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Happy New Year

Instructions are for wimps! Right? How often have you heard people say, “I don’t need no stinkin’ instruction manual?” Every year, during the Holiday break, I enjoy pulling out the various kits I have purchased throughout the year and try to finish them. In my journeys to find a nice project kit for our club to enjoy, I came across an interesting Anderson Power Pole low voltage distribution project that was offered by another club as a fund raising project. I bought this device at Dayton last March and threw it into the projects bin…for a cold wintry day. Well, that day arrived this week and I started to tackle it. Turns out, there were no instructions included in the kit. I did find a web site where one could find some instructions (not a complete set!!). After puzzling on the instructions for almost a day (I savor instructions…sorry. I love to read them. Ponder them, sometimes for days before I start to work. For me, it is part of the joy of the process.) Turns out that either they didn’t include all of the parts (there was no parts list) or I was missing something. Both might be the case.

Brief side bar…you know properly written instructions in your native tongue are a real joy to read. Someone who carefully describes a process well enough in English so that another person can follow it is an amazing skill. I know we have all suffered from reading Chinese (or previously to that Japanese instructions) that were obviously lost in translation. Here is a link to an interest site that has several mis-translated signs: http://www.buzzfeed.com/nataliemorin/chinese-signs-that-got-seriously-lost-in-tranlsation#.yaBlkA3R0

Or just Google “bad translations” and see what you find. Some of these poorly translated signs from this site are hilarious (and rather lewd). One sign from this collection reads: “Garden with Curled Poo” (They meant a “Garden with a Curved Pool”). Ok, I get it, they don’t speak English, but these days, with even tighter budgets or no budget, instructions are simply not included – at all.

Over the years, I have enjoyed many building kits with terrific instructions. Elecraft tends to be extraordinary, as are the Oak Hills Research Kits. This Club kit one in front of me…is the exception. Other than stating how they are orienting the board so that the instructions might make sense, the rest goes quickly downhill. And yes, there are parts missing! I ventured on carefully without the instructions and so far so good. I have not yet quite finished the kit…I had to stop to write this note! So, this is a short tribute to the good people who can still write instructions. May the force (and budgets) be with you.

Meanwhile, my grandson wanted this roller coaster kit he saw at the American Science Surplus Center. This is another gem of a place, if you have never been there. They have all sorts of crazy stuff…largely warehouse surplus. So, I got him the roller coaster kit and when we opened it my son said, “Where are the instructions?” Well, in this case…there were no instructions. It was a bag with lots of parts - an erector set of sorts. They give you the tools, you provide the design. Once he overcame the fear of not doing it wrong, we dove in and had a great time creating all sorts of interesting, gravity defying tracks (meanwhile, my grandson, who got bored with our labors, took a few parts under the table and made a very clever his own bow and arrow contraption on his own!!) Kids have no fear!!

Somewhere between these two spaces, there lies a truth. Perhaps all roads lead to Mecca. Don’t be afraid to take one.

Enjoy 2016. Live dangerously… a little. Don’t always follow the instructions.

73, Rob K9RST