We’ve become this couple when we’re out for a meal. I used to judge people like this, before Holly and I had cell phones, as we would sit with our respective newspapers, and interact just as little while we waited for our food. I now get it. When you have all that processing power at your fingertips it’s hard not to fiddle with it. I judge those people no more. I’m on to judging far worse people…
It’s been over five months since I looked at this blog, maybe it’s time to start posting again. A better idea might be backing up and packing up, but I want to give this another shot before I give up. I have wanted to be more active at sharing, but I seem to find any excuse not to. When I’m working, I have no time. When I’m not working, I feel guilty sitting and writing. I know there are ways to make time, I’ve just been too lazy to put forth the effort. So here goes one last attempt at chronicling the ever-so-interesting existence of Eric.
I got called back to work a short time after my previous post. The call came on a Friday afternoon, mere weeks before my unemployment coverage ran out. At that point I had given up on the notion of going back, having heard nothing at all since being laid off at the beginning of the year. Holly and I had begun having serious chats about what we were going to do if I didn’t find something before my E.I. ran out, so I was relieved to see my boss’s number on the call display. After the usual, “How you been?, What’s new?, Keepin’ busy?…”, he informed me he had some design work for me. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was something.
I agreed to do the work, and got started right away. I had to model an existing two story house, then add a deck, pathway, retaining wall and some minor landscaping details. It didn’t take me long, but it was a little frustrating. I got one set of plan-view drawings that were incomplete and was expected to create a scale model using only it and two photos. Luckily I’m always up for a challenge. I pulled off the drawings and handed them off in typical cobra fashion; meaning I worked hard and fast and forgot to ask if I was getting paid.
The phone went silent for weeks again, and I had given up all hope of going back or even getting paid for the design work, until another Friday phone call caught me off guard. This one was serious. There was no pussy-footing pleasantries like last time. Instead I was quickly informed that everyone had been fired and asked, if I wasn’t busy Monday would I like to come back to work?
The first day back started with myself and my boss watching intently as the last guy he fired picked up the remainder of his tools, dropped off his keys and shouted harsh facts in his now former boss’s face. I say facts because I tend to agree with the bulk of this guys complaints. I say this guy, because before that day I had never met this… co-worker. Once all the awkwardness of being handed the keys the recently fired guy just threw at your boss’s face in front of the recently fired guy settled, my boss decided to step it up and ask me if I’d ever seen such a whiner and a baby as the guy turned to leave. I had no idea what to say, so I stood there awkwardly some more until the awkwardness was met and defeated by flying stones shooting from the now rapidly spinning tires on recently fired guy’s truck.
It was the perfect preface to the next five months.
After I finished crating all the “super secret” cargo at the shipyard I was supposed to be off for a period of about two weeks, while the owner of the company was on holidays. That all changed on Tuesday when the guy who runs the other crew (let’s call him Bo-Bandy for now…), Bo-Bandy, unfortunately suffered a minor heart attack. I was called to fill in while he’s getting rested and tested so he’s not overdoing it. I didn’t mind at all since I enjoy the work, need the money (fuck you xmas), and get a chance to work with the guys who have the most experience with all the tools, jobs, clients, procedures and – most importantly – the owner. I have yet to work with the owner. I have gotten a lot of positive feedback from him regarding my work, which makes me happy. But most of that feedback is just relayed through him, to me, from the client. Without us working together on something he only sees what I can do, and not how I do it. A lot of people can do the jobs I’ve been hired to do. It’s a question of whether they can do them smartly and safely, while being fast and efficient. When all he sees is the finished product, there is always the chance that I’m acting like an ass all day, fiddling with my smart phone, maybe not wearing pants, who knows. So far my work has been enough to keep me there, which from what I hear is often a difficult task; the place goes through people like I go through blunt wraps. I’m sure one day soon I’ll get to work with him, and soon after that know whether it’s a good thing or not. Either way I love the work, and I love working outdoors again.
