Have You Heard the One About the . . . ?

(Jokes for Engineers!)

A plateau is the highest form of flattery

Wanna hear a joke about Potassium? (whether they say 'yes' or 'no'): K.

In Japan, they have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with Haiku poetry messages. Haiku poetry has strict construction rules: Each poem has only 17 syllables - 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 in the third. They are used to communicate a timeless message, often achieving a wistful, yearning, and powerful insight through extreme brevity. Here are some actual error messages from Japan. Aren't these better than "your computer has performed an illegal operation?"
The Web site you seek
Cannot be located, but
Countless more exist.
Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.
I ate your Web page.
Forgive me; it was tasty
And tart on my tongue
Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.
Your file was so big.
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.
You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.
Program aborting
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask far too much.
Stay the patient course.
Of little worth is your ire.
The network is down.
Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.
Windows crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.
A crash reduces
Your expensive computer
To a simple stone.
Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.

An anthropologist, a physicist, and a mathematician were asked to participate in a study of survival skills. Each participant was to be held for a twenty-four period,without human contact, each recieved only one can of food. At the end of the anthropologist's term, the program director asked how he had done. "Not too bad," he replied. "I was able to find a small rock, and a boulder which I used to sharpen it. It did take some time to construct a tool, but I was able to open the can and eat." Then the program director questioned the physicist, who had survived the period comfortably. "I sat for a while, and was able to determine the speed and trajectory at which I would have to throw such an object in order for it to burst. Then I performed the experiment with positive results." The director, having two successful accounts, was surprised to see the mathematician tired and irritated upon release. When he was questioned as to why, the man replied, "I am tired and I am hungry. I've had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours." The program director then inquired whether or not the man had found his can of food. "Of course I did," the mathematician explained, "I've just spent the entire evening repeating 'let C be an open can.'"

A mathematician, an engineer, and a physicist were taking a math class together. One day the mathematician and the physicist decided to play a joke on the engineer. They told him that the pretty girl sitting at the back of the room said he could get close to her every time they ringed the bell, but he could only travel half the distance from him to her. So they started ringing the bell and the engineer would travel half the distance, and the mathematician and the physicist were making fun of him. They thought it was really funny. When the engineer was 1/16 the original distance they asked him, “why are you doing this? You do know you are never going to get there right?” And the engineer replied, “I will get close enough for practical purposes.”

"Going wrong" MURPHY'S LAWS (classical) or Hazop Analysis

  1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  2. Everything takes longer than you think.
  3. Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
  4. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
  5. If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
  6. If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop
  7. Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  8. If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  9. If there is a possibility of several things going wrong the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
  10. Everything goes wrong all at once.
  11. Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.
  12. Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  13. You never run out of things that can go wrong.
  14. If there is an opportunity for something to go wrong, sooner or later it will go wrong.
  15. If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
  16. When things just can't get any worse, they will.
  17. Anything worse going is worse doing.
  18. If on an actuarial basis there is a 50-50 chance that something will go wrong, it will actually go wrong nine times out of ten.
  19. Things will get worse before they will get better. Who said things would get better?
  20. After things have gone from bad to worse, the cycle will repeat itself.
  21. All or any of the above combined.

    O'Toole's Commentary : Murphy was an optimist.

Answers to questions on high school science exams...

  • "The body consists of three parts - the branium, the borax, and the abominable cavity. The branium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five - a, e, i, o, and u."
  • "H2O is hot water, and CO2 is cold water."
  • "When you smell an oderless gas, it is probably carbon monoxide."
  • "Water is composed of two gins, Oxygin and Hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water."
  • "Blood flows down one leg and up the other."
  • "Respiration is composed of two acts, first inspiration, and then expectoration."
  • "The moon is a planet just like the earth, only it is even deader."
  • "Dew is formed on leaves when the sun shines down on them and makes them perspire."
  • "A super saturated solution is one that holds more than it can hold."
  • "Mushrooms always grow in damp places and so they look like umbrellas."
  • "The pistol of a flower is its only protections agenst insects."
  • "The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is something to hitch meat to."
  • "A permanent set of teeth consists of eight canines, two molars, and eight cuspidors."
  • "A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it is, the more extinct it is."
  • "Equator: A managerie lion running around the Earth through Africa."
  • "Germinate: To become a naturalized German."

Three engineers and three accountants are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three accountants each buy tickets and watch as the three engineers buy only a single ticket. "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks an accountant. "Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer.
They all board the train. The accountants take their respective seats but all Three engineers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets.
He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.
The accountants saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the accountants decide to copy the engineers on the return trip and save some money.
When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the engineers buy no tickets at all.
"How are you going to travel without a ticket?" says one perplexed accountant. "Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer.
When they board the train the three accountants cram into a restroom and the three engineers cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the engineers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the accountants are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "ticket please."

For those who thought the hardest part of Physics 101 was the constant  conversion from MKS or CGS units to English units, here are some useful English system conversions.
• Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
• 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
• 1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
• Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
• Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
• Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
• 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it's less filling: 1 lite year
• 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
• Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
• 1000 aches: 1 megahurtz
• Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
• Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line (think about it for a moment)
• 2000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds
• 1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
• 1000 grams of wet socks: 1 literhosen
• 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
• 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
• 100 Senators: Not 1 decision

This virus works on the honor system.
Please delete all the files on your hard disk, then forward this message to everyone you know.
Thank you for your cooperation.
...from the Rutgers State University of NJ web site.

