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GSM8
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Postby GSM8 » Fri, 18 Jul 2014 9:49 am

Any society is 3 square meals from anarchy (Trotsky)

Not that most western nations are in the position of missing 3 straight "square meals" these days, but there is still past memory when it could have been the case. And some of the "survival skills" referenced in this thread ensured a better chance of getting those 3 meals, so are possibly kept alive by tradition (although arguably fading out?)

In tropical civilizations on the other hand those skills were of less relevance in the past. So the historical context is not there. Excessive competition for resources (be it from extreme poverty or affluence driven ego alike) simply led to anarchy, and still does pretty much anywhere in the world.

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Postby maneo » Fri, 18 Jul 2014 3:29 pm

Strong Eagle wrote:Interesting tack this thread has taken. In reality, this speaks volumes about how we are moving from experiential living to passive, observational living.

I was a quintessential latchkey kid growing up. I also lived on the edge of town. My brother and I built forts and rafts from trees we cut down and lashed together. Built everything imaginable from Meccano. Built a go cart out of a junk lawn mower engine and bike frames... no, it wasn't very good.

Shot gophers with a 22 rifle, learned to shoot Lee Enfield 303's and pistols in the air force cadets. Built a Heathkit shortwave radio when I was 12, built a music amplifier from scratch when I was 14.

I graduated with my BSEE when I was 47. I was amazed... the vast majority of the young people there had never built anything... and that included the mechanical engineering students as well.

I've got some great nieces and nephews and their lives are so much more structured... and limited in access to simply doing things... sports, maybe a camp... but always the ever present electronics.

I don't know if this change is good or bad... but I am glad that I score high on those life skills tests... and I think that lack of experiential activities and skills makes one's focus much narrower.

I think we came from a different time, when we were latchkey kids that had outdoors to play in, tree forts and rope swings, junk piles to source for "projects" and friends to help you get in & out of trouble.

It was a time when having a skateboard meant your sister was mad at you for cutting up her skates and when the only electronics you had were what you built yourself. You knew how to rebuild a lawn mower engine to make it work so you could build that go-kart. As we got older we not only learned how to change the oil, lube the joints and do a tune up on the family car, but also how to rebuild brakes and carburetors.

Here in SG and SE Asia, kampung kids had their own equally adventurous experiences.
Just ask any older person about their childhood.

(By the way lynx, climbing a guava tree is a sure way to fall - that's why you're suppose to put a a strong wire hoop with a basket the end of a long bamboo pole for picking them. Also worked well for mangoes).


I think it's not just here in SG that experiences like these no longer exist - urban youth in the US is missing this, too.
Here in SG, since all the kampungs are gone, there really is only city living left.

The times, they have a-changed.

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Postby Sporkin » Fri, 18 Jul 2014 3:56 pm

I wonder if it is the academic curriculum that keeps increasing as the domain knowledge of humanity increases as a whole? We stand on the shoulders of giants since time inmemorial, as time passes so does the number of giants.

Makes you wonder if one day all basic/foundational knowledge would be lost, and technology itself becomes ritualistic, almost magic.

JR8 wrote:^+1
I agree with you Eagle. I look at my young relatives and their lives seem so 'narrow'. Study study study, and recreation is all organised (by parents), or else they're playing with e-gadgets. Two of them have this year commenced highly prestigious Uni courses; but you'd still struggle to have any form of conversation with them. By their age I'd already 'done', overlanded, the entire Subcontinent, I don't think either of them have even been on holiday on their own volition/plans, anywhere. Funny old world.

<snipped>

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Postby bgd » Fri, 18 Jul 2014 4:43 pm

maneo wrote:

I think it's not just here in SG that experiences like these no longer exist - urban youth in the US is missing this, too.
Here in SG, since all the kampungs are gone, there really is only city living left.

The times, they have a-changed.


I think it still exists in Sg (and other places) but only for a few. Go to East Coast Park on a weekend and there are plenty of big family groups camping. Kids are climbing trees, swimming in the sea and generally having a great time with little supervision. Mainly Malaysian families though. I notice because I would have loved that as a kid, camping was always my thing.

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Postby the lynx » Fri, 18 Jul 2014 5:17 pm

bgd wrote:
maneo wrote:

I think it's not just here in SG that experiences like these no longer exist - urban youth in the US is missing this, too.
Here in SG, since all the kampungs are gone, there really is only city living left.

The times, they have a-changed.