The job I was called in to finish on Wednesday was a safety rail on a roof near the skyway. It was -7° that morning when I stopped to get my coffee, and the lovely lady behind the counter asked “You’re not working outside today, are you?”. I assured her that not only was I working outside all day on a 32′ lift, I was looking forward to it. I remember having conversations with people at John Deere about how much better it feels to work outside every day, regardless of the weather. Most thought I was crazy for preferring the outdoors in our cold Canadian winters, but I love having the world as your office. Just look at the view I had while working on that railing in the photo above. All day I watched massive boats pass through an engineered waterway that acts as a boat escalator (see: Welland Canal), while a C-130 Hercules circled above us (a regular occurrence here in Niagara). You don’t get that experience when you’re stuck in an office or warehouse. You just get neon lights that fuck with your head and eyes and make you contemplate not coming back after lunch. I get no lunch, and I don’t even care. I just like the job that much. Hopefully there is enough work to keep me there for a long time.
As I mentioned in my last post, a week ago I started a new job cutting reclaimed timbers into boat cribs for a local shipyard. On Tuesday I finished planing the last pieces, then labelled and loaded them onto pallets, and wrapped them up to be shipped. Unfortunately that means the end of my fun with chainsaws (for now), but in reality I’m okay with that. After 40 hours of chainsawing the arms, hands, shoulders and back get a little tight and sore. Luckily Holly booked me a massage later, so that should help a ton.
The above photo is the tow-motor I drive and a pallet loaded with the cut-off waste wood, which one of the other guys who works there is taking up north and using to heat his cottage. It should be great for that. It’s all solid oak that has been submerged under water and compressed under the weight of massive ships for years. I imagine it’s going to burn for hours. That tow motor saved me so much heavy lifting when it was working. Unfortunately on day one it got stuck in a soft spot on the driveway, then a valve decided to die, and it was out of commission until midway through the second day. So for that entire time I had no choice but to lift and move everything using only my totally awesome muscles.
For those of you who are interested in what it was I was doing, here’s how it goes:
I start by finding a decent timber (decent means: I have enough of an edge to layout my cuts, there is no rot or split lines that will compromise my finished piece, and there is a face for me to mark lines on; sometimes timbers are too wet, or rough sawn to mark a decent line) and prop it up on some other timbers so it’s a comfortable height to cut. I use the metal detector, in the photo above, to find any nails that might destroy my chainsaw, and remove them (if I’m lucky) or mark and avoid them. Then I measure and mark my cuts. I stay away from my layout lines when cutting (just like in timber framing and all that fun stuff with low tolerances!) so that I can plane down to them afterwards and have a nice smooth, even surface. Once planed, I label everything with wooden tags I brad-nail to the end grain, then stack them and wrap them.
Here’s an example of one piece I had to cut. Because the pieces were four feet long, and the cuts were on an angle, even a twenty-four inch bar wouldn’t cut these in just two cuts. Instead I had to make four cuts per piece. One from each end, then two in the middle on each side. The last cut always being the scary one. It’s the one where if something is going to go wrong, that’s when. And when things go wrong with a chainsaw, they go really wrong, and fast. But whatever, working all day, alone, with the risk of dying is what makes manly men… right?
After those four cuts you get a pile of chips like this. The picture doesn’t accurately illustrate the depth of the pile, but believe me, it’s deep. I know because the saw kicks the chips out its ass end directly onto my right foot, filling my boot up several times a day. At the end of the day it looks like I have one normal sock and one sock made of mulch. Thankfully that’s not annoying at all to walk around on for eight hours (/sarcasm). I spend about ten minutes at the end of the day with the air compressor trying to dust myself off before getting into the car. Then I spend the drive home picking shit out of my eyes.
After you cut all the cuts and plane all the planing, you get a pile of chips about twice the size of the one pictured above (the garbage bags are filled with chips…). That’s about thirty to thirty-five contractor-size bags full of oak chips, and there was only a little over forty timbers to cut in total. So basically less than two timbers cut and planed equals one entire bag of chips. At the end of each day I would use a snow shovel to clean up; a broom would have taken hours. Apparently the owner has a deal with the region, who take the chips and use them as mulch in their gardens. I would prefer cedar myself. Oak sort of smells like dill pickle chips to me.
I loved doing this job. Regardless of how hard it was on my muscles and back at times, and how crippled my hands still feel, it was perfect. I spent the day outside playing with chainsaws and other things that make lots of noise, got paid (well… will get paid), and made some new animal friends. There is a cat who lives at the shop named Sly, who seems to love me. Then there is the guy in the photo above. His name is Rex, and he’s one of the neighbour’s dogs who comes running over to say hi whenever he hears me making the aforementioned noise. He hangs out and sniffs things while I’m cutting, then runs over for some loving when the tools wind down.
