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Thursday, April 2, 2009

HOM: Interaction

The work on deck varied a lot. When there were two guys, the logs going into the lathes were solid and not quite too big for the chargers and the veneer being peeled off was thin, it was boringly easy. With #2 lathe, the core came all the way out and all you had to do was stand there and kick them into the bin. The core only came part way onto the deck from #1, so you had to snag each one with the pick, pull it over a few feet and kick it in. (Yeah, I use the word "core" as a generic word for one or more of the center portions of the logs, the equivalent of the cardboard tube in toilet paper. The size of the core was determined by the size of the chucks. 6" was normal, 10" was optional.) When a bin got full, you had plenty of time to time hop down, grab the banding tool & tie the core into a bundle, and then put in new bands after Randy hauled the bundle out. Being either shy, a snob, antisocial, a stone loner, or too lazy to walk back and forth, I never ate in the break room with the rest of the crew but brought my lunch box up on deck and placed it on a flat beam right at chest level on the hydraulic splitter. I took my lunch breaks reading and eating on deck. When things were really slow, I'd sneak a book out of the lunch box and read a bit, standing by the splitter with the book propped open. I figured as long as I wasn't holding the book in my hand then I wasn't obviously reading. (One guy I worked with later, who went on to be a teacher, did me one better on this -- he'd keep a book hidden on deck, and tear out and read one page at a time, keeping it in his hand as he worked and then dumping it when he'd read it. Right, Mr. Bob?) The opposite extreme was when you were alone on deck and both lathes were peeling thick veneer off of small rotten logs. You could hardly pause to catch your breath, and a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest had it easier than you did. At the best of times, it was like working in a sauna, since the humidity ran close to 100%, 100% of the time & the air temperature was usually somewhere between roasting and boiling. The "climate control" was the fault of the steam-powered vats. TBC (Me) (Blacktail Books)