I’m Just Making This Up As I Go

This is the weekend that we will meet our future adoptive son for the first time, I can say this will relative certainty as we are currently sitting in Philadelphia and there are no unusual weather patterns which would cause our flight to be canceled. This is the first time in several years that Leslie and I have traveled together without any other accompaniments, i.e. children or other adults and it is somewhat of a new feeling for us, or at least one that we have not felt in quite some time. Of course, the fact that our final leg of the trip is on a plane where they ask you how much you weigh prior to getting on the aircraft is a source of great comfort. I’m sure the odds of our aircraft crashing into the side of a mountain are very small… probably about as small as our aircraft.

It has been awhile since I included an image in one of my newsletters whose sole purpose was to inspire a laugh, whose function has been that of comedic relief (of course, one must ignore the picture of a mostly empty one gallon container of Worcestershire sauce I wrote about in December). This is not to say that some of the pictures of my children are not, in and of themselves, funny, merely that their sole purpose is not comedic entertainment. With this in mind I give you this week’s bought with laughter; an image that has sat on my desktop for six months, an image that initially caused me to snort as I laughed.Go Amateur

For those of you that are curious, on flights where there are only two flight attendants, the probability of both flight attendants being male is approximately one in sixteen. Of course this makes a few basic assumptions like that the rate male flight attendants are utilized on flights where only two attendants are necessary is equal to the rate male flight attendants are utilized on flights where more than two attendants are necessary. I know this because I was bored and I am an engineer and I follow those kinds of rabbit trails.

This leads me down another rabbit trail. It occurred to me the other day that I am not a real engineer; I am what one might classify as a pseudo-engineer. Sure I went to a good engineering school and managed to graduate with a degree that had a 75% drop out rate, but I never went into a career that actually utilized that skill set. I never practiced/worked as an engineer. My first real job was in management, construction management to be sure, but management nevertheless. This means that every time I make a quip about being an engineer my basic assumptions are built on a shaky foundation at best. This is usually evidenced in the conversations I have with real engineers often wind up going something like this:

Real Engineer: Do you remember how to calculate the Modulus of Elasticity using the stress-strain curve?

Me: Uhhhh…

Real Engineer: I’m pretty certain all you need to do is measure the slope of the curve.

Me: Whoa dude, you lost me at “how do you calculate.”

Ok, so that might not be entirely accurate, especially since most of the real engineers in my office are electrical engineers and not aerospace. Electrical was never my strong suit, but it’s easy to blow off a lack of understanding of electrical processes by mentioning the fact I was essentially a mechanical engineer, not an electrical. Heaven forbid I ever work in an office with real aerospace majors. I walked by an office the other day and saw a cross section of a wing (or more likely a wind turbine blade) drawn on the whiteboard with the flow lines and force vectors drawn around it and all I could think was, “huh, I’ve seen a picture like that before.”

One of the engineers in our office is a really bright structural engineer, but he is also a talker. He really desperately wants to talk with people who understand the nuances of his field and unfortunately he is surrounded by a bunch of electrical engineers. Thus he usually winds up at my desk to discuss the moments imposed at the base of a post of a carport structure and all I can do is smile and nod all the while thinking, “You’re throwing together a bunch of words that I used to know but I don’t know them anymore so I’m not even certain you’re speaking English anymore.” Oh well… at least I am still pretty good at making things up so that people at least think I know what is going on.


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