Thirty-Eight Weeks

Erin complains that she’s so large, her belly-button is about to pop from an innie to an outtie.

This, of course, calls to mind images of those modified turkeys with those tabs in them that pop out to indicate when they’re done cooking.

Of course, the last time I said this out loud, Erin hit me, so I’ll keep my mouth shut today.

Scintillating Non-Partisan Dialogue

Cruising the Non-Partisan blogosphere, I come upon Classic Quarters, who writes:

(On Smallville): After the show ended, and after the announced music acts of Anna Walick, Dishwalla, and David Gray; next week’s preview (if it airs) - Aquaman (the wussiest superhero of them all) arrives.

I comment:

Aquaman wussier than the Wonder Twins? I don’t think so. :-)

Classic replies:

Wondertwins? Heck, even ‘Marvin & Wendy’ could whip them.

After a brief pause, I type in:

We are so, so, so very sad.

I Want My Girl to be a Plumber

Or, better yet, an electrician. Or, better yet, whatever she wants to be…

There’s an interesting discussion going down over at Blogs Canada. Jim Elve is commenting on comments recently made by Stephen Harper and Pierre Pettigrew about the problem of the shortage of skilled trades workers in Canada. If I’m reading the reports right, both politicians have agreed that the shortage is a problem (good), and both are proposing solutions to fix it (good).

If I’m reading things right, Harper is suggesting that tax credits be used to encourage companies to take on more apprentices, while Pettigrew is suggesting that immigration should be opened up to accept skilled trades workers from other countries.

Jim Elve favours Pettigrew’s approach to Harper’s, but criticizes both plans thusly:

It all boils down to R-E-S-P-E-C-T. (sing it Aretha Franklin style) Respect and prestige are important factors in self-evaluation and self-pride. We want to work at jobs where we get respect for our skills. At least as importantly, we want our children to work at respectable or prestigious jobs. Tradesmen get little respect. They get their hands dirty and they don’t wear a coat and tie to work. Their “office” is often their van or pickup truck. When they come home at night, their bodies ache from physical work. They hardly ever get invited to power lunches or cocktail parties.

I think he’s right, and that both politicians are just nipping at the edges of the problem. I sometimes think I missed my calling. I went through University studying to become an urban planner; I learn database management and web design on the fly, and what did I get? About five years of drudgery assignments, primarily assigned to temporary clerical jobs whose best attribute was that I didn’t actually have to think, thus saving my creativity for my writing and web design hobbies.

I am very fortunate to have found some professional outlets for my writing and web design work, so that I can engage my creative side for money, but if I wasn’t able to do this, I think I would rather have been a contractor or an electrician. There is no shame in working with one’s hands. Sure, you sweat, you wear yourself out, but the money’s fantastic, and at the end of the day you actually have something physical to point at and say, “I accomplished this.”

The primary reason I never considered taking up a trade as I left high school for university is that it never entered my mind. I did briefly consider taking up a job as a TTC driver (streetcars, of course), but my parents backed me off of that idea in a hurry. A white collar profession like urban planning or architect was always the better route to take. Just because.

Harper’s approach of tax credits, while well-intentioned, probably won’t work, as the money a contractor makes is such that more money won’t help. As for Pettigrew’s suggestion, I applaud opening up our immigration to skilled trades workers, as these represent an additional brain gain that will benefit our country. However, the move will also make the skilled trade professions the purview of the immigrant classes. What are the immigrants’ children going to study? Does this mean that the problem is simply going to perpetuate itself? What are we going to do to encourage Canadian-born citizens to take up a hammer and a soldering iron?

I’m racking up a list of advice to give to my child as she goes through life’s hurdles. If she’s willing to listen to me, that is. For instance: the first time you have sex should be, if at all possible, with someone with whom you feel comfortable laughing. And in terms of considering a career: always be handy with a hammer, and don’t turn up your nose to those whose profession is manual labour. There’s real money here. And in the end, the work is as vital in its own way to the work provided by our doctors and lawyers.

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