Goofus and Gallant
Anyone old enough to remember those guys?
Poor Goofus could never do anything right and Gallant - well, he was just annoying.
Anyway, I just pulled the weekly baguettes from the oven and they reminded me of those guys. In the spirit of learning/teaching I'd like to use poor Goofus to illustrate something.
I've posted a picture here: http://i264.photobucket.com/albums/ii183/proth5/GoofusandGallant.jpg 
I'm not going to do a detailed critique of the numerous, numerous flaws in these baguettes (nor am I really asking for comment other on the topic - I am my own worst critic), but I will focus on their shapes as pulled from the oven.
Gallant - the one on the top- of the picture has some nice symmetry and in general a pleasing shape.
Poor old Goofus has a slash that didn't open well and on the right (your right as you look at the picture) is somewhat scraggly and mis-shapen. Before I put them in the oven I could have predicted that fate. How?
My hands, my dough, but on Goofus, I failed to remove sufficient flour from the dough prior to shaping and to completely clear the bench of flour (residual from the loaf and just got a tiny bit sloppy with clearing the bench - it's hot - the oven is at 500F - oh, excuses, excuses...). When I did the final shaping on Goofus, I had the "ball bearing" effect of the flour - the dough would not roll properly - it slid around on the bench. I worked at it to get an even shape (This was the only difference in the shaping. Consistency may be the bugaboo of little minds, but it is what I do best.)but all was lost. Even though it looked even as I laid it on the couche, it was destined to have a flaw. Same with the left side. The extra flour caused an improper seal and you can see a distinct spiral. It looked ok as dough, but it was destined to bake poorly. I pulled myself together to shape Gallant.
To avoid having to be sent back to "the place" - I will admit that I did a few things right. I particularly like Gallant's grigne - which are not seen to best advantage in this shot.
So big problems from little mistakes grow... It pays to pay attention to the details.