Every Man To His Trade

And every woman too, for that matter. When someone is good at something – trained, certificated, experienced, quiet, calm, efficient, and covered in healed scars…it is the height of folly to interfere with them as they do a job.

Even if you, too, have all the qualifications…you will always promote a better result if you stop away and let the worker you have employed to do the work get on with it.

Oh, occasionally you get a poor result – some workers are not as careful as others and some are not as diligent…but problems can be rectified  if you have not been the one to cause them.

Case in point: the new kitchen that went into our house this week. It involved 6 skilled tradespeople and a deal of to-ing and fro-ing to the IKEA warehouse. Some minor parts were missing, a custom part had to be made, accessories had to be gathered. And one major error occurred that needed an overnight fix.

No-one was flustered about it. No-one went snarly or desperate. The old kitchen was broken up and tossed in the skip bin – the new one was installed and completed in three days. We still need to look at fresh vinyl floor covering but I’ll bet that will be done just as neatly. And already we have disposed the pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery in the new drawers and the kitchen is workable again.

I must record my admiration for the planner, installer, and tradesmen, and praise the IKEA problem solving office for the speedy way that they turned panic into relief.

We tested out the family cookware on the new hob – The frying pans are fine but all the saucepans and soup pots are useless with induction heating. So I guess IKEA will score a few more dollars from us in the Market Hall, and I do not begrudge them a penny.

Heading picture is the dreadful blue kitchen. That’s protective film over the cabinet fronts until the floor man has come and gone. Then the reveal. The ovens are burning off their coatings right now and I will try them out during the week with the first roast.

 

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The Little World – How To Survive A Hobby Shop

We are all in danger at some time in the day. We drive a car, fly in an airplane, eat servo sandwiches, tell our spouse that they are wrong…and for the most part we get away with it. No-one hits us on the road or in the kitchen, we do not get food poisoning, we do not crash. We have learned that the dangers are manageable.

Such is not the case for the hobbyist who goes to the hobby shop. There the dangers are multiplied a thousand-fold…few escape. Wallets and credit cards are seen crashed and burning everywhere you look. Survivors are staggering out of the wrecks with armloads of kits. Painters lie in the aisles overcome by fumes – their partners beside them, overcome by the prices of the paint. It is not a pretty sight.

Shoppers in Bunnings, Home Depot, and Spotlight will also know these distressing sights…with the additional horror in the gardening section of bodies sticking up out of the loam. Whatever can be done to arrest the carnage?

Here is a list of precautions:

a. Do not take more than you can afford to lose. Like the casino, the hobby hell will consume every bit of funding that you can find. Leave your credit and debit cards at home. And don’t go to the counter with a child’s piggy bank and a hammer – it just looks pathetic.

b. Wear dark sunglasses in the shop. Hobby goods are marketed on bright colours – particularly the toy cars and R/C aircraft. If you can’t see them very well you won’t be tempted. You might pick up some dodgy paint choices in the finishing aisle if you’re wearing sunnies but use it up anyway and tell people that it is a special camo scheme.

c. Do not sniff the glues. They are addictive. Likewise, do not sniff the kits. If you have to sniff anything, sniff the owner of the shop. They get little enough love as it is.

d. Learn to make a specific list of what you need and go directly to the place it is stored. Select only as much as you need, pay for it at the counter, and run. Do not browse the cabinets. That way madness lies.

Once you are outside you have proved to yourself that you are strong, moral, and not self-indulgent. Celebrate the fact with a double martini and a glazed doughnut.

e. Never give in to the temptation to stock up on anything. If you add just that extra kit or bag of parts you are starting down the slippery pathway that will lead eventually to an intervention. No-one wants to be the person on television with the garage full of Airfix Spitfires and a sneering relative.

f. Know the signs of addiction before you get there. Is the grocery store refusing to exchange balsa wood strips for bread? Has your bank cut up your credit card, ATM card, cheque book, statement, and half the teatowels in the house? Is the bathtub full of glue? You are in need of treatment. You can get a 1:35th scale treatment kit by Trumpeter for a little under $ 40. Where’s the piggy bank and the hammer?

g. Do not sneak kits into the house. Do not sneak empty boxes up into the attic space. One day the plasterwork on the ceiling will give way and your secret will be out.

h. Do not lie to your spouse. Don’t say that you will be going off to have a night of squalid sex with your lover and then sneak around to the workshop and glue things. The plastic smell and the dried glue on your fingers will give you away, no matter how much you douse yourself in perfume.

