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A bloody good reminder

Despite what it may actually know, the brain has a tendency to draw its own conclusions.

In this case, it’s something my brain does during one specific woodshop operation; namely, cutting workpieces on my table saw. I built a large combination outfeed table for my saw years ago that serves as an assembly table as much as anything. As a result, it’s seen a lot of wear and tear, with some of the scars and marks more noticeable than others. Take a look…

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That’s a bit of dried paint from a Valentine decoration I made for Sally a couple years ago and never got rid of. But that outfeed table has a hundred other marks on it, so what’s one more? At least, that’s what I thought.

My brain thinks differently. My brain knows that’s dried red paint, but when I’m cutting on the table saw with 100 percent of my attention focused on the task, my brain peripherally picks up that paint and does an instantaneous computation: Red + Table Saw + Hands = Time To Panic.

When this happens, I get an infinitesimally brief but sudden chill at what my brain has registered. A nanosecond later, my subconscious brain signals the all-clear to my conscious self, and I continue on with what I’m doing – usually even more carefully than I already was.

On one hand, it’s unsettling how my brain sometimes likes to scare me this way for a split-second. On the other, I suppose it’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing: Paying attention to everything around me and, in the process, keeping me alert and unhurt any way it can. I have to admit that it works.

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