Some Things About Project Engineering

It's never been a "fair" career in my opinion. I guess it's much like any other industry where 20-30% of the people do 70-80% of the work and many of the rest are simply along for the ride. I read this somewhere decades ago, but that's not what makes project engineering biz unfair.

It's the deadlines.

I've often said that all architects lie. Now, that does not make them all liars. Regardless, I don't care if you ever worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, I. M. Pei or Louis Khan. Somewhere along the course of the project, the project deadline was discussed and then later at some point, the real deadline is revealed.

Architects have a hellish position in projects. They are the ultimate traffic cop, the judge, jury, etc. Most all project decisions land at his feet. The electrical engineer's job is just as hellish, but different. Many decisions are critical with regard to code safety, project cost and end user appeal. The hellish part of the electrical set has more to do with the inability to really begin the process until all other disciplines are near completion. Of course, we all share the same deadline, so the big push is always within the last few hours prior to submitting final drawings.

During the last two or three days of a project, information is being finalized and 80% of the electrical drawings are completed. The last day of the project brings last minute changes. This is a given. I think in the construction side, the only guys that really have it worse is the painter and flooring guys. Neither of them can finish until all the other tradesmen are done.

Maybe the only worse problem to add is that we rarely are able to work on one project at a time - it's usually more like five or six. I remember once about ten years ago, I resigned from a company. Upon my departure, I submitted a list of my projects with project status, project contacts, etc. My superior had a look of shock on his face. There were 26 projects on the list in various stages of design, jurisdictional review, construction, etc.

He simply said, "I had no idea." It happens like that. The snowball effect. I had been employed there for five years. During that time, I became sort of isolated from management due to direct contact with the clients. Yes, they knew about the projects, because they did the billing, but outside that, I was my own manager and production staff.

Most career stops that I've made have left me in the position of working extended hours. I remember a construction meeting some years ago. The contractors had a beef with the design or some such. They can be assholes at times. The client and end user were all in the meeting and they all (with the exception of the contractors) were aware that I had not slept in 36 straight hours in order to produce final drawing revisions.

I was well defended in my design defense arguments and the final blow was dealt by the end user. "Mr, Contractor, if you and your crew had the tenacity and ethics of this man, then this meeting would not be necessary." I'll never forget that.

Incidentally, during the same seven building project, the power company delivered the wrong voltage to the project. The architect called and wanted someone's head on a platter. I had met with the power company on site no less than three times to sort out such issues, but I never sent a letter confirming the discussions of our meetings. I told the architect that I was to blame for not putting in writing all of our decisions and understandings. It was unfathomable to me how the power company could have missed this one, but I took the hit straight on. The end user, who happened to be a large city independent school district superintendent, was the gallows henchman. Fifteen minutes after taking the blame, the architect called back and said, "This is a non-issue." I was confused, but he went on to say that the superintendent is surrounded by finger pointers and he was simply pleased that someone stood up with integrity and accountability.

See, the 20-80% rule that I heard years ago has been the fuel for my work ethic. I never wanted to find myself in the group that is simply along for the ride. Working 20-40 hours straight, without sleep, without a shower, many times without decent meals, to me, is part of the job - not the case with many of whom I have worked.

When people work on a fixed salary, it is generally accept that the salary fits 2080 hours per year. I never looked at that way. To me, I get paid to complete deadlines. The time involved to do so always extends beyond the 2080 hours. In fact, I am usually good for 300-400 extra hours per year and during busy years, closer to 500 hours over time per calender year.

I've been called a war horse. The reliable steed that can and will do everything from project management to the most mundane and menial tasks. I remember when I was younger, the engineers that I worked for who I liked and respected most where the ones who would shuck the coat and tie, roll up their sleeves and dig in with the production troops. Many are not like this. Me? I stay with the staff and do what I can.

Work ethic has always been important to me.

Many companies have strict dress codes, which for me, has always been a problem of sorts. Weekly runs to the cleaners for starched shirts and pressed slacks is an unnecessary burden and never mind the extra $200 per month in cleaning bills. Yes, it's important to maintain a clean a professional appearance, but its over kill in a lot of ways. I have settled into a position where appearances are less important than production. I showed up the first day three years ago in slacks and a tie. The first three co-workers that I saw that day were all wearing tee shirts and bluejeans. I was good with that...really.

I'm reaching a point in my career, I think, when all the effort, the deadline stress, the extra hours, the on going fight of deciding which horizontal or parallel deadline is most important, etc. is catching up with me.

I feel mentally spent and just plain tired. The weekend was a long work weekend with a few home chores and a family picnic mixed in. I hit my deadline of 9am yesterday. It was overall a good weekend of accomplishment. I am fortunate in having what I have.

I have always had a job - even during the economically slow years. For that, I am thankful.

Having said all that, I guess, I better get moving. There are more deadlines to slay.

Note: This wasn't supposed to be a "personal" blog. I guess it is what it is. Perhaps, I'll settle into a final direction and and focus at some point, but for now, I'll just meander along.


ACME Nano-Rocket Powered Exocet Beta Testing

While rumaging through this blog file, I found this apparently unposted entry. I barely remember writing this, but I suspect that it had something to do with my old darts team. I am pushing the "publish" button, because I really do not care about possible backlash (I mean that).