Imagine My Initial Surprise

I have always been intrigued by the use of initials as a brand name – ever since I looked at USAF on the side of aircraft and fantasized that it meant Uncle Sam’s Air Force I have decided that some things – including 500 pounder GP bombs – could be more fun to sell if you just had the right name behind the product. Uncle Sam’s sounds way friendlier than plain old United States. Has sort of a down-home ring about it, even as the ring of the Norden zeros in on your home from 8000 feet.

To this end I have considered a number of firms who use initials to make their name and have done some preliminary planning:

DAF –  the Dutch car makers – the first two words are ” Dodgey As ” and the last word got me ejected from the Methodist Bingo Night.

IKEA – Swedish makers of little metal socket spanners – ” Imperial Kings of Evasive Accounting “. I have no idea why someone suggested this…

FIAT – easy – ” Fix It Again, Tony “. This is not my invention – it has been going around for years. Unlike some of the FIAT crankshafts.

SEATAPFEIAIAECBBC – A French firm that makes subsidized zippers. Responsible for the Zipper Mountain in the CE.

CE – ” Cut England “. Except they Cut Europe first. No-one is talking to anyone and there is an eerie silence. Glorious, isn’t it?

USSR – Uncle Stalin’s Still ‘Round.

CBC – Camrose Bare Cows – A speciallized strip joint for prairie entertainment.

NBC – Nearly Bare Cows – The less controversial version.

 

 

 

 

The Rivals

I am generally out of touch with social networks in my town – and with business affairs, cultural groups, and academic circles. I can be said to pretty much live in an intellectual bubble that is insulated from the rest of Western Australia. I have never been happier.

It is not that I do not welcome social interaction on a personal level – a conversation, a joke, a shared cup of vitriol. It livens up a day that might otherwise be given over to dragging a plough through flinty soil then falling exhausted into a ditch at nightfall. Retail trade was like that…

But being unaware of the world has the delightful advantage of rendering me neutral, by virtue of ignorance, in most of the deadly competitions and rivalries of the day. I can be in the company of people in my old trades – dentistry and retail photography – while they are frostily ignoring each other or cattily circling for commercial information…and I am unconcerned. If I occasionally ask one about the affairs of the other, casually revealing the extent of their spy network and causing alarm bells to go off in the mind of the listeners, it is all innocent. Perfectly innocent.

And then there are the firms that rep for other firms – the agency men. I’m old and I forget things and I cannot be held responsible if I blurt out secrets of the delivery date of a product to someone else in the mistaken belief that they are the firm handling the account. One lens can look very much like another when it is top secret and hush hush.

Likewise, I can hardly be expected to be up to date with all the staff hirings and firings unless someone tells me and generally they tell me only when a coroner’s report is delivered or a trial date is set.

Of course, once I have been entrusted with a secret I am the soul of discretion. Wild horses could not drag the parlous financial situation of ———- from my lips. Who knows, they may trade out of it.

It always pays to play fair.

Trash And Treasure Is Never Treasure

We have all gone to the Trash And Treasure, flea market, retro market, bring and buy, parish jumble sale, or weekend market in our time. Some of us have picked up bargains – the rest have picked up garbage. The really fortunate ones have picked up a bacterial infection and vowed never to do it again.

