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Speedy Gonzales
March 22, 2014 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Fast workers:
Manual hand rolled bagel maker.
Lace Maker in Brugge, Belgium.
Beer bottle opener (9 sec.)
Dismantling a Jeep (4 min).
Apple cutter.
Veggie cutting (must be a re-post).
Also, watermelon. etc. posted by growabrain (64 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
Jeeps! I never knew!

And wow, those (kevlar?) gloves the watermelon guy uses are pretty badass.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:58 PM on March 22


Chain mail, actually, I think. Butchers wear them, too.
posted by starvingartist at 1:01 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I looooove videos like these; it always makes me smile to see the meditative efficiency and pride in skill of long practice. I slightly miss dismembering and speed-wrapping 42 lb. blocks of cheddar in the early morning at Whole Foods, but not the tendonitis I developed doing so. Had to wince at bagel guy's rolling motion for that reason - he was making the backs of my hands hurt.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:16 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]




Lots of nice examples in this previously.
posted by jocelmeow at 1:19 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Whole cow processed (by hand) in under 12 minutes
I never thought a 12-minute video of a huge dude dismantling a cow carcass would be something I'd enjoy watching (esp with that soundtrack) but it's actually rather fascinating.
posted by carsonb at 1:24 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


The second cucumber cut in the "veggie cutting" video above is super-awesome. One of the best things my ex-wife ever got me was a knife skills class. I was pretty good before but now I'm really fast with a knife and vegetables, plus I'm vegetarian so it's extra handy. And now every meal is like a contest with myself.

But jeeps??
posted by nevercalm at 1:24 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]




Eh, I'm pretty sure I could open a bottle of beer in nine ... seconds ... oh. Ohhh.
posted by wanderingmind at 1:36 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


You are missing the Japanese fish market guys.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:38 PM on March 22


My all-time favorite "great at his job" video.

My favorite part is the waiter that nonchalantly crosses the path of the throws. Awesome.
posted by smidgen at 1:49 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


Just how many professions these days have no tasks like this, where you can just get so good at them its mesmerizing to those watching, is really sad. I'm lucky enough that, even as I spend more time in front of this damn computer, I still get to do molecular and microbiological wet work in a lab, which is full of these things. Maybe pouring 23 Petri dishes full of agar media from a 550 mL flask in less than ten seconds, or filling a pippette tip box by hand in 30 seconds, or consistently dispensing a solution into the flask your buddy is swirling wouldn't make a good video, but diluting cells along a series and spotting them on plates pipetmen akimbo to keep up with the next timepoint probably would.
posted by Blasdelb at 1:54 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


My all-time favorite "great at his job" video.

Lambert's Cafe's 'throwed rolls' ain't got jack on this guy.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:54 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


The bread one posted by dobbs is awesome. I feel like there is a whole realm of solutions to problems that never occur to someone sitting at a computer designing. I could have worked up a nifty conveyor system in no time. "maybe we could just toss them", I would never think of that.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 1:56 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


These guys make Speedy Gonzales look like regular Gonzales!
posted by Bromius at 2:01 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


That first one really would have been better if the interviewer had been Hewel Howser.

And not as exciting, but she knits pretty damn quickly.
posted by happyroach at 2:13 PM on March 22


I've only watched 5/7 of the videos linked, but so far none have mentioned even the name of the person being recorded. It's like, there are those who (unnamed) do, and there are those who (for YouTube likes) tape them. Sad statement on society.
posted by Houstonian at 2:34 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


Blasdelb, I would totally like to see your mad lab skills. Especially the tip box filling.
posted by lizjohn at 2:51 PM on March 22


Tortillas (and everyone is named!). Action is in first 9 seconds, but then they introduce everyone and discuss it a bit more.

Inventors: why isn't there a household tortilla maker, like a breadmaker?
posted by el io at 2:57 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Cucumber guy does show just how contemptibly wrong my unthinking reliance on the mandolin really is. I feel awe and shame, and an urge to sign up for nevercalm's class.
posted by IndigoJones at 3:00 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Just how many professions these days have no tasks like this, where you can just get so good at them its mesmerizing to those watching, is really sad.

No. No no no no no.
A manual task that can be mastered to the degree that the onlookers are mesmerized by the speed and precision of the movements should be performed by a machine, where speed and precision are the result of solid design, not hours upon hours of practice, paid for by cuts and burns and sometimes worse.
Unless you do that for sport or out of love for your craft.
posted by hat_eater at 3:02 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


That cow video is oddly mesmerizing, though I'd argue for some different choices (like crosscutting the shanks, and keeping the ribs ready to barbecue). If I had the space I'd love to learn how to break down a carcass and research all of the options for forming the various cuts.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:13 PM on March 22


One of my favorite examples of this sort of thing is videos of tea pulling.
posted by MeghanC at 3:21 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


There was a woman who made sandwiches at the Big Red Barn at Cornell. IIRC her name was Roz. She was amazing. You wouldn't believe how fast and precise she was. I wish it hadn't been before the days of smartphones; I would have begged for permission to take a video.

