Nobody’s perfect. Not even a perfect gent.

In many hardwoods there are trees that grow straight and tall and their grain is perfect and when finished it is frankly boring.

The hardwoods that are beautiful are those with a distinctive and interesting grain. Bird’s eye maple. Curly maple. Walnut and elm burl. It is not by accident that these hardwoods with beautiful figuring in their grain are highly prized. But why aren’t they all like that?

Nobody absolutely for sure knows what causes Bird’s eye Maple or curly maple. It is apparently either a genetic defect or a infection of some kind or another or even possibly certain types of minerals in the soil that causes that figure in the wood and nobody can really tell whether it’s going to be one tree or the next. It is almost exclusively by accident that people find curly Maple or bird’s eye maple.
Even a wood which is generally considered more structural like oak or elm can have this effect, which is called chatoyance, and only a really good sawyer can identify and accentuate it.

Spalting is another process that happens to a variety of hardwoods and it is caused by a type of fungus that grows inside the living tree. The effect in the grain pattern is stunning. Dense hardwoods like Walnut and elm can develop a burl which is again caused by either a genetic defect or a parasite or infection that causes an unusual production of xylem and makes the beautiful flame figure prized by gunstock makers and furniture makers alike.

It is the nature of human beings to be imperfect. Those who are merely imperfect are probably the very best of us. Most of the rest of us are probably just broken. Some, if not all of us, are badly broken and more than just a few are severely broken.

They merely imperfect people probably completely understand their imperfection. Like straight grained wood they are strong sturdy and boring. On the other hand The most severely broken do not or will not accept their brokenness.

That brokenness is not necesarily a curse nor does it have to be a problem. It can be that the defect in a human being is the feature that is found to be beautiful like the grain in an expensive wood.

Sometimes that imperfection might act as a lens to focus or to accentuate a special ability. And this gives us artists. Gifted craftsman. Inspired scientists. Our lives, and in fact the human condition in general, are improved by the existence of those people. People who create beautiful art and design. People who invent and improve and accentuate the mechanisms of our lives, industrially, commercially, medically, agriculturally.

This is of course not always the case. There are a lot of people who’s brokenness leads them to destroy or create ugliness or worst of all to break other people the same way they are broken. In the same way that you would value a piece of wood from a tree that had one of the diseases that caused that beautiful grain, you would prune or cut down a tree whose very nature was twisted and rotten, and which could not be saved. Especially if it’s disease was likely to spread to other trees.

One of the hallmarks of good brokenness versus bad brokenness is self-awareness. The “tell” so to speak, seems to be a vehement denial of the mere suggestion that anything could be wrong with that individual.

As a discernment tool, this is not 100% accurate; there are perfectly decent people incapable of accepting the fact that they’re fucked up as Chinese algebra, just as much as there are total sociopaths that feel the same way. Likewise there are people who think they’re severely fucked who’s only infirmity is an ability to deal with other people.

But it is a relatively safe bet that if you do not accept the fact that you are messed up you are some of the worst kind of messed up.

Spinning wheels got to go round.

Spinning hand wheels for 3 days has actually got my biceps sore. Prepping a pair of molds for an injection molding product and the person who cut the core and cavity didn’t machine the outside of the mold with the same care as the inside. Consequently .020″ had to be removed from two cavities and two cores simultaneously, a 5-in thick block of steel when all assembled that has to be perfect so it has to be ground.

The grinder only removes about .0005″ per pass. The wheel is a half inch thick with .050 stepover each stroke. The feed is completely manual on this machine.

So cycle the table left to right, and back. This is just over a full revolution of the handwheel with the left hand. Then index over .050″.

Thats 100 cycles to remove .0005″.
I need to remove .020. So i have to repeat this 40 times.

That’s 4,000 repetitions. It’s not hard, the machine is doing the work. It’s repetetive and tedious.

And now i have to do the other three sides. So 16,000 repetitions.

But when i get done, they are perfect.

Then two pieces, the cavities, were left .250″ tall, so i have to run these on the bridgeport. Thank G-d it has power feed. Still, three passes ( since i don’t have a 5″ wide cutter and wouldnt want to swing one in a btidgeport anyway)at .010 each means 75 passes back and forth total, and did i mention the parts had to be fixtured perfectly flat? It took as long to set up each one as to cut it, and that was a half day per part.

The surface grinder is our “newest” tool, i believe it is from 1974. It is well made and was carefully kept.

The bridgeport i generally choose to use is apparently a 1956. It is clean and well kept, and i believe it was a special order since it has black dials instead of the (expected) chrome.

The fact that i am able to coax 50-70 year old machinery into doing this quality of work is impressive- but it’s all the machines, not me.

You can still buy machines of this quality, and some are even American made.

The men who made these machines, well, those are getting hard to come by. Oh, there are some. There are driven, hardworking people in each generation. But that’s not the money bet anymore.

I got your sacred cow right here.

All I ever needed to know about not acquiring My sociopolitical views from authors I learned from Terry Pratchett. This will ruffle a few feathers I’m sure and I don’t care because it’s true. Literally every value that Pratchett expounds on in his writing is wrong headed and stupid. Let’s start out with a couple simple examples shall we?

Men are essentially stupid and ruin everything. One need look no further than the Tower of art to make it very clear that all of the things that men get up to are bad and dumb and cause damage to the world and only by keeping those men under control is the world prevented from destruction.

Women are essentially good and do all of the important good things in the world. One need look no further than the witches of discworld to understand that women who are essentially whores like Mrs ogg are important for everything and without which nothing would ever get done. Women who are essentially hatchet-faced harpies like granny weatherwax are and should be the most important beings on the planet and if they are mean to you you deserve it. The gods are all worthless and play games with the lives of humans unnecessarily – this begins in the color of magic and is a recurrent theme throughout the series. The best thing to happen to criminality is having it be regulated and controlled by the government, preferably by a tyrant whose word is law and cannot be disobeyed. And government-controlled criminality is not only important but vital to the piece of a Nation. One need only to look as far as the thieves guild the assassin’s guild the musician’s guild and all of the others that are implied but never mentioned, all being essentially controlled by a single man who is all powerful.

Banking is a vital and important institution which cannot rely on a gold standard or in fact any standard but bullshit. And the postal service if run by the right kind of shyster is the most valuable asset in the land. It is not by accident that Pratchett puts a con man in charge of those two institutions.

Captain carrot the only real monarch is the only good kind of monarch, the kind that is dumb and does a menial task. the only meaningful police leader is one who is arrow straight but under control of his government and his wife. What color is the sky on your planet Terry?

Sex is indistinguishable in the underclasses (dwarves) and the big hulking muscular minorities (trolls) our only good for grunt work and only develop intelligence under very specific circumstances. Jesus that’s the klan playbook.

Terry was a brilliant wordsmith. He was more than exceptional at developing his characters and giving the stories a connection and continuity and appeal to the reader’s emotions. The books are a set piece that may never be equaled or challenged. But God forbid you start taking sociopolitical advice from this man because he is as obtuse as it is possible to be.

Yet another person who should have listened to Samuel Goldwyn, to whom this quote is most often attributed

“Mr. Goldwyn,” he said, “this is a wonderful opportunity to point out labor’s battle against capitalism. You have a chance here to bring a great message to the people.”

Goldwyn looked at him. “Messages, messages,” he said. “From Western Union you get messages. From me you get pictures.”

« Prev - Next »