Public Speaking – An Explanation

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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story. Today, we will discuss how Tork influenced the public speaking ability of engineers, or lack thereof.

Tork mass-produced the wheel for caveman consumers.  Actually, Tork was a consultant, making many rocks and skins for his services.  One fateful day, Tork was asked to speak before the caveman business association and unwittingly stood up on one of his wheels to give his speech.  Since a firm understanding of all the rudiments of friction was not yet in the engineers’ learning, the wheel, with Tork on it, began rolling, toppling Tork on his, shall we say, solid waste disposal unit.  After that, Tork and all engineers throughout history, when placed in front of an audience, have felt like they are trying to stand on a wheel, hopelessly teetering back and forth for a long time before finally falling on their – well, you get the picture. This not only explains why engineers are poor at public speaking, but also explains why engineers now often assume that there is a frictionless surface for most engineering problems.  Better safe than sorry.

Engineers have Tork to thank, or blame, for their public speaking woes. Tork did many good things for humankind, as engineers do now. But public speaking is not one of them.

You Might Be a (prehistoric) Engineer If…

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(This is the Tork version. Tork was a caveman and the very first engineer. He is the topic of all of this week’s posts.)

– you have ever tried to calculate the speed you would have to run so that you would not get eaten by a dinosaur only to get eaten by the dinosaur because you weren’t running while you were doing the calculations with your rock abacus.


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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story. Today, we look at a number that was important to Tork.

Tork wanted desperately to  have a cave-dwelling relationship with a cavewoman. The number 2 was high in his engineering caveman mind. “If there is me, and there is her, there is 2 of us.” Though an engineer, he was still a caveman and did not have lofty thoughts. Some may think these thoughts are not much different than most any man, caveman or otherwise. But for Tork, who lived in a time when numbers were not used that much, the number 2 was special. He, being an engineer, understood that 2 meant more than him. He understood that 2 meant he had to impress the cavewoman. He understood that 2 meant possibly devising equations in order to calculate his chances with the cavewoman. Indeed, 2 was a very important number to him.

Unfortunately, Tork suffered the same difficulties that all engineers that followed him would suffer. Tork used 2 small sticks to draw in the dirt at times, and figure things out. He carried them with him in a small pouch he fashioned in his caveman “shirt”, and he held them in place with a piece of bark. Thus, he cursed all engineers throughout history by first “inventing” the pocket protector, and then being seen as too much of a geek by most cavewomen, who were attracted to the cavemen whose arms were stronger due to having to pick up big rocks instead of calculating how to live without having to do that.

Meanwhile, Tork was still hoping for: 2.

The First Engineer – Engineering Hunting

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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story. For now, we look at how Tork engineered hunting.

It was common for cavemen to get food by luring a tasty animal under a cliff and drop a rock on it. Unfortunatley, if they did not kill the animal, the animal would try to kill them, but, that was life as a caveman. It was Tork that worked out the relationship between how high the cliff was, and how effective it was at killing the animal, the food. He measured height (how hi) in Torks, essentially his own height. He then looked at the effect of the rock he dropped. When the animal (Fud) was not hurt, or not hurt much, the consequences to Tork were bad. When the Fud was hurt bad, Tork could either drop another rock on it, or hit it many times with a club. He worked out how many times later. Tork came up with the table below, thus engineering how to hunt for food, or Fud. It did not take him long to find out that he would only ever drop a rock on an animal from a cliff three times his height, and preferably, five times his height. Later, he would add a factor of safety and only ever drop the rock from 8 Torks high, but Tork hadn’t worked through that Factor of Safety issue, as engineers these days are so comfortable with.

Unfortunately, scientific and engineering journals were not yet invented and his findings were slow to catch on, which was OK, because his spelling was terrible.

how  hi end up with
1 Tork Fud Not Hurt, Fud Hurt Tork
2 Torks Fud Hurt, Tork Run Away
3 Torks Fud Hurt Bad
4 Torks Fud Hurt Bad
5 Torks Fud Ded

Think, not Feel

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For today’s Random Data Packet (Pot Luck), we will discuss simply and quickly the mantra of the engineer, the one that every engineer wants every non-engineer in his life to remember when having any sort of interaction with him. Here it is:

Engineers think, they do not feel!

(The exclamation point is even verging on expressing feeling and I am not sure I should have used it, but in order to make the point…)

Please, all non-engineers out there, engineers don’t feel. They don’t want to “share” or talk about feelings. The engineer will discuss logical points on a topic, even if that topic is something like love or relationships. But, keep the feelings out of it.  There are equations for those types of things.

The engineer thinks, he does not feel.

Thank you for remembering.

Using a Microwave

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Engineers like microwaves. Saving time on a task is certainly important, as is the fact that it contains a lot of engineering to produce. Most of all, though, microwaves are like science fiction come true. 45 years ago, no one thought that 20 or 30 later every home in America would have a box one could place cold food in and in minutes, it would be hot. No one, except for all the Trekkies, of whom 70% were engineers.

But how does an engineer use the microwave? Speaking for myself, I have evolved over time. I first set everything at even minutes, sometimes half-minutes. A few years later, I attempted to optimize the heating to the precise amount and started entering times like 2 minutes and 18 seconds, or 1 minute and 34 seconds. This had two problems with it. First, without constant rotating (I did not have a turntable inside the microwave at the time) and stirring at regular intervals, it was always a guess as to what that precisely optimized time was. Engineers don’t like guessing. Second, and even more disturbing, is that even though I knew that I was attempting to optimize the operation of the microwave, if others saw me put in times like 2:18 or 1:34, they might think that I was some right-brained artist and that I “just felt like” using those numbers. This would not be acceptable.

Finally, I settled on optimizing and minimizing the time it takes to actually use the microwave. Now, I enter as many of the same digits as I can together, no longer looking around and taking that extra time to move my finger to the button marked 0, and certainly not 3 then 0. So, if I think the food needs 3, maybe 4 minutes of microwave action, I enter 3 minutes 33 seconds. 3 quick hits on the same button. 3:33. Much faster and within the tolerable range of heat.

The engineer evolves, and saves those precious seconds for more important things, like watching old episodes of Star Trek.

You Might Be an Engineer If…

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– you’ve taken more than 10 minutes to answer a question asked by a 6-year-old, just to make sure the explanation was technically correct.

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