I have often wondered if there was a way to gauge how much knowledge a person knows on any given subject and I think the answer may lie in a simple analysis when it comes to the phrase “trick of the trade”. Many of us continue our pursuit of knowledge long after our high school years for many reasons. Some of these could be just for the pursuit of knowledge, ability to land a better job, to understand your colleagues, or to become irreplaceable. The list can vary wide and far but how much does can one person actually know when relating to the next one. I believe the depth of each persons wisdome regarding a subject such as mechanics, math, logistics, construction, fusion, beer drinking, etc. always comes down to the inevitable tricks of the trade. Grant you every subject has a basis of knowledge and certain level of understanding for it but the true polish comes in for those little things that you pick up a long your life time that makes the subject easier to understand or to perform.
For example say that your car wont start but the battery and electrical system will light up just fine. This usually means your starter is shot and the car could potentially be dead in the water till its replaced by you or it is towed to a garage. These options can seem very limiting especially if your are lacking in knowledge about vehicles and are low on money. But did you know that if you really needed to get that car started you could increase your chances in bringing life back into the starter by smacking it with a blunt object then trying to turn the cars ignition over. It dosent garuntee the car will work afterwards but it increases your odds of getting the engine to start. Chances are even better if you have a manual transmission and by gathering up a handful of strangers and asking them to push your car, putting it in gear, and dropping the clutch. Your engine will start right up! This method is known as pop starting. Just make sure you are up to speed or the transmission with clunk you to a halt. Note: Dont shut off the car if you get it started. It might not start up again. Drive to your nearest garage/gearhead friend/mechanic and begin repairs. Understanding though that that little piece of knowledge alone could save you hundreds of dollars and not to mention the bad ass self esteem boost to boot.
Another trick of the trade has to do with the camping skills. Say you are out with your friends and you are trying to cook the wild ravenous mutant potatos that you killed but the
wind keeps blowing the fire out. The solutions is easy. Get on your hands and knees and dig about a foot deep bowl in the dirt and restart the fire. The wind will blow right over it without it going out. If you are feeling really fancy go ahead and place large rocks around the fire to create a sort of wall that helps for added protection. This also greatly reduces the fire from creeping out of the pit and catching your stuff and other surrounding foliage on fire. Cant get the fire restarted after all of your hard work? Go and grab something sharp and cut shreds out of the smaller twigs and kindling then try and relighting it. This will give the fire something easier to catch rather than trying to light a giant heap of wood. Once you have a good flame going just start gently placing the larger logs on with it.
These are just a few examples of the tricks that we can apply to the basic concepts of some activities that we perform on a day to day or weekend basis and there are literally millions of these small tricks that we can invest in for almost any activity. So if you are ever bored, encountering a really annoying stupid problem that you and your friends cant figure out, or are just plain curious just know that google.com is always your friend but be wary, the internet can be a wonderful and dangerous place when in search for knowledge. I usually go with the age old bad food mantra when searching for info on the net. “If you smell stupid, find another source”. Friends are usually the best source, in my opinion, especially if they are working in a certain profession that interacts with a persons every day life. Most of the time they have experienced or have even developed their own trade craft secrets just to make their jobs a little easier. Asking them and absorbing their knowledge can help give you an edge on a subject you could be unfamiliar with and help you in the future. Hell it might even be a little easier one your wallet.
“Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone”
-Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood)
Gran Torino, 2008