Dave Snowden

An obsessional interlude

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I spent most of yesterday exhibiting my obsessive tendency. This may come as a shock to some readers, but when i get into detail I really get into it. Colleagues will attest to my extreme frustration with their deviant behaviour in not using styles properly in Keynote and Pages; I regard the use of an extra carriage return rather than changing the style as a mortal sin, deserving of punishments beyond the imagination of Dante.  If i make a change to any style I always spend time revising the template I was the same when I was a programmer and still don’t understand anyone who is so stupid as to fail to code once for many when they came across a common routine. I discovered the value of that approach early on in terms of productivity and profitability so I don’t accept the idea of do it fast to get something out then standardise later in part because I have never seen anyone work back over such material.

The manifestation yesterday involved sugar soap, polyfiller and a sanding machine as I spent the day getting the walls of my study ready for repainting. Because I had moved the electric plus up from skirting board to waist high that involved a process more akin to sculpture with the polyfiller. By evening I was more or less there but it still took two more layers to get the repair to the point where it would be invisible after painting. I thank (some people would prefer blame) my father for this: years of spending a good month as an apprentice to him sanding down boats between layers of varnish in dust free environments.  He got it from his uncle, a builder who once tore a whole Church gable end because he saw one brick out of true. Needless to say his business went under, but he was a perfectionist. Interestingly Dad was apprenticed to him until my grandfather got a bad vet’s bill and marched down to the school to find out which one of his children was bright enough to be a vet. Dad was selected, partly I suspect because they wanted to keep him on beyond 14 for the school choir and the rest, from a personal point of view, is history.

Either way the time spent meant I had to get two complete coats on today before 1530 when I had to leave for the airport. I made it, just, and I am drafting this on the plane to Vienna. It didn’t leave me time to move things back in, and a new sideboard is arriving next Tuesday anyway. That means my study for the moment remains an old desk set up in the kitchen and our lobby is full of plastic boxes containing the contents of the old furniture. Not only that the Dinning Room table is full of starbucks city mugs and various statues, paintings and other gifts from conference around the world. I’m going to have to spend the two hours I have at home next Saturday shifting that back as I imagine tolerance will run out by then as I am away from home throughout the month of April.

Now in my time I have rewired two houses, installed central heating in one and generally build shelf units, replaced walls with double side bookshelves and even plastered the odd wall. So I have the DIY bug and there is a satisfaction to getting things done.. I am already mentally planning some carpentry projects to complete the study when I have time. My historic practice when doing this sort of work has been to drink copious cups of tea and listen to Radio 4. I still drink the tea but now I have a bluetooth speaker linked to the iPhone and listen to podcasts. I had got behind with these so spent the whole day running through back episodes of Melvin Bragg’s programme. That included creation myths in Hinduism, the letters of Pliny the Younger and one on Complexity. The latter I found very frustrating, it wasn’t that it was wrong bit it was a missed opportunity and you could see that the blessed Bragg was getting bored. We had an emphasis on modelling and the crazy idea that traditional qualitative techniques will work in a complex adaptive system. More on that tomorrow

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