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Catch a Pig by the Tail

I'd like to get down from my high horse.

Or possibly up on a different horse? Whether this, new, horse is to prove higher or lower than my current horse... that may or may not become clear to us by the end of this posting.

Would you take a look at that laughable garbage of a pigtail on the top? Really. Laugh at it. Point while laughing if the spirit takes you.

This is exactly the kind of cobbled-together bullshit you find in the pocket of some newbie who thinks they have all of scuba diving figured out. They're a modestly experienced recreational diver - maybe even a little bit of technical experience with some casual mentorship - who has just discovered cave diving.

They're told they need a pigtail and are delighted to find exactly the right gauge of surgical tubing. And a tiny zip-tie. Et voila! A pigtail!

A bullshit pigtail.

Zipties are plastic. The sort of plastic that is photosensitive and breaks down. As is the latex of the surgical tubing. What's more, as soon as you nick latex, that nick is going to start to tear away and it happens pretty quickly. For something like a pigtail, with sharp, plastic edges sliding along the soft latex constantly a nick is inevitable.

But someone enthusiastically new as a cave diver can't really know any of this.

Which is why I frequently make the pigtails in the lower picture for my students. Bungee is much more durable and nick-resistant than surgical tubing and - as far as I know... but I'm certainly no scientist - more UV resistant. Held together by a stainless steel hog-ring. And prettied up (because we all suffer from vanity to a greater or lesser degree) with a bit of heat-shrink.

I don't exactly mean to shame anyone into being slaves to any sort of fashion... but I do my best to politely suggest divers look properly equipped for a task instead of with some shit they found on the sale cart at Home Depot. Part of my vanity, you see, is that I like when my students look good.

Plus, the way I see it: they spend a week listening to me talk, they deserve to look good. They deserve something anyway.

So I make something that looks a little more polished and fancy-pants and sits cleaner in the pocket. Like it was made by a professional (me) and not an idiot with no idea what he's doing (also me).

Because - as anyone with any sense of narrative will have seen from a mile away - the top pigtail is the one that I've been using for the past 18 years since I first made it for my Apprentice Cave class.

Turns out that amateur-made gobbledygook works just fine sometimes. And for the long-haul even.

18 years. Turns out that line-markers aren't all that sharp and my concern over photo-sensitivity was imperceptibly misplaced considering that they're markers that I keep IN MY POCKET WHILE CAVE DIVING.

I can't for certain say whether this is a case where the cobbler's son has no shoes that I've never bothered to make a new pigtail for myself.

Or maybe it's just been some long-term experiment in homebrewed solutions.

Whatever neurosis has compelled me to keep this crap in my pocket all this time has to resolve the fact that cut in the rubber is now too dire to overlook.

The old pigtail has been cut and retired to The Shrine and the one in the bottom is my very own, shiny, new one.

And the horse? Is a horse, of course.

Of course what I mean is that if I'm gonna preach about anything from this higher, or lower, or perhaps simply different-coloured horse:

Just because it looks polished doesn't mean that it's better. Or more functional. Or fancier or more valuable in any way.

No, slapdash bullshit ain't necessarily always something to brag about, but sometimes it's just fine and if anyone tells you otherwise they're trying to sell you something.

(Full disclosure: yeah, naturally I sell the pigtails I make. What do you think I am, made of boltsnaps? But if you bring your own boltsnap I don't have to sell you shit... what am I gonna charge, 1/2 a 50 centavo piece for some heat-shrink?)

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