Work Stories (5)

We all have them - moments and times related to one's work that resonates in memory...
  • Looking through roadway and sidewalk holes to the river below.  Returning to the office and applauded for a my work on the repair project materials inspection. I was blissfully unaware of radio-monitored traffic of concrete truck drivers threatening to throw me off that bridge for rejecting their sub-standard concrete loads.
  • Reviewing a blueprint on a construction site of a nearby nuclear reactor dome's framework - 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.  Hearing then GMU president, Donnee Ranelli state it was the 1st to meet "Go Fast" program objectives for eLearning 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 beam movement from 400 miles above earth. 
  • Understanding data and knowledge as a form of energy to which flow can be collected, processed and presented as/when/where needed similar to electricity.  Then...
  • Building a variety of tools and templates and means by process models to do that.
As above, recollections below are of actual events.  In chronological order, they may provide insight to an artistic and practical creativity and some of the dynamics 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 1st "commercial" architectural color design work (after a service trade for rent effort) was for a neighbor who noticed my painting where I lived. She thought it unique enough to ask to do something similar for her.  I had been hoping my work would be noticed and inquires follow.  I painted my rental home's facade to look a bit like a log cabin.  I highlighted the lower tongue & groove fascia boards and tastefully accenting the split-level body, doors and trims with an earth-tone pallet.

The neighbor's project would only a small breakfast room.  In San Francisco I knew little gems of experience had a way of growing quickly to other things.  Even though a little room at least a canvas which I could paint for one to greet the morning in.  The centerpiece of tables & chairs included a Tiffany lamp.  I noted the lamp's morning colors and prism on its surroundings. I decided on a spectrum of lighter hued variations on the walls, ceiling and trim around it.  The concept was received well and work proceeded in days to come aided by fine conversations, meals and if asked responded to help a bit in their family life.

I found you never can predict where work may lead.  Kept simple, flowing and productive a project could be a vehicle to significant education.  Appreciating surroundings and influences helped to be attuned and responsive to client interests.  Sharing quality time and understanding - then re-reveal in color.  This helped to establish an "organic" design orientation collaborating with clients on larger numerous projects to follow. 

Art On Canvases of Buildings, Homes & Structures
Over the years to follow I would participate in the Colorist Movement helping give renewed life to Victorian architecture color designing also known as "Painted Ladies".  So many memories and stories deduced here to a selection of statements:
  • Learning to factor and balance concerns of: environmental setting of structure and neighboring architectural styles and landscapes, owner and neighborhood personalities, inhabitant color characteristics and fashion styles, pedestrian traffic, daily and seasonal weather exposure conditions, structure purpose & intent, etc. 
  • Involving clients, associates and commenting pedestrians in suitable ways to have and share a good time watching or doing the hard work of revitalizing a building and in the process affecting it's neighborhood. 
  • Relaxing during a project's conclusion knowing that rewards are in favorable comments people make, chatter that occurs, inquiries that follow so one can continue their art of painting canvases on the streets. 
I have color designed and/or painted modem and historic buildings in and near cities, residences in diverse neighborhoods, 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 only).  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 materials inspection work done previously for Pittsburgh Testing Laboratories.  I looked forward to this inspection work and travel with added adventures of climbing bridges to monitor and test coatings applications.  I would photograph rivers from varied heights and perspectives (wearing magnetic work shoes) in breaks.  A project for me on the Ohio River was set.  

After asking a manager about projects ongoing and registering issues, problems and adverse impacts (like rapidly registering architectural color design factors as weather exposure, structure features, inhabitants color styles, etc.) - I thought to offer a Macintosh on a 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 as to canvases of projects and related problems.  Tangents of computer tasks followed and to a bit of lasting regret I never did perform bridge coating inspections.  Instead creativity as "painting solutions" to real problems in real life had results of bridging from one profession (color designing and restoration painting) to another (PC and software applications).  I ended up totally bypassing a path I thought to be firmly on (materials and coatings inspection).  And in time more PC projects and paintings of tech solutions would follow. 

Counting Keystrokes as Time & $$
The issue was simple.  6 weeks left to complete a project of imputing and calculating data and reporting on lead testing results of large apartment buildings for a county health agency.  A problem was that calculated data performed manually by students for a summer work program reflected a 15% error rate. Lets see... Solution = build a database to enter pre-calculated values and let the computer do the math. Fine, but how long will that take?   

Ah - count data entry key strokes and extrapolate to time required to complete.  Mark key-taps, mouse moves and clicks against available time, resources and budget.  Result?  Still days OVERDUE!!  What to do?

Ah - Call a friend who happens to program C++ and writes program to perform data entry faster.  Result?  Time reduced by 1/3 generating 100% correct calculations and reports.  Relieved company shows new lead testing data processing abilities to another company at a Washington D.C. conference. It is invited to join their consortium that is competing against 4 other consortium's for a $6 million "Housing and Urban Development" (HUD) national lead testing contract.  Surprise to some (as I) our consortium wins the competition!  It is said that in part the outcome due leading-edge software proven to match HUD requirements and a long and good company service history. Never underestimate timing and pragmatic creativity! 

PS:  "Counting Keystrokes..." later was written into "PC View & Touch Incidents or VTI" elaborating on a means to determine a software solution's functional elegance.  In general the less PC VTI required to accomplish a tech solution - the more efficient and less costly project related processes and rationalized costs. 

An Artistic Question by a Dentist   
In my 1st independent "commercial" PC application project, I had spoke with a gentleman about my philosophy using a computer.  I thought applications would only be limited by the imagination within 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 imaginative limitation 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 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 - you could do that!  And 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 tech-skills services to build training, technical documents, 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 my craft applied to information in a broad array of subjects to the point of enabling others to learn of them and demonstrate knowledge levels before / during / after with instructional assessments. I particularly take pleasure in remote and onsite collaborations to help achieve learning and business objectives. 

Next project...
I am currently available for a next project.  I enjoy new challenges, meeting people, travel, and working toward results that are pleasurable to share and see worthwhile.   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.