Springtime in plastic

Posted on Apr 06 2018


Springtime means spring cleaning, and this applies to the SOHO (small office, home office) setting as well as the normal household realm. Some might even say that a workspace is a reflection of its owner, so springtime is a good opportunity to refresh this notion.

While I was tidying up for spring I also welcomed a new piece of equipment to my workspace.

The new equipment is a laminating machine. These are common enough items, but, just so nobody feels cheated, I’ll note that a laminating machine is an appliance that uses heat to sandwich sheets of paper into a protective covering of transparent plastic.

I’m a real geek for laminated “cheat sheets,” which are notes, references, and checklists for various things. For years, well, make that decades, I used to drop my laminating chores off at a copy center, paying a buck or two per page to have them apply that fantastic plastic.

Those costs added up to more than mere beer money over the years, but I didn’t want to mess with it myself, nor did I want to figure out how to shoehorn another device into my office space.

But I recently enlarged the surface area of my workspace. It’s a law of physics that the amount of equipment in any place must expand to fill any available area. In order to preserve this equilibrium I had to buy something.

I researched small laminating machines. I found that $50 would easily cover not only a machine but also 100 plastic sheets to go along with it. I figured this was probably too good to be true, but curiosity got the better of me and I took the plunge.

Well, gee, that was painless. The machine proved easy to use and produced results every bit as good as the copy center’s machine did.

This was a good excuse to update some cheat sheets. I went on a laminating binge. I’ve done about 60 sheets so far. Financially then, I’m already ahead of the game. From here on out it’s gravy.

Now that I’m a laminating machine owner, with all the rights and privileges thereunto, I’ll mention a couple of things.

The plastic laminating sheets seem to come in two common thicknesses: 3 mil and 5 mil. There are 1,000 mils to an inch, so, well, now you know. But, here, it’s the comparative, not absolute, concept that’s relevant. The point is that 5 mil is thicker than 3 mil, and I’ve found that 5 mil is sturdier and produces a more likable result.

A stack of 100 such sheets is only an inch thick but it’s heavy. The sheets on the bottom are bearing a dead load from their upstairs neighbors. Any crimps or wrinkles might get pressed into fossil-like permanence. With this in mind, I don’t want to run the risk of storing them on any surface that isn’t flat, hard, and reasonably well-protected. So, while the laminating machine is small, easily unplugged, and easily stashed away, the plastic sheets require a dedicated chunk of shelf space.

That might sound a little over-analytical to some folks, but anyone with scars in the SOHO trenches knows that progress is not easily won. Overall, I’d say that at least 20 percent of my office supplies have died in garrison. Envelopes seal themselves from humidity. Writable CDs and DVDs go bad. Stationery gets creased, splashed with coffee, or becomes the favored haunt of an incontinent gecko. Pens dry up.

But that’s just how it is. I’d rather be caught long than caught short, and I’d rather stock up when stuff is on sale than buy piecemeal quantities in a last-minute hurry. That’s worse than wasteful. It’s just plain demoralizing.

While I was doing my SOHO spring cleaning I came across a boxed-up photo printer. I had purged a couple of others a long time ago, but this one managed to hide. Well, out it went. For my low utilization, photo printers never really made sense, so, unlike the laminating realm, this is one task I’m still going to take to the store.

But I can mix one with the other now. The next time I have photos printed I’m not going to frame them. No, I’m just going to laminate them and then thumb-tack them to my bulletin board.

My wife told me this is low-brow, cheesy, and totally unacceptable.

Hey, just my style! Yes, it’s a true reflection of me, indeed. Ain’t SOHO grand?

Ed Stephens Jr. | Special to the Saipan Tribune
Visit Ed Stephens Jr. at EdStephensJr.com. His column runs every Friday.

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