The Matrix


­The Matrix

The number of things in life that hold it together but are seldom noticed is amazing.  They operate in the behind the scenes way to allow us to go on with life in ways that seem almost “expected” to be that way.  Little thought is given to the maid at the hotel you last stayed, but certainly you expected the room to be clean and tidy and would mention it if otherwise.  Your food at the drive up window, made by people unseen, is right so often that it is taken for granted that it will be again today.  That the pastor will have a message and the heat or air conditioning would be on is not even considered by you unless it is out of the normal range.  So much is found to be “expected” that to ponder the things we take for granted we might forget our role and what we do as part of that network of labors and results.  The actions of the teacher and the CEO, the messenger and the Marine, the plumber and the homeowner, and how each of them needs and counts on the actions of the other.  All are a part of the thing called life.  We all love the circus but care little for the roustabouts that put up the tents.  Or little do we realize that the clown face has a person that is seldom home behind it. 

There is another I want to look at, that of sand paper.  The parts that make it up and the things that foil its longevity.  It is a lowly thing for the most part, and so needed for the application that little else will do.  The things that make it up and why there are differences and what they represent.

The paper is of course the backing that holds the other two pieces, the carbide and the matrix.  Each has its own intrinsic value and even to some extent window of application.  You may be aware that certain sandpaper is black and very fine in the grit, but also can be dunked in water to be used as a “wetsand” application.  In that case the paper has to be such that it will not deteriorate when wet.  In other cases the grit is so large and abrasive as to be harsh to the touch. This paper needs to be strong enough to stay together through rough handling and rugged treatment.  There are some versions that are open and have holes to allow the material to pass through to the back of the paper to keep from fouling the front.  When sanding drywall this type is used since there is so much material that is so fine that the grit would be of little use and require frequent cleaning and you would get little accomplished otherwise.

The grit.  A crazy thing in itself, the grit is made of anything from sand to diamonds.  It is ground up drill bits to special rocks of a specific size for a specific use.  There is a whole world of things for what determines which you will use.  Determined by their purpose, the grit size and composition will be successful or will mar the surface.  Will speed the job up or slow it down.  It needs to be known if it will be on a belt sander, or a hand sander, or just used with your finger as the backing.  When you use the paper the grit is seldom destroyed by the use.  Unless there is a misapplication the grit is harder than the job and it holds its shape and edge while the job is being done.  If the paper is smooth after a while then, something else has happened.  The matrix has let go and the grit has gone away.

The matrix.  In this context the term is for the glue that holds the grit to the paper.  The choice of the glue is important as it is the reason that the thing works at all.  If the grit is harder than the material and is not worn down with use, then the grit letting go is a reason to use the matrix.  So what goes into the choices?  Things like cost, life expectancy, choice of options and what they have for value, and the equipment used.  So if you are working on a plank for something with a belt sander the glue will need to withstand the heat of a sustained use.  If you are sanding on the final coat of varnish on a antique that you refinished, then it will be something that can hold up when wet.  Both will have their own set of values and costs and lifespan.  It is the Matrix that you will find changes the sandpaper from brown to blue when you are at the store.  The red, the blue, and the brown all have a increasing quality grade of grit and glue combination that will hold the pieces together, while the thing that wants to tear them apart is the heat.  It is the friction that creates the heat and the heat destroys the holding power of the glue and then the grit goes away.  It is the grit that does the work that we want, the rest of the stuff just helps to get the job done.  You see, by rubbing paper on the wood is not enough.  Nor is rubbing the glue and neither is tossing sand on and rubbing it around.  It is the grit that is held by the glue to the paper that is needed.  Color is of no value in this case, only the abrasion.  It is not enough to be rough, it is needed that you stay together long enough to get the results that you were looking for.  At some point along the way the need to assess the job and get a different piece of paper for the job is important, or to get a more refined grit, as the function of the more course piece is completed, we have to stop for a bit and rub the piece to know what to do next.

So what is all of this about? Think of the grit like the words we say.  The matrix is the value relationship and the paper is the context.  To tell someone they are in need of corrected behavior, the three things are connected, so that communication is completed.  That means that they have heard and listened to the message.  If they stop listening there is no communicating, only talking.  To tell someone that they are going to die or lose their life savings you need to know what type of matrix will hold together through the heat of that conversation.  If you use the wrong words, that aren’t strong enough perhaps, the message will lose some of the impact that is required for the moment.  When urgency is needed, it is needed.  If that action or stridency is not needed but used anyway, there is a coarseness that is going to mar the relationship for a long time. 

The ability to use the right words and to stay the course through the heat of pain is what makes good friends good, and great friends great.  It has become clear that good is sometimes not good enough.

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