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My favorite drafting instructor in design school was a histrionic misfit known as Wild Bill. He didn’t pull any punches and tried his best to prepare us for the real world. When we came to descriptive geometry, he let us know that by the end of the quarter at least a third of us would no longer be design majors; we’d have to switch to photography or fine arts if we didn’t get it. His favorite dramatic device when he caught someone making a mistake was to refer to a scene in Repo Man. “Smoking boots!” he would shout, “you’re nothing but a pair of smoking boots!”

It’s a powerful image, and there have been many times in the years since when what seemed like a good plan somehow went horribly wrong. One of the differences between woodworking and science fiction is that there can be a significant time lag between “Give me the keys” and vaporization of everything except your Red Wings.


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