Rendered Fat Content


John R. Armstrong: At Your Service (1940s)
"I only know for certain what I haven't found for certain yet."

I catch myself fussing over more than contributing to our refurbishing effort. I seem to need to play through alternative scenarios before choosing if not the best of them, at least a less-worse one. To us unlearned and unwashed, the natural sequence of tasks seems at first mysterious. I might be able to envision a task as how it should appear when completed, but that end in mind does not define the sequence of actions necessary to produce that end state, and there seem to be an infinite number of alternatives from which to choose. I feel fairly certain that if I can only imagine one way to skin any particular cat, that my narrow imagination probably means that I have no business skinning that cat yet. I might grant myself permission to start skinning only after considering a few alternative scenarios for sequencing the work and choosing if not The Best, at least a less worse-seeming alternative. Refinishing one door, the sequencing hardly matters. Plan on refinishing a dozen, and a process emerges. Queues appear: untouched, prepped, primed, finish coat one, and finish coat two. The need for storage space and its availability limits possibilities. So do the number of pairs of saw horses and wait time between drying coats of paint. A complex set of choices quickly emerges. These choices comprise the bulk of what I fuss over in lieu of actually contributing to our refurbishing effort.

I suppose that my fussing might eventually add some value, though if I was drawing a paycheck from this work, I'd expect my employer to be bothered by how much effort I seem to expend while laying down with my eyes closed.
I juggle scenarios, encountering barriers, imagining workarounds. I'm seeking an implicate order, a natural-appearing rhythm which might better define where to begin to limit hassles before ending. It's too easy to get ahead of myself. If I characterize my effort as Painting, I seem more apt to overlook some aspect of prepping, which usually comprises more of any effort than whatever that effort's labeled. Chefs spend more time prepping than cooking, which appears nearer the end of their efforts as almost an afterthought. For this reason, I say that we're Refurbishing, not just Painting. Refinishing doors involves much, much more than slopping paint on 'em. Slopped paint represents a significant part of the problem my efforts seek to fix. Seeking implicate order feels tricky.

I could just refurbish each door in turn, prep both sides then prime both sides, then apply first then second top coats, each in turn, or, I could prep both sides first then paint all three coats in sequence on one side, then all three coats in sequence on the other side. This second scenario limits the number of 'flips' required to complete the task, and each flip introduces an opportunity to smudge a finish. Better, perhaps, to produce a 100% dried finish before exposing it to any weight, I guess. How else might I process this series of doors? What are my limits? Another pair of saw horses might allow me to work on two doors at once, doubling my output per day, perhaps. Another pair of saw horses on top of two would probably slow my progress since I'm not a machine and cannot work continuously for long periods. If I had three saw horses, I might design a continuous process no mere human like me could ever keep up with. So much to consider before touching any surface.

I would claim that I recognize an implicate order when I see it, but that statement would materially misrepresent how I proceed. I tend to fuss until I'm on the edge of disgusting myself with my inaction, then I put my head down and begin. I'm still considering where to start when I decide to just start somewhere, figuring that my choice might not matter since useful or encumbering, it might teach me something playing scenarios in my head cannot. I eventually have to get my mitts on whatever I'm considering, not first, but only after considerable fussing. This process of partially informed choosing probably typifies the best us rank amateurs can ever produce. If we knew more, we might see more possibilities or reject more as unworkable and therefore unworthy of fussing over, but we don't know so we waste our effort with ultimately unnecessary considerations rather than by actually procrastinating. Implicate orders are inevitably emergent. We don't so much seek them as position ourselves so that we might glimpse their presence, their influence; so that they might find us. Once glimpsed, forever influenced. One cannot unsee the nature of something. One always senses an absence if they have not yet managed to glimpse that sequence. I'm not really fussing, but on a quest. I only know for certain what I haven't found for certain yet.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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