Category Archives: engineering

I luv me some LOLcats

I always forget it exists, and sometimes it’s really not all that funny, but when I rediscover it I find that those LOLcats crack me up.  I guess today it was an LOL-panda that made me giggle.

ps – this is one sad kitty

pps – happy anniversay to my baby.  I’m certainly glad the PE exam exists, for how else would you have come up with an excuse to ask me out?  Has it really been 3 years since you led me into a broken elevator?  I love you more than I love lolcats, for the record.

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Back and so busy

We attended an engineering conference last weekend in Vegas and had a blast.  Our local chapter officers usually all attend and, while we do spend 2 days in conference rooms listening to various speakers and roundtables, we all live for the “unofficial” socials.  It’s the best time to get to know not only your fellow officers, but people from all over the Western states.  Let me tell you, the people who look all business during the day can party like no other once the sun goes down.  Also, there is no last call in Vegas, which can make for some tricky morning attendance the next day.  We had an awesome time, there was much learning and drinking involved, as well as some mechanical bull riding. 

Now that we’re back, we’re falling into our typical jam-packed schedules.  I had some downtime Monday morning, but then we went out to see the 3D U2 concert Tuesday with friends (pretty cool, let me tell you), we are meeting again with a financial planner (I’d say “ours” but I don’t think that’s accurate until we actually give him money) Wednesday, V-day is, well, on V-day and then we might see other friends on Friday night.  Not to mention lots of actual work to do, which has been keeping T at the office late.  Add in visiting friends this weekend, a possible brunch with my mom (and friends) Sunday, going out for T’s birthday (and also on his actual birthday), and I’m tired already!  I say it’s exhausting, but we love doing it.  I’m grateful our friends live so close that semi-last minute get togethers are possible.

Meanwhile, I am totally behind on what’s going on with American Idol (ha ha ha) and I missed the last 5 minutes of Lost (stupid DVR… or cable schedule), but I hear that Pushing Daisies might be coming back.  Also, I am a fan of Moment of Truth because I like yelling at the tv and commenting how dumb people are.  It’s a truly guilty pleasure, that show, done as only FOX could do.

I’ve also not been cooking much (dinner on Monday consisted of a quasi-omelet of fennel and garlic), but I did finally make the edamame my mom told me about.  It’s like the dish you can get at Roy’s, but better, somehow.  When I finally have time to sit down and write it up, you’ll thank me (and I guess my mom) and wonder how you could have spent so much of your life eating plain edamame.

Sweet giving, people!

So, the unofficial results put EWB in second place for U.S. charities!  That is really cool!  They were only 19 donations behind first place.  I’m glad one of the animal rescue organizations made it in… I would have felt a little guilty if we had bumped out some doggy rescue folks.  Of course, the official results won’t be announced for a few days.  You know, they have to make sure that they are counting only donations made by unique individuals.  But I’m feeling good about it!

Thanks, Mom, for your donation!  It’s gone to a good cause!

Charities and food

Donate here! 

A few years ago, a new chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) started in San Diego.  EWB was orginally made up of university students, much like the student chapters of ASCE.  Then the students graduated and found they wanted to stay involved with EWB projects.  So, professional chapters started forming.  That’s what we did here; we formed the San Diego Professional chapter of EWB (EWB-SD).  I have a total soft spot for this group because I was on the Executive Committee to get things rolling.  We had a tough first year and still managed to send a team to India in response to the tsunami damage.  Then I became more involved with ASCE and found myself spreading too thin.  Luckily, EWB-SD has an awesome current President who has kept the chapter organized and motivated.  This year they are starting a project in Tijuana that will essentially divert raw wastewater away from residential homes so the kids aren’t playing in sewage, literally.  But that’s not my point.

You know when you open the Sunday paper and there’s the little magazine insert, ParadeWell, they are holding a contest for charities and EWB is one of them.  People all over the country have nominated their charities and the top 8 (4 US and 4 Global) will receive a $50,000 grant from Parade.  Not only that, if EWB wins a grant, they will give the top 10 chapters with donations $1,000.  I know not many people read this, but if you do and you have just $10 to donate, I can tell you that you are helping support a really great organization and the money that trickles down to the San Diego chapter is going to a bunch of awesome people who volunteer so much of their time and expertise.  Right now, EWB is #6 for US charities, but the donations don’t close until Thursday, January 31, 2008 so there’s still time for them to bump up to #4.  You can click on their link from the main page or by using their donation badge here.  If you do donate, in the “Designation” line, please add “San Diego Professional Chapter” so the local chapter gets credit.

