Finished up the “gluing” portion of the “stitch and glue” process last Sunday afternoon.
It just happened to be the hottest day of the year, which made my west facing garage sauna-like. Not that I’m complaining. Come the cold gray days of November the heat, sunshine, and brightness will be a fond memory. I also had music playing in the background, beer (Obsidian Stout) in the fridge, and 4 hours to spend focusing my attention on one thing and one thing alone: applying a bead of epoxy between the planks of my wherry.
The tool of the moment was a cheap, disposable plastic syringe, and I did make a note to myself early on to try and find a better syringe to use on my next boat. Unlike a caulking gun that when used correctly can lay down a uniform bead of caulk, the syringe was so herky jerky in the way it dispensed epoxy it was impossible to get a consistent bead.
But I made do. And now the wherry is hull down and my next step will be to remove the copper stitches. Once that’s done, I can move on to filleting.
As some of you may remember, in addition to working on my wherry, I’m also reading Matthew Crawford’s latest book, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction. I read a few pages at a time and then spend the next few days thinking about what I read. It’s that kind of book and he’s making me work at it.
Lately, I’ve been doing more and more thinking. That’s because this book has turned out to be profound and alarming. For example, I just finished a chapter titled, “Autism as a Design Principle: Gambling.” I won’t go into the details here, but it was deeply disturbing, particularly the hints that other industries are/have already embraced the same design principle.
There’s no mystery to the reason why. It’s all the end result of billions of dollars of research into human behavior and the way our minds work. In short your brain is malleable. And big companies know this. You may not start out addicted, but one of the goals of using their products is to make you that way. Addiction makes you a loyal, life long customer. Simple. Drug dealers know this. So does corporate America.
I suppose most people don’t care about this one way or another. But the idea that we’re not autonomous creatures blessed with freedom to think, do, buy and opine whatever we choose has implications that I don’t care to contemplate right at the moment.
Freedom for puppets!
So how does one fight back against the Corporate Mengeles, the purveyors of group think and lemming-like behavior? Well, I’m getting to section in Crawford’s book, but from his early chapters, it seems that it may involve something that I’m already doing: through focused attention on something real, as opposed to something virtual. This is also opposed to an activity that creates that illusion of choice, but really offers a sanitized version of reality with a predetermined subset of choices. An example of this would be shopping for deodorant. You have five different brands to choose from offered by five different companies, but, in fact, all five companies are owned by the same parent company, so your choice is really not much of a choice at all, but simply a matter of choosing which scent or package you like more than the others. Video games are another example. They offer a predetermined number of options so players are given the illusion of real choice. Over time, they begin to assume that that is how the real world works. When they discover it doesn’t, the tendency is to find refuge in the “safer” and more predictable virtual world.
In any case, it seems that spending 4 hours gluing fits the bill. During that time, I didn’t answer my phone, check for text messages, or peruse the web. I just glued (with occasional beer breaks). As it turns out, Sandy and I did something similar on Saturday. We didn’t glue, but we went hiking in the Olympic’s along the Duckabush River. It was a gorgeous day, the river was lovely with cool pools and water the color of Swedish crystal. We chose the hike, the distance we walked, where we stopped for lunch, when we turned around, and dealt with the dilemma of a few unknowns such as an unmarked fork in the trail. Which way to go? We couldn’t google an answer.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t tell you how much I cherish my time unplugged, without distractions, and with choices to make that are mine, and mine alone. At least, I think they’re all mine….