Who do they think they’re fooling?

Football metaphors at work. When we opened a new hospital, the new head honcho over there didn’t have a “business plan”, he had a “playbook”. This was supposed to tell us that he could relate to us because, of course, everyone in Wisconsin is a Packers fan.*

We no longer have “meetings”, we have “huddles”. First a huddle was differentiated from a meeting because it was supposed to be quick and at the start of a shift – plus it wasn’t held in a conference room, which required a reservation and for which (I think) our department had to pay rent to the corporation. But we don’t have a “department”, we have a “team”. We aren’t “employees”, we are “team members”. Now all meetings are called huddles.

And, of course, due to the pandemic, none of those huddles are held in person. Our computers lack cameras and microphones and the phones we are issued don’t work well enough to use for a meeting, so we use our personal phones. We can listen on a computer, but then we need to type our questions. We don’t use Zoom, but a different platform. Nonetheless, CR asked me to find a way to work this into a post, so here it is:

I just learned that I will soon no longer have an office (even one that I share with 10 – 20 pre-pandemic – others). I will have a “touchdown workstation”. A more apt metaphor would be touch and go landings for pilots in training. Or a deli where you take a number to see when you will be served. Or maybe a game of musical chairs. When the music stops, try to find a computer to do your documentation.

Since we’re using football metaphors, I’m going to call a couple of penalties. There were two fouls on the play: encroachment, by the clinic taking over our space; and unsportsmanlike conduct, by the $10 million donor and senior management. Neither penalty will be enforced.

I carried two boxes of stuff home from work Saturday, since I will soon have no place to put it. Walking out, I felt like someone being fired. Next, I’ll take down the family pictures and anything personal, as there will soon be no place to put them. Maybe I’ll remove the nametag above my desk and replace it with a 1980s-style generic sign that says

Remember these great 80s products? (Images from justbeerapp.com, stragegyonline.ca, cbc.ca) Consumer prices were rising rapidly so Loblaw, a Canadian company, introduced a line of generic products in generic packaging. Were they good? The point was they were cheap.

Football metaphors are the current fad. Several years ago we had “Colorful Communication”, a workshop in which we had to answer a questionnaire to determine our communication style: green for analytical, brown for authoritarian, blue for people-pleasing, red for anti-authoritarian. I came out striped.

*Though it is presumptuous to think everyone cares about American football, everyone in Wisconsin has at least one reason to be a Packers fan. The Green Bay Packers are unique in the professional sporting world. They are a community-owned team, with more than 360,000 shareholders. A billionaire owner will never move them to another state. Green Bay is a city of just over 100,000, by far the smallest city with a professional sports franchise in the US – and the team has been there for 100 years.

garden expo

PBS Wisconsin is putting on a virtual garden and landscape expo February 20-21. Included is a photography exhibit/contest and yours truly has two entries.

In the macro category, I have “Ant”.

In the phone/tablet category, I have “New Year/New Morning”.

You can attend the expo virtually (and vote for my photos) at: https://wigardenexpo.com/?fbclid=IwAR2gsTbS6n0FMWD_LHtBTJhN81VXiwn0NwAaqBqrPAKcsekGRLuT8qERixg

You need to register online at the link above, so I’m sending this out early in the week. I’m guessing that the link “photo competition” at the bottom of the page is where you’ll see photos. As of today it just links you to instructions to enter (for which it is far too late).

While it is below zero (Fahrenheit) today, it is time to order seeds and time to start seedlings indoors is approaching. If you’re not a gardener, you can just have a little vicarious summer in the midst of the cold (unless you live somewhere that talk of below zero temperatures sounds like a foreign language).

