tradesman IF you have the skills. That's not the same thing as intellect (most Ph.D.s I know could not run a Popsicle stand - this is especially true if they are Deans) but running a business is a huge mental challenge with great potential rewards.

kent said...

But not as crushed as Laurie when that fat fuck was pounding her.

And you still wonder why Hallmark eventually had to let you go, man. ;)

Jason said...

I've been a professional musician. And I've been a taco shell fryer.

HD, there's no comparison.

Sure, you can work up a sweat hauling gear around. But very few musicians have enough gear to haul around by themselves so they can call what they do manual labor, by a long shot. (I'm thinking on the level of 3-4 hours of set-up and 1 to 2 hours of tear down.)

I've also been an infantry soldier and tanker. Yes, I was an officer, so while my hours were longer than most grunts, and I had to dig my own fighting position and carry some of the load, I get a chuckle out of anyone who tells me that they consider their time as a professional musician to be anything like what we call 'manual labor.'

But we all know House has a pretty sheltered life. Otherwise, he wouldn't be much of a libtard.

In my current career as a life insurance salesman, I spend a lot of time canvassing... just walking into business after business, asking for the owner. Yes, in 93 degree heat, I work up quite a sweat after a few hours, but it's still not like manual labor.

Kicks the crap out of sitting at a table and dialing, though. Now THAT is depressing and boring to me, while canvassing is very engaging and you meet terrific people.

Everyone interested in this topic should read "The Millionaire Next Door," by Robert Stanley and another guy named Danko.

The bottom line: The Millionaire Next Door -- the guys who have actually accumulated a million or more, LIQUID, isn't the doctor or attorney. It's the guys that fix their houses!

Of those on my client list, the attrneys are struggling. The doctors are struggling, with school loans and med mal premiums on top of practice costs.

My most successful client, BY FAR, owns a machine shop. He gets dirty every day and makes airplane parts.

My second most successful client is a roofer. Owns the company.

My attorneys are asking me to call them back in the fall when maybe they will have some money. None of them became clients, though. Just cases I've opened. They can't afford to become clients, other than term and maybe disability insurance. They're too buried under Lexus payments and student loans to do smart things.

Dust Bunny Queen may have seen a lot of similar things, depending on her market.

I wish I could get to these guys in late high school and talk sense into them!

WV: Hoope. Hoope is not a coourse of aaction.

mesquito said...

I found becoming a competent carpenter far more challenging and rewarding than earning a B.A.

And it took longer.

kent said...

O/T (but still hysterically funny):

South Carolina voter: I voted for Alvin Greene because … his name reminded me of Al Green

South Carolina Democrats: animal, vegetable or mineral? YOU make the call -- !!!

J Lee said...

When I saw the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about the players in the World Cup...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

But if you had a desk job that involved reading difficult material and writing reports and so forth, what would you do after work?

Play World of Warcraft, kill gnomes and fruity night elves.

I think there is a misapprehension that people who don't have desk jobs or who do manual labor don't need to be intellectual. Of course it depends on WHAT your job is, but most skilled labor (carpentry, plumbing, manufacturing cabinets, making furniture etc) requires a lot more concentration and many more diverse intellectual skills than the average desk jockey.
...myself included.
when you're off on a long drive, you can think about a lot of valuable things other than driving

Regarding the driving. Due to the distances sometimes between jobs, my husband says the driving is the most relaxing part of his day. He tries to clear his mind about the job and possible problems until he gets there. In the meantime, he has a lot of time to think about all sorts of things: the book he read last night, current political problems, ideas for mechanical inventions and thingies he wants to build, what's for dinner.....etc.

A.Worthing said...

btw this is truly off topic, but they are reporting that al gore had an affair with laurie david, the ex wife of larry david. its from a tabloid, but there are two things that make me hesitant to discount it 1) tabloids have been right before, and 2) it makes more sense than the official explanation.

But the hard-to-swallow part... that anyone would find gore attractive.

Old Dad said...

