Work Stories (5) for SkillsCrafters, TDAssist website viewers


We all have them -
moments and times related to one's work that resonates in memory.  A few of mine are...
  • Looking through bridge roadway and sidewalk cracks and holes to a wide river below.  Returning on Monday to the office and applauded for my work in concrete inspection. While at the work site the previous Friday I was blissfully unaware that my home office was monitoring radio traffic of concrete truck drivers threatening to throw me off that very bridge for continuing to reject their sub-standard concrete. 
  • Reviewing a blueprint at construction site of a  nuclear reactor dome - the same as would become a near national calamity and global movie - The China Syndrome - a few years later.
  • Watching a presentation of a Web Based Training (WBT) build process and product model (Dreamfast) shown to General Motors University curriculum (GMU) managers at GM Headquarters in Detroit, MI.  Hearing then GMU president, Donnee Ranelli state the e-learning process and product model was the first to meet GM's "Go Fast" program objectives for e-Learning production.
  • Observing a ceiling suspended 20+ foot all brass truss structure with golf ball like joints, communication dish and numerous stabilizing min-rockets set to restrict a projected laser beam movement from 400 miles above earth. 
  • Understanding data and knowledge as a form of energy to which it can be collected, processed and presented as/when/where needed, then...
  • Building a variety of tools and templates and means as process and product models to do just that.
As above, recollections below are of actual events.  In chronological order, they may provide insight to an artistic and practical creativity as service outlooks in client / employer / associate / contractor collaborations. 

- Painting a Room to a Tiffany Lamp - Architecture & Color Design 
- Art On Canvases of Buildings, Homes and Structures - Architecture & Color Design 
- A Bridge from Painted Buildings to Painted Tech-Solutions
- Counting Keystrokes as Time & $$$ - Database 
- An Artistic Question by a Dentist - Illustration 
- Communication as Sophisticated Simplicity - Presentation
Diverse Subjects - Air, Sea, Ground, Underground - Instruction media, Technical documents & eLearning, 
- (Additional stories pending)

Painting a Room to a Tiffany Lamp
My first "commercial" architectural color design work (after a service trade for rent effort) was for a neighbor who noticed my home color design and painting. She thought it unique enough to ask me to do something similar for her.  

I had been hoping my work would be noticed and inquires follow.  I had painted by agreement my then landlord's home facade with tongue & groove siding 1st floor and flat sided with bay window 2nd floor to appear as a finely decorated log cabin.  I highlighted thee dimensional fascia boards and tastefully accented the split-level body, doors and trim all with a 7 color earth-tone pallet.

The neighbor's project would be only a small breakfast room.  In San Francisco I knew little gems of experience had a way of leading quickly to other things.  Even though it was a little room - at least it was a canvas for a client that I could paint a warm greeting to a new morning.  A centerpiece of tables & chairs included a Tiffany lamp.  I noted the lamp's morning prism colors projected on surrounding walls. I decided on a spectrum of lighter hued color variations on the walls, ceiling and trim based from the lit lamp.  The concept was received well and work proceeded aided by fine conversations, meals and occasionally providing a bit of support to ease the client's busy family life.

I found you never can predict where a project may lead.  Kept simple, flowing and productive - a project could be a vehicle for professional education.  Appreciating workplace surroundings and influences helped attune and respond to client interests.  Sharing quality time and understandings also aided color selections.  This helped establish an "organic" design orientation when collaborating with clients on larger, numerous projects to follow. 

Art On Canvases of Buildings, Homes & Structures
In years to follow I would participate in the "Colorist Movement" rejuvenating classic residential architecture and preserving some of San Francisco's diminishing Victorian era heritage.  Color designing old homes become popularized as "Painted Ladies".  So many memories and stories are deduced here to a selection of statements:
  • Learned to factor and balance concerns of:  structure appearance, environmental setting, skillscrafters_samples-pghneighboring 
    architectural styles and landscapes, owner and neighborhood personalities, inhabitant color characteristics and fashion preferences, pedestrian traffic volume, daily and seasonal weather exposure conditions, structure purpose & intent, and other blended interests. 
  • Involved clients, associates and commenting pedestrians in ways suited to have and share a good time.  This helped doing the hard work of revitalizing a building and in the process affecting it's neighborhood more welcoming. 
  • Relaxing during a project's conclusion knowing rewards in favorable comments people make, chatter that occurs, inquiries that follow and more were signals allowing the art to continue. 
I have color designed and/or painted modem and historic buildings in and near cities of diverse neighborhoods.  Have done historic railway cars, campus administration building, a library, funeral home, church and movie theater and a set of 9 foot tall Charles Dickens books (repairs and color matching) and more.  A few of these projects can be viewed here.

A Bridge from Painting Buildings to Painting Tech-Solutions
Tiring of color designing and painting homes, buildings and structures, I applied for and was hired by KTA Tator Inc. to perform coating inspections on bridges and oil storage tanks.  This was similar to construction materials inspection work done previously for Pittsburgh Testing Laboratories.  I looked forward to coatings inspection work as to involve travel and adventure of climbing bridges to monitor and test coatings applications.  It would also provide circumstances to photograph rivers from varied heights and perspectives (wearing magnetic work shoes) during breaks.  A project for me on the Ohio River was set.  

