I write this post about 6 hours before 2014 in my hometown of Gainesville, FL. When I do leatherwork, I either listen to NPR, country western radio (which became one of my favorites during my days as a shoe repairman and saddle maker), or records on my home stereo. Today it has been NPR, and throughout the day they have told me which places across the world have celebrated New Years: Tokyo, Sydney, Manila, New Delhi, Tehran, Kandahar. Soon it will be the New Year in Baghdad, Aleppo, Jerusalem, Istanbul, Rome, Berlin, Edinburgh.
WordPress sends an annual report on the final day of the year. I was surprised and amazed to find that people from 84 countries visited my site during 2013!
As regular readers of my blog know, I am a leatherworker and a science professor. I love art, craft, music, and science. I also love traveling, and I am fortunate to have a “day job” that has brought me to many wonderful places: Argentina, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, Israel, Germany, Canada, France, England, Italy, and all over the US. Next year I am planning trips to Japan and China, among other places. It is a great perk of academic scientific research.
In addition to the travel and the immense pleasure of learning about life and how things work, one of the reasons that I love science is that it is so international. I have had students and researchers in my lab from India, China, Japan, Egypt, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Syria, Kuwait, Macedonia, Virgin Islands, Iran, Ecuador, Cuba, Haiti, Russia, and the US. My students have been muslim, jewish, christian, hindu, and atheist; religion and politics have no bearing on anything we do in the lab. Science is an activity without borders, and it makes no difference where people are from, what color they are, or what they believe.
Art and craft also have no borders. Music and art are universal, and every major city in the world has art museums and concert halls. Much of my craft was imported from all around the world. Braiding is often associated with cowboys and the southwestern US, but it has origins in South and Central America, Australia. Many of the great knots that are used in leather and rawhide braiding come from sailors.
Some of the finest examples of leatherwork and fine hand stitching can be found in English saddlery from the United Kingdom. My favorite bicycle saddle is made by Brooks in England. In addition to great beef and Malbec wine, Argentina is famous for its amazing rawhide braiding. My next visit to Argentina will include some classes in rawhide braiding.
I often think that the world would be a much better place if scientists, artists, and craftsmen (and women!) were in charge of running things. I’m sure there would still be disagreements, but from my experience, most the disagreements would be worked out in a way that would be constructive rather than the typical solutions of violence and war that are all too common in our world.
I am thrilled that this little blog reaches people from so many countries around the world! It is a reflection of the universality of the most important things in life. Please feel free to contact me to let me know what brought you here and the things that you love most in life.
Happy New Year!