When BIM Bollocks becomes BIM Bellingcat

It do be like that; you’re just minding your business, doing some stuff, and then suddenly you’re an investigative journalist. Well, that’s exactly what happened to the BIM Weasel recently.

An article popped up on local media regarding a ceiling collapse at Central MTR station. I didn’t think much of it at the time, other than it looked like another reason for the media to beat up the MTR corporation again. Shortly thereafter, and entirely unprompted, the “evidence” just fell into my lap (although in a considerably less exciting way than a train station ceiling).

Sometimes things do fail. Stuff does fall over from time to time. However, it doesn’t look great when a report published 10 years ago would appear to have forewarned against exactly the incident covered by the local press. On this occasion, no one was hurt. Central station can get very busy, and would undoubtedly have been busier were it not for current Covid pandemic conditions. What would the response have been if there was a serious injury, or death?

So the cover page tells you what the report would be about, and when it was published.

So it would appear that proposed remedial measures, listed below, were not followed particularly closely, or possibly at all. Water ingress will lead to corrosion and premature failures. This may manifest itself as bits of subway ceiling falling down…

So the solutions suggested involved some disruption to traffic on Connaught Road, or none at all. The author provided a range of possible responses, including electro osmosis primarily to prevent rebar corrosion. If structural reinforcement corrodes too much, that’s when things fall down. Particularly ceilings and that kind of thing…

So, in short, the recommendations were to get it sorted before it gets worse and something lands on someone’s head. Ten years is plenty of time for water ingress to go to work on the embedded reinforcement. More to come, or will the MTRC finally address the issue?

Caveat: it is assumed that the problems highlighted in the report have not been fully addressed, although it is not know for certain. To the author’s knowledge, there has been no major renovation work of the type described in some of the recommendations (such as digging up Connaught Road to inject grout) in the past 10 years.

Acronym Soup

It is true that BIM is a niche filled to the brim with acronyms. In rather an overuse of the things, it is often necessary to include an entire appendix section just to cover them all. Wondering what your MIDP has to do with a RACI, or unsure whether you need LOD or LOIN? There are so many acronyms in use, that it is inevitable that you will get one or two instances of disagreement about what it really stands for. Level of Development, or Level of Detail? Well one meaning that “everyone” has been in agreement with for some time is that BIM = Building Information Modelling. Apart from the odd amusing misuse, such as BIM = Building In Mistakes, or Budget Is Massive, there is a consensus of opinion that spans industry disciplines, geographical regions, cultures and languages. At least, to my knowledge, it has been that way until now.

I have recently been receiving some exciting emails. I could hardly contain myself when, one Monday morning, I should be informed that “our evaluation panel has shortlisted to feature BIM Weasel BIM Consulting (BWBC because acronyms rule of course) as one of the Top 10 BIM Service Companies in APAC”. Finally, our hard work had been recognised and we can make a show of our undisputed BIM chops, or so I thought. Of course, if something looks too good to be true, that’s usually because it is. Back to the email and soon enough came the sentence, “the reprint rights of BWBC’s single-page profile is US$3,000.” Ah. I see. So we were legitimately shortlisted, and this sum does cover the cost of a “Certificate of Honor” (sic), a single page “color Adspace” (sic), and circulation is “55,000 print qualified subscribers” along with “85,000 digital qualified subscribers”. So Construction Tech Review is quite a big thing, is it? Well respected within the industry? I was curious to find out more.

For the sake of argument, and to spare any blushes, let’s call the author of the introductory email Jonathan Malibu. Well, I did the usual due diligence by checking out the author, via LinkedIn, and visiting the website of the publication. LinkedIn found only one Jonathan Malibu, but with an incomplete profile, as well as a Nigerian chap called Malibu Jonathan. So far, so good. Maybe he’s such a successful businessman that he’s too busy for LinkedIn? But what do you suppose I discovered when I visited the website? Hold on to your socks because what you’re about to read is in danger of knocking them right off!

He has been a persistent fellow, this Mr Malibu, so you’ve got to give him that at least. Very keen indeed. Three times now, he has reminded me about his initial introductory email and wants to schedule a call to discuss our well earned reward. I have not replied once. Pardon my lack of enthusiasm, but I am sceptical of any worthwhile source of industry knowledge that refers to BIM as Business Information Modeling. Yes. Eyebrows raised. The very first BIM article I looked at, valiantly railed against collective industry-wide perceived knowledge by changing the meaning of BIM! It has absolutely nothing to do with building anything, apparently.

