Thursday, February 25, 2010

Night Owl On A Boom Lift

   Hi friends!
   It's been a very long time since I've had to work late shifts and it takes some getting used to, but I am adapting. At one point in my life I used to be quite the night owl, but in recent years I've settled nicely into a routine of being up at dawn, working all day, and having my evenings with my wife. Now I only get to see her briefly in the mornings before she goes to work. She's usually fast asleep by the time I get home around midnight.
   At first we were upset over this new arrangement, mainly because it was somewhat sprung on me by surprise, but we discussed it and came to the consensus that work is work. If we want to be able to buy a home this year it's better to be working than to be sitting at home idle and collecting E.I. And the schedule isn't that tough. My late shifts are from Tuesday to Friday. I'm home earlier on Saturdays, and I'm off Sundays and Mondays.
   There's perfectly logical reasoning behind our new schedule. It's much easier for us painters to do what we need to do when all the other trades have gone home for the night. We're applying some smelly products (don't worry I wear a respirator) and that requires some considerable preparation, not to mention drying time.
   My tasks have so far revolved around the preparation end of things: masking and hanging plastic and paper over things we don't want to get paint on, then tearing down the masking after the other guys have painted. It's not a glamour job, but it's not that bad either. I have less exposure to the paints and I get to drive around the place on cool machines like scissor lifts, articulated lifts, and the classic boom lift just like this model.
Courtesy Google Images.

   What I like about the company I work for is that they provide on the job training for operating these machines. Once I proved to them that I can run them competently and safely I've been pretty much left on my own to do whatever needs to be done.
   I admit, I'm not one of those guys who can whip these things around and drive them at high speeds. Most of the time I dial the machine down to turtle speed (yes, there's actually a picture of a turtle on the panel) and really only dial it up to rabbit speed when I've got a lot of open space. I don't like that jerky feeling of the boom swaying really fast. The slightest movement on the ground translates into a big movement 60 feet up. It's kind of like working on a diving board! (Don't worry, I wear a fall safety harness.)
   My brother, who is really scared of heights, told me there was no way he could do my job. To me it's no big deal as long as I feel comfortable that whatever I'm standing on is secure. I'm actually far more relaxed in the basket of one of those lifts than I am on a wobbly ladder. Trust me, people, you'll NEVER see me doing things like these guys:

*Note the Jorts!

   Well that's enough writing about work. It's time I get ready for work. Have a good day/evening/night!

The Wandering Oak

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It's Okay, I Still Had Fun

   Well, folks, I didn't win my friend Chelle's Ugly Things Contest. It's okay, I still had fun. I got to read a lot of funny blogs as I stalked judged checked out the competition, and I knew I didn't have a chance. Here is the winning entry.
   I just wanted to play along, and you know what, it wasn't a total loss. I got the Green Participation ribbon I wanted. I haven't gotten one of these since I was in junior high school!

   I'll take a little bit of credit for the green ribbon idea, seeing as I was the one who subliminally put the idea in Chelle's head, but the hand made sock zombie and cool photo shopping is all her.

The Wandering Oak

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back to Work and....Ugly?

Hello friends!
   I'll get to the ugly in just a moment.
   If I know you on facebook, you might have already seen in my status message that I've finally been called back to work, and I'm happy about that. I've been idle for a few months now and was starting to get a little stir crazy!
   This season I've been sent to work on a new industrial warehouse that is currently under construction at the DND Navy Dockyards in Esquimalt that will soon become the new home for the Hazmat (hazardous materials) crew. It's not the prettiest construction site,  but they rarely are at this stage. That's why we paint them!
   For a ship buff like me, just to be right there at the home base of Canada's Pacific Navy Fleet is exciting enough, but what really thrills me is that there is currently a very large cruise ship sitting in the Public Works Drydock just accross the bay: the Norwegian Star. That ship was supposed to serve as a floating hotel during the Olympics in Vancouver, but something fell through and it didn't happen. So, since the ship was in the area, her owners figured it was time to get some work done - a bonus for Victoria's economy.
   So, while I'm toiling away sanding, rolling, masking, and generally getting dirty making the building look nice, I can get a little joy in knowing that all I have to do is step outside at break time and get a look at the big, beautiful ship.

