Shop Talk: Trusting Science

Quiet morning here at the ranch.  Very satisfying day Saturday, though.  And all thanks to two simple concepts:  Trust the science and multi-task your life.

Let’s start with the science part because it’s an area where people seem to have a lot of trouble.  Whether you’re talking a mechanic’s project, the finery of HF radio installations, or even something as simple as planting a garden, or making a pottery stool of just the right height – there’s a science for just about everything.

Let’s start with the Garden.  As you know, I have been “called” over the past couple of years to gardening.  Now, on the surface, there was not reason for it.  What, in their late 60’s anyone would be called to gardening is beyond me.  But, there it was and now?  Well, we’re not eating lush vegetable yet, but they’re coming along and with serial planting every couple of weeks, this should be a summer with plenty of fresh garden treats.

Here’s the key part:  Used to be one of those people who held that they “Have no green thumb.”  And that is when personally applying science stepped in to save me.

You see, there are certain natural requirements for things to grow.  First, you need seeds that aren’t old and will have a decent germination rate.  Then, you need to plant them in the correct manner.  A few seeds like to be tossed on the surface of the ground, but for most, there is an “ideal” planting depth.

And you have to water them correctly.  There are some seeds that have little “rituals” they like going through first. One of the To-Do items this morning is to begin soaking my bamboo tree seeds.  They like at least 24-hours of full immersion or planning them can be an exercise in futility.

Sure, there are people who just seem to instinctively “know” about gardening, but for me it’s been an application of the Recipe Version of Learning, laid out in my book The Millennial’s Missing Manual.

My short-track to “OK” gardening was to look at the problem – first and foremost – as an information problem.  What do I know about the “parts” of gardening:  Began with a list of “parts” to study:  Plant, soil, watering, light and temperatures, and how to harvest correctly.  Seems obvious, to some.

But, it’s like a project in the wood shop.  Some people  who grew up “just doing” would decide “I want to build a pottery stool.”  They would look for a seat first, and then try to find a leg.  Oops, make that four legs… and on it goes.  There was a time when I’d redneck a cobbled stool and call it good.  But now, it has become an application of the Right Recipe to achieve an outstanding result.  Round-overs, mortise and tenon joinery, and so forth.

This “learning to believe in science” and “collecting recipes that work” has been one of those slowly-evolving lessons in life.  There have been two defining events that changed my world forever.

The first was process.  I was younger then, but I got into Sales.  And the shocker for me was the degree to which a person and “automate sales” by simply evolving a “customer script.”  Especially in managing sales people and double-especially when managing telemarketing or tele-sales.  I won’t say I have fired people for “getting off their scripts” but there’s a magic to it.

See, in sales, if something goes wrong and you’ve been religiously following a scripted sales approach, it’s really easy to trouble-shoot what a salesperson is doing wrong if they aren’t “hitting their numbers.”  If they are “off script” all the time, everything becomes highly subjective…arguments follow…and people who are on the verge of success resist self-troubleshooting.  Rather than “be told what to do” – they rebel and leave.  Yet, even when the “magic of process” is explained, there are maybe half the people in the world who are convinced, even with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that they know more than the boss.

If this sounds a bit pedantic, it’s because there is a point to it.  One of the greatest gifts in life is to “own process.”

There’s also the art of letting Time work for you instead of against.

Fixing the lawnmower was a great example:  The “process map” was simple:  Determine exactly and precisely what was wrong.  Then order parts.  When the parts arrived, install.  And all these little processes could be optimized.  Troubleshooting and parts ordering was less than a half hour.  When the parts arrived, the old bolts were frozen in place.  A coupe of shots of Kano Aerokroil Penetrating Oil were applied and I went off and tossed twigs in the electric chipper for an hour.

That’s because whenever I get to a “stuck” project – and literally so with frozen-on rusty bolts – there is another batch of processes that steps in:  The how to break things loose recipes.  For the problem at hand, dousing in Aerokroil, repeating in a half-hour, and then coming back, meant the bolts came off like butter.  Then, putting the whole thing back together with the new idler pulleys took about 15-minutes.