In non-charitable news, it’s San Diego Restaurant Week!  I haven’t gotten as excited about it this year, but we are going to check out 1500 Ocean in Hotel del Coronado.  You can see menus and prices (it’s either $30 or $40 for a 3-course meal) on the main page.  You can also look up reservations on OpenTable.com.  I was just there today and there are still a few openings.  Otherwise, you can catch the second round June 22 – June 27, 2008.  There’s some chatter on Chowhound, as Alice Q. has pointed out, if you’d like to see what people are saying.

Coming home

We’re on our way home from Orlando… sitting at the airport terminal, which is in the process of being renovated. Apparently, this means the wall outlets don’t work, so T has plugged into a temporary construction outlet hanging from the ceiling.

 

The conference was pretty much your standard one: mostly boring with occasional bouts of interesting discussion. We did score some neat free stuff, and you can tell we’re engineering nerds as my only regret is that we didn’t get to bring home more free post-it organizer boxes.

 

We did manage to see Epcot and Animal Kingdom, as well as a quick night in Downtown Disney and Pleasure Island. Epcot was having their Food and Wine Festival, so we ate our way around the lake and enjoyed quite a few tidbits. We packed in just about the entire park, minus kid things like character pictures and such. The Food and Wine Festival part was interesting enough that if we were to return to Epcot, I’d definitely consider going during the Festival if it was convenient for our schedule.

 

The weather was humid, but not terribly hot. The food was expensive, but also pretty tasty. Personally, I am just plain tired out. And I have funny blisters on my pinky toes from all the walking.

 

Also? I know Disney is pretty much targeted for kids and it’s expected that there will be thousands of families with kids running around. I’ve heard “Oh, don’t worry about, anyone with kids totally understands” way too often. The thing is, there are some of us without kids who don’t really appreciate your kids running around shrieking at sonic sound levels, darting in front of us so we practically have to jump in order not to step on them (because then it would be our fault, of course). I’m also not fond of following a double stroller parade at 0.5 miles an hour through the crowded walkway because we have a lot to pack into this one day and I’d really like to get a move on. And, if a digital turtle can get the two dozen other small children to sit still and be quiet for 30 minutes straight but yours is running back and forth and back and forth then perhaps you should do something, like pick her up and leave the room.  And, you with the kid on the plane?  The one who cried and screamed the whole 4-hour redeye flight to Orlando when I was just trying to catch a little sleep before heading straight to my 8 am conference sessions?  So not cool.

I like kids, I really do.  I like the well behaved ones, the ones with parents who realize that it’s okay to discipline their kids and not let them run wild like banshees.  I know kids have lots of energy and need to let it out, but I also know that poor behavior was just not accepted when I was a kid.  Times can’t have changed that much… I’m really not that old!  It’s not funny when your kid runs into people because he’s running circles with his eyes closed.  It’s not cute that your baby is wailing because she’s tired.  And just because you’re tired of trying and have learned to block out the noise doesn’t mean that the rest of us (you know, the ones without kids who don’t understand) can do the same.

Now, I also understand that the same can be said about dogs.  My dogs are not terribly well behaved, and you know what?  I don’t take them a lot of places in public.  We go to parks where all the dogs are running around like crazy.  We let them be spoiled rotten dogs in the privacy of our home.  And I always restrain them when kids are going to be around because, for some reason, the white ones don’t like little kids.  I try not to inflict my lack of discipline on unsuspecting strangers.  On the other hand… they’re just so cute!  Besides, I know those of you with dogs totally understand, ha ha!

Misc. stuff

Just some random notes…

T and I will be in Orlando later this week for the ASCE 137th Annual Civil Engineering Conference.  Woohoo!  3 days of speakers and sessions and meetings (especially for T).  We will be flying back Monday to give ourselves a bit of time to explore the wonders of Disney.  Like Epcot, during the Food and Wine Festival.  And the Animal Kingdom.  Because our schedules are a little out of sync (my sessions end Saturday morning, while T is in meetings all day Saturday), perhaps I will splurge and take a nice spa day, too.

Also, there have been some interesting Googles coming this way.  Instead of listing out the exact terms people are searching with, I’m just going to offer my notes and thoughts:

  • Method aroma sticks” smell good, look pretty, and are way cheaper than the ones you find in specialty stores.  If you can find the peppermint vanilla during the holiday, definitely buy it.
  • The only “quick brownies” I know of are the ones from the box, but even those take half an hour to bake.  Still, they’re decent brownies.  There are microwaveable cakes and brownies, taking a couple minutes to “cook” but I’m skeptical of how tasty they are and if it’s really worth the time saved.
  • Yes, we have a “three dog household” + 2 cats (so it’s a full house, ha ha!) and there’s a lot of fur around here.  Thank goodness we’re not allergic to anything.
  • For crying out loud, go buy some tasty things from “Nothing Bundt Cakes” already.  Especially the one on Scripps Poway Parkway, because I want that store to stick around for a long time.  Even though they close at 6pm and I’m sometimes not even home by then.
  • The “Costco plastic cutlery” comes in a box with forks, knives, and spoons and they are quite sturdy.  If you’re not careful, you could actually hurt yourselves with the knives.  Handy for parties because you get, like, hundreds of the things.
  • Be Wise Ranch” has resumed deliveries, the owners lost their home, they are rebounding very well, and don’t you dare ask them for a refund for that one missed week!
  • “Chef Gavin Kaysen” was eliminated on TNIC (so not his fault due to the melted ice washing away his salt), he is leaving El Bizcocho for New York, and he’s still cute.
  • “caramel corn using cheese puffs recipes” – see here
  • We have two “mini american eskimo” pups here, hence the need for the “Roomba for Pets”.  They are barky dogs, shed a lot of fur, surprisingly don’t get dirty (it seems to just fall off them), and have very funny personalities.  Lexi is our circus dog and can stand on her hind legs for a long time.  Cassie is just a love bug and if I had to grab one thing to save from this house it would be her.  Because T would grab Clair.  I’m kidding.  Kinda.

See you when we get back!

When two worlds collide

Here’s something I didn’t ever expect to write about here: food and how it relates to civil engineering (which is what I do).  When you belong to an organization, you meet a lot of people and you get a lot of e-mails.  After I graduated college and moved to San Diego, I decided it was time to join something where I could meet other people in my field.  I went to a few meetings with co-workers, then found out there was a chapter specifically for young engineers.  If you know me, you’ll know that was the beginning of my totally-nerdy-but-kind-of-cute introduction to T. 

I’ve been fortunate that my company supports my involvement and I usually attend both a national conference and a regional one (which is specifically for the younger engineers).  Not only does this give me an opportunity to hear presentations beyond my specific specialty of civil engineering, it also introduces me to people from all across the country.  Last year, we met new graduates who work in Alaska! 

Last year’s national conference was held in Chicago, IL and a small group from our chapter attended.  After long days of conference meetings and presentations, we got to explore the city and experienced some nightlift, courtesy of our younger engineer hosts.  It was at this conference that I met Ken Maschke, although he probably doesn’t remember it as I was only one of hundreds he encountered that weekend.  But, had I not met him then, I wouldn’t have taken notice when I saw his name in the monthly newsletter.

Ken is currently on a six-month externship in Copenhagen, working for a structural engineering company.  It’s a rare opportunity, and he’s started a “blog” to kind of document his experiences, in and out of the office, and share what it’s like as an American and also as a young engineer.  What caught my eye, of course, was his post on food in the office.

It’s a well-known fact that European offices seem to value “quality of life” and their employees happiness very highly.  Taxes and political issues aside, they often have plenty of vacation time, good office relationships, good benefits, and a comraderie that most people would love to see at work (I’m grateful that my company has a healthy office culture and also values our work/life balance).  Ken’s Danish company provides an office cafeteria, of sorts, where all employees of all levels gather to eat lunch.  I suspect it’s highly frowned upon to eat lunch at your desk like some of us may do here.  They also gather for a simple breakfast meeting each Friday, which seems like a good way to give your group updates but also gives them another opportunity to interact with each other face-to-face.  My favorite comment, though, relates to the cake that is served to celebrate the beginning of someone’s vacation.  Now, that’s a great idea for a send-off!  My experience with office cakes was that they only come out when someone’s leaving the company!  I think that sends a bit of a mixed message, don’t you?

My office has a wonderful Rec Committee that often plans events to get us away from our desk and talking to other people.  We have chili cook-offs, smoothie days, ice cream sundae days, salad spin-offs, holiday bake-offs, and monthly lunch staff meetings.  Every Tuesday, someone in the office brings in light breakfast foods.  We have an after-work team building/happy hour once a month and a fun annual picnic.  If we only got twice as much vacation time, I think we’d be stiff competition for the Europeans for happy employees!

Ken notes that “food is a universal way to connect people” and I have to agree.  At large parties, people tend to gravitate to the food spots and start up small talk.  If you have nothing else to say (since religion, politics, and many other topics are considered impolite these days), you can always ask if the cheese plate is worth sampling.  When a friend is having a bad day, taking them out for food and a good drink is your way of saying, “Let me help you… somehow.”  On a bright summer day, what better way to get friends together than throwing a bbq party?  Birthdays are celebrated with dinners out, holidays are celebrated with dinners in.  Food brings people together, all people, even us dorky engineers.