Monday, September 24, 2007

"If you can't tie a knot, stay off the road."

Sometimes you'll see this salt shake his head and mutter, “If you can’t tie a knot, tie a lot.” It’s about contempt for over-compensation.
If someone says, “Here, make this off,” you certainly don’t want to let them down. If you’re not making the line off to a pin or cleat, and if you’ve had some training, you’ll make due with a round turn and two half-hitches ... or a bowline. Both are functional and I didn’t describe a particular instance, so don’t you come the Ashley on me, Sonny Jim.
Sometimes, I’ll find what somebody once called a “bullocks hitch” -- a snarl made off with a series of granny knots that are tied off to each other pulled taut through what looks like a sheet bend appended by a half-dozen turns and a square knot and then an (accidental) reef knot and another really tight granny knot and a half Windsor. If there are no time constraints, I break those with a marlinspike. If I have to get that misconception out in a hurry, I'll use my best tool: a sharp knife. Unfortunately, the latter option often leads to a good line being reduced to a handful of deck fluff.
Most non-judgmental boaters -- of which there are none -- tend to look upon these “knots” (and the people who tie them) as wastes. As a symptom, such sissal nests are a fine assertion of someone’s lack of confidence. Fear makes bad knots.
The same principle applies to driving.
If you don’t know the rules at a four-way stop, you’ll wave and gesticulate to tell the driver who stopped after you and to your left, “No, you go.” Yes, you may think you’re showing others that you’re a polite and nifty guy. But you’re wrong and you're aggravating the driver who does know how to drive.
Then, underway again, there's swerving fifteen feet to the other side of the road to avoid a pedestrian or biker, sometimes even on the sidewalk. Another example of “tying a lot.” To this, your ThirdMate sez: "Trust your skills." Or, more appropriately, "Learn some skills." You don’t have to careen off the on-coming traffic trying to let everyone see how careful you are about not clocking some roller skater or other. And when you swerve back into the right lane and accelerate to 65 in the 25 mph school zone to make up for lost time, you’re over-compensating again. Particularly when the kid (who's walking on the wrong side of the road to begin with) is also over-compensating for her fear by walking further into the center of the road and more slowly.
Driving isn’t as hard as making a splice sixty feet up a mast on a slippery yard in 15-foot chop with 20-knot gusts. Unless you’re driving the new Oldsmobuick SUViathan while on the phone ordering Peking Bungalow take-out with the spouse on the other line and cueing up the DVD and setting the !babymozartsongs playlist on the iPod while getting directions from the GPS and asking the kids how the game went.

But you can probably save yourself some of that inconvenience.

3 comments:

Dr. Momentum said...

THANK you. So, I'm not the only one, then.

Of course, there are the times when you may trust your own skills, but don't trust the cyclist/skater. Been there.

Large said...

Having several times as a former cyclist in the most dangerous county in Fla. almost getting my topknot clipped and developing a great contempt for all things four wheeled I say......

can't we just splice the main brace and order a round ??

you forgot the sots who attempt to make the highway into a proverbial turks head with their high speed weaving and bobbing ( didn't know a Prius could do that) while using the rearview at a range of 2 feet to adjust their daily signal flags on their way to the cube

Shackle them I say and make them retye the knotboard every 3 years or so....

ThirdMate said...

Aye. Splicing main brace, sir, ordering lively. Aye.
Raising one to the ol' Iron Mistress.