22 December 2012

Understanding Engineers

This may be news to non-Engineers, but Engineers ought to find it hilarious:

Understanding Engineers One:
Two engineering students were walking across a university campus when one said, "Where did you get such a great bike?" The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want." The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."
Understanding Engineers Two:
To the optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, the glass is half-empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
Understanding Engineers Three:
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!" The priest said, "Here comes the greens-keeper. Let's have a word with him." He said, "Hello George, what's wrong with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens-keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime." The group fell silent for a moment. The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them." The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"
Understanding Engineers Four:
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons. Civil engineers build targets.
Understanding Engineers Five:
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?" The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?" The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Understanding Engineers Six:
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "No, actually it must have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"
Understanding Engineers Seven:
Normal people 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.
Understanding Engineers Eight:
An engineer was crossing a road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you for one week and do ANYTHING you want." Again, the engineer took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for one week and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool.

01 December 2012

Justice for Dunkin

I just read about and watched a radio announcer taking the call from a woman with MS who was pulled over, for no apparent reason, by the AZ State Police and was abused, handcuffed too tightly, put in a patrol car with the windows closed and no a/c.

They had approached her with at least one shotgun cocked and aimed at her and, later, approached her sleeping service dog, Dunkin, opened the door and chased the dog until he was killed in an unspecified manner.  I believe they chased him into traffic, but I couldn't find any clearer explanation than that.  The cops would not let her whistle or call out to Dunkin to come back and continued to chase him instead.  In fact, they threatened to gag her if she persisted in trying to save her little Dunkin.

They never apologized, nor compensated her for her loss and she is now suffering MS symptoms worse than before; as they were in remission to some degree before this traumatic event.

That's it in a nutshell.  This was two or three years ago, but the issue is still on the web and there is a movement afoot to create a "Dunkin's Law" which will educate police agencies and hopefully prevent other service dogs and their charges from being harassed by police in violation of the ADA.

I've seen too many of these cases where cops are so frightened of even the smallest of dogs, they shoot them because they're barking and/or protecting their charges.  They don't even attempt to harmlessly restrain the dogs or disable them in a more humane manner.  These cops are bullies and we can do without their "services," thank you.   In fact, they should at least be fired, but I think jail time would be more appropriate.

I write this because my main  passion is for animal rights, for the prosecution of anyone who harms, injured, tortures or otherwise abuses animals, whether wild or domestic.  My Facebook Wall is full of such issues, both upsetting and heartwarming, the latter usually the aftermath of the former.  Also, I often list dogs and cats that are about to be put down by various kill shelters in the hopes that, amongst others, we might locate someone who would be willing to donate to the care of the animals, offer foster care, adopt them and/or donate moneys for their transport to their new forever homes.

When I saw all the  posts from all over the country from rescue groups - some actually overseas - I thought I should find out if there are rescue groups where I live, in Ft. Lauderdale, and there are:  Cats Exclusive (at which I had one cat fixed,  years back, for a much reduced price than my vet would have charged) and GetALifeDogRescue. 

I was also impressed with Petco after asking them where they got their kittens and puppies to sell.  I discovered that they showcase animals from the two rescue groups mentioned above and for only short periods of time and they are rotated, as well.  Petco does not profit from these adoptions because the entire transaction, including the vetting of potential adopters, is done by the rescue groups themselves.

I'm now Following the Justice for Dunkin blog in the hopes of seeing justice done for this girl and her one-time service dog, Dunkin.    The woman's blog may be found at  Justice for Dunkin

28 November 2012

To the President: Raise The Income Cap For Soc. Sec.

Petition to President Obama:  Raise the Income Cap

I'm apparently not the only one to create a petition addressing this issue, but I like mine best of the lot, naturally.

I'm going to Paste it, here, although I do not believe one can sign the petition from here; maybe one can.  If not, one can go to my Facebook site or to look it up and sign it.  I'm hoping for an initial 1,000 signatures.  If it reaches that many, will automatically increase the signature goal.  Each time one signs the petition, it is emailed directly to the White House.

Here it is:

The President of the United States
White House (President Obama)
Persuade Congress to raise the income cap to increase Social Security contributions.

Social Security needs to be funded in perpetuity, and its trust must never be raided again for other purposes. The percentage of income from the increased Social Security ceiling may be decreased slightly to offset arguments against this plan from wealthy individuals and corporations. The exact increase to the...
Persuade Congress to raise the income cap to increase Social Security contributions.