I do hope that you’ve been carefully modelling your business information?

Word Salad

Once I had recovered my composure, shocked as I was that we had all been using the term BIM incorrectly all these years, I checked out the rest of the article. It was an absolute shitfest of poor grammar, misinformation and vaguely worded bullshit. In fact, a little bit like a UK government statement on how the unrestricted flow of road freight will occur post-Brexit, only without the grammatical errors.

I moved on to another article, entitled How Will the BIM Models Work Efficiently to see if I could glean anything useful, but it was the same sorry story. Poorly understood copy-pasta, not a source of useful information. I would like to think that the entire edifice of Construction Tech Review will get outed and shown the door by the wider community. But then, who should I see pop up with an article in their name? Only industry veteran, knowledge repository and generally nice guy, Richard Kuppusamy. Eyebrows raised again. Unsure as to whether this was original content (pretty sure it’s not), but a quick Google search was briefly put off when I was hit by this cheeky message:

So you can rip off the originators, but your content is copyright? Yeah, sure.

Despite the fact that the text appears to be a transcript from a presentation Richard made back in 2017, I can’t copy-pasta because it’s copyright? No problem Mr Malibu. Such utter horse shit. Anyhow, needless to say, I shall not be taking him up on his offer to pay US$3,000 for some dubious publicity puff-piece which may or may not even appear on a seldom viewed website, or in print.

Mentees, not manatees

I was recently fortunate enough to find myself invited to a webinar/workshop where I was introduced as an “expert” and mentor. Now I’m fairly happy for people to call me whatever they like, so long as it’s not too rude, but expert is not something I have ever felt comfortable with. When it comes to the niche world of BIM there are, in my honest opinion, rather too many “experts” around. After all, not everyone can be an expert in their field, surely? Where are all the “enthusiastic journeymen” or even “keen amateurs”? In fact, the term is so overused as to be in danger of becoming rather meaningless. It has become like the “Celtic arm ring” tattoo equivalent, that looked great in Bali in the 90’s when no one else had one, but is so mainstream these days that it can be more of a talking point NOT to have a tattoo.

Arm ring tattoos: so passé.

So if we are not to introduce all knowledgeable BIM peeps as “experts”, then what should we be introducing them as instead? Well, here is a suggestion; although it is only a suggestion. How about we just do away with all the guff about how “Mr So-and-so was the first person in the world to export an NWC file”, or “Ms Blah-de-blah is frequently invited to perform parlour tricks to government ministers” and let the audience judge the value of the content for themselves? Why? Because it is my considered opinion, having sat through a few of these things in my time, that the true “experts” of any given BIM situation spend far too much of their time attempting to unravel the Gordian Knots they frequently confront on their projects that they simply haven’t the time to fanny about with putting fancy Powerpoint slideshows together. You are as likely to find genuine expertise in the audience at such events as on the stage talking about it.

So back to where I started with this. A webinar thing. What with the COVID-19 apocalypse, the industry, which previously comprised of a calendar filled with copious networking events, seminars, lectures and summits, culminating in the “Burning Man festival of BIM” that was Autodesk University with its annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas, was completely wiped out. If there was any silver lining to this great, black cloud of the pandemic, it is that far fewer people have been subjected to the merry-go-round of unrepresentative award ceremonies, snake oil salesmen soapbox events and theory lacking in practical application that has been a feature of the growth of BIM. Many senior IT/CAD/BIM/digital whatever saleswankers have been prevented from attending their annual get togethers on the company Dime. And, guess what? Has the push for BIM upskilling and usage fallen behind globally by a whole year? I guess we will know for certain as 2021 progresses, but something tells me that this whole experience, as painful as it has been for so many people due to furloughs and staff cuts, it should have become abundantly clear that the parasitical relationship between software vendors via the preferred vectors of IT/CAD/BIM/digital departments, is not only unhealthy but entirely superfluous to meaningful progression and uptake of BIM throughout the AECO industry.

Something we can all do though, and something that does add value and meaning, both to teacher and pupil, is mentoring. If all of those “enthusiastic journeymen” and “keen amateurs” were to each find a suitable BIM professional mentor to take them under their wing, and those mentees were to go on and do the same once suitably experienced, the whole upskilling and knowledge cock-block that is the most frequent accusation foisted upon BIM advocates as the reason why “Design Department A doesn’t do BIM” would be progressively overcome.

But do remember one thing; it’s mentees, not manatees.