   Now what's all this Ugly business? A good friend of mine, and a blogger more popular and awesome than I'll ever be, Chelle, is having a little contest in which she's asked her friends to post or email her a picture of their ugliest possessions. She's even giving away a prize too!
   Well, it's a long shot, but going back to work inspired my entry. I've looked at a few of the other entries and there is some tough competion out there, but I'm sure none of you willingly wear something ugly and dirty out of the house. But I do...

Yep, those are my painter's pants! I wear them (and a few other pairs just like them in rotation) every time I go to work. All are just as ugly. The photo doesn't really do them justice. Like I said, it's a longshot, but I don't care. I'll be happy with just a nomination, you know, like the Oscars. Or even just one of those green ribbons like they gave you in Elementary track & field just for participating.

Wish me luck - at both the jobsite and the contest!

The Wandering Oak

Monday, February 8, 2010


   It was 33 years ago today at about 7:40pm at Campbell River General Hospital that I took my first breath of air, and all these years later I'm happy to still be breathing. I've got to say my 30's have been good to me so far.
   I've done more with my life in the first 3 years of my 30's than I ever did with the last 5 years of my 20's.
   I changed careers. I spent pretty much all of my 20's bouncing from one customer service job to another. I even did a 4 year stand at a call centre for a big American cell phone company and lived to tell about it - though I still cringe every time I see one of their commercials on TV. While I learned a lot from each of those jobs and made many, many great friends along the way, none of those jobs turned out to be as rewarding as I initially hoped they would be and often left me feeling like something was missing in my life. So, I left that industry right before my 30th birthday, took some special training and safety courses, and now I have a very rewarding job in the trades that I actually feel happy telling people about. (Trust me, that call centre had such a bad reputation that when I told people where I worked they would look at me as though I just told them I had a terminal illness and tell me they were sorry to hear that. It's true!)
   I moved home. Growing up my family often moved back and forth from BC to Alberta and I've actually spent most of my life in Alberta, but BC was always home to me. My wife is also from BC, and after about 9 years of living in Edmonton we both started feeling really homesick. So, in 2007 we packed all of our worldly possessions into a U-Haul truck, bid tearful goodbyes to our friends, and headed back over the mountains. We may not be living in my hometown of Campbell River, but Victoria is only a 3 hour drive down the Island. It's so much nicer to be closer to our families and, let's face it; the winters out here are so much milder than they were back in Edmonton. My job has given me the opportunity to work on so many different projects around Victoria that I really feel like I've become a part of this city. "I painted that!"
   I got married. Sure my wife and I have been a couple since meeting in high school and that was centuries ago, but in 2008 we decided to make it official by tying the knot in a beautiful and intimate barefoot-on-the-beach ceremony in Oahu, Hawaii. It was the happiest day of my life. Actually it was the happiest week of my life. I consider myself a pretty lucky guy to have someone like her in my life and to this day wonder what I did to be worthy of such an amazing woman.
   So what's next for my 30's? Well I don't really know for sure, but if the next 7 years are anything like the last 3 years I can imagine there will be some big changes. One thing I can say is that my wife and I are planning on becoming home owners and not just renters, so let's hope that happens. Other than that? Well the future is wide open.

   Before I go, I'd like to give a special greeting to my very good friend Jennifer who is also celebrating her birthday today. We've known each other for a few years now (four-five?) and in that time I've come to think of her as one of the nicest people I know. It's amazing how comfortable we are talking with each other about practically anything and our online chats on MSN can and will usually go off in all different directions. Maybe I should start saving them and posting them as blogs... So to my friend Jennifer, have yourself a very happy birthday and I hope you get spoiled rotten. You deserve it!

Now I'm going to go enjoy my day. Have a great day, my friends!

The Wandering Oak

Sunday, February 7, 2010


My friends, a moment of serenity:

The Wandering Oak
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