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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pre Production

For about 20 years of my work life I was in a department that was defined as a preproduction group.  The work done by the different sections within the group prepared the artwork used to image circuit boards.  Factually, I worked in this type of work for around a total of 25 years for three different employers.

Production was considered the driving force for getting the artwork made to the highest quality possible.  When I first started in the circuit board work it was actually in the integrated circuitry chip imaging process.  The next job in a preproduction setting was working as a touchup artist working on the phototools.  With opaque ink, a sable brush and an exacto knife the tools were prepared for layup and eventually the tools sent to the imaging areas.

The size of the defects that the touchup folks were to correct were at times only about .001" of an inch.  That was an exacting talent to remove small specks or cover pinholes in the circuits.  This work was done for many years perched on a stool looking through bifocal microscopes.  In later years more of the work could be done on computers leaving the phototools requiring almost no touchup.  Machines would scan the phototool for defects and mark for final touchup.  The circuit board industry has mostly moved out of the US.

A thousandth of an inch is equal to about 5 human hairs.  That is small.  I am so glad I do not have to do anything that accurate any more.  I missed being exposed to and learning the technology advances through the years.  Other than that, I have not missed working outside the home.

But it bothers me that so many people complain that me and others like me are living off the government.  I thought all those years of work where I was building phototools to be used in the production of everything from rockets, radios, computers, data servers, satellites to CT scanners that I was helping build a future for our nation.  I was helping build the things soldiers used to make this land free.  I was working sometimes 13 days straight with only one day off to meet production requirements for IBM, Burroughs, Intel, Schlumberger, AT&T, Texas Instruments and Nortel just to name a few.

Now I read posts on Facebook about all the lazy people cashing in on today's hardworking folks.  Yes, I draw a Social Security check and I use Medicare.  I paid FICA taxes, Medicare taxes and federal income taxes that help support the needs of the Greatest Generation, Gen X and what ever the heck folks in their 20's and 30's are now.

So while I did not report to work for a paycheck today I did clean my own home.  Vacuumed leaves for 3 hours and dug up weeds in a couple of flower beds.  No, it is not paying a dime in taxes to have me doing these things, I was still productive.  I am realizing all those years of supporting other folks needs by working and paying taxes were my preproduction years of a time when someone else is footing the bills for me.  Thanks for taking care of me.  It was my honor to have cared for your needs.
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