IT Managers: How not to support BIM

During the early stages of a large infrastructure project I was involved in circa 2014, it was decided to deploy Revit Server to support the team of 50+ architects and engineers developing the models for the project. As the company’s offices were split between 2 buildings in the same location, a Revit Server host was located in the main server room in the head office while an accelerator was deployed in the main project office.

This was necessary as there were teams working on the models located in both offices, and the trunk line connecting the two was only 100Mbps, which doesn’t support the traffic that would be flowing on the project, and corrupt Revit files would have been a huge risk. An order was placed to upgrade the trunk line to 1Gbps, but it would take a couple of months so the Revit server solution was essential.

Just getting approval for Revit Server was blocked by Global IT as they favoured the use of ProjectWise that was being rolled out across the business, and they tried to convince us that splitting the models into tiny worksets which individuals could check in and out of ProjectWise would be the best solution. BIM Managers from 3 countries were flown to the UK to be browbeaten into accepting this disastrous workflow, they even brought in one half of the team that came up with the BIM Wedge (it was his idea) to argue with us that using ProjectWise like this was a great idea. The reality, as ever, was that politics were at work and several of the IT bods had hung their careers on getting ProjectWise enforced across the company, and they strongly asserted their authority to stop us from using Revit Server, that they considered a threat to their positions as technical leaders.

Which one do you think it was?

On returning back to the other side of the world, I pleaded our case for Revit Server with the PM, and he escalated up to the regional CEO, who told the Global CEO in no uncertain terms that we were having Revit Server installed, whether the IT goons agreed or not. We won.

Anyway, after a few months of project operations, with multiple models being worked on by the team, we arrived one morning and nobody could access the models, the Revit Accelerator wasn’t responding. The local IT guys, who were not the sharpest bunch reported that there had been a power failure in the server room at the project office, and our server had abruptly stopped, corrupting all the files on the server. “What about the UPS?” I asked the IT guy, he said it had done its job and kept the server running for an extra 30 minutes. “And you were not able to access the server and shut it down remotely after getting the alert from the UPS?” I asked. “Well no, we bought cheap UPSs which didn’t send a power failure notification to the sysadmin”.

Yes Colin, they really are that dumb

This was bad enough, but the next cock up was a classic. The Revit Server installation was on a dedicated PC, and during routine checks the IT guys found that the hard drive was getting full, so had a look at the file system and deleted the folder with the most data, our Revit Server model store… It was a cock up of epic proportions, thankfully we were able to restore the models from local copies on people’s hard drives, otherwise we would have been screwed as we later found out they were not routinely backing up the server.

A lesson learnt, don’t trust IT people to do their job, they often don’t.

Autodesk are taking the piss

One of the most frustrating things about working with BIM tools is how pathetically bad they are, especially tools from Autodesk. Take Revit for example, it was the love child of an old, but smart, for its time, architectural tool called Pro Reflex which had its roots in the 1980s, and parametric mechanical CAD with its constraints and relationships. Its developers maintain that there is no Pro Reflex code in Revit, despite taking the source code with them when they left PTC to establish the Charles River Software, later renamed Revit Technology Corporation.

The guy who sold Pro Reflex to PTC, and therefore knows what he’s talking about, disputes the Revit developers’ claim that no code carried over into Revit, and has documented proof that there are definitely traces of 1980’s Pro Reflex code and design in Autodesk’s flagship BIM tool.

Whatever the merits of both of these claims, the fact is that as a parametric mechanical CAD tool, it is primitive and slow when compared to the modern ACIS 3D kernel from Spatial or Siemens’ Parasolid engine. And as an architectural tool, it does not allow architects to develop the buildings they want to design without resorting to developing special tools to make Revit do what they have asked Autodesk to make it do, but they have refused to spend any money on it. This, and price gouging on licenses, led to the Letter to Autodesk from prominent UK architects demanding action from Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk’s CEO, and covered in detail by Martyn Day in AEC Magazine. Things have got so bad that HOK, who are a Revit house and BIM pioneers, abandoned their Enterprise Agreement with Autodesk and are evaluating alternatives to replace Revit.

Those of us that work in large firms know how hard Autodesk are squeezing the balls of their EBA customers, the price of a usage token has risen over 70% in the past 3 years to more than 1.10 USD (Revit is 6 tokens a day), which has focussed the minds of CFOs and COOs in the tier 1 companies, many of which are formulating strategies to teach Autodesk a lesson. Autodesk University meetings will be very frosty this year.

