Monday, January 09, 2006

Engineering Time

Quite a few years ago, I studied to be a chemical engineer. One of my professors taught us the concept of "Engineering Time". It's a corollary of Murphy's Law, I think, and I imagine other professions could claim it as well. Here's how it works.

Engineering Time:
Make your best estimate as to how long a project will take to complete.
Double the number and expand the units to the next higher order.

Project estimation - 2 hours
Engineering Time - 4 days

Depressing? Yep. But all too often true.

I was reminded of Engineering Time when I answered a call to supply a couple of banners for the church. The logic was sound. We have banners for the Liturgical Seasons. Purple ones for Lent. Green ones for Epiphany. Blue ones in Advent. However, we lacked any "General Purpose" banners for "White Days of Celebration". Days that pop up in the middle of Seasons of Color. "The Baptism of Our Lord". Transfiguration. Maundy Thursday. "Christ the King" Sunday.

The need was there, I was confident that I could provide something classic, timeless and appropriate.

I estimated that the project would take 3 weeks.

This was last July. Right. You can probably see where THIS is going.

Back in July, I was in no hurry. I didn't see that we would NEED those banners before Christ the King Sunday. Mid-November. Lots of time. I played with some designs, considered some options, shopped for some materials, made some plans, and then went full speed ahead into Marching Band Season. Suffice it to say that NO banners were constructed between July and November 8 (see November Blog entry about Polishing Shoes). With a Saturday and a couple of late nights, one banner was hanging on November 20, Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday of the Church Year.

The next week meant Advent, a New Year, a new beginning, and a chance to work on that second banner.

Which would have been fine, except for a shortage of the gold braid needed for the Celtic knotwork design. And some extensive searches for some MORE of that gold braid. And Christmas. And a daughter home from college, and presents to wrap and cookies to bake and general merriment and celebration.

Last Sunday, January 8, was the Baptism of Our Lord. The white banners, BOTH of them, were hanging in places of honor. They were much admired. My work was validated.

The final stitches were put in place on Friday afternoon, January 6.

Engineering Time.
3 weeks = 6 months.

Yes, it does.


Jenny said...

Gorgeous work! Your church is so lucky to have someone with your talent and willingness to share.

I was wondering if you were done this weekend when we dedicated the new font at church. Glad to see they were completed!

Veronica in Aus said...

They look wonderful! I guess one of these was what you were working on in New Braufels?

Jean said...

Yes, the more "rounded" one was the one I was working on in November. I also have pictures of the cat sitting on it while I tried to work...

Veronica in Aus said...

Those cats - they get into everything :)

One of my cats was sitting on my Memory Mate Cart, trying to get my attention last night....

Nancy D. said...

Dang.... that's FAST.

Engineering time around here hovers at the five year mark.

Maybe the difference between chemical and electrical engineers..... dunno...

Very nice at any speed....

Elaine said...

I guess now would NOT be the time for me to suggest a shortcut? No?

Gorgeous, by the way. Truly. :)