The Men of tomorrow have No practical life skills

Americans aren’t raised with proper table manners anymore.   American society has trained their people to believe that children shouldn’t be given knives to cut their food, and as a result, American people no longer eat holding the knife in the right-hand, and fork always in the left-hand.    Majority of American people will put the knife down, switch hands, and scoop food with the fork in their right-hand.
– Not that table manners are still relevant in this day-and-age.  But the concept, that over the course of time we have slowly reshaped society to be easier/safer/better, deserves some reflection.

We didn’t value table manners, so society stopped having them.  We feared that children were too feeble to handle cutlery, so we stopped allowing them to use it. Now no child in America is given the opportunity to practice using a fork and knife.
The same thing happened with carpentry, blacksmithing, and anything else remotely conceived as hazardous.   Society believed that it was too dangerous for a child to learn, and now it’s a dying art because no young people started practicing it.
Culinary skills are also dying art. We have adults who can’t really cook, because we’ve invented easy meals that don’t require the skills necessary to prepare food from scratch.
– We have adults who can’t really do anything.
A whole generation with No practical real life skills.  Bad at cooking, and cleaning, can’t tune up a car, or fix a door. A generation who is taught nothing about infant care, and even less about basic home maintenance.
– I know it was unintended. But somewhere along the way, all these things were deemed unimportant by society, to the point that we stopped expecting young people to know how to do them.

I’ve known adult men who couldn’t figure out how to clean a sink drain when it became clogged, and didn’t own a tool box. Men who have never used a power tool, don’t have any industrial adhesive, and would rather live with the inconvenience rather than fix something.
In fact, I know several men like this.  These are the men of tomorrow.

The movie Idiocracy comes to mind as a very real prediction of the future.
With practical life skills on the way out, I wondered what compelled us to continue bombarding children with useless knowledge. Have we not realized the urgency? Has our incompetence not become Enough of a problem yet? The pointless memorization that goes into cramming for standardized testing in school does not help a generation develop, It only hinders us. It does not teach us how to be more capable, but less.
Not everyone needs to become intellectuals or go to college, but Everyone needs to know how to cook, do basic financial planning, and raise children.

Advertisements

Poverty Generation

I’ve seen this article floating around the internet about how little American waitresses make, and how they heavily rely on their tips. Usually the article is in context of some evil customer who refuses to tip their server. I frequently wondered why anyone would choose to continuously work at a job that had such an unreliable income flux, especially since customers are not required to tip.
– In most of Europe, you don’t tip.
Most restaurants  in Europe have a service charge built in, and the ones that don’t, have a note on the receipt which says so.

England has an age-based minimum wage.  If you’re young they don’t ‘have to’ pay you as much, but everyone over 25-yrs gets paid a national living wage. I was puzzled at the reasoning around it, But it actually makes more sense than the American system. Younger people are cheaper to have as employees, because they’re not as skilled, and older people have more skills and need more money to live, so they get paid more.
It’s probably reassuring for the English-youth to know that when they grow up, they will most assuredly get paid a livable wage. The 25-yr old English minimum wage is greater than the American minimum wage. So, a 25-yr old waitress in America is arguably impoverished, but in England she consistently earns a reasonable wage.
– I’m not saying England doesn’t have a poverty class, they do, a huge one, but it’s smaller than the American one.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about quality of life.
Workers in England get 6 weeks of vacation per year. But,  Americans only get 2 weeks. The English also work fewer hours in a week than Americans, leaving more time for family and leisure activities. England also has universal healthcare, which is great for the whole population, but not good if you have a debilitating ailment that requires a lot of attention. And England has better maternity leave than America (up to 1 year leave).

As an American,  I spend more time at work than I spend doing Anything else. I’m also in a ‘poverty generation’ of Millennials; underpaid/ underemployed/underappreciated,  living meagerly in the shadow of the slow-to-retire BabyBoomers.
It’s keeping the job market full, saturating it, and making it difficult for young people to get promotions. We have generation of educated young adults who are forced to work low level jobs.
The expectation to be more ambitious at work is absurd when you consider how stressful daily life already is.   At the end of the work day,  I have just enough time to either: run some errands or relax at home, but not much else.
Most office workers leave work at 5pm, it’s rush hour traffic;  if they stop anywhere on their way home, they won’t get home until around 6:30pm; if they cook themselves dinner and tidy up, its suddenly 7:30; if they watch the latest Game of Thrones episode, they’ve lost another hour. Maybe they have time to spend a few minutes on a hobby, but that’s basically the whole day.
I cannot fathom how I would fit family/children into this schedule. Maybe this is why Millennials are so slow to settle-down.

Shipping Container Houses

I have previously written about Tiny Houses and The Bay Area Housing Crisis, mentioning that (while I prefer the quaint cottage style tiny house) I found shipping container houses to be easier to manufacture for permanent dwellings [because of their pre-fabricated/pre-inspected quality].   Since writing that article, I have traveled to England and realized that shipping containers are ALREADY being utilized as restaurants/offices/homes. and I have pictures.
It was a bit of dream come true after spending so much time designing and exploring the possibilities of shipping containers, to suddenly See them in perfect usage. Beautifully implemented, and successfully integrated into a community.