Navisworks is another Autodesk product not developed in-house, but by a company in Sheffield, UK called Lightworks, that developed Navisworks to allow 3D models from multiple incompatible vendors to be combined in a single application. It was acquired by Autodesk in 2007, and has been a cash-cow ever since, receiving minimal updates and new features. Another example of Autodesk taking the piss. iConstruct wouldn’t exist if they weren’t taking the piss out of their customers, and remember that Navisworks Manage was one of the most expensive tools they sold.

But my biggest beef with Autodesk is that they have all these tools and products, and rather than making sure that they are able to be used collaboratively as a priority, few products are able to be used together except on a very basic and limited way. Revit’s monumentally stupid coordinates system for example is the cause or more lost unproductive hours than just about any feature on any piece of professional software.

Revit’s coordinate system will take it’s toll on almost every project, no matter how well you craft the execution plan or provide templates and strict instructions on how to link models together. On a recent project, the architect created his initial model, from which all other models in multiple applications (Revit, Plant3D, Civil3D and Bentley tools) took reference for the location of the model. A couple of months into the project, the architect decided to lower his his model by roughly 300m as they fucked up the original coordinates. As a consequence, chaos ensued and many many manhours were spent accommodating the fuckup by the architect, in some apps this meant starting again from scratch.

Autodesk’s cloud BIM collaboration platform is not much better. Trying to get models uploaded has brought document controllers to tears on one project, and the latest model collaboration integration with Navisworks promises much but doesn’t deliver. Want to collaborate models from other applications than Revit, sure they said, you can use IFC. What they don’t tell you upfront, is that it will only accept IFC models generated from 4 applications, and 2 of them are Revit, and MagiCAD for Revit.

Want to link in a Plant3D reference into Revit? It’s a horrible kludge of a process. Link an IFC model from Bentley Open Buildings into Revit? Not possible. Navisworks into Revit? Useless. Open a Revit model in Formit? Not a chance. Infraworks? Inventor? 3DS Max?

Autodesk is a $3+ Billion company that acts like a snake oil salesman, peddling tools that promise much but deliver little in the way of value of compatibility. It will soon discover how much is customers hate them.

Tools of Dubious Productivity

So when you’re against the clock working to complete a task, how much of your time should be spent massaging the ego of a recalcitrant software package? How much should the average user need to know about stability, memory leaks and the like? Looking back on it, a very significant portion of an operator’s time is spent corralling the code in a particular direction, working with the various foibles and “features”, well aware that autosave is not always there to save you, erm, automatically. This is totally off the top of my head, but I reckon that a good 20-50% of your time working on any given “productivity tool” is actually spent working within the limitations and boundaries set out by a Russian programmer called Petr. Or Vlad. Whilst my claim is no more accurate than a certain outgoing president’s claims of electoral fraud, unlike electoral fraud a loss in user productivity is really important. This is largely because large organisations like to make decisions based upon perceived percentages of productivity gain, versus sticking with existing legacy solutions, often sold to them by some vendor’s overzealous customer relations managers. Bold improvements in productivity are often trumpeted on marketing bumf but seldom is it mentioned that a certain proportion of that percentage improvement will be lost to “fucking about whilst the little beachball thing spins around”. Go to any busy design studio tomorrow and you can guarantee that at least one user has popped off to take a dump instead of sitting watching a percentage bar crawl across the screen.

To the nearest zillion, how many of these do you think Autodesk receive every quarter, filled with expletives?

I would be very interested to know what the actual percentage productivity gain there is from, say Revit 20xx, versus all the time lost to discovering new and wonderful bugs in this the latest iteration. Rather than always rushing to regurgitate the latest juicy morsels to the impatient hungry chicks, why not slow it down a bit? Mummy and daddy bird could eat together and stop off at the shops on the way home to pick something up for the kids. They could even get some groceries in and prepare something fresh using the cookery book by that fashionable celebrity chef when they get home. Exactly how this applies in the context of software development I’m not sure, but the point is that software development is so frenetic that there is barely a window of stability long enough when everything stops moving around for anyone to measure whether all these new, whizzy patches and add-ins are really helping as much as the vendors claim.

Now of course the image of a garden bird in chefs whites presenting Jamie Oliver style to mums wanting to improve their kitchen repertoire, is absurd. But then they were saying that about a Donald Trump presidency, and look what happened to that? Slow down the product cycle, I say, and aim to provide a competent core product that suits the majority of day to day users, instead of chasing some BIM panacea that so far has largely failed to materialise. Then, the true productivity gains can be gauged over a longer term, in a stable and reliable way, without all the bluster of the bestest and latest update muddying the waters. Also, I like the idea of little birdy chefs.

