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mikbone

Perhaps one of the greatest lessons in my life.

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Durnik was an ordinary-looking man with plan brown hair and a plain face, ruddy from the heat of his forge.  He was neither tall nor short, nor was he thin or stout. He was sober and quiet, and like most men who follow his trade, he was enormously strong. He wore a rough leather jerkin and an apron of the same material.  Both were spotted with burns from the sparks which flew from his forge.  He also wore tight-fitting hose and soft leather boots as was the custom in that part of Sendaria.  At first Durnik’s only words to Garion were warnings to keep his fingers away from the forge and the glowing metal which came from it.  In time, however, he and the boy became friends, and he spoke more frequently. 

"Always finish what you set your hand to," he would advise.  "It's bad for the iron if you set it aside and then take it back to the fire more than is needful."

"Why is that?" Garion would ask.

Durnik would shrug.  "It just is."

"Always do the very best job you can," he said on another occasion as he put a last few finishing touches with a file on the metal parts of a wagon tongue he was repairing.

"But that piece goes underneath," Garion said. "No-one will ever see it."

"But I know it's there," Durnik said, still smoothing the metal. "If it isn't done as well as I can do it, I'll be ashamed every time I see this wagon go by - and I'll see the wagon every day!"

And so it went. Without even intending to, Durnik instructed the small boy in those solid Sendarian virtues of work, thrift, sobriety, good manners, and practicality which formed the backbone of the society.

 

From David Eddings, Pawn of Prophecy.

We took the family to Utah from California for an elder daughter's wedding.  During the trip (8 people squished into the cab of a Ford F-150), we wanted to listen to an audiobook, so I picked this book (which I remember fondly enjoying in my youth).

After we listened, I stopped the recording and we spoke about this passage at length.  It was then that I realized that this single concept had left an indelible mark upon my life. 

I had read this book probably when I was 14 and remembered the passage clearly as if I had just read it.  When we finally arrived in Utah, I saw my twin brother and spoke to him about the book as well.  I commented about how much I respected the character Durnik.  His first comment was...  the piece that goes underneath, right?  

I was like, "YES! Why don't people get this?!"

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About 10-15 years ago I wanted to get a new couch for the living room.  We went to a couple of furniture stores in our town of 100K people and couldn't find anything acceptable.  For some reason, we went into a La-Z-Boy store.  Which was probably the worst of the lot.

I asked the salesperson if they had any styles of furniture that were made out of hardwoods.  She straight-faced replied, "yes they are all made with hardwood."

I then turned over a recliner and pointed out that every piece of visible wood was actually particleboard.  

She corrected me and assured me that their particleboard contained hardwoods.

We left the store without further discussion.  

https://furnitureblog.simplicitysofas.com/blog/what-do-furniture-companies-mean-when-they-say-their-products-have-hardwood-solids/

Edited by mikbone

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Just now, mikbone said:

About 10-15 years ago I wanted to get a new couch for the living room.  We went to a couple of furniture stores in our town of 100K people and couldn't find anything acceptable.  For some reason, we went into a La-Z-Boy store.  Which was probably the worst of the lot.

I asked the salesperson if they had any styles of furniture that were made out of hardwoods.  She straight-faced replied, "yes they are all made with hardwood."

I then turned over a recliner and pointed out that every piece of visible wood was actually particleboard.  

She corrected me and assured me that their particleboard contained hardwoods.

We left the store without further discussion.  

You just fail to appreciate a good hardwood-based particle board, as opposed to all those hemp-based particle boards floating around.

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https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/12/24/jana-riess-why-i-stopped/

So somehow I stumbled on this article recently.  I read it and was amazed at the mental gymnastics that she had resorted to, in order to justify unto herself why she no longer needed to pay her tithing.

I pay mine.

Do you know why?  The Durnik principle.

I know right from wrong.

I made a covenant.  I know what 10% is.  I pay it. 

I know it's there even if no one else does.  

And if I didnt pay it, it would torment my consciousness. 

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Maybe it's just me but I really don't like doing things for the sake of doing things. When I reach the point where no additional benefit is achieved other than just because I could do it better I lose all motivation. If the piece that goes underneath is sufficient to do the job I would much rather move on to something that isn't sufficient for what's needed. 

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4 hours ago, laronius said:

Maybe it's just me but I really don't like doing things for the sake of doing things. When I reach the point where no additional benefit is achieved other than just because I could do it better I lose all motivation. If the piece that goes underneath is sufficient to do the job I would much rather move on to something that isn't sufficient for what's needed. 

Sufficient and acceptable are pretty hazy terms.

