Work From Home

I know lots of people do it, but I've never worked from home so I can only assume that this cartoon is accurate.  I do know that if I worked from home I'd be dressed verrrrry comfortably - like this guy (minus the tie).  Let's just hope they don't ask him to stand up and introduce himself to the team.

For another work from home cartoon click here.

Working Like a Dog

How the heck did the term "work like a dog" come to mean working really hard?  With the exception of sled dogs and some service animals, I've never seen man's best friend actually work all that hard. On the other hand, most dogs are really good at playing hard, which is usually followed by a good nap.  I can relate to that.

Sleep Mode

It's hard to blame this guy.  Sleep mode, low energy windows, zero energy homes and offices, energy saver mode... makes me tired just thinking about it.  Why don't they have a "high energy" mode or a "stand back 'cause this thing's about to go crazy" mode on that stuff?  Just think of the increase in productivity - after a heavy lunch or about 3:00 in the afternoon or on Fridays, hit that high energy mode button and everyone in the office instantly feels like they just drank a quart of Red Bull.

For more "low energy" cartoons, click here.

Flex Space

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure it's well known that zoning laws require all gyms to be built in flex space.  Just don't tell this guy it's a vanilla shell - probably wouldn't be compatible with his high protein diet.

Gotta Be More Responsive!

The supreme challenge of our time: how to be available and provide great service without being a slave to your inbox.  Can it be done?  A couple of years ago, a 4 hour response time seemed to make most email senders happy.  Today it's under an hour.  At the rate this is going, in a couple of years a response will be expected before the email is received.  

For another related "heckuva rush" cartoon click here

Big Box Space

Reminds me of the forts I made as a kid.  I once made a hut in my parent's basement out of an abandoned refrigerator box, moved in a sleeping bag and a lamp, and used it as my bedroom until my parents finally "repo-ed" the box and threw it out.

Wright Engineers has provided structural engineering for millions of square feet of industrial big box buildings (and not once was an abandoned refrigerator box specified on the plans - though you can click here for a project that came close).

Duck Penetration

Those dang duck penetrations always seem to show up in the wrong places!

I'm an outdoorsman and occasional hunter, though most of the time all I take home are memories.

This guy reminds me of a pretend hunter I used to know who bags "trophies" at canned hunts where tame animals are grazing on hay less than a stone's throw away.  Once as he described a recent buffalo hunt, I imagined him spotting the giant beast far off in the distance and then stalking and finally crawling through the brush to within shooting distance.  Then I saw the video - the mighty hunter rode out on a wagon towed behind a tractor to a group of tame buffalo grazing on bails of hay like cows and picked off his quarry from about 20 feet.

He's a good reason why the sign at the entrance of Bass Pro stores says "Welcome hunters, fishermen, and other liars".

For more cartoons with ducks, click here.

I Said GLU-lam!

George Bernard Shaw famously said, "The single best problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

I've worn out countless red pens marking up engineers' memos so they actually say what the engineer thinks it says.  It's like there's a crystal clear picture of exactly what the engineer's thinking in an imaginary bubble floating over his head as he writes.  Unfortunately, that picture can get lost in translation and there may be an entirely different picture in the imaginary bubble floating over the head of the person reading it.  When this happens, you get situations like these (click here).

One helpful rule of communication I learned at home as a kid:  "Better to keep silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt".

Computer Modeling

There are a lot of good reasons why we humble engineers aren't necessarily known for our charisma or our good looks, but we do have a lot of modeling experience.  Every day we make computer models of buildings, and we place these models under high wind and earthquake forces so that when the building is built and an actual earthquake or wind storm hits, the building will stay safely standing.

Some engineers also go on a lot of model walks.

And you could say that this guy's a model engineer - three pencils at the ready in his chest pocket, thick glasses to see every detail, a physique made for long hours sitting behind a desk, and his left hand at the ready on the calculator in his jacket pocket.

Try Plotting at a Smaller Scale

If only it was this easy!  It reminds me of the carpenter who cut the board twice and it was still too short.

...and the related story my dad used to tell of the new guy on the construction crew who cuts the board too short so his boss sends him to the superintendent to ask for a "board stretcher".

...or the electrician who instructs his apprentice to "wipe up the voltage drops".

...or the engineer who's told his design is an ID 10 T solution.

...or the new attorney who's sent to fetch a stack of "verbal agreement forms".

Expert Advice

Like the old saying goes, you don't have to be crazy to be in this industry, but it helps.

I feel like I can relate to this guy - especially when I'm in Lowes or Home Depot (my favorite stores) browsing for seemingly unrelated parts for some creative new home improvement project (one of my favorite things to do).   Once, and only once, I made the mistake of trying to explain to a helpful Lowes employee what I was doing.  "So you're gonna take this electrical conduit and pound the ends flat and bolt it to this thing and use it as a what?" The more I tried to explain, the more perplexed he became.  It didn't take me long to realize that whenever anyone asks me if I need help, the best course of action is to quickly say, "Nope, I'm good thanks", and then go back to talking to myself.

For another cartoon relating to the mental health of design professionals, click here.

Too Much Stress

After a lifetime in the construction industry, both as a structural engineer and as a builder, I've learned that there's always more than one way to solve a problem - and often the builder has the better idea. 

...but I'm not so sure about this guy.

Other brilliant things I've learned:  measure twice, cut once; the north arrow does not mean "this side up"; the boss may not always be right, but the boss is always the boss; treat people how you want to be treated; and all's well that ends.

You Think These Things Grow on Trees?

From the time I was about age 11, I spent a good part of summer vacations at the construction site building houses with my dad who had a small construction company.  One day we were framing a house and had just nailed down the plywood over the floor framing.  Dad told me to go down and throw up some studs so we could start framing the walls.  After waiting a few minutes and no studs, he walked over to the edge to see what was the hold-up.  As soon as he appeared over the edge of the house, I bent over and began retching and heaving loudly as if I was trying to vomit.  Finally I looked up and said, "Dad, I've tried and tried but I just can't 'throw up' any studs".  We had a good laugh, and then it was back to work.

Unlike this guy, we never had a crane to lift our trusses.  Instead, we hefted them up by hand one at a time.  It was always a relief when the roof trusses were all safely standing in place.

Big Enough Fer The Both of Us

If only they'd built those old west towns a bit bigger, there might have been a lot fewer gunfights. 

I can see it now:  Two rough characters square off at twenty paces in the middle of town wearing tool belts and slinging nail guns.  "This here town just ain't big enough fer the both of us", one would say, "so me 'n my gang'll start buildin' over there and you'n yer gang c'n build over here." 

Jedi Construction Tricks

I guess you can't blame this guy for trying.  The inspector's probably thinking to himself, "You think you're some kind of Jedi, waving your hand around like that? I'm an inspector.  Mind tricks don't work on me.  Only right. No right, no pass!"

Sometimes we humble engineers are asked to work some Jedi magic, like when we get an urgent phone call from the jobsite with the superintendent on the other end saying, "We accidentally forgot to put any rebar in the footings and walls and now the inspector won't pass us.  Can you just get me a letter for that?" 

For more cartoons with inspectors and "...can you get me a letter for that?" click here.