In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Thin Mustaches | Main | The Barriers Crumble »

April 02, 2007

Taking Pains

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Sloppy is easy. Craftsmanship and taking pains have to be learned from a mentor or from bitter experience.

When I was young my father and grandfather did small-scale woodworking projects. I saw that they took care in measuring and sawing, etc., but I lacked coordination and patience, never rising above wood-butcher status.

I didn't learn serious craftsmanship until I started programming computers. If a program isn't properly constructed, it won't run. And even if it runs, it can be a nightmare to maintain if it isn't well organized and documented.

I witnessed this on a more mundane level last week when I was keeping an eye on the moving crew packing up the California house for our move to Seattle.

The moving company supplied them boxes of different sizes along with rolls of sticky tape and semi-sticky sheets of wrapping plastic. One item they had lots of was sheets of packing paper -- a newsprint-like material measuring a little more than two feet square.

They went through lots of that paper. In many cases it was used simply as filler material, padding the inside of a box so that the contents wouldn't shift. For fragile objects such as glasses and china, each piece was wrapped, sometimes quite thickly.

The crew worked steadily. Little waste motion, yet attention being given to each object while being wrapped and placed in the shipping box.

That was last week. Now I'm having to reverse the process as I unpack.

After cutting open the top of a box I have to remove and carefully unfold each piece of packing paper. Many sheets are simply padding; nevertheless they have to be checked for objects and then piled flat for later recycling. Presently the basement contains four or five piles of paper that are nearly two feet high each.

I've found myself mimicking the moving crew's deliberate, steady pace. Yes, I could rip that paper off much faster and cram it into empty boxes. But items might get lost if I was that sloppy, and that wouldn't be good.

Reminds me of computer programming. And doubtless other tasks such as automobile repair and hanging wallpaper. Fear of trouble creates discipline.



posted by Donald at April 2, 2007


In a description for a job opening that I placed on employment website I said "you won't be hired for your brilliant portfolio, but if you your best skill is meticulous attention to detail, welcome".

Posted by: Tatyana on April 3, 2007 7:05 AM

And that is exactly what exhausts me about unpacking. It is the hauling of endless bags of wrapping paper and boxes somewhere else to be disposed of. Getting the packing materials out of the house is as time consuming as unpacking the goods!

Posted by: annette on April 3, 2007 8:49 AM

Whatever the task at hand, if I do it carefully and well, more often than not I'll gradually start enjoying it. Hasty and sloppy, I quickly start to hate it.

Posted by: Bill on April 3, 2007 10:05 AM

I worked with a moving crew for a time - the lifting work is the least of it as you observe here. I was impressed with one crew member - a guy who could pack the van with incredible organization and economy. As America obsesses about singers and drug dealers (I'm thinking of HBO's series) it is easy to forget the huge workforce in America that uses muscle during the workday; our packing and trucking and delivery workforce is amazing; and the neat, colorful organization of products - and their abundance - displayed in stores fills me with pride (I know, it can be drudgery to stock shelves - I 've done a fair amount of it myself) that America can pull it together like this.

Posted by: Doug Anderson on April 3, 2007 10:25 AM

An update on the job applicants' evaluation: just got an e-mail from one candidate who said "I thank you for your time, but I think it would be best for the both of us not to have me scheduled for the interview."
He's probably right...I don't need atrchitects in my team; careful "packers" preferred.

Bill, you sound incredibly sexy. You must have packs of women chasing you.

Posted by: Tatyana on April 3, 2007 11:30 AM

Has to read "starchitects". Sorry.

Posted by: Tatyana on April 3, 2007 1:14 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?