It goes without saying that winter is a time to go deep on TV watching. After all, you’re stuck in the house with no other place to go, and the TV is just sitting right there, begging for you to turn it on and watch a little. 

It’s the easiest thing to do, reach over and flip the set on, and check out while you watch your favorite shows as the snow flies. TV, for me, has a hypnotic hold on me when the days get dark early, and it takes the advent of spring to break the spell. But before March 21, I’m unusually all in on TV watching. 

When the snow is flying, what better time is there to sidle up with the good old television set, toast your hands on its warming glow, and forget about your troubles for a few hours passing the time watching some shows?

With the literally hundreds of TV offerings that are around these days, winter may be the only time of the year that anyone can conceivably try to catch up on TV watching. Suffice it to say, if you are current on all the latest shows, and everything that TV has to offer, than you are probably spending too much time watching it.

With the advent of the “smart tv” now you don’t just have to watch TV shows, you can delve deep into what YouTube has to offer and watch it in the comfort of your living room instead of on a tiny phone screen or laptop. Frequent readers will know that I have a great fondness for YouTube videos. I don’t know what it is about them that I find to be attractive. Maybe it is the people who film them, who are typically everyday people just filming their everyday lives. Maybe it is the fact that the videos are catered toward one subject, say metalworking, and do not deviate from that subject at all for at least a half hour. 

Some of the videos let you see different parts of the world in a way that you’ve never seen them before, unedited and raw. That includes the recent videos I’ve been watching concerning India and Pakistan and their manufacturing. This is not major manufacturing for things we would get, but everyday items that are produced by citizens of that country for people living in that country.

A lot of the videos depict workers who manufacture items like scissors, baskets, metal cooking stoves, or other everyday items, in their stalls for sale in the markets. The items that they would use day to day. 

The items are produced with very crude tools, to our standards, and with tiny coal-powered forges, makeshift anvils, hammers and other such items. In the videos it is very rare to see much of any modern equipment that you would see in a blacksmith or metal working shop, such as an angle grinder. All of these items are made by hand.

It’s amazing to see the actual useful items that an individual can make out of seemingly useless junk that is laying around the shop. For example one blacksmith uses chunks of steel, fashioned with hammers after the metal is heated in a forge, to make the handles of a pair of sheers. The blades are fashioned out of sheet metal in the forge, they are also hardened, and then the blades are welded (with a homemade welder) to the handles of the sheers.

They are sharpened on a rudimentary grinding stone that is jury-rigged to an electric motor, and a pair of sheers or scissors are formed. After the item is painted and the blades are polished, the maker poses with his item that he made, one of dozens, for the camera.

Although these videos have been entertaining to watch during the lazy winter months, mostly because I appreciate how good these men and women are at actually making things, there is a note of sadness for me watching them too. Typically the scene is one of squalor. It is very rare to see anything that is “new” in the videos. The subjects of the videos are tired, dirty and often working in cramped conditions with dangerous tools. They are risking their life and health to make items that will sell for pennies. I suppose they are working like this, and gained the skills they have with the tools they have, because that is all they can afford.

These videos show that it is like for people in some foreign countries to actually make a little money with what they have to make it with, and it’s not much. It actually makes me realize that a lot of the stuff we throw away, and this includes myself, are practically new items. One man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure in this case.

I don’t know what the lesson here is for me, other than watching the videos of these skilled laborers makes me realize that I should be thankful for the items I do have, and maybe try to make other items – that I may think are damaged beyond repair – last a little longer, because there are a lot of people in the world who literally only have the clothes on their back.

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