broken parabolic



20 February 2010

It might well be that this week has been the week of perpetual annoyances. If it isn't stupid people, it's stupid machinery. Generally speaking, the week has been kind of stupid.

It started with the car. A minor fender-bender became a wretched headache; the body shop agrees to do the work, has the car for over two weeks, then hands it back to you with new, and totally unrelated, problems. All they needed to do was fix the back hatch and the bumper. Why does my remote starter no longer work? And why are the automatic locks all screwed? And why does the dome light not come on when I open the driver's door? And above all, why are you telling me to just "take it back to the dealership and have them reset it"?

At the dealership, the verdict was pure gold: somehow, in the process of fixing the tailgate of my Outback, the body shop guys had damaged some wiring under the dashboard.


Of course, the body shop pitched a line that sounded something like "No, really, liquor naturally evaporates from bottles like that - we had nothing to do with it. It just happens sometimes". Eventually, ready to drop a wallaby into a wood chipper, I agreed to split the bill, which wasn't all that big, anyway.

This on top of a sudden bout of overtime the bosses have asked me to work, and a particular machining job that should have been simple (you noticed the way I put that, did you?). In fact, the shop had made these parts before. We even had CNC programs for them. Everything could have gone so smoothly, if only a few things had gone differently. One being if the, um, very nice person who made them last time had written anything down. "Oh look, tool ten in the program cuts this nifty profile inside the part. I wonder what boring bar he used as tool ten? Do you think he remembers?" That last question, in this shop, is almost always rhetorical.

After an hour or so of wasted time trying to figure it out, it eventually came to light that the tool that had been used last time had since been epically trashed during another machinist's momentary lapse of reason and good sense, caused by what I'm positive was a very lovely daydream in front of his Okuma.

Now, I understand that this particular tool costs something to the tune of two grand or so, but there was a reason we had it in the first place. Which, of course, begged the question: why did we not replace it after its violent and hideous-sounding (trust me, I was there that day) demise? Turns out, the decision was made to replace the tool when the need arose.

Here's how that plays out: a job comes up (like the aforementioned "should have been simple" job) which really sort of requires this tool. We order one, and it is delivered "in a timely manner". A manner so timely as to make you believe that the PO was sent from Edmonton to Stockholm in a capsule tied around the neck of the Neo Citron dog, and that, upon receipt of the order, the supplier had dispatched the tool across the Atlantic in a canoe manned by a rotary telephone and a potato, with a note attached that just read "Dear Canada: please give this to Travis", believing that statistically, it was likely to end up in the Maritimes somewhere.

The point is, if I wanted to get the job done on time, I had to find another way to do it. And I found one. A way which was efficient like western governments and easy like putting contact lenses on a badger.

And after fighting with that job for four hours this morning (which was Saturday, by the way), I came home, headed to the basement shop, and madly started machining the last few parts for a little project I'm doing for my wife (it's a device for holding a photography reflector), having to swap the little 4-amp fuse from the lathe between the lathe and the milling machine, because at some point last night, I blew the milling machine's 5-amp fuse and had no replacement. There was no time to get one today, and she needed the thing for lighting tests tonight.

After all of this, the car still has that dome light problem, I'm pretty sure that boring bar was never ordered, and I still don't have a 5-amp fuse. But I'm driving the car, I finished those parts at work, and my wife has her reflector boom.

I call it a win.

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