Archive for The Aspiring Handyman

Millennials Should Learn Trades, Say College Educated Writers

Step 3, PROFIT!!!!!

Step 3, PROFIT!!!!!

This NPR piece, and other like it based on the arguments of economist Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown University, have been making the rounds on my social media over the past few weeks.  The NPR journalist, Chris Arnold, builds on Carnevale’s work to argue that millennials should pursue training in skilled trades like “pipe-fitters, nuclear power plant operators, carpenters, welders, utility workers,” because baby boomers are retiring and not enough workers are being trained to replace them.*  College isn’t for everyone, the argument goes, and well-trained skilled tradesmen make good money, especially compared to workers with only a four-year college degree.  As a society, we need to make training in the trades easier to get and remove social stigma from careers built on working with your hands. Read more

In Defense of the Econoline

Ain't she a beaut? (In today's freak late-winter snowstorm)

Ain’t she a beaut? (In today’s freak late-winter snowstorm)

After briefly flirting with the status of two-car family, an unfortunate encounter with a new 16-year-old driver in Fairfax this weekend has knocked us back down to being a one-car family again.  I thought I would take advantage of this otherwise somewhat traumatic occasion to pen a brief paean to our one remaining functioning vehicle, our indefatigable red Ford Econoline.  We inherited it from my father, who used it for his cabinetmaking business.  But now that he has retired, and we’re engaged in renovating multiple crumbling old buildings, it has come to live with us. Read more

Inhabiting Fxbg’s Landscape of Slavery

Brian at 802 Princess Anne St., built by Dr. Beverly Welford in 1826.  Note the historic plaque in the center of the building.

Brian at 802 Princess Anne St., built by Dr. Beverly Wellford in 1826. Note the historic plaque in the center of the building.

In my last post on Carter’s Grove, I found myself imaging what it would be like to inhabit a landscape so thoroughly imbued with slavery.  This train of thought led to my wondering about Fredericksburg’s landscape of slavery.  Slavery is an obvious presence in the fabric of Fredericksburg’s colonial and antebellum streetscape, with the Auction Block being only the most obvious example.  But I have also inhabited that landscape in a direct and personal way.  This is a first in a series of posts about my first-person encounters with the ghosts of slavery in Fredericksburg. Read more

Carter’s Grove is For Sale

I wonder what the air conditioning bill is?

I wonder what the air conditioning bill is like?

Does anyone want to give me $15 million?  All I found under the couch this morning was a dime.  I ask because Carter’s Grove, a plantation built on the James River just below Williamsburg in early 1750s for the descendants of Robert ‘King’ Carter, has come on the market.  I have been developing a more personal interest in historic Virginia architecture recently, as all the cuts on my fingers from noodling around in the guts of an 1839 clockmaker and silversmith’s shop can attest.  Seems like Carter’s Grove would be a nice step up from a modest artisan’s workshop and residence on Caroline Street. Read more

Analog Day, Digital Day

Virginia Snowpocalypse 2014: digital humanities or analog humanities?

Virginia Snowpocalypse 2014: digital humanities or analog humanities?

This week’s assignment to explore “personal learning networks” through social media came at an auspicious time.  Unlike Jason and Dave, last week’s snow days freed up some time for me, because of the particular moment I was in for each of my courses.  (I’m screwed this week, but that’s another story.)  That meant I had a fair amount of time on Thursday and Friday to play with Twitter and RSS. Read more

In Which I Enjoyed City Bureaucracy

20140210-204505.jpg This evening Brian and I attended the monthly meeting of the City if Fredericksburg’s Architectural Review Board. We had a proposal before the board, seeking their approval to replace the entry door and add some signage to Skin+Touch Therapy‘s new location on Caroline Street. Since the building dates to 1839 (although the ARB claimed 1820!) and it sits in the middle of the he historic district, we have had to go through endless layers of both structural and aesthetic approvals for all the renovations we have needed to make. I have to say I was a bit nervous about appearing before there ARB, because after all, aesthetics doesn’t seem like a comfortable area of expertise for a city bureaucracy. But I was really impressed with the meeting. The members of the board all seemed to have a clear architectural vision, and it wasn’t one that was hidebound or historico-pedantic. They quickly approved the proposals that were easy no-brainers, and asked thoughtful questions about the tougher calls. All in all, it made me very glad to be locating in the historic district, despite the extra bureaucracy.