The master mechanic, the inveterate tinkerer, the skilled craftsman who works magic in wood and metal and fiberglass: I am, sadly, none of these things. I know many people who are naturally handy, and I envy them. My own father, a carpenter and then a general contractor for 25 years, is one of these folks, but his aptitude was apparently not hereditary. The opportunity was certainly there, as I accompanied him to work and pounded nails many times, but I learned curiously little from the experience. I was too much of a dreamer, my head always in the clouds; I bored easily with manual work. Worse, I was (am) somewhat clumsy and didn’t particularly enjoy getting my hands dirty. I loved learning how mechanical things work, just not necessarily making them work. When my dad built the house that he and my mother now live in, I didn’t contribute much to the actual construction — but I did draft the plans, at age 16, plumbing and electrical schematics included.