Old Fashioned Hard Work

For the love of beer
The perfect place and beverage to share some casual conversation.

If we were having a beer, I might tell you about the project I did last weekend when I straightened out a couple of racks of firewood that were leaning very badly. The pressure-treated board they were standing on had rotted away and collapsed under the pressure of the racks’ legs. I would tell you that I had to lift two racks up about four inches, pull out the rotted wood and replace it.

You would look impressed. You would say that that sounds like serious work and you would ask how I managed to lift fully loaded racks of firewood. I’d tell you that I used a porta-power.

You would look at me curiously:

One of those hydraulic pumps with the various cylinders and gizzmos?


I saw one of those in a TV show. They use them to break into houses.”

What? No.”

You would explain. The show you watched was about the problems they had in various states with high volumes of foreclosed houses during the recession. They followed a guy who worked for a bank, cleaning up the abandoned homes. Sometimes, the owners didn’t bother to give the bank a key so the guy used a porta-power unit to spread the door jamb apart and pop the door open. You’d look at me and ask:

How powerful is that thing anyway?


10-tons? That’s sounds pretty powerful. Do you really need a 10-ton unit? Couldn’t you have gotten a smaller unit and saved some money?

I would explain that they had a 4-ton unit for $69 but the 10-ton unit was on sale for $99 and it seemed like a pretty good deal, $30 for 12,000 more pounds of applied pressure. I would add that, at the time, I had no idea when I might actually use the unit. Still, it’s come in handy.

You would be nodding in agreement. Why settle for four tons when you can have ten. Ten makes four sound like nothing. Then you would get that curious look again.

Wait, did you use that thing when you pushed the end of one of those firewood racks back in place?

Of course, that required moving over 10 feet of stacked fire wood. How else would I move that?

OK, so when you yanked that fence out of the ground last year, did you use this thing? – ‘cuz, you know, when you told me that story, I was impressed.

You should have been impressed, that fence was buried twelve inches in the ground.”

Yeah but did you use this 10-ton magic lift thingie to get it out?

No. I used a 2-ton electric winch.”

So, do you do any real work, or do you just hook up tools and press buttons?

Sensing where this conversation was heading, I would order us another round. You would sit there making button-pressing movements with your thumb.

I would try to convince you that this wasn’t as simple as you were trying to make it. First, you have to know what tools can be used in what situations, i.e. when to use a winch instead of a hydraulic ram. You also have to know how to use these tools. I mean, I still was raising a cord of firewood four or five inches into the air. That’s not for the faint of heart. The whole thing could have come crashing down if it wasn’t properly balanced. I had to make a temporary support that would hold the racks up while I removed the hydraulics, the old boards and fitted the new boards. I would complain that, in its entirety, the job was far from easy.

You would acknowledge that it was probably more complicated than you were making it seem. You would ask for some of the details. I’d show you a short video of when I first raised the end of the rack. You would be impressed, but not with me. You’d be impressed because a little wedge like device was lifting half the weight of a cord of wood.

It’s impressive alright, but you have to admit, it’s doesn’t look like you were working very hard.

I’d try to explain that that’s why we make tools. The alternative to using this porta-power unit would have been to unload the firewood from the rack, replace the board and then reload the firewood. We make tools so that we don’t have to do that kind of work.

Yeah, but think about it. You lift with a porta power. You pull with a winch. You prune with a freakin chainsaw. You clear snow with a machine that looks like the Mars lander and yet you sit here drinking beer like you spend every day doing manual labor.”

Well the porta power unit weighs over 100 pounds.”

Did you carry it to the log pile?

I used a hand truck.”

You would raise your glass and make that button-pushing motion with your thumb again.


  1. If we were having a beer, I’d ask you for the video first, because I was clueless!
    I’d also tell you that pushing a grocery cart, putting the cat food in the van, and lifting a 100lb kid for a great big hug was the extent of my manual labor today :) I like this day!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow! I’m impressed with all the work you put into your project. I have a lot to learn about tools and techniques. The project I did last weekend…I framed five 11×14 photos. That was the extent of my “old fashioned hard work” last Sunday:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hilarious while informative.
    Tools are great! I’ve got a mini washer which requires so much babysitting that I’m always daydreaming of a fully loaded LG front load washer that the only manual labor I would do would involve loading and unloading the laundry. Pushing buttons? Hey, that’s fine with me, gives me more time to blog :)
    I may actually get my wish when my tax return arrives ;)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait…. you didn’t move over 10 feet of stacked fire wood with your bare hands??? ;)

    I love your story telling Dan!! What a brilliant, comically poetic way of explaining something I would likely never have read about. I’m hooked. I was truly rapt reading this haha.

    I’ll have a whiskey though :)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If we were having a beer, my husband would most surely be along and he would get so deep in that discussion with you I could dive inside my Killian’s and be half way to Ireland before either of you noticed! Haha. Great story Dan. I am impressed. So would Tim Taylor be….😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Halfway through we might realize that we’re boring you to death, but I wouldn’t count on it. I did enjoy that show, and I tend to resemble him just a bit (actions, not looks). We have a standing order in our house, no activity on the 4th of July because three in a row saw me at the ER or the walk-in clinic.


