Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Five P's: Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance

Tonight, Chris is going to see Sammy Hagar, the bassist from Van Halen, and Joe Satriani play in some super-band called Chickenfoot. I, alas, am not going. If I was playing my musical loyalties right, I would have A) known that such demigods of the Eighties were playing in Baltimore, and B) bought tickets in advance. What a dark, dark streak on my track record as a human being.

On the forging end of things, I am attaining some kind of profiency with the powerhammer. Chris was able to hand off certain forging tasks to me without his supervision, and there were a few moments (just a few, mind you) where our work flow melded into a beautiful counterpoint of hammering, heating, and quenching (that's what we call sticking hot stuff in water). The mind-rattling focus of operating a machine that evokes primal fear in the pit of your soul, and the almost-unbearable heat of the shop, however, was exhausting. Chris works very, very hard. He is, after all, Scottish, and we all know that the Scots are predisposed to endure insane amounts of duress.

I also started hand-hammering camp. Chris takes great pride in the clean, hand-hammered aesthetic of his work, and he demanded more of my arm and eye than anyone—or any job—ever has. While we ate sandwhiches during a break, Chris simply looked at me, smiled, then said "so, we're going to see how good you are with a hammer". Thus ensued a few hours of finding that good work is less about forcing, manhandling, or pounding a work into submission, and more about articulating the vision of your goal to yourself, then, deliberately, to your limbs. It is a true interweaving of mind and body. Learning to "see" the finished product before the product is finished is the true test of skill.

I rode Chris' bicycle to work today through the day's first suggestions of humidity, and tried to ignore the fact that it might rain that afternoon and put a dampener on my ride home. It did rain—hard. Lightning struck literally as we operated the powerhammers. Sammy Hagar, I'm sure, would be proud. I arrived home late, completely soaked, and phenomenally starving. I inhaled the requisite Stella Artois, Kettle Chips, and water, then eased into a more dignified gastronomic lope with dinner: a wonderful Indian Curried chicken over rice.

I'm currently contemplating watching the Sci Fi channel (hoping to find something with zombies), then going to bed.

Chris, happy about reliving his youth with Sammy Hagar.

Lunch: Vegetable Soup a la Baltimore (lots of locally grown ingredients in this one).

Crankin' on the Stryker 88. Compared to the Stryker 165, this hammer is relatively easy to use.

Finishing up a day at the shop. Then, a ride through rain-soaked and hipster-heavy Hampden.

1 comment:

mary said...

Great writing. Thanks for taking time to articulate what's going on in yonder eastern metropolis. I love the pictures, too.