ISO quality, leading horses, and Uncle Ralph (long)

Subject: ISO quality, leading horses, and Uncle Ralph (long)
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Wed, 5 Oct 1994 15:37:28 MEZ

We (Uncle Ralph and I) were sitting around, hashing over this
business of quality and what it is and how you get it and all,
and the subject of "leading horses..." came up.

Boy, old Uncle Ralph jumped right on that one. He figured his
expertise in that area back before he replaced draft horses with
a Farmall was as relevant as any. And after what he apparently
went through with old Bob, his favorite of the three horses, well,
some aspects of quality you just shouldn't mess with.

It seems old Bob, who had gotten on in years, wasn't pulling that
steep road that crosses the wash and runs up into the west fields
like he used to. He was getting kinda balky, too, according to
Uncle Ralph. Kept rearing when he tried to get him in harness,
tossing the collar and just being plain "cussid", as he put it.

But mostly, old Bob wasn't pulling his weight in the real sense.
Uncle Ralph put up with this for a few days, and finally when old
Bob started trying to pin Uncle Ralph against the wall of the stall
at feeding time, he figured it was time to do something.

Typical land grant farmer that he was, Uncle Ralph wasn't given to
asking for help (horses aren't the only things that get "cussid"
in that part of Wisc.), but he had to admit that he was stumped.
So he grudgingly called out the vet from town, who looked old Bob
over and in relatively short time decided that old Bob had...well,
you might say he was hung up in an internal loop and had a "throughput"

So the vet prescribed a "loop buster", some pills of formidable size
that Uncle Ralph was to administer to loosen old Bob up a bit. Now,
horses being what they are and old Bob being one of the worst of
breed, this required quite a unique administration: the vet gave
Uncle Ralph a dozen or so of those pills, each about the size of
your pinkie finger, and a tube. Uncle Ralph was instructed to:

1. Insert a pill into the tube.

2. Place the tube just inside Bob's muzzle, but not too far in...and

3. Place the other end in his own mouth, and

4. Blow firmly.

Of course, this strikes most folks as quite a clever way of doing
this sort of unpleasant task, particularly if you've ever had to
do likewise with your own cat or whatever. But as Uncle Ralph found
out, it requires a bit of forethought; otherwise, it can become a
catastrophe of quite consequence and duration.

Uncle Ralph, feeling somewhat put upon, waited until the vet had left
and everyone had gone back to the house before he decided to get the
first treatment over with. Taking one of the pills, he did approximately
as he was told, to wit:

1. Inserted the pill into the tube.

2. Placed the tube end just inside old Bob's muzzle.

3. Put the other end in his own mouth

4. Took a deep breath...

Now, maybe Bob coughed. Or maybe not. It didn't really matter.
The end-effect, as folks nowadays are wont to say, was the same--
The pill went the opposite direction from that intended.

The consequences were not exactly immediate. But almost. Certainly
quicker than the time it took Uncle Ralph to cover the distance from
the barn to the two-holer out back of the house. His overall elapsed
time for needed to cover that distance, of course, wasn't enhanced
by the fact that, in the naive hope of somehow reducing the damage about
to be wrought, he had dropped his Oshkoshes to his knees...

At any rate, Uncle Ralph was removed from the family circle for about
three days--the first of which he spent half of shuttling between the
house to replenish essential liquids and the two-holer. A sadder and
somewhat thinner for his trouble, he returned reluctantly to the barn
to find that old Bob had gotten himself straightened out without help
from anyone, and was back to pretty much his old self.

The relevance of all this to quality? I guess one should think things
through every step of the way before you try to improve on what you
think is a problem...or buy a Farmall.


For what little it's worth...

J. Shaw

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