The future of the Chilean miners has been on my mind lately. To them I say, yes, you do have some book and movie deals coming, but fame is fleeting, and sudden riches seldom lead to happiness. After the celebrations have died down, you should take this opportunity to plan for the long term. Now is the time to consider architecture as your next career. It's a fantastic field, and I imagine there's nothing like being trapped in a mine for 70 days with no daylight, showers, or ventilation to give a person some pretty deep insights into human comfort and the value of the built environment.

I know what I'm talking about. You see, I was in a similar situation once. I got stuck in a crawlspace while trying to auger out a clogged sewer line. This is no joke. And while I was lying there with my generous midsection jammed between floor joists and the dirt, effluent spewing out around me, I thought of the ad I've reproduced below. It's from the International Correspondence Schools; men of a certain age will remember it running in magazines 50 years ago. It certainly had a profound effect on me while I was under the house eating cobwebs, and I hope you'll take it to heart.

It's the story of the self-effacing Jim, an underemployed ex-GI-turned-construction worker who is injured in a cave-in. He's been trying to find himself ever since he was discharged from the Army after a tour of duty that took him to the Korean War and back. While killing time in the hospital after his accident he considers signing up for correspondence courses in architecture after spying that very same ad. Jane, his lovely, long-suffering wife, just wants him to be happy.

But, I don't want to give the whole story away, so see for yourself. If you have trouble viewing the images, pounce on them with your mouse and they will open at full size in a separate window. I apologize for the inconvenience.

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Click to enlarge

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I hope the I.C.S. (which still operates in the UK, and actually did offer courses in architecture at one time) won't mind that I took the liberty of changing the ad copy a bit to make my point. In the US they are now called the Penn Foster Career School of Scranton, Pa., and offer many outstanding courses should you miners decide architecture isn't right for you.

The rest, as they say, is history. I hope this wisdom helps you, and anyone else who is stuck in their job. Architecture is a great career!

I've had a number of people email me asking whatever happened to the characters in the cartoon, Jim, Jane, and Mr Walsh. After two weeks of architecture school Jim came to his senses and brought a personal injury lawsuit against the Walsh Construction Company. He got treble damages for his troubles and made millions. Mr. Walsh went bankrupt.

But with moola up to the eyeballs, Jim's ugly side—a weakness for blonds and the ponies—asserted itself and rapidly had him skidding into sad life of dissolution and despair. Jane, lonely and distraught, found herself living the life of a barfly, staying out until dawn, smoking packs of Salems, and washing down Jim's leftover pain-killers with schooners of vodka and tonic. After a quickie divorce in Reno, they went their separate ways. Eventually Jim moved out West and became a timeshare salesman. Jane earned a PhD in psychology from NYU and became a therapist.

What did I tell you? Sudden riches seldom lead to happiness.