With thanks to Henry Ford

I went to see a Molière comedy the other night and it was a grand farce, an updated silliness with lots of bawdy bits and weird singing. The theater was unremarkable, except for the stage, a mechanical marvel with three concentric rings. These rings moved independently of one another, spinning walls as they turned.  I remember the first time I saw a moving walkway on stage—it amazes me the technology they can do for plays. I am fascinated with mechanics in general, gears that spin, levers that flip. I love cartoon depictions of Rube Goldberg devices, and I would watch Mr. Rogers during college breaks just to see the factory tours. It gave me a whole new perspective on the fig Newton. It’s not that I want to fix things. I just like to watch them work. 

This voyeurism extends to domino runs, huge structures with innovative bridges and stairs. Sometimes I watch them on YouTube, enjoying the complexity of something done just for amusement. I’ve toured breweries, bakeries, and most memorably, a chocolatier. If you’re ever in Seattle I would most highly recommend the Theo Chocolate Factory tour in Fremont. Theo is one of the few artisanal shops in the country to make chocolate from scratch—starting all the way back at the cocoa beans. It’s organic, too. Yum! 

I love to know what’s inside things, and I’ve disassembled all my dead computers just to know. It’s only fun for me if I don’t have to put it back together. This curious streak does not extend to living beings, as I’m squeamish. I hated high school dissection, and I’ve always questioned the need. “After all,” I told a friend, “I’ve never needed to know where a frog’s colon is.” He replied, “You have to do it so that you know it’s not just frog-plasm in there.” Point well taken, but diagrams would have been sufficient.  I’ll stick to the man-made stuff, the moving sculpture of everyday life. Soon it will be time to go back to Krispy Kreme and watch the robots make the doughnuts—ah, sweet ballet of glaze and gears! 

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

47. Take a factory tour if one is available. Wouldn’t you like to know more about your local beer or those cookies that are baked down the street?


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