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Archive for May, 2010

Andy Warhol still owes my boy 13 minutes!

May 27, 2010 1 comment

My son was this week’s A-Channel/Save On Foods Amazing Kid. There was a segment about him played on the news, a generous scholarship awarded, and a live cheque presentation ceremony.

Throughout the whole process, from beginning to end, the A Channel people were all wonderful and made it a painless experience.

Here’s the video.

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Being macho.

May 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I don’t think I’m a macho guy. I am pretentious, in fact I might just be the most pretentious person I know but it doesn’t seem to manifest as machismo.

The last time I had stitches, my wife teased me for grimacing when I was anesthetized; at least she held my hand… It was unpleasant and I didn’t feel the need to hide my discomfort. When a fellow cracks jokes and laughs while getting stitches some people might see a macho man while others see a regular guy using humour as a defense mechanism in a funny and telling way.

Would you believe I saw fellow in a bar guzzle down a pitcher of beer, slap the waitress on her bottom then call his friend a latent homosexual? You’re right not to, but it paints a funny picture, don’t you think?

Some men are devoid of machismo in the face if injury: A former coworker tried to brush some debris out of a conveyor drive and lost his pinkie finger. He had surgery that day and showed up for work at the next shift. Of course he was sent home. He wasn’t trying to prove anything but merely had a work ethic that overpowered his brains and he didn’t see losing a finger as a reason to be laid up for even a day.

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I feel a kinship with that machine; my blood is on its bolts.

May 25, 2010 Leave a comment

While working on a client’s truck today my finger found its way between an 6 pound hammer and a pin punch. It opened up about an inch and a half of my right index finger; filleted a section but by crushing and tearing instead of cutting. First there was some cussing, then I put everything together and drove to the hospital. I’ve spent the afternoon and evening in triage instead of getting that damn truck rolling again; luckily it doesn’t need to be back to work just yet.

I can’t get my dressed finger into a surgical or welding glove so that rules out doing any paying work in the next few days. I guess I’ll get to learn how to do a compo claim from the boss’ side of things. I’ve heard it said that everybody believes in insurance until they try to make a claim….

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Bilingual beggars.

May 15, 2010 Leave a comment

I realize that there are any number of ways that a person can find themselves begging and living on the streets and that their former circumstances could have been anything. In spite of this fact I find myself making assumptions about beggars, and some of them aren’t good.

The first time I came across a bilingual beggar was in Holland and I couldn’t believe it. I’ve heard my own voice on tape and think that his English sounded more clear than mine(my first language is Tahsis Patois 🙂 ). We spoke for a minute and at the time I just couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that a fellow who spoke two languages was begging on the street, but I was just an ignorant kid.

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Mysticism as a tool ensuring job security with a thought regarding the mistreatment of apprentices.

May 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I work in two fields that I believe are terrible when it comes to workers creating a mystique about their work to keep their position secure: welding and saw filing. Each profession seems to do it in their own unique way.

With welders, I see it in the form of journeymen withholding information from their apprentices in order to keep them balling grinders and doing dirty work in order to save the gravy work for themselves. A perk of being the journeyman is passing the odd dirty job to an apprentice but so many of them forget that the apprentice is there to learn and that as a minimum they need to get down and dirty to check the work. If you want someone to do all your dirty work then hire a helper; the apprentice is there to help AND learn.

With saw filers it appears to involve withholding information from clients. I don’t understand a filer being secretive about how he does his work. Sure, many carpenters are interested in saw filing and how tooth geometry effects their cuts and a few will learn to do it for themselves, but it’s not that much revenue that gets lost.

I figure that the more people who know, the better. A few DIY types shouldn’t bankrupt me(more thoughts on that later). I’ve explained in a past post about clients wanting to learn the service I provide in order to do it for themselves. Go ahead and sharpen your own saws. I’ll happily fix them if you make a mess of things. If you do manage to learn how to do it right then show others.

The worst source of the mystique surrounding any trade is from clients themselves. It’s amazing how some people seem to literally think that joining pieces of metal together or filing saws is witchcraft; it isn’t even close. They’re like most things out there: Easy to do slipshod but tricky to do properly.

A funny manifestation of this mystique involves a friend of mine; he’ll sharpen your scissors for a about $5. Sharpening a $10 pair of scissors takes the same degree of work and skill as sharpening a $200 pair you’ll find in a hair salon or tailor’s shop. He can’t convince people that they’e not getting any benefit from shipping them out and paying seven times as much money. They don’t understand the work he does. He won’t raise his prices because he believes they’re fair as they are. Nobody is winning in that situation except the fellow getting scissors in the mail….

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Picking people’s brains.

I’m happy to show curious clients how I do my work or let them pick my brain, but sometimes it gets so involved that I think I should be charging them a consultation fee. I don’t even care if their intent is to learn the job so they don’t have to call me again; I’ll happily come out and help them if they get in over their heads.

I had a funny experience relating to this thought two weeks ago. I was doing some work for friend who is a professional to whom I’ve been a client in the past. We were chatting as he was cutting a cheque for me and I thought about how there were a couple questions I wanted to ask him but that, in all fairness, I should cut him a cheque of my own for his services; I charged him for what I did after all.

I do know he reads this blog and actually represents about 20% of my readership(but only 0% of my pirate ship) and am not posting this as bait for him to ask what I was wondering about…but he does know my number…

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Convincing your wife that you need to turbocharge your truck.

May 8, 2010 1 comment

Published by the SAE (or was it the OTHER SAE?) back in 1980:

…Turbochargers are generally very effective spark arrestors. They break up the larger carbon particles into fine carbon dust that burns up or cools off much more quickly after leaving the exhaust pipe. Therefore, there are no large red-hot carbon particles to land on combustable material.

Please? Putting a turbo on my work truck will make it SAFER…

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