This was a job that would have probably cost me in the region of $250 to take to a mower shop to get fixed.  Two-bits worth of penetrating oil and $55 worth of parts and shipping…why, that pencils out to $194.75 an hour that I “saved” doing the job myself.

But the real key part is how I “used time” wisely.  Analysis and order.  (then wait 4-days for shipping)  Remove old parts (using that time to do other chores).  Finally, the repair itself. 15-minutes.  My total time on task?  Under an hour.

Same thing holds true for just about anything you want to accomplish in life.  Like gardening, there may be many parts to it, but if you “do the steps” there will be the desired outcome  on the far side.

In radio equipment, I was working on a very complicated problem one day, years ago.  A particular radio wasn’t working right and the owner of the company came over to see what was taking me so long to get fixed.

“You’re looking at it all wrong,” he explained.  “Radio is ruled by physics, and if the radio isn’t working it’s because your “physics aren’t right.”  Then the lasting learning moment.

There no magic here.  The electrons obey the laws of physics 100% of the timeYOU aren’t looking at the problem right, if you don’t hold to that.  And you’ll chase your tail all over the place until finally stumble on the science of it…”

We are, as a country, coming into some really tough times ahead.  It’s possible the stock market could be priced at less than half its present number in six to eight months.

Again, there are processes you can find easily invoke now and begin to apply that will ensure you have a “happy future.”

Making up a To-Do list – while it’s a great start – isn’t where the magic is.  Though you’ll be ahead of 75% of people if you do use one.

No, the real magic comes from realizing how short the Clock of Life is.  In order not to waste a minute, even my To-Do list has become a streamlined set of steps (processes):

Step 1:  What is my “list for the day?”

Step 2:  Take each of the list items and figure out the best, fastest, and least-effort way to get ’em done.

Step 3:  Work slower and more methodically.  By learning this more step-wise orientation, I’ve seen the actual accomplishments around here go up.  And that happens by spending more time on complicated projects focusing on the outcomes I’m after.  The result is I’m not “over-engineering” solutions, as often.  And I’m using time – especially in the garden – more effectively.

As we begin to rethink our global relationship with the world, one of the hardest addictions to let go of has been our innate “need for speed.”  Gardening has taught me to recognize a simple Truth…and that gets back to Pareto’s Law:

Pareto principle or law of the vital few, stating that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Pareto distribution, a power-law probability distribution used in description of many types of observable phenomena.”

I seem to have fallen in to getting 80 percent more done by doing 20% less.  And that’s a real good lesson to learn, even later in life.

Write when you get done,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

31 thoughts on “Shop Talk: Trusting Science”

  1. That was planted deep. Gotta sit down on that chair and think about this one. Ure correct about that methodical work ethic. At the end of the day, ya wonder how ya got so much accomplished. And I always keep in mind that someone might need to eventually make a repair on the job at hand … I think ahead, keep it simple and correct. I do that because, that “someone” might be me.

    • “Ure correct about that methodical work ethic. At the end of the day, ya wonder how ya got so much accomplished.”

      AMEN to that… one board at a time.. just one more step.. Like I told my friend that was building his garage.. he was stumped.. I said.. its one board.. just put one board at a time.. pretty soon it will be done.. I made my own wall framing table when I built our home…. with the wall squaring jig all I had to do is measure lay out the boards and nail..

      wow.. trying to find someone that builds a wall the way I did it when I built the house is kind of hard.. the second one is on the order of what I did.. .. lay out the windows.. set them in place and cripples all are measured and put in… you litterally can build a house full of walls in a day.. if you lay them all out on paper first.. I made my own framing table.. of course that was almost thirty years ago now.. I did it on my first house I built to.. except I didn’t have saw horse table to stand up with.. I had it all on the ground.. which sucked then..
      the nice thing is if you were like me and only had an hour to work.. I could lay the wood out and then go to work.. come back the next day or after the shift and pickup where you left off..just keep your line drawing on the table clip board.. easy peasy…

