We made a trip to Chinatown recently. Chinatown? Well, with more and more I guess it’s fair to say it was New York City. But there are at least three enclaves now. Manhattan! Of course! Is there any other? Yup, San Francisco, Los Angeles…. Live seafood. It’s about live and fresh. I’m not sure there are many places where you walk past tanks of live seafood ready to be cooked to order.
The shops? Exotic? Certainly different. Prices? Whoa! Look closely. Read the labels and … whoa! They would be thousands of dollars per pound! Really? Dried shrimp, a delicacy? And abalone, at hundreds a pound? I can appreciate the price, marvel at the prices, and shake my head that someone values this at so many dollars. Abalone is chewy and not particularly tasty to me. But then don’t ask me. I don’t like wine much either.
I had never been. Now I have. It’s interesting. It’s a milder form of Cabello’s. No guns. But you get about anything else that has to do with hunting and fishing and tractors and …Yes, there is a completely different life out there. I still don’t have a tractor. I don’t figure to ever have one. Maybe I will ride on one someday.
Where have I been? Under a rock?
“Shop” was the name of a class we took, sophomore year in high school. I went to Stuyvesant, a specialized science and math high school in Manhattan. You got in by entrance exam. We also got mechanical drawing. Go figure. Shop class was taught by Mr. Eiffert. He was a garrulous man who imparted wisdom like: when walking home in the dark hold your keys with the tips out like brass knuckles – just in case. Or, a can opener will do real damage if used to slash. Our shop project for the year was to build a valet chair with a lidded box for the seat. It would be useful if completed properly. Cut to the chase: mine never worked and was eventually tossed with the trash. Meanwhile, we were not exactly privy to the project. We were told to make each part without visualizing the whole finished project. Early on in my enthusiasm and lack of attention, I managed to plane off the tip of my middle finger. Yup! It was a power planer. Gone in an instant, so long finger tip. Fortunately, it was the nail – which grew back. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the ER across the street. Nothing to do but apply a bandage. The rest of the class spent the afternoon copying all the shop rules, long hand, into their notebooks. I got the best deal; I didn’t have to copy the rules. Funny, ‘cause I’m the one who needed to do it.
Fast forward, look at me! Mr. Eiffert must be rolling in his grave. I have set up a shop. I even laid in track lighting the other day. Neat! Yup, track lighting. Installed it without shocking myself. It’s bright, like a mini OR! Ha! Power stuff – yup! Chop saw, table saw, router, router table…. So far all the fingers and toes are intact. I’m planning to build a bookcase. This will be 8 foot tall and 8 foot wide. It better look good. So, the small projects thus far have taught me basic skills. I built two drawers. I built two tool boxes. I built three basket stands. I have built two jewelry boxes.
Everything you want to know is on YouTube. The problem is that there are varying opinions, so caveat emptor. I’m learning to stain wood. It’s actually like painting. The color you chose and the color you get are options and customized. And, of course, there are mistakes to be made. In this case, I admit that I am returning to high school shop class a bit later and slightly wiser. So far all of my original parts are still my own.