This has comments on my writing and reading. Primarily about Mycroft Holmes and stories involving him. Secondarily about whatever I'm reading at the moment.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
You know that perfection often exceeds our capabilities. We may strive for it, but we'll invariably slip just a little bit. I'm told that the aim of a marksman will jiggle a little with each heartbeat. The olympic competitors learn to slow the heart and time the shot in between beats.
I found myself with a bit of woodworking that needed doing. Keeping the saw blade on the line is nontrivial. The longer the cut the more likely you'll grow a little tired or your hand will shake a bit.
You have to tolerate small errors that detract from perfection.
Or know how to hide them: If you look at the woodwork in your house, you'll see the boards do not line up perfectly. They are offset by about a 16th of an inch. The eye will see every tiny discrepancy, but the offset will hide smaller variations.
I had a task which had me flummoxed. I had a piece of plywood that needed to be cut with a four-inch radius on two corners and a couple uber straight runs of several feet. I have a circular saw and a saber saw, but I lacked confidence in my skills.
So, I went to my neighbor who is an expert woodworker. While I looked on and helped him, he cut the plywood. And he did a great job. But it wasn't perfect.
This showed me something: He used the same tools I had and it wasn't perfect. It was more than good enough. That 64nd of an inch where he drifted from the line is nicely hidden by a bit of trim.
I learned that I'll tolerate errors when someone else does the work, that I won't tolerate when I do it myself. The standard of "perfection" is higher when I do something myself.
It is lower when I ask a favor from a friend.
And when I hire work from an expert, he's must know the craft well enough to hide the inevitable imperfections.