Social Security needs to be funded in perpetuity, and its trust must never be raided again for other purposes. The percentage of income from the increased Social Security ceiling may be decreased slightly to offset arguments against this plan from wealthy individuals and corporations. The exact increase to the Social Security cap and the decrease in the percentage taken out of one's income must be determined by a bipartisan committee that will ideally take an oath to fully cooperate with each other and work on said changes for the benefit of all American taxpayers. We ask that President Obama use his position of influence to take the case to the American people and urge Congress to make Social Security permanently solvent.

20 June 2012

Online vs Offline Courses and Degrees

It's been quite some time since my last Post.  I've jotted down a few possible topics, but didn't feel I had enough material to Post and/or I didn't feel up to writing one.   Perhaps this will get me started again.

In regard to online courses and degrees versus those at a brick and mortar school, I thought I 'd first begin with the opinions of a few educators, but none of them have contributed their opinions, even though all I was asking was for a yea or nay on either method of teaching or earning degrees.

I did not give them my own opinion, so as to keep their opinions completely unbiased by my own.    I made it clear that I was not taking a poll, that I was only asking a few educator friends and I always meant to write my own opinion, regardless of what they told me.   A moot point, since no one responded with an opinion of their own, anyway.

For non-technical subjects, I see nothing wrong with viewing lectures or reading class information online.  It's hardly different from the films and PBS shows we saw when I was going to junior and senior high school.  At those levels, perhaps even technical subjects could be covered well enough, with a teacher available for later questions and further material.

At university levels, I still see little wrong with presenting non-technical lectures via the 'net.

When it comes to technical subjects, though, I think I'd draw the line.  Being the product of brick and mortar Florida Institute of Technology, I cannot envision any of my classes being presented via the television or computer.  We had small classes of fifteen or so and all of my classmates and I took almost exactly the same courses, except for some electives, whether technical or nontechnical.  We were a serious minded lot, although we had our share of fun, too, in and out of the classroom. 

We interacted with the professors.  If we did not understand something, it was up to us to  tell the professor as much and have him explain it again or better.  After all, we were paying these people to educate us and it didn't pay to be shy about asking questions.  Nearly forty years later, we're still friends with these professors and always invite them to our reunions.

None of this is possible with online courses and I cannot fathom online degrees having anywhere near the weight of a degree from an actual university.  Perhaps some online courses might be useful as supplements to class instruction, but they will never take the place of sitting amongst one's student peers, taking notes and listening to a live professor, taking timed tests and even consulting with a professor late at night.

[One night in particular, in our Senior year, my best friend and I were trying to solve an E&M (Electromagnetic) Fields problem and having some difficulty with it, primarily a difference of opinion as to how to solve it, I think.  We could see from my dorm room that our professor was still in his office on the sixth floor of the  Science Tower (as it was then referred to).  We walked across campus and went upstairs to his office.  He told us that he could give us five  minutes and we dragged ourselves out of there about an hour later.  Believe it or not, this is one of my fondest memories of college.]**

None of the opinions I've expressed, above, address the actual college experience, which I feel is just as important as the learning.  There are parties, living in a dormitory, dining together, playing games together, exchanging comic books, sci-fi novels and music, et cetera, all tremendous influences to one's personal and professional life.   

**  I was in college in exactly the right era for all of this.   This could be an entirely separate Blog Post, which I may write about at another time.   In fact, I might even write about more of  my personal memories, good or bad, about my college days.  Those were perhaps the best years of my life and greatly influenced the rest of my life.  Let me think about it for a while.

24 January 2012

Short Essays as Posts

Other than technical writing, and when it comes to writing prose, I am most comfortable with writing short essays.  Except for the occasional Post, I will probably think of a topic and write a short essay on it and perhaps add to it, later, as Comments, as I later think of more to add.

As always, I'm perfectly happy to hear others' opinions, particularly if you like what I've written, of course, and invite Comments and Discussions and suggestions for future Posts and discussions.  All I ask is that they be respectful and clean language.  (This is not to say I'm a prude, mind you, but it is a Blog which many others might read and I do not wish to have mine sullied forevermore in the ether.  I do not wish to have to censor anyone's Comments; it shouldn't be necessary.

More Thoughts on Women in the Working World

Many men are intimidated by strong women in the work place and especially politics.  The more rabid conservative type men are, in my opinion, afraid of strong women and, again in my opinion, are exhibiting a paranoid weakness.

Being single most of my life, I have dated many women of all stripes:  High school grads and Phds, very short and very tall; strong and weak in the work place; skinny as a rail and very slilghtly plump; a bit younger than me and up to  twenty years older than me.   I've dated models and women not quite so beautiful.  For me to have dated any of them, I had to have seen something in them which warranted my interest, something which drew me to them.  Of course, there was then the problem of their seeing someting in me, as well, not always a given.