When Albert Einstein was making the rounds of the speaker's circuit, he usually found himself eagerly longing to get back to his laboratory work.
One night as they were driving to yet another rubber-chicken dinner, Einstein mentioned to his chauffeur (a man who somewhat resembled Einstein in looks & manner) that he was tired of speechmaking.
"I have an idea, boss," his chauffeur said. "I've heard you give this speech so many times. I'll bet I could give it for you."
Einstein laughed loudly and said, "Why not? Let's do it!"
When they arrived at the dinner, Einstein donned the chauffeur's cap and jacket and sat in the back of the room. The chauffeur gave a beautiful rendition of Einstein's speech and even answered a few questions expertly.
Then a supremely pompous professor asked an extremely esoteric question about anti-matter formation, digressing here and there to let everyone in the audience know that he was nobody's fool.
Without missing a beat, the chauffeur fixed the professor with a steely stare and said, "Sir, the answer to that question is so simple that I will let my chauffeur, who is sitting in the back, answer it for me."

Quote from the Boss: "Teamwork is a lot of people doing what I say." (Marketing executive)

"We know that communication is a problem, but the company is not going to discuss it with the employees." (Switching supervisor, Long Lines Division)

A Chemical is a Substance that:
An organic chemist turns into a foul odor.
An analytical chemist turns into a procedure.
A physical chemist turns into a straight line.
A biochemist turns into a helix.
A chemical engineer turns into a profit.

Professional's  Exam 
The following short quiz consists of 4 questions and will tell you whether you are qualified to be a "professional".
Scroll down for each answer. The questions are NOT that difficult.

1. How do you put a giraffe into a refrigerator?
The correct answer is: Open the refrigerator, put in the giraffe, and close the door.
This question tests whether you tend to do simple things in an overly complicated way.

2. How do you put an elephant into a refrigerator?
Did you say, "Open the refrigerator, put in the elephant, and close the refrigerator"? (Wrong Answer)
Correct Answer: Open the refrigerator, take out the giraffe, put in the elephant and close the door.
This tests your ability to think through the repercussions of your previous actions.

3. The Lion King is hosting an animal conference.
All the animals attend except one. Which animal does not attend?
Correct Answer: The Elephant. The elephant is in the refrigerator. You just put him in there. This tests your memory.
OK, even if you did not answer the first three questions correctly, you still have one more chance to show your true abilities.

4. There is a river you must cross but it is inhabited by crocodiles.
How do you manage it?
Correct Answer: You swim across. All the crocodiles are attending the Animal Meeting. This tests whether you learn quickly from your mistakes.

Around 90% of the professionals they tested got all questions wrong. But many preschoolers got several correct answers. This conclusively disproves the theory that most professionals have the brains of a four year old.

A new look at quadratic equations?
Read:- 'a2' below as "a squared," 'b2' below as "b squared," etc.
If a = b (so I say)                                [a = b]
And we multiply both sides by a
Then we'll see that a2                         [a2 = ab]
When with ab compared
Are the same. Remove b2. OK?           [a2-b2 = ab-b2]
Both sides we will factorize. See?
Now each side contains a - b.             [(a+b)(a-b) = b(a-b)]
We'll divide through by a
Minus b and olé
a + b = b. Oh whoopee!                     [a+b = b]
But since I said a = b
b + b = b you'll agree?                       [b+b = b]
So if b = 1
Then this sum I have done                [1+1 = 1]
Proves that 2 = 1. Q.E.D.

Integrity Test
A professor was giving a big test one day to his students. He handed out all of the tests and went back to his desk to wait.
Once the test was over, the students all handed the tests back in. The professor noticed that one enterprising student had attached a $100 bill to his test with a note saying "A dollar per point."
At the beginning of the next class the professor handed the tests back out. The student got back his test - along with $64 change.

A Left-Brain/Right-Brain Test
• While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.
• Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.
• This time, lift your left foot off the floor and make counter-clockwise circles with it.
• At the same time, draw the number "9" in the air with you left hand.

Eight ways to use a barometer to find the height of a building:
1 Measure the height of the barometer. Scale the side of the building, measuring its height in barometer-units.
2 Drop the barometer from the top of the building. Measure the time until it hits the street. Correcting for the mass/surface ratio of the instrument, use basic acceleration equation to find the height.
3 Tie string to top of barometer. Lower from roof to almost ground. Swing. Period of pendulum can be used to find distance from barometer's Center of Gravity to top of building.
4 Tie a long cable to the barometer and lower it from the top of the building to the ground, and then measure the length of the cable.
5 Take the barometer outside on a sunny day, measure its shadow and the buildings shadow.
6 Drop the barometer from the top of the building. Measure how far was it shifted by Corriolis force. The rest is trivial.
7 Sell the barometer. Purchase a tape measure long enough to measure the height of the building.
8 Find someone who knows how tall the building is, and trade him the barometer for the information.

Useful Metric Conversions for the mathematically challenged
1 trillion microphones = 1 megaphone
1 millionth of a fish = 1 microfiche
1 trillion pins = 1 terrapin
10 rations = 1 decoration
10 millipedes = 1 centipede
3 1/3 tridents = 1 decadent
2 monograms = 1 diagram
8 nickels = 2 paradigms
2 wharves = 1 paradox

A hydrogen atom lost its electron and went to the police station to file a missing electron report. He was questioned by the police: "Haven't you just misplaced it somewhere? Are you sure that your electron is really lost?"
"I'm positive." replied the atom.

Absolute zero is cool.

What quote did Decartes come up with in his organic chemistry class?
I think, therefore I amide.

Two molecules are walking down the street and they run into each other. One says to the other, "Are you all right?"
"No, I lost an electron!"
"Are you sure?" "I'm positive!"

Free radicals have revolutionized chemistry.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate!

Classification of Chemistry
Physical Chemistry: The pitiful attempt to apply y=mx+b to everything in the universe.
Organic Chemistry: The practice of transmuting vile substances into publications.
Inorganic Chemistry: That which is left over after the organic, analytical, and physical chemists get through picking over the periodic table.
Chemical Engineering: The practice of doing for a profit what an organic chemist only does for fun.

