August 25, 2015 Leave a comment

Sharpening knives was one of my chores growing up and I loved doing it.  When I was a teenager I went to work for Mr. Oyama and learned a different way of sharpening the knives we used to butcher fish; our methods were virtually the same as in this video.  You don’t need to understand Japanese to get something from it:

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Trop fatigué.

August 23, 2015 Leave a comment

On Friday I smashed my finger with a hammer and have a blood blister on my fingertip to show for it.  There was a conversation with a coworker immediately after:

Coworker:  Are you accident prone?

Me:  Only when I’m tired.

Coworker:  Are you tired now?

Me:  I’ve been tired since 1998.

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You probably missed something.

August 14, 2015 Leave a comment

No names!  An engineer buddy of mine was on a factory tour featurimg an assembly line in a purpose built building.

He noticed that the shipping and receiving were one department.  Parts came into the shipping/receiving department and were run to the cells/stations where they were needed and the finished product was brought back from the end of the line to be sent out.

Brought back from the end of the line…  Hold that thought.  The assembly line headed away from the shipping/receiving in a straight line then, after being palletized at the end of the line,  finished product was driven a considerable distance back to the shipping/receiving area.

My friend:  Hey, why didn’t you make the assembly line circle back to shipping to eliminate all this material handling?

Tour guide:  Ummm….yeah…we messed up.

…No talk of having a dedicated shipping department at the end of the line.  That’s another possibility.

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Notions of Manliness.

August 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Today in the lunch room a coworker described a colour as chartreuse.  A lot of guys I know would describe chartreuse as,”one of those names women have for a certain shade of a colour,” with a tone bordering on contemptuous.  My coworkers are different.

Most of the men I eat lunch with are fly fishermen and most of them tie their own flies…very manly stuff.  To do this they need to know their colours so you can tell one of these guys that something is fuchsia and they simply know….No bad jokes with touches of misogyny or homophobia.  Simple understanding.  It’s nice.

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July 1, 2015 Leave a comment

A former coworker put a post on Facebook about a dog locked in a car during warm weather that made me think about an incident like this I encountered while working in facilities at Vancouver Island University.

I was working on a sunny day when I heard a call on the radio from one of our landscapers, who was in a parking lot near me, asking for help to do with a dog locked in a parked car.  I got on the radio and offered to bring up a hammer from my tool kit to smash the window but the dog wasn’t in distress yet so they took the time to track down the owner through their parking pass number.  They were pulled out of class to let their dog out.

I was looking forward to busting that window….I could have been a vandal and hero with a single swing of the hammer!  I wouldn’t have cared about it coming back on me either.  Do you know what redress you have when someone breaks your car window to rescue your dog from death by heat stroke?  NONE.  You hang your head in shame, apologize for troubling the folks that intervened, and hope that you’re contrite enough to be allowed to keep your dog.

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A shop trick for making do and/or saving money.

June 20, 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve been tapping threads most of my life and only today, at the age of 39, did I buy my first bottoming tap.  Depending on what you want to do, hand taps for a given thread come in a few shapes.  Most weekend warriors are familiar with taper taps, but when you need to get threads to the bottom of a blind hole they won’t do:



Now today may be the first time I’ve actually bought a bottoming tap but I do own a few.  Here’s the tip:  Whenever I’ve needed one I would take the taper tap for the thread I want, grind the tip off, finish the job, and then replace the taper tap at my leisure; possibly days later.  It’s cheaper than buying a bunch of bottoming taps that you may never use.

FYI:  I bought the bottoming tap today because:

1)  I knew I’d be needing it to finish the job on my bench.

2)  It was right where I was shopping for something else I needed.

3)  It was inexpensive!

Finally:  If you don’t know how to grind tools, please don’t use this advice as inspiration to go out to the shed and wreck your taps.

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A telling stink!

June 14, 2015 Leave a comment

I was savouring the smell of my late morning coffee and thought about odours.

On a recent shopping trip in Coquitlam I went into a KMS Tools and a Princess Auto store within an hour of each other.  They both sell some similar products from offshore suppliers but they smell rather different and that shows the differences in their focus:

While the air in Princess Auto smells mainly of rubber, plastics and has “mercaptan-ish” feel to the whole place, KMS Tools mainly smells like oil and Cosmoline to me.

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