I think it still exists in Sg (and other places) but only for a few. Go to East Coast Park on a weekend and there are plenty of big family groups camping. Kids are climbing trees, swimming in the sea and generally having a great time with little supervision. Mainly Malaysian families though. I notice because I would have loved that as a kid, camping was always my thing.


Malay. Unless you're referring to those holding Malaysian passports.

(sorry, getting pedantic here)

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Postby bgd » Sat, 19 Jul 2014 7:54 am

the lynx wrote:
Malay. Unless you're referring to those holding Malaysian passports.

(sorry, getting pedantic here)


Yes you are :D

Don't all Malaysians hang onto their passports :wink:

My observations in Malaysia lead me believe that a great outdoor childhood thrives there. Some of them import it into Sg.

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Postby ecureilx » Sat, 19 Jul 2014 10:50 am

bgd wrote::

My observations in Malaysia lead me believe that a great outdoor childhood thrives there. Some of them import it into Sg.


mm.. Singaporean Malays are as outgoing as Malaysian Malays, and into letting the kids loose / camping on weekends, and don't need no import to Singapore

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Postby x9200 » Sat, 19 Jul 2014 11:38 am

JR8 wrote:
Strong Eagle wrote: I've got some great nieces and nephews and their lives are so much more structured... and limited in access to simply doing things... sports, maybe a camp... but always the ever present electronics.

I don't know if this change is good or bad... but I am glad that I score high on those life skills tests... and I think that lack of experiential activities and skills makes one's focus much narrower.


^+1
I agree with you Eagle. I look at my young relatives and their lives seem so 'narrow'. Study study study, and recreation is all organised (by parents), or else they're playing with e-gadgets. Two of them have this year commenced highly prestigious Uni courses; but you'd still struggle to have any form of conversation with them. By their age I'd already 'done', overlanded, the entire Subcontinent, I don't think either of them have even been on holiday on their own volition/plans, anywhere. Funny old world.


--- By 13-14 YO, I'd 'broken into' the local rifle range (dear reader, this simply entailed straddling a simple 2-bar wooden fence) , and dug out about 20lbs of clay/earth from their target back-stops. Took that home, washed and sifted it, and got out all the bullets (almost all .22/lead). My dad then made a basic looking copy of a 3-4" axe-head from a block of pine. We greased that, and put it in a container of polyfilla (wall-filler). Once set, we sliced the casing in half, took out the hunk of wood, and formed two holes, a pour hole, and an overflow hole.

Then I got up a fire going in the garden (I was already doing this and smelting lead quite regularly), and melted down all the bullets (in a Jolly Green Giant sweet-corn tin! :)) and poured the above mold. Once we got it out we snipped off the bits from the cast-seams, and gently hammered it (round ended hammer) to give it some patination. I then took that into history class at school, and it was used as a part of our then study of the Bronze Age, and melting, smelting, weapon production etc...

That's about the polar opposite of what I'd expect my young relatives to be getting up to. And THEN there was the time with a friend I made a rifle, from scratch, from lathing the barrel to mixing the detonator charges (it was woefully inaccurate, but it was fun!). Then I started making ... errr like, depth-charge-hand-grenades that you'd throw in a river and they'd explode sending water 30' into the air (sodium metal fuses were the key). --- Kids these days!! --- :roll: ... :lol:


I think it is a combination of personality with the overall changing trends and your direct environment you were brought up inside. I was also this type making my own amplifiers, digging the bullets in the riffle range, developing negatives / pictures on my own, having my own small chemical lab in the basement, all before I turned 14. But many of my class mates were not.

When I started working it was shortly after the fall of communism in Central Europe and everything was in great shortage so one had to improvise and actively seek to solve many problems. Some time after, I got a job in one of the Western countries and I was truly shocked how many people need help with many basic things I was not considered even an issue. It was because of the their environment. They were not in need to learn and improvise, to actively seek for solutions based on some limited resources.

Now, in Singapore this is overblown beyond any limits. Nobody even drills a hole by themselves or fixes some screws. They prefer to place an order for a service and after two weeks or so a man arrives and drills the hole. They were brought up this way. How the new generation suppose to be any different if their parents are already almost completely impotent in many hands-on technical areas? They can not hang a lamp, saw a piece of wood, fix an electric cord.

Now, is it all that bad? I don't think so. Some older fashion skills are being replaced by more modern. If my son is not be able to make an audio amplifier from scratch, I would not consider it anything bad. It is not a particularly useful everyday skill now, but as far as we already got with modern electronics there are still some more rudimental skills that are very useful and will be like this for long time. What is needed is the right balance. It should not be like that one being a master of a mobile phone, or some specialized software can not hang a picture on the wall.

