A Pocket Full of Rocks

You wouldn’t think a pocket full of rocks would have any value.  However the phrase as I came to know it had its basis in a time when a pocket full of rocks kept our family financially cared for. My father was pretty good at pitching a baseball.  Back in the Homesteading days in North Dakota, neighboring farmers would get together and form a baseball team.  My father was a better than average, dare I say good, pitcher.  In fact I will, because that’s how I remember it now.  He was accurate and fast and could put it where he wanted to. I remember that when I was a kid, he still had...

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Machinery – Sometimes it’s Complicated

Of all the many jobs I’ve been on, and all of the different equipment and machinery I’ve hooked up, I’ve only ever hooked up truck scales once.  That job was truly unique. It was necessary to dig a ditch from the site of the office, past the diesel pumps (a low explosion potential), to the area that had been set aside for the scales.  To get that far, we had to cut a chunk of concrete out of the sidewalk next to the office wall, in order to get power from the office to the scales. We rented a backhoe to get the digging done.  Incidentally, the backhoe accidently damaged the housing...

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Is That What We’re Teaching?

One of the jobs I worked on was to wire up a chip mill in St. Marys, Idaho.  Our boss took us to a map and explained to us that if we took a specific short cut, the job site was just inside the border of the Subsistence line.  What this meant was that he did not have to pay for sleeping and eating arrangements at the job site. A cost cutting measure, I presume. Our crew was 3 journeymen and an apprentice.  We drove back and forth every day.  It was about an hour and a half drive each way, if we took the short cut.  The short cut was about 65 miles, the long way was about 85 miles, but...

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A Good Wife

One of the guys I worked with was a good family man.  He had a wife and two sons when I knew him (back before cell phones were invented), though I never did meet them. One day he came to work and all morning long he had a strange look on his face; like he was trying to figure something out.  Finally he told us what was on his mind. The previous weekend he and his wife had been working in the yard, their boys were off staying somewhere, and he told his wife; “It’s such a nice day, let’s go for a drive.” His wife agreed and said that she would get her jacket and purse while he got the...

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What’s In a Bid?

Before I moved to the Spokane area, there was a local practice for bidding jobs.  When the project plans had been created they would be sent to the supply houses so that they could do a “take off” of material needed for the project.  Any contractor wanting to make a bid on the project would get the cost list of the material from a supply house and work up their bid for the job. Depending on how often and how much each contractor purchased from the supply house, their price could differ from one contractor to another.  As a consequence the number of electrical contractors bidding on the...

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Standards …. And Practices

I had been working for one particular General Contractor for awhile, when he decided to build his own house. He had put up the structure, but had delayed pouring the concrete slab for the basement floor.  The weather had not cooperated with his building schedule. The weather had produced copious amounts of rain and then turned freezing cold.  The basement floor was made of frozen mud.  He waited on the weather for some time, hoping it would warm up, thaw out and dry.  Finally he purchased a used commercial heater, suspended it two feet above the mud and turned it on.  Full blast. We let...

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