Dec 11, 2006

Test To Destruction

Have you ever watched an improperly maintained or assembled machine destroy itself? If not, I invite you to a front-row seat.

If you've never seen a machine destroy itself, count yourself lucky; it's not a pretty sight. Any machine, be it flesh and blood or steel and oil needs to be maintained properly for it to work to it's best. And even a moderately maintained machine can continue to do it's duties, albeit at a lower level of functional ability. Run your lawnmower every spring and summer with clean spark plugs, a clean air filter, a tank full of fresh gasoline and a sharp blade and it'll continue to operate just like it did when you first cranked it up. Run it with spark plugs that are a few seasons old, a dirty filter, a tank of last year's gasoline and dull blades and it'll likely still run, but it certainly won't cut grass nearly as well as it used to.

The same goes for a machine whose constituient parts are not working properly in concert. Let's continue with our lawnmower image, yes?

So your lawnmower's blade has gotten dull, and you sharpen it. Only, when you sharpen it, you don't bother to make sure you take the same amount of steel off both sides, so it's unbalanced. And when you put in a new sparkplug, you don't make sure the gap is the same as the old one. And maybe you made an air filter for it out of an empty coffee can punched full of holes with a screwdriver, with a roll of toilet paper stuffed inside for the filter element, and the whole thing almost but doesn't quite bolt on properly. And you get out there and start cutting grass. The blade is whopping around like a bolo, only it's shaking the machine so bad that you can barely hold it because one side is several ounces lighter than the other. And the piston is misfiring because the spark plug has way too much spark, so the fuel is igniting too fast for the valves to match the stroke. And the toilet paper roll is starting to burn from the engine heat, and the air rushing into the can through all those holes makes kind of a loud screaming sound. But undaunted, off you go, merrily pushing this shivering, rattling, howling machine.

And let's say you don't bother to fix the problem because it actually cuts the grass mildly well, except for the smoke and the huge gaps in the yard, but then, finally, one bright sunny afternoon the wobbly blade's elliptical orbit has finally caused the driveshaft to wear to the point that it simply snaps, flinging the wildly gyrating blade to the rear, where it shears straight through the rusted sheetmetal of the mower deck and slices it's way at 300 rpms straight through both of your shins, leaving you on a pair of bloody stumps.

That's what's happening in the office right now. The weekly maintenance isn't getting done, the parts that need replacing or fixing aren't getting replaced or fixed, and the whole office is being shaken to it's foundations. Loose bits and pieces are already flying off, and the core pieces, the ones that really matter are starting to show serious signs of metal fatigue. It's time for some maintenance, lawnmower man.

As someone said today: "Welcome to the Army of Hopelessness."


Nancy Dancehall said...

Ugh! Sorry to hear it. It sucks when an organization eats its own.

Irrelephant said...

But you know, it's doing a damn fine job of it.

Scott from Oregon said...

Is this machine, like, dangerous (like an IRS computer)?

Vulgar Wizard said...

THIS couldn't be more true. Well done, Papa. Well done. As your boss, I will now ask you to print this and fax it over to Bill's office. Tee hee hee...