At first, it was just a few sprinkled into the city, in the form of tiny eateries. And I was happy to see that someone out there was making them, and even more so, that the city had accepted them.

The first collection of shipping containers I saw in London at Elephant and Castle, was called: The Artworks Elephant. They were colorful boxes, stacked 3-high, and formed a triangular courtyard, which was filled with small café tables. Each container was a small business, some were restaurants, some were offices, a retail shop, or a tattoo shop. The usable space inside each one was about 7-feet wide.
Each one should have contained a toilet, but some washrooms were repurposed as storage/refrigerators. The entrance end of the containers were glass windows/doors, and each one had a unique interior. Some of them had wood floors, some had checkered tile floors. Some were well-lit, and others had trendy light fixtures; some had sting lights or chandeliers. They were all thoughtfully decorated.
This particular structure was originally student housing, and has since became a retail square. See pictures.artworks elephant

One of the workers at this container complex, recommended another container mall a few miles away at Shoreditch, called: Boxpark.
This one had a ground floor where every shop faced the street, and appeared to be a long wall of doors, each with a stylish modern shop behind it. And the 2nd floor containers were all restaurants, all perpendicular to the ground floor. Situated 4 eateries at a time, with a wide open-sky hallway in between them, and shared  court yard seating at the entrance end of each block. The whole structure was painted flat black. It was clean and contemporary, and appeared to be a trendy place to hang out.
boxpark
The last container structure I saw in a beach town in southern England, Brighton, and came across it totally by accident. It was explained to me as a low income  apartment building; built to help the city’s homeless, and was situated directly next to a dingy underpass.   Despite the unattractive location and the plain appearance of the building, the structure had everything necessary for comfortable long-term living, including a community garden and a community storage container. The main part of the building was stacked 5-high, and 6 wide, with stairs at both ends; and there might’ve been a few more containers up the sides as well. What surprised me about it, was that we were no longer in the big city, meaning that even the small cities are utilizing shipping containers as a fast-efficient-modern-attractive-convenient resource for creating usable-reliable space.

These units are a practical use of available space, and the structures don’t take long to construct. It’s possible to build a 40-studio unit apartment building in a week. And could be disassembled in the same amount of time. Imagine the possibilities.

highest homicide rates in 25 years, highest college costs in history

There was a shooting at the University recently.  I received a barrage of automated email alerts from the campus police.
I’d like to be shocked or surprised. But this happens way more frequently than it should. Someone dies every semester at campus.
Excluding all other forms of violent crimes, these are the highest homicide rates in 25 years. Excluding possible suicides, robberies, battery, harassment, rape, and assault.  There have been 24 killings recorded in 6months within city limits.   People are being murdered. About 1 per week. Check out your local CrimeReport map.
It doesn’t seem to be impacting University enrollment, but I think we should all feel bad for exposing our intellectual young people to the gutters.
We spend so much time and effort trying to protect teenagers from cruel realities,  until they become adults, and then it seems like a weeding process to see how many of them make it unscathed to middle aged. The murder of a child is heartbreaking, yet the murder of an adult seems predictable and inevitable [because they should have been aware of the dangers in their situations].

College is hard, it’s expensive, it’s dangerous, and for the most part, it’s useless.
I read an article recently, about the mathematical system in managing college debt. It summarized that, because of interest rates, the longer it takes you to pay off your student loans, the more you end up paying. The Loan must be paid off promptly, otherwise it fails to have a good return on investment, and you would’ve had more money in the long run  if you hadn’t gone to college. Therefore, you should never take a loan if you are unable to pay it off within 4 years of graduating.
The pay salary you are able to get straight out of college will shape the rest of your financial life. For this reason, unless you are Majoring in something that has a decent starting wage, you should not take a large student loan.

This information is too-little too-late, as a generation of people have already ruined their financial lives.
A generation of people are  doomed to financially struggle under the burden of this debt, because they were falsely lead to believe that all they ‘needed’ to succeed in life was a college degree. In the years it takes them to pay down their college debts, they won’t have the financial savings to start families, or buy houses.
A useless education that plunges people into poverty.

Yet Everyone insists that It’s Still Better to have an education, than to Not, and I’m not arguing. I like education.  I think that a lackluster high school education is one of the core problems with this country, and I’d like nothing more than to restructure the system to give children useful life skills [instead of useless standardized testing]. People in my age group lack basic life skills, and we’re finally old enough for it to become a problem for society.
Not Everyone needs to go to college, but Everyone needs to know how to cook, do basic financial planning, and raise children.

An education shouldn’t be such a risk. It shouldn’t take such a toll. Hopefully it’ll get fixed in time for the next generation.