After asking a manager about company projects, I could not help but register issues, problems and adverse impacts (like rapidly registering architectural color design factors as weather exposure, structure features, inhabitants color styles, etc.).  Given that the previous years I learned much about a PC, I thought to offer a Macintosh on 30 day rental with select software to see if some adverse impacts can be addressed or even reversed with a tech-aided response.  Management agreed and in a week I started using the Mac as a brush and software pallet to paint "situational solutions" on real-life canvases of projects and associated problems. 

Various tangents of computer tasks followed on one project or another.  To a bit of lasting regret, I never did perform bridge coating inspections.  Instead I delved into executing tech solutions as design & development creativity to address data processing / presentation and/or page layout and messaging concerns.  Successful results were as a bridge from one profession (color designing and restoration painting) to another (PCs and software applications).  I ended up bypassing a path I thought to be firmly on of materials and coatings inspection.  In time more PC projects and tech solution paintings would follow. 

Counting Keystrokes as Time & $$
The issue was simple.  6 weeks left to complete a project of importing and calculating lead testing data then reporting results as tested in large apartment buildings for a county health agency.  Problem was calculated data performed manually by students for a summer work program reflected a high error rate.  Solution = build a database to enter pre-calculated values and let PC do the math. Fine, but how long will that take?   

Ah - Count data entry key strokes for a selection of filled out forms then extrapolate to time as would complete all 1,400 forms.  Mark key-taps, mouse moves and clicks against available time, resources and budget.  Result?  Still a couple weeks OVERDUE!!  What to do?

Ah - Call a friend who happens to program C++.  He writes a program to perform data entry faster.  Result?  Time reduced by 1/3 generating 100% correct calculations and reports.  Company shows new lead testing data processing abilities to another company at a Washington D.C. conference and is invited to join their consortium competing against 4 other consortium's for a $6 million "Housing and Urban Development" (HUD) national lead testing contract.  

A surprise to some (as I), our consortium wins the competition!  It is said that in part that outcome is due to the leading-edge lead testing software proven to match HUD requirements.  That complimented the long and good company service history.  From that example I learned to never underestimate power of pragmatic creativity! 

PS:  "Counting Keystrokes..." later was written into "PC View & Touch Incidents (PC-VTI).  The paper elaborated on a means to determine a software solution's functional elegance by the count of keystrokes and mouse-clicks required to provide for a given production outcome.  In general, the less PC VTI required to accomplish a tech solution, the more efficient and less costly the related labor. 

An Artistic Question by a Dentist   
In my 1st independent "commercial" PC application project, I discussed with a gentleman my philosophy about using a computer.  I thought applications would only be limited by the imagination within PC and application technical boundaries.  I had not known he would pose an outright related question in response.  Do you think you could design some toothbrushes that we could use as templates on our dentist office window?  That surprising question challenged my theory.

By now I had taught myself and used a computer for designing and developing forms, databases, spreadsheet models and training manuals in one company.  This question posed a distinct challenge to my limited-limitation imagination theory.  

In an afternoon within a standard sheet of paper on a layer in my graphics program, tooth brushes were drawn modern style with angled handles.  A group arranged in and as a brush family.  Copied to another layer the group was scaled to fit within the actual dimensions of the dentist office window.  Multiple numbered sheets then were printed as an ordered puzzle.  Taping the sheets in numbered order on the office window enable the "artists" of the dentist's family to paint brushes on the window. 

The dentist gladly paid a fee happy with the result.  
Yes - imaginatively tech-productive you could do that!  
And in time so much, much more!

Communication as Sophisticated Simplicity
Observing a master of communication who's method of "fewer the words = best to describe" as found a hard art to perform let alone master.  This person excels at meeting others, absorbing and expressing an understanding of people, organizations and purpose to deep depths in little time.  Such skills were useful to take NASA research data and rework it for presentations to audiences like congressional committees and academic panels.  I am fortunate to regard him as a client and friend for over 20 years.  His tasks and guidance helped firm-up a service career trajectory of practicing digital arts & sciences for mostly training and instructional applications. 

In time I noted the easier it is for others to collect and share information, the quicker and more valuable the use.  Thus simpler = faster (and lower costs).  This general rule would be reinforced in various projects to follow.

Diverse Subjects - Air, Sea, Ground, Underground
Over time I worked in employment and contracting arrangements providing creative and PC-skills services to build: technical documents, training courses and curricula, and informational presentations on: 
  • US Aerospace technology program reports and small aircraft part info-bases 
  • US Navy aircraft carrier flight control systems operations 
  • US Coast Guard surface ships program explanation 
  • Millwright health & safety practices to auto/truck servicing and connected vehicles technologies
  • Mining practices, safety and reclamation orientation as interactive training program for K-12
  • Projects that depicted and/or explained: steel making, nursing training, public transportation concerns presentation, recreational and road-side support performance management training, industrial and residential electrical safety practices courses, career training pathway assessment support, and others.   
It was a pleasure to practice a craft that involved working with information associated to a broad array of subjects.  I have most enjoyed remote and onsite collaborations with talented, memorable individuals - some who remain communicative friends to this day - sharing a quest to help define and see achieved learning and business objectives for them and their organizations.


Next project...
I may be currently available for a next project.  I enjoy new challenges, meeting people, travel, and working to results worthwhile for all who participate to take credit.   Contact me at or 810.643.1334.

Note: On occasion I notice resources as this website presenting something unique and may be worth a visit.