23 February 2011

Wrong Foot

So far as I can tell, the Greeks didn't have a God of deadlines. Neither did the Romans, nor the Norse.

I find this strange, since in the current age, Deadline is a god, or should I say goddess, since Deadline is a female god, if there ever was one.

But where did she come from? Who were her parents? Bulfinch is silent on the subject.

In fact, meticulous and deep research into this question has only turned up one quote from the ancients that can rightly be called wise. It was uttered by Caesar Augustus, first and greatest Emperor of Rome, thorn in the side of Anthony and Cleopatra, and namesake for the 8th month of the year.

No one could call Augustus a timid man, yet what did this veritable god-among-men have to say on the subject of deadlines?

"Make haste cautiously."

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus
Emperor of the Roman Empire
for 40 years
Make haste cautiously... You have to hand it to the Romans. They had things figured out.

After painting this nugget of recovered wisdom on my workshop wall, I decided that I'd gotten my Vintage project off on the wrong foot by setting a deadline.

Frankly, I don't know if I'll be able to finish Vintage before the Wooden Boat Show in June. Maybe I will, maybe I won't.

I do know that my incautious haste has taken all the fun out of the project, so I'm dropping it; forgetting it; condemning it to the dustbin of history. I am no longer on a deadline.


As a practical matter, this whole lofting business makes a mockery of deadlines, anyway. Just one example proves my point: I've been wearing out erasers faster than pencils.
In fact, this afternoon I'm headed down to my local artist's supply store to take delivery of a new batch of erasers. I had them ordered specially from Germany, because they're supposed to be more durable than the Chinese ones that everybody stocks. We'll see.

So, starting again. Not quite from scratch, but remembering what this is supposed to be about: Fun. And craftsmanship. Neither of which Deadline has any respect for.

The Greeks did have a goddess of craftsmanship: Athena. Not coincidentally, she was also the goddess of civilization, wisdom, strength, strategy, justice and skill. All of which are required for lofting.

Athena saying bah! to deadlines, by Rudolph Tegner
I think I'll stick with Athena, and ditch Deadline.

More soon!

>>> Next Episode: Learn the rules before playing the game!


  1. John, John, John!
    Importing more durable erasers?
    Enjoy the blogs.

  2. Is Athena throwing a batten?

    I enjoy your blog.


  3. John,
    You made the right call. This is supposed to be fun, dammit! The references to the classics are why I keep coming back to this highbrow blog. :)

    BTW, rather than using them there furrin erasers, use a rag dampened with thinner, or keep a small spray bottle of thinner handy. Spritz, wipe, done.

  4. Conall: Oooo... I think you're right!

    Isn't that a great statue? I love it.

  5. I'm going to try that thinner idea today. If it works that well I owe you a beer!

  6. Well, both Mineral Spirits and Turpentine both erase pencil marks like magic. Mineral Spirits doesn't smell quite as bad, so I'll use that.

    I don't have the nerve to aerosolize it, though. Sounds a bit unhealthy. I need every brain cell I have left to get through this lofting.

    Thanks for the excellent tip.

  7. Deadlines father is Meticulous and her mother is Patience. She always gets me to the post on time.

  8. Dan, I think you've got it. I've got another quote from Augustus that I should make my motto:

    "Only that which is well done is quickly done."

  9. Hey John, Not sure I follow that last quote. I am a slow motion kind of guy(in my later years)and find that working carefully and thinking things over before placing tool to material has produced many superior products...with a lot less waste and frustration. Anyway, just back from Mexico and catching up with email and blogs so amazed at your lack of experience in the world of general carpentry, let alone boat stuff! I never read the "BUILDING THE SKIFF CABIN BOY" stuff, but assumed that having built a dinghy already that you would be a lot further along than just now learning about circular saws. I don't see a table saw or band saw in your shop either. Wow! Will be fun to follow your further education as you proceed. But I am a sailor first, and have only dabbled in water craft construction once with a strip built kayak which worked for me cause 3/16 inch strips of western red cedar are very forgiving - once you get them cut. Best always, ralph

  10. Ralph: too true. When I started Cabin Boy, I only had some rusty tools from my father, and a toy band saw that Helena found in a neighbor's garbage. I fixed that and it's okay for small stuff. Still building my tool collection... slowly! Too bad I'm not a millionaire. Or maybe that would take all the fun out of it.

  11. Not to mention that my first work bench was Helena's ironing board.

  12. Enjoying the philosophical twist...

  13. A more recent quote: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." Douglas Adams.

    Love the blog. Quiet follower.

  14. "Make haste cautiously" reminds me of a time, when I was in the Army, I was driving one of my NCOs back to the base because we had forgotten some important item. We we didn't have much time to get there and back, and the sergeant said, "You need to go faster." I responded, "The speed limit is 55. Do you want me to break the speed limit?" He said, "Do an *aggressive* 55."


I'd love to hear from you. Please comment!