Carpentry school – Week 2

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Wow, this regular schedule thing is taking some getting used to. I’m back on the caffeine, just so I can stay awake in class. It’s still a struggle to get to bed before midnight. My poor dog hates this – no sleeping in, alone for hours, no more lunch, walks in the dark.
We’re doing nothing but math in class now, which is my worst nightmare. I’d never gotten the hang of fractions, which has been both frustrating and embarrassing. I do use fractions sometimes in my work, and I kind of guestimate, which is ridiculous. So I am glad that I now know how to work with them, but also a bit annoyed that the Americans cling to their outdated Imperial system while the rest of the entire whole planet is Metric. And since Canada’s biggest trading partner is to the South, we are stuck in the twilight zone between the 2 systems. So we still do lbs and inches, as well as Celcius and kilometres. But fractions for measuring stuff is just plain dumb. Inches, feet and yards? Seriously, America? You’re holding us back.
I’m relieved that I am far from the worst math student in class, but frankly appalled that any one else could be worse at math than me. It has been my enemy since kindergarten. Well, that’s an exaggeration. It’s really just fractions I was stumped by. And I can’t hold a number in my head for very long. It’s too foreign a particle.
I’m looking forward to getting out of the classroom and into the shop. I bought a lot of tools and I want to use them!
Damn. Should have been in bed an hour ago. And still so much to do.

Sad dog.

Please don’t leave me alone all day.

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Carpentry College

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Let’s take a bit of a break from book reviews for a moment, and talk about the real world. I’ve been working in film for about 12 years or so now, mainly as a special effects artist and puppet builder. Since moving back to my beautiful home province I have not found any paid work in that specific area, and I’ve been making do as a regular makeup artist for film and tv. While I love the people I work with, I’m not finding the work terribly fulfilling, and it’s absolutely not steady or regular enough to pay the bills. So, as of last week, I’m training to be a carpenter.

It was kind of a spur of the moment decision. I’ve said for years that I wished I had learned a trade instead of going to university, then art college, then makeup school. It’s like I was trying to be broke. I figured that at 41 I was just too old to learn something like that. But faced with the option of never being able to support myself or actually doing something about it, I decided to check it out. And it turns out that there is a ton of support for women going into the trades, no matter how old you are. Aside from the cost of books, supplies, and living expenses, my whole program is being paid for. I have some male friends who did the program, and I doubt they are too thrilled to hear about how I don’t have to pay a dime. But it doesn’t bother me so much that I won’t take advantage of it!

The school is founded by and affiliated with the union, so the chances are good I can get in with them when I graduate (assuming I don’t fail utterly). Also, I know several people in the field already. I’m hoping that will lead to some job opportunities. But even if I can’t find work with them they assure me that there is tons of work out there, and it’s getting busier all the time.

Classes started on Wednesday. There are twelve people in my class, including me. There are two other women, and thankfully one of them appears to be at least as old as I am. The other is a young woman who tried the university and desk job route and hated it. Most of the guys have some construction experience, which is not unusual. Newfoundlanders tend to be very self-sufficient, so most guys I know from here have spent time helping their dad build things or do renovations. The older woman in the class seems to have a fair bit of reno experience as well. So there are about 4 of us who are noobs. I’m not too worried though. The program sounds like it takes things pretty slow.

What I am worried about is the math. I suck at anything to do with numbers, and it has been years since I’ve had to do anything but calculate ratios of silicone or plastic. But I’m ok with the practical stuff, so I’ll probably be fine. We’ll see. We start the math part on Monday.

So far we’ve gone over the guidelines and policies, spent some time studying the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS), and learned powerline safety. That last one included a cool video showing some people who got pretty messed up by drilling in to underground power cables and the like. It’s not good for them, but as a special effects makeup artist I found it interesting. We also got a tour of the school. There are several other classes going on already, so we got to check out some other students’ work. I can’t make heads nor tails of any of it yet, but I’m sure it will make sense in time. I was pretty freaked out by the ginormously tall scaffolding room. They teach a separate scaffolding course at the college, and we’ll do some of it as well in our program. I’m not keen on heights so I got dizzy just looking at how tall they can build in there. I hope I can function when we get to that part of the program.

I’m looking forward to the time when I have some practical skills. I know lots of family and friends are looking forward to it as well. I suspect I will have to be on guard for people looking for free labour, just like with film.

So, I will be updating this blog a bit with details of the program. And book reviews, of course. I was given a Kobo Glo ereader for christmas (thanks, siblings!), so I need to work out a practical way to write reviews with that as my source. You can’t really flip back and forth on those, so I’ll have to take notes as I go. And I want to do a bit of a rundown of the movies I watched last year next post.