Set the Right Course

Posted on October 23, 2019

Flooring Quote
Today’s Buzz is by Clay Campbell, Administrative Supervisor for the Downers Grove Sanitary District. Connect on LinkedIn and Twitter!

What I’m Reading: Kiplinger’s November Issue (it’s finance, y’all!)

What I’m Watching: Living with Yourself feat. Paul Rudd on Netflix (dark comedy fo sure)

What I’m Listening To: Pretty much anything by the Chainsmokers right now

Set the right course.

Whether it’s thought leadership, self-improvement or parenting – it’s easy to find references out there of “finding one’s compass,” “getting your bearings,” or “starting with the right foundation.” All of these involve a journey of sorts wanting to get from where you are now to where you want to be and not getting horribly lost in the process. It might be about finding a good mentor, or that really inspiring book that gives you perspective or even a bit of travel to broaden your horizons.

This point has been extremely poignant for me this week as I’m starting to install hardwood floors throughout the second floor of our house. Wait…what? Yep – Let’s do this. 

Now if you don’t know much about installing hardwood floor, at least take away that it doesn’t look good if it’s crooked. There’s A LOT of prep work that goes into getting the stage set for a project to come out nice (carpet and padding removal, baseboard removal, tack strips removal, staples removal – there’s clearly a theme going on here). 

It doesn’t take much to appreciate those nice long clean lines of red oak as you peer down the hallway and your eyes chase the warm hues of wood flowing into all the bedrooms (at least this is what I’m envisioning in my mind it will hopefully look like once I’m finished). The key to any quality installation of hardwood flooring is to properly lay the first course. You can see mine on the far right of the floor in the picture to the left – just waiting to be nailed down.

I’ll be using a pneumatic nailer (new tech – shown right) to do most of the heavy lifting on this project, but it’s hard to believe that some contractors still do this work by hand nailing (old tech). Either way, the focus is still on getting the job done the right way – knowing that with each new board you’re headed in the right direction and not going to have to backtrack. Each row of wood is referred to as a “course” and there is none more important than that first one. 

Anyone worth their salt will recommend you use your straightest and longest pieces of wood for this first course because it will serve as your anchor point for the rest of the project. Those boards, once affixed, will become the reference points by which all other courses shall follow – any significant lack of attention or care in ensuring that first course is straight will become blatantly obvious by the fourth or fifth course. Each course of boards typically contain “tongues and grooves” (Could be another Parks ‘N Rec MouseRat band name perhaps!!!) that fit together to create a nearly seamless appearance. Can you make incremental course corrections along the way in hopes of correcting the misstep and trying to align everything again? Certainly. Will it be easy or enjoyable? Nope. Definitely not a project for the impatient or impulsive (I’m 0 for 2).

I think many of us have undertaken projects before where we encounter a challenge or problem and our frustration or insecurity takes shape through large amounts of swearing, crying or something in between. Take courage – we all have to ask for help at some point as a “gut check” of sorts for reassurance that we’re not straying off course. This was Saturday for me. I wanted to get so much accomplished during the weekend before the weekly routine reclaimed me – the day had yet to be fruitful in that regard and was already half over. I knew the USS Ron Swanson (trust me – it’s an awesome imaginary ship) was temporarily adrift and needed some orienteering. My trusty advisors were a couple members of the family that either had experience doing similar projects before or no experience whatsoever and brought exactly the right perspective I needed. As much as I didn’t want to hear the advice they had for me (as it was the right advice pointing me in the right direction, but it meant I would have to put off the immediate gratification I sought), I conceded that it was the right path forward. Now it’s Wednesday and there’s no doubt it was the right call. I have a plan and I’m not afraid to use it!

Here’s a quick video that gives you the lowdown on what’s involved with installing nail-down hardwood flooring in case you’re interested in tackling it yourself:

Whatever your project or passion in local gov is this week, make sure you set your first course the right way (even if there’s frustration, delays and uncertainty involved) and enjoy the resulting outcome!

Close window