A physicist, biologist and a chemist were going to the ocean for the first time.
The physicist saw the ocean and was fascinated by the waves. He said he wanted to do some research on the fluid dynamics of the waves and walked into the ocean. Obviously he was drowned and never returned.
The biologist said he wanted to do research on the flora and fauna inside the ocean and walked inside the ocean. He too, never returned.
The chemist waited for a long time and afterwards, wrote the observation, "The physicist and the biologist are soluble in ocean water".

Little Willie was a chemist,
Little Willie is no more.
What he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4.

Little Johnny took a drink,
Now he shall drink no more.
For what he thought was H2O,
Was H2SO4.

A chemist walks into a pharmacy and asks the pharmacist, "Do you have any acetylsalicylic acid?"
"You mean aspirin?" asked the pharmacist.
"That's it, I can never remember that word."

Three men: a project manager, a software engineer, and a hardware engineer are helping out on a project.
About midweek they decide to walk up and down the beach during their lunch hour.
Halfway up the beach, they stumbled upon a lamp.
As they rub the lamp a genie appears and says "Normally I would grant you three wishes, but since there are three of you, I will grant you each one wish."
The hardware engineer went first. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living in a huge house in St. Thomas with no money worries."
The genie granted him his wish and sent him on off to St. Thomas.
The software engineer went next. "I would like to spend the rest of my life living on a huge yacht cruising the Mediterranean with no money worries."
The genie granted him his wish and sent him off to the Mediterranean.
Last, but not least, it was the project manager's turn. "And what would your wish be?" asked the genie.
"I want them both back after lunch" replied the project manager.

A mathmatician, a physicist, and an engineer were all given a red rubber ball and told to find the volume.
The mathmatician carefully measured the diameter and evaluated a triple integral.
The physicist filled a beaker with water, put the ball in the water, and measured the total displacement.
The engineer looked up the model and serial numbers in his red-rubber-ball table.

The wireless telegraph is not difficult to understand.
The ordinary telegraph is like a very long cat.
You pull the tail in New York, and it meows in Los Angeles.
The wireless is the same, only without the cat. - Albert Einstein

Scientists at NASA have developed a gun built specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.
The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshields of their new high speed trains.
Arrangements were made, and when the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, crashed through the control console, snapped the engineer's backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.

Horrified Britons sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield, and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.

NASA's response was just one sentence, "THAW THE CHICKEN!"

An astronaut in space was asked by a reporter, "How do you feel?"
"How would you feel," the astronout replied, "if you were stuck here, on top of 20,000 parts each one supplied by the lowest bidder?"

During the heat of the space race in the 1960's, NASA decided it needed a ball point pen to write in the zero gravity confines of its space capsules.
After considerable research and development, the Astronaut Pen was developed at a cost of $1 million.
The pen worked and also enjoyed some modest success as a novelty item back here on earth.
The Soviet Union, faced with the same problem, used a pencil.

If it wasn't for Thomas Alva Edison, we'd all be watching TV to the light of a candle.

Irrigation of the land with seawater desalinated by fusion power is ancient. It's called rain.

After Receiving an Invitation to an Inventors' Ball:
Edison thought it would be an illuminating experience.
Watt reckoned it would be a good way to let off steam.
Stephenson thought the whole idea was loco.
Wilbur Wright accepted, provided he and Orville could get a flight.
Morse's reply: "I'll be there on the dot. Can't stop now must dash."

A start-up engineer is someone who solves a problem you didn't know you had, in a way you don't understand.

The Dictionary: what engineers say and what they mean by it

Major Technological Breakthrough = Back to the drawing board.

Developed after years of intensive research = It was discovered by accident.

The designs are well within allowable limits = We just made it, stretching a point or two.

Test results were extremely gratifying = It works, and are we surprised!

Customer satisfaction is believed assured = We are so far behind schedule that the customer was happy to get anything at all.

Close project coordination = We should have asked someone else; or, let's spread the responsibility for this.

Project slightly behind original schedule due to unforeseen difficulties = We are working on something else.

The design will be finalized in the next reporting period = We haven't started this job yet, but we've got to say something.

A number of different approaches are being tried = We don't know where we're going, but we're moving.

Extensive effort is being applied on a fresh approach to the problem = We just hired three new guys; we'll let them kick it around for a while.

Preliminary operational tests are inconclusive = The darn thing blew up when we threw the switch.

The entire concept will have to be abandoned = The only guy who understood the thing quit.

Modifications are underway to correct certain minor difficulties = We threw the whole thing out and are starting from scratch.

Essentially complete. = Half done.

We predict... = We really hope!

Drawing release is lagging. = Not a single drawing exists.

Risk is high, but acceptable. = 100 to 1 odds, or with 10 times the budget and 10 times the manpower, we may have a 50/50 chance.

Serious, but not insurmountables, problems. = It will take a miracle.

Not well defined. = Nobody has thought about it.

Requires further analysis and management attention. = Totally out of control.

The project is designed for high availability. = Malfunctions will be blamed on the operators mistakes.

This project has low maintenance requirements. = We wouldn't let the technicians change a light bulb, much less fool around with our baby.

The software is being developed without excessive process overhead. = The documentation will be written in clear and lucid Chinese.

The delivery is scheduled for the last quater of next year. = This leaves us plenty of time to decide who to blame for it being late.

If you can't fix it -- document it.

How many first year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That's a second year subject.

How many second year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the rest of the class copies the report.

How many third year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
"Will this question be in the final examination?"

How many civil engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to do it and one to steady the chandelier.

How many electrical engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They simply redefine darkness as the industry standard.

How many computer engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
"Why bother? The socket will be obsolete in six months anyway."

How many mechanical engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to decide which way the bulb ought to turn, one to calculate the force required, one to design a tool with which to turn the bulb, one to design a comfortable - but functional - hand grip, and one to use all this equipment.

