The Impotance Of Being Earnest

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So, I've taken this job with a stair company. They have been in business since the 1920's. They have a great record on the kit stair retail side and they are expanding into the high end custom stair side.
I went on a straight stair railing installation wrap up the other day and their mechanic, who has been with them for seventeen years was cutting the rail to yield with no thought given to color and grain continuity.
I don't know about y'all, but when I run a line of rail I want it to look like it came from one continuous piece of wood. That means that the cathedral arches all point up and the rail sections are selected for color and grain.
I was watching the guy just lop up the longest pieces for the longest runs and then fit in the offcuts wherever they fit.
Could have looked a lot better.
This kind of thing goes all the way back to the shop floor. I watched their guy grab sticks from the rack and feed them into the molder with no check for grain direction to feed and no look at different pieces to see if the grain and color could be made to match. He bitched when the molder chunked out on him but didn't seem to get that there was a right and wrong way to feed the machine.
WTF?
I'm the FNG and I didn't think it my place to comment but maybe it is what they meant when the said that they hired me to upgrade their wood end, they being basically makers of iron stairs who think of the wood facings as an afterthought. I've seen their risered stairs and there is no apparent thought given to the direction of the arches, which I have always oriented left to right. The same applys to the treads.
Also, they have platforms that they glue up out of oak and they show no intent regarding grain orientation during glue up. I can understand varying arguments on this - some might say that all bark side should be up for compressive strength and wearing and others might say that grain orientation should be reversed on each piece for planar stability - but there seemed to be no pattern.
I have had a theory for a long time that if you paid attention to these things in a building - the building would begin to sing.
One of my biggest hard ons when I was doing carpentry was about the relative heights of the top of the trim on doors and windows.
It was too often the case that the molding line at the top of the doors would be different than those on the windows.
If you take the time to make those lines marry, you get a rhythm to the room that gives you some visual peace. It is a small element that is worth paying attention to.
This goes back to design level and needs to be caught on the drawings.
Another one used to be the door at the end of a hallway where the trim was pinned on one side and there was three inches of wall space on the other side. That looks like shit. Once again. the framer may be following the print to the titts but the product is wrong.
Man, I shouldn't have gotten started on this.
How about the down lights in a ceiling that follow no apparent pattern. Has no one ever heard of a reflected ceiling plan?
Alright - I'm done for now. It is just that the little things add up and make a difference about how you feel about a room, a building, or an element. You can create rhythm and harmony in a room or house by following certain principles and those spaces will be a greater joy to their occupants than the typical slapdash bullshit that goes on in this business.
t.
t.
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Darn perfectionist :-)
I had a cornice carpenter one time that would square the eaves with string lines, but before he nailed them home, he would go across the street and look at the cornice work, making his final adjustments from there. His work always looked good.
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When I worked in Manhattan during the eighties I would tell my crew to look out the window and line their trim up on the tallest buildings. Theory was that if they weren't plumb, nothing was, and that those strong lines where what plumb would be judged by.
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Ya know, someone had ot have taught him those skill sets and most of those craftsmen are gone. There are just very few who understand those design elements which go into making the difference between a nail-pounder and a craftsman. It sounds to me like you are the latter, Tom, and that it may be your job to teach the old skills. Good luck getting that accomplished with the older guys and the dedicated 'nail-pounders'.
Chuck
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*snip*

It's kinda like the difference between a Skil and Makita cordless drill. (You'll have to excuse me, I got a new toy today. Guess what it is...) The Skil works and does its job alright, but things were just kinda thrown together and as long as it doesn't break during the warranty period, Skil is happy. Compare this to the Makita, where the little things are considered such as making the keyless chuck really easy to tighten. The charger even sounds a few notes to let you know the battery was inserted properly.
One of the most beautiful things in the world is an excellent design and execution of the design.
Puckdropper
--
If you're quiet, your teeth never touch your ankles.

