Jul 1, 2022

Still on Mute


"You're on mute!" --the most common phrase spoken in every online meeting.  Followed by the next most common phrase: "Can you hear me now?"

Wouldn't be a problem if everyone was a mime.

(Note: No mimes were harmed in the making of this cartoon.)

Jun 1, 2022

Last Words

This cartoon may be a little morbidly funny, but jobsite safety is no laughing matter.  

And guessing about what "should hold it" is risky.  In my younger construction worker days, I knew an older worker who swore that 3" grabber screws could support anything.  "They'll hold the world!" he'd say. That seemed reasonable to me.

As structural engineers, lives depend on our making certain everything we design will definitely "hold it," and we take that responsibility very seriously.

May 1, 2022


Feels like the supply chain is taking a lot of blame these days, and why not?  It's kinda nice to have something to blame for just about everything.

Can't get computer chips?  Supply chain.  

Costs going through the roof?  Supply chain.

Too hot outside?  Supply chain.

Reminds me of the story of the new superintendent.  On his first day at the jobsite, the outgoing superintendent handed him two letters as he was leaving the trailer and said, "If this project begins to go south, open the first letter.  If that doesn't fix the problem, open the second letter."  After a while, things were going badly for the new super so he opened the first letter.  Inside it read, "Blame your predecessor."  He did that, and things seemed to improve for a while.  But eventually the problems became even worse than before so he opened the second letter.  It read, "Prepare two letters."

Apr 1, 2022

Dumb Question

Maybe there really is no such thing as a dumb question, but sometimes I wonder.

I know, I know--the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.  And if you don't ask, how will you ever know?  But some questions may be better left un-asked.  After all, as the proverb says, "Even a fool, when he holds his peace, is counted wise." 

And as my dad used to tell me, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."  



Mar 1, 2022

Corrections Officer


Some people swear that the hardest part of a construction project is getting the building permit.  Maybe it's because of guys like Bob?

All joking aside, it's been my experience over a long engineering career that most plans examiners are sharp, honest, hard-working folks who are just doing their best in a very important, often thankless job.  Here's to them.

Feb 1, 2022

Restored to Factory Settings

Talk about recharging your batteries!   Wouldn't this be nice: put on a few pounds...notice some wrinkles...lose a little hair...catch a virus.  No problem.  Just restore to factory settings.  No longer will youth have to be wasted just on the young.

I drew the cartoon below exactly 22 years ago for our February, 2000 news.  Back then, my wife used to joke that when I turned 40 she'd trade me in for two 20s.  Fortunately, she's since changed her mind, but this factory settings reset would probably interest her.

Jan 3, 2022

The Shredder!

I have a soft spot in my heart for absent-minded people since I'm one of them.  I'd like to blame it on my age, but I've been like this my whole life.

Many is the time I've popped up from my desk and strode across the office only to stand there trying to remember why it was I came. I know if I don't write it down it won't happen.  Sometimes I'll say, "Hey Siri, email me," and when she says, "What's the subject of the email?" I've already forgotten.

Reminds me of a conversation between two absent-minded engineers:

"My memory is so bad!" says the first one. 

"How bad is it?" says the other.  

"How bad is what?"

Dec 1, 2021

Nothing Would Make You Happier

I can relate to this guy.

My wife is the Santa in our house.  She buys dozens and dozens of thoughtful, carefully selected, and beautifully wrapped presents and personalized messages for dozens of people every Christmas.  

I only have to buy for her.  You'd think it would be easy.  

I know a guy who bought his wife a new hunting rifle.  She didn't hunt so she gave it back to him.  Genius move on his part!

Nov 1, 2021

Gonna Have to Send You Home

You can't be too careful these days, what with this dangerous pandemic and all.  Maybe pop-up COVID indicators could be an alternative to vaccines or wearing those #@&! masks?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oct 1, 2021

Five-Year Plan

Seems like we're running short on just about everything these days...and if you can get it, it's taking longer to arrive. I know--there are supply chain issues and labor shortages and high demand and all, but this is starting to get old.  At least there's no shortage of hand sani or toilet paper now, so I guess that's a start. 

Sep 1, 2021

The Price of Lumber These Days

You think money grows on trees?!  I must've heard that a million times from my parents growing up.  With the cost of lumber today, makes me wonder if wood still grows on trees!  

Aug 1, 2021

Are These Free-Range?

Is it just me, or is all this food labeling getting out of control?  

I know, some people have genuine allergy issues and need to make life-and-death decisions, but do we really need a box of cashews to say, "May Contain Nuts"?  Or a carton of orange juice to say "Gluten Free"?  Or "No Cholesterol" on a bag of carrots?  Is it ok to snack on gummy bears when you're dieting because they're "100% Fat Free"?  And wouldn't it be a shorter list to label what is NOT known to the State of California to cause cancer?

