Monday, May 19, 2014

Pathological Excellence

I have been recently accused of a pathological need to be the best.  There were perhaps 20 comments on this.

Do you accuse Melody Cameron of wanting to be the best? And, how many Irish dance competitions has she won? Yes, she likes being the best Irish dancer in the world.      Did you accuse Michael Phelps of a pathological need to win as he piled up gold medals? Yes, he likes winning.  Do you send "nasty-grams" to  NFL teams that the win the super bowl?

No, but you are rude to me.  That is the key phrase.  You are rude to me.  Your mother failed to teach you manners.

 As Dean Wolf taught me, "Make sure you are right, then go ahead."  That is, the foundation of being the best, is being right.  And, we were the best. We took on environmental cleanup jobs that nobody else would touch and we did them: Faster, Cheaper, Better.  And if I might add we did them safer.  At Hanford, we went a million man-hours without an accident -- despite working with toxic, radioactive, hazardous, and explosive waste. Other places, there were burning oil wells and we put out hundreds of them  - that is an activity where only the best survive. On those projects, one little mistake and many, many people would have died. If I have a need to be the best, then you may be sure that I am going to make a point of being correct.

Being the best is a good thing.   Try it, you will like it.   Since some of you are not going to be best spinner, you might try going for "best manners."  As it is, I think some of your mothers are rolling over in their graves and scaring the gophers.  If you had better manners it might give the gophers some rest.

The other thing is that at Hunters Point, FMC Pocatello, and at Hanford we had complete drawings and inventories of the buildings, and then we had to go out and find stuff. We had detailed journals and logs.  I supervised many thousands of soil samples and test wells. I compared our results with the results of other RI/FS/RA teams at other CERCLA sites. We went out and talked to retired workers to find out what really happened. I know the limits of archaeology and history.


Anonymous said...

No. You know nothing about archaeology OR history.

Here's the pathological part - self-centered fantasizing, a refusal to learn while claiming education, an inability to acknowledge anyone else's expertise in anything. This is called narcissistic personality disorder. You need help, Aaron, and everyone I know who knows you in real life agrees.

Please. See a professional. For your own good.

Stephen Harding said...

Aaron, I have recently begun reading your blog and admit that I am finding many of your recent posts a bit unclear. Who are these people who have made comments to you? What do they say exactly? May we see them?

Without the antecedents, it is very difficult to fully follow your responses- it's a bit like listening to half of a telephone conversation.

Having recently reviewed some of your blog archive, I was rather surprised that the few figures that I was able to uncover were so unimpressive. So what, precisely, do you claim to be the 'best' at?

Fastest knitting? Surely not. I am not sure how quickly you knit with your personal method, but a quick scan of your blog history does not indicate that your speed even approaches that of record setting knitters, much less exceeds it.

Tightest knitting? The few figures on gauge that you present on the blog are far from unattainable. Certainly I see no evidence that you can knit more tightly than anyone else in the world.

Fastest or finest spinning? I think that there is fairly good evidence that you are not spinning yarn as fine as at least some others are. Perhaps you could, but then again, perhaps many spinners who don't typically spin as finely as you do could do so if they wished.

As far as speed goes, there are, of course, many variables that impact speed (fiber, consistency, fineness of single), so I feel that you really would have to compete head-to-head against other spinners in order to claim superiority.

It may be worth keeping in mind, as well, that most knitters and spinners do not put the same priority on speed and density that you do, so it is more than a little disingenuous to claim to be "better" than they are, simply because you are more pleased with your own projects than with theirs. Safe to say that THEY are much more pleased with their own projects than with yours.

Nor, I think, is it fair to dismiss a person who wishes to produce soft, light, open, or primarily decorative fabrics as "Victorian". What you seem to forget in your "history mash", is that when it comes to producing waterproof, utilitarian garments, modern hand knitters are competing with MACHINE made, synthetic fabrics, not with the knitters and spinners of pre-industrial yesteryear. Most of us, quite sensibly, have decided that hand knitting weatherproof outerwear when commercially produced garments are cheap, readily available, and perfectly servicable is undesirable, since the process would be much slower, more costly, and produce a LESS desirable product.

Stephen Harding said...

Further, I would note that hand knitting a utilitarian garment, is, indeed, quite as frivolous project as ever a Victorian lace doily was.

That by no means should discourage you- you are entitled to pursue your hobby in the way that you wish, just like everyone else. What I do object to, however, is this bizarre claim of superiority. You claim that your garments are more comfortable than machine- made, synthetic ones? Great! (I believe you, by the way- I had a wool sweater years ago that was so dense that it was not only waterproof, but odor-proof as well. It started life as a loosely-knit commercial pullover and felted in the washing machine.)

But here's the thing- after the thousands of hours and dollars you've invested in your tools, materials, and training, your gansey had BETTER be superior, since it certainly isn't cheaper or faster. That's the thing you seem not to grasp about "professionals". I know several professional knitters, spinners, and weavers, and what I've observed is that there is an practical economy of production that professionals understand.

