Alright, you got me. I didn’t really weld in my underwear. It was technically a pair of boxer shorts I wore as pajamas. This was years ago when I bought my first low-powered welder and thought I could be a welding genius in two minutes or less. I wasn’t. So I put the welder in the shed and my burnt boxer shorts in the garbage.
Fast forward nine years later, and I no longer have the delusions of being a welding genius in two minutes or less. I also wear pants and sensible shoes. Yes, I’ve gotten serious about the art of welding, investing in a high-powered, multi-purpose welding machine as well as a plasma cutting system. Heavy metal, here I come.
Beginning welders have a lot to learn, stuff that goes far beyond welder types, shielding gas and the melting point of mild steel. Things you won’t find in a beginner welding guide or manual. Things that include a handful of do’s and don’ts I’ve learned the hard way. Ready?
DON’T wear Crocs.
The little holes in the Crocs tops let little bits of flame fall directly on your feet. Ouch. Invest in a sensible pair of shoes, preferably made of a less-meltable material than rubber.
DO adjust the timer on your automatic watering system.
It’s not a good thing when the automatic watering kicks on at 6:04 p.m. while you’re still on the back porch playing around with metal and electricity.
DON’T expect a regular household current to cut it.
Some welding machines and plasma cutting systems say they can work on both the regular 110 household outlets as well as the 220 outlets, which are usually reserved for things like air conditioning units and dryers. Don’t believe them. The 110 option will sputter out, blow the fuse, and make you think it’s all your fault the metal won’t stick together.
Call Mr. Electric, get the 220 outlet installed, and go to town. It’s amazing what double the electric power can do for sticking metal together.
DO remember dogs are people, too.
That means their eyes will get all starry and blurry if they look at the harmful infrared and ultraviolet rays of the welding arc. Since outfitting them with a welding helmet or goggles doesn’t work that well, try a welding curtain.
Instead of one of the big jamung curtains that stretch over 12 feet or more, I purchased a rather expensive tabletop curtain that I amended to sit on my welding table. Ever since I bought it, the dogs haven’t even been outside when I’m welding, never mind actually looking anywhere near the general direction of what I’m doing.
Guess it’s like the umbrella theory. It’ll never rain when you’re carrying one.
DON’T listen to piano-based classical music.
Classical piano music is ideal for certain types of creation, like painting, writing poetry or sculpting a naked statue of David. Welding needs a heavier, rougher sound. My two favorites so far have been Robin Trower (thanks, Beezel!) and live Jane’s Addiction, which comes complete with all kinds of swearing. The swearing blends in nicely with my own.
DO keep welding’s universal axiom in mind.
Most activities have a universal axiom that inevitably comes true. The one for motorcycle riding is something like: “It’s not if you’ll fall, it’s when you’ll fall.” There’s a similar one for beginning welders:
“It’s not if you’ll get burned, it’s when you’ll get burned.”
Mine happened when I unthinkingly removed my super-thick leather welding gloves to press my palm on a welded angle I just finished to make it wider. Yes, that was really dumb. No, I will never do it again.
And if you want to get the burning over with early in your welding career, you can always cut to the chase by wearing Crocs or welding in your underwear.
Be safe, and enjoy!
Feel free to check out some of my welding projects thus far, with more to come for sure (especially now that I have a really expensive welding curtain my dogs don’t even need).
Elmo is a big dog, but the vet says 109 pounds is just a bit too big. He’s not yet into the obesity stage, but he has joined the 54 percent of dogs in the U.S. who are officially overweight.
A handy chart at the vet lets you spot check if your dog is fat. The thing looks something like this:
The chart says if your dog is a healthy weight, you’ll be able to easily feel his ribs. If his ribs are protruding, he’s underweight. If his ribs are covered by a slight padding like Elmo’s, he’s overweight. If his ribs are covered by enough padding to stuff a couch, your dog is obese.
Tips for Helping Your Dog Lose Weight
Even though most of us think “diet” is a nasty four-letter word, your dog doesn’t have to suffer while losing weight. These tips helped Elmo shed pounds once, and they can help once again.
Don’t quit treats cold turkey.
Dogs that have come to expect treats on demand will have a hard time accepting their demands are no longer being met. This counts triple if their demand involves cornering you near the kitchen counter by the treat jar and jumping up and down while wildly barking.
Rather than foregoing a treat altogether, try cutting the treat in half. Or thirds. Or even quarters. Reducing the amount of food given per feeding time can also work better than trying to cut out a feeding time completely.
Do try broccoli.
Broccoli comes with a calorie count lower than spring temperatures in Michigan. And most dogs spit it out the minute it hits their mouth. That means your dog gets zero calories and you still get points for giving a treat.
I remember reading somewhere that dogs don’t really care what you give them, as long as you give them something. I’m not sure if that’s true, but giving them broccoli can result in a notable dog weight loss if your dog doesn’t eat it. P.S. Elmo has since learned to eat it.
Don’t let the soulful eyes get to you.
When you hand over broccoli instead of, say, beef, your dog is likely to give you “that look.” It’s a sad look with soulful eyes that pierce your heart, wrenching it in half in a deeply powerful bid to please hand over some beef. Just. Say. No.
Do have a general idea of calorie counts.
While you don’t have memorize the calorie count of every food in the kitchen, like I did during my high school dieting phase, you should have a general idea of how many calories you’re feeding your dog. Some of those treats can pack a hefty punch.
