Sunday, February 14, 2016


I'm sure most folks agree that an inventory is a necessary thing. I also believe most all of them hate to have to do one.

There are good reasons for that.

I recall years ago having to take inventory of all the clothes hanging on the racks at the dry cleaners. One year one of the part time employees managed to take off with what was probably the most expensive outfit in the place. While we didn't actually catch her at it, she was the only one in a matching size 3. Unlike many of the clothes forgotten and hanging there year after year, this was left by one of our most regular and least favorite customers. And really, she only left it for most of a year. It wasn't like she had really forgotten it. She apparently didn't quite have enough closet space at home for everything, and this was free rental space. Or so she thought. And really, what would you expect to have happen to a pink ultrasuede suit?

The cleaners had to pay quite a claim on it. She actually had kept the receipt from the purchase.

That was the kind of inventory with consequences. I'm now helping work on a slightly different kind of inventory, the one for Sterling and Stones Club. Nobody's going to put in a claim for what might be missing. After all, who can really tell? Nothing is numbered, things have gotten broken or lost, some replaced, some re-entered on the list under different names, everything on the multiple pages is in no recognizable order, and for most of us, there is no actual connection between objects and names on the list.

What is a dremel tool? Anybody?

For years, whoever has been in charge has just signed off on the list without actually checking what is or isn't there. I can understand trying to avoid the challenge, especially now that I'm one of six working at it. But this year the club has a new president who isn't satisfied with just signing off and being responsible for who-knows-what. The original list is 4 pages. I'm betting on 8 to 10 once it's corrected.

So we're all learning. Today will be day 2 for us. Wish us luck.

Take mandrels. Do you know what one is? I didn't. I'm still not sure I could point to one and name it. One spot on the list just says we have four of them. Other spots on the list breaks them down into one each in four different categories. All of those entries are scattered over three pages. Somehow we have to locate all the mandrels at once, sort them out, and find out whether we have 4, or 4 unspecified plus four highly differentiated ones. Maybe something altogether different. I'm betting on the latter. That's how it's been going.

That may be the easy part. When we're done, there will be the data entry for somebody else to do, trying to read our notes, figuring out when we are duplicating each other, and putting everything in some kind of sensible order. After all, this will have to be done again next year.

Poor whoever they are.

At least some of the folks doing inventory this year actually know what stuff is. Another woman and I were the ones who knew just enough at the start of the process to count coffee pots, chairs and stools (5 kinds), cameras in the security system, microwave and fridge, kilns, crock pots (not for food), tables - assorted by length. At least those needed to be counted too, so we were still some help.

But again, nothing matches the list, or when it does, like the one small fridge, got listed without the serial number. There is a definite column on the list for serial numbers. Good luck!

The old sheet said we had one large and one small coffee pot. After searching and much discussion, we decided a large coffee pot should be something like a 30-cup unit, the kind of thing one sets up for club meetings. Not one of the 3 12-cup  units qualifies. We're not sure the third one even works, but that's not a question for this count.

The two listed shop vacs turned into three, only one being wet/dry, and no upright vacuum was found. Three kilns became 4, 3 crock pots became 2. A whole lot of acetylene tank accessories came up missing, until one of the locked cabinets got opened, giving us a higher count of many things I can't remember the name for. Oh wait, one was called a "third hand": how do you forget that? And where can I get one?

What? Not that kind of hand?

We had 1 large and 1 small vise listed on one page. Another listed a standard vise - whatever the heck we decide that is - plus one swivel vise and one jeweler's vise. As we were getting ready to call it a day yesterday but nowhere near thinking we had any real answers for most of the questions (nevermind understanding the questions!) we located three - oops, four - vises attached to tables, 13 hanging on a rack, three different kinds hiding in various cabinets, several items with some clamping capability but likely called something completely different due to their specialized use....

Uff Da!

I do recognize some tools. We have something like 97 assorted drill bits. We found one drill, not cordless. I guess there weren't enough funds in the club back when that got purchased. I can tell a hacksaw from a coping saw, although there was much discussion about how exactly those were different from jewelry saws. There were no actual blades in the latter, so I'm still left clueless as to which is what. I can tell a screwdriver, and can also tell you nobody cared to count how many were flat bladed and how many phillips. You'd think hammers would be easy too, but it seems we have rawhide, wood, and funny rounded-pointed kinds in either wood or plastic with a different kind of name that I can't remember but which are used to shape metal by pounding it into a rounded hollow in a metal cubic form. Oh, and one short sledge hammer.

If you remember the rock hammer from "Shawshank Redemption", well, there was nothing like that in all the hammers. Apparently they are more useful in breaking out of prison than working on actual rocks.

So now it's time to get dressed, grab lunch, and head out for another day of... uh... education? Happy Valentines Day! How are you spending yours?

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