This brief essay is basically about the strong women which so frighten conservative types.  I have dated business women who were hell on wheels at work.  Whether they commanded respect from their underlings or instiled fear in them is irrelevant as far as I'm concerned.  In my experience, they revert to our traditional concept of  women at home, in a relationship with me.  Much of their actions at work are - while not an act - necessary to conduct their work on an equal basis with men, whether with those she oversees or those who are higher in the corporate hierarchy. 

But, at home, they become my girl friends.    We had already established that we had some common interests, part of what drew me to them, of course.  I am most comfortable with their taking the traditional women's roles, at home, whilc I perform the traditional men's roles, but there is an overlap in some things and I do not mind - and, in fact, enjoy - doing things together.  Then there are other occasions when we might be doing two different things, but as long as we are doing our diffeent things together (in close proximity), I'm just as content and I believe they are, too.   I do like to have some time to myself, but I also enjoy being with them much of the time.  A good balance between the two is ideal.

I have to admit that I do particularly enjoy being her man and having her ask me to do things that she claims not to be able to do herself.  I'm happy to help.  If it's an advantage of my height or strength or knowhow, that's perfectly normal and to be expected.  However, there have been things which I think they should be able to do for themselves, particularly if I'm not around at the time.  I've been known to give them a set of tools and show them how to do various small tasks for themselves.  I enjoy teaching them these things and I'd like to think that they do not feel I'm being condescending.

Needless to say, I've been thinking about a number of women in my life as I write this; women of many different temperaments and skill sets and education.

I know, I tend to go off on  tangents, but, being an Engineer, I tend to go into details and explanations for my basic premises, background to explain my conclusions.

I wouldn't dare state that I  understand women, because I don't.  We are the same and utterly different simultaneously.  I never say to them "I understand" when I'm being used as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on.  I simply say that "I can be understanding."  Those are two entirely different concepts and women understand that and appreciate my empathy.

In summary:  I am not afraid of strong women.  I know better.

02 January 2012

Women's Titles

I'm one hundred percent for women earning the same salaries for the same work as men perform, but there are some things about this equality thing that bug me.

Until I got bored with it, which didn't take many episodes, I was watching the latest version of "Battlestar Galactica."   (I truly much prefer the original.)

When I first heard one woman officer called "Sir," I assumed it was a writer's prerogative, his/her way of distinguishing between now and the way it might be hundreds of years in the future; much like inventing words or a language for a story.  It was startling, but I didn't concern myself with it.

Recently, on "Castle," I heard the new female police captain insisting that her underlings refer to her as "Sir" and it occurred to me that I heard it somewhere else, a time or two, whether on television or radio or in real life, I do not recall.

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I cannot fathom women wishing to be referred to by men's titles.  What is wrong with Madam or Ma'am?  One would suppose that the people who began this trend could not come up with a unisex label for both men and women.    Combining "sir" and "madam" into "Siam" probably would not do.

I can understand why some women like the third form of title for women, "Ms," to confuse us men as to their relationship status.  I can think of a few good reasons for this:  Safety and not wanting to be harassed.  (As a man, I would prefer to know if a woman is single, but a woman being referred to as "Miss" still does not tell me if she is in a relationship.)

The way to refer to a chairwoman (or chairman) is now "chairperson."  Why?  Is it not obvious which sex is chairing?  I want to be referred to as "Chairman," thank you.

Much of this nonsense gives me the impression that some women are not proud to be women.  I won't go so far as to say they wish they were men, however, although I imagine that could be the case in some instances.

What is wrong with Stewardesses and Stewards?  Actresses and Actors?  I keep hearing female tv, movie or stage celebrities referred to as actors and it's fairly obvious to me that they are, in fact, women.

Postwoman is somehow a bit clumsy, as opposed to postman, but I prefer it to Postperson.  The female version of mailman would be, of course,  mailwoman, which could be a tad confusing, to say the least.

There are many other examples, of course.  Calling a woman "Dude" is particularly irksome to me, although using Dudette or Dudess is just plain weird.  You'll never catch me using any of them.

For thousands of years, women have taken great delight in keeping men confused, but our society, unfortunately much aided by the media, is taking things too far.  Men have traditionally (and sometimes mistakenly) been the top dogs, so to speak, and women are ostensively working on catching up.  In most areas, especially in the workplace, I agree with them and support them where I can, but I want women to be women and men to be men; a simple enough concept, don't you think?