I'm a Hoosier, and I detasseled corn for mighty Pioneer--two summers--or parts of summers, the season was about a month as I recall. We were all kids--I think you had to be thirteen. The girls and boys were bussed out to the fields together (yee ha), but the fun (usually) ended there as Pioneer took great care to keep the raging hormones fields apart, with a few notable exceptions. A few of the girls got to pull from elevated baskets on a rig behind a tractor--not many. Most walked, like we did.

The corn was ususally wet with dew in the morning. You'd be soaked until about 10:00 AM, and then the leaves got dry and scratchy. And then it got hot-dust, bugs, sweat. At lunch, we all brought sack lunches, we'd bullshit about the girls. Sometimes we'd fight or wrestle. I remember my older brother beat the shit out of this one big mouth kid, and the farmer who owned the fields that we were pulling just laughed. He couldn't stand the kid either. And it paid better than minimum.

Rialby said...

LarsPorsena - step up and collect your money. You predicted Laurie David.

traditionalguy said...

The skilled worker has always been in great demand, but manufacturing has mostly gone to the lowest wage places over seas. My wifes father was a skilled artisan in copper and was exempted from WWII service except for working on ship building which took lots of copper castings. His last aircraft carrier job was stopped in its early stages and had to be redesigned as a Cruise ship that was convertible to a troop ship, but still using a fast carriers steam turbine engines that had been built for it. The result was the SS United States, which was a cruise ship could cross to England at 43 knots, if her captain let her run at full steam, but the poor passengers having to arrive 2 days early stopped that stunt.

Michael said...

Rob R: I had forgotten about the stoves and the grease!! And I had forgotten the joy of getting to see how other people lived and the stuff they had. We moved everybody from executives to military and packed everything from crystal to side arms to huge book collections. The great benefit was knowing how to lift furniture and move it fairly gracefully through tight spaces, turning corners etc. It required communication and trust that the other guy wouldn't drop his end.

Peano said...

"Isn't physical labor preferable, even — especially! — for the most intellectually gifted persons?"

Yes, and I can think of a few law professors who should be shoveling shit in Louisiana -- leaving their gifted minds free for higher pursuits.

mesquito said...

Why not prefer to work primarily with your hands (and your body) and keep your mind free so you can do what you want with it?

Might working pushing a mower. Framing a house, wiring it, setting forms, hanging trim? If you are not thinking at least three moves ahead you are going to fuck something up.

kent said...

One more O/T (too much great stuff today!):

Poll: Louisianans think Bush did better on Katrina than Obama’s doing on the oil spill

"Devastating. Especially since it comes from left-leaning pollster PPP."

mesquito said...

The result was the SS United States, which was a cruise ship could cross to England at 43 knots, if her captain let her run at full steam, but the poor passengers having to arrive 2 days early stopped that stunt.

My dad was a cadet on the United States. All he remembers is her Captain very publicly warning the purser (pursers back then were nearly all homosexuals) to stay the hell away from the midshipmen.

Floridan said...

The grass is always greener, but I don't see many tenured law professors rushing from academia to the trades.

David said...

It worked for Leonardo di Vinci.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"But not as crushed as Laurie when that fat fuck was pounding her."

And you still wonder why Hallmark eventually had to let you go, man. ;)

That made me really LOL

traditionalguy said...

Floridian....Tenure will not save jobs when the Higher Education Bubble bursts, as it must when the students can no longer pay back loans since there are no jobs for college graduates without a technical skill. Like Fannie mae and Freddy mac were the lenders that bubbled up our housing prices for a crash, the bubbled up tuition prices are going to crash. Then, a third of the tenured Professors will have to find another government job, or become creative artisans.

rhhardin said...

Walking is the only activity that lends itself to thinking about something else.

Big Mike said...

I guess it's time for someone to insert John Gardner's famous quote:

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.

David said...

garage mahal said...
I worked in the woods cutting firewood for a few years. Two guys, we made $75 cash . . . .

Cash? Was that tax free cash, Garage? Somehow I think the answer is yes.

Tax cheat.

Eric said...

