This morning I discovered the Science Channel on cable TV and watched several shows in the “How It’s Made” series. The episode I watched was number 3 in the 14th season. I know this because the info button on my remote control displays the title of the show plus the series and episode number, one or two of the headliner actors and a sentence or two describing the plot or storyline.
My point in noting this is season 14 is that this is the first time I have ever heard of this show at all, so where have I been for the other 13 seasons? Under a rock? How can I find all the seasons and episodes that I missed?
The episode I just watched showed how western saddles are made. This was totally fascinating to see all the different steps involved and the craftsmanship that a saddle requires. Overall, one saddles takes about a dozen different artisans to put it together, with great care to detail, and it takes a full 40 hours to make one. Yes, saddles are expensive, but now I appreciate all the work and talent that goes into making one and I don’t begrudge them the sale price one bit!
Other episodes showed how barber poles are made, how Oreo cookies are baked, how walnuts are harvested and shelled, and what goes into making golf clubs. All of these segments are totally engrossing and I cannot tear myself away from watching. Evidently there is a new show every Thursday night on this channel. This is going to give me something to look forward to watching on Thursdays.
Back in the day, listening to radio was how I heard my music. There was a radio in the kitchen of my parent’s home, and a radio in each of our cars. When I was about 9 years old I was given a small transistor radio as a Christmas gift from my dad, along with a story of how he had to make his own radio from bits and pieces of wire and metal that he scrounged from work sites near where he played, and he used his own saved up money to buy the transistor tubes from a hardware store. The tubes and wires and a little cogged dial were housed in a 3″ x 5″ metal index card file box.
When I turned 13 I got an actual record player. It wasn’t even stereo. It came in a little cardboard box with a brass latch that looked like a piece of luggage that was popular in those days. It had a hinged lid and the turntable had three speeds: 78, 45, and 33. I don’t think I ever used the 78 setting but I used the 45 setting almost every day. In the early days, music was sold on 45 rpm singles, with a hit song on the “A” side and a song that no one really like much as a “B” side. If you were very lucky, your single was by someone that actually had a second hit worth listening to on the “B” side. That was usually someone really big, like Elvis or the Beatles.
Years later we bought 8 track tapes, then cassette tapes which played in stereo. Eventually the music business came into the digital world and you could buy CDs. But now, it is all about digital downloads onto iPods and listening online.
The best part of the downloads is that you can buy only the exact songs that you like and want – no more forcing consumers to buy a “B” side or a whole album of 10 songs when all you wanted was one song. That is what has the music industry screaming about how they aren’t making money anymore, but in my opinion, they were riding the gravy train for 40 years and now it is like it should have been all along – buying the one you want and not being forced to buy ones that you don’t want.
photo of bad vending machine with sign
It might be a good bet that everyone who used vending machines has lost their money in one at least once. Sometimes the machine takes your money and gives you nothing in return. Sometimes the machine takes your money and does not give any change back. And sometimes the machine drops the wrong item and you are stuck with it.
My biggest complain with vending machines is when you can see a row of the snack or candy items that you want and you know they are in there, but you put your money in and then it promptly rejects the money and you can’t buy what you want and there is nothing you can do about it. It’s not like it stole your money – it stole your hope!
Everyone in my generation learned to read maps somehow. It wasn’t something taught is school. We had to learn this important life skill from our parents or maybe from Boy Scouts or in the miitary. I think if you went into the military and did not already know how to read a map you might have been at a huge disadvantage with the others there for training, but maybe i’m wrong about that.
I learned to read maps from my dad. We always went on road trips during summer vacations. It was nothing to load us kids up in the family Chevy wagon and head out to the beach or the mountains. Lots of times we didn’t have a reservation at a motel, we just headed out and took our chances that we would find something that looked good and had a room for us.
Now the cell phones and cars all have GPS units and we don’t have to really read maps any longer. I wonder if that is going to make reading maps an obsolete skill? If we can rely on GPS to get us to the destination, what’s the point in having paper maps any longer? Do we even need a compass any longer?
This month and the rest of this year I will be using a telescope and learning about the night sky with my sister’s son. She found a used telescope for sale at one of those thrift stores that she like to haunt and bought if for the kid. Of course, neither she nor my nephew know anything at all about telescopes or astronomy. So she calls me up and asks me to come over a couple of times and show them how to use the telescope.
Now, I had a telescope as a kid and kept it on the balcony outside of my bedroom. I had a great view of the Potomac River from my bedroom and only one tree in the backyard that could block my view. I got my telescope for Christmas from my dad, after we both did a lot of research into the different types of telescopes and shopping hard for the best price. Of course, I knew in advance what the Christmas gift was going to be, but the cool thing is that it was EXACTLY what I wanted!
So, tomorrow night I’m heading over to her house. The least she can do is fix me a free dinner for spending a couple of hours over there. Although she is not a good cook. I don’t think she knows how to do anything but open a can of Chef Boyardi and plop it in a bowl so she can microwave it for 60 seconds. So, on second thought, I’ll order a pizza for delivery to her house and at least I know I’ll be fed while I do my uncle duties with the telescope.