He reads a lot of technical books and magazines, visits some good tech blogs like The Kneeslider, searching for new ideas and inspiration and is always asking questions about things he finds interesting, … which is most everything. He’s always learning, always adding to his skills, he figures it’s better to know than not to know and even better to know how. He’s not trying to impress anyone, it’s just the way Bob is, he’s wired that way. Bob seems to enjoy life, and to top it all off, he even got a promotion at work during this recession.
His neighbor, Fred, isn’t doing as well, the world seems to be stacked against him. He knows where he stands and if someone tells him things are a certain way and some things should never be tried, well, then, he doesn’t try them, after all, why should he stick his neck out? Life’s tough enough as it is.
Fred wanted to go to college years ago because he was told the degree would unlock all of the right doors but he didn’t have much money or a scholarship so he was out of luck. He didn’t have the right connections and without that paper to prove he knew something, he was going nowhere and he knew it. He had the feeling they were holding him down. He figured he would try getting into computers but all of the software was so expensive and no one was willing to teach him how to use it. It’s not like you could get all of that knowledge free for the asking, you gotta know someone.
Fred says guys like him never get a break. Life is hard for Fred, but he hangs out with some other guys who are also having a tough time and they try to keep each other’s spirits up as they wait for the economic recovery so they can get going again. Fred saw on TV that it might be a while but things were getting better. Fred does have a job, but it’s tenuous and he’s not very happy with it, plus, there’s not much left over after the bills are paid. Vacations are out of the question, so he bought a big new flatscreen TV and some nice surround sound speakers, instead, and a new Playstation. The family will just vacation at home. Since he can’t afford expensive hobbies, he volunteered to referee the kids’ soccer games to fill up his spare time.
One man’s junk is another man’s project
Coming home after a soccer game, one day, Fred saw Bob working on an old motorcycle and wandered over to see what was up. Fred joked, “Hey, where did you get that? It looks like a piece of junk.” Bob smiled, “Well, it is junk, I guess. Jerry, across the street, was tired of looking at it in his garage. It hasn’t run for a couple of years and it would cost too much to get it fixed so he was going to get it hauled away. I said I would take it off his hands and he was happy to get rid of it. Doesn’t look like much, but I think I can get it running. Don’t think it’s getting any spark.” Fred shook his head, “Don’t know much about that mechanical stuff, looks like an awful lot of work to me, besides, what are you going to do with it if you get it running? You haven’t ridden in years.” Bob shrugged, “I’ll figure that out later, but first I have to find out where that spark went.” Fred turned to leave and added, “Those things are dangerous. Hey, wanna help ref soccer?” Bob, already shining a light on the engine replied, “No, Thanks Fred. Not much free time these days.”
A couple of weeks later, Fred heard a motorcycle running next door. He turned off the TV and went out to investigate just in time to see Bob loading the old bike on a trailer. It was hard to believe it was the same bike he’d seen just weeks before. Bob got the engine running, polished the bits of chrome that weren’t rusted, sanded down and painted the rest, removed the rust from the inside of the gas tank with a neat trick he found on The Kneeslider, and then he gave the bike a deep red rattle can paint job. It looked years newer.
Money for nothin’ but not for Fred
A skinny kid about 16 shook Bob’s hand and then drove off with the bike. Fred watched it roll away and asked, “Who was that?” Bob said, “That was Mike’s boy. We were talking at work and when I told him I fixed up an old motorcycle he said his son was looking for one and offered to buy it. Gave me $500 for it.” Fred’s eyes got wide, “You mean to tell me Jerry gave you a 500 dollar bike for nothing? Huh! How do you rate? Well, I never liked Jerry anyway.” He spun around and stomped off.
It must be luck – what else could it be?
Bob watched Fred as he disappeared across the yard, thought for a moment, but said nothing. Then he turned to his workbench, picked up his coffee cup, took a sip and began thinking about building a pulsejet engine he had read about on The Kneeslider. He had mentioned it to Fred a few weeks before and Fred told him he was crazy, it was really dangerous, besides, what did he know about jet engines, he was no jet mechanic, he should just leave it alone, but Bob liked the idea and figured he would give it a try. All he had to do was find some plans and he’d be on his way. He closed the garage door, hopped up on his stool, pulled the keyboard and mouse of his computer closer and clicked over to Google. In the background, Bob could hear the faint sound of Fred’s TV.
Low cost software training:
Low cost access to tools:
Previously on The Kneeslider:
What Recession – Just Do It