Tuesday, February 20

Do you ever think that if there was some sort of apocalypse and only our generation survived, we would be extremely screwed? I just don't see how anyone raised in this post-baby boomer modern society could successfully carry on, because we've surpassed basic knowledge in favour of convenience and speed. Cases in point: most "cooking" involves a microwave, sewing and work-working are nostalgic crafts not skills, and condos are ideal because houses are "too much work". How did we become so removed from the production of everything?

I think I'm having this mini Luddite revelation all of a sudden due to viewing an inordinate amount of HGTV. Design and renovation shows have become my new pastime and I'm suddenly overcome with the fear that my future self will have to rely on people like Mike Holmes to get anything done.

I take it for granted that my family is very do-it-yourself oriented. My house was designed and, to some extent, constructed by my parents. My dad refuses to outsource work, so from building a deck to installing an underground, automatic sprinkler system to crafting a satellite dish to pick up the free HDTV signal (in your face, Rogers!) he does it all. When we were younger my mom not only sewed elaborate Halloween costumes, but also made custom duvet covers, pillow shams, and curtains. She knows how to tile a bathroom and grow an impressive garden. We live in central Toronto, so it's not like access to modern conveniences is lacking—my parents just had the knowledge and drive to do it all on their own.

I guess we're supposed to be proud of this evolutionary shift, the one that makes us more comfortable with McNuggets than the thought of boning a chicken breast. We're the generation that's grown up being completely catered to, so it only makes sense for us to think that the best work is that which is instantly done by others.

And I can connect this detachment from basic skills to a few other things. Our large, perfectly-finished houses hide furnaces and electrical work (and all other things I don't even know are necessary for the function of a home) from everyday observation and concern. We don't raise our own food, but rather receive prepared portions of once-whole plants and animals only when ready for consumption. Our lives are designed around the end-product, with focus on the means of how to get it, not how to make it.

I have friends who don't know how to properly cut up an onion, let alone tell the difference between a screwdriver and a drill. But if more emphasis was put on being handy, maybe we'd learn to be a bit more useful. So I propose another round of school, one that will teach us how to install light fixtures and pluck and prepare a whole chicken. I can already set up a router, successfully grow and re-pot plants, and have basic sewing skills, so bring it on—teach me how to eventually turn a bungalow into a two-story house.