It is a basic feature of human psychology – that desire for a good buy. If it can be a swingeing bargain or a criminal rort, so much the better. But it does lead us down some dark passageways of the soul:

a. We seek for these El Dorados of dreck in the worst places. Council car parks on Sunday morning when we otherwise we could be asleep in bed or awake in the arms of a lover. It is the unwashed bottom of the top of the morning – either cold and wet or hot and distressing, and we’re out there looking for bargain clothespegs? Sheesh…

b. We deal with people we would avoid under any other circumstances. To a man, or woman, they have the look of wolves fattened on babies. None of them love us, and we do not love them, and the emotions are entirely justified from either side.

c. We do not need what we seek. We do not seek what we need. It is all greed or grot.

d. Just as Quentin Crisp eventually had to admit that there was no great dark man, we must eventually admit that there is no great dark treasure to be found. We can’t even find Quentin Crisp.

e. We do need the money in our pocket that we think we do not need. Just today a letter arrived from the water supply racket telling me that the state government will remove a subsidy they used to give to old people to help them pay for water. The money will presumably be given to mining magnates or their bankers. I now need to save my money for water. I would like to make water on the state government…

f. The things discarded by others were discarded for a good reason. They are ugly, broken, useless, poisonous, sad, or superfluous. What they are for others they will be for us, but doubly so because we spend real money on them. And if we want to resell them we will have to return to the garbage sale and become the persons we bought it from to get even a pittance back. Do we really want to exchange our souls for that?

g. We can live without it. We lived without it until we arose this morning, and we can make it through to the evening without it.

h. No-one looks cool at a junk market. Sellers, buyers, pickpockets, etc…All have a patina of naff on them, that they could have avoided assuming by staying home and doing something useful.

Well, that should make Sunday morning a lot more fun. See you at the markets?

The Little World – The New Shop

I visited the new hobby shop this week – it has moved a couple of miles closer to my house. Probably to be closer to my bank account…

The new premises are larger and more imposing than the last ones, and the highway that they sit beside is one of the busiest in the metro area. I was a little disconcerted to find that you can only approach the car park from one direction on that highway, and that getting there will require some degree of planning, but the work will be worth it – they have a very complete line of goods that the builder needs.

And they are well-placed to serve a section of our city that has no other outlet. All the other shops are way away out in other quarters of the town – a cut lunch and water bag trip in some cases. This one is 4 miles from my door and I love it.

I took them a bottle of port wine to celebrate the opening. I daresay by the end of the first rainy Saturday, if the customers had been cranky and the computers stopped working, they cracked the bottle and drowned their sorrows.

Only one awkward thing for the workers – the cabinets full of goodies have a key lock at the bottom of the glass. Every time you ask to get an accessory out of them the staff member serving you has to get down on the floor to open it. This will tell on their clothing, backs, and knees. It was the same for the Camera Electronic store for the first 6 years of my job there – we fought with the keylocks every day. Once the new cabinets with invisible electronic locks were installed, the task was much lighter.

Too often the design of retail premises is not thought through – the goods are either left unprotected or locked up so tightly that the natural flow of sales is checked. It really is a geometric and operational jigsaw puzzle. As one of the salespeople I found that there were some items that were impossible to display and sell at the same time, and some concepts – like on-counter impulse bins – were so penny-catching as to degrade the whole sales floor. The one thing that I was able to do in my time that smartened up the mess was to institute a system of standardised signage for different divisions. We used Gill Sans for the typeface and A4 for the standardised size. It all worked well.

 

The Slug Of The Month Club

So many offers are delivered daily through our internet connections and in the advertising flyers that crowd the post box that we can sometimes miss out on the most exciting ones. Like the Slug of The Month Club.

The SOTMC delivers large, fresh, moist slugs to your door on the second Tuesday of each month for a very reasonable price. You can order the Sample Six-Pack, the Slimy Dozen, or the Save-As-You-Spend Variety Pack with two dozen assorted molluscs pre-packed in separate containers and ready for use.

All of the SOTMC products are certified by the Australian Garden Institute and can be relied upon to work straight out of the box. In addition, they carry a full 6 month guarantee of freshness. You get the squelch you want or your money back!

Call now on 9457 5856 and ask for your complementary slug-tongs and umbrella grease with your first order. You won’t be sorry.