Humans Are Cold and I'm a Super Hero!

This morning, my wife commented she was cold, my ADD struck with a vengeance and went through this stream of thought (yes, I looked up the actual numbers later) which struck me speechless for a nanosecond until I saw a dust mote floating that made me think about the contents of moats in medieval castles. I then remembered that she had just spoken and replied, "Yes, yes you are." with a wry grin, at my intended triple entendre of which she could only possibly guess but two meanings, with her poor non-ADD-enhanced facilities.

Absolute Zero is defined as negative 459.67 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the coldest something can get, the absolute devoidness of warmth.  One theory for the highest attainable temperature for matter is Planck Temperature, which is 2.55e32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Heat Ceiling:
Cold Basement:

We Humans, however, weigh in at an "average" temperature of 98.6°F. That's only 361.07°F from Absolute Zero and a Universe away from Planck Temperature.

Summary: Humans Added
Heat Ceiling:
Human Beings:
Cold Basement:

We are Cold!

And if you think about it, from the standpoint of Absolute Zero being the temperature where Entropy is at the closest it can get to Zero too, we're pretty stale too.

Hey look, a puppy!  ADD is a super-power folks.


Jesuit's Inaugural Freshman Football Team Scores on First Snap

For the first time in Jesuit's 116 year history, the school has fielded a Freshman team to augment their football program which had, until 2015, only Varsity and Junior Varsity teams.  Under the leadership of Head Coach Steve Costa, Offensive Line Coach Dan Clark, Defensive Coach Owsu, and Coach Krist, the Freshmen Tigers made the long trip to Manatee County to play against the Lakewood Ranch High School Mustangs on Thursday, August 27th, 2015.

The Freshman Tigers, on their very first possession, of their first game, of the first season of their team's existence, scored a touchdown on a pass.  Jesuit's first freshmen team went on to post a shutout 14 - 0 against the Mustangs.  I hope this was a sign of things to come.

My son, Victor Anderson c/o 2019, was honored to be selected as a team captain to represent the Offensive Line for this inaugural game.  Victor started at right-guard, playing there throughout the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, Jesuit's center was injured and Victor took over at that position for a few snaps until the second string offensive line was put in to give them some reps.



I am consistently puzzled at the subjects that engender outrage in others.  Sometimes it is the way a subject is broached, sometimes it is just who broached the subject, sometime it depends on the audience, and sometimes it is simply that it was broached at all.

There are some, unfortunately, those natural default reaction to any adverse stimuli is outrage.  These are the people who lose my respect.

Outrage, as a visceral emotion, can be useful when in situations of direct danger where quick reaction is actually necessary. Ninety percent of the time when I have witnessed outrage in myself or others, however, this is not the case.  Just like revenge, expressing a contrarian opinion is usually best done in a cold and well-thought out manner that addresses the subject directly and offers a solution rather than swinging blindly everybody else.

Outrage then, is the safe harbor of the easily offended, or the curtain put up by those who make a living of pretending to be offended.


Spring Restoration

Well,  apparently our firm has fallen into a neat niche in the engineering world, namely spring restoration.  Now that we've had some rather spectacular success on a few large projects, we need to come up with a comprehensive marketing plan for this service area.

Coming up with the potential client list will be easy, as the springs are a known list.  Getting enough content on our web site to gain the necessary page rank, however, will be a bear.


The Buffett Rule; I Don't Get It!

Per Wikipedia [link]:

"The Buffett Rule is a tax plan proposed by President Barack Obama in 2011[1] to alleviate income inequality in the United States between the top 1% of Americans[2] and the remaining 99% of Americans, due to the income growth in the 1% group as compared to the 99% group. The tax plan would apply to individuals earning more than $1 million per year; this comprised the top 450,000 of Americans by income when the rule was proposed."
So let me make sure I get this right. In order to make things fair, the government is proposing that individuals making over $1-million/year in income, the 1%,  should pay at least the same tax rate as the middle-class because these 1%'ers  are currently paying taxes at a lower effective rate than the middle-class.

Not being a millionaire myself, but not one to begrudge the fortune of others, it seems to me that to government is in effect telling me the following.

"Hey, we've been charging you too much in taxes and charging them too little in taxes for some time now.  So, since we know misery loves company and we know that schadenfreude is a great political tool to keep up that caste system mentality, instead of lowering your tax rates to what the 1%'ers pay, we're going to raise taxes on those naughty tax-dodging millionaires.  See, this is so much better because:

  • They suffer more
  • You suffer no less
  • You get their wealth thrown in your face while this is discussed in the public arena (giving us more class-envy based power)

On top of that we get to drain more money out of circulation in the public economy and spend it the way we think it should be spent, that is, mostly in ways you either won't like or won't think prudent or efficient."

Great, I feel so much better now.


Careful Wording

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, A Way With Words, this morning when I was reminded of an incident from long ago, where careful word selection almost got me in trouble.

