Saturday, April 03, 2010

Honest mistakes

I made a cracking mistake this morning; there's a hatch at the back of the boat you grab weeds from where they wrap around the propeller shaft (as part of essential maintenance). During our show-around, we were shown how to remove the retaining bar (which has two screw threaded handles which push down and keep the hatch in place) and a tip for remembering to put the bar back in-if you forget, the boat sinks.

Don't panic, this story isn't calamitous.

The tip was to place the bar across to top of the deck hatch, along the edge of the hatch's hinge edge. This means you can't try to shut the hatch without noticing the bar, at which point you slap your forehead, issue the time-honoured Homer Salute to Mistakes, and put the bar in.

Now, I had followed this to the letter, and the weed hatch cover (which comes out completely) was to the right, on deck, while I froze my hand removing weeds and checking the cotter pin.

As I moved the hatch cover to replace it, I knocked the end of the bar, which promptly fell down the weed hatch, briefly waving at the prop shaft as it headed for the bottom of the canal. Oops.

After a couple of minutes of reflection, I rang the guys hiring out the boats, and a fella with a hve magnet got the bar in less than a minute. He said he'd never had to fish out one of the retainer bars before, which surprised me !

I reflected on my mistake, and realised it was entirely honest; I was half awake but followed he instructions faithfully. The fella with the magnet said he'll make sure it gets fed back into the show-around, so I now feel quite pleased with my novel mistake as it should ensure nobody else panics (we didn't panic btw, it was all very logical).

Have you made any honest mistakes like this recently?

Friday, April 02, 2010

Success: what does it mean to you?

I had a conversation with Nic today which got me thinking, on several levels. It was about "success", and before I move on to my own musings I should give the whole thing a little context.

Nic's brother, it's fair to say, is what you might call a generation X casualty (my words!). He's pretty much opted out of interfacing with modern life, and on several counts I agree with him.

Nic worries about him a lot, which is admirable. I understand why he feels the way he does (and I am assuming I do understand, for the purposes of this piece, as we've talked at length about things in that way people do when they want to work out how to fix the world). There are personal compromises about the way society has decided to work itself out which mean if you didn't keep an eye on your path when you were younger, you find yourself in a situation you know you wouldn't have wanted if you'd thought about it back then.

I understand because I now hate desk jobs where you work in a large organisation. They're now the epitome to me of collective human worthlessness, where those who come up with great ideas and want to implement them have them squashed by accountants, middle managers and bureacracy. The tyranny of the project plan, the awful inevitability of the wash-up meeting, the liturgy of the lessons learned. All of it created by a group think so stifling no new ideas can be quickly brought to being.

This is my opinion: nic's brother has gone straight to opting out, before he ended up behind a desk. Nic believes that you just have to suck it up and put up with spending 1/3 of your time doug stuff you don't want to do so that you can do stuff you wantto do for the other 2/3, but when you pull 41 hour weeks, and add another 1.5 hours 5 days a week in the car, where is the 2/3 coming from?

Nic is right, of course. She's got the brass neck to start her own business, and opt out another, more constructive way. Those of us too timid or too entrenched (an excuse?) to do that can only look on and wonder. Or take to our beds and stop.

What do you do to stay alive? Or am I howling into the void again?