How many nuclear engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Seven. One to install the new bulb and six to figure out what to do with the old one for the next 10,000 years.

You might be an engineer if:

  • Choosing between buying flowers for your wife and upgrading your RAM is a problem.
  • You take a cruise so you can go on a personal tour of the engine room.
  • In college, you thought Spring Break was metal fatigue failure.
  • The salespeople at the local computer store can't answer any of your questions.
  • At an air show, you know how fast the skydivers are falling.
  • For your wife's birthday you gave her a new CD-ROM drive or a PalmPilot.
  • You can quote scenes from any Monty Python movie.
  • You can type 70 words per minute but you can't read your own handwriting.
  • You comment to your wife that her straight hair is nice and parallel.
  • You sit backwards on Disney rides so you can see how they do the special effects.
  • You have saved every power cord from all your broken appliances.
  • You have more friends on the Internet than in real life.
  • You know what http:// stands for.
  • You look forward to Christmas so you can put together the kids toys.
  • You see a good design, and have to change it.
  • You spent more on your calculator than you did on your wedding ring.
  • You still own a slide rule and know how to use it.
  • You think that people yawning around you are sleep deprived.
  • You window shop at Radio Shack.
  • Your laptop computer cost more than your car.
  • Your wife hasn't the foggiest idea of what you do at work.
  • You've already calculated how much you make per second.
  • You've tried to repair a $5 radio.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road or not. The chicken is either with us or it is against us. There is no middle ground here.
I invented the chicken. I invented the road. Therefore, the chicken crossing the road represented the application of these two different functions of government in a new, reinvented way designed to bring greater services to the American people.
The chicken's habitat on the original side of the road had been polluted by unchecked industrialist greed. The chicken did not reach the unspoiled habitat on the other side of the road because it was crushed by the wheels of a gas-guzzling SUV.
To steal a job from a decent, hard-working American.
I don't know why the chicken crossed the road, but I'll bet it was getting a government grant to cross the road, and I'll bet someone out there is already forming a support group to help chickens with crossing-the-road syndrome. Can you believe this? How much more of this can real Americans take? Chickens crossing the road paid for by their tax dollars, and when I say tax dollars, I'm talking about your money, money the government took from you to build roads for chickens to cross.
No one called to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the farmer's market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.
Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, The chicken crossed the road, But why it crossed, I've not been told!
To die. In the rain. Alone.
I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.
In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.
Isn't that interesting? In a few moments we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting and went on to accomplish its life-long dream of crossing the road.
Imagine all the chickens crossing roads in peace.
It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.
It was an historical inevitability.
This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.
I may not agree with what the chicken did, but I will defend to the death its right to do it.
What chicken?
To boldly go where no chicken has gone before.
You saw it cross the road with your own eyes! How many more chickens have to cross before you believe it?
I have just released eChicken 2003, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook - and Internet Explorer is an inextricable part of eChicken.
Did the chicken really cross the road or did the road move beneath the chicken?
I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What do you mean by chicken? Could you define chicken, please?
I missed one?

A man goes into a pet shop to buy a parrot. The shop owner points to three identical looking parrots on a perch and says, "The parrot on the left costs 500 dollars". "Why does the parrot cost so much," asks the man. The shop owner says, "Well, the parrot knows how to use a computer". The man then asks about the next parrot to be told that this one costs 1,000 dollars because it can do everything the other parrot can do plus it knows how to use the UNIX operating system. Naturally, the increasingly startled man asks about the third parrot to be told that it costs 2,000 dollars. Needless to say this begs the question, "What can it do?" To which the shop owner replies, "to be honest I have never seen it do a thing, but the other two call him boss!"

Origins of engineering specs and government decisions. Ever wonder where engineering specifications come from? The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches, an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used?

Because that's the way they built them in England, and the English built the first US railroads. Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that is the gauge they used. Why did they use that particular gauge then?

Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used the same wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts in the granite sets. So, who built those old rutted roads?

Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads?

Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they all had the same wheel spacing.

The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and Bureaucracies live forever.

The Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

Now let's cut to the present...

The Space Shuttle, sitting on its launch pad, has two booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. A company builds SRBs at its factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs wanted to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory has to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel, which is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So.... a major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined two thousand years ago by a horse's ass.

Which is pretty much how most government decisions are made.

"The Age of Enlightenment" is far from over....

The beguiling ideas about science quoted here were gleaned from essays, exams, and class room discussions. Most were from 5th and 6th graders. They illustrate Mark Twain's contention that the 'most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.'

  • Question: What is one horsepower? Answer: One horsepower is the amount of energy it takes to drag a horse 500 feet in one second.
  • Talc is found on rocks and on babies.
  • The law of gravity says no fair jumping up without coming back down.
  • When they broke open molecules, they found they were only stuffed with atoms. But when they broke open atoms, they found them stuffed with explosions.
  • Water freezes at 32 degrees and boils at 212 degrees. There are 180 degrees between freezing and boiling because there are 180 degrees between north and south.
  • A vibration is a motion that cannot make up its mind which way it wants to go.
  • There are 26 vitamins in all, but some of the letters are yet to be discovered. Finding them all means living forever.
  • There is a tremendous weight pushing down on the center of the Earth because of so much population stomping around up there these days.
  • Lime is a green-tasting rock.
  • Many dead animals in the past changed to fossils while others preferred to be oil.
  • Genetics explain why you look like your father and if you don't why you should.
  • Vacuums are nothings. We only mention them to let them know we know they're there.
  • Some oxygen molecules help fires burn while others help make water, so sometimes it's brother against brother.
  • We say the cause of perfume disappearing is evaporation. Evaporation gets blamed for a lot of things people forget to put the top on.
  • To most people solutions mean finding the answers. But to chemists solutions are things that are still all mixed up.
  • In looking at a drop of water under a microscope, we find there are twice as many H's as O's.
  • Humidity is the experience of looking for air and finding water.
  • We keep track of the humidity in the air so we won't drown when we breathe.
  • Cyanide is so poisonous that one drop of it on a dogs tongue will kill the strongest man.
  • Isotherms and isobars are even more important than their names sound.

