Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Top Engineering Expressions and Terms

Top 25 Engineering Terms and Expressions (What they say and what they really mean)

Customer satisfaction is believed to be assured. (We're so far behind schedule that the customer will settle for anything.)

Please see me / Let's discuss it. (I need your help. I've screwed up again.)

The project is in process. (It's so tied up in red tape that it's completely hopeless.)

We're trying a number of different approaches. (We still guessing, at this point.)

We're following the standard. (We've always done it this way.)

Close project coordination. (We met together and had coffee.)

Years of development. (It finally worked.)

Energy saving. (Turn off the power to save electricity.)

We'll have to abandon the entire concept. (The only person who understood the thing just quit.)

We had a major technological breakthrough. (It's boring, but it looks high tech.)

We're preparing a report with a fresh approach. (We just hired a couple of kids out of college.)

Preliminary operational tests proved inconclusive. (It blew up when we flipped the switch.)

Test results proved extremely gratifying. (Yahoo! It actually worked.)

Please read and initial. (We want to spread around the responsibility.)

Tell us what you are thinking. (We'll listen, but if it disagrees with what we've already done or are planning to do, forget it.)

Tell us your interpretation. (Let's hear your bull.)

We'll look into it. (Forget it! We've got so many other problems already, we'll never get to it.)

No maintenance. (If it breaks, we can't fix it.)

Low maintenance. (If it breaks, we're no likely able to fix it.)

All new. (None of the parts are interchangeable with the previous design.)

Rugged. (Needs major equipment to lift it.)

Robust. (More than rugged.)

Light weight. (A little less than rugged.)

Fax it to me. (I'm too lazy to write it down.)

I haven't gotten your email. (It's been days since I've checked my email.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sex Toy Ban in Alabama

I see that the U.S. Supremes refused to take up the plea by Sherri Williams, proprietress of Pleasures, a business located in Huntsville and Decatur, Alabama, to declare unconstututional an Alabama law prohibiting 'sex toys.'

Ahh, I'm pleased to know that our noble Justices are either well-satisfied, or have very limited desires. However, think about those poor Alabamians out there who are starving for pleasure! Who is meeting their needs? We definitely should not look to either political party, or the clowns that represent us in Montgomery, to do the job. And, for God's sake, not the preachers or sports-talk announcers, either!

Will this ban on sex toys result in a motely collection of Tennessee and Georgia state-line tawdry businesses that cater to Alabamians wishing to walk on the wild side and smuggle those sexual appliances, vibrators, ben-wa balls, massage oils, and other occasions of sin back to where We Used to Defend Our Rights? Will the people of Tennessee be easily able to identify Alabama women by their dark sunglasses and furtive behavior around their local sex shoppes? Will Mississippi become a place for Alabamians to slip from the confines of the Straight and Narrow?

My friends, I think this is intolerable, and also silly! After all, do we not have a problem with too many unmarried ladies having babies with third-class males? Do we not have a considerable level of marital tension due to husbands failing to console their wives during football season? And what about the ugly girls? What are they to do? Pray tell, take the long view on this, will you? After all, chick flicks and chocolate are not enough.

Why are we so dead set against people having FUN around here? With a vibrator, a woman can be satisfied, and have no wet spot to clean up afterwards. Why can't a girl with a cute tush proudly display it at Gulf Shores? Okay, the string bikini is okay now, but let's step up to the next level. Let's go Thong City.

And why does Alabama have the brain drain that it does? Isn't the fact that our best and brightest going to such pathetic places as Atlanta and Knoxville and Charlotte telling us something? Clearly we're not meeting the needs of our young people.

Geesh, it's a pretty pass when we can't even be as cool as Charleston, South Carolina or Nashville, Tennessee. Let's be honest: Alabama equals dull and prejudiced, in the eyes of many. And we need to reverse that real soon.

We need to stop hating, and stop our busybodyness, and stop being satisfied with bad food, and stop electing morons to public office. We need to get on the stick, and start realizing our true potential.

Yes, visionaries like David Bronner are offering us lofty goals, but we need to broaden our vistas of the Alabama That Should Be!

We need to become a more permissive, dynamic place. Hell, a fun and cool place to live!

For a start, let Governor Riley declare the last weekend of the month to be Alabama Orgasm Weekend, and assign all Alabamians, whatever their sex, race, sexual preference, or species to seek the Big O as a state duty so that we can declare to an unprepared world, "We are Alabama! We are fun! We are into business!"

And our legislature to stand up, wave their Playboys in unison, and repeal the notorious Alabama sex toy law.

[This was written and first published by Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head in October 2007 in Losers. Thanks and a War Eagle, Elvis, for giving me permission to republish it.]

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Part-Time College Instructors and Teaching Assistants

Colleges and universities have three classes of teachers in their hire: the professors (of varying ranks), the adjuncts or part-time instructors, and the teaching assistants. They essentially inhabit three different worlds. The professors receive a professional-level salary (varying by rank, experience, location, and type of institution. They additionally have the normal suite of fringe benefits, including the important health insurance. Professors have their own offices, are given computers and telephones by the university, and have their own campus snail mail box. Most are awarded tenure after a probationary period, which is usually prefunctory.

Part-time instructors typically are paid by the class, and at a
fraction per class of what the full-time faculty receives. They receive no benfits, being only of part-time status. Because of this, many have to hold down part-time positions at two or more different institutions, or work part-time at some other job. Imagine running into your English instructor working in a convenience store or delivering your pizza. It can happen.

Teaching Assistants are the true proletariat of the academic world. They teach classes or lab sections with small compensation, have long hours, very little discretion in how they conduct classes, and often times are called on to do additional duties. Fri
nge benefits? No way. T

The different classes of college teachers live different life styles. Professors are more bourgeois, especially those with higher academic rank. Some may even be soccer moms and dads. Their beverage of choice is a nice single-malt scotch or cognac. They vacation in the mountains or rent a condo on the coast for a week.
Part-timers drink inexpensive plonk or a nice beer; and are content with a weekend in Gatlinburg. TAs drink on-sale beer, and do spring break if someone foots their bill or kicks in for gas.

Of course, it's not all one-sided. A junior professor or part-time instructor does not further her career by being named Miss Spring Break Bikini. A grad student can probably pull it off (the act; maybe not the bikini, itself!), and be regarded as a free spirit in her department!
And graduate students notoriously do not have to mow lawns, except as a part-time job or if some professor decides that lawn mowing is "part of graduate training."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Satirical Mints in Tennessee and Views of Free Speech

From a distance, Tennessee still has the capacity to amaze me with petty silliness. The latest installment comes from the Ville of Knox, where a Tennessee legislator, having nothing better to do, investigated the sale of satirical mints at the University of Tennessee bookstore. Rep. Joe Armstrong, a Democrat, visited the bookstore, bought a tin of mints, and told the director he found the satirical mints poking fun at President Obama to be offensive. The director, willing to please a legislator, promptly pulled the candies.

Well, the satire was a bit heavy-handed. It incorporated on the mints tin can the iconic red-and-blue campaign poster image of the president with the words: "This is change? Disappointmints." Not great satire. I have not tried the mints.

Curiously, the same company also produces mints in cans lampooning George W. Bush and Sarah Palin.

The legislator also asserted that, since the mint tins were not educational materials, there was no breech of the First Amendment. He definitely has a strict view of what constitutes "free speech."

The Knoxville newspaper did not mention if he purchased a book as well as mints.

As a further development, Unemployed Philosophers Guild, the purveyors of the mints, has come out with a new kind of mint: Joe Armstrong's Strong Arm Censored Mints. The company was self-described as "left-leaning."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011