Holiday Season Productivity

Everyone knows that not much gets done around the office between Christmas Eve and New Years Day. Most people are on vacation anyway, and those that aren't wish they were.  Even if there's work to be done, no one's around to crack the whip and make sure it gets done.
Christmas 1999, our first Holiday Season as a company, we had about ten employees - all but one of whom were out of the office happily enjoying their vacation time.  The one person that remained could not work independently, so I had to come into the office each day during the Holidays to try to keep him busy.  I felt like we were the only two people working in the entire city.  The phones were dead.  It was a huge waste of time.  I vowed it would never happen again.  Every year since then we've closed between Christmas and New Years Day.

Safety First!

Anyone who's spent time at a construction site - especially in the old days - has seen people do some pretty dumb things at one time or another.  I could be wrong, but it seems this guy's not strictly following OSHA regulations. At least he's wearing a hard hat and steel toed boots!  Here's hoping he makes it to day 5.

It's an ARRRRRRRchitect

Most of our clients are arrrrrchitects, and we're very grateful to work with some of the very best. 

As I was finishing my senior year at BYU, I had fleeting thoughts of getting an MS in architecture - until I discovered that it would take 3 more years compared to only one more year for an MS in engineering.  With 2 kids already and another on the way, it was easy to make the decision to stay in engineering - and I'm glad I did.  I love what I do, and I would hate to try to compete with the creativity I see from the architects we work with.

For another cartoon poking a little fun at architects, click here.

Round-Off Error

This reminds me of a clever ad I saw in an engineering magazine a few years back that depicted construction workers who were erecting a bridge from opposite sides of a canyon.  Where the two halves met in the middle, they were misaligned by a few feet and the construction workers stood there scratching their heads.  Each side was blaming the other for the mess-up.


We're often called upon to do the impossible: predict precisely when the owner will get his building permit.  We may know about how long it's recently been taking on average to get through the system, but each project is different.  In the minds of some owners, any "guesstimate" we offer is a firm commitment.

Sometimes a desperate owner will insist we "do something to get me my permit".  Surely "you  can make a phone call or go down there and..." 

We might be able to call in a favor now and then, but really there's not much we can do to expedite the permitting process - put together a complete set of documents is the main thing (though even that's no guarantee our plans won't get nit-picked to death by an overzealous planchecker).  For the most part we have to wait in line just like everyone else. 

Maybe this idea will speed things up.

Credit for this one goes to an email from Matt Ryba, CEO of TWC Construction:
I thought I would share the humor in an email I sent to [our roof truss supplier and installer] when they missed their truss delivery date.  I don't know if you take suggestions on your cartoons but several people have suggested I forward to you.
        "I was in the Quick Mart this morning getting coffee and I saw this in the cooler"

Final Notice!

Consultants are in a tough spot.  We don't get paid until our client gets paid -and if he gets stiffed, we're usually also out of luck.  To add to it, some people view the architect and engineer as no recourse, zero-interest lending institutions who will finance their project on a handshake for an indefinite period until they "get funding."  If the funding never comes through - "Sorry about that.  But good news! I have this other project I'd like you to fund, er I mean do.  When can you get started?"

20/20 Hindsight

If only I'd put on a pair of foresight corrective lenses just before making some of the dumber decisions in my life... 

For another cartoon on "corrective" lenses, click here.

Dang Engineers!

I'm happy to support a good cause - and especially one that also involves fun and  creativity.  CANstruction is a charitable event where teams compete to make the most creative sculpture solely out of cans of food.  After the competition, the food is donated to a local charity to help feed the hungry.  On one occasion I served as a judge for a Las Vegas CANstruction event. Most recently, Wright Engineers' Phoenix office participated.  

Though this cartoon depicts the engineers executing an outrageous design, most often it seems - and it was this way in Phoenix - it's the architects who come up with the creative design; the engineers mostly provide cans and labor.

Dang Internet's Down

I know lots of people work from home and many of them feel they're more productive.  I wonder just how productive some people really are, though.  Whenever I've tried working at home I seemed to be constantly interrupted with things like "Honey, since you're here anyway, can you just [insert any number of domestic tasks here]..." or "Daddy, daddy, daddy, there's a bean stuck in my nose".

It's clear this guy's been working from home for a long time.

The Dawn of Engineering

The world's first engineer!

I always say - and it's true - that modern civilized society could not exist without all of us humble engineers.  From the buildings to the roads to the power and water and sewer to all the machines and gadgets and just about everything in between, engineers helped make it possible.

Time To Upgrade

Now that the Great Recession seems to be ending, we've recently started upgrading our computers and office equipment after several years of cobbling old tired machines together.  Sometimes it feels like we're this guy - typewriter, Rolodex, rotary phone.

It reminds me of the quip about the guy who reached the automated phone answering service:  "For customer service, press 1.  For accounting, press 2.  If you have a rotary phone, hang up, put on your leisure suit, sit in your bean bag chair, and listen to your 8-track tapes of the Bee Gees".

Speaking of outdated equipment, I'll never forget the day a few years ago I was standing in line at a Utah ski resort with my 1980's ski outfit and equipment.  I suddenly became aware that my once state-of-the-art setup looked nothing like the fat skis and baggy clothes all the hip young people around me were sporting.  I used to sneer at old guys who hit the slopes with their old-fashioned equipment and outdated clothes.  At that moment I realized I had become the old guy!