It was once projected that a million monkeys with a million typewriters could reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the internet, we know that this is NOT true.

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 spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week" The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you 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, that I'll stay with you for a 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."
Reaching the end of a job interview, the Human Resources Person asked a young Engineer fresh out of MIT, "And what starting salary were you looking for?"

The Engineer said, "In the neighborhood of $125,000 a year, depending on the benefits package."

The interviewer said, "Well, what would you say to a package of 5-weeks vacation, 14 paid holidays, full medical and dental, company matching retirement fund to 50% of salary, and a company car leased every 2 years say, a red Corvette?"

The Engineer sat up straight and said, "Wow! Are you kidding?"

The interviewer replied, "Yeah, but you started it."

Word puns for engineers:
  • Ratio of an igloo's circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
  • 2000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
  • 365.25 days of drinking low-cal beer because it's less filling: 1 lite year
  • Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
  • 1000 aches: 1 megahurtz
  • Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
  • Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
  • Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line
  • Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: bananosecond
  • A Half-Bath: 1 demijohn
  • 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
  • 1 million microphones: 1 megaphone
  • 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
  • 365.25 days: 1 unicycle
  • 2200 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds
  • 10 cards: 1 decacards
  • 1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
  • 1000 grams of wet socks: 1 literhosen
  • 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
  • 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
  • 1 million billion picolos: 1 gigolo
  • 10 rations: 1 decoration
  • 100 rations: 1 C-ration
  • 10 millipedes: 1 centipede
  • 3 1/3 tridents: 1 decadent
  • 10 monologs: 5 dialogs
  • 5 dialogs: 1 decalog
  • 2 monograms: 1 diagram

A short and cute one for all of us who are tired of hearing stock market reports...
  • Helium was up, feathers were down. Paper was stationary.
  • Fluorescent tubing was dimmed in light trading. Knives were up sharply.
  • Cows steered into a bull market. Pencils lost a few points.
  • Hiking equipment was trailing.
  • Elevators rose, while escalators continued their slow decline.
  • Weights were up in heavy trading.
  • Light switches were off.
  • Mining equipment hit rock bottom. Diapers remain unchanged.
  • Shipping lines stayed at an even keel.
  • The market for raisins dried up.
  • Coca Cola fizzled.
  • Caterpillar stock inched up a bit.
  • Sun peaked at midday.
  • Balloon prices were inflated.
  • And Scott Tissue touched a new bottom.

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine fixed, but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and proudly stated, "This is where your problem is". The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for 50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The engineer responded briefly:

One chalk mark $1
Knowing where to put it $49,999

It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

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 a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Genuine Excerpts from Letters Sent to Landlords...
  1. The toilet is blocked and we cannot bathe the children until it is cleared.
  2. I want some repairs done to my stove as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.
  3. This is to let you know that there is a smell coming from the man next door.
  4. The toilet seat is cracked, where do I stand?
  5. I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is running away from the wall.
  6. I request your permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.
  7. Our lavatory seat is broken in half and is now in three pieces.
  8. Will you please send someone to mend our cracked sidewalk. Yesterday my wife tripped on it and is now pregnant.
  9. Our kitchen floor is very damp, we have two children and would like a third, so will you please send someone to do something about it.
  10. Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny color and not fit to drink.
  11. Could you please send someone to fix our bath tap. My wife got her toe stuck in it and it is very uncomfortable for us.


12. "Do you have a sledgehammer or a brick handy?"
11. "That's right, not even McGyver could fix it."
10. "So -- what are you wearing?"
9. "Duuuuuude! Bummer!"
8. "Looks like you're gonna need some new dilithium crystals, Cap'n."
7. "Press 1 for Support. Press 2 if you're with '60 Minutes.' Press 3 if you're with the FTC."
6. "We can fix this, but you're gonna need a butter knife, a roll of duct tape and a car battery."
5. "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."
4. "In layman's terms, we call that the Hindenburg Effect."
3. "Hold on a second ... Mom! Timmy's hitting me!"
2. "OK, turn to Page 523 in your copy of 'Dianetics.'"
And the No. 1 Thing You Don't Want to Hear From Tech Support ...
1. "Please hold for Mr. Gates' attorney."

Thoughts to Ponder...
  1. If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself, is it considered a hostage situation?
  2. Is there another word for synonym?
  3. Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice?"
  4. When sign makers go on strike, is anything written on their signs?
  5. When you open a bag of cotton balls, is the top one meant to be thrown away?
  6. Where do forest rangers go to "get away from it all?"
  7. Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
  8. What do you do when you see an endangered animal eating an endangered plant?
  9. Would a fly without wings be called a walk?
  10. If a stealth bomber crashes in a forest, will it make a sound?
  11. If a turtle doesn't have a shell, is he homeless or naked?
  12. Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?
  13. Can vegetarians eat animal crackers?
  14. If the police arrest a mime, do they tell him he has the right to remain silent?
  15. How do they get the deer to cross at that yellow road sign?
  16. Why do they sterilize the needles for lethal injections?
  17. Why did kamikaze pilots wear helmets?
  18. Is it true that cannibals don't eat clowns because they taste funny?
  19. What was the best thing before sliced bread?

"The European Union commissioners have announced that agreement has been reached to adopt English as the preferred language for European communications, rather than German, which was the other possibility. As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty's Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five year phase-in plan for what will be known as EuroEnglish.

