Sunday, September 24, 2006

How to be a good husband

  1. If you got used to saying "Good night, Johnny" while turning off the bedroom TV during the Tonight Show, and now say the guy's name whenever you turn the TV off on some news anchor or performer, be careful with your words while turning off the TV during a Chubby Checker special.
  2. If your wife asks "Do these pants make me look fat?" the correct answer is NOT "No, it's not the pants."
  3. Most florists are willing to take pre-orders. Go in, sign some little cards, arrange some random dates on the calendar, and have them send your wife flowers on days when you have forgotten completely about it. This may make up for errors in execution on items 1 and 2.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Going under the knife

Not me, fortunately.

But the 280ce is going from the body shop, where all kinds of hidden rust locations have been discovered, to the mechanic, where the engine will be pulled, taken apart, and re-assembled with a few new parts (higher compression pistons for sure, new oil seals for sure, new rings of course, and perhaps a pair of Euro-spec camshafts to come from an English wrecker's yard).

Frank the Auto-body guy has repainted the wheels, rebuilt the rocker panels where the jack holes had rusted out, replaced one inner fender (the new part had to come from Germany), found and fixed endless amounts of rust BEHIND THE UNDERCOATING (curses!), dealt with numerous other random patches of rust, and pronounced the doors to be beyond salvation. I am still in search of good replacement doors. I may have to visit some Arizona autowreckers in person. Wow.

Sitting around the parts bin at the Halfwise House is a replacement Becker cassette radio to go where the Kenwood aftermarket unit currently sits, new heater fan control unit, new seals for the windshield and rear window (to be used whenever said glass must be replaced) and some side window seals.

I thought this would be an $8000 commitment, half to buy it, half to upgrade it. So far I am past $8000 even before we get to the mechanic. Fortunately, I am skilled at rationalizing. I have been instructing the guys at the body shop that their work needs to have a ten year life in mind, not simply some cosmetic cover-up. If I can get a daily summer driver out of this car, then I'm extending the life of the Motor Sofa by the equivalent amount. Or so I tell myself.

But, as a car guy, am I content to resign myself to not buy another car for ten years? Sure, I'll just buy cool cars for my wife. That should work!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Snappy answers to routine questions

How's it going?
  • I'm a hundred percent of something
  • Never better. (pause) That's the best part of memory loss
  • It's all good, except for the great parts
  • I wouldn't trade my worst problem for the world's average problem

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Pithy thayings (3)

"We need to be on the same side of the table frowning at the problem, not on opposite sides of the table frowning at each other." Used when clients short-circuit the process of figuring out what went wrong, and reflexively blame the engineering contractor. Related to "Blame and shame", a management style much preferred by bullies.

A lot of project problems arise because the full team gets mobilized too soon, before we're well-enough organized. We need to be "in a hurry to finish, not in a hurry to start." The premature progress feels good at the time, but not so good when we have to give it back in rework later. Hence 'It's like warming the bed by wetting it."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Pithy thayings (2)

How long is a piece of string? "Long enough to reach both ends." Used when someone is trying to use a clever saying to get out of answering a question whose answer might be a little vague.

Said something you regret? "You can't un-ring that bell."


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Pithy thayings

The reason this blog is called what it is called is this:

Over the years I have acquired a reputation as having a collection of sayings, things that summarize what is going on, often in a way that people have not heard before, and with a certain ironic humour to them. Look under the title of the blog. "What the hooker said about sex" is a fine example of the genre.

People say "You should write a book." I know people who have written books, and it's not as easy as it sounds. But a working title occurred to me, and that is how "Half Wisdom, Half Wit" was born.

I work in the engineering business, and we engineer projects that get built by construction companies. So a lot of my sayings revolve around what is happening in the project business. Some are original, some are borrowed/copied. All have their place, and, presumably, places where they do not belong.

Here are some favorites. I'll add to the list as time goes along.

"You can't make a baby in a month, even if you find nine friendly women". Used when we are tempted to try to speed things up by putting more people on a project. The rebuttal is: "Yes, but you can adopt one." Used when suggesting that there may still be other ways to solve the problem.

"The caboose blames the boxcar because the train is late." Used when construction blames engineering for the schedule having run out of time. Related to "The month you piss away at the start (because you didn't see the urgency) is the same month we have to make up working double shifts at the finish."

Which in turn is related to "Accordion Scheduling" where the start date moves but the end date is kept unchanged. "Mastercard project management". Used for describing cost reporting that has to wait for the actuals to come in to know how much has been spent.

Hardly knee-slappers, I know, and more useful to get people to recognize what is going on than for general hilarity and amusement. I still think Peter Drucker said it best: "The purpose of organizations is to enable common men to achieve uncommon things." Organizations work, for better or for worse, through and with the spirit of people, and the spirit responds to leadership. In my opinion the best leaders can identify with today's reality as experienced by "Danny Drafter" and can let Danny Drafter know that they have no illusions, but are not held back by current reality.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Is this real?

A rainbow trout fingerling peers out from the gullet of a northern pike at the Alaska Department of Fish & Game aquarium in Anchorage.