  2. Yep, been hearing that alot. Easy boy. Easy. Hit the jake let the motor do the work for ya.

    Pre-check lists not only do that Mr Ure. They also keep ya from having your pup trailer pass ya on the free way. ;)

    Mines easy.
    #1. Drink 2 huge glasses of water. #2. Cup of coffee and a smoke while listing to the world around me. You can tell alot by how loud the birds are singing. 3. Pray, meditate, work out. #4 everything that didnt get done yesterday or troubleshooting is priority today. Then #5 do today’s stuff.

    It’s funny, I was was talking to Mark the other day. He says your not that close. “that is a long drive.” About 386 miles. I said, you must have never drove an 18 speed tractor 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week for 10 years. Lol. That’s warm up the motor round. Lol

    I got my que yesterday, 21 comments 777, cash out!

    Ya know, I have never looked for work in 25 years. Never once, did I even fill an application until someone told me it was part of getting the job. I just know alot people and I guess they size me up and reckon they want me in their company.

    Mark did my resume for me because I had never done one before. Just like last night, fella owns a 12,000 acre organic farm calls me and says, you available to work? I said, ohhh around end of may. He says I got a brand new pete, hauling produce off my farm. Pays good and I get the bonus of as much produce as I can fill my car with every day for free. He says trust me son, the bugs will eat mo than you and your family will. We chit chat and then he says, ohh yeah, that brand new Pete gets here end of may. Perfect. I said you need an application filled out? He says nope, copy of your license, papers, pass a clean pee, fill out a Dubya 2 and start your pre-check and git it done.

    I got my T-time in a half hour.

    21 comments, yesterday, 777, cash out!

    See y’all around Christmas. I dont have much time for the uew-toob videos. I’m learning from the Masters of life.

    • P.S. like Trump says, “Never skimp on Accountants and Pilots.”

      “What does a 1000lb Great White Shark with brain the size of a Detroit Deisel eat? Anything it wants muthafkr!” Samuel Jackson.

      Send my resume out anyway. See if I can get a bite. God may have other plans.

      Be back about Jesus birthday celebration. Not his actual birthday.

      • Emperor Constantine (whose mummy Helena was a devout Christian) established the Dec 25th date for Christmas. Various theories imply he was placating the pagan Roman masses, who celebrated the birth of Mithras and also the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus) on that day. However, the Gospels state that “Sheppards were watching over their flocks” during Yeshua’s birth, which traditionally occurs during the lambing season, i.e. Spring. This is not an uncommon practice. Even today, the U.K.s Queen Elizabeth, who was born on April 21st, has her official birthday celebration is on June 13th. The reason dates back to the 1700s when King George II moved his BD celebration to that date due to bad British weather on his actual BD

      • Wow.. I had read that those were important dates to the creation of the holiday we know celebrate as Christs birthday Warhammer but The Date had been celebrated for a long time before that over the birth of Nimrod and his mother / (Wife)…Semiramis, and his birthday is celebrated on 25th December along with the tree and all the hoopla associated.
        There are a slew of pagan rituals and dates surrounding the solstace and the 25th of december and different aspects of the things we use as symbols are associated and incorperated to our todays holiday celebration from each of the pagan rituals…..,. of december.. for myself.. its just another holiday celebrating one real M/Fkers birth .None of this even brings into scope the Roman holiday of Saturnalia..etc etc.. boxing day of the egyptians..and many many more..
        its commonly known in our family that the kids are not to ask me ( and I am to refrain from giving them my thoughts on the holiday) because I will tell them.. but when it comes to them enjoying the day I go along with what they decide to do..
        as I tell them the only fat man in red pajama’s putting toys that I have seen is me..

      • Love ya N. You are a good egg.

        I Been called alot of thing. ROTFLMFAO!


        Never been called Lazy and never been called late supper.

        *tips hat, *hang sign that read, “gone fishin till Christmas.

