Classics (Part 2)


An anthology of really old and mostly unattributed lore.
Collected by Walter Driedger, P. Eng., 2001 Nov 12 . walter(at)driedger(dot)ca  
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orthopedic pain management

What is Electricity?

Electricity is produced by burning coal or oil in power stations. They burn the fuel to make smoke and the smoke is pushed down the wires to the appliances in your home. Then the smoke goes back to the power station on the other wire and is let out the stack. The worst thing you can do to an electrical appliance is to let the smoke out. Once the smoke gets out, the appliance will no longer function. Sometimes you can fix the leak with tape but usually it is too late. Even worse is if the smoke gets out in the middle of a wire. Then it will set your house on fire. Toasters let out just a little bit of smoke in the form of hot air.

If You are Unhappy

Once upon a time there was a non-conforming swallow who decided not to fly south for the winter. However, soon the weather turned so cold that he reluctantly started to fly south. In a short time ice began to form on his wings and he fell to earth in a barnyard, almost frozen. A cow passed by and crapped on the swallow and the little swallow thought it was the end. But … the manure warmed him and melted the ice from his wings. Warm and happy and able to breathe, he started to sing. Just then the barnyard cat came by and heard the chirping. On clearing the manure away, he found the swallow and ate him.

This story contains three morals:

1) Everyone who shits on you in not necessarily your enemy.

2) Everyone who gets you out of shit is not necessarily your friend.

3) If you are warm and happy in a pile of shit, keep your mouth shut.

The Dinosaur

(Some early thoughts on the value having both a DCS and a PLC in the control sytem.)

Behold the mighty dinosaur
Famous in prehistoric lore,
Not only for his weight and length
But for his intellectual strength.
You will observe by these remains
The creature had two sets of brains --
One in his head (the usual place),
The other in his spinal base.
Thus he could reason a priori
As well as a posteriori.
No problem bothered him a bit
He could make head and tail of it
So wise was he, so wise and solemn,
Each thought filled just his spinal column.
If one brain found the pressure strong
It passed a few ideas along.
If something slipped his forward mind
‘Twas rescued by the one behind.
And if in error he was caught
He had saving afterthought.
As he thought twice before he spoke
He had no judgment to revoke.
Thus he could think without congestion
Upon both sides of every question.
Oh, gaze upon this model beast
Defunct ten million years at least.

Bert Liston Taylor, American journalist and humorist,  (1920)


A certain fellow once put on his spring jacket, which he had not worn in several years, and discovered a shoe repair ticket in one of the pockets. Then he remembered that he had brought a pair of shoes in for repair at least two years ago and had completely forgotten about them. So he stopped by the shop a few days later and, somewhat shyly, asked if the proprietor still had the shoes in question. The proprietor took one look at the ticket and said, "They’ll be ready Thursday."

Appreciation Note

Your careful consideration of our proposal is greatly appreciated. I am confident that your decision to deal with our competitor is based on a thorough study of the facts, you dumb sonofabitch!

Girls are Evil

1) Girls require time and money Girls = Time x Money

2) Time is Money                     Time = Money

3) Therefore:                          Girls = Money x Money = Money2

4) Money is the root of evil       Money = sqrt(evil)

5) Therefore:                          Girls = (sqrt(evil))2

6) Conclusion:                        Girls = Evil

The Complete List Of Engineering Lies

I won’t change anything without asking.

This is a firm estimate.

It will be ready by Friday.

The Man in the Balloon

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces altitude and spots a man down below.. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me! Can you help me? I promised my friend that I would meet him half an hour ago, but now I do not know where I am."

The man below says, "Yes. You are in hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 50 and 51 degrees north latitude and between 110 and 111 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist.

"I am," replies the man on the ground. "How did you know?"

"Well," says the balloonist, "Everything you have told me is absolutely correct but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."

The man below nods his head, saying, "You must be a manager."

"I am," replies the balloonist, "But how did you know?"

"Well," says the man, "You do not know where you are or where you are going. You have made a commitment which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is that you are now in the exact same position you were in before we met. But now it is somehow my fault."

New Units for Binary Systems

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) will adopt new prefixes to accurately express the values of quantities used in information technology. Gone are kilo, mega, and giga bytes. In, with input from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are kibi (Ki), mebi (Mi), gibi (Gi), tebi (Ti), pebi (Pi), and exbi (Ei) to represent exponentially increasing binary multiples. A kibibyte, therefore, equals 2 to the 10th power, or 1024 bytes. Likewise, a mebibyte equals 2 to the 20th power, or 1,048,576 bytes. The new prefixes will increase precision in expressing electronic information. The discrepancy stems from the need to write electronic information in binary code, using only two digits, ones and zeros, while metric is a decimal system based on 10 digits. To describe large numbers of bytes, programmers used the closest approximate metric prefixes available.

Knowledge and Power


   1) Knowledge is Power

   2) Time is Money

   3) Work / Time = Power

Substituting 1) and 2) into 3) we have:

   Work / Money = Knowledge

Solving for Money:

   Money = Work / Knowledge

Conclusion: The less Knowledge, the more Money. As Knowledge approaches zero, Money approaches infinity, regardless of Work.

Here the Miracle Occurs