She usually remembered your regular order, too, despite serving hundreds of customers a day.
posted by BrashTech at 3:27 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


I've always been fascinated with the skillset required to toss pasta dough into individual strands while doing little more (from an outsiders perspective that would be) than twist and toss it. I wish that was mentioned here.
posted by mediocre at 3:29 PM on March 22


On a busy night I'll make several hundred mojitos. Me or my two partners can make four mojitos in less than a minute. That's adding mint, lime and simple syrup to the glasses, crushing them all up, adding crushed ice, shaking individually, pouring, decanting into glasses and adding a straw. And they're good!
posted by conifer at 3:30 PM on March 22 [6 favorites]


Several hundred? Jesus, is your bar located inside a sorority?
posted by mediocre at 3:33 PM on March 22


Nope, popular bar in Barcelona. We specialize in mojitos and gin and tonics.
posted by conifer at 3:41 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Holy crap the Jeep. O_o That's just damn impressive. And it drives when they're done!
posted by xedrik at 3:46 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]




"A manual task that can be mastered to the degree that the onlookers are mesmerized by the speed and precision of the movements should be performed by a machine, where speed and precision are the result of solid design, not hours upon hours of practice, paid for by cuts and burns and sometimes worse.
Unless you do that for sport or out of love for your craft.
"
Its strange that you operate from a default assumption that someone shouldn't love their craft. Particularly when not all labor is practical, or even capable, of being so depersonalized.

In my examples, pouring plates is certainly mechanizable, and you can buy disposable plates pre-poured by the sleeve, but except in weird instances it is a colossal waste of money. An undergrad who learns the aseptic technique necessary to operate in a microbiology lab by learning the craft of efficiently pour plates is better than free, they increase their own capital through their effort, and someone with the skill has no need to spend more than an order of magnitude more per plate. However, the task of diluting and plating cells in just the way you need them for whatever it is you're doing that day is, like a lot of the skills shown in the video, a fundamentally creative task reliant on the kind of judgement you can't program into a machine. A machine couldn't compute on its own the questions I need to ask of a flask of bacteria any more than it could compute the right place to make the cuts in a cow to perfectly disassemble it, and the best machine for a person to guide in my case is already a pipette like it is a knife for the butcher in that video. Sure there are pipetting tasks that can and should be automated, like in modern sequencing, but there will also always be a place for that crazy dual wielding grad student.

Similarly, a machine could certainly be taught to cut vegetables like that sushi-chef, and even accomplish the task better, but a machine could not be taught to invent cool new ways to cut vegetables and the best machine for a person to use while doing that will pretty much always be a knife.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:48 PM on March 22 [4 favorites]


el io: "Inventors: why isn't there a household tortilla maker, like a breadmaker?"

Like this?

And the first thing I thought of when reading the post was this.

You guys should get a load of my 1337 data entry skillzzzzzzzzz. 15 years is a long time to rule the roost. :\
posted by symbioid at 3:49 PM on March 22


That apple-slicing guy is going too far. His badass reputation will last only until "where are my fingers?" In other words, really stupid.

There are apple-peeling devices (not high tech either).

An easy way to core, slice and peel an apple without a device is to cut the apple in half, then in quarters, along the long axis (from top to bottom). Take a small paring knife (not the big chopper the idiot is using) and remove the core from each quarter. Cut each quarter in half again (or into thirds) along the long axis and lay each piece flat, then use the small paring knife to pare away the skin. I can't do this blindingly fast, though.
posted by bad grammar at 3:49 PM on March 22


A n easy slow way to core, slice and peel an apple without a device...

You don't have to go all crazy like the guy in the video, but there are faster (and safe) ways than cutting an apple into twelfths before peeling it.

As with everything, there is a sub-reddit of videos of fast workers.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:58 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


> A manual task that can be mastered to the degree that the onlookers are mesmerized by the speed and precision of the movements should be performed by a machine

How much money does the owner of the stand make on those breads each night, and how expensive will the machine be to purchase and maintain? How many people will be needed to man and operate the machine? What training will be necessary? Will the machine be optimally used if it only produces breads at the rate the man makes them, or is it only cost-effective if it produces breads several times as quickly?