I’m not sure when I’ll go back to work for them, or what I will be doing when I do, but I look forward to whatever it may be. It’s a great opportunity for me to do more and learn more about the things I like doing, all while getting paid. And so far everyone seems very nice and easy to get along with.
Suck it John Deere!
So as I stated briefly in a previous post, I (along with a bunch of others) recently got laid off from John Deere, after just over a year of working there through Manpower. In that year I managed to do a bunch of stuff. I had some of the best numbers in the place, was one of three people trained on a particular piece of equipment, the only ManPower employee selected for the Continuous Improvement Committee (which I cheerfully resigned from a few months ago after some bullshit I will post about another day), changed the layout of two major sections of the facility, and increased the efficiency of one of the major components vital in ensuring all deadlines are met.
Sounds like a decent list of things which might help a person get hired full time, no? No. Not there. At John Deere (at least the facility I was a part of) nepotism seems to be the almighty ruler of everything. I witnessed numerous instances where good hard working ManPower people got screwed over so that some full time slacker with an uncle in the office could get their way. It was things of this type that took me from being a motivated go-getter eager to secure a long-term, full time position, to someone who resigns from the C.I. Committee and openly admits their lack of respect for the supervisory and managerial staff in control of my life.
I could go on for hours about how fucked up it was working at the Deere, but I’d rather not. I’ll make a couple more posts I’m sure which will be related to things I did while there, or things that happened while I was there. For now I’ll keep it brief. I got a call from ManPower yesterday, telling me they had my stuff from my locker, and that I needed to return my I.D. swipe card, so I decided to have a little fun with some Sharpies before I hand it in. I’m a ninja.
Tomorrow I begin a new job. Not sure how long I will get to do it, but we’ll see. It’s for a company that does a lot of commercial and residential renovations, however my first task will be constructing boat cradles out of oak 12″ x 12″s at the shipyard! Chainsaws!! Fuck Ya! Day shifts!! Fuck Ya! John Deere…. FUCK OFF!!
For months I haven’t been using the internet at all. It began when I started working full time and my laptop’s video card died. Without the money to replace it, I decided to just take a break from computers completely. After two years of sitting at one all day every day it was something different and nice. For months, the only thing I used a computer or the internet for was logging my hours for work. Then one day Holly got fed up with asking me over and over again to hook up a VPN so we could get US Netflix, and finally told me to get it done before she came home from work that day. It was easier than I thought, and immediately I regretted putting it off so long.
I was shocked at how much Sci-Fi content is available when compared to the Canadian equivalent. I added everything I could think of that I had been missing since I lost all my DVD’s to my ex. The first thing I watched (if you haven’t already guessed) was Stargate SG1 and it’s subsequent films. When I was done, I had the overwhelming urge to try Â and model a decent Stargate. I decided to make an exception to my “No computers / No internet” rule, and fire up the Sketchup for the first time since completing the book.
It took me a few hours to model and texture, the bulk of that time being spent on getting the symbols as accurate as possible, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I even decided to try something I had never done in Sketchup before, with hopes of animating an active Stargate with ripple-y water event horizon effects. It worked pretty well (as anyone viewing this post in Firefox should be able to tell… everyone else will just have to take my word for it) and gave me lots of ideas for projects in the future. It also made me miss my blog.
I didn’t realize how much I love blogging until I was doing none of it. I constantly longed for the motivation to write about life and what I was doing with it (whether it was models of Stargates, or the latest cute thing Roan said), but I still had no desire to sit at my desk. I hadn’t planned on doing any blogging until I procured a new laptop as I find it more fun to do while relaxing wherever, and not sitting at desk. However, I have had an excess of free time the past few days (explanation to coming soon…) and the boys have been kind enough to share their laptop with me lately (which is getting slightly less frustrating to use all the time!) for some work I’m doing for John Deere (possible explanation coming soon…).
So prepare yourselves internet populous, for I am gearing up to fill in the gaps, and will soon have a powerful new tool at my disposal.
This blog is suffering and it makes me sad. I miss writing daily, sometimes hourly, but at least I’m working a real job and contributing more. I also don’t feel comfortable writing too much about work since I’m in a weird situation. By that I mean since I’m a Manpower employee I still have to go through all kinds of stuff to be hired by John Deere and who knows who could stumble on something I’ve written that could hinder my chances. Work obviously takes up the majority of my day so there isn’t much for me to write about.
