Just some Sunday Morning Thoughts and Ramblings

Just some Sunday Morning Thoughts and Ramblings
I never had the desire to be a doctor, lawyer or CEO my first love and I must say one that has never entirely left me was to become an airline ramp agent, although I suppose in the new world order an airline ramp agent isn’t any better off than a migrant field hand. I grew up with airplanes and they were as much a part of my life as a car is to the average kid. Strangely I didn’t so much want to be a pilot as the guy who got them off the ground. I began handling baggage, parking airliners, and processing paperwork at age twelve. I liked the hustle and bustle of the terminal, the frantic rush to overcome problems and get the aircraft off on time, along with the satisfaction I felt when it happened. Of course at the time I was living in a country where you could count the incoming flights on your hands and have fingers left over.
After high school I went to work for the fixed base operator at CVG servicing general aviation aircraft and fueling Eastern. At that time in the mid sixties most airports were like small well knit communities where everyone knew everyone and in times of need come to each others assistance. What I didn’t like was doing the same job as the guys working for American, TWA, and Delta but for less than half the pay as I was making the minimum wage of one dollar an hour. Minimum wage was soon raised to one twenty five and our hours were cut,
I couldn’t hire on with the legacy carriers because of my draft status and a non hiring clause so left to take a job at General Electric Large Jet engine Plant sweeping floors for double the money. I worked for GE, as floor sweeper, VTL operator, and finally inspector and  although was grateful to be working I found that giant factories had their ups and downs. I liked the money and the work could at times be interesting and even exciting. The down side was the drudgery that comes with working in a factory especially when you come to realize that you are nothing more than an intelligent tool to be used then discarded when something more economical comes along.
Besides the aggravation of plant politics I had a thirty mile drive to work through Cincinnati rush hour traffic and every day would ponder whether I really wanted to keep doing this for the next forty years. The answer was no so in seventy I traded steady pay, health insurance, and retirement and took over the family farm. Farming is hard work, the outlay is great, and the monetary compensation minimal yet it provided me with the freedom to pursue many opportunities and interests. One of these was cars. I had become friends with a local salvage yard owner and began hanging around the body shop in my spare time.
I’d always bought new cars and financed them through GEs credit union but now that I was a poor farmer I couldn’t afford new so began to dabble in late model wrecks and learn the art of repairing totaled vehicles. I came to like driving nice cars without having anything invested in them but a week’s labor. Never again did I buy a car from a lot or dealer and since nineteen seventy have only owned total wrecks. Our motto is ‘Every car runs on good used parts.’
Farmers are driven by necessity to become jacks of all trades so when something needs to be built or repaired it is usually done in-house and can range from erecting a fence to remodeling a kitchen. So it was throughout adulthood with each new skill making the next one easier to learn and about the only thing I have never truly mastered is finishing drywall. Strange as I’m told that drywall has a lot in common with body work.
Through the years I learned different trades as the need arose and found the key to success was in having on hand the proper tools for the job. Tools mark the difference between the armature and the professional. I’ve seen homeowners fix a leaky pipe with a section of garden hose and clamps then proudly call it done whereas the professional armature will buy a torch, solder, and the tools such as tubing cutters then endeavor to do his work so the results are professional in all respects.
Tools hold true for any project, buy the proper tools, learn to operate them, and with a little advice from an expert almost anyone can achieve professional results. I learned this early on when I paid a mechanic to fix a carburetor only to find the problem persisted. Being a destitute teenager at the time I had no choice but to tear into it myself and although it took three or four tries in the end it worked perfectly yet cost nothing but time and tools, and I might add both the tools and the experience gained have lasted a lifetime.
If you have the time, patience, and inclination don’t butcher a project obtain the right tools and work methodically as it takes an armature much more time to complete a task, your first attempts may not be perfect and even if you screw it up and have to do it over most times it will still be cheaper than having it done by a so called professional. Professionalism fits on a bell curve therefore only around ten percent of people engaged in any craft are truely pros the rest are to varying degrees practitioners calling themselves pros.
Still it is good to seek advice, when I built my house I did everything including the plumbing. Although I had a farm exemption I designed everything to exceed code as code is the minimum standard allowed by law. I remember in the early seventies code allowed trusses to be set on four foot centers with half inch plywood sheeting, after a few years many tract houses roofs looked like the ribs on a starving cow.
My buddy was the plumbing inspector and I asked him to lay out the ground work and when it was done he passed it with flying colors. Professional builders see inspectors as adversaries and although I wasn’t required to have anything but the electrical inspected invited inspectors to drop by at every opportunity and would seek advice and use their knowledge to my benefit. It’s amazing how much cooperation you get when you ask questions like would it be OK to increase the amount of steel in the footer from two rebar to four? What about the bathroom cantilever joists go with the one foot centers or sixteen and double them up?
Some things besides heart surgery are better left to professionals such as pouring basement walls or the sizing of ductwork, even then you have to be choosey as HVAC or concrete guys all sit on the bell curve. If you do hire people try to hire the best by reputation as it’s usually cheaper and less aggravating in the long run. Even being picky doesn’t always guarantee you’ll get what you want. I waited three months for the best basement guy in the area but he was so busy he sent out a green crew so when it came time to form the walls the footer was off in one corner by five inches, luckily I’d insisted on a twenty four inch wide footer instead of twelve so it was no problem except for reworking the key-way. Guess what I’m trying to say is that it is human to err so make allowances beforehand rather than to live with a mistake forever.


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