It’s been said that the true object of education is to show us the endlessness of our ignorance. I reached that point long ago, when it became obvious to me that a single lifetime is nowhere NEAR long enough to learn everything that I WANT to know, let alone everything that there IS to know.
Understand that not everything holds interest for me, but many things DO intrigue me. As a result, I’ve read endless articles and books on those subjects. History, politics, religion, farming, language, writing, gardening, blacksmithing, pottery, woodworking, basic science, beekeeping, homesteading, hunting, fishing, camping, prepping, antiques, and old-time ways of doing things are but a FEW of the things that pique my interest. Also, having grown up on an farm around two older generations, and lived in the country all my life, I’ve been personally involved in many of those pursuits. Naturally, you can’t be inquisitive, a compulsive reader and approaching your final sundown without picking up a few things along the way.
Still, a simple crossword puzzle can often school me on my own ignorance. What amazes me, though, is how ignorant so many OTHER people are by comparison, because I know that if I’m capable of knowing what I do, many other people should know as much and more. The only thing that I can figure is that they heard the old saying about ignorance being bliss and decided to be thoroughly happy little clams.
One thing my “self education” has done is to make magazines, once one of my favorite sources of knowledge and entertainment, almost worthless to me. This is for two reasons. First, as you age, you learn that some things are simply unimportant in the greater scope of things. That makes three-fourths of the articles of no value to me. The other thing is that many of the remaining articles are written by people that have no idea in the world what they’re talking about.
Particularly good examples of the latter are some (most) of the articles on survival and living off-grid. It soon becomes painfully obvious that most of the authors have very little camping, hunting, fishing, homesteading or survival experience. I dare say that most of them are city-slickers who wouldn’t know a ringed-neck racer from a NASCAR driver. But, they’ve read beaucoup articles on the subjects they choose to write about, so, on they write.
Not to pick on them, but Outdoor Life recently put out a special magazine on off-grid living that I wanted to buy, but the magazine was NOT one that I’d want to pass on to the younger friend that I’d planned. Many of the articles would have been good for a neophyte like him, but some would have been very misleading.
For instance, they showed a drawing of ramps, but called them wild onions, instead of wild leeks. There are such things as wild onions, but they look very different, somewhat like a POISONOUS plant in fact. On one page they had the headline “Avoid Folk Remedies.” The next THREE pages were on medicinal plants. One short piece was on “hanging a handle;” in fact, the piece was so short as to be almost useless, except under PERFECT circumstances. The next thing I noticed was the advice to cut high stumps, so they would be easier to remove later. No, you either recut the stumps at ground level, so you can mow over them, or you leave the stump attached until the tree is on the ground, either by digging or by dozer. The piece on generators pretty much ignored the idea that you shouldn’t be depending on oil-powered electricity in the first place, IF you’re truly off-grid.
Then there was the section about building log walls. It showed flat joints as being an option, forgetting to mention that anywhere but in VERY arid country, they’d rot out in only a few years, likewise with the flat joints between the logs that were entirely too “fine” a joint. At least they showed the Scandinavian log bond; unfortunately, they printed the drawing upside down so the joint would CATCH water instead of SHED it. In their trapping section, they showed several types of snares, leading the reader to believe they were an efficient way for a BEGINNER to catch game (not so), while completely ignoring deadfalls, which wouldn’t have required the miles of cordage that you’d need to set out a line of the snares like they showed. Lastly, I found it amusing that they separated animal movements into both “galloping” and “full bound,” even though the tracks and descriptions were exactly the same.”