    • LOL! Hit the jake and turn momentum into noise! But for God’s good graces, I can totally relate to the pup passing on the freeway!

      Good luck with the new job, or whatever happens instead.

  3. The 80 20 rule works for people too. As a manager I noted that 80% of my problems came from 20% of the employees. (Or maybe 90/10).

  4. If you ever need a killer penetrating oil try AroKroil by Kano labs they say it will penetrate an opening down to one millionth of an inch you can only buy it direct and in 40 some years I have never found anything better! They make some other great products also.

    • jeff d. you are correct about Aerokroil. Brings back memories of my work in the 80’s. I recall it being in a bright orange aerosol can.

    • “If you ever need a killer penetrating oil”

      Back in the day.. we use to make one.. it was basically Benzine and a lightweight oil… stuff was awesome..

  5. Hey , George
    For a stool, sometimes three legs, angled slightly outward are better than four. Less work too, stable on uneven surfaces.

    • Any three points form a plane was ground into me in NuMath 60 years ago.

      Problem is, I work for HBIC *(head bunny in charge, lol)

  6. George,
    Re instruction manuals. Most states have an agricultural extension service. These services usually are sources of good information for the home gardener and the gentleman farmer. Information will be geared to the state served. These services are one of the few ways you can get some of your tax dollars back. It takes a little digging on the internet to find them. BTW have you checked the ph of your soil as well as the available nutrients. Learning to garden is like learning to fly fish; half hour to learn life time to perfect.

    • Which is why I have to unplug for hours at a time.

      Because my family tends to be of the lifetime to learn, half hour to do variety, lol.

      Made my older sister a damn fine librarian, though. An MLS was one of the few places to leverage a history degree…

  7. I went into town this morning and had breakfast at a Texas 25% diner. It was interesting. Communal tables were closed, and tables and booths were closed as needed to maintain 6’+ spacing between diners.In between guests, the tables were being individually wiped down with a spray cleaner. Waitresses had on masks when they delivered the food. Food was good. Butter was being rationed. I don’t know how safe it was, but I enjoyed it. It was certainly the cleanest that place has ever been.
    Malls, movie theaters and public transport are still a no-go for me. I am still using masks for infrequent trips to retail outlets, and observing decontamination when I get home. Soles of shoes are sprayed with Chlorox solution. Clothes go to the washer. Exposed skin surfaces get disinfected as a minimum.

    • There is a disinfectant that wine makers use. Wish I had time to look it up now but it’s very common and easy to use or make if I remember correctly. They use it to sterilize their wine bottles and I’ve heard of other people using it to disinfect open surfaces as well. Does this ring a bell with anyone?

      • Star San? I used something like it when I was doing some home brew a few years ago, probably a different brand but same chemical.

      • Looking through the wine and brewing sites there’s something called “One Step” that is an oxygen cleaner. If that’s what I remember but it’s been years back that I remember reading about it. It was said that it’s also used in the restaurant industry for cleaning tables and other public places. It’s on Amazon. One picture of a package says it contains percarbonates. This may be only an anti-bacterial agent, though.

  8. My Dad was a guinea pig for one of the Kroil Demonstrations (Ha! Y’all probably can’t find the original of THAT on the Internet!) The dude from Kroil dribbled a few drops into the cupped palm of his hand — 10 minutes (or so) later, the oil began to drip off the bottom of his hand. Dad told me it was physically impossible — the darnedest thing he ever saw, but he could find no track around his palm, from which the oil could’ve wicked around to the back of his hand.

    Kano Labs is an “essential” US-MIL supplier…


    Total cases: 620* (2 newly reported)
    Hawai’i County: 74
    Honolulu County: 400*
    Kaua’i County: 21
    Maui County: 116*†
    Pending: 0
    Residents diagnosed outside of Hawai‘i: 9
    Required Hospitalization: 73‡
    Hawaii deaths: 17
    Released from Isolation: 544
    Cumulative totals as of 12:00pm, May 3, 2020

    One new in Honolulu, one in Hawaii County.

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