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April 06, 2010

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Turning Over the Stone

Today I got out my stones to sharpen the kitchen knives again.  It's a kit of two stones in a small cedar box, a rougher soft Arkansas stone and a hard Arkansas stone for putting on a fine honed edge.  I bought this set when I was around fifteen years old (probably in Arkansas) and have used it for over thirty years now.  Halls Arkansas sharpening stone

I've always used one side of the stone, and they're a bit worn.  And despite my care to always use a good honing oil and clean them afterward, the one side is a bit more clogged with microscopic bits of dark steel.   I took a look at the other side, clear and flat as new.  And I thought about just how long I'd been using them, about how old I was, and about the future.

And I decided to turn the stone over and start using the other side. 

I guess I could have saved the other side and passed them down to my son, but he can start over on the first side again.  These things last more than a lifetime. 

We bootstrapped Glance Networks with no outside investment.  We built it all ourselves and grew it carefully.  We never had any pressure from VCs to grow big or sell or IPO.  Maybe that's good, maybe not.  But it's worked for use.  We're quite proud of what we've done, and how we are able to do business.  I used to joke that our exit strategy was to grow old and die and leave the business to our children.  Well that isn't so funny any more.  We've had to deal with mortality at Glance, and I think it's made us all a little more accepting of whatever the future holds.

A knife is an incredibly elegant, simple tool.  A handle, a blade.  You might think that makes it easy, a knife's a knife right?  Not much to it?  Hardly.  My sons are young enough I can still make them laugh with the Crocodile Dundee line ("thawt's not a knoif...").  You know the difference when you have to use a cheap knife, plastic handle, inferior steel.  Or the frustration and danger of a dull knife.  A high quality, well sharpened knife is a joy to use.

P.S.:  My sharpening kit came from Hall's.  Who knew these guys were still in business so many years later!  Clearly they're doing something right...

-- Ed Hardebeck, VP Engineering, Glance Networks


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