Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nailing It

Neal loves I love a chilled glass of pinot grigio and a sunset. He uses them in practically every situation where he must explain something. Most of the time, it is an effective way to clarify one of his explanations (which, admittedly, are hard to follow sometimes...with all of the unfinished sentences and chuckling in the middle...). So, I'm used to them. And it's not like they just sprang (or is it "sprung") onto the American grammar scene...I'm pretty sure they were on the SAT's. But on the way home from KY a few weeks ago, Neal struck an all-time weird with his analogy of the $400 hammer (and let me say that until then, I had never heard of the $400 hammer analogy, which, according to Neal, was "all over the news a few years ago".... On our 8-hour drive to home #2, the following conversation took place:

Me: So, when are they going to decide if our Yellow Ribbon (pre-deployment workshop) is going to be in Macon or Orlando?
Neal: I don't know. Soon, I guess. It depends on where the other units have theirs.
Me: Oh, so our unit won't be the only one at the Yellow Ribbon?
Neal: No, we will be the only one for that weekend, but if they can have several units per month in the same hotel, then they may get a discounted rate so then they may pick a hotel that's more convenient to all the regions.
Me: wouldn't it be cheaper for everyone to have their conference in their area rather than fly everyone to a different state in order to save money on the conference room? (Let me stop here and say that I'm certainly not opposed to spending the weekend in Orlando. I would actually prefer it. I am just always baffled by wasteful spending).
Neal: Well, it's like the $400 hammer. Have you ever heard of the $400 hammer?
Me: No.
Neal: If you have a hammer that cost $20, it doesn't really cost $20 because a guy had to make the hammer and he makes $25 an hour. Then it had to be shipped and that's x amount of money....
Me: What does this have to do with how the Army books hotel rooms?
Neal: I'm trying to tell you! It's like the $400 hammer. Then this hammer has to be unloaded by the truck driver, who makes $50 an hour...
Me: Can we please kill the $400 hammer analogy? It's only confusing me. Who is the hammer and who is the truck driver in this scenario? Am I the hammer? Is the Army the hammer?
Neal: This is what I'm trying to tell you! The $400 hammer does not cost $20! It actually, in the end, costs $400!
Me: OK...I am not an idiot...I understand the analogy. I do not understand how that relates to the Army or the Yellow Ribbon or us flying to Orlando. (I think, at this point, there may have been some banging on the dash involved. Also, probably, some fairly negative body language).
Neal: I can't believe you've never heard of the $400 hammer....
Me: STOP!!! How does this, in ANY way, relate to the Army and our workshop??
Neal: Well, if I make $25 an hour and it takes me an hour to book the hotel room, then that's $25 right there, on top of the hotel room....
Me: Seriously, was that so hard?? Why does there have to be an analogy? And y'know what? Analogies only work if you understand the initial concept. Having no idea how the Army chooses Yellow Ribbon destinations or how they book hotel rooms, the analogy is useless. Why couldn't you have just said that 5 minutes ago?
Neal: Because it's just like the $400 hammer....

I think I may have blacked out at this point. Arguing with a 5-year old sometimes does that to me.


  1. Hmmmmmmm... I've had those kinds of irritating conversations before. And with Jason! Go figure.

    I've never heard of the $400 hammer either, my friend. You are not the only one.

  2. Except that it's a flawed analogy on the best of days. Because the $25/hr maker isn't making 1 hammer, he's making hundreds of hammers. And if he's smart he's using a lathe that goes lickety split and he's doing them in an efficient manner and that lathe and the bulk lumber and the smelting of the hammer head is all being factored into the cost of millions of hammers he or that factory is going to make in it's lifetime.

    And the $50/hr delivery guy isn't delivering 1 hammer, he's delivering cases of thousands of hammers all at once. The unit cost of that hammer may be, if dealing with a start-up hammer-maker, higher than $20 but it's not $400.

    And I realize that's totally not the point but...

  3. LMAO!!! This is awesome.

    Uhhhh, I have also never heard of the $400 hammer, but that is going to be my analogy of choice from now on :)

  4. Oh yes, I have heard of the $400 hammer. Because, you see...Neal and J are the same person. Except Neal is taller. Otherwise...the same.

    Remind me someday to tell you the anaolgy where I was Mike's a good one.

    And what is up with the unfinished sentences? Sometimes J will stop in the middle of a word and say "you know?". Um, nope...I have no idea what you are talking about at all! Finish the damn sentence and maybe it will make sense.

    Oh...and I told J our plan where he joins the Army and goes off to war with Neal. He is not on board with that plan.

  5. I've never heard of this hammer either. Analogies are not always necessary :) When would you be going?

  6. Oh good lord, I'd have tuned him out too!

  7. $400 hammer huh? What happens when Neal gets drunk?? This sounds like one of those late night, had a few, won't remember it in the morning, kind of conversations. This coming from the girl who makes up her own far fetched analogies. :-/

  8. At lesat yours understands analogies (or in my case, idioms)..sometimes I will say something to my hubby and he'll be all I dont' know what that last night I said something was a "red herring" and he's like, I don't understand. I said, red herring, and then had to explain it to him. HOpe our son gets my "book learnin'" smarts.

  9. And the $20 hammer ALREADY includes the trucker and the lathe runner and all the other costs, including a profit. Scraps is correct. They don't make them one at the time.

    Now, if we are talking about the $600 toilet, it's because the government is wasteful sometimes and pays more than a toilet (or hammer?) is worth!

  10. I think this is all a ploy to get you to call him "The Hammer" as a manly new nickname.

    Or perhaps "$400 Hammer" because that way he sounds elite and fancy, yet it's still masculine because he's hitting shit.

    Perhaps you could start using the analogy indiscriminately just to piss him off. So, the next time you ask him to take the trash out or empty the dishwasher and he argues, you can respond with, "Well, I would do it myself but then it would be just like the $400 hammer."


That's it, let it all out....