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Cold comfort

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I can’t remember the last time I caught a cold, but I have one now. It’s not the worst I’ve had, but it’s affected my work in the shop.

I used to get colds just like anyone else – usually maybe once a year or so. But for some reason I’ve managed to go at least five years without one. My wife changed teaching jobs twice during that timeframe, and interacting with so many new kids meant she was bringing a cold home maybe twice a year during that same period. Somehow, I was lucky enough not to get one from her. But now I have one.

Colds come in different varieties from mild to terrible, from head colds to chest colds, from colds that primarily make you sneeze to colds that mostly give you a headache. This one came with stuffy sinuses and a mild sore throat, plus it’s making me feel just plain dopey and like everything’s in slow motion. As a result I’ve made some equally dopey shop errors like marking a cutline and then cutting on the wrong side of it. More than once. I’m fumbling things, and forgetting where I’ve set tools down (more than usual, I mean). I don’t know if this is all because it’s been so long since I’ve had a cold that it’s impacting me this way, or if it’s related to the fact that I’m getting older, or maybe both.

This has gotten me to thinking about how shop-safe I am right now, and my conclusion is, not very. It also has me thinking about those warnings on the cold medicine box – something I’ve rarely worried about in the past – especially the one about using machinery.

So I’ve decided to take it easy in the shop for a while. No machinery, no major cutting of irreplaceable materials (including the hands holding those materials), not even any big decisions regarding which direction a design will go on the table I’m making. It can all wait. For the next few days I’m just doing chore stuff like shop cleaning and maintenance, maybe some light sanding, or maybe I’ll inventory my hardware and supplies, which is something I’ve been meaning to do.

In the past I’ve never really had this option. Getting a cold just meant sucking it up and getting back to work, not always with the best results. But back then I wasn’t working for myself. As my own boss, I’ve made a cogent business decision to take it easy and thus avoid damage to critical workpieces and critical body parts. I can always put in extra time next week to make up for any time I lose now.

Till next time,


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