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Postby Hannieroo » Sat, 19 Jul 2014 3:12 pm

Everybody, male or female, should know how to hang a picture or shelf, change a plug, change a tyre, cook and iron. Although I guess if you never plan for your children to leave home it's not as important to you.

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Postby maneo » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 11:25 am

Hannieroo wrote:Everybody, male or female, should know how to hang a picture or shelf, change a plug, change a tyre, cook and iron.

Isn't that what lowly paid handymen, ah beng auto techs and maids are for?

Got to use one's time for more important things.
:P

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Postby Brah » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 5:54 pm

maneo wrote:
Hannieroo wrote:Everybody, male or female, should know how to hang a picture or shelf, change a plug, change a tyre, cook and iron.

Isn't that what lowly paid handymen, ah beng auto techs and maids are for?

Got to use one's time for more important things.
:P

Not for things that are one's satori. At one time for me that was rebuilding the engine on my custom van.

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Postby JR8 » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 6:32 pm

maneo wrote:
Hannieroo wrote:Everybody, male or female, should know how to hang a picture or shelf, change a plug, change a tyre, cook and iron.

Isn't that what lowly paid handymen, ah beng auto techs and maids are for?
Got to use one's time for more important things. :P


I fall between your two schools of thought:

I enjoy learning new stuff, repairing stuff, but there are limits as to what is worthwhile doing.

- Hanging a picture or shelf, changing a plug (the latter = Really, are you serious!?). Agree w/Hannieroo. I could do these in less time that it would take than trying to arrange for a handyman. And for less $ too, so double-bonus. Of course there was a point I had to learn how to do it, but I enjoyed that too.

- Change a tyre. I've changed car-wheels, and bicycle tyres. Very useful when you're out in the rain miles from anywhere and get a flat! That said I've never changed a car tyre (off it's rim), and it would be the kind of thing I'd rather leave to pros.

- Ironing. Used to do it myself. Used to take some pleasure in ironing shirts 'the proper way', but came to find it very time consuming and quite a chore. So now any clothes that need ironing get sent to laundry. Outsourcing! :)

- Cooking. I positively enjoy it. So it isn't work/a chore at all. Quite the opposite.


It's horses for courses, as they say!


edit/typo
Last edited by JR8 on Sun, 20 Jul 2014 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Max Headroom » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 8:25 pm

JR8 wrote:I fact between your two schools of thought:

I enjoy learning new stuff, repairing stuff, but there are limits as to what is worthwhile doing.

- Hanging a picture or shelf, changing a plug (the latter = Really, are you serious!?). Agree w/Hannieroo. I could do these in less time that it would take than trying to arrange for a handyman. And for less $ too, so double-bonus. Of course there was a point I had to learn how to do it, but I enjoyed that too.

- Change a tyre. I've changed car-wheels, and bicycle tyres. Very useful when you're out in the rain miles from anywhere and get a flat! That said I've never changed a car tyre (off it's rim), and it would be the kind of thing I'd rather leave to pros.

- Ironing. Used to do it myself. Used to take some pleasure in ironing shirts 'the proper way', but came to find it very time consuming and quite a chore. So now any clothes that need ironing get sent to laundry. Outsourcing! :)

- Cooking. I positively enjoy it. So it isn't work/a chore at all. Quite the opposite.


It's horses for courses, as they say!


Yeah, that and only fools and horses.

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Postby x9200 » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 8:34 pm

JR8 wrote:
maneo wrote:
Hannieroo wrote:Everybody, male or female, should know how to hang a picture or shelf, change a plug, change a tyre, cook and iron.

Isn't that what lowly paid handymen, ah beng auto techs and maids are for?
Got to use one's time for more important things. :P


I fact between your two schools of thought:

I enjoy learning new stuff, repairing stuff, but there are limits as to what is worthwhile doing.

- Hanging a picture or shelf, changing a plug (the latter = Really, are you serious!?). Agree w/Hannieroo. I could do these in less time that it would take than trying to arrange for a handyman. And for less $ too, so double-bonus.


This is exactly my thinking. Pure pragmatics. There are jobs, uncomplicated jobs, where you prefer to hire someone because they are time consuming, dirty and tedious, but hanging a picture and such? It will cost more time to arrange for it than do it personally. I think that's the whole point of having such "skills".

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Postby Brah » Sun, 20 Jul 2014 8:45 pm

I agree, with the caveat that while I would not want to do it at this stage in my life*, I'm really glad I did it in that stage of my life.

*a dream I once had was to rebuild a car, like a '70s muscle car, with my teenage son


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