Unique, beautiful, and beautifully executed yarns, fabrics and garments can support a fiber artist (or artisan, if you prefer) because there is a demand for such garments- not least because they are observably different from and superior to commercial alternatives. Whether you personally value them or not, many people will pay enough for "pretty" to justify the costs of production. That makes these articles (and their production) practical.

Can you produce your utilitarian garments fast enough and sell them at a price high enough to support yourself? If so, congratulations, you may consider yourself a professional. Are you a professional sailor, fisherman, rock climber or skier so as to justify a professional interest in the garments themselves?

If not, if you are simply pursuing a hobby in service to your other hobbies and are so much in the mindset of a hobbyist that you mentally write off the costs of your study, practice, spinning classes, spinning wheel,bobbins, accelerators, woodworking tools,loom, travel to festivals and to artists' workshops, yarn, wool, needles, and most of all TIME in pursuing your interests without worrying about making enough profit to compensate, then you must acknowledge that you are engaged an a practice every bit as vain and frivolous as any Victorian lady ever enjoyed.

PatB said...

If all your other bragging about your "excellence" is similar to your work at Bechtel it's no wonder people disagree with you. I seem to remember that your claim to fame is that your wrote the plan for the cleanup at Hanford. If that's true as you claim you should be crawling under a rock. Faster, better, cheaper? Multi billions of $? 10 years on and a projection of at least 30 more years?
You should read this:
If I were you I wouldn't be bragging about that. Nor anything else .

stashinetta said...

We used to call aiming for perfection 'craftsmanship'. I do appreciate your craftsmanship and am trying to learn more about my own knitting. Where are your steel knitting pins available?

Aaron said...

There were 2 parts to Hanford (USDOE-RL) , Facilities and Waste Tanks.

I worked on the Facilities clean up and we did an excellent job. It is not finished, because it was safer, cheaper, and better to moth-ball the reactor cores for a while to let them cool. However, they are safe and not causing any problems. They are not in the news.

The tanks are a different story. I billed only 6 hours to the tanks program, and that was just to brief the Tank Waste Program Manager on FIRA. When Tank Waste offered me a job, I ran as fast as I could. There were, and are management problems in the tank program. And, the technical problems are vast. The tanks are not safe, and US DOE vetoed the one rational solution (which is no longer viable.) Tank waste is in the news.

Yes, Hanford Tank Waste is a mess, but that is not my fault.

Aaron said...

I am not selling needles because people said that I was just advocating gansey needles and knitting sheaths just to sell my stuff.

And there were some other problems with people taking advantage of my return policies.

I advocate knitting sheaths because it is the best tool for the job.

Stashinetta said...

Aw phooey, Aaron. I live just over the mountain from you. Where can I find sheaths in this country/continent? I have no woodcarving skills. Lacis have stopped making their non-ss needles. OK, no more whine.

Aaron said...

It means that I sell needles and knitting sheaths on a face to face basis so I can make sure people are not frustrated with their knitting sheaths.

The Shetland knitting belts are available at a reasonable cost, and they work very well - even with those very cheap aluminium needles.

There are a large number of good DPN coming out of China these days. For fabrics that most people will want to knit, these are better than the spring steel needles that I was making.

My spring steel needles are better for weatherproof objects. For ordinary fabrics, the lighter weight tubular stainless steel needles (see ebay) are better. And, they are much cheaper. OK, they need to have the polish around the tips "broken" with a bit of crocus cloth, but that is the work of a minute.

Aaron said...

Dear Anonymous,

To quote Sheldon Cooper, "I'm not crazy, my mother had me tested!" The truth is simpler, but much less common. As a matter of clinical statistics, I am very abnormal.

Perhaps, the people that accuse me of narcissistic personality disorder are knitters that have never bothered to master using a knitting sheath? Or, spinners that have never mastered the math of differential rotation speeds in double drive flyer/ bobbin assemblies? Yes, I would say that both of these groups have limited expertise in their fields, and I offer them very limited respect.

Many of them are senior in the group and high status in the group, so most in the group defers to them. You think I have a personality disorder because if somebody says that they are "a spinner", I expect them to be a competent spinner.

I accept the English Wool Board definition "wool count" as the number of hanks that a competent spinner can spin from a pound of that grade of wool. Thus, any spinner that cannot spin wool at its spin count is not competent. (How many spinners in the Bay Area do you know that can spin wool at its spin count?) Now, you want me to acknowledge (spinning) expertise in someone that is not a competent spinner? Your comment is rudeness in defense incompetence.

It is not a matter of a personality disorder, it is a matter of standards. I have high standards, you have lower standards.

These are amateur spinners and they do not need the kind of competence that is expected from a talented professional. However, they should not expect the kind of deference due to someone who has developed that competence. On the other hand, in recent history, there were amateurs with these skills, so there is no reason to to do away with these standards.