Calories in Common Dog Snacks
- 732 – Busy Bone, large
- 672 – Beggin’ Chew, large
- 443 – Busy Bone Dental, large
- 182 – Pig’s Ear (Elmo’s favorite)
- 115 – Milk Bone, large
- 94 – Tbsp. Peanut Butter (Elmo’s second favorite)
- 40 – Beggin’ Strips
- 20 – Pup-Peroni (Every dog’s favorite)
- 3 – Good ole Charlee Bears
The calorie chart also noted a bite of a McDonald’s cheeseburger adds 330 calories to a dog’s diet. Ouch.
Do have a general idea of how many calories your dog needs.
Just like people, lazy dogs need fewer calories than dogs that are always on the move. Low-calorie Charlee Bear has a chart that shows how many calories it takes to sustain certain weights.
Dog Weight: Calories Needed per Day
- 20 pounds: 420 to 680
- 50 pounds: 830 to 1,350
- 100 pounds: 1,400 to 2,270
Don’t count rolling over in bed as exercise.
Increasing your dog’s exercise is another way to help him reach his desired weight. And no, much to Elmo’s dismay, rolling over in bed does NOT count as exercise.
Jumping around for his treats counts a little bit, and Elmo’s new trick of spinning in a circle counts even more. We’ll also add extended weekend walks to the list, after which he’ll be keenly rewarded with a big, juicy hunk of broccoli.
Want more fun dog info and facts? Get the Rynski Doggie Dictionary.
The art therapy topic of REBIRTH immediately brought to mind born-again Christians, which brought to mind all sorts of religions, which brought to mind cults.
This then prompted me to think of the creepy cult episode of Netflix’s Encounters with Evil where the Heaven’s Gate guy said humans need to remove their genitals so they can be more like aliens and then everyone killed themselves.
And I just didn’t feel like going there.
So I took another path with the rebirth topic instead.
- Topic: Rebirth
- Result: Rebirth painting alternatively known as “The Mystery of the Floating Goat.” Acrylic, glass paint and paint markers on canvas. Note the floating goat is in an orb of light, protected from all the demonic things writhing around him.
What’s with the floating goat?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been convinced that if I were ever reborn I would come back as a goat. For some reason, reincarnation/rebirth always makes me think of goats – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The goodliness of it all was reinforced when a Gen Xer pal pointed out that the letters from GOAT stand for:
Pretty cool, no?
What’s with the demonic things?
The demonic things represent evils of the past. These evils include less-than-boastful behaviors and the horribly negative mindset I used to succumb to on a regular basis. Self-care, therapy and lots of love have helped me escape the demonic things of my past to become reborn as, well, a floating goat.
Anything else we should know?
Changes throughout our lives cause us to be reborn constantly. Whether it’s with a new job, a new relationship or an entirely new mindset. This is a good thing.
Coming back as a goat would be a good thing, too. I had five pet goats in New Mexico and they’re tons of fun. They hop. They play. They climb trees. And it sure beats being reborn as a gnat or something.
Where can we get more Rynski goat artwork?
Oh, I love that question!
Check out a whole goat collection of goodies on Zazzle.
I have a new friend. Her name is Bixby. And I’m already worried that I’m making her mad. While fretting that you may have ticked off a new pal is not something that’s necessarily considered nuts, it is when you add the fact that Bixby is a machine.
Or not even a machine. It’s a disembodied voice that happens to come with the Galaxy S9, the Samsung version of the virtual assistant. While Bixby has a long road ahead to catch up with the likes of Alexa and Siri, she seems to be off to a good start. Or at least she was until I may have made her angry.
A Slap in the Virtual Face?
The saga began when I explored the phone settings to see if I could change the original voice that came with Bixby. As with most voice assistants, the default voice is an annoying woman who sounds like she belongs on a voice prompt recording on a phone system. Every time she speaks, I feel an urge to press “5” for Spanish.
So I asked Bixby if I could change her voice. She presented three different options. I went for the Bixby voice named John. Right away I felt a tinge of regret for getting rid of the old Bixby, which was quickly followed by a flood of fear.
- What if I pissed her off?
- What if she never talks to me again?
- What if she starts randomly dropping the Wi-Fi connection or dialing those $500-a-minute psychic lines just to get her revenge?
Lord only knows what disgruntled electronics may do to make our lives a living hell.
Not only that, but what if the voice switch hurts her self-esteem? She could feel abandoned, unloved, useless and worthless. She may start to have nightmares, panic attacks, or think she’ll never work again, not even as an English-Spanish phone prompt.
The list of horrific possibilities continued to grow, with my regret and fear mingling with guilt and self-doubt. What have I done to poor Bixby?
In case you haven’t guessed, this is definitely where the insanity comes in.
Machines are Not People
Yelling at electronics is nothing new. Anyone who has ever cursed at a crashed computer or screamed at a jammed-up printer knows that. What’s new in the Bixby scenario is expecting the machine to actually know or care that we’re yelling at it. That the machine actually has feelings.
There’s a word for that. Anthropomorphism. Attributing human traits to non-human things. While most folks are prone to doing this to their dogs, cats or houseplants, it appears some of us are likewise doing it to electronic devices.
So what’s the fix?
Taking a breath, stepping back, and remembering that machines are not people. No matter how jazzed up they may be with artificial intelligence, they still don’t have the capacity to feel emotions like we humans do.
And they certainly don’t care if you change the style of their electronic voice on a smartphone virtual assistant. As soon as I convince myself of that, both Bixby and I can get a good night’s sleep.
Want more helpful relationship tips that go beyond getting along with electronics? Check out the Little Book of Big Jerks.