To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
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You have quite a challenge. Getting a 17 year vet to change is not going to be easy. I hope all those guys wear steel tip shoes because a lot of toes will be stepped on.
You will either be the guy that improves the shop so they can now charge 20% more because of their impeccable work, or you will quit from frustration.
Until you know what you can get away with, leading buy example may be best. Like taking some sticks from the rack and making a big deal of checking the grain before running it through the molder. Just a guess, the worker was never trained by a supervisor that does not know or care.
Good luck.
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With you on all this, sir. I'm not experienced enough with wood per se to know a lot of this stuff, but I can spot it as a layman.
Reminds me of the problem with art galleries. The lighting design is ALWAYS shit. No reason why it should be if folk understand what it is they are installing, designing and using, but it is because they don't. Some instances really hilight this. A while back I took a couple of kids to a major city gallery to see an exhibition aimed at children, and as soon as I walked in the doorway I spotted a problem, just from the lighting position. I called the head curator over - even before I walked in the exhibition room - and asked him to follow me in. Once in the room i asked him to crouch down so his head was on the approximate level of an eight year old's head, and to tell me what he saw. Just as I suspected, he reported back, sheepishly, that he couldn't see ANY of the paintings on show because at that level, the glass was reflecting the lighting straight back at the viewer. All he could see was light bulbs. All any kid visitor would be able to see would be light bulbs. Kinda made a nonsense of the exhibition theme. The point is that anyone doing the JOB rather than paying lip service to a job description would have prevented this, either at architect level, contract level or in picture hanging, and the jobs are being done - and overseen - by people who don't know their stuff or worse, don't give a damn.
All it needs is for people to be aware of the _purpose_ of what they are doing. It really is that simple. Unfortunately workers often just don't know because those handing them instructions don't feel it necessary for them to _understand_, or, as is becoming more common, decision makers don't understand the purpose themselves because their perceived role is to shift more units rather than to minister to a particular need.
Local pub was being expensively sign-written - all gold leaf and pin striping. It was still at the chalking out stage when I cheerily pointed out to the bloke with the chalk a couple of spelling mistakes and the gratuitous apostrophes littering the wording. He equally cheerily showed me his wording brief, and said that the regional manager overseeing the refurbishment was actually inside. I discreetly looked him out, explained there was a problem with the wording. He came and looked over the layout then announced he couldn't see anything wrong. I gently pointed out the four or five glaring mistakes. He looked at it again, looked at me, shrugged and announced "It'll do!" and then he strode of back to his self-congratulatory group at the bar.
Houston, we have a problem.
I've loads more examples from personal experience, but life is short and my blood pressure is up so I'll have a generic rant.
Education now seems to be about inculcating a new jargon set rather than skills. Training follows a similar pattern. This is called "professionalism" by those who are quite happy to have a workforce not understand the elements of their craft so long as they wear nicely coordinated uniforms and spout the nonsense that they have been trained to spout at an appropriate time.
Meanwhile, the ship's sinking 'cos everyone is very, very qualified but no-one understands the basics anymore. I love progress...
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wrote:

When I lived in Manhattan during the early eighties I had the happy opportunity to work on crew for a John Lee Beatty set that was lit by Dennis Parichy at Circle Rep. Lest you be thinking that I was the only person in Manhattan doing something for free, my intent was to ingratiate myself to the degree that I might have a small play that I had written read by their august company. This did transpire.
Back to the lighting thing - Mr. Parichy thought about light the way that painters think about light.
It has its degrees, it has its force, it has its charm, or lack of same. It has its angles and it has the places where it can not go - which particular attention must be paid to, because the light must go there to see the play.
You would think that a painterly man like this would think of color first but Parichy thought of color as being a quality of the light, rather than a quality all its own.
If you have never had the pleasure of seeing a space lit by this man, you should correct this defect at your earliest opportunity.
I remember seeing a play at Circle that began in the morning and ended at the end of the day. Dennis lit this in such a way that in each scene we saw the changing angle of the light, without noting it particularly but it added to the general experience and at the end of the play, when the character stared into the sunset - and had language to support it - we bought it - and applauded.
t.
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"Tom Watson" wrote:

OK, you've had a chance to vent your spleen and I have a couple of questions.
As a rookie, how many times did you get your ass kicked for screwing up, until you learned this skill and how to use it properly?
At 58, how many years have you been able to hone this skill acquired as a rookie?
It would appear you were hired to teach your skills to what is basically a metal working crew.
So quit bitch'in and start teaching which is probably as difficult as acquiring your skills in the first place.
Nobody ever claimed teaching was easy.
Have fun.
Lew
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I started my working life in the printing industry doing typography setting type to those who don't know what it is. It always bugs me, now that everyone has a computer and can prepare pages that look like they are typeset but they make grammatical and composition errors.
The worse are companies that use capital script for their name. Script type is supposed to imitate hand writing. Capital letters are for the first letter in a word not for every letter in a word as it becomes illegible.
Punctuation is another problem, I see it in the newspaper and on the TV all the time. Part of the problem is that a computer keyboard doesnt allow it to be done properly unless you know how to access the proper characters.
For quotation marks many people just type "word" using what are called inch marks, where they should use quotation marks as this word, and sometimes when they use the correct marks they use them backwards they should be in the 66 and 99 positions.
Most people dont know that all the special symbols and punctuation are available simply by holding the ALT key while typing a code number on the NUM pad. For example a hyphen is on the keyboard, thus -, but a dash, which is longer, is available by holding the ALT key down and typing 0151, thus .
There are many other things that irritate me, but I will not go further, but many things in this world are simply done sloppily, wrongly, as fast as possible, without care nor pride in work.

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When I worked on my college newspaper back in the late sixties we went to a printer where "copy and paste" was literal.
We wrote our columns in 8 1/2 point by eleven and we submitted them on the Wednesday before the Monday that they came out.
The columns of print would come to us and we ran them through a wax gluer and then affixed them to the galley sheets. If there were to be borders they were cut out by hand, run through the wax gluer and affixed to the galley.We started with sheets that already had the sold advertising in place and we put our little stories in amongst them in the most pleasing way we could find.
It was fun then but I'm glad it's over.
BTW - you have a typo on "worse", it should have been "worst".
printer's devil tom.
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"Tom Watson" wrote

Like your subject above ... it's either a brilliant play on words, or a typo. ;)
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/18/08
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Earlier in the '60s, we had just gotten away from cut and paste, into wax and place. Almost as burdensome, not nearly as messy or smelly, and one helluva an improvement on the hot type still in use in a lot of places. I think it was IBM that had made a machine that printed (photographically, IIRC) what was typed in on a long strip, which then had to be cut to column/sentence and pasted, line by line. Within a very few years, it was possible to set column widths, leading, etc., on the machine. That had to then be cut to fit column space lengths, after the back was waxed. Some real fun, compared to today's various layout programs. I used to take a week to 10 days to lay out a 40 page magazine for an educationl TV station. Today, it takes less than a day to lay out a much more attractive 40 or 64 page document, assuming one has all photos and copy at hand.
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EXT wrote:

Offhand do you know where one might download a chart of these characters with the code numbers? I've been thinking of getting new software designed to make this easier, but I could also pin a chart to the wall and be happy with that.
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"DGDevin" wrote:

characters
I've got an old BASIC text that had a chart.
Any book/chart that gives the ASCII chart from 1 thru 255 in the old IBM format will have it.
You can also open up a note pad file on your desktop and type out the list.
220, Alt 220, ?
Lew
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Windows charmap app. Find it in the Start menu, all programs, accessories. Or run charmap.exe from the cmd prompt or 'Run...' menu. It has the numeric code, and can also copy the character to the clipboard. Unfortunately, the number codes are given in hexadecimal.
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MikeWhy wrote:

Thanks, that's somewhat useful. I'd love to be able to do it with a hotkey technique, but in the meantime that will help, good tip.
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DGDevin wrote:

I have a page at the link below that may help.
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto Solar
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Don't you get a whole keyboard full of special characters by either holding down the option or the option-shift key(s)?
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Don't you get a whole keyboard full of special characters by either holding down the option or the option-shift key(s)?
--
You would have to know which ones are mapped where on the keyboard. It
changes with the language settings, and I'm sure if it's useful, you should
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