/ub/ - Überhengst

Becoming better

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Tree Planting
Does anyone have any advice for someone considering doing tree planting as a summer job?

To help get more /fit/, and to avoid spending 3-4 hours on a bus every day commuting, I was thinking of doing some tree planting work this summer. Has anyone done this kind of work here before? Do you have anything to tell me that I could use? Some bits of information you wish you knew before you started tree planting?

As far as I understand it, I'll be basically living in a camp with food and beds provided, working five or six days a week. I expect that any clothing I bring will end up permanently ruined with all the dirt that'll be embedded in it, so that's not a big issue. What I'm really unsure of is what kind of equipment to bring. Specifically, what kinds of clothing I should bring for being out working in all weather for a few months at a time.

I'd also like to know more about what kind of fitness I should be aiming towards. I'm trying to work on doing squats and push-ups, with a couple of daily jogs to help build up endurance. I'm sure the work is going to be heavy and brutal, but doing some pre-training should help take some of the edge off of that adjustment period.

The place I'm looking at applying to has women in all their promotional photos. Normally, that would be a sign that they're in full diversity mode, so straight cis white men need not apply, but in this case my interpretation is that the work is easy enough for even women to do it.

I think I might need to get new shoes, since my old hiking shoes have a hold in the leather. They're fine otherwise, but they'd leak. Similarly, I wear glasses, so an extra pair, and making sure that they're a kind that stays on my face very well despite leaning forward a lot, would be good.

I also have an insulated vest and zipper-sweater that I don't mind sacrificing for the sake of warmth.

I've done wearhouse work with plenty of heavy lifting before, map-making field courses that lasted for 2 weeks, have been acclimated to 14-hour days where I got up at 5:30 (but only for academic work rather than physical work), and I know that I'm the kind of person who reflexively helps the group load or unload equipment when needed.

Part of me says that I'm pretty well prepared, but another part of me sees this kind of work as something that's far enough away from what I'm familiar with that I don't know what to expect or how well I'll be able to weather it. I don't want to go there prepared for every kind of weather except for one type, and then only have that weather happen to me all day. I also don't want to run into a mistake like ruining my glasses and not being able to have a second pair that I can use.
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Weird stuff has happened in the interim.

This job didn't turn out for a few reasons.

I ended up getting a part time job in tree removal. Then, I got a job for the rest of the week in construction, doing house framing. Now, the construction job wants me there full time, so I'm going to try to withdraw from the tree removal job without just giving a hard two weeks notice and leaving them high and dry on the busy days.

I'm getting up super early for these labour jobs, and things are going alright so far.
I was just blogposting in my head to continue this story, and wow this time has been more interesting than I thought. I started to get more elaborate with thinking about this, and realized that I'd be writing a small novel if I blogposted to a comfortable extent for how chatty I'm feeling right this minute.

Suffice it to say, things are going well, I think.

Some stuff I know is almost entirely safe (the worst likely injury is bruising my ribs, not actually falling through the floor and possibly breaking my neck, and it'd be easy for me to catch myself and pull myself up or get help from the multiple guys nearby), some stuff is especially exhausting or strenuous (You have multiple guys working together to regularly lift stuff because it's way too much for one person to be able to sustainably strain at all day. When you don't have the conditioning, you only have so many lifts in you that you can do at maximum strain and effort otherwise your body gives out for the day and you can only put out what feels like 40-60% of your strength output at best). I've only gotten injuries I consider truly memorable twice, and neither of them did anything more than slow me down for a couple of days, though I acknowledge that it could have potentially been extremely bad for me. One of those injuries did take me out of work because of how much it slowed me down, and it was an adventure all it's own. The larger splinters are actually oddly easier to deal with than the super tiny ones that are so small you can't see them or even grab them with your teeth. You just pull the wood out from underneath the skin glove, gently massage the area for a few seconds to make sure you get all the wood out, and then get back to work. It only rarely actually bleeds much, so slapping a little ointment and a bandage on it for medium-bad splinters is usually good enough to make sure it doesn't get too dirty from rubbing the painfully raw skin against more pointy wood. I am only required to do tasks wherein I legitimately fear for my life or just have the potential risk of death if you're incautious enough to be incompetent (for big machine operation or balance reasons) occasionally. Dealing with the hottest parts of a heat wave summer (42 degrees celcius after humidity is taken into account, no clouds in the sky and no wind while next to a pond. You know those mini camp-coolers that carry), and the coldest parts of unusually hostile winters (I remember working at -32 celcius after wind chill, but I also remember workdays literally being cancelled on around 3 occasions, at -36 or below. Oh, you can't wear mittens or thick gloves either, you need the dexterity. The gloves also get very wet from getting snow on them and having the snow melt from your hand heat, so getting the basic winter work gloves from costco that have a durable and warmer grip coating on them means that they'll get wet over time, won't dry out because of the material and how the glove is made, and then you'll have to go to subzero temperatures wearing wet gloves that are actively sucking your heat out and are being further chilled by strong gusts of wind wooshing by.). This last year's seasons were much more mild than last year's, so it looks like I got through a tougher trial by fire than most people get. Getting occasional rain days at more-or-less unpredictable occasions is a pretty fun and spontaneous surprise. The morning commute is also early enough to avoid almost all traffic. I'm currently doing my normal work and getting used to sorta-training a volunteer student from a nearby high school. I'm developing my ability to see, organize, and communicate appropriate tasks that allow for as close to a reasonable workflow as possible while also trying to help manage and maximize their growth and learning at these early stages of doing this kind of work. I'm one of the most junior employees (who stuck around), so they're probably thinking that it's either the case that I've been thinking of the learning/teaching someone from ground zero more recently, or a case of sending the newer guy out to sacrifice a chunk of his less valuable labour instead of a chunk of the more valuable labour of the other guys. Even if it's the second reason, I'm still provided the exciting opportunity to be practicing what I consider to be a major skill. One of the perks of the job is that I can use it as an opportunity to keep learning about other things. I believe the book discussion threads on here were of particular inspiration to go get some history and philosophy books and audiobooks to listen to, and it's been satisfying to be going through them.
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Only one person, who is a roommate of one of the regular guys and already has experience in a physical trades job (so you expect him to be used to non-office or mc-job style work), has started since I started and actually stuck around for more than a couple months. Only one person since then who has become a regular employee. That's of our specific trade in the project we're working on, and we're not super huge. There are a couple of people who either worked here for a few months while searching for another job in their more specific field or other very respectable reason. I'm... somewhat proud of being one of the few who's lasting this long, but honestly I'm just mostly baffled at people bouncing. This legitimately doesn't feel any harder than anything else I've worked at over the years. Even with what can feel like a packed week afterwards, it still feels like I'm not doing enough and not getting enough progress done on my various life goals or big subjects that I've been meaning to learn more about and act on. I do at least feel more free and able to do something about my personal life goals than before, even if the general demoralizing effects from world events are still overwhelming. You're always building and honing your tools for getting past that, right?

Most of my time is, in some sense, mostly spent in the respect of personal development or community/relationship contribution, and I think that that conceptualising things in these general categories has been a fantastic contributor to my general wellbeing.

...I think this "I'll just keep things quick and short by not mentioning specific work stories" plan is clearly not working out that well, and I don't want to wallow in this if it's going to be annoying. It just seemed appropriate to give an update to the thread, and also appropriate to the theme of the board.