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[TowerTalk] Re: Foolproof + Dilbert

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Subject: [TowerTalk] Re: Foolproof + Dilbert
From: (Roger L. Elowitz)
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 1997 12:00:24 -0400
At 02:42 PM 4/12/97 +0000, you wrote:
>I realize the humor in your posting.  What follows is not a joke.
>Paul, K2ATD, was preparing to relocate from Northern New York State
>to North Carolina.  His KWM-380 was boxed, sitting on the kitchen table,
>waiting to be loaded on the moving van.  Before it could be loaded,
>lightning struck a tree in his back yard.  The EMF from the strike
>destroyed 90% of the CMOS devices in the transceiver.

Hi Jack and All,

I'm really glad you were able to catch the tongue and cheek nature of my
post.  Wow! You blew me away with the story above.  I'll accept it for face
value and won't doubt it in the least. Thank you for prooving that even the
STUPIDEST POST (especially mine) can backfire. The more I hang around here,
the more I learn. That's what makes this reflector so special for me.

Now, for all of you who are either engineers or who poke fun at engineers, I
have included below some excerpts from a Dilbert cartoon book that I
recommend everyone run out and buy, read and cherrish.  (I have no financial
interest in same).  While I am NOT an engineer but once aspired to be), if
this material helps to lighten your heavy hearts just 1/16 th of an inch (or
1/32 nd on either side of the shim) then my purpose is served. 

 And Steve, I beg your indulgence for the bandwidth and the use of the
reflector to help some of the more humor challenged among us to lighten up
just a bit.... as soon as they get down from the tower. Enjoy gang. (Please
save your flames for 14.313)

73 to all... "and keep smilin'"

Roger, K2JAS

<><><><><><><><><><> Engineers (from  Dilbert) ><><><><><><><><>

People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other
people. This can be frustrating to the non-technical people who have to deal
with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to
understand their motivations.
This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their
customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned
about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.
Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one.
The word "engineer" is greatly overused.  If there's somebody in your life
that you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to
discern the truth.

     You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...
     A. Straighten it.
     B. Ignore it.
     C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a 
Solar powered self-adjusting picture frame while often stating aloud your
belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron.
     The correct answer is "C" but partial credit can be given to anybody
who writes,  "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the
whole stupid thing on "Marketing."
     Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction.
     "Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from 
     social interaction:
*Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation 
*Important social contacts 
*A feeling of connectedness with other humans
     In contrast to  "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for
social interactions:
     *Get it over with as soon as possible.
     *Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
     *Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.
To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two
(1) things that need to be fixed, and 
(2) Things that will need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play
with them.  

Engineers like to solve problems.  If there are no problems handily
available, they will create their own problems.  Normal people don't
understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.
No engineer looks at a television remote control without wondering what it
would take to turn it into a stun gun.  No engineer can take a shower without 
wondering if  some  sort  of Teflon coating would make showering unnecessary. 

To the engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and
feature-poor toys.

Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic
thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages
are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are
swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. 
Anything else is a waste.
Engineers love all of the  "Star Trek" television shows and movies.
It's no small wonder, since the engineers on the starship Enterprise are
portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is much
more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding
from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms.
Dating is never easy for engineers.  A normal person will employ various
indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false impression of
attractiveness. Engineers are incapable of placing appearance above function.
Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole.  They are widely recognized
as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest,
and handy around the house.  While it's true that many normal people would
prefer not to date an engineer, most normal people harbor an intense desire
to mate with them, thus producing engineer-like children who will have
high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity.
Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness later than normal
men-becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid-thirties to late
forties. Just look at these examples of sexually irresistible men in
technical professions:
     *  Bill Gates.
     *  MacGyver.
     *  Etcetera.
Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent and remain that
way until about thirty minutes after their clinical death.  Longer if it's a
warm day.

Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human
relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away from
customers, romantic interests, and other peoples who can't handle the truth.
Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things that sound
like lies but technically are not because nobody could be expected to
believe them. The complete list of engineer lies is shown below.
"I won't change anything without asking you first." 

"I'll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow."
"I have to have new equipment to do my job." 

"I'm not jealous of your new computer."

Engineers are notoriously frugal.   This is not because of cheapness or mean
spirit. It is simply because every spending situation is simply a problem in
optimization, that is? 

"How can I escape this situation while retaining the greatest amount of
If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is  the ability to
concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything else in
the  environment. This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced dead
prematurely.  Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started checking
resumes before processing the bodies.
Anybody  with  a  degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer
programming is  propped  up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he
or she snaps out of it.
Engineers hate risk.  They try to eliminate it whenever they can.  This is
understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little mistake, the
media will treat it like it's a big  deal  or something.
*   Hindenberg. 
*   Space Shuttle Challenger.
*   SPANet(tm)
*   Hubble space telescope.
*   Apollo 13.
*   Titanic.
*   Ford Pinto.
*   Corvair.
The risk / reward calculation for engineers  looks  something  like this:
RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent people.
REWARD:  A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame.
Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards
and decide that risk is not a good thing.  The best way to avoid risk is by
advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are
far too complicated to explain.
If that approach is not sufficient to halt a  project,  then  the engineer
will fall  back  to  a  second  line of defense: "It's technically possible
but it will cost too much."

Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers: 
     *   How smart they are.
     *   How many cool devices they own.
The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to declare that the
problem is unsolvable.  No engineer can walk away from an unsolvable problem
until it's solved.  No illness or distraction is sufficient to get the
engineer off the case. These types of challenges quickly become personal  --
a battle between the engineer and the laws of nature.
Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a problem.
(Other times just because they forgot.)  And when they succeed in solving
the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better than sex--and
I'm including the kind of sex where other people are involved.
Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that
somebody has more technical skill.  Normal people sometimes use that
knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer.  When an
engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase that means it's
not fun to do), some clever normal people have learned to glance at the
engineer with a look of 
compassion and pity and say something along these lines:   

"I'll ask Bob to figure it out.   He knows how to solve difficult technical
At that point it is a good idea for the normal person to not stand between
the engineer and the problem.  The engineer will set upon the problem like a
starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.


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