I've been in the ACME Lab quite a bit lately working on the Exocet design. Early mock ups have been, shall I say, less than successful.

I've hired a couple of assistants for my lab work since the "nano" portion of the development is still in, well, development. Due to certain complications, I found it necessary, to conscript an assistant or two. Perhaps developing dart warheads is similar to the development of computers where, in the early stages, they are rather large in scale.

Please meet Nevil and Frances. I have negotiated a contract of unconditional labor hours for match tickets and free ACME lab samples.of other ACME products. Nevil was quick to agree to the terms, while Francis required additional coaxing. Therefore, I reluctantly offered each of them room and board in the Lab...for now.

Above: Nevil and Francis hauling out the prototype beta test ACME Destroyer 1. Little Sebastian is perhaps camera shy, but has provided invaluable help around the Lab.

Above: The first successful beta test.

Now, I must develop the pocket size prototype due to the original prototype being somewhat on the cumbersome side of convenience. In a perfect world climate, the final design should be in the neighborhood of 4-5"...not just small enough to fit in the neighborhood itself. I have labeled the next stage of prototype, the ACME Nano-Rocket Powered Exocet.

I have contracted a company located in Brooklyn in order to reduce the overall size of the Exocet power plant. They have sent me the first ever ACME Nano-Rocket Power Plant sample. Impressive I say, and yet, affordable.

In other developments, the government has become quite interested in the ACME Laboratory work. I was able to workout a treaty of sorts. Of course, I didn't give them the actual name of our cause, because, well, that would violate all rules of Top Secret endeavors.

That is all I have for now. Be safe out there. I have heard rumors that, in our midst, are spies representing the opposing forces. It is imperative that we maintain secrecy in all of our ACME Lab works.

Your ever courageous leader,



Yes, this is the insecticide that used to I murdered my garden.

What I now know about Malathion:

 - I bought a quart of the hellish substance. I should have known that since it didn't come in a spray bottle, it wasn't ready for immediate use. Once I peeled off the label and read the instructions, the quart was supposed to be diluted times 48 gallons of water. Think about a quart bottle of oil versus and oil drum. Dangit!

- Malathion has a military use. It's called Serin Gas. Yes, the very same nerve gas found in some of Saddam's weapon stockpiles and also, what he used against the Kurds a few decades ago.

- Malathion smells really, really bad...even after a week-full of rain and a week full of evaporative sun.

I have to wonder how this stuff is even legal to buy at the local mega-home-improvement-marts. Crikey!

Makes me also wonder why I had to buy AMDRO for my ant hill problem. I can make 48 gallons of anti-ant nerve gas solution with little or more than adding an oil drum full of water.

All this explains why after application, my garden lasted 60 seconds before folding up like the Democ voting base.


Ok, so I am way the hell behind here. I'm blaming it on Summer...and Obama.

Actually, much of my time has been spent tooling up a new dart team. Not that putting it together has much difficulty, but I finally have it together and the team signed up for the fall leagues. I have nine player (self included) plus one hopeful. Should be a blast. I also built a team blog, which could be fun...well, I hope it's funny anyway.

Ok, I've actually been playing a few tournaments and practicing about 1-4 hours a day. I'm dead serious about the upcoming season. Will the hard practice make a difference? Probably not, but it won't hurt.

The benefit concert on Saturday with Decyfer Down and four or so other bands was awesome. I found it strand to attend a concert with heavy, hard rock and roll of the highest quality that not only has a strong message, but also breaks to simply point upward, if you know what I mean. Just inspiring in every sense of the word.

Other than that personal poo...

Can ya dig it? The Democs are bailing on President Inexperience like the vermin that they are from a sinking Flotilla One. I wonder what the reasoning might be that is the pivot point I was gonna say lynch pin, but, well, that just might be taken all wrong)?

Let's if I can answer my won question. Could it be...

Health care?
The Oil Spill?
Crap and Tirade?
NASA in charge of Arabic relations? Wait...what?
New Black Panther voter intimidation issues?

While any of these could be the cause, I tend to think it's something much, much simpler. How about this?


Yeah, that's probably the reason. I figure none of that other stuff would have happened otherwise.


US v. AZ

This whole case is maddening. This, while Obama continues to lose the Independent voter support. I wonder how long it will be before his Democ support begins to fade.

According to Fox News:
S.B. 1070 has subjected the United States to direct criticism by other countries and international organizations and has resulted in a breakdown in certain planned bilateral and multilateral arrangements on issues such as border security and disaster management," the suit claims. "S.B. 1070 has in these ways undermined several aspects of U.S. foreign policy related to immigration issues and other national concerns that are unrelated to immigration.
Undermines national security? Excuse me?

The suit cites Mexican President Felipe Calderon's May address to Congress where he blasted the Arizona immigration law and a travel alert Mexico's Foreign Ministry issued in late April for Mexicans visiting Arizona.
Wait..what? Visitors?

This is pure abomination of American rights as citizens. What I can't figure out is why the hell the States aren't bringing suits against the federal government. Every US citizen should be fighting against this sort of infiltration. One needs to look no further than Lebanon, Afghanistan and any of the African countries to see what insurgency looks like.