Monday, March 25, 2013

The Dragnet Widens...

No, SeƱor, I hab not seen dees Punxsutawney Feel fellow.  Deed you try Canada?

Hello, Ontario!

According to my blog counter, I have detected quite a bit of interest from people in the Woodstock, Ontario area.  I am delighted that you have found that much interesting in my blog.

If there is anything specific that anyone would like to discuss/ask/investigate further, please feel free to e-mail me directly.  My contact info is in the profile.

Keep generatin' those chips!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More 20th Anniversary Carvings. Three…count ‘em!

For the past few years I have been asked (or volunteered) to make the 20th anniversary awards for folks that achieved that awesome goal at the company I work for.  Long time readers have already seen some of those that I have already done: for example, The Jupiter, The No. 119, The Oak Plaque and “Jeff’s Plaque” (no catchy name for that one).  But these have all been hit-or-miss, now-and-again types of projects. 

I was sort of blind-sided a month or so ago when I was informed that the month of March marked the 20th anniversary of three employees and, obviously, they needed three awards.  There were suggestions that I could make 3 identical awards and at first I agreed with that point of view.  Then I got to thinking how boring that would be…I hate to do ANYTHING that is repetitive.  So, in addition to cranking out three carvings I really had to come up with three different ideas. 

In the interest of expediency, I tried to come up with some common…but not TOO common concept.  That sounds like a great plan but it has a few holes in it.  First, two of the guys work in the manufacturing side of the business, the other is in Engineering.  Two guys work at a desk and the other, at a workbench.  The guys with the desk have walls where they can hang an award but the guy with the bench doesn’t.   The guy at the bench works gets his hands dirty every day.  One desk jockey is in QA -- or is that QC?  I’m never sure about that -- while the other develops software.  No dirty hands there. Where is there any common theme?
I finally managed to come up with three different ideas that I could produce in about 3 weeks.  So here they are.  They are all carved from basswood and approximately 8” tall.

Award #1

As I said, the fellow with the workbench gets his hands dirty every single day, but is definitely NOT some dumb “wrench monkey”, he is a real go-to guy, always available to quickly rig something up for you, machine a part, or assist with assembling a test fixture.  He is quick to lend his expertise or even a tool if you find your own toolbox lacking.  It is only appropriate that his award celebrates “Dirt-under-the-Fingernails”.

 Award #2

Personally, I have always found it especially fitting that our railroad-equipment company occupies a building that was formerly the Main Terminal and Office building for the Union Railroad (circa 1911).  The oldest portion of the building is of the “Art deco” style with large ceramic Lion heads guarding the edge of the roof.  It is really pretty cool looking.  And, if my fictitious railroad -- the Pittsburg, Homestead and Wilmerding (discussed, here) -- actually existed, it would share the right-of-way with the Union Railroad that runs behind our building. 

The second award recipient is a home town boy that grew up here in East Pittsburgh and still lives just up the hill from our office.  His award is based on the logo for the Union Railroad. 

 Award #3

This was actually my idea number 4 because idea number 3 had gone down in flames!

The third recipient has developed software for many of my company’s products used by the MetroNorth Commuter Rail System (MTA of the greater New York area).  Buoyed by my previous success with the URR plaque, I decided to make the award for him with the MTA logo.  The carving process went quite successfully but the subsequent painting process failed miserably.  The predominately dark blue logo turned out blotchy and uneven.  Suspecting that my prep of the surface prior to painting was somewhat lacking, I sanded it back down to bare wood.  I fully expected that the second painting process would go better.  Sadly, it was not to be.  If anything, it looked worse than it did the first time.  

Since time was rapidly passing, it was definitely time for a new idea.  I “thumbed through” my favorite source of carving idea (i.e., Google Images) and found a picture of an interesting steam railroad water tower.  This new idea came together very quickly and painted up like a dream. 

Since this recipient also received Ollie Bord as a present some time back, I decided that it, too, should be adorned with some Pittsburg, Homestead and Wilmerding Railroad related touches.  It is apparent that even that pesky “Snacks-R-Us” guy seems to have come by again leaving his mark near the bottom of the tank:--)

I hope you liked them.

One for the Bench

Hospitality: making your guests feel like they're at home, even if you wish they were.

 ‘Til next time…Keep makin’ chips!

Enough Said!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Hurricane Sandy Mission Trip

One of the men from work has been instrumental in arranging and leading groups from a local church on numerous mission trips to New Orleans to help rebuild homes damaged as a result of the horrible Hurricane that stuck there a number of years ago.

This year, the group decided to direct their efforts towards Hurricane damage a little closer to home: the New Jersey shore destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.  It has only been a few months since the disaster and the infrastructure in NJ for directing aid to people in need is not yet as well established as one might hope.  There were a number of starts and stops before they could connect with a group with sufficient organization to make the trip productive.  Once they did, my friend asked me to provide carving for them to take along as I have done in the past.   

Traditionally, the group votes the last night of the trip on who should receive the carving – whether it should be one of the families that they helped or the local group that made it possible.  Since they are not back yet, I still don’t know who received it.

As a postscript, while there were there this week, the group got to experience some of the very same weather problems that they went to help repair.  I hope all is well.

So here it is:

The carving is based on a portion of the NJ group’s logo.  Not much else to say about it.  Since I really can’t do too much to help out physically, it makes me feel good that I can help them celebrate their efforts.

'Til next time...Keep makin' chips!