The Detail is in the Devil

Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: “Do not march on Moscow”. Various people have tried it, Napoleon and Hitler, and it is no good. That is the first rule. I do not know whether your Lordships will know Rule 2 of war. It is: “Do not go fighting with your land armies in China”. It is a vast country, with no clearly defined objectives.

Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery, House of Lords, 30 May 1962

Someone should come up with a similar quotation for all the BIM Lords out there, who battle vainly, usually on a daily basis, with superiors who insist on committing the equivalent BIM blunders as marching on Moscow or fighting with land armies in China.

One such BIM blunder is of the over-promise-and-under-deliver type. It is all too common for clients unfamiliar with the nitty gritty of BIM to believe the hype and think that just “because BIM” they will have a beautifully resolved and fully coordinated design. That “because computers” the design solutions presented to them will be of the highest calibre, unique, beautiful and hopefully award winning to boot. Simply put, that a blind faith in technology is the answer and will somehow overcome all the obstacles that still exist, and will continue to do so since nothing else has materially changed apart from using some fancy new software, is sure to disappoint. For example, the following question is taken from a masters level paper on algorithmic graphical environments:

Remember: resistance IS NOT futile…

The answer, in case you did not know it, has been helpfully highlighted in red. The blue grammar wiggle worms, although not deliberate, are actually helping to literally underline the pertinent points; that difficulty provides a clue and that maybe the problem did not exist in the first place. Furthermore, as item d) alludes to, machines are certainly not perfect because the humans designing them are not perfect. Flawless repetition should not be mistaken for perfection; repeating a mistake consistently one thousand times is still a mistake times one thousand! Confused? Ok, time for an analogy then.

The African Shoe Salesmen

Two friends, who happen to be shoe salesmen, go on holiday to a small African nation. One day they are being shown a local area by their tour guide when the first shoe salesmen suddenly remarks to the other, “We should open a shop here immediately! Think of the sales! Everyone has bare feet!” to which the second shoe salesmen says with a wry smile, “Don’t be foolish. We wouldn’t sell a thing. Nobody here wears shoes…”

What’s that? Still confused, you say? Not a clue what I’m gibbering on about? *deep breath* Fine. I’ll make it as simple as possible for you then.

Computers should be used for the tools they are. No more, no less. They should be used to assist where humans are weak (repetition, consistency) but not so much where humans are strong (creativity, originality). There is no magic. No secret sauce. There is input, there is output. The use of computers and fancy software, like Revit and Dynamo, is not in and of itself the solution to all our cost and productivity woes. In some ways the use of such tools is solving a problem that did not exist. Just like the shoe salesmen. It is adding complexity where none previously resided.

However, in just the same way that the internet has not entirely replaced the need for libraries, it has made researching and finding sources of knowledge (like this fine blog, for example) so much easier. The playing field has been levelled and opened right out. But public libraries are no less a source of knowledge than they ever were before. The contents of the books on the shelves was not suddenly devalued overnight by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

So back to where this post started. Details and BIM blunders. A huge mistake, often made, is to somehow expect software to be the answer and for it to fix your difficult project. However, by adding an additional layer of complexity, I would argue that difficulty will only increase, costs are only likely to creep up further, and quality and timeliness will stubbornly refuse to improve. What it leads to are fancy shapes and fancy geometry but not necessarily better outcomes.

How to Avoid Fighting With Your Land Armies in China

The answer is, of course, to make information management central to all your processes. BIM is just a database and the same level of care and attention to detail should be applied to every input, just as it would be if you were filling out a phone contacts list. Would you double check the number you just entered and write the correct name and contact information, or would you just multi-copy-paste and assume everything went to plan? You’ve never copy-pasted and had unexpected results, like in, say, Excel? Never accidentally copied erroneous data from a header or footer, or missed a few lines of your target content? Never? Really? You surprise me. Are you a computer? Yes, of course you are, because that is exactly the kind of task that should be automated unless you want mistakes to creep in the nearer you get to 5pm on a Friday afternoon.

Science Fiction, Science Fact

BIM Weasel has the dubious honour of being nominally “in charge” of the BIM on a very large waste management project. This involves the storage and processing of large quantities of solid municipal waste, mostly domestic, and naturally requires several large waste bunkers within the design. It is an enormous incinerator, situated on over a dozen hectares of reclaimed land, situated in prime porpoise and dolphin feeding grounds. It will generate large quantities of highly carcinogenic dioxin containing bottom ash which must be disposed of by shoving it all into a large hole in the ground and hoping that the laws of physics somehow change over time, or no longer apply, if you leave it for long enough.

