Saturday, May 13, 2017

I have forgotten most jobs

I started playing with Ornamental Iron when I was 43 years old and had never seen a welder. I am totally self taught, no classes or lessons but I have read a lot of books.  I know the Romans tested and tempered their swords with the blood of willing slaves.  It is hard to find good help these days.
By now I am 70 years old  and although a bit slower, still get around and can carry half my weight in steel.  That is the process of getting fatter and weaker, balance in nature.  I can't count the jobs I have done.  When I am doing a job, at the time it is the most important thing in the world to me.  I work the job 24 hours a day until it is finished.  I sleep with it, dream about it and do the very best that I can.  And, once finished, pretty much forget about it.  I sometimes run into past clients who have, years later, thanked me and praised my work and I am embarrassed to admit I have no memory of the project.

This last job, almost at the finish line might just be the exception to this process of forgetting!  First, it was a Big Job.  Not the biggest I have ever done, but the Biggest while 70 years old!  I will show it to you!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Oregon Rain

Wettest Spring in my memory, 160% of "normal rainfall", my garden is too wet to til.
The greenhouse is full and plants are cozy warm in there.  I think the earliest I have ever had my
garden in was about April 15th and the latest would be about May 10th.  It has a lot of drying out to do.  I have been busy though for a retired guy!

Thursday, December 29, 2016


I am really of the opinion that good advice is worth what you pay for it; however, I am wondering whether, at 70, do I have any advice to give?
In the last five years, since my retirement and survival with the battle of cancer, I have attempted to train three different apprentices.  All of them, one female and two males,  became "pretty good" welders and all three of them, as they were learning the process of fabrication, Quite!  Each came from a minimum wage job and rose to upwards of $20 per hour.  A good fabricator can easily make double that.
As I look back on my life I realize that being self employed is not easy.  There is a lot of responsibility and no one to tell you to get out of bed.  We have a natural tendency to work harder for other people than for ourselves.  Being self employed can be an opportunity for a two hour lunch and being late for work.  The real truth is you have to work harder.  You have to have a Huge sense of
"Obligation, Responsibility and Work Ethic".
   Pay Day is no longer Friday.  Often a client will pay a deposit to initiate the project and this money is Not yours!  As tempting as it is to buy milk or diapers, pay the rent or utilities, this deposit is to fund the job and can only be spent that way!  Nothing is more embarrassing than to go back to a client and ask for more money!
   The self employed will soon discover it is like working for the Mafia!  A good job or a bad job, profit or a loss, the Government wants money!  If you have employees count on 40 percent for their share!  and if you work by yourself, it is at least 25 percent.  You will now pay both sides of Social Security, 15%
   Wouldn't it be nice to get that "Final Check" and keep it!  But there are bills to pay:  Material suppliers, Shop Rent and Utilities, Commissions and more supplies.  Then, if there is money left over, it will be yours.  Construction workers, Artists and the Restaurant Industry have the Highest Rates of failure.  They just don't get this.
   I have been told many times that a particular client requested three bids on his project and I was the only one to show up!  This seems so simple it doesn't have to be listed but it is probably the #1 customer complaint!  Be on Time and Do What You Say You Will Do! and when you say you will do it.  It is a question of Honor and Your Word.  The Two Most Valuable components to being Human!
Communication is critical.
    There is a saying:  Do a good job for a client and he might tell one of his friends.  Do a bad job and he will tell ten of them.  Believe it, it is true.
    There must be more but it is of little consequence if you don't get this first part.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I Walked Three Miles...