In the first year, "s" will be used instead of the soft "c". Sivil servants will reseive this news with joy. Also, the hard "c" will be replaced with "k". Not only will this klear up konfusion, but typewriters kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced by "f". This will make words like "fotograf" 20 persent shorter.

In the third year. publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible. Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful, and it would go.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" by "z" and "w" by "v". During ze fifz year, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fifz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand ech ozer. Ze drem vil finali kum tru!"

Vel, hov d'yu lik ze articl? Sems tu me zat dutch peopl vil lik it. Ve'd betr strt prkticin ze nev ruls tu improv ur ritin skilz viz Urop.

God luk!

  1. They told me at the blood bank this might happen.
  2. This is just a 15-minute power nap like they raved about in that time-management course you sent me to.
  3. I was working smarter-not harder.
  4. Whew! I musta left the top off the liquid paper.
  5. I wasn't sleeping! I was meditating on the mission statement and envisioning a new paradigm!
  6. This is one of the seven habits of highly effective people!
  7. I was testing the keyboard for drool-resistance.
  8. This is in exchange for the six hours last night when I dreamed about work
  9. I was doing a highly specific Yoga exercise to relieve work related stress
  10. Why did you interrupt me? I had almost figured out a solution to our biggest problem.
  11. I wasn't sleeping. I was trying to pick up contact lens without hands.

A few one-liners to brighten your day..........
  1. If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
  2. A clean desk is a sign of a cluttered desk drawer.
  3. Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don't have film.
  4. There's no future in time travel.
  5. DCE seeks DTE for mutual exchange of data.
  6. Who is General Failure and why is he reading my hard disk?
  7. What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
  8. Energizer Bunny arrested, charged with battery.
  9. If you can't convince them, confuse them.
  10. Death is hereditary.
  11. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
  12. Multitasking - screwing up several things at once.
  13. Dyslexics of the world, untie!
  14. I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
  15. Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark.
  16. How do you tell when you run out of invisible ink?
  17. Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.
  18. A good pun is its own reword.
  19. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
  20. Laughing stock: cattle with a sense of humor.
  21. Why do psychics have to ask you for your name?
  22. To err is human, to moo bovine.
  23. Friends may come and go, but enemies tend to accumulate.
  24. MicroSloth: "Bringing you ten-year-old technology, tomorrow, maybe."
  25. How does Teflon stick to the pan?
  26. Corduroy pillows: They're making headlines!
  27. Black holes are where God divided by zero.
  28. All those who believe in psychokinesis raise my hand.

Avoid Intellectual Elitism ...

This is the transcript of an ACTUAL radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October, 1995.

Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid collision."
Canadians: "Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the south to avoid collision."
Americans: "This is the Captain of a US Navy ship. I say again, divert YOUR course."
Canadians: "No, I say again, you divert YOUR course."
Canadians: "This is a lighthouse. Your call."

Translation of Computer Lingo

LOG ON - Makin' the wood stove hotter
LOG OFF - Don't add no more wood
MONITOR - Keep an eye on the wood stove
DOWNLOAD - Gettin' the farwood ofn the truck
MEGA HERTZ - When yer not keerful gettin the farwood downloaded
FLOPPY DISK - Whatcha git from tryin to carry too much farwood
RAM - That thing what splits the farwood
HARD DRIVE - Gittin up the hill t'home in the winter time
PROMPT - Whut the mail aint in the winter time
WINDOWS - Whut to shut when its cold outside
SCREEN - Whut to shut when its black fly season
BYTE - Whut them dang flys do
CHIP - Munchies for the TV
MICRO CHIP - Whuts left in the munchie bag
MODEM - Whatcha did to the hay fields
DOT MATRIX - Ol Dan Matrix's wife
LAP TOP - Whar the kitty sleeps

Three people were arguing over which profession was the oldest. Said the surgeon: "The Bible says Eve was made by carving a rib out of Adam. I guess that makes mine the oldest profession." "Not at all," said the engineer. "In six days the earth was created out of chaos--and that was an engineer's job." Said the politician: "Yes, but who created the chaos?"
Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by US Air Force pilots and the replies from the maintenance crews.

Problem: "Left inside main tire almost needs replacement."
Solution: "Almost replaced left inside main tire."

Problem: "Test flight OK, except autoland very rough."
Solution: "Autoland not installed on this aircraft."

Problem: "Something loose in cockpit."
Solution: "Something tightened in cockpit."

Problem: "Evidence of hydraulic leak on right main landing gear."
Solution: "Evidence removed."

Problem: "DME volume unbelievably loud."
Solution: "Volume set to more believable level."

Problem: "Dead bugs on windshield."
Solution: "Live bugs on order."

Problem: "IFF inoperative."
Solution: "IFF inoperative in OFF mode."

Problem: "Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick."
Solution: "That's what they're there for."

Problem: "Number three engine missing."
Solution: "Engine found on right wing after brief search."

Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies (Why Engineers Don't Write Recipe Books):


  1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
  2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
  3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite
  4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
  5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
  6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
  7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
  8. Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein
  9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
  10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at = 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogenous. To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation.

Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

A thermodynamics professor had written a take home exam for his graduate students. It had one question:

"Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with a proof."

Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however wrote the following:

First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

As for souls entering hell, lets look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since, there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell.

With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant.

So, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.

Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, than the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.

It was not revealed what grade the student received.

