Budget Your Time Carefully, Then Multiply By Three

Perhaps an experienced event planner or personal scheduler - I am neither - could tell you this, but nothing ever goes smoothly the first time.

I was just listening to John Linnell's "State Songs" album, and the "South Carolina" track reminded me distinctly of Penelope and I's bedroom drapes, which were sewn for us by her brother and sister-in-law one night when we were out to visit them. In South Carolina.

It was getting late, I remember, and the drapes (Curtains, maybe? What's the difference?) were taking longer than we expected. I remember Tom and Alison dutifully working the red cloth through the sewing machine on their dining room table, whirring the white thread into a perfect dotted line about half-an inch from the edge.

I remember Penelope and me getting tired, and knowing Tom and Alison were tired too, and secretly hoping no one would end up fastening a fingertip to a seam. And the seam-ripper: I remember that too. Someone made a mistake, at some point, of course, sewing the wrong edge over the wrong way, or something, and Tom grabbed his trusty seam-ripper and pulled out each stitch, working his way up the seam as the clock ticked.

Now our drapes look great. You'd never know they weren't flawless from the beginning - though Tom knows, and he inspects them any time he visits our house.

Seam rippers. The official implement of 3-in-the-morning sewing jobs.

For a deadline here at work last week, I remember having to go to my friend's house to finish the audio portion of the project, since all the computers here were tied up finishing the video part. Upstairs at his work station, when we were finally ready to begin adding the music and the voiceover, he hit "play" to show me where we were so far - how far he'd gotten when he input the text into the animation late the night before so we could make our 6 p.m. deadline that night.

Naturally, I found a typo. This, of course, required re-rendering 52 seconds of the video, which meant about five more hours of computer processing time, even with four computers working. 6 p.m. was hopeless.

Ultimately, Simon and I got the audio track roughly placed in about seven hours. Then he and the project's producer had to stay another seven hours to perform the final mastering and fixing yet another computer glitch.

At eight o'clock the next morning, after a 74-hour work week for Simon, the final disc made its way to the client.

I don't know if there's a lesson here or what. It just always seems to be how things happen.

If you know anyone who is magically blessed, and every project he or she works on goes smoothly, with no unexpected-even-though-they-really-should-have-been-expected setbacks, please give me this person's contact information.

I've got a boat carburetor to rebuild sometime this week, and I've never done it before.


Thomas said...

You and Penny have similar topics today. The drapes are perfect, as I bet your audio is too. That's what most call quality-craftsmanship. It's a pain in the ass and always will be. But you sleep better at night knowing that you did things right. Try it the other way: spill sea-foam down that carburetor and call'er done. People respect 3-in-the-morning efforts. Wish I could help with the carburetor. I just had to fiddle with mine, and learned a lot.

Colin said...

Thanks, Tom. I much prefer looking at it as "getting it right eventually" to "screwing it up initially." And you're absolutely correct - I did respect that 3-in-the-morning effort of yours.

I just learned how to patch fiberglass and repair rudder parts on Saturday, and it felt awesome to head out on the water knowing I was responsible for the boat being steerable. It felt even better when I reached down inside the hull afterward and felt the bolts I'd installed - they were completely dry.

The half-asser sighs a thousand times. The guy who gets it right sighs but once.

BM, The Necessary Movement said...

wow at least you have the balls to try!! Man anything I touch turns to shit! Complete opposite of how it should be.

Good luck with the boat. A little time a patience and I am sure you will get it done!