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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).

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Monday, August 22, 2016

I can see clearly now, the schmutz is gone

I kept having friends complain about the state of my glasses and wondering how I could see anything.  The problem was that I didn't have time to get new ones and I don't really enjoy doing all that anyway so I kept putting it off.

The problem was this:

 

Part of my reason for not moving ahead was that I wanted to know what had happened to cause this.  I have never had this problem before and didn't want to spend good money and have it happen again.

The glasses were bought at Costco. When I went there and asked the guy why this had happened he said it was because I probably sweat on them and it destroyed the coatings.  Look, I work hard as a binder and conservator but I don't really sweat much in doing the work.  I don't like to turn the A/C on until it gets to about 80 or so but still I'm not sweating.

I have, in my life, done real work where I did sweat and my glasses didn't react this way.  One summer I repaired a pier on the Seattle waterfront.  Replacing the flooring of a parking area with pieces of 12" x 16" x 10 foot long pieces of wood that had to be cut with a chain saw to fit.  It was fun.  The only concern was falling into the water 30 feet below but at that point in my life that would have just been a big laugh.  

I knocked out the old pieces, dropping them into the water below, cut replacement pieces with the chain saw, placed them and then used spikes to hold them in place before applying asphalt over the top.  It was really fun, beautiful weather and tourists watching from the ferry terminal on the next pier over made me want to give them a bit of a show.

The point is that I sweated a lot and still didn't have this happen to my glasses.

So, I'm in Seattle getting my eyes checked and asked the guy why it happened.  His response was, "Do you work with chemicals?  The fumes can cause this to happen."

AHA!  That actually makes sense. But I didn't know that chemical fumes could cause that kind of damage to lenses.


I don't have a fume hood, instead I have a portable device that sucks air away from what I'm working on and filters it.  Sometimes I'll just work outside, there's no one within a hundred yards of where I'm working so I don't think I'm hurting anyone.  Still this exposes my glasses to more fumes than if I had a hood.  (Though I should say I'm not using anything that's crazily toxic.)

But mainly, I'm going to be using my old glasses for this kind of work.  And keeping my new ones away from the  chemicals.  Hopefully they'll last longer that way. 

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