...through the snow to school every day.  UP Hill, Both ways!
In three short days I will be Seventy Years Old.  As I get older it seems that 70 is the new 70! Meaning I am getting older and feel it.  Lucky me, I am still pretty strong, can lift my weight, still put in at least a half days work and I sleep through the night without getting up to pee!  I can think back now on "the good old days", my own youth.  Yes, times were different then, a Half Century Ago!
The economies of scale were different with far less extremes.  Then (1960's) a Chief Executive Officer of a company made as an average Six times the wages of his employees. Now it could be Thousands of Times their wages!  In the "Good Old Days"  (when America was Great!) we had a Progressive Income Tax structure.  At the Top, those who made over a Million a year, it went to over 90%.  Now, as a percentage of their income, these people pay Less than their Secretaries!
I never really had a good job in my youth.  I picked Pineapples in Hawaii for $1.25 per hour.  I worked on a Tender, the boat that collects the fish from the fishing boats and takes them to the cannery.  I made $50 per day on that job.  I made sewer pipes from creosote and newspapers and came home filthy every night after work.  I made a dollar an hour from that. I got married in 1968 while a Student at the University of Oregon and working at the local cannery.  I was making almost $2.00 an hour.
I have been thinking about then and now and have come to some interesting thoughts.  It is mostly math and based on my then minimum wage of $2. per hour to the Oregon minimum wage of $10 now.  That is 5 times more. Tuition at the U of O was $97 per term, so 5 times more would be $500.
In Reality, it has gone up over 30 times More to over $3,000.
I bought my house in 1972, admittedly a "fixer-upper", I paid less than $10,000 for it and was making minimum wage at the time.  5 times that would be $50,000.  In reality, if you could find one it would be closer to $150,000 now.  That is 15 Times the Money.
Before we bought the house we were renters.  On $2.00 per hour we had a nice little 2 bedroom house for $100 per month.  Five Times That Money, $500, will barely get you a room in a house now! The average rent for a 2 bedroom house is about $1,500 per month.  Fifteen Times the Money!
I remember distinctly when my Utility bill went Over $20 per month the first time!  Now it is Over $200 per month,  Ten Times the Money!
Cigarettes were .25 cents per pack and 5 times that should be $1.25.
A cup of coffee was .10 cents, should be 50 cents now.
Hamburger was three pounds for a dollar, a loaf of bread for a quarter.
You could actually Save Money and live on $2.00 per hour.  One year my wife and I wanted to go to Europe and we were still working at the cannery!  It was a five month season, starting with rhubarb, then beets, and corn and ending with carrots.  We saved all we could and in five months had enough saved to go to Europe, all costs and transportation, for three months!
We complain about the lack of goals for our youth today but frankly, ten dollars per hour does not do half as much as $2.00 per hour did in my youth.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Happy Day After, it is Black Friday and so far (the day is young) there have been THREE SHOOTINGS, all over Parking Spaces on this Glorious Religious Holiday For Shoppers!
We take Greed Seriously!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It is Really Simple!

You don't need a bunch of laws.  You don't need new regulations.  We don't need the Dark Prospects of a Trump Administration.  We could enforce and Honor the laws and Treaties and obligations we already have.  Lets look at the Dakota Pipe Line.  It (the Demonstrators) is on Private Property.
The Pipeline goes through an Indian Reservation (that is OK, we have Never honored those agreements!), meaning it Belongs to the Indians.  God knows we took everything else!  The issue is Water, or the Law, or Private Property, of Rights of Indians or Oil, all depending on how you look at it.  It is no big deal to me if that pipeline leaks (lie they all do!), I live in Oregon.  We have clean water and lucky for us, no oil.  But it is Thanksgiving and we killed off a lot of Indians to appreciate this day.  Can't we talk about something nice?  The police don't belong on Indian Reservations, nor Private Property where no one is likely to get hurt.  The Only argument I can see to Stop the Protesters is WE WANT CHEAP OIL.  Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving!
Trump wants to same the compressor plant in Indiana. That is a good thing.  Don't send those 1,400 American Jobs to Mexico.  The Power is in US.  Don't Buy Crap from Mexico.  It is really That Simple.  Check the Tags:  made in Mexico, China, Bangladesh. Do Not Buy It.
I remember years ago, even Walmart tried to support American Made Products.  Next to each other, 2 products, American and Foreign with a $3 Dollar difference in price.  The American, better made and made here at Home didn't sell.  We want Cheap, face it.  Walmart knows this.
We have met the enemy and he is us.

Friday, November 18, 2016

If Gardeners Ruled the World!

In American Politics we don't have a Cabinet Position for Chief Organic Gardener but maybe we should.  I think people who like to garden should rule the world.  Our experience with the soil and nurturing tiny seedlings to full production is a transferable education applicable to any Cabinet Position.
We don't make quick uneducated decisions.  We research a lot, spending the Winter months pouring over catalogs, always wanting our next year's garden to be better than last.  We invest heavily in the infrastructure knowing the paths we create will determine which plants thrive and which may get stepped on.  We are protective of the smallest while honoring the biggest and want equal sunlight and nutrients for all.
We like diversity in our garden and realize that is Nature's Way.  Different plants growing together make the garden stronger, encourage pollination and help fend off dangers to the garden.
We realize that a garden is a lot of work and expect those who pick its harvest will contribute to its weeding and watering.  We are protective of its boundaries and will fence off predators.
We nurture and baby the struggling plants, hoping for their survival.  We save seeds from the successful plants, knowing their history and valuing their contribution.
We don't mind getting dirty and realize that this is a labor of love.  Many of us have flowers spread among the vegetables, liking their color and realizing their scent attracts honeybees.  Good for all of the garden.
Perhaps most of all, Gardeners enjoy sharing.  It is part of who they are and sharing their bounty with others creates the most joy.  It is a special kind of giving, not even particularly to people who may need it.  Just an act of giving because that in itself is so wonderful.
I have never met a gardener who didn't give something away!