Episode #737

March 18, 2023

I have always tried to think a project through from beginning to end.
I almost always do a mental walk through and in-depth research to nail down the details. Failure to do so always has consequences.

When Paula and I bought our house there was one unsatisfactory feature of the house. The master bathroom had a tub without a shower. In fact, the tub had not been used in years. When I turned on the tub water it ran brown. A shower could not be added because the tub sat under the low slope of a dormer roof.

We remodeled the bathroom shortly after we moved in. The result was beautiful. After gutting the room a walk-in shower was built on the high side of the room and a new vanity was installed on the low dormer side. We have enjoyed the room for many years now.

A few months ago we realized that the shower drain grate was not removable. The tile man had grouted the grate into the tile. I called the contractor for advice on how to remove the grate so we could clean under it.
He said, “Just use a utility knife to cut along the edge of the grate.”

My utility knife would not penetrate the grout. The grate was sealed solid with sand and cement grout.

I determined to cut the grout away to remove the grate. I jumped to the conclusion that a Dremel was the right tool for the job. This is where the project first went wrong. I did not think it through.  I acted emotionally. The idea seemed good to me because I had always wanted a rotary Dremel tool, not because it was the best tool for the job.

After purchasing the Dremel and ceramic cutting bits I made my second mistake. I used a loose fitting sawdust mask while cutting the grout and tile which surrounded the grate. This grate is six feet long and the Dremel required me to work close to the ground with my face right next to the cutting point. I was breathing silica crystal dust for hours without even knowing it.

Had I researched the project I would have learned a safer method of releasing the shower grate. Using an oscillating saw would have quickened the job and kept my face farther away. I already own an oscillating saw. Wetting the work space would have kept the dust down. After all, I was in a shower. Wearing a respirator mask would have protected my lungs. I also own a respirator. So much for 20-20 hindsight.

A day after the project I developed a cough. Exposure to crystal silica dust can be very damaging to the lungs. A week later I contracted a respiratory flu which made the cough severe. I recovered from the flu, but the cough persisted. It has been several months and only slowly, very slowly, has the cough lessened. Luckily my lungs are 90% better.

I may have dodged a bullet with this mild case of silicosis, but the consequences might be more severe next time. The experience has reminded me that failing to do a mental walk through and in-depth research to nail down the details of a project always has consequences.


“Skydivers Know Why Birds Sing” by Ricki T Thues is now available on Amazon.
It is a Love story of Rick and Paula Thues and their 35 years of Skydiving.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.

Follow Ricki T Thues on Amazon HERE.

“Technically Human” by Ricki T Thues, the iMentor, is available on Amazon.
It is a compilation of selected episodes from this bLog which tell the story of Humanity through the eyes of the iMentor.

Click HERE to buy the paperback or Kindle ebook at Amazon.
The ebook version of “Technically Human” is also available on Kobo. Click HERE.
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The “Technically Human” ebook is also available on Apple Books . Click HERE.




  1. Victor Spindler March 17, 2023
  2. Dan'l March 17, 2023
  3. Carol+Ross March 18, 2023
  4. Tom Mills March 20, 2023
    • Rick Thues March 20, 2023
  5. Jeff Laun March 23, 2023

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