Monday, February 04, 2008

Today's "Moment of Dad"..."Qualities He Noticed - a 'Tinker's Eye' "

I know some of you have been itchin' for a Dad entry.

Consider yourselves scratched.

Yesterday, Doug and I went to a special NOAA exhibit all about shipwrecks. It was quite interesting, really. I'm a "landlubber", having grown up in the Midwest where there aren't any oceans to speak of, so the nautical world is something that I'm not too familiar with.

My dad was a "landlubber" too, but I think he would have appreciated this exhibit.


Because of various qualities in people that he noticed and felt were important to have. In this case, the quality I'm referring to is something Dad would call "a tinker's eye". I'm not sure if this description was unique to Dad or something that many guys of his generation would say.

"A tinker's eye", to Dad, meant someone that could look at something closely, figure out how it worked, THEN reproduce it. Someone with "a tinker's eye" can also explain how something works without baffling everyone with technical terms.

One of the gents at this "Shipwrecks" exhibit was definitely "tinker's eye" material. His name was Jim Christley, and he was a Naval engineer. He is an authority on submarine engineering, having spent 20 years or more in the Navy with engineering as an MOS. Currently, Christley is on his third career as a painter, specializing in seascapes. (I gleaned this from a short conversation we had yesterday...)

Jim was also featured in a video about the search for the USS Alligator, a submarine commissioned by Abraham Lincoln for use by the Union Navy during the Civil War. It was lost in a hurricane and has yet to be found. My new acquaintance, Mr. Christley, figures into this because he was featured in a video about the Alligator and its reconstruction. He was able to create a working model of a mechanism within this submarine, and explain how it was supposed to work as well as the flaws. He explained it without me scratching my little head going, "WTF? I want popcorn! Where the hell's the bathroom!?"

Dad would have eaten up this guy's presentation with a spoon, and christened Jim with the "tinker's eye" designation.

Dad tried to instill this spirit of "learning how things work" with my sister and I. I must admit, my sister is really good with this concept and can explain how medical procedures/conditions/etc. work to the layperson. I try to do the same thing, and feel I'm OK at it sometimes.

But I know I'll never have a "tinker's eye" my own bad self. That's OK, and at least Dad taught me how to appreciate the concept and learn from those who have "tinker's eyes".

Thanks, Dad.

PS: For local readers, I highly recommend the Shipwrecks exhibit here at NOAA. Click on the link above to learn more, and get there only goes until February 10th.