Be A Guy

Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Timing is Everything (.1)

In Be a Guy, Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Work on August 14, 2011 at 8:22 am

Timing is everything.

You have to pick your audience: 
“That was about the same time I was working at the Whore House.”
“After that I was looking for something warmer and went to work at the Whore House.”

Glasses jump on the table and the vibration rocks the floor as that historic fact lands with a palpable thud.
Pause a moment as your audience tries to digest this tidbit and the ripples subside to add “But I wasn’t a whore, notice I said ‘at’”.

Assure them there was no sampling the wares- not even  in an “eat as much as you want” at the candy factory trope. It was a job.

If you are feeling kind fill them in on the management lessons according to
Warren. The owner- come on, the pimp, procurer and panderer.

If you are feeling unkind say.
“OK should we get going?”
“What are you going to have?”

It will come up again and then you can explain  your other duties and Warren’s unique management advice.

As the nominal doorman, Warren  explained-
“A big guy challenges a drunk. If this isn’t his first visit to a house he will suspect that a guy your size probably has a straight razor and nobody wants to get cut.”
“If things get sharp stand back and call the sheriffs; these whores can take care of themselves.  You haven’t been rushed until a pack of whores gangs up on you and scratches your sorry ass to ribbons- I am familiar with this experience.”
“Ask yourself ‘Who is going to swear out a warrant on a gang of women?’”
On getting along with the other employees, he advised-
“You can be kind of a kid brother or a sexy uncle, by marriage, maybe a “helpful” brother-in-law. You can’t be their Daddy I have got that role covered. I will warn you spend time with one of them and you had better date all of them- They expect Daddy to have a favorite; you’ll just infuriate them if you make a choice.
I’m not going to tell you not to fall in love with a whore. You either will or you won’t. I’m sure you know you don’t defecate where you dine. Technically, I suppose, there may be sexual harassment laws against it now. Come to think of it as the only male employee you might just be considered management”

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In Be a Guy, Cat Skull Studio, Tool Kit, Work on July 30, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I was an outlier in an arcane art- hammering. Mostly nails, but I busted a lot of things with a hammer and have driven many stakes and fence posts.I can tap down the concave in Japanese chisels and plane blades.I can peen bolts to hold forever and set saddle rivets. I’ve driven a few nails in hooves and hammer forged tools and implements in iron and steel.

I own dozens of hammers; from 10 pound mauls with 30″ fiberglass handles to 200-year-old upholsterer’s tack hammers. 28 oz waffle faced framing hammers and rig axes. Shake axes and dry wall hatchets. Ball peen hammers of all weights. Shot filled, rubber and wooden mallets. Steel handled Estwings and a nifty Tim Allen with a wooden doe foot handle. Curved claw and ripping claw. Shop sledges with jury rigged pipe handles and a 22 oz trim hammer on which I fit an 18″ hatchet handle.

I have hammers with friction grooves, magnets and spring-loaded ball bearing gizmos designed to allow the mechanic to start the nail with an awkward reach. While I eschew novelty hammers- I’ve driven more than a few staples with the hammer on a fence tool.

My grandfather taught me to drive nails in workbench top projects in a front moving circular method that I’ve never seen anyone else use and only use as a trick.

I taught myself to swing a sledge and a maul when my mother decided to stop paying for split firewood. (I also became adept at putting new handles on these instruments of destruction).

I installed kitchens with nails before there were cheap electric screw guns and cheaper phillips head screws.

I’ve driven Jesus Spikes on log cabins and pushed wire brads into picture frames.

I set a million roofing nails w/ one tap in a million 3-tab shingles and the same goes for 8dHG’s on cedar shake roofs, masonite siding and T111.

I know how to shake roof barbs in a stripper and I can bundle and align a handful of commons while lighting a cigarette.
I know 6d on cedar shingle siding and 4d on asbestos siding.

I’ve hammered the driver on flooring machines to cover an acre.

I still feed nails with an odd under hand hold that has my fingernails towards the work which exposes less chance of busting a fingernail. (Another aside I believe in and use the practice of melting through a fingernail with a red hot nail to relieve a blood blister.)