One day, a door appeared in the corner of one such waste bunker. Access for humans was required, and since household waste is such a harsh environment to work in, it was considered unsafe to use cat ladders or similar methods to access the “giant bin” from the top. The answer, it would seem, was an access door towards the base of the structure. Not right on the bottom, of course, since rubbish disposal is not a dry business and involves quite large quantities of leacheate, otherwise known as “bin juice”. Otherwise a perfect environment for a many tentacled trash compactor monster to live. Still with me? Good.

Now it wasn’t immediately apparent to me at the time, but the realisation crept up slowly and then suddenly jumped out in front of me, Spanish Inquisition style, during a meeting. All it took was a few scribbles and a Navisworks Saved Viewpoint and voila! What you see below is the result of my extraordinary creative genius.

One day, a door appeared in the corner of one such waste bunker…

Above: the trash compactor from Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope. Below: a Navisworks Saved Viewpoint showing the access door, plus creative genius. You think I have the descriptions muddled up? No, that’s the problem. The two are so alike you simply can’t tell them apart. Much.

I had realised that I was, in fact, no better than the millions of drudgeons responsible for the construction of the planet destroying weapon, the Death Star. The trash compactor may well have been inside a Star Destroyer, a mere few kilometres of cheese wedge shaped and oddly bad at aiming weapons, but I know I’m not the only one who questioned the sanity of anyone who would have worked willingly on the construction of a planet sized super weapon on behalf of an evil empire. Did the workers have trades unions? Was the design team in on the ultimate function? Was it all assembled from modular components and did they use BIM? Such a giant undertaking would surely have comprised of some serious coordination meetings. Did anyone on Alderaan become suspicious when the Empire started excluding the planet from its cloud storage data sovereignty agreements? There are so many points when you think that such a monstrous thing would simply be impossible, either a long time ago in a universe far far away, or indeed more recently and closer to home. There are simply too many points of failure for it to remain feasible.

After all, Darth Vader was only ever seen roughing up senior officers in the Imperial Navy. Did he also visit the Death Star canteen occasionally and loose his shit when the penne al’arrabbiata he ordered wasn’t hot enough? Queue foreboding and doom-laden Empire music…

When reality becomes science fiction; building the Death Star in Hong Kong. Is it Digital Twins or should it instead be attack of the Digital Clones? Tired of the lazy scattering of overused science fiction tropes? From now on you shall address me as Grand Moff Tarkin, and you may fire when ready.

Shit. I’ve just realised that I’m working on a dioxin generator for an evil empire…

Foreboding and doom-laden Empire music grows in intensity…

How to Polish a Turd

The deadline is fast approaching, I have an angry PM glaring at me and telling me to hurry up, my wife is waiting for me in the restaurant and I’m still not done with my sludge digester. What to do?

“I know”, thought Mr Wong of multinational engineering consultancy beginning with the letter A, “I’ll pop in some illustrations of Japanese paper folding and add dimensions. No one will ever even notice!”

Mr Wong completed his task, left the office and made it to the restaurant on time. Hurrah! A win win championship result of results, surely? Well not quite, and don’t call me Shirley. The story of the deadline beating Mr Wong is pure fiction, but the methodology is not. The assumption here is that someone was in a real hurry and decided to fill up some drawing sheets with any old nonsense. So how do you get your project information out the door on time, every time? How do you make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? How do you polish a turd?

The answer to all your problems, if you are not aware, is folding. Paper folding, to be precise. In fact, to be even more precise, lots and lots of dimensioned origami birds on a drawing sheet. Alles klar, as they say in Deutschland? All right? Well, you may as well be in Germany or anywhere else for that matter, because it is not only paper that is being folded but the fabric of space and time itself. Or at least that was how my head felt when I first witnessed the madness of A1 drawing sheets, all properly entitled and set up, checked and signed by the PM, but with nothing shown but origami paper cranes. Howsaboutthatthen?

There were several different paper crane “designs”
Birdy go tweet tweet
A typical unrolled polished turd
Only design intent, not something really accurate? Phew! Thank goodness for that.

So, just like the origami solution, it turns out that the Japanese had the answer all along; dorodango. The same technique applied to night soil has the same effect.