understanding the mullet
Friday, March 14 2008
The weather was warmer today and even a little sunny, and I was back working on the car, still trying to remove the remnants of those melted bolts from the end of the intermediate pipe using a drill, a Dremel, and the 240 volt firepower of my wire-fed arc welder. I blasted and blasted until I had a hole on one side, but still the remnants of the bolt protruded. Then I went to let the pipe down off its hanger so I could get to it better and at that point discovered that all this time had been wasted. The intermediate pipe itself was so badly rusted that it had folded at a weak spot like a drinking straw. There was one good thing that came out of this ordeal. I discovered at some point that the spool feed of my welder has a tensioning nut allowing me to give resistance to the spool as wire is pulled off it, and using it correctly allowed me to keep the springy wire from leaping off the spool and jamming the works.
My hair is definitely shoulder-length now and even drapes down my back an inch or two depending on the orientation of my neck. As I worked it kept getting in my eyes, a real bother when I was putting the welding helmet on. Sometimes as I'd be straightening up I'd realize that something had fallen upon some of my hair, causing it to pull painfully as it resisted. All these irritations added up to a desire to just cut it off, but I was still too lazy to go ahead and do it. Nevertheless, I came to understood the popularity of mullets amongst working class men, guys who, for a generation, wanted to belong to the subculture of long haired men but couldn't afford to have it interfere with their trades.
For the past couple days I've been watching episodes of the show How It's Made on the Discovery Channel. In each half hour episode, we're shown how each of a completely random handful of everyday household items is manufactured to a pounding soundtrack playing rhythm-heavy porn-music influenced electronica. It's a multisensory feast, and must be completely mind blowing if you're like totally baked.
The two things that struck me about watching these manufacturing processes were both their complexity and the incredible level of automation used. When we think of industrial robots, we tend to think mostly about automobile assembly lines. But robots, it turns out, are everywhere. And where industries don't use robots, they use incredibly specialized tools (such as a lathe that can make a set of nesting wooden bowls out of a single short section of tree trunk). Just watching the robots go about their business was strangely compelling. Their actions are so complicated and precise they seem at least as alive as insects. I found myself wondering how there could have ever been enough engineers to design all the specialized equipment cranking out the zillions of things we demand from the industrialized grid.
Later Gretchen and I watched The Zodiac, a movie dramatization of the Zodiac killer scare back in the late 60s and early 70s. The fundamental problem with dramatizing this story is that the murders were never solved. The Zodiac attacked the problem by resorting mostly to horror movie conventions, which I find draggy and a purposeless affront to realism. What's behind that door? I hear scary dissonant music, so something horrible must be back there! Oh, what a relief, nothing! Oh my God, but what was that? Oh, it was just my friend whom I haven't seen all day walking silently up behind me and putting his hand on my shoulder! Happens all the time!
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