Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Aprendemos ("We Learn")

Today was a low key work day. I worked with Naun. Kat and I were in Santa Barbara for a Stenstedt family vacation at the start of this week, and while I was there I bought a small English-Spanish/Español-Inglés dictionary for Naun. I decided on a small one rather than the newer version of the 20+ years old dictionary I have, so that he'd have something he could easily take with him when he went in search of work or whatever. I hope he'll have a lot more opportunities for work after the house is done.

We got 3 of the 4 holes into the existing foundation drilled, the stepped parts of the foundation footing cleaned up, and some boards cut for the foundation forms. We started the day buying some rebar and looking in vain for a rebar bender at Home Depot. Alas, in one of those great mysteries of life, they carry rebar, lots of tools, but no tool for bending rebar. The rebar cutting part I can take of with my handy-dandy sawzall, er...reciprocating saw. But the bending part I'd have to improvise something for, and it's not worth my time for something that may or may not work very well.

I spent part of today teaching Naun how to measure, mark and cut (with a Skilsaw, er...circular saw.). I explained about measuring in inches + fractions instead of feet + inches + fractions, marking with a 'V' so you know exactly where a measurement is, and various safety things about using a saw. He understood all of it immediately, but as with many things, the cutting part will take some practice. I told him I'd had lots of practice cutting with a skilsaw at Habitat for Humanity. But fortunately, he'd have lots of chance for practice, since there will be a lot of wood in the house. The teaching process reminded me of working at Habitat, or on a Mexico mission trip, only I had the added challenge of teaching in a foreign language.

But I managed, for example, to convey the importance of checking the blade guard on a skilsaw by telling him about a site worker at Habitat who'd cut himself badly by messing with it. I wasn't there, but apparently he'd wedged the blade guard up because he was doing a lot of surface cuts. He forgot about it (just once, but that's all it takes) and set down the saw while the blade was still spinning. It quickly walked back up his hand. Urgh. So check your power tools before using them, and don't disable safety features, even "for a little while".

Construction is a great area for stuff abrogating trademarks by absorbing them. Like kleenex, xerox, and a host of others, skilsaw has come to define circular saw, sawzall to define reciprocating saw, and who knows what else. There's no putting a jake brake, er...Jacobs Brake on that process. They used to have a nasty-gram type message on their website about reporting municipalities that used the term "jake brake" instead of "engine brake". But I guess they're now comfortable enough with their masculinty, position to not worry about that so much.

Today reminded me that I really should start making my own construction Spanish dictionary. I have a small one from Amor and the annual Mexico Misson Trip, but those houses are pretty simple, and leave out a lot of stuff that's normal for UBC. There are commercial ones available, but I know I only need a particular subset of most of those.

I think Naun enjoyed today, and not just because we didn't work so hard. He seemed to really enjoy learning about using different tools, and I know we both enjoyed not doing so much digging. And he clearly loved his new dictionary, and took great care with it. While we were working he referred to my dictionary, and left his new one in the car.

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