    1. Thanks. It ended up not being that hard, which is what prompted me to use it for the If we were having a beer post. One of my goals was to keep it enjoyable for people who might not understand the technology. One of the reasons is that I have a project coming up this summer that I expect I will write about a few times, so I’m testing the water a bit with this.


    1. Ha ha – or put an eye out :) When I have active projects and the 4th falls on a Thursday or Friday or Monday and we get an extra long weekend, I tend to go for project work over grilling. Fireworks are banned in our house because our dogs have never liked them.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wasn’t finished.

    My question, over a beer, would have been ‘does you wife watch?’. If so, does she watch because she thinks you’re a tool-tinkering genius, because she needs to know the moment to call 911 or because you’re messing with her woodpile?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! You have learned a lot about my wife. A much longer (perhaps future) post would reveal that my wife bought this tool for me because she knows that, in the absence of said tool, I’d be asking her to help with some less reliable way of lifting the logs.

      She has had more than her share of running me to the ER, so she actually insisted on the 10-ton vs 4-ton model, lest I over-stress an inadequate tool. As to the last bit, she was prepared to unload and reload the firewood – she would not let me do that. Thanks for your support Sammy. If things go according to plan, I’ll be involved in a home-improvement project and my ability to make it interesting is a concern that I have.


  7. I like old-fashioned hard work. It instils a level of discipline unrivaled by the modern-day “work smart” philosophy. That 10-ton porta power guy is a great device to have.
    And Dan, you are wonderful with tools, man. It is great.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “That’s why we make tools.” Brilliant! and also calculators, automatic transmissions, and public water supplies. Makes one’s eyes roll, don’t it? :-) Nicely done, as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We’re approaching Spring so I’ve switched to chilled White Wine. Pinto Gris works…and I’m very impressed that you know such a tool exists! What a time saver! I’ve stacked a chord of wood and have taken apart log by log to burn…in the days before it was banned. I certainly can appreciate the work you did here getting it straightened out and ready for the rest of the season and beyond.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know the drill, show up for a conversation and you can drink whatever you prefer. I had seen people use one of these a long time ago. I always wanted one, but I had no real reason to buy it. When this went on sale, my wife decided to buy it for me for Christmas. I’ve had it for a few years. I don’t use it much, but when I have had to use it, it’s pretty much the only thing that would have worked.

      I hate reading about banned wood fires. I fear the lawmakers in our area would like to do that and that would be sad. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. If we were having a beer, I’d be in the perfect mood for sitting and listening to this. I’d laugh along and make remarks, try to change the subject at some point, but of course you would have none of it and gently return us to the conversation at hand, which would be very interesting by the second beer, or glass of wine. :) Great post, Dan. It’s the organization of the narrative that makes it interesting, of course, as I understand very little about the work done here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Silvia. If we were having a beer, I’d probably let you change the subject. I try to remind myself that people do that because they aren’t interested in what I’m saying. As for writing it so as to keep you interested, that is the goal so I’ll take that as a huge compliment. Until I can find a way to dispense the wine from my blog, I’ll have to go with some literary technique.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think you’re placing too much faith in our knowledge of tools and, um, things.

    “You would look at me curiously:
    “One of those hydraulic pumps with the various cylinders and gizzmos?” ”

    isn’t how our conversation would go – rather I’d give you a blank look, and then wonder if you meant you used a kind of modern and powerful porta-loo….. Then I’d probably try to change the conversation because that’s just a bit of a weird conversation starter ;-)

    Also the pump in action in the video looks like some kind of metal crocodile coming to life. It’s kind of cool. I’m so admirative of people with DIY skills – I am sadly lacking in that department.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Celine. In fairness to me, I probably wouldn’t begin our conversation with that story. However, if I’m being honest, I probably would try to work it in somehow. Sometimes, tools are so much fun, so cool to use that I’m like a little kid, I want to tell everybody about it. Thanks for slogging through with me and for adding a comment.


  12. Did I missed this one? Oops. I read it in the train, but since I was unable to comment, I thought will comment it later and guess what? it simply skipped my mind. Sorry to the late commenting. I think the Indian summer is sucking the energy out of my brain. Its already 100 F here in the day, 86F at night. If you would be talking to me about all these equipment across a beer table, I would simple doze off….ha ha ha.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The first laughter burst from me with ““So, do you do any real work, or do you just hook up tools and press buttons?” and I continued to have a merry good time till the end. Such a humorous post. Wonderful!


  14. I learn so much about what I would say when I read these posts, Dan. And I have to admit, I surprise myself. The stuff that Dan-Post Paul says is fine, but … he’s like a different individual entirely from the Paul who READS these posts. Feeling kind of like I’ve wandered into a TZ, the more I think about it …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t get every persona right Paul. I was happy that I nailed one of my friends with this one. He admitted that he would be making the button-pressing motions. Maybe we were having that beer in the Zone. You stepped into a mid-coast bar and found yourself sitting next to me in New England. I think we’d have an entirely different conversation, but you never know. Thanks for having the beer with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d never be miffed at you. I know i have an unusual name (both of them)… so the only one that really gets me is when people somehow turn my surname (Geneviene) into Gwynevere …
        >Enjoying being handy with things is even better than just being good at it. Cheers!

        Liked by 1 person

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