Paid To Wait

I find myself in a very strange place tonight... waiting. Waiting for about 4 hours, and while I sit here waiting, the government is paying me. That's right, your local property taxes are hard at work tonight. I'm here, sitting on my duff, getting paid. In fact in about 30 minutes I'll be on overtime!

For all you out there thinking about an exciting job in the Information Technology field take note of me. I have been at this for almost 15 years, I'm near the top of my game. The lead network engineer at my place of employment. And here I sit, in an abandoned building waiting. Tonight I plan on being here waiting for 3 hours or more. It won't be till sometime after that when I actually am called upon to use my skills.

How did this happen? Simple. I caused it. At precisely 2:06 this afternoon a co-worker and I were talking about, "Maybe getting out early." After that huge breech in fate-tempting protocol, I took it even further. I said, "What would we do with all that free time anyway?" So there it is. It's clearly my fault. When the fates are tempted they rarely skip those opportunities to show you, "Exactly what to do with all that free time." So here I am, a victim of my own carelessness.

It seems the fates convinced a server to take vacation a little early.

"Call it a 'Holiday Bonus' for a hardworking domain controller."


"Really. Seize up, blow up, whatever you want."

Whatever golden tale was spun, the server bought it, then kicked the bucket and called it quits. It bought the farm, threw in the towel or whatever you like. It did it...and did it real good! We tried to coax it out of that mood, but to no avail. So we brought in the big guns and called hardware support. A support tech is en route, from San Jose as we speak. I don't think I will tell him this is all my fault. People who drive 3 hours in the rain the night before a holiday tend to have a limited sense of humor. Go figure.

In this technicians magic bag of tricks, is a setup Dorothy's friend the Scarecrow would be salivating for. A new brain with all the bells and whistles. I'm also hoping for a very heaving hammer.

Once the tech gets here the real fun begins, but until then, I wait. So here I sit. Getting paid good money to watch the door, and try and keep busy. So far, this is all I've come up with.

Sacraficing to Oops

There seems to be no shortages of people places or objects to bestow your esteem, regard, respect, approval or reverence. So how is it that I ended up here? Recently I find myself making sacrifices to a god that I didn't even know existed until a few moths back. This god is now the ruling force in my workshop, second to none with the power to change the outcome of even the smallest of event. That's right, the god of Oops.

Somehow I have unknowingly allowed myself to be ensnared in the firm grip of this relativity low profile god. What many folks would dismiss as coincidence, I see as evidence to the etheranl hand of Oops. Oops is a very demanding god

Oops demands regular sacrifices of nearly all of my projects. Sometimes, he only wants a small thing, like a striped screw head, or stray paint drip on an otherwise clean job. Other times my reverence is tested with something of a slightly larger scale. As I noted in an earlier post, Oops was apparently drowning in wistful melancholy, just as I had almost completed a project. As such his demands were much more stringent. I had the largest Oops offering to date, as I dismantled every last joint of a project to lift his spirits and cement my everlasting commitment to this terribly vengeful god.

So goes my current religious experience. I decided after that last project, that I would limiting my devotion and be giving less to this rather impish deity. I had a job that was to be a set of lattice framed doors to cover the top of my mothers koi pond. The hope was to offer some relief to an issue she has been experiencing with some rather pesky fishermen. The raccoons had discovered a nice source of fresh fish and I was charged with fixing it so they couldn't readily get at their after midnight snack.

As I put the last finishing touches on the doors I realized I hadn't made any amends to Oops. In fact I was quite proud of the fact, and mentioned it in passing to my wife as she looked over my handy work. I walked back into the shop about an hour later to sweep up sawdust and move the items, when I noticed a chip of wood missing from a joint.

Apparently Oops got wind of my statement and wasn't interested in loosing another follower. I searched all over the shop for the sliver of wood that was missing. It had apparently vanished, as if snatched up by Oops in a display of power. A sort of forced sacrifice to affirm who in fact was in charge of my so called free will.

I spent an hour or so repairing the corner. It seems I'm still an unwilling servant. Hopefully in the future I can find a way to rid myself of this god. Until then, I will continue in my sacrifices and increase my supply of wood glue and sandpaper.

The Cult

I sit down, and shed all reason and logic, as I open my pamphlet entitled:

"So you've decided to do away with all that filthy productivity and join the cult."

It's not a good sign but I decide to keep reading. I flip open the hand folded tract and see what more information it has to impart to my longing soul.