I haven’t even hung out in my shed since I started working. No wood burning, no robot stacking dolls, nothing creative to post about. Instead I’m forced to bore you all with the unfortunate loss of one of my favourite accessories, like it’s in anyway newsworthy. As you can see above the bathroom floor won the battle against my favourite Â pair of tunnels. Luckily I have a spare set of plugs, but Holly hates them. So the next day she ordered me a pair of these.
Last Monday began a new era in Cobra careers. Thanks to Holly’s hard work I am now a full-time employee of John Deere Canada… sort of. I got hired via Man Power, which means I get paid less than a normal Deere employee, and have less vacation and freedom. Hopefully this is only temporary though. Either I will find something else entirely, or I’ll get hired as an actual Deere employee. So far I like everyone I’ve had to deal with, and it’s a place that absolutely has to work as a team so people have been very willing to help thus far. I am still bummed that I’m back working in a warehouse and not building anything cool, but at least I’ll have paycheques!
My first one will mostly go towards maintaining The Sword, which is overdue for tranny fluid and a serpentine belt. Now that The Sword is slashing up the QEW daily it’s important I get those things done sooner than later. The remainder will be going towards getting Holly a laptop for her birthday that passed a week ago today. Once I finally get money I can spend on “other things” I want to get my laptop some new parts. I need a new wireless card, and I have had a bunk hard drive in this thing since almost day one.
The thing I’m most looking forward to with the new job (aside from the pay) is learning to, and being allowed to operate the following on a daily basis – both because I dig things like these, and I look forward to not having to walk quite as much every day.
So here’s the just of what’s taken place recently…
The book is finally done! I finished it last week really, but was apprehensive to say anything about it for fear that this was yet another false finish line. For the record, the end was the most painful part, and I am greatly relieved it’s over. Because the book will be printing soon (apparently it takes a month or so to setup, then a month or so to print), and I will be credited for layout and illustrations, I needed to secure a domain I could list in case someone feels like recruiting me for more of this type of work in the future. Fortunately for me, my good friend Jon is fast acting and always willing to help me out. He secured cobraconcepts.ca for me, which will soon be directly linked to my CarbonMade.com portfolio you see in the screenshot above.
On top of finishing the book and setting up my portfolio, I’ve been attending multiple job interviews, doing orientation with ManPower and even working a few days at a shitty job. One would think I was a highly motivated go-getter, but that isn’t the case. In fact, Holly is the one to thank for all the opportunities that have come my way. She’s the one who found the jobs, wrote the cover letters and did her best to keep me positive through the whole process. Although I was incredibly stressed last week, I think things are about to change.
I start a new job on Monday, which in all honesty the only thing I’m looking forward to is the paycheque. I will still do my best, and I’m going to try to stay positive, but I really just want to be swinging a hammer all day. That being said, I need to make money so I’m taking what I can get.
If it wasn’t for Holly I’d only be starting my search this week, and still stressing about not knowing when my next paycheque will come. Now, thanks to her kindness and willingness to help others (especially me), I not only have my last cheque from James coming soon who knows when, I will also have regular weekly paycheques to look forward to.
Money? Lack of Sunday night phone calls?
When I was a teenager, my mum quit her job where she felt overworked and under-appreciated (which is probably similar to how she felt at home), and my parents bought a laundromat. She ran it (mostly on her own) for the last 14 years, and for the most part I think she enjoyed it.
Unfortunately, the newest owner of the property they rent is a total douche. He attempted to raise the rent an insane amount, forcing my parents to close the doors for good. Although my mother was looking forward to not having to go to the laundromat one day, this wasn’t her idea of how it would happen. Instead of selling a profitable business (which it was) and making some decent money to retire on, they were forced to find buyers for everything as fast as possible.
Luckily they managed to sell everything, and didn’t end up having to store it somewhere while they found buyers. I’m sad to see the laundromat go even though I was never a big part of it. My brother on the other hand was always helping out and looking after the place when they were gone and I think he had a harder time dealing with it. I’m mostly sad because my mum isn’t happy about how things ended. She had different plans.
Hopefully things will all work out for all of us one day.