And The Year's Best Newspaper Headlines are.....
  1. Include Your Children when Baking Cookies
  2. Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says
  3. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
  4. Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
  5. Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
  6. Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
  7. Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
  8. Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
  9. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
  10. British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
  11. Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
  12. Eye Drops Off Shelf
  13. Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
  14. Clinton Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
  15. Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax
  16. Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
  17. Miners Refuse to Work after Death
  18. Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
  19. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
  20. Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years in Checkout Counter
  21. Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
  22. Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
  23. War Dims Hope for Peace
  24. If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
  25. Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
  26. Deer Kill 17,000
  27. Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
  28. Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
  29. Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
  30. Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge
  31. New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
  32. Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
  33. Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
  34. Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
  35. Arson Suspect Held in Massachusetts Fire
  36. Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
  37. Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
  38. New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
  39. Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Toaster Technology

Day 1: My boss, an engineer from the pre-CAD days, has successfully brought a generation of products from Acme Toaster Corp's engineering labs to market. Bob is a wonder of mechanical ingenuity. All of us in the design department have the utmost respect for him, so I was honored when he appointed me the lead designer on the new Acme 2000 Toaster.

Day 6: We met with the president, head of sales, and the marketing vice president today to hammer out the project's requirements and specifications. Here at Acme, our market share is eroding to low-cost imports. We agreed to meet a cost of goods of $9.50 (100,000). I've identified the critical issue in the new design: a replacement for the timing spring we've used since the original 1922 model. Research with the focus groups shows that consumers set high expectations for their breakfast foods. Cafe latte from Starbuck's goes best with a precise level of toastal browning. The Acme 2000 will give our customers the breakfast experience they desire. I estimated a design budget of $21,590 for this project and final delivery in seven weeks. I'll need one assistant designer to help with the drawing packages. This is my first chance to supervise!

Day 23: We've found the ideal spring material. Best of all, it's a well-proven technology. Our projected cost of goods is almost $1.50 lower than our goal. Our rough prototype, which was completed just 12 days after we started, has been servicing the employee cafeteria for a week without a single hiccup. Toastal quality exceeds projections.

Day 24: A major aerospace company that had run out of defense contractors to acquire has just snapped up that block of Acme stock sold to the Mac-kenzie family in the '50s. At a company wide meeting, corporate assured us that this sale was only an investment and that nothing will change.

Day 30: I showed the Acme 2000's exquisitely crafted toastal-timing mechanism to Ms Primrose, the new engineering auditor. The single spring and four interlocking lever arms are things of beauty to me.

Day 36: The design is complete. We're starting a prototype run of 500 toasters tomorrow. I'm starting to wrap up the engineering effort. My new assistant did a wonderful job.

Day 38: Suddenly, a major snag happened. Bob called me into his office. He seemed very uneasy as he informed me that those on high feel that the Acme 2000 is obsolete? something about using springs in the silicon age. I reminded Bob that the consultants had looked at using a microprocessor but figured that an electronic design would exceed our cost target by almost 50% with no real benefit in terms of toastal quality. "With a computer, our customers can load the bread the night before, program a finish time, and get a perfect slice of toast when they awaken," Bob intoned, as if reading from a script.

Day 48: Bill Compguy, the new microprocessor whiz, scrapped my idea of using a dedicated 4-bit CPU. "We need some horsepower if we're gonna program this puppy in C," he said, while I stared fascinated at the old crumbs stuck in his wild beard. "Time-to-market, you know. Delivery is due in three months. We'll just pop this cool new 8-bitter I found into it, whip up some code, and ship to the end user."

Day 120: The good news is that I'm getting to stretch my mechanical-design abilities. Bill convinced management that the old spring-loaded, press-down lever control is obsolete. I've designed a "motorized insertion port," stealing ideas from a CD-ROM drive. Three cross-coupled, safety-interlock microswitches ensure that the heaters won't come on unless users properly insert the toast. We're seeing some reliability problems due to the temperature extremes, but I'm sure we can work those out.

Day 132: New schedule: We now expect delivery in three months. We've replaced the 8-bitter with a Harvard- architecture, 16-bit, 3-MIPS CPU.

Day 172: New schedule: We now expect delivery in three months.

Day 194: The auditors convinced management we really need a graphical user interface with a full-screen LCD. "You're gonna need some horsepower to drive that," Bill warned us. "I recommend a 386 with a half-meg of RAM." He went back to design Revision J of the PC board.

Day 268: New schedule: We now expect delivery in three months. We've cured most of the electronics' temperature problems with a pair of fans, though management is complaining about the noise. Bob sits in his office all day, door locked, drinking Jack Daniels. Like clockwork, his wife calls every night around midnight, sobbing. I'm worried about him and mentioned my concern to Chuck. "Wife?" he asked. "Wife? Yeah, I think I've got one of those and two or three kids, too. Now, let's just stick another meg of RAM in here, OK?"

Day 290: We gave up on the custom GUI and are now installing Windows CE. The auditors applauded Bill's plan to upgrade to a Pentium with 32 Mbytes of RAM. There's still no functioning code, but the toaster is genuinely impressive. Four circuit boards, bundles of cables, and a gigabit of hard-disk space. "This sucker has more computer power than the entire world did 20 years ago," Bill boasted proudly.

Day 384: Toastal quality is sub-par. The addition of two more cooling fans keeps the electronics to a reasonable temperature but removes too much heat from the toast. I'm struggling with baffles to vector the air, but the thrust of all these fans spins the toaster around.

Day 410: New schedule: We now expect delivery in three months. We switched From C++ to Java. "That'll get them pesky memory-allocation bugs, for sure," Bill told his team of 15 programmers. This approach seems like a good idea to me, because Java is platform-independent, and there are rumors circulating that we're porting to a SPARCstation.

Day 530: New schedule: We now expect delivery in three months. I mastered the temperature problems by removing all of the fans and the heating elements. The Pentium is now thermally bonded to the toast. We found a thermal grease that isn't too poisonous. Our marketing people feel that the slight degradation in taste from the grease will be more than compensated for by the "toasting experience that can only come from a CISC-based, 32-bit multitasking machine running the latest multi-platform software."

Day 610: The product shipped. It weighs 72 lb and costs $325. Bill was promoted to CEO.

