Thursday, November 20, 2008

Why I'm Not an Engineer

Because this is how I felt in calculus.

Is there something you feel this way about?

What is it?

I dread the moment when a high-school-age Peeper or Missy comes to me with a textbook and asks: "Daddy, can you help me with this math problem..?" It's not that I can't do the math, it's just that I don't have a "feel" for the science and I tend to make foolish mistakes. I used to have a sharp BCS operator that I relied on to recheck my checks of firing data before I sent them on to the line of steel. I'm just not a natural math-type guy.

While we're talking about stuff we didn't do well in school, here's a couple of science test bolos who at least tried to go with imagination when actual knowledge failed them. Hey, it's worth a try, right?Okay. Not the answer I was looking for but shows a fine degree of common sense.Nature hates a vacuum. And a smartass.And there's always one out there that looks for a seamy underside to everything. Jathin is unlikely to make the grade as a marine engineer, but he looks to have promise as a Fox News anchor. Except he needs to find a way to tie the whole thing to Bill Clinton's penis. Keep on after it, Jathin. The Lure of the Clenis has GOT to be involved in that problem somewhere. Everything wrong with Man and Nature is connected in some way to the Clenis.


Lisa said...

Oh, math, definitely. For me, pre-Calculus left me arising in terror for six months after the fact. I can see me know: sitting straight up in the middle of my bed, wound up in sheets and often sweaty, eyes wide, ala the perfect Manga BESM, until the reality hit: No more math. Ever.

I'm sure it would have been much less frightening had math not been presented as something cut off from my humanity, inhabiting a frightening and cold dark area. If it had been humanized, I might have loved it better. No one taught me that it was a sort of game, nor was I taught to enjoy games. So there was no hope.

But I loved science. The kitty question is no sweat. I do love the person who circled "x", and Jathin's creative interpretation. He has to develop some ingenuity, as he is destined to a life of sounding swishy due to that lispy reinterpretation of "Jason" with which he has unfortunately been saddled.

The Clenis is merely one manifestation of all that is wrong with Man and nature. Not its conformation, as such, but its driver. I do not know the solution to that one.

pluto said...

I feel for you Chief and have a horror story for you.

I topped out at Trig and considered myself lucky to get that far. So I go and marry a woman who took three semesters of College Calc because they were easy A's. Seemed like a good idea at the time but fast-forward 16 years and two kids and now I'm the math dummy of the household.

I can still hold my own in most ways but last year when my older son was taking pre-Calc he was having trouble with a problem and his mother suggested that he talk to me about it and he said, "Why would I want to do that? There's no way HE'D know the answer."

Just for the record, I did know the answer. But I didn't know the answer to the next week's question which shot my reputation for good.

bigbird said...

I was told in high school to not bother taking trig - I didn't have the aptitude. But I was stubborn and bulled my way through to a course or two past differential equations. It was painful, even more so because college in the early sixties was post Sputnik and geared to producing researchers rather than practical engineers.

OTOH, my wife has two math degrees. She can breeze through some really abstract stuff without knowing how to apply it. I know the applications but struggle with the actual math.

Chief's last example looked like thermodynamics. Now that is mental masturbation.

mike said...

I took the calculus in my mid fifties. I loved every minute of it even though I was the slowest guy in the class (I should say in the class survivors as there were some slower, but they either booked out early or were drummed out by the prof as they did not love it as much as I).

Thermodynamics was the pits. No boilermaking for me other than rye shots in beer.

FDChief said...

Interstingly I think the last question (thermo) is pretty commonsensical. The problem is posed that the ship is supposed to take heat from ocean water at something like 285 degrees K and dump heat into the air at something like 295 degrees K. Somewhere along the line the ship has to add heat; the operation costs the ship energy rather than gaining it from the water.

Yes? No? I mean, the setup sounds trick with all the energy in Kelvins, but the answer seems pretty straightforward - the design requires more energy than it gets from the inputs, it's not energy efficient.

bigbird said...

Thermo is one of those disciplines that you either get or you don't; to use a programmer's term, you have to be able to grok the subject.

Same with computer programming. I can teach myself the languages out of a book; others can't get past the basic concepts. On the other hand I like to say that cooking, sex and programming can't be learned out of a book.

Anonymous said...

'Grok' a programmer's term? Please. A HEINLEIN term, if you please! :)