As an orthopedic surgeon I do work all the time that nobody but myself can appreciate.  For example I routinely replace the proximal femur in patient that break their hip with a metal prosthesis.  

There is a huge difference between what is acceptable vs. my best.  The hardware vendors and scrub techs try to convince me all the time to put in hardware that makes the case easier and quicker.  

I know that spending an extra 10 minutes to properly cement the prosthesis and perform a water tight layered closure will give the patient a better implant.  And even if the patient has dementia or is minimally active I always do my best.

My x-rays look good.  And I appreciate that they look good, even if the patient and family cant even understand what I did.

I could go on and on.

And, for sure its not just you.  The majority of people are satisfied with sufficient or even sub-standard work.  I see it all day long…

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5 hours ago, mikbone said:

Sufficient and acceptable are pretty hazy terms.

As an orthopedic surgeon I do work all the time that nobody but myself can appreciate.  For example I routinely replace the proximal femur in patient that break their hip with a metal prosthesis.  

There is a huge difference between what is acceptable vs. my best.  The hardware vendors and scrub techs try to convince me all the time to put in hardware that makes the case easier and quicker.  

I know that spending an extra 10 minutes to properly cement the prosthesis and perform a water tight layered closure will give the patient a better implant.  And even if the patient has dementia or is minimally active I always do my best.

My x-rays look good.  And I appreciate that they look good, even if the patient and family cant even understand what I did.

I could go on and on.

And, for sure its not just you.  The majority of people are satisfied with sufficient or even sub-standard work.  I see it all day long…

This isn't really what he is referencing. He specifically said "When I reach the point where no additional benefit is achieved other than just because I could do it better".

He is talking about doing work that does not matter just to make it look nicer for yourself and for no one else. He is talking about a contractor going through the framing of a house and sanding all the wood 2x4s to make sure there are no splinters. You are talking about doing everything to your best so the experience of the person is as expected. Like a contractor going through a house to make sure it is properly painted, even above the kitchen cabinets where no one would see the paint.

One is about being morally accountable to your work. The other is just OCD.

Edited by Fether

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1 hour ago, Fether said:


One is about being morally accountable to your work. The other is just OCD.

That is one way to look at it.

The other perspective distinguishes the average worker from true craftsmanship.

Take embroidery for example. The easy way to tell if someone is an expert is to actually turn the piece of work over and look at the backside.  There are some artisans that can even perform double sided embroidery.

I cant tell you how many times I have looked at x-rays from work of other surgeons and thought to myself.  
 

What the (heck) were you thinking?

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I wish that we had more artisan craftsman in the world.

I wish I could afford this guys work.

https://craftsmanship.net/the-master-of-the-chair/

I love watching ship-building.  There is a guy recreating a 100+ year old yacht called Tally Ho.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tally_Ho_(yacht)

The workmanship is beautiful.  They took the time to cast bronze supports and polished them to a mirror finish.  You would call it OCD.  Check out his work on You Tube.  

I wonder what kind of work Christ performed during his apprenticeship to Joseph as a carpenter (tekton).

I have a background in biochemistry.  Just understanding the machinery that is responsible for the duplication of DNA is awe inspiring.

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7 hours ago, mikbone said:

There is a huge difference between what is acceptable vs. my best.  

This is my point. Does this "huge difference" increase the quality of life or provide some actual benefit for the patient even one iota? If so then I agree it should be done and I would do so myself. If not then what difference, huge or otherwise, has been accomplished? When I say acceptable I am not talking about substandard. And maybe it's just a difference in how we define the term. 

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Take embroidery for example. The easy way to tell if someone is an expert is to actually turn the piece of work over and look at the backside.  There are some artisans that can even perform double sided embroidery.

I cant tell you how many times I have looked at x-rays from work of other surgeons and thought to myself.  
 

What the (heck) were you thinking?

Do these example affect the experience or ultimate health of the individual receiving the service?

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14 minutes ago, Fether said:

Do these example affect the experience or ultimate health of the individual receiving the service?

Yes, I could go into detail later.  But about to fix a hip.

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Yes, I could go into detail later.  But about to fix a hip.

Great! Then that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about doing extra work that has no affect in anything. As he said before… “"When I reach the point where no additional benefit is achieved other than just because I could do it better"

 

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

Great! Then that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about doing extra work that has no affect in anything. As he said before… “"When I reach the point where no additional benefit is achieved other than just because I could do it better"

 

Well unfortunately it is just not that easy.  

The point that you emphasized with underline and bold is a judgment call.  How do you determine the point where no additional benefit is achieved?

I'll give you an example.

