Today’s Math Lesson

Math lesson for November 20th

If severity of mistake + degrees of pissed off = Force

Then  Force + Velocity + Concrete = Need for a new wooden rule

wood rule

The fact we’ve all come to understand is that mistakes do happen.  This particular one was on a relatively simple shelving project, where there was no plausible reason for such a simple mistake in measurement.  A relatively simple project with a relatively simple mistake that cost HOURS of time!  There in lies the math for substantial frustration.

The only people that don’t make any mistakes are those that don’t do anything (commonly referred to as liberals)  The more you do in a day the more chances of making a mistake – as well as increasing your odds of doing something right!

The main issue with mistakes is how you handle the situation.  Here’s the breakdown:

*choose to ignore it (the -it’s good enough syndrome)

*get pissed off – get over it – figure out the best way to fix it (usually this means start over and make a new piece)

*suppress or hide the anger for as long as you can – then explode elsewhere (the – I’m better than you syndrome)  I had a fellow tag on to my golf round a few years back. He seemed nice enough as we golfed, and I had a really nice round going.  On our third hole I shanked one into the water, the worst shot of the day which ruined my chances of a great score.  I followed it with a single, muffled profane word.  He turned and proudly proclaimed he had decided his game wasn’t worth using profane words. I turned to him and replied “Well my game isn’t good and I swear plenty – you must really suck!”

I explained to wife, who was helping at the time, that I could have sacrificed a much more expensive piece of equipment.  As my old weathered rule lay in it’s vulnerable state on the floor, she was neither buying nor impressed.  In my defense I relayed the story of the old cabinet maker I worked with on my first job.

We were assembling a vanity and top we had made at the shop.  In order to attach the top he had to crawl into the cabinet upside down shoving his elbows in tight to make it in.  He then had to attach two L brackets without adequate work space or light.  I heard a screw hit the cabinet bottom a few times.  Then the loud clank of the L bracket hitting the bottom.  He crawled out of the cabinet, turned over to his belly to brush together the bracket and screws, then to his back again rocking side to side as he slithered back in for another try.  Each time a screw hit the bottom it was followed by a groan.  Each ‘clink’ brought a louder and more animated groan. When the last L bracket hit the bottom an exasperated groan came from the cabinet “That’s IT!!”  Ed’s ‘used to be white’ sneakers flailed back and forth, trying to gain purchase but going nowhere.  He managed to get an elbow free of the cabinet, then a hand, which he used to pull against the cabinet.  Feet still flailing.  He finally managed to get out of the opening, his hair looking like Albert Einstein, eyes lit on fire.  As he stood bent over slightly he gave a grunt and growl reminiscent of  an olympic weight lifter ready to squat 600 pounds.  He then turned to the north wall and heaved his 25′ stanley tape measure with all the might he could muster against the concrete wall 30′ away.  (actually 31’6″ – I used the remnants of the tape to measure it- pretty impressive for an old man, I thought)  With that he left for the day.


We expect things to go according to plan.  When they don’t, frustration can take hold.  No matter how experienced we are, no matter how well we plan, things don’t always go our way.

Momentary lapses in the heat of the battle.

Experience is not making mistakes you didn’t realize you didn’t make.

I never seem to eliminate mistakes, but maybe make a few less, and a bit less costly.

So I explained to my wife that I actually saved by sacrificing the old ruler that needed replacing anyway.

She still wasn’t buying.


Until next Friday morning – take five!


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