"You don't have to live the repressed life of your narrow minded generation. Open your mind and breath easy. You have begun your first step towards a life without the domineering overlord of 3 phase wiring or mindless repacking of your wearing motor bearings. Can you imagine a world without concerns of blade drift or constant mechanical tuning? If yes, then I bid you welcome to the cult. Please remove your jeans and t-shirt and pick up a linen smock and a tasteful pair of dark breeches."

It turns out, that my new hobby has some rather bizarre fringe members. Like any other family, the woodworking clan has a number of relatives that most people just never talk about. The hand tool nuts. Electricity? Oh yes they've seen it. It doesn't matter. They shun it. Many of them started innocently enough. Purchasing a hand plane here, a set of chisels there and soon a rip saw, crosscut saw and before you know it, WHAM. They're a full blown cult member with knickers and a period ponytail, sneering at those of us with table saws and electric sanders.

"You know... you could do that be hand?"

"Make molding? By hand?"

"Yea. You would only need a spokeshave, and simple scratch stock, and couple of hand planes. Should only take 20 minutes per 3' foot board."

"My router can do that in like...oh I don't know...4 seconds."

"But it won't be handcrafted."

"By handcrafted, do you mean tedious and aggravating?"

For every hand tool there is now a new modern equivalent that came into use with that ridiculous dark period of our history known as, The Industrial Revolution. I'm not saying I don't appreciate learning the techniques and skills of craftsman gone by, but contrariwise I have zero plans of freezing time at 1865 when my back saw could be interchanged for cutting drawer joints or amputating infected limbs. I like this era and I welcome the inviting hum of whirring motors and spinning drive belts. For me, the machines are half the fun.

To me, when looking at a set of hand cut dovetails side by side with machined cut dovetails they look identical. One took 30 minutes, and one took 3 minutes. Unless of course we are talking about my hand cut dovetails, which look more like ragged New York City pigeon tails after being run over by a an angry cab driver. So take your pick.

I suppose this could all just come down to jealously, or possibly the countless hours I've spent at my workbench trying to do anything that looks slightly passable as craftsmanship with my hand tools. Nah, that can't be it.

So I took my leaflet, crumpled it up and threw it away. Anyone want a loose fitting set of dark breeches?

What A Bargain

There is something appealing about free. Free. Something for nothing.

"You want it? It's yours."

"What's the cost?"

"No cost. Nothing. It's free. Just take it."

I should have known better. There is nothing quite as expensive as free.

Two weekends ago I got a deal. A real honest to goodness bargain. As I was browsing through Craigslist looking for inexpensive power tools to feed my new addiction, I found this post:

"Free Vintage Sears Lathe"

Needless to say I mashed out a frantic email to aforementioned giver of free tools letting them know how much I wanted it. "I will come and pick it up TODAY. no questions asked." Within three minutes of the ad appearing online, I had a phone call from the owner letting me know where to pick it up.

For those not in "the know" a lathe has one purpose. To take a block of material, wood in this case, and spin it at near dangerous speeds. My lathe spins at four speeds ranging from approx 600 to 1800 RPMs. This is changed depending on how badly you would like to maim yourself with a flying chunk of hardwood. Once you have the death machine up to full speed you attack this innocent timber with sharp objects in a effort to mold the log to your liking.

So I haul this thing home, set it up and spend about 2 hours cleaning off rust, scraping off buildup and sharpening its spurs. At this point I'm ready to 'turn' wood. Right? Wrong.

First off I had a broken drive belt, but that was a measly $20 to replace. No big deal, twenty buck to get my free tool working! Now I can turn wood.

Not so fast there junior.

Second I needed to buy some chisels, gouges, skews, and other lathe cutting tools. Otherwise I'm just trying to cut the wood with my wit, which much to my chagrin, is not that sharp. So now that I've bought $50 worth of lathe chisels, I'm ready to cut. Right? Nope. I need a face shield. This apparatus, that is both the height of fashion and safety will protect me from flying debris. There goes another $20. Now I'm ready to cut? Not likely!

Turns out to really begin turning, I need a lot. I need a sharpening wheel to grind my new chisels, because although you paid $50 bucks for them they do not come sharpened. There goes another $100 big ones. Now? Not yet. It seems your older lathe centers, the part that holds the wood in place, are too worn down and need replacing. $15.

"Okay, now what exactly do you want to turn?"


"Well then, you will need a 7mm mandrel, a set of bushings, a 7mm drill bit and barrel trimmer. $60. Oh by the way...."


"Do you have a drill press?"

"How much?"

"At least $100. For the cheap one."

"What If I wanted to turn bowls?"

"Yes. You could do that."


"You need a bowl gouge, new chuck and a set if calipers and maybe a spindle adapter..."

Anyway. I got this great deal on a new lathe. It was free. You know, free? What a bargain!