If electricity is unreliable, will the machine become the bottleneck in a production system that does not otherwise depend on it? Will it require more room than the current production system does, meaning fewer table settings and lower patron capacity? Is the machine portable? Will it require more protection from theft, rain, and other hazards than the current production system does?
posted by ardgedee at 4:10 PM on March 22 [7 favorites]


Its strange that you operate from a default assumption that someone shouldn't love their craft.

Most people don't. I wasn't trying to deny you the joy of manual labour - I know from personal experience it can be tremendously rewarding. Pride of a well made thing and pride of a well written piece flows from the same source. And the manual crafts at the artisan level are also intellectual.

I was protesting against what I perceived was your regret that most modern professions don't require such level of manual proficiency as seen in the videos. For most people it's a change for the better. For every street artist who awes the passers-by with his mad noodle pulling or lace making skills there are many labourers who manage feats no less spectacular, entirely unseen and cursing the work they have to do to earn a living.
posted by hat_eater at 4:12 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


How much money does the owner of the stand make on those breads each night

This, I think, is the fundamental question. Not enough to employ a machine. Enough to employ a human.
posted by hat_eater at 4:14 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


symbioid: Nope, not like that... Those are pressers/cookers (automatic and manual). With a bread machine you put in the ingredients and take out the bread. That's what I want in a tortilla maker. As I'm not an expert/ninja, the time it takes to get a few tortilla made is too much for me. Yeah, I don't need help making a quesadilla.

Noodle slicer robot replaces humans (and is cheaper to run than Chinese labor costs).
posted by el io at 4:36 PM on March 22


Well to run with hat_eater's idea, the robot bread maker should be in a central location, say one factory per metropolis or region. After being prepared, the bread can be frozen and trucked en mass to local restaurants, and thawed in the microwave as needed. Any loss of unique taste or texture will be made up for by mass efficiency. After all, this works for Wonder Bread.

Truly, extruded food is the wave I'd the future.
posted by happyroach at 4:36 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


An easy way to core, slice and peel an apple

I used to do that. Now I just cut off the sides of the apple, leaving the square with the core in the middle. It's easy to make the slices, the slabs of apple lie flat on the cutting board, and I can nibble on the good bits left on the core. I'll never understand the need for skinning the apple.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:44 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Blasdelb, shouldn't there be a National Challenge for Lab Skills? For example, my secret power is programming first-generation "automated" spectrophotometry machines. Not as sexy as the pipette stuff for sure, but it's a crowd pleaser at 2:00 AM when the last sample is done!
posted by sneebler at 5:02 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


Well to run with hat_eater's idea, the robot bread maker should be in a central location, say one factory per metropolis or region.

Now I want to see a video of how quickly a really skilled worker can construct a straw-man.
posted by howfar at 5:10 PM on March 22 [5 favorites]


...shouldn't there be a National Challenge for Lab Skills?

I'm ready for the "ejecting pipette tips for accuracy" competition, I can hit a garbage can at 10 feet.
posted by 445supermag at 5:13 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


That Jeep one reminded me of this Royal Navy Field Gun competition.
posted by islander at 5:14 PM on March 22 [3 favorites]


> Well to run with hat_eater's idea, the robot bread maker should be in a central location, say one factory per metropolis or region. After being prepared, the bread can be frozen and trucked en mass to local restaurants, and thawed in the microwave as needed. Any loss of unique taste or texture will be made up for by mass efficiency. After all, this works for Wonder Bread.

Meh, the dough is the same and I'd rather the bagels be uniform so no one feels cheated.
posted by planetesimal at 5:28 PM on March 22


These things blow my mind as someone who sometimes has to do repetitious tasks by hand. When I was first learning bookbinding, the thing that most impressed me was how fast my teacher folded paper. It was lightning fast, flipping through paper with a bonefolder with the greatest of ease.
posted by clockbound at 7:02 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I used to do that. Now I just cut off the sides of the apple, leaving the square with the core in the middle. It's easy to make the slices, the slabs of apple lie flat on the cutting board, and I can nibble on the good bits left on the core. I'll never understand the need for skinning the apple.

Pfft. Amateur.
posted by kafziel at 7:20 PM on March 22


16,000 Honey Rings, with great patter.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:04 PM on March 22 [10 favorites]


Knife nerds, know this: Americans do it better these days. This is about the finest chunk of metal you can put into your kitchen. It's a copy of a Japanese knife designed to improve upon a French knife, made with a modern Swedish razor steel famous for holding an edge despite what abuse you toss at it. The handle is made of dozens of layers of linen soaked in epoxy, and shaped by hand with a barrel-sander. It's manufactured by hand in upstate New York.

You see how the single-beveled Sakai-made carbon-steel togiharu deals with that onion? You remember him sawing through it to start? My double-ground, American-made Richmond gyotou just kinda... falls through it.

