What a great way to spend the morning - I got someoe to take me on a tour of this site, and he did it thoroughly. We manufacture airplane engines here, and I got to see everything from casting and machining rocesses to powder-spraying, shot-peening, chemical treatments, and engine assembly. Way cool, and all the better because the guy taking me around was enjoying looking at all this stuff. Also, he started out in the machine shop(s) and knows lots of people everywhere, so they were happy to tell me about what they do. Way, way cool.
It made me think of Outfoxed and his entry on tools yesterday. The stuff I saw today ranged from plain hammers and vises to incredibly complex computer-controlled metal cutting devices that use not only metal cutters but sometimes wires or water streams to cut metal, but he'd have enjoyed seeing them. I did, and I enjoyed seeing the complex shapes all those tools and the skilled people who use them produce. Machined metal parts are incredibly and unexpectedly beautiful, partly because of all the work evident in each one but more for their own sake, for the sheen of cut and polished metal and the precision of their curves. The precise fits of the pieces is also beautiful, as well as reassuring for anyone who flies much - all that sutff is in your engine.
That all dovetails into a post I started here yesterday. I'm not so much into vague self-esteem as I am into being proud of what I can do. Outfoxed got me thinking, but also, this has been a favorite quote of mine for years:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, con a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyse a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. Robert A. HeinleinThe usual meme is to list things you have done or haven't done. I think it might be more interesting to look at what I can do. I'm not much of an expert in anything, but I do have a fairly wide variety of skills, though I hope not to find out whether I can "die gallantly" for a good long time yet. So far, I know I can:
For balance, there are quite a lot of things I can't do - some I can't do yet, some I never will be able to do, some I have actually done but only with step-by-step instruction. Of course this list could be nearly infinite so I'll try to keep it to things I want to do or that I could be expected to do or that other people around me can do. I can't:
And of course that list could be infinite - I can't drive a tractor or harness a mule. I can't win an Olympic gold medal in rowing, can't climb Everest or scuba dive under the Antarctic ice sheet. Can't fly (without a plane) or read minds or bring the dead back to life. But that's an exercise in silliness so I'll stop there and be happy with the things I can do, and with trying to increase that list. I still think this is a more fun meme than listing only things I have done.
Thankful for: the things I can do and that my life isn't badly limited by those I can't.
Holiday Challenge: 85000 meters left.