Jul 1, 2021

Doctor's Orders

I'm no dietician, but it seems like this guy's on the right track.  According to the CDC, only 10% of us eat enough vegetables in our diet, so it makes sense to get 'em where you can.  I'm also a firm believer in eating cinnamon bears for my health because, as everyone knows, bears are full of protein.

Reminds me of the guy who said to himself, "Max, today's the day you start eating healthy...Thank heaven my name's not Max!"

Jun 3, 2021

Don't Be Mad, But...

Reminds me of when I was a kid.  If my parents discovered something broken or missing around the house, they'd sometimes line up my brothers and me against the wall and say, "Who did this?  Just tell the truth and we won't be mad!" -- which, as I recall, was often followed by a spanking if I fessed up.

In contrast to my sometimes less-than-honest youthful mischief, good, honest people make honest mistakes.  If they fear retribution, it will breed a culture that discourages risk-taking, stifles innovation, and causes people to hide their mistakes rather than learn from them.  Wise leaders create an environment of trust so that creative people won't be afraid to take risks or think outside the box.
Making (and learning from) mistakes is necessary for growth.  Adapting the famous quote from Danish mathematician and inventor Piet Hein: The secret to excellence?  Well it's plain and simple to express: err and err and err again but less and less and less!

May 1, 2021

Not Working From Home...

Many who work from home report working longer hours than they would if they were in the office.  Other workers can't seem to unplug, and they often bring work home.  With the 24-7 connection enabled by technology, the line between work time and personal time is easily blurred.  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is a constant challenge, and what works for one person may be completely wrong for another.  

Reminds me of two engineers talking over the cubicle wall.  One says to the other, "I just read that, on average, architects are working a 60-hour week!"  The other engineer looks up and says, "Those lazy bums!  What are they doing with the rest of their time?"

Apr 6, 2021

Only Missed It By 15

This golfer reminds me of me!  (Of course, it would probably help if I ever practiced...minor detail.)

I admire this guy for setting a goal, but a goal without a plan - and effort - is just a dream that's unlikely to ever be realized.  Success in any endeavor comes at a heavy price, and to the person who says, "I would give anything to be as good as _____", the response is very often, "that's pretty much exactly what you'll have to do!"  Hard work, sacrifice, determination, and persistence are far more important than talent alone.  

As Earl Nightingale famously said, "We are all self-made, but only the successful will admit it."

Mar 1, 2021

Walk Ten Miles Every Morning

Some people love to exercise, and then there are the rest of us who view it as a dreaded tedium that must be endured for the sake of our health.

...and there are those who fake it so people think they're exercising.  They post selfies in their workout clothes standing next to exercise equipment and holding green juice drinks while they constantly remind you of how sore they are.

Feb 9, 2021

Nothing is Impossible, But That's What I Do...


Clearly it's not impossible to do nothing.  This guy is proof.  But there are those who actually do the impossible.

In 1895, heavier than air flight was impossible; then the Wright Brothers showed up on a beach at Kitty Hawk.  A sub- 4 minute mile was impossible until Roger Bannister proved otherwise in 1954.  In 1926, Philo Farnsworth's television invention was dismissed as financially impossible and a waste of time.  Edison's electric light bulb was described as a conspicuous failure, critics claimed the horseless carriage would never come into common use, and in 1949 it was claimed that we had reached the limits of what was possible to achieve with computer technology.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, "It always seems impossible until it's done."

Jan 13, 2021

Then It Hit Me!

Jobsite safety is no laughing matter, and situational awareness at all times is critical.  This guy needs to up his game.  

Reminds me of one day during construction of the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas.  I was called to the jobsite to devise a repair for an improperly installed embed plate at the end of a large steel beam that supported the climbing tower crane on the inside of the tower core.  I climbed 150 feet up the tower crane, shimmied out to the end of the steel beam, came up with a fix, and then shimmied back and held tight to the crane while an iron worker torch-cut two new holes in the steel plate.  A stream of molten steel cascaded down and then splattered as it hit another steel beam 50 feet directly below.  It was a spectacular sight in the dimly lit tower shaft.  Then I noticed the people shouting below.  The crane's live 480 volt power cable that had been draped over the steel beam below was on fire, ignited by the molten steel drops from above.  Fortunately, they got the iron worker's attention and put out the fire before it burned through the insulation and fried all of us.

Dec 7, 2020

Twas the Night Before Christmas...

What are the odds of a family with an engineer, an architect, a contractor and a developer?  Surely such a family exists.  What would their Christmas stockings look like if each could custom design their own, and what would they be filled with?  I thought I'd give it my best guess.  At least I feel pretty confident in the glasses and calculator for the engineer.