I was an IT director at the time, and my company was in the middle of a break-up, a split, and I found myself needing to write a report detailing the plan for addressing the IT infrastructure during and after this split. Some economies of scale were going to be lost and some resources, once shared, would have to be duplicated to affect perfect autonomy.

The two roughly equal sized business units of the company in question were so different that one could hardly imagine them being run as a single entity in the first place. It was not that their industries weren't aligned or their client bases weren't coincidental; they were. In fact, on paper it was a perfect fit in terms of vertical integration.  The difference between the two business units was the vast deltas in areas of management philosophy, staff personalities, and both short and long-term goals.  The ownership structure itself even perpetuated this difference by having two companies held within a third holding company.

The IT report I was writing was simple enough.  These types of analyses are fairly black and white if you treat them fairly and objectively while giving a little forethought to each entities future.  It also doesn't hurt to have an already established reputation for fairness and objectivity with the ownership groups.  I also tried to keep a balance sheet going as I wrote the report to both keep the expenditures for each entity roughly equal as well as ensuring that each had an appropriate mix of new and legacy systems.  I didn't want either company to be shiny and new, leaving the other to deal with older slower legacy systems to deal with.

The problem arose when I chose the title for the report, "Information Systems Dichotomization Plan".

To my mind, dichotomization was a better word than bifurcation, because dichotomization infers that the split is along a naturally occurring boundary or logical topology feature.  Bifurcation has no such distinction, simply referring to splitting a thing into two separate units.

Apparently it struck a a nerve, because almost immediately after publishing my report to the leaders of both units, one of the principals came straight to my office asking me why I used the term dichotomize instead of split or bifurcation, the terms that they had been using internally for their discussions.  Apparently, to him, dichotomize had a third connotation which inferred that the the two things being split should never have been conjoined in the first place.  Once he said this aloud, I realized that, entirely subconsciously,  I too had a vague sense of that inference when I selected the word.

He then asked me if I thought that this split was the "right thing" for the company.  Unfortunately, I had to concede that while such a split was, on paper, a mistake, that due to the realities of the personalities involved  that I, some time back, had resigned myself to this course of action's inevitability if not its necessity.

The situation ended very well, but I'll never forget getting "called out" for that one word in a twenty page report again.


Shovel Ready Jobs

OK, I was watching the Republican debate tonight and I've got to weigh in on this.

For the purpose of providing both disclosure and qualifications; I've been working within the Engineering / Construction industry for 22 years, and I am lucky enough to still remain employed by a small engineering firm.

In the last few years, I've seen Engineering firms collapse, reduce their staff by up to 90%, and get acquired by global-sized firms looking for local talent.  All the small boutique firms are gone.

What we have now, here in Florida at least, are a few mega-firms that have  gobbled up most of the mid-sized firms that were left, and about million (or so it seems) one-person firms that are comprised of former mid-to-large firm staffers that have been downsized nowhere to go except to start a one person firm in their garage.  These are engineers, CAD drafters, surveyors, landscape architects, and surveyors, your average middle-class professionals and many are friends and former colleagues.

Now when the few RFPs or RFQs come out, instead of 10 firms submitting qualification packages, 3 getting shortlisted for formal presentations (which cost a lot of money and manpower to put together) and 1 getting selected, we get 100 submitting, 10 getting shortlisted (all that much more money wasted on the presentations) and 1 selected.  This is not a sustainable model.

Shovel Ready?  Really?  If by "shovel ready", you mean that all the design and engineering work is already done and the project is ready for construction, then you're talking about an awful lot of hungry people cut out of the loop.

Shovel Ready?  Where are these stockpiles of pre-designed, engineered, and permitted plan sets supposed to be? Sitting on some shelf somewhere in the basement of the Mayor's house?  What happens when they run out of these magical plans?  There will be no backlog of work for the shovels if the pencil-ready jobs are not commissioned too.

How about job-and-value-creation-ready projects?

Look, a typical infrastructure project first employs private sector engineers, CAD drafters, surveyors, landscape architects, and surveyors as well as all their support staff.  Secondly it provides purpose and extracts value from public sector engineers and planners reviewing and approving projects and construction plans.  Third, it provides jobs for the contractors, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, etc. that put hand to earth.  Fifth, pubic infrastructure projects provide value to the public in terms of their improvement in our quality of life whether it be from improved stormwater drainage, decreased traffic congestion, cleaner water, cheaper energy, or even a rejuvenation of a blighted area. Lastly, these projects provide secondary economic value in the form of opportunities created through the higher property values or higher use potentials for properties in the proximity of these improvement.

Now I know I'm sounding a little Keynesian here, but that's a whole other story.  I don't think that it's either a wholesale Keynesian or Friedman/monetarist world we live in.  What I'm just tired of hearing is this misnomer "Shovel Ready".