Second verse, same as the first

Posted by Nate in Home Improvements.
Saturday, December 10th, 2005 at 11:55 am

I think one of the qualities that makes me good at my job (if I do say so myself) is my attention to detail. Often, in programming, there are two ways to solve a problem: 1) a solid, quick, and obvious way that will work well, and 2) an equally solid way that is not nearly as quick but has been thoroughly thought through and (hopefully) addresses all options and variables. Usually both methods will yield favorable results – at least at first. Over time, code written using method 2 will start to outshine method 1 code. As applications evolve and users start pushing them in directions you never intended, the more deliberate code will generally hold up to more abuse, require less maintenance, and perform better.

It’s sometimes the case that there’s clearly a right way solve a problem, but I can’t find it, so I keep going down the method 1 path, until suddenly I see the right way. And even though I’m almost done – the code works as it is – I can’t finish it like that. I have to go back and make it right. That may sound weird to non-programmers, but you know what I mean? A lot of people don’t realize there’s a huge creative side to programming, beyond the problem solving and grunt work of simple code. It’s a great feeling, but it can generate lots of extra work.

Which leads me to today. I started off with a small brush and some red to touch up the edges that were bugging me, and as I got close to the paint I noticed what looked like a white dust on it. I’d noticed it before but was sure I could just wipe it off, and never paid it much mind. This time, despite good rubbing with a damp washcloth, failed to remove most of the "dust". Looking closer, some of it was reflective, possibly insulation or plaster?? I really don’t know. I didn’t put the recessed light in until at least a week after painting, so I really doubt that was it, but…? Maybe the fan that I had on to help it dry was stirring up some old dust from the first light and skylight?? No idea. But there it was, and now I noticed it I couldn’t stop obsessing over it. A test patch with some fresh paint showed it covered the dust and looked (to me) noticeably better.

I read up a bit on Ralph Lauren paints, the reds in particular, and while nobody mentioned flecks of dust, a few people recommended sanding between coats to help it stick properly. (something in the red pigment, I guess) I also took a closer look at a few gouges in the wall I hadn’t noticed until the light was so much better, and a few lumps and bumps that snuck by the first time. And… I decided to do it right.

I have a long weekend ahead of me…

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2 Responses to “Second verse, same as the first”

  1. m Says:

    Yes, I understand the idea you were trying to convey when you were talking about programming. And I understand that you will be happier when your red walls are RIGHT. I can totally relate, and I will be glad for you when this busy weekend is done and you have walls you can live with for many, many years to come.
    Just try to leave a few relatively calm days before you guys head out to Colorado so you don’t arrive here exhausted. Is that even possible? Well, if not, that’s okay, because there will be R&R once you get here.

  2. nator Says:

    Hopefully some rest is in the cards, but we’ll see – this extra work is pushing back some other stuff, but really most of it can slide if it has to. Next thing that has to happen is the guest room needs cleaning in a big way…