If you break a tibia the acceptable alignment (according to what will be considered malpractice) allows 5 degrees of angulation in the frontal plant, 10 degrees of anterior or posterior angulation in the lateral plane, 50% cortical apposition, < 1 cm of shortening, and < 10 deg of rotational malalignment.  

If you are within those boundaries you will not get sued, and the patient will likely have a good result (especially if they are childern [who have awesome remodeling capabilities] or the elderly and people who are low demand - less active)  But if you are a healthy active adult any malalignment can be problematic.  Most people would prefer to have anatomic alignment of their bones.  And they do notice. 

My goal is to put every fracture back into anatomic alignment.  Even if they are low demand.  If you train and practice meticulous skills on all your cases you will have better results with those cases when you need to be more accurate.

And there are many ways to fix a tibia.  You can use a cast, plate and screws, an external fixator, or an intramedullary nail.  There are benefits and disadvantages to each technique.  

If I broke my tibia I'd want it fixed with a nail by a surgeon with meticulous skills and expectations.  

If it is done with poor skill, the surgeon will probably tell you to stay off of the extremity for 2 months to allow it to heal.  If it is done correctly the surgeon can allow you to start full weight-bearing as soon as the patient is comfortable.  

 

It would be nice if everyone did their best.  Unfortunately in our society, people cut corners all the time.  And some people are just sloppy. 

 

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17 minutes ago, mikbone said:

It would be nice if everyone did their best.  Unfortunately in our society, people cut corners all the time.  And some people are just sloppy.

I shamefacedly admit that I am one of such people.

But there are reasons why. This is not meant as an excuse, but rather as an explanation. I welcome insightful feedback.

  • If you are not reared from childhood with examples and expectation of such meticulousness in craft, it becomes a great deal harder to implement later in adult life.
     
  • To some extent, this is a question of personality. Some people are simply more meticulous by nature than others. Maybe this can be seen as a gift of God given to some in abundance and not as much to others. (But like other gifts of God, surely this is one we can develop and improve on.)
     
  • Some among us suffer from the bizarre condition of being paralyzed by perfectionism. The saying "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well" somehow gets twisted into "If you can't do it well, it's not worth doing." Such people end up getting very little done, because they are constantly frustrated with doing a half-donkeyed job of seemingly everything. Unsurprisingly, this snowballs in a positive feedback loop that renders some not just ineffective, but paralyzed. Some of those ironically embrace mediocrity as an operating principle, because it allows them to accomplish something, and something is almost always better than nothing.

3327763912_a9bd0e5dc1_z.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

Again, these are not meant as excuses, but as explanations. And as I said before, insights are much appreciated.

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Well unfortunately it is just not that easy.  

The point that you emphasized with underline and bold is a judgment call.  How do you determine the point where no additional benefit is achieved?

I'll give you an example.

If you break a tibia the acceptable alignment (according to what will be considered malpractice) allows 5 degrees of angulation in the frontal plant, 10 degrees of anterior or posterior angulation in the lateral plane, 50% cortical apposition, < 1 cm of shortening, and < 10 deg of rotational malalignment.  

If you are within those boundaries you will not get sued, and the patient will likely have a good result (especially if they are childern [who have awesome remodeling capabilities] or the elderly and people who are low demand - less active)  But if you are a healthy active adult any malalignment can be problematic.  Most people would prefer to have anatomic alignment of their bones.  And they do notice. 

My goal is to put every fracture back into anatomic alignment.  Even if they are low demand.  If you train and practice meticulous skills on all your cases you will have better results with those cases when you need to be more accurate.

And there are many ways to fix a tibia.  You can use a cast, plate and screws, an external fixator, or an intramedullary nail.  There are benefits and disadvantages to each technique.  

If I broke my tibia I'd want it fixed with a nail by a surgeon with meticulous skills and expectations.  

If it is done with poor skill, the surgeon will probably tell you to stay off of the extremity for 2 months to allow it to heal.  If it is done correctly the surgeon can allow you to start full weight-bearing as soon as the patient is comfortable.  

 

It would be nice if everyone did their best.  Unfortunately in our society, people cut corners all the time.  And some people are just sloppy. 

 

Again, you are giving examples where precision has a huge affect on the outcome for the person receiving the offer. 
 

Let me go back to the contractor example. If you had two contractors bidding for the construction of your dream home and both buds were exactly the same except one of them elegantly engraves his initials by hand into all of the nails, would choose the one who hand engraves all his nails? Or the other who doesn’t? Is one more of a true craftsman while the other less of a craftsman because he doesn’t take time to initial all the nails ?

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11 minutes ago, Fether said:

Again, you are giving examples where precision has a huge affect on the outcome for the person receiving the offer. 
 

