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Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2006
Letís work smarter, not harder.

People hear that mantra and think ďGee, thatís right. All I gotta do is apply some brain power and I wonít have to do all this nasty physical stuff thatís causing my spleen to rupture so predictablyď.

Construction guys have been saying this for ages. Smarter, not harder. Save your back.

I guess you could carry this idea all the way to the extreme left and say, ďLetís be really smart and not work at allĒ. Which Iíve done on occasion and my spleen did thank me for it.

Iíve worked smarter for a long time. I know stuff. I know carpenter shortcuts and labor saving tricks like you wouldnít believe. Why cut one board at a time when you can gang-cut 12? Why drag materials all over a site when you can bring a lightweight, high tech machine right to the pile and do all sorts of things with less wasted motion?

Then I went and had to mess with the equation. I did so while working on the new deck for Big Daddyís rehab project yesterday.

I figured, since I know all this stuff to make life easier while working, maybe I could just accelerate the process. You know, double up the labor saving stuff, compress the schedule, fire all cylinders, toting every barge and lifting every bale. Start a new labor paradigm, a new catch phrase. ďCompress smart labor into impossible schedules!Ē

Odd that Iíd do this. Iíve been ranting about office bound project managers and their idiotic construction schedules for years. Never figured Iíd do it to myself.

I laid out, cut and framed an L-shaped deck in 8 hours yesterday. 250 square feet. Hell I even cut the first half dozen pieces of decking, just to show off.

All done in a very smart manner. At warp speed.

Iíll be 47 years old next month. This morning my body feels just exactly like one of those poor unfortunate 2 x 8ís I was cutting and banging on yesterday.

I was doing okay until 3 pm, when I was two joists from completion and just felt all the bones in my body seize up, the 99 octane gas dropped to a teaspoon full and the 18 oz. hammer started feeling more like a 25 pound maul. I got those last two joists in, but it was a matter of sheer will. Or sheer stupidity, one of the two.

So letís see. Work smarter, not harder. Check.

Work faster, using your native born smarts. Check.

Work twice as fast, using your smarts and upping the physical ante?

I donít think Iíll be doing that formula again for a while. It looks mighty impressive at the end of the day, but all you want to do is crawl off to a bush somewhere and die.

Today, we cap the deck. I say we, because future son-in-law Bob is gonna help. Younger knees and legs. Iíll be the one leaning on a walker with an IV, cutting the stuff and pitching it over to him. Sounds reasonable. He needs the experience and I need a break..

Besides, heís got a brand new tool bag, and I donít think he knows that you never, I mean ever show up at a jobsite with a brand new bag. And itís blue, which is doubly wrong.

First thing Iíll do is spill coffee on it. Then Iíll roll it in the mud. Chaining to the back of the truck and dragging it around the neighborhood isnít out of the question. Smearing a big finger full of caulk residue on it is de rigueur. When Iím done, heíll have something to be proud of.

Iíll have plenty of time for all this. After all, Iím way ahead of schedule.

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