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the ethical pot - way too long, but tasteful

updated mon 25 apr 11


Joseph Herbert on sat 23 apr 11

Marina wrote: "The next year before mug exchange time I asked someone to
mentor me. He told me my work "sucked" but didn't go on to say how I might
make it not suck. Every time I get down to going to work I hear that "your
work sucks" and have that to overcome. How much better off might I have bee=
had I just kept the broken halves of the beautiful, singing, teaching,
ethical mug ..."

Well, I think naming names might be appropriate, but that is your call.

In my business, contract training development, there is a thing we call,
"bring me a rock." It is a requirement that most of the people overseeing
the work we do know exactly, from analysis, what skill and knowledge is
required for their employees to do their work. Still, there is, "bring me =
rock." It starts off with a topic, "We need some pump training." And it
might even include some learning objectives being approved. So far, so

Now, pump training on a basic level is not wildly difficult to development
because there are relatively few kinds of pumps and any given plant will
have a even more limited number of those, and pump training has been
developed before, more than once. So the developer goes off to his cube an=
assembles a training course of a certain length that matches those learning
objectives (if there are any) and then takes it back to the originator of
the request. Now, we are in rock territory.

At its worst: "Nope, don't like this, do it again." And that is all. The
organization this person works for is paying quite a bit of money for this
developer to flounder around looking for a rock to suit the taste of that
person. It certainly seems to not matter to the person. No direction, jus=
"not good enough." Sometimes, a developer may make an effort to produce a
second rock (training course) to suit the taste of the requestor, but
sometimes not. If they are old and crusty (and have the prospect of anothe=
job in the wings) they may say, "That was the only rock I have, you will
have to describe exactly what you want if I am to continue."

So, there are idiots everywhere. You happened to pick one (idiot) for an
area where you cared much more about the result than they did. Perhaps the=
thought what they were supposed to do was in relation to Mentor, Ohio, a no=
particularly attractive (to me) town east of Cleveland. It does boast the
home of James Garfield, one of the 7 presidents from Ohio, and the Great
Lakes Mall. It has been climbing up the "100 best places to live in
America" list, but that seems to be more of a factor of decay at the top,
rather than improvement in Mentor. Perhaps the success of Mentor in
climbing up the list is related to the fact that dead teenagers, bullied
into suicide at the local high school, don't vote on that list. Seems like
your mentor would fit in to this Mentor rather well. It appears one of the
requirements to be a true Mentorite (a work coined by candidate Garfield) i=
intolerance, so the first test is passed.

Since the town is on the southeast side of Lake Erie, it's cold and it snow=
a lot. Perhaps your mentor was thinking to emulate those aspects of the
town. Since the wind blows off the lake there all the time, there is the
suspicion that Mentor sucks, too. Perhaps not as much as Cleveland, but
there you go. It has a near-by salt mine that perhaps your "mentor" could
be sent to.

At the end, you might ask yourself if your respect for this person was
misplaced. I would suggest your error, if there was one, was in the weight
you granted the "mentor's" opinion. And you granted it, you can take it
back. So, out them for the small minded, bullying, intolerant Mentorite
that they are. Get Mad, move on.

I have to say that my pottery sucks. First of all, there isn't enough of
it, that is really another question, however. On the other hand, for some
of the efforts, there may be too much of it. A couple of years ago I was
fairly satisfied with the pots I was making, they were, I thought, nicely
formed, reasonably sized, and competently finished. They were certainly
better than some I had made previously, lips like an aged New Englander,
nearly non-existent, but still somehow disapproving. Unlike those
metaphorical lips, those on my pots chipped rather easily. I also was
making the walls rather thin, sort of in the pursuit of a vague general ide=
of light pots being good. I had, you see, heard it was a desired
characteristic. Well, it turns out that it is not a desired characteristic
for me. At that point, a moment of realization, my pots sucked. I still
had quite a few of them and, even worse, so did my mother. So, accepting
the suckyness of the current crop, I moved on.

First, I started to try to make things thicker. I tried to increase the
amount of clay in a particular sized piece by 30 to 50 percent. Then I
would have to stop myself from continuing to work on a piece at a stage tha=
would have been mid-way previously. I made some fairly clunky things in
that period. They had nice lips on them though. Full, well rounded, and
durable, just on clunky pots. They sort of sucked and I didn't give any to
my mom.

Time and pottery passed, and I found some bowl forms that I could make that
were agreeably thick walled, well balanced (I thought), and attractive. I
found that nice Simon Leach video about rolled rims and these pots have got
some lips on them, I can tell you. It was not an entirely pleasant journey
to the pots I now think don't suck. I did get to throw a lot (for me) of
clay, which I really like. I got to talk to people at the various clay
venues I frequented, which I like some. I got to make a few pots that I di=
give to my mom, and aunt, and I liked that.

So, right now, I am not making pottery but hope to soon. I expect that I
will decide that some aspect of the latest efforts suck. Perhaps not as
much as those vicious cutting lips of the past, but still suck some. To
change that perception I will, no doubt, produce some pots that suck more
than the ones I make now. It is a process for me and most of the time at
least some part of some pot I just made, sucks. I am OK with that since it
is my sucky pot, and if you don't like it, go away.

Chin up, please yourself, move forward.


Joseph Herbert
Training Developer

marci Boskie's Mama =3D^..^=3D on sun 24 apr 11

Joseph Herbert said :
> A couple of years ago I was fairly satisfied with the pots I was
> making, they were, I thought, nicely
>formed, reasonably sized, and competently finished. I also was
>making the walls rather thin, sort of in the pursuit of a vague general id=
>of light pots being good. I had, you see, heard it was a desired
>characteristic. Well, it turns out that it is not a desired characteristi=
>for me. At that point, a moment of realization, my pots sucked.

Isnt it a good thing that when we are at various levels in the
learning curve, we are happy with what we do , satisfied with the
accomplishment du jour? Sure, we look back at stuff we thought was
great a year,a month, a week ago and can now say :"
Euwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! WHAT was I thinking ?" but at that point in the
journey, it felt good to be able to ( Insert whatever you were
finally able to accomplish with that piece )
A kid learning to play guitar thinks he's Eric Clapton the second
he masters an F chord and its a good thing because , at that stage
of the game, if you realize how bad you truly are in comparison
to Eric, you would just quit .
As we improve, we move the bar higher .
Marci the chinapainter