Top Ten Signs You're Suffering From Burnout:

10. You're so tired you now answer the phone, "Hell".
9. Your friends call to ask how you've been, and you immediately scream, "Get off my back!"
8. Your garbage can IS your "in" box.
7. You wake up to discover your bed is on fire, but go back to sleep because you just don't care.
6. You have so much on your mind, you've forgotten how to go to the bathroom.
5. Visions of the upcoming weekend help you make it through Monday.
4. You sleep more at school than at home.
3. You leave for a party and instinctively bring your thermodynamcis textbook.
2. Your Day-Timer exploded a week ago.
1. You think about how relaxing it would be if you were in prison.

The Night Before Finals

Twas the night before finals,
And all through the college,
All the students were praying
For last minute knowledge.

Most were quite sleepy,
But none touched their beds,
While visions of essays
Danced in their heads.

In my own apartment,
I had been pacing,
And dreading the exams
I soon would be facing.

My roommate was speechless,
Her nose in her books,
And my comments to her
Drew unfriendly looks.

I stared at my notes,
But my thoughts were all muddy,
My eyes went ablur--
I just couldn't study.

"Some pizza might help,"
I said with a shiver,
But each place that I called
Refused to deliver.

I'd nearly concluded
That life was too cruel,

When futures depend
On grades earned in school.

When all of a sudden,
Our door opened wide,
And Patron Saint Put-it-off
Ambled inside.

His spirit was careless,
His manner was mellow,
He walked across the room
And started to bellow:

"What kind of student
Would make such a fuss,
To toss back at teachers
What they tossed at us?"

"On Cliff Notes! On Crib Notes!
On Last Year's Exams!
On Wing-it and Sling-it,
And Last Minute Crams!"

His message delivered,
He vanished from sight,
But we heard him laughing
Outside in the night.

"Your teachers have pegged you,
So just do your best.
Happy Finals to All,
And to All, a good test."

Engineering vs Math Majors

A math and engineering convention was being held. On the train to the convention, there were both math majors and engineering majors. Each of the math majors had his/her own train ticket. But the Engineers had only ONE ticket for all of them. The math majors started laughing and snickering. The engineers ignored the laughter.

Then, one of the engineers said, "Here comes the conductor". All of the engineers piled into the bathroom. The math majors were puzzled. The conductor came aboard and collected tickets from all the math majors. He went to the bathroom, knocked on the door, and said, "Tickets Please". An engineer stuck their only ticket under the door. The conductor took the ticket and left. A few minutes later, the engineers emerged from the bathroom. The math majors felt really stupid.

On the way back from the convention, the group of math majors had ONE ticket for their group. They started snickering at the engineers, who had NO tickets amongst them.

When the engineer lookout shouted, "Conductor coming!", all the engineers again piled into a bathroom. All of the math majors went into another bathroom. Then, before the conductor came on board, one of the engineers left the bathroom, knocked on the other bathroom, and said, "Ticket please."

CHEMICAL ENGINEER: n. A person who does for profit what a chemist does for fun.

Q: What is the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer?
A: Oh, about $20 K a year.

A programmer and an Engineer are sitting next to each other on a long flight from Los Angelos to New York. The Programmer leans over to the Engineer and asks if he would like to play a fun game. The Engineer just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.

The Programmer persists and explains that the game is real easy and a lotta fun. He explains, "I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5. Then you ask me a question, and if I don’t know the answer, I pay you $5."

Again the Engineer politely declines and tries to get to sleep.

The Programmer, now somewhat agitated, says "Ok, if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I’ll pay you $50!"

This catches the engineer’s attention, and he sees no end to this torment unless he plays, so he agrees to the game. The programmer asks the first question: "What is the distance from the Earth to the moon?"

The engineer doesn’t say a word, but simply reaches into his wallet, pulls out a five-dollar bill, and hands it to the programmer. Now, it’s the engineer’s turn. He asks the programmer, "What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down on four?"

The programmer looks up at him with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all of his references. He taps into the Airphone with the modem and searches the net and the library of Congress. Frustrated, he sends e-mail to his coworkers - all to no avail. After about an hour, he wakes the engineer and hands him $50. He politely takes the $50 and turns away to try to get back to sleep.

The programmer, more than a little miffed, shakes the engineer and asks, "Well, so what’s the answer?" Without a word, the engineer reaches into his wallet, hands the programmer $5, and turns away to get back to sleep.

An artsie, sick of working at Mickey D's for what had seemed an eternitude decided to get a job working as a labourer at a construction site. Being a usual overconfident artsie, he soon began to brag to the other workers about all sorts of things. One day he decided to brag that he could outdo anyone in a feat of strength. He made a special case of making fun of the wiry engineer on the site. After several minutes, the engineer had had enough.

"Why don't you put your money where your mouth is," said the engineer. "I will bet a week's wages that I can haul something in a wheelbarrow over to that outbuilding that you won't be able to wheel back."

"You're on, little guy!" the braggart replied. "Let's see what you got."

The engineer reached out and grabbed the wheelbarrow by the handles. Then, nodding to the young man, he said, "All right: Get in."

Engineer to the Rescue

There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines.

They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who has solved so many of their problems in the past.

The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. At the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and stated, "This is where your problem is". The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for this service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges.

The engineer responded briefly:

  • One chalk mark $1
  • Knowing where to put it $49,999

It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.

What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?

Mechanical Engineers build weapons, Civil Engineers build targets.

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

The man below says, "Yes, you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's of no use to anyone."

The man below says, "You must be in management."

"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

What's the best thing about Switzerland? I don't know, but their flag is a huge plus.

Two fish are sitting in a tank. One looks over at the other and says: "Hey, do you know how to drive this thing?"

What's E.T. short for? Because he's only got little legs.