For those looking for photo details, the first photo was shot with a Nikon D5300 with 105 mm lens @ F22, 1/125 sec, ISO 5000, in natural light, in my back yard. The second was shot with an iPhone X, on New Year’s Day (from the Jenifer St footbridge over the Yahara River) at the beginning of the ride chronicled at: https://halffastcyclingclub.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/

The right tool for the job

My father used to say “It is a poor workman who blames his tools”. (The saying, or variations, seems to date from the 13th century or before.) Maybe that’s how he justified using mostly a monkey wrench and a Vice Grips on nuts and bolts. I don’t recall him ever buying a tool. I was 18 before I realized that nails come from the hardware store. Before that I thought they came from the baby food jars in the garage. If the nail I needed wasn’t there, I went to the scrap lumber pile beside the garage, pounded a nail out of an old piece of wood, pounded it straight, and used that.

The flip side of that is “Use the right tool for the job.” I have favorite tools in all of my endeavors.

For cooking, it is the 8 inch French knife. Mine has a walnut handle that feels right in my hand. It is not the greatest of knives – it is stamped steel, which holds an edge well but doesn’t take an edge well. Forged steel is better, but this knife has been my companion for almost 50 years, since shortly after I no longer got paid for my knife skills, and my funds were limited (and I could get a massive discount on this particular brand due to my employer selling them). A KitchenAid stand mixer is probably my next favorite kitchen tool. Not used daily, like the knife, but pretty handy when I do use it.

Favorite plumbing tools include the Sawzall, which does what the name says. It will cut through framing, even with nails. It will cut pipe (better for removing old pipe than cutting new pipe, but it will cut copper, steel, cast iron, or plastic in a pinch). The ½ inch right angle drill will fit between studs and has enough torque to get through anything – mishandled, it can do damage – more to you than to the material. Add a Forstner bit (or the Plumber’s Self-feed Bit Kit) and you can make 2″ and larger holes in no time.

Pipe cutter image from Ridgid Tool (think of that as a 4″ diameter pipe to get an idea of scale), Drill image from Milwaukee Tool.

The hammer drill makes quick work of concrete when you could spend ridiculous amounts of time with a regular drill motor and a carbide bit, only to make a dent. The no-hub torque wrench is a simple and elegant tool – a T-handled wrench that tightens the couplings on cast iron pipe fittings and never overtightens. The cast iron pipe cutter beats the hell out of trying to saw through cast iron. It has a chain that wraps around the pipe, with cutting edges (vaguely similar to a chain saw) that bite into the iron. As you tighten it, the pipe suddenly snaps with a suitably straight end. (Torque wrench image from my toolbox.)

For winter biking I have written about favorites before (links to three different posts). The face deserves special consideration. Down to 20 degrees (F) I just use a tight-fitting, windproof cap that covers the ears and fits under a helmet. From 20 down to about 5 or 10 I add a silk balaclava that covers the chin and cheeks and can be pulled up to cover the nose and mouth if needed. From +5 to -20 it is a merino wool balaclava that covers the nose and has a breathing hole for the mouth (and if it is borderline too cold you can breathe inside of it to warm yourself instead of letting that heat escape). A pair of ski goggles gets added at this juncture. You can easily pay $200, $300, or more for ski goggles. Mine fit over glasses and currently sell for about $35 (Outdoor Master is the brand). I can’t find a justification for spending 10 times that much to get the brands the pro skiers wear. Colder than -20 degrees and I switch to a fleece balaclava that is otherwise way too warm. That seems to work to -30 and I haven’t ridden colder than that. I could probably fit the silk balaclava under the wool or fleece one to get colder. These temperature ranges may vary depending on the wind (and you – I see folks in goggles and balaclavas when it is barely freezing).

Ready to face -5 Fahrenheit (-20.5 C – you’ll have to convert the rest yourself)

Since we’re talking about serious cold, this is the weather to read Jack London’s short story “To Build a Fire”. Full text is available here and it is a quick read. It is the story of a man, a dog, and a brutally cold day in Alaska.

Since this guy didn’t make it into the last post, I thought I’d add him today.

Now it’s your turn. What do you do and what is (are) your favorite tool(s) to do it with? Tell us in the comments.