I enjoyed physical labor when I was in my teens and twenties. It grows old, though, as you do. Work a job like that you run into older guys with bad knees and bad backs trying to get through the day on 800 mg Tylenol tablets and the promise of impending retirement.

I'll take the desk job.

Earth Girl said...

After 30 years as a marketing exec, through several twists of fate I became a gardener restoring a historic garden. I was never so healthy and happy. And it was artistically and intellectually stimulating.

bagoh20 said...

"Well, it will be interesting to see how many peeps on this blog have done any actual sustained for-low-wage labor."

I was male escort for a while. It was not low wage, but it was labor and it was sustained. That's what she said.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Walking is the only activity that lends itself to thinking about something else."

I think I agree with that.

My Dad used to go for a walk, taking me along, after most dinners. An hour or two of just wandering around. Lots of good thinking and conversation there. I hope to continue that practice with my boys.

bagoh20 said...

"I was a professional musician before getting into advertising."

So no "money for nuthin and chicks for free"?

At what point does one become a musician? I play a little, write songs and record some of them, but I don't consider myself a musician, nor would anyone I know call me one.

How do you get the official title of musician? Can I get like an online degree somewhere?

Pogo said...

When I was on the way to Custer that summer, I ran out of money and slept under a bridge one night in Rapid City. When I woke up, I was covered in moths and so I yelled. That woke up a drunk guy who must have wandered there sometime later. He laughed and asked me for money.

I bet him that he had more dough than I did. We bet whoever had the least money kept the other guy's cash. That day I took $1.86 from a sobering Indian. 98 cents was my total. With that treasure, I lived on white bread and peanut butter for 2 weeks, and on and off for the rest of the summer.

Never ate it again for about 10 years.

bagoh20 said...

"Walking is the only activity that lends itself to thinking about something else."

Sometimes I get all the way to work driving (15 miles) and can't remember any of it. Worm hole?

And how many times have you talked on the phone while driving and realized you were not paying attention at all for miles?

I just scared myself with that story.

Deborah said...

You may never need these skills to make a living but they do come in handy. My husband and I are saving a bundle putting down new flooring throughout our house. I figure we've saved $10,000. Of course, medical bills may offset that...

wv: nummucts

garage mahal said...

Cash? Was that tax free cash, Garage? Somehow I think the answer is yes.

I was supposed to report that?

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

There are also many of us out here who quite simply enjoy applying our minds through our hands. I farm for a living because I prefer it, even at lower income and in spite of several university degrees. There's always a new challenge, and the basic act of using my body and my mind together to produce healthy food is profoundly rewarding.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

How do you get the official title of musician?

When you get paid for performing, you can call yourself a professional musician.


Can I get like an online degree somewhere?

You can take guitar lessons from my old guitar teacher on line.

An Edjamikated Redneck said...

I worked with my hands (and back) for over 20 years. Very occasionally did I get to run on autopilot.

I turned 40, got a couple of degrees and went to work in an office.

And I work with my hands everychance I get, but usually i am also keeping my mind busy sorting out the challenges of the project I designed.

Why did I change careers?

I got tired of being told teh only path to management was with a college degree.

It didn't matter in what, as long as it was a BS or BS.

Instead I went and got a degree I would use.

David said...

Think Elizabeth Birnbaum.

Brown undergrad.

Harvard Law.

Editor in Chief Harvard Environmental Law Review.

Chief counsel to major House of Representatives committee.

Appointed by Obama to head Office of Minerals Management. Fired after the BP well blew.

Doubt she ever worked with her hands.

She did not know anything about the oil industry either. Appointed because of her "Green" credentials.

If she had dug a few ditches, or even tasseled a few ears of corn, she might have had a practical sense of risk and work.

On the other hand, why blame her? She is what she is.

But why the hell would Obama put someone with Absolute Zero oil industry experience, as a regulator or anything else, into that position?

Peano said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chuck b. said...

I enjoyed working with my hands when I was a bench chemist while also having the abstract processes going on in my brain about whatever project I was working on. I would recommend scientific research to anyone who enjoys that combination.

