Some Experience Required


So today’s Sunday and I’m working on the nesting boxes for my chicken coop. Nesting boxes are two rows of three 12″ by 12″ boxes where the lady chickens are supposed to lay their eggs. A small hatch on the back wall of the coop will allow us to access the nesting boxes, swiping the eggs when the chickens aren’t looking.

It’s vaguely unfair when you think about it. But then, that’s what they get for being a food product. Suck it, chickens!

This young woman (from Burning Man, '07) is clearly very experienced at something.

But I digress. This is “fine” carpentry, meaning vaguely delicate work − at least for me. The boxes are constructed out of 1/4-inch finished plywood, held together by small screws set into 1″ x 2″ poplar at the corners.  There are a lot of teeny pieces that need to be cut to the correct size, then holes must be drilled, then the pieces must be assembled and glued, and screws must be inserted and tightened properly.

I HATE it. Really, really, hate it. The work sucks and I suck too. I constantly strip the screws, or drill the holes in the wrong location, or smear glue on my retina. I’ve cut one piece like a quarter inch longer than another, and now everything’s wobbly.

So the first “bank” of three nesting boxes looks kinda crappy. And they take maybe four hours to construct. I’m tired and grumpy, and only half done. There’s another goddamned bank to tackle, and I’m dreading it.

But here’s the funny thing. The second bank takes only one hour to build. The wood’s miraculously cut to the right size, the screws are cooperating, and everything goes together like it was from an Ikea kit. The damned thing looks ten times better, and took maybe one tenth the effort and agony.

It turns out that while constructing the first nesting box, I learned enough to make my second effort a zillion times better.

And this is the reason that I suck.

In all likelihood I will NEVER construct another nesting box ever again. Instead, I’ll build a bunny hutch. Or a goat escalator. Or some other idiotic new thing where my hard-earned nesting box expertise won’t do me a goddamned bit of good. Instead I’ll be once again starting from scratch with virtually no useful experience.

This is the curse of the home DIYer. Almost everything is a new task and you rarely do the same thing twice. Whereas the professional has done this thing like a zillion times already.

This dude is so experienced that he can rip you off while napping!

Take my new role model, Charlie Rangel (D, NY, 15th District), for example. This dude has been corrupt for so long, he makes it look easy. I’m in awe of Rangel: he’s screwing us over simultaneously in two different countries! This is why I’m against turn limits: could some wet-behind-the-ears Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee − the committee that basically writes the US tax code, mind you − maintain a perfectly straight face while claiming to be ignorant of the most basic rules of the tax code he’s in charge of? I think not. That kind of Congressional Balls takes 39 years of practice.

Anyway, it’s clear that experience is everything. Hopefully Congressman Rangel will soon be having many new experiences in a Federal coop somewhere. Who knows what he’ll learn?

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2 Responses to “Some Experience Required”

  1. FYI Says:

    Your story of nesting boxes gives a good example of the logarithmic nature of the performance-practice function, by the way.

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