(Some) Assembly Required

One of my happiest memory from my childhood time in Hong Kong was “building” (more like assembling) my own radio-controlled buggy. I “built” two RC cars, starting with one (Tamiya Boomerang) that had less parts to assemble to ease me into the learning process, but also I think my parents wanted to make sure I could do it so not to waste money on the more expensive models from the get go. The second, more advanced, model (Kyosho Optima Mid Special) required almost every parts to be hand assembled. I greased up the front and back differentials (it was a four-wheel drive model) before attaching the belt and the front-end and back-end assemblies that connected them with the motor. I attached the suspension arms, tracking arms, hubs, drive shafts. I filled up the shock absorbers with oil and loaded it with springs. I soldered the wires that connected Novak speed controller to the motor and connected the radio receiver with servo that steered the car. I soldered my own battery pack from seven NiCad cells. Finally I painted the polycarbonate shell with my own choice of color and design. When it was finally ready, I could truly claim that I “build” that. I also made extensive modifications of my own afterward.

Contrast that with the type of RC cars one can purchase now. They are all ready assembled, ready to provide instant gratification for the impatient generation of children. The very few RC car kits that require assembly are the large, expensive, gas-powered buggy, which obviously not suitable for young children (I was around 13-14 years old when I assembled my first one). Likewise with electronic/computer. One purchase a game console or computer and all one need to do is connect the cables and press the power button. And it is not confined to children and toys. Large portion of the adult population stumble over assembling even simple furniture such as those from IKEA. Oh, how the adults blame the lack of instruction or tools as if skills should not be required to assemble anything!

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Preparing for emergency

I was in Manhattan 10 years ago. I lived in mid-town and worked one building next to the World Trade Center 2. I watched it happened live on TV. It was the first time I felt I was not prepared at all to deal with an emergency. I did not have a plan. Any plans. Plan for evacuation, plan for communicating to families, plan for getting up-to-date news, plan for no electricity, plan for no water, plan for no food supply, plan for helping others with first aid, plan for, well you get the idea. That was the first time I realized I needed to be prepared for the next emergency, be it a terrorist attack, storm, or earthquake. Alas, life went back to normal and the preparation I’ve managed for the next 8 years were a few large bottles of waters under the kitchen sink.
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