William said...

No one actually wants do a gritty job, but everyone wants to brag about having had past crummy jobs. In some way having had a really sucky job makes you a better person. Right. Poverty really improves your character too.... All work sucks. That's why they call it work. I think early experience acting in action adventure movies with Angelina Jolie makes you a better person, but other forms of work experience are usually deadening and stultifying.

Justin said...

I used to work excavation back during my undergrad summers. It was a pretty small company but we got some decent sized jobs. A big part of what we did was laying down storm/septic sewer for new subdivisions. The septic was easy, fairly small and made of plastic. Only problem was it had to go 15 feet down in the ground. The storm on the other hand was big honking pieces of concrete about six feet long that had to be lifted by an excavator. My job was to drag a big steel bar around all day and hook em up to the machine. Compared that to today, where I sat in an air conditioned office in a comfy chair and did legal research. Sometimes I miss the physical side of work, but then I remember back to working in live septic sewers, and I feel all right about my decision to switch. Also, I'm less likely to be killed by a collapsing trench or a wayward piece of heavy equipment at the law office where I work.
In my experience, people who romanticize brutal physical labor have usually never done it on an extended basis.

Freeman Hunt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kev said...

I see that Paul beat me to the punch as far as defending the physical aspects of being a professional musician. Look, nobody's saying that playing music is on a physical level with building roads or tarring roofs (rooves?) or things like that, but yes, schlepping equipment around is definitely a physical endeavor not found in the average office job.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is the back-and-forth between setting up/breaking down the gig and actually playing it. Last week, I got to carry a baritone sax, a saxophone stand and a metal music stand for several city blocks in 95-degree heat, then do a soundcheck in pretty much direct sunlight, went inside to collect my thoughts and cool off (the A/C didn't help; I was still soaking wet an hour later), play two hourlong sets, and carry my gear back to the car again. I definitely considered that my exercise for the day.

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Kev said...

Going home sweaty and filthy with aches and pains tends to put life in a bit more perspective. Maybe a bit of manual labor needs to be worked on those narrow shoulders this generation seems to have.

I totally agree. My first job was at McDonald's, and I hated it. But I was grateful at the same time,, because I got to meet career McDonald's managers. To a man, they were older-looking, balder (or what hair they had left was gray), fatter and more stressed-out than they should have been. I wasn't a kid who was in much danger of walking a bad path or anything, but I was definitely motivated to do well so that I would never end up like any of those people.

And kids nowadays don't often get jobs like that, because they're all taken up by immigrants. That's too bad, because it would do a lot of kids a world of good to have a really crappy job, even for a semester.

The idea is, if you wear yourself out at your day job and your entertainment or hobby is doing the same thing you never get a change of pace or a break. If you've been struggling creatively with how to most accurately use terminology all day and you go home and do the same thing it's likely going to wear on you.

I struggle with that on occasion. I teach music during the day so I don't have to depend on gigging to make a living (I can thus pick and choose my gigs a little more, and not have to play "Brick House" five times a week like my best friend does). But sometimes, after a 12-hour teaching day, I don't feel like practicing or writing nearly as much as I should. (The recession has helped this a bit; I stay home more often lately, which makes it more likely that I'll break out the horn or fire up the notation software.)

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Synova said...

The people working at McDonald's here might not be senior citizens but they are definitely older than they've ever been before. I've never felt that any of the fast food staff have been illegals even when they were younger kids and even when obviously Hispanic. This is New Mexico; everyone is Hispanic.

reader_iam said...
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mun said...

Eric Hoffer comes to mind.

ken in sc said...

I used to teach industrial technology in a high school career center. The guidance councilors were always sending me people who were thought to be ‘not good at academics but good with their hands.’ These students always flunked. If you are running a CNC milling machine or other automated machine tools, you can’t be stupid or careless.

Tom Watson said...

harder to send offshore." I'd like to add that, quite aside from the problems with the job market these days, that there is no reason why individuals with strong intellectual aptitude need to be tracked into jobs that fully employ the mind. plumber rancho cucamonga