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Understanding Engineers (Humor)

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                    ~~~  Are you an Engineer?   ~~~

    First, let's establish: Are you a geek-at-heart?  What answer to the
 following question do you feel most inclined to:

    You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked.

    A. Straighten it.
    B. Ignore it.
    C. Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months designing a
       solar-powered, self-adjusting picture frame while often stating
       aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total

    The correct answer is "C" but partial credit can be given to anybody
 who writes "It depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the
 whole stupid thing on "Marketing."


    Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social

    "Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from
 social interaction:
      * Stimulating and thought-provoking conversation
      * Important social contacts
      * A feeling of connectedness with other humans

    In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives
 for social interactions:
      * Get it over with as soon as possible.
      * Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant.
      * Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all subjects.


    To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one
 two categories: (1)things that need to be fixed, and (2)things that
 need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them.
 Engineers like to solve problems.  If there are no problems handily
 available, they will create their own problems. Normal people don't
 understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix
 it.  Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough
 features yet. No engineer looks at a television remote control without
 wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun.  No engineer
 can take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon coating
 make showering unnecessary.  To the engineer, the world is a toy box
 full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.


    Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic
 thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied.  If no
 appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no private parts
 or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective
 of clothing has been met.  Anything else is a waste.


    Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television shows and movies.
 It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the starship Enterprise are
 portrayed as heroes, occasionally even mating with aliens.  This is
 much more glamorous than the real social life of an engineer.


    Dating is never easy for engineers.  A normal person will employ
 various indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false impression
 attractiveness.  Engineers are incapable of placing appearance above

    Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole.  They are widely
 recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable,
 employed, honest, and handy around the house.  While it's true that
 normal people would prefer not to date an engineer, most normal people
 harbor an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineer-
 like children who will have high-paying jobs long before they start

    Male engineers reach their peak of physical attractiveness later
 normal men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid thirties
 to late forties. Just look at these examples of irresistible men in
 technical professions:

    * Bill Gates.
    * MacGyver.
    * Etcetera.

    Female engineers become irresistible to male engineers at the age of
 consent and remain that way until, oh, about their clinical death.


    Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human
 relationships.  That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away 
 from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't handle 
 the truth.

    Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things
 that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody could be
 expected to believe them.  The complete list of engineer lies is listed
        "I won't change anything without asking you first."
        "I'll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow."
        "I have to have new equipment to do my job."
        "I'm not jealous of your new computer."


    Engineers are notoriously frugal.  This is not because of cheapness 
 or mean spirit; it is simply because every spending situation is simply
 a problem in optimization, that is, "How can I escape this situation 
 while retaining the greatest amount of cash?"


    If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is the
 to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything
 else in the environment.  This sometimes causes engineers to be
 pronounced dead prematurely.  Some funeral homes in high-tech areas
 started checking resumes before processing the bodies.  Anybody with a
 degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer programming
 is propped up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he or she
 snaps out of it.


    Engineers hate risk.  They try to eliminate it whenever they can. 
 This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little
 mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal or something.

      * Hindenberg.
      * Space Shuttle Challenger.
      * SPANet(tm)
      * Hubble space telescope.
      * Apollo 13.
      * Titanic.
      * Ford Pinto.
      * Corvair.

 The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:

 * RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of innocent
 * REWARD: A certificate of appreciation in a handsome plastic frame.

    Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and
 rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing.  The best way to
 risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for
 reasons that are far too complicated to explain.  If that approach is 
 not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a
 second line of defense: "It's technically possible but it will cost too


    Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers:
      * How smart they are.
      * How many cool devices they own.

    The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to declare
 that the problem is unsolvable.  No engineer can walk away from an
 unsolvable problem until it's solved.  No illness or distraction is
 sufficient to get the engineer off the case.  These types of challenges
 quickly become personal -- a battle between the engineer and the laws

    Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a
 problem.  (Other times just because they forgot.)  And when they
 in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better
 than anything else.

    Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that
 somebody has more technical skill.  Normal people sometimes use that
 knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer.  When an
 engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase that means
 it's not fun to do), some clever normal people have learned to glance
 the engineer with a look of compassion and pity and say something along
 these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out.  He knows how to solve
 difficult technical problems."

    At that point it is a good idea for the normal person to not stand
 between the engineer and the problem.  The engineer will set upon the
 problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.