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This morning I had to clean the keyboard at my computer. I tend to nibble my way through the day, and remnants of yesterday’s coffee cake with the cinnamon-crunch top were causing odd noises and some dysfunction in a couple of keys. So I unplugged the keyboard, headed out to the shop and blasted it with compressed air. This is a time-tested method, and I need to do it every few months. How else would you get the junk out of the keyboard?

My methods are effective, but I realize not everyone takes this approach. At home, I’ve cleaned spills on the living room carpet by heading out to the shop, grabbing a handful of sawdust from under the table saw and sprinkling the dust on the spill.  After waiting 10 minutes or so, the dust is sucked up with the shop vacuum and the carpet is as good as new. This particular incident was when I realized that there is a fundamental difference in the way men and women (or at least my wife and I) approach cleaning.

I judge the cleaning by grading on the curve, and if I reach 85 or 90 percent, I figure that’s a B+ and pretty good, especially if it’s time to watch “Mythbusters” or “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” My lovely wife, on the other hand grades pass/fail, and less than 100 percent is about the same as doing nothing at all.

The other day, Glen and I cleaned the shop for a photo shoot. As you can see, it looks pretty good. But we didn’t actually clean the entire shop. Our publisher, Steve Shanesy (in the blue sweater in the photo) asked us to do this, and our B+ effort seemed good enough for him.

This shot, from a few feet farther back clearly shows that most of our effort was limited to cleaning only the area we were specifically told to clean. We did fill several trash cans, and after the photographer packed away his lights and other gear the stuff we shoved to the side began to drift back into the corner. It’s better than it was, and we are committed to cleaning the entire shop, and getting it better organized. When we can get to it.

And as we clean, we’re trying to make it entertaining by taking inventory of the cordless drills we have. As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re making it a contest and inviting our readers to guess how many we find before April first. It doesn’t look like there are that many in the photo above, but if you look closely at the first picture, you’ll see a typical view of our shop. In addition to the drills out in the open, who knows what may be in all those plastic boxes.

Submit by e-mail your best guess of how many cordless drills we have in our possession (shop and office) before April 1, 2009. One entry per e-mail address only. When we’re done cleaning, we’ll count the drills and the reader with the closest guess will win a new cordless drill. If there is more than one winning guess, we will pick a winner at random from the group that is closest to the exact number.

– Robert W. Lang

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Showing 2 comments
  • Mark Harrison

    You’re obviously not a Navy man 🙂 Probably the only thing I learned of lasting value after seven years in the Royal Australian Navy was how to clean.

    Tidyness, however, is not one of my virtues…

  • Keith Mealy

    You’ve got this whole B+ thing misunderstood. You are simply confusing "Clean" with "Cleaner." It depends upon your objective. If your objective is "Cleaner," then you’re fine, A+.

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