Colin's Corner

Oct 2014

The Marvels of the Latest Technology

Colin Mackenzie

This article appeared in the 2014 October issue of Chips & Chatter.

Every day when I open my newspaper there always seems to be another revelation about a new technology that is going to change the world we live in.


There appear to be thousands of scientists working overtime in both secret and non-secret places all over the world whose sole aim appears to be to generate still further news stories in my newspaper.


I opened my paper this morning to another such revelation. Scientists discover the kind of disgusting origins of sex. Washington Post Oct 20, 2014. Naturally every red blooded American male woodturner is a sucker for headlines about sex. It’s almost as important as hearing about an impending tree coming down on a close by street.


So I read on: “Picture a frigid Scottish loch. Now inside this loch picture two gyrating armored prehistoric fish, which would later be called M. Dicki. The fish, the most primitive jawed vertebrates, would never win any beauty contests. But in the amorous world of the aptly-but-coincidentally named M. Dicki love was blind.”


The piece goes on to detail the awkward details of the critters that bear absolutely no resemblance to anyone I know even in our woodturning club. By the way the aptly named critter is named after the Discover’s name—a Mr. Dick. This reminds me that the English have a habit of naming people according to the profession or trade that they follow—so a Mr. Carpenter makes furniture and a Mr. Tailor fashions clothes and at this point I don’t dare ask what a Mr. Dick does.


I fear that I am getting into deep water so I had better get to the point. There seem to be so many people finding out about things I really don’t want to know about. The things I want to know about seem to be blissfully ignored and yet if discovered will bestow heaps of help on all woodturners.


I refer, of course, to that item that one comes across on a first visit to any woodturning club in the Land—the subject of Mystery Wood. I don’t think I have ever been to a wood meeting where there aren’t items made of mystery wood. Usually in the course of a meeting there is a heated discussion (argument) about whether an item on display is truly made of this or that wood. I have yet to see a resort to fisticuffs but I live in hope of this happening one day.


The question is why can’t just one of these many thousands of scientists do something useful for woodturners and supply a ten-dollar gadget that will instantly identify a wood sample. From one of any of the billions of people in the world one can take a speck of saliva and prove his or her identity. Why in Dickens’s name can’t we do the same for a humble piece of wood. Not next year or the year after but right now and I say right now as I can almost see the end of my woodturning days. I can’t wait forever, and I’ll be damned if I want to know any more than I know already about the sex life of anything or anybody.


Colin Mackenzie
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