Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Compulsive much?

Image from here

Sometime during my high school years my father's construction company remodeled the four story Arkansas Game and Fish Commission building in Little Rock. My summer job started just in time for one of the final tasks, which was hanging one hundred and ninety-six steel doors in the building. That's almost two hundred doors times three hinges per door times six screws per hinge, which is, well, a lot of screws.

After inspecting the completed remodel, the client insisted that we were not finished because the hinge screws on the doors were oriented in all different directions. Seriously. After a brief but lively argument between the client and my father, I and one other worker were assigned to go through the building and turn one-hundred ninety-six times eighteen screws a quarter turn or less so that the slots on all of them were perfectly vertical. It took two days.

It's funny the sorts of thoughts that wander through one's head while working systematically through a huge empty building with a screwdriver. Thoughts like, "Well, if they all have to be oriented some direction, they might as well be the same." Or a little later, "My, these sure do look nicer like this, all uniform and consistent." Every so often I would find one that was already vertical through sheer chance, and I would celebrate a little.

I guess you see by now where this is going. For many years I made sure that virtually every screw I tightened was oriented in some specific direction. Luckily for me, Henry Phillips' screw head* technology has almost universally replaced the slot head screw in everyday use, and the visual effect with the Phillips head  is not nearly as striking. The one notable exception has been electrical switch and outlet cover plates, which have retained the slotted screws until very recently.  So if you go through my house, you will notice that every screw on every cover is oriented exactly the same. How about yours?

You're welcome.

* As we all learned in school, the Phillips head screw was actually invented by John P. Thompson, who sold the rights to Phillips. It's always the money guys who get the credit.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Movie Sunday Back Next Week

Sorry, but we've been too tied up with home improvement projects this week to watch movies. Though we did see The King's Speech last night. It was good, even though I couldn't stop looking at Geoffrey Rush's nose. And I think living with Tim Burton is making Helena Bonham Carter even more strange than she was before, in a good way. It's probably doing wonders for him, too.

Okay, so we'll make this week's movie The King's Speech. See it if you haven't. I think it may have won some sort of award.

This will all be worth it when the painting is done.