About Me

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I'm a life-long New Englander, father of 4 challenging kids (I know: I'm supposed to say "wonderful", but while that'd be true, technically speaking, it'd also be misleading), and fortunate husband to my favorite wife of more than 20 years. I've got over 20 years experience breaking things as a test engineer, quality engineer, reliability engineer, and most recently (and most enjoyably) a Product Safety / EMC Compliance Engineer. In the photo, I'm on the left.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Engineer's Day - June 4

So being the whiny old bloke that I am, years ago I was whining at my beautiful wife over the fact that there seem to be many other profession-days (Secretary's Day, Teacher's Day, Firefighter's Day, and many others including my favorite: Nurse's Day), but no Engineer's Day here in the US.

How can there be no Engineer's Day? India has one, as do many other countries: Argentina, Singapore, Colombia, Iran...). I'm not trying to take anything away from the Secretaries (without whom...wait...I don't have one and never have), or Teachers (probably one of the very toughest and most important professions in the world) or other day-dedicated professions (least of all the Nurse...my personal favorite). BUT, where would we be without engineers?

We'd be living in caves, praying that a stray lightning bolt would spark a fire so that we might be able to be warm for a while. All the little pieces of technology, right down to the brick, would not be possible without the engineer. TVs, Stoves, Dish Washers, Bicycles, Cars, Computers, the Internet, Bowls, Toilets, Running Water, Fans, AC, etc, etc, etc ad nauseum.

So I whined about this long enough that my lovely wife got sick of listening to me, and in our house we've established Engineer's Day as June 4.

So, this coming Monday (I hope I gave you a decent enough head start), June 4, give your friendly neighborhood engineer a big "Happy Engineer's Day". They may seem stand-offish, but for the most part, we're just really shy.

Quick engineer's joke: Do you know the difference between a introverted engineer and an extroverted engineer? The extroverted engineer looks at *your* shoes when he talks to you!

I'm hoping it catches on...we need to make a national day of it!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Merry Month of May

I'm hoping that these protracted absences of mine don't become a habit. It's not that I don't care or want to pop in every now and then, sometimes to unleash an uncharitable thought on the commute, or other times to share a laugh or whatever. Here's what's been happening:

I was last in here, apparently, on April 29. On this particular night, the wife and I had come home from a weekend away - just she and I - as it was our 21th anniversary that weekend. We still like each other, so we spent some alone time in the big city. Not that we really did anything spectacular; nice dinner and walk-about.

Within a week of our anniversary is my beautiful wife's birthday. She turned 28 again this year (and people are starting to ask questions about why I appear to be dating a child...). Then there's nurse's day, followed in rapid succession with Mother's day (a very belated happy mom's day to all you lovely moms). I tried really hard to make this Gatling gun of wife appreciation as enjoyable as possible for her.

As usual, this effort put this particular old crotchety bugger in a catatonic state for a week or more. If I had a heart it probably wouldn't be such a drain on me, but as it is, doing nice things for people really saps my life force. Obligatory note: for her, it's worth it. :)

So after this landmine walk, I then cranked up my training to face two of the most stressful, fear-inducing activities that man can put himself through, other than the wedding day and potty training.

I've been interviewing for a new job, and I done got it. Interviewing for and transitioning to a new workplace is a very stressful activity for many folks. I've done this a number of times in my career, so it's kind of old hat, but it is interesting how your stomach lurches in direct proportion to how much you think you want that job.

This interview process started with an "I've got nothing to lose" approach. I'm already working, and am as stable as can be there, so there are no nerves in the first couple of interview rounds. If it works, it works, and if not, no big deal. As the process moved along, however, and I decided that this would be a good job for me (closer to home, more money, bigger title, etc, etc...), I did start to get the jitters a bit.

I don't think that anyone is truly at ease during an interview process, no matter how high up the corporate ladder you might climb. If you can convince yourself that getting the job is not a huge deal (though it might be), then I think that you'll do better in the face-to-face interviews, since you'll be more comfortable. Your thoughts will flow more naturally, and you'll ask better questions and give better answers. You do want to convey interest in the job, if your interested in the job, but you also want to be comfortable, so try to convince yourself that you won't implode for not getting that job.

I've finally gotten that Principal Engineer title that I would have been glad to tell you that I richly deserve, so that's good. I'll actually be walking to work, so that's great! *whew*...time to breath again.

Oops...spoke too soon! The other great fear inducing topic: I was asked to speak at a national conference on the topic of Medical Device Safety. Public speaking ranks right with death, according to studies that I've seen. For a hermit-like introvert such as myself, it is certainly something to challenge.

I done did that too, though...it's what you do with your fear, eh? I wasn't alone, and the crowd was not large; this, combined with the fact that I actually know the material quite well made the affair tenable. The two other fellows with whom I shared the podium are experts in this public speaking stuff, as they are consultants with decades of experience who travel all about the country lecturing and teaching.

I did ask one of them how long you have to do this speaking before the nerves settle down, and I thought that his answer might help more than just me: he said, "They never really do."

Interesting, that. Be aware that when you're at a conference, or a seminar, or maybe even in school, the fellow or lady speaking at the front of the class probably spent the morning practicing their Lamaze breathing, or meditating, or performing other self-calming activities to help them get through their day.

It's apparently not easy for all but those few gifted people...there's one or two in every field. For the bulk of us normal folks, call it nerves, excitement, butterflies, a rush, panic, whatever you like: the prospect of public speaking starts adrenaline pumping into your system, and while everyone responds a little differently to that adrenaline, we all respond the same.

Other than that one or two who can piss us all off by being 'perfectly comfortable' in front of a mass of strangers!

Sorry for ignoring you folks for so long! One week left at the current job, then off to the new employ. From here out, I'm not taking any action items from meetings. :)

Before signing off for the moment, I'd like to acknowledge that I've landed with one new reader, and this one seems to have super powers! Awesome! Welcome, Super Earthling...I come in pieces.