Jack of All Trades, Master of None?

These days, the term “Jack of all trades” is rarely thrown around. Most people I went to school with had hardly even heard of the term.

To those unfamiliar with it, a Jack of All Trades is said to be a man with knowledge in many trades, and yet has no specialization in any of them.

The phrase originated in Robert Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit in 1592 and was used to dismiss the accomplishments of William Shakespeare. Though this is the first known appearance of the phrase, a similar phrase “Johnny do-it-all” has origins from late Latin.

While the phrase we use today is “Jack of all trades, master of none”, the later part of the phrase was added sometime after 1700, where it became a derogatory comment. During this time, young men were encouraged to learn a specific trade, and it is thought that the addition of the “master of none” was to express how learning multiple trades would never lead a man to success.

Although a jack of all trades has been looked down upon for years, is it truly something that should be looked down upon? Is learning many things, but not necessarily having a specialization a bad thing? The conclusion that I come to is that it is not a bad thing.

Throughout schooling (pre-university) it was widely encouraged by the schools to learn all subjects equally, and to have a greater understanding in all of them. Although it was always stressed that everyone would “specialize” in a certain subject, it was important that all students took the same classes to develop useful skills for the future. To me, this emphasizes the idea of a jack of all trades. Yes, the education received at this point is to be far from considered knowledgeable in the subject, but it echoes the idea of a jack of all trades: knowing a little bit of everything. We are all jacks of all trades through basic schooling, however, it does not go far enough. We may have knowledge in school subjects, but that does not give us knowledge in everything. Far from knowledge in everything, in fact.

However, many people have naturally developed a curiosity of wanting to know more. This curiosity causes them to read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, on subjects they do not have extensive knowledge in and may not even understand fully, all for gaining more knowledge. Much of the people have no intention of ever even using the knowledge they have on a subject, but rather just enjoying the process of learning.

And here we find ourselves at the true purpose of a Jack of All Trades: the process of learning.

A real Jack of All Trades may have specialization in something, but they continue to pursue knowledge because they find enjoyment in the process of learning.

This is no different than a Jack of All Trades would have been in the earliest mention of it, yet, it is seen as a negative phrase because of the addition of Master of None. The addition of this part of the phrase has all but ruined the exceptional meaning behind the phrase; a true shame.

My challenge to all those who read this is to encourage the use of Jack of All Trades once more, omitting the negative portion of the phrase, and encouraging all people to continue to pursue knowledge.


Review: Hydro Flask (Nov. 2016)

I have been using my Hydro Flask for about three months now, and so, I believe I can give a full and honest review of the product at this point.

Some background: I purchased the Hydro Flask late July, early August because my previous water bottle was just not getting the job done. I was also excited for the promise of keeping my beverage cold within the bottle for up to 24 hours, as claimed by the company. While the idea of storing hot beverages in the bottle was something I thought I would never use, the added benefit was appreciated.

The first thing I noticed about my Hydro Flask was how bulky it was. I have had 32oz water bottles before, but all of them have had a smaller form and have weighed significantly less. In fact, even when putting the bottle in my bag when I go to class, there is a noticeable change in weight to the bag. However, the bottle is crafted out of 1hydro-flask-still18/8 “Pro Grade” stainless steel, which is where the added weight comes from. The bottle also comes with a powder coat finish that makes it sweat proof and increases the durability of the stainless steel. However, after a few months of abuse some portions of the powder coating seem to be wearing off, or have become chipped.

The inside of the bottle is not too exciting. It is made of the same stainless steel as the outside of the bottle, in nearly the same shape. The bottom of the bottle is raised in the center slightly, meaning that, because I put my daily creatine in this bottle, sometimes powder gets left behind in the bottom. Noticing this, I found it to also be difficult to clean at times, as the brush I use for my other bottles can have trouble fitting into the opening of the bottle, despite the claim of being wide mouth.

All of this so far has been pretty minor things, and do not really attest to the real value of the claims made by the company. The real value lies in the claim of keeping beverages cold for 24 hours, and hot for 6. I purchased this bottle in the heat of the Michigan summer. 90 degree days were common for the first few weeks of use. During these first few weeks, I attended ultimate practice quite often, and the bottle went with me. It was always stocked with cold water when I left home, and despite sitting in the hot sun, the water inside remained cold at the end of the 2 hour practice every time. However, the claim is that it remains cold for 24 hours. To test this, I placed a few ice cubes in the bottle, and filled the rest with water and let it sit outside for 24 hours. When I opened it back up, the water was cool, but it was not cold. I would say, slightly above the ambient temperature.

As for the hot beverage claim of six hours, I have only ever put coffee in the bottle, and it did not remain hot for that long. Based on this, I did not test if it would keep hot water hot for six hours, but I have my doubts.

Also up for discussion is the price tag on this bottle. I purchased this bottle from the manufacturer in the Pacific Blue color with the ‘Flex Cap’ for a price of $39.95 excluding shipping. The closest product I could find to the Hydro Flask is the Yeti Rambler 36oz Bottle, which retails for $49.99. Comparatively, the Hydro Flask is cheaper, for a product that is similar enough to make a close comparison.

Overall, I believe this bottle is worth the price point. I have taken this bottle to practice,hydro-flask-still2 hiking trips, camping, and daily use at home and in class. It has been beaten up significantly, without many noticeable dents or scratches in the bottle. The ease of using the bottle is relatively good, but there are a few features that I can get frustrated with. The claims of it keeping liquids cold for up to 24 hours seems to be slightly stretched, but for the most part it should not be a problem. In keeping it hot, I cannot conclusively say that it does the job, but it could simply be my bottle.

Many bottles I have used have only lasted a month or two, before they become too much trouble for their worth, the Hydro Flask is not one of these cases. I believe that it is a worthwhile investment for anyone who spends considerable time outdoors; from sports and hiking to use in the classroom, it has served me well and I believe will continue to for at least the next year.