Let me go back to the contractor example. If you had two contractors bidding for the construction of your dream home and both buds were exactly the same except one of them elegantly engraves his initials by hand into all of the nails, would choose the one who hand engraves all his nails? Or the other who doesn’t? Is one more of a true craftsman while the other less of a craftsman because he doesn’t take time to initial all the nails ?

Depends, if you are saying they both perform excellent quality work.

I would ask for references, call and speak with the prior customers.  See if there were unexpected delays or expenses.  

I would then compare the quotes.  If they are similar I would go with the guy with the initials.

Doubt your scenario ever happened.  The scenarios that I described happen all day every day…

Edited by mikbone

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1 minute ago, mikbone said:

Depends, if you are saying they both perform excellent quality work.

I would ask for references, call and speak with the prior customers.  See if there were unexpected delays or expenses.  

These would be adding additional aspects to the scenario, so no… they are exactly the same

 

1 minute ago, mikbone said:

I would then compare the quotes.  If they are similar I would go with the guy with the initials.

And you believe there needs to be more people like this?

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20 minutes ago, Fether said:

These would be adding additional aspects to the scenario, so no… they are exactly the same

 

And you believe there needs to be more people like this?

Nope, I think your scenario is ridiculous.

I do wish that we had more craftsmen and artisans in our society though.

Heck, I wish all the casinos in California were retro-fitted back into sawmills.

Then maybe I could get my kitchen remodel done without having to win the lottery.

One of my first jobs was hauling furniture in and out of homes so they could be reupholstered (this was in a town of 20K people back in the 80s).   I can’t even find anyone trained to do the work in my city of 100K people today.

“Why don’t you just take it to the dump and buy a new couch?”

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1 hour ago, mikbone said:

Depends, if you are saying they both perform excellent quality work.

I would ask for references, call and speak with the prior customers.  See if there were unexpected delays or expenses.  

I would then compare the quotes.  If they are similar I would go with the guy with the initials.

Doubt your scenario ever happened.  The scenarios that I described happen all day every day…

You know, I think I get what you mean.

I was pulling my experience in selling solar and it is slightly different and doesn’t quite fit your comments.

One thing that is so hard to get new people to understand (and even myself) is to JUST give them what they want. Often times the person will say “I want X, Y and Z” and then the person selling them the system will say cool! “I will get you ancdefghijklmnopqrstuvw and X Y Z”. All those extras overwhelm the person and they end up not buying from us because we made it too complicated. I got a call from a lady once who said she wanted to put solar on her roof but the last guy to call started talking about the specifics of the system and how it all worked and made sense. She blocked his number, reached out to us, and said “I just want to replace my electric bill with solar”  and I said “cool” and sold her what she asked for. Nothing less, nothing more. I also once sold a guy a $70,000 solar set up entirely over text, probably 10 texts entirely. He knew what he wanted, I gave exactly that to him.

my “craft” isn’t so much crafting something as it is building a relationship and helping them feel comfortable with the whole thing.

The actual crafting of the material and installing of the system is something I have no say or experience in. I just check the boxes they say they want and help them feel confident and comfortable with the whole process 

Edited by Fether

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17 minutes ago, Fether said:

You know, I think I get what you mean.

Thanks, I know that I can sometimes come across as a bit harsh.  Picked my avatar appropriately.  

I was not picking a fight with anyone specifically.  I'm irritated with society in general...

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IDEALLY:

We always seek perfection.  We always want to do our best.  We don't want to cut corners.  We want to make a quality product.  We want to receive a quality product.

REALITY:

Products and workmanship must consider a cost-to-benefits ratio. 
We need to consider the "likelihood" of adverse scenarios. 
We as professionals need to consider what would be a more desirable product in the long run when the issues are too complex for the lay person to understand.

EXAMPLE:

In my profession there is no such thing as "a perfect product".  There is just a gradual increase in quality for the gradual increase in cost.  But this is not a linear relationship.  There is a point of diminishing returns where a tremendous increase in cost will only return a small increase in quality.

For the following example, I'm not saying any claims are true (I don't believe they are) and I'm shifting some numbers for illustration purposes.

  • The "Life Straw" purports to remove 99.9999% of all microorganisms from the water.  It costs about $20.
  • A reverse osmosis system requiring pumped water will remove 99.99999% (one more 9 than the life straw) of all microorganisms from the water.  It costs about $2000.

Congress was making appropriations for humanitarian aid in foreign countries for water quality.  They decided that the extra 9 was worth a 100x increase in cost.  Uh, yeah... no. (true story).

Edited by Carborendum

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