The common consensus is that a forged, full-tang knife with a hardwood handle is better than a stamped knife with a plastic handle - and this was true prior to the late '90s. Then "forged" knives could be made on a machine from incredibly cheap stainless from stamped blanks.

Japanese knives never bothered. A knife can be sharpened or it can't, it holds an edge or it doesn't. A skilled chef knows with the first slice what kind of knife they have in hand, and after the first sharpening what they can expect of it going forward. Tangs, bolsters, forged, stamped, who cares? The quality of material and the skill expended on the finished product, even that doesn't matter. How does it cut?

The Americans took this attitude, applied it to modern steel and handle material, and now I disassemble onions with alarming alacrity. I'm not as fast as the dude in the video, but as I only do that to onions once every other week or so to feed a family of, umm, three... I'm crazy close to that fast, without really trying. Also, for sick kicks, I once sliced celery thin enough to read through super hyper fast. It worked scary well.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:31 PM on March 22 [24 favorites]


We have the robots in lab to do some of the work that Blasdelb is describing above (specifically, pipetting) and honestly, humans are just as fast if not faster a lot of the time. The main advantage of the robots is that a) they don't make non-repeated mistakes (like skipping a row) and b) they allow the humans to do something else with their time. Oh, and c) they allow you to pipet 96 wells simultaneously which is handy for kinetic assays. But humans are better at pipetting small volumes with less waste (you have to make excess for dead volume for the machines), humans can change tasks more quickly, humans can work with odd numbers or incomplete sample sets, and humans have a wider range of techniques available to them.

Basically, the robots we have in lab are glorified pipetters. Even as that they make me feel pretty secure in the continued necessity for my skill set.

Now, if I could fucking automate my sequencing results instead of needing three websites, a DOS command, two additional programs, and a fuckload of copy/paste in order to get a nice looking, easy-to-read-a-month-later printout, I'd be pretty fucking pleased.

(Personal skill lab olympics skill: Picking colonies with toothpicks to fill 96 well plate of media, then removing all the toothpicks. One of the few things I can do faster than my 30 year lab bench veteran boss.)
posted by maryr at 9:11 PM on March 22


Also: Yeah, I need a second tool (I use a vegetable peeler and a paring knife), but I'm not all that impressed with the apple peeling above. Seems like he's losing an awful lot of fruit with the peels. (And you need to peel them not for eating, but for baking.)
posted by maryr at 9:14 PM on March 22


That cucumber work is amazing though.
posted by maryr at 9:19 PM on March 22


Yeah, but Jeeps are self-disassembling...
posted by klanawa at 10:37 PM on March 22 [2 favorites]


I used to think my knife skills were quite good as I could finely mince a whole onion by hand before my eyes started burning from the volatiles. But I found out when cooking at a friends place, that speed won't help you if the knife is dull. A sharp knife will destroy fewer cells and release less sulfurous compounds. A blunt knife will mash all in its path, and leave you a weeping wreck, not to mention turning in your hand and nearly taking off a finger.

The skills are impressive. But a good set-up helps.
posted by ninazer0 at 11:21 PM on March 22 [1 favorite]


Knife skills always impress me and I loved watching the jeep demonstration but what I really want to applaud is the lace maker, the woman spinning cotton by hand (much harder than it looks) and the world's fastest knitter.
posted by Anitanola at 1:03 AM on March 23


These are amazing videos, but anyone ever wash dishes in a kitchen? Talk about flow.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:27 AM on March 23


Blueprints of the Afterlife featured a gold medalist dishwasher as a main protagonist. Just sayin'
posted by oceanjesse at 2:30 AM on March 23


I like things like this. As a bartender people tell me often that I'm extremely fast. I'd like to see a video of myself making something to really see what they see, but I bet I'd just be creeped the fuck out.
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:04 AM on March 23


that watermelon guy was fast, wasteful, and out of control.
posted by ironjelly at 7:54 AM on March 23 [1 favorite]


On his tumblr Jofus calls these kinds of videos 'A Lovely Bit of Business' and they're mostly not about speed but grace and accuracy and amazement. My favorite is the ice cream vendor.
posted by carsonb at 8:26 AM on March 23 [4 favorites]


This is my favorite--dude transports 22 bricks on his head.
posted by anewnadir at 3:51 PM on March 23 [1 favorite]




I like how the bagel guy is just "please leave me alone and let me make my bagels, sir".
posted by Evilspork at 8:23 PM on March 23


For anyone who has ever fought with eating a Maryland Blue Crab, watching a professional do it is disheartening.
posted by namewithoutwords at 5:50 AM on March 24


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