When I started framing houses, California style, it was all about driving 3 1/4″ 16d (penny) Cement Coated Box nails– box nails have a smaller shank than common nails. Like the big boys I could soon knock them home with one swipe. I pioneered, or invented, the technique of simultaneously driving two framing nails to pull crowned boards into alignment. There are dozens of guys who would still think of me when they use this trick I taught – if anyone still used nails.
I drove thousands of pounds of finish nails into trim. Turning the point to cut and not split was second nature to me. I could drive a nail flush without leaving pecker tracks and bring a nail set into play without fumbling the nails in my hand. Someone taught me the trick of setting the head of a common nail on exterior work with the head of another nail held sideways and extended that technique to breaking the skin on hardboard siding. I figured out it is more effective to clip the points off nails, rather than try to blunt them for a board end where splitting is a concern. I’d like to think there are dozens of carpenters who still carry Klines after seeing that trick.

I dumped a handful of clothes washing powder into 50# boxes of framing and drywall nails to make them easier to set. I greased trim nails with soap, wax and in a pinch by rubbing a 4d along the side of my nose, or an 8d through my hair. I now know this lubing significantly effects the nails holding power.

When I first hung drywall blue ring shank nails were the only way to go. The first nails I drove into concrete were cut nails.
I was partial to Plumb brand wooden handled hammers- steel gave me tennis elbow.

Now 90% of nailing on a job of any size is done with tools using pneumatics, gas combustion, electric battery or powder.

Better yet half the assemblies are now screwed together.

My pride in this skill is the same some old boy felt in 1911 because he was adept with a buggy whip.

It ain’t just me
OxTools/Tom Lipton
Hammer Addiction

Fashion Statement

In Thoughtful- Items I'd Like you to Read, Work on July 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I get a call to look at some work down in the lower village and head down to meet Jameson or Christopher or Roberto — no … Renaldo.

(Let’s not get into the imposition of three-syllable names. Who’s got that kind of time?)
On entering, I can tell that this is “some kind of fancy” little boutique. Long on the subdued lighting with jewelry brightly displayed and starkly dispersed in antique glass cases. The tiny price tags hanging from tampon strings, discreetly turned ink down, notify me I won’t be shopping here.

I’m wearing, basically, the same clothes I’ve worn for 40 years:

Khakis or Levis.

A 100-percent cotton button-down shirt — probably blue.

Utilitarian watch for jewelry.

Some kind of boots — it’s a long story.

A blazer — I grew accustomed to the pockets in high school.

Vaguely I feel like a turd in the punch bowl, a zebra at the paddock.

There are a few skinny sales women — too skinny for my taste and a wisp of a guy, fresh from the band box. He glides over and, like a pro, asks if I’m looking for “something special”.

I know I’m here to meet a potential client who may possibly have learned about the stores I’ve built in three weeks. We need the work. But I gotta say it-
“I don’t know about special; I’m looking for Renaldo”.

He pauses disappointed for a moment, then perks up.  “Is Reynaldo your personal shopper?”

Game, set & match skinny boy.  I’m speechless and incredulous for a few moments…

I can’t help myself.

“Let me ask you a question: “Does anything about me look like a guy with a personal shopper?” It’s just my opinion, but, if I’m a client, maybe Reynaldo dropped the ball.”


What I’m thinking is:

Does this look like a fashionable ensemble a pro would choose?

Would someone really pay Reynaldo good money to put this together?

I have to tell you I have a whole closet full of this stuff and I’m going to stock up now if it’s going to get expensive.

And, god bless him he doesn’t say “No, but you certainly do look like you need one.”


Do Those Pants Make You Look Fat? Ask the Internet


In Work on July 25, 2011 at 9:04 pm

From my old bud Tom D, years ago.
This is how unions work.
You’re sitting on your porch one day admiring your lawn and a guy comes down the street and comments that the lawn looks good. You tell him the kid next door cuts it for $ 20/wk and he shakes his head ruefully. Then he tells you that the kid will no longer be able to cut the lawn but that he’s going to provide a guy to do it for $50/wk. And you tell him that this doesn’t work and thanks but no thanks you’ll cut your own lawn. And he chuckles and explains that this is no longer on the options board.

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