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RE: California SE exam

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At 08:23 AM 02/29/2000 -0800, Martin W. Johnson wrote:

>Charles, from the sound of things, we are both looking in the barrel - I am
>seeing the good apples, and you are seeing the rotten ones.  I already know
>changes are going to happen, I only hope that we don't wind up losing the good
>aspects of what the SE license has represented.  MJ

Martin, that's an excellent metaphor, and I agree with your wish. 

With apples in the barrel, it's the odd bad one that threatens the whole
barrel of good ones.

To save the good apples, redoubling attention to polishing them up shinier,
and admiring their glow with satisfaction, is not effective by itself. Yet
it is the most pleasant of the alternatives. 

Mucking about for the rot-propagating bad ones, and casting them out, is the
way to preserve the good ones.

Unfortunately, diligent elimination of the "bad apple" features and
occurrences in our professional endeavors is not what engineer participants
generally find themselves most skilled or enthusiastic about doing. Thus the
whole barrel of our professional apples is at risk of being wasted.

To switch metaphors to something more familiar, I submit that extra
attention needs to be focused by engineers on upholding the integrity of the
human conduct part of our roles in such things as exams and codes. The
seismic design Omega factor is an example of special attention and extra
strength being applied to seismic system elements that are vulnerable to
failing destructively and dramatically without the energy absorption or
ductility that's typical in other elements. It is inconvenient to get
tougher in attitude with some seismic elements than with others, and a lot
of the time we don't quite know exactly how to do it or how much is enough. 

But when the consequences of failure are contemplated --steel frame
construction got a black eye and adverse image because of bad weld
arrangements and execution, for example-- the need to give Omega-factor
efforts to correcting bad apple occurrences in our organizational work is
justified. Not pleasant, but justified. Otherwise all that IS pleasant may
be taken away. Earthquakes reveal and act upon our seismic system
shortcomings.  Critics, victims, reformers, and legislators reveal and act
upon our professional and organizational conduct shortcomings. The second of
these rude facts of life needs to be as well embraced and attended to as the

Charles O. Greenlaw  SE   Sacramento CA