Friday, October 13, 2006

New Yankees

I am not a very craftsy person. I like to cross-stitch, but that’s pretty much counting and sewing tiny x’s on a grid. It takes no real skill, only patience. Everything else is a complete mystery to me. Take knitting for example. How is it that string is transformed into a sweater using only two sticks? Magic, as far as I’m concerned.

So there’s a show on PBS called New Yankee Workshop. Have you seen this show? Have you seen it? This show is utterly fascinating. Watching this show is like watching a miracle occur before your very eyes. The guy on the show starts of with some planks of wood and maybe some glass or upholstery and by then end of the show he has, say, an ottoman. It’s sort of like The Miracle of Life, only more exciting, because in The Miracle of Life, you see a fetus and hear a voiceover say, “At this point, the ears are beginning to migrate to their final location,” but you can’t actually see the ears begin to migrate. You just have to take the voiceover’s word for it. You can, however, see Norm Abram upholster the ottoman. In real time.

And naturally, he makes it look easy. As you watch, you find yourself thinking, “Well, sure, if I had a lathe, a routing table and a pneumatic staple gun, I, too, could build an ottoman.” But I have a sneaking suspicion that there is more to using the lathe than just holding a chisel against a block of spinning wood, so methinks it is not quite so easy as it appears to be. And of course, the time lapse videography, makes it seem like it takes Norm only two minutes to form an ottoman leg, while it is probably more like an hour. Or five hours! I have no way of knowing!

I wonder if watching a knitting show would be as interesting?


Anonymous said...

I am trying really hard to share your enthusiasm for New Yankee Workshop, but I can't, I just can't, my husband watches this show and then tells me he wants to make some Antique Amish 18th Century Fancy Shmantzy Dining Room Table and my eyes glaze over from zzzzz...

Doktah said...

I think it's amazing when I can start with a simple energy balance and derive the complex energy equation for unsteady state heat flux through solids. But my students don't seem amazed by that either. I actually had to ask if one of the students was dead in class today. Seriously. He was splayed across the desk, sleeping.