Sunday, January 13, 2008

Collecting vs. Consuming

OK I will admit I do not get the whole collecting things thing. I know many people who passionately collect things and dust them and check their value and go out of their way to get more of these things they collect so passionately. There are train buffs with whom I work. They love the railroad. Collect railroad memorabilia including lanterns, dinnerware, uniforms or items from uniforms, menues, timetables, coffee cups, badges, you name it. There are web chat rooms dedicated to their passion where they virtually gather to talk about what they have, what they want, what they saw that someone else has, criticize the collections, values placed on items in the collections, brag about their collections and in some cases trade pieces of their collections with others who have collections. It's probably the same with just about any other collector and any other collections but I have first hand experience with these folks right now.

Now technically you could probably call me a collector as well as I have a passion for tools. Specifically woodworking tools but they are useable and not just collecting house dust. Sawdust is another matter all together. I see myself as more of a consumer. I buy things I want to use. I use them until they are no longer useable and then I get another one just or just about like the last one.

There are some things that may have been viewed as collection items. I have this thing for old hand tools. Planes, spokeshaves, drawknives and other such archaic items. I buy them from garage sales, restore them and then use them. Why buy old? Well they were just made better for the most part. A Stanley (Bailey) bench plane from 1943 is an excellent tool and you can get one for a couple of bucks. A comparable modern tool would cost you an arm and a leg and is based on the design of that 1943 model I spoke of.

Now there is a minor rub to all this tool gathering... I am going on the road again in my 21 foot RV this summer. Imagine packing a whole shop load of tools in with your socks and towels. This presents a problem. As a consumer I should be able to leave a trail of tools along the way but that has presented problems too. My brother in AZ was victim of the first deposit of tools. Yep I left my shopsmith in his garage along with a load of FESTOOL I bought for him. Not a good solution. First off I miss the shopsmith. Second he is stuck parking in the driveway vice garage.

As I leave NY I will have to find a way to stuff my mini-lathe, grinder, FESTOOL, construction tools, many turning blanks, finished products, and other stuff I will probably not be able to live without into the RV. HMMMMM maybe I will disassemble the router table.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What was I thinking II

I Feel Terrible! There are times when I feel my ambition is far greater than my good sense. Today is one of those days.
Weeks ago we at the Rail Museum decided it would be a good idea to make a lit of those things we needed to get done during the shutdown months. We wanted to work on the plumming (not me) work on the electrical panel and some lights (again not me) and touch up some of the wear marks in the floor (ooh ooh the floor is made of wood I can do that I can I can).

So we put together the proposal to get some grant money from the city and do a little comparative shopping for professionals to complete the tasks we determined most necessary. We put in for bids with an electrician, a plummer and the floor refinishing guy. The electrician came in within budget, the plummer was a little high but still within budget but the floor guy... Now that was way over budget ($7K). Well it is wood and I have installed and finished a section of the floor for a much needed repair soooooooo. Yep you guessed it. I had to phone around and get some prices on rental floor sanders. That plus poly and incidental equipment I came in some $5K below bid. Now that also included my estimated hours for completing the job which I figured would be around a week or so. UH no.

I have just spent the last week in prep, removal of artifacts and cases and started some 1,100 sq ft of the 3,300 total. OW! I hurt. Hauling stuff, working a 130lb sander and doing edge sanding with a 70lb monster can get to a guy's back, shoulders and legs and yep it really hurts. So as I stated at the beginning of all of this... WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Get your Geezer on!

Today was the another day of work that made me break a sweat, strain a few muscles and I am paying for it already. I will probably regret it all tomorrow but I got the job done, and at the end of the day felt pretty damn good about myself. What was the driving force that caused me to put myself in potential traction or a truss? I had a point to make!

I am currently embarked on the project of refinishing 3300sqft of yellow pine flooring at the Rail Museum. It's been 20 plus years since it was done the first time and there are coat after coat of yellowed GYM SEAL that have been lovingly applied by an 70 some year old man who happens to be my boss. He is an excellent old guy who taught history in high school, is and has been involved in the local community as a member of the Chamber of Commerce, member of a number of politcal, social and religeous groups and has touched the lives of countless children in a very positive way. He is a pillar of our society and deserves a lot of respect but I digress. No I do not have to prove anything to him, he is convinced that I can do just about anything except for plumming and electrical (as I have voiced this lack of talent a number of times.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What children do

Today the class of 2008 visited the Rail Museum. Now these are 17-18 year old children from the Process in Government class and though most of them were well behaved, respectful to the Director of the Museum and carried out the tour without incident, there is always one.

A very large lad probably 18 years old, slopily dressed, unkempt, needing a haircut and a bath decided it would be "cool" to pick up an axe and swing it around. Now there is no lock on the tool display, heck they mostly sit on the floor in the baggage check room but we normally don't have to worry about visitors picking up the tools because they understand that they are artifacts in a museum. Hmmmm what would pocess this 220 some pound dolt of a child to pick anything like that up and then be stoopid enough to swing it around in a room full of antiques that are probably worth more than his family makes in a couple of years. When asked what the hell he was thinking his response was a mumbled "I don't know". Now the last time I used that line I was say 6.

So there we have it. What is coming of the next generation and the world we want to leave behind for them to manage. I think the fact that there are fewer bees in the world is the least we have to worry about. These children are out there, they are aging rapidly and oh yeah they are bucking for your job. And if that doesn't scare you enough... they are reproducing.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


At this time of year we reflect on the last year, pick it apart, twist it and turn it around, look at all sides, search for meanings, and formulate resolutions.

For years I was a gym rat and it used to crack me up that one of the four crowded times of years was 2 - 10 January. "I'm gonna work out and lose weight!" was carved on all the chunky faces of those portly buggers stepping on to a treadmill for the first time in 300 some days, stood poking at some machine or left some big sweat puddle on the floor mats. They would suit up in the sweats, the 1970's dancer gear and in some cases spill out in all directions from smaller than they oughta wear gym gear de ano. I used to avoid the gym for those periods and hit the road instead. Hey you can always run and reschedule the lifting. OK why the memory of the seasonal sweaters? I just thought the visual images might get some chuckles and it kinda kicks off the discussion, and I know there will be some, about resolutions no matter how short lived.

My resolution this year is to finish what I (wait, what was that? OOOOO Shiney!!) Oh as I was saying finish what I started! Yep I'm the guy with a hundred projects going all at once. As I type I am thinking of the flooring project at work, Started; the display project, Started; the databasing of the collection, Started and a long way from completion. Personal projects include staged bottle stoppers, started; a cabinet, started; a spice rack, started; organizing my mini-shop, started; clearing out my closets, started; paring down the collections of things that would just rattle around in the RV when I leave this god forsaken place.

I am looking at fitting a shop full of tools into a 21 ft RV (again) stopping at my brother's place in AZ and picking up more tools then filling the remaining storage spaces, nooks and cranies and cubbyholes with turning blanks, spindle blanks, planks, chunks and slabs of wood. Oh and then there are the finished projects that I have not sold yet. I gotta get a bigger RV. Gas mileage is gonna be in the single digits unless I can find a way to prioritize... HMMMMM maybe a trailer.

Well for the rest of you, Happy New Year. May yours be filled with starts and finishes, bundles of success, lives filled with satisfaction and harmony in your personal digs. BTW lighten up on yourself. If you don't like something about yourself, take small steps to change, ditch the magic pill, device, book of quaint phrases and just reflect on why it is you feel you need to resolve to do something and finish what you...