There is a certain sullen satisfaction in the knowledge that another job in the machine shop is drawing to a close. The floor will be swept clean. Its metal chips and spilled cutting fluid fed to the patient garbages cans that sit outside.  Lathes and milling machines and grinders will be wiped down and readied for the next project.  Sometimes I think of all the molds and prototypes, production runs and repairs that this small shop has put out over the last twenty five years, and wonder what they would look like if they could all be piled into a big heap.  Would they crowd out the door and spill into the driveway?  Or would they actually take up a more modest volume, something a few dumpsters could handle?  Either way, there is a lifetime of work tied up in that imaginary heap.  A million details fretted over and resolved.  Customers made happy, and a few who could never be made happy.  Five years ago some heavy metal plates overbalanced the table-saw I was using for a temporary cart.  The whole thing went sideways, and 300 lbs. of steel smashed deep scars into the concrete floor.  Angry at myself, I vowed to patch the concrete.  Of course, I never did.  Now those scars pinpoint a time and project that would otherwise be long forgotten.  Is it only the things that go wrong amid the general clutter of things that go right, that gives our memories form and structure?  I haven’t needed a band aid in quite some while now.  Does this mean my fingers know something that I don’t?  In this game nothing can be taken for granted.  Sometimes there is no preparation or planning or state of janitorial excellence that can prevent a good thing from going bad.  When that happens, the undoing of the thing gone wrong is always more carefully considered the second time around.  By then we are painfully aware of something we knew all along,  the molecules will not tolerate our disrespect.

…….. And so, with these somber reflections in mind, I have decided to use some stainless PH15-5  H-900 for the hooks on the new limbs.  It is not authentic for the Romans, of course, but with a tensile strength of nearly 300 psi, it is 200% stronger than T-1.  Unpleasant punctures from fractured hooks are guaranteed to spoil the data stream, and I am fully committed to getting a long, uninterrupted series of shots before taking this contraption on a field trip.  Choosing the right molecules in the first place is an important survival tactic when you are making high power catapults.  And besides, it is hard to have any fun if you are continually wincing.

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