Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Come out to Como

If you happen to be in the Memphis and have some unsatisfied carniverous tendencies, drive south to the town of Como Mississippi. It's not a very big town by any measure and most travellers wouldn't have a reason to take the Como exit off of I 55. But for those who know about the Como Steakhouse, it's well worth the trip to eat here.

They have some great aged beef here, and if you walk away from a meal hungry, it's nobody's fault but your own. I'm also told they serve great fried olives (don't laugh, this is Mississippi, it's the way food is prepared here) that are stuffed with pepper jack cheese. And for dessert you can enjoy a nice piece of bourbon pecan pie. Of course, I've never tried the olives or the pie. Not only am I unable to eat another bite after even one of their small cuts of meat, but I'm not entirely certain that I can handle two new forms of vice in my life.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Or would you rather be an engineer?

I should really start turning the light out when I leave for a while.

For the last month or so I've been pretty much covered with work and I've been bouncing back and forth between Chicago and Batesville MS. All of this work has made me wonder though, how many other people would be willing to do this kind of job? Does anyone else like long lines in airports, late nights working in strange factories, panicked phone calls about broken machines in far away places?

OK, I don't either. Still, you might find that you have the right mindset to make it as an engineer on the road. Just test yourself in these scenarios and see how you do.

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You have just finished packing your suitcase. You are scheduled to fly out early in the morning on the red-eye flight. Just as your head hits the pillow the power blinks out for about two seconds. You know that you'll need an alarm to get up in time to make your flight.
Do you:
A. Reset the alarm clock and hope the power doesn't go off again
B. Call a trusted friend (or wake-up call service) to insure that you'll be woken up on time.
C. Stay up all night making sure the power doesn't go off again
D. Roll over and go to sleep because your cell phone and digital watch will wake you up anyway

The correct answer is D. There should be at least one battery powered digital device around that makes noise or else you obviously don't have an engineer's passion for gadgets.

You wake up on time and drive to the airport in the dark. As you park you reach for the headlight switch but the knob falls off in your hand. You can grasp the end of the stub to which the knob was attached, but you can't grip it well enough to turn it.
Do you:
A: Leave your lights on and hope you can get a jump start when you come back.
B: Call your friend (the only one you know is awake because he already woke you up in question one) and see if he has any advice.
C: Pop the hood and disconnect the battery.
D: Grab the vice grips you keep under the passenger seat and use them to turn off the headlights.

The best answer here is D because you should have tools handy at all times (no self respecting engineer would be caught without vice grips unless airport security confiscated them.) Partial credit will be awarded for anyone who answers C as this should solve the problem. It's just too much work to be the best answer.

You check your bags and have plenty of time to spare because you answered D on the last question. What do you do with your spare time?
A: Get an overpriced coffee and scone at one of the Coffee Kiosks in the airport.
B: Find a seat and enjoy some people watching while you wait for your flight.
C: Get out your laptop and search for free WiFi in the terminal
D: Go through the metal detector multiple times with progressively increasing numbers of coins in your pockets to see how much it takes to set it off.

C is the most likely answer here, as being offline for too long can lead to email withdrawal. A has one redeeming feature in that it involves coffee, but that doesn't offset the fact that it is overpriced and way too trendy. Answer D is worth bonus points because it demonstrates curiosity and creativity in testing an otherwise annoying device. If you wrote in "Spend some time trying to figure out why the banners in the tram station saying 'We're glad you're here!' are facing the people who are leaving town," then you have potential but you might be headed for something a little more philosophical in nature

You arrive at your destination and spend a very long day working on all manner or technical problems. When you finally finish it is almost 2 AM. You are hungry but cannot find any 24 hour diners on the way back to your hotel. You do, however, have a pack of ramen noodles from a convenience store. Your hotel room has no microwave, bowls, spoons, or forks. What do you do?
A: Go to bed hungry.
B: Alternate bites of dry ramen with swigs of water. Try to ignore your bleeding gums.
C: crush the noodles into a water cup and try soaking the noodles in luke warm tap water. Eat them quickly enough and you won't care that it tastes lousy.
D: Use the coffee maker in your room to heat water, soak the noodles in the carafe, and use the plastic coffee stirrers for chopsticks.

If you have to ask which one it is, you should stop reading right now. I have actually made ramen in a coffee maker, and when you're hungry at 2AM, it tastes really good!

You finish your work the next day, fill out an exit report and gather your bags for the trip to the airport. Just as you are ready to walk out the door a supervisor shows up with a piece of equipment he wants you to take home with you. You inspect the equipment and it shouldn't be a security risk as long as it's in checked luggage, but you only packed a small suitcase for this trip, so there's no way this thing is going to fit in your luggage. Your accountants have told you to avoid the extra bag charges, and you don't have the option of carrying this thing onto the airplane.
Do you:
A: Tell the supervisor just to ship it himself.
B: Try to sneak out of the plant before the supervisor notices.
C: Pay the extra luggage fee and fight it out with accounting later.
D: Find a box that's big enough to hold the equipment and your luggage so that you only have to check one item at the airport.

Once again the answer is D. I've had to do this at the last minute before leaving. Once I even got to the airport and scrounged an extra box and tape from the rental car office!

You catch your flight, collect your luggage and head to the parking lot. Arriving back at your car you remember the problem with the headlight switch. You take a moment to consult the repair manual (which you have conveniently tucked into the compartment next to the jack and tire tool.) According to the manual you will need to take apart half of the dashboard to reach the back of the switch and fasten it back in place.
Do you:
A: Take the car to a garage so a mechanic can disassemble your dashboard and repair the switch.
B: Continue to use the vice grips indefinitely.
c: Take apart the dashboard yourself and repair the switch
D: Ignore the manual and find your own way to reach the switch that only takes 10 minutes rather than 10 hours.

It's a bit of a stretch to assume that anyone reads the manual first, but as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter because the correct answer is D: Ignore the manual. And as for answers B and C, well one is too simple and the other is too much work.

So how did you do? Let me know if you came up with the right answers on every question because I need some extra help!

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