Month: February 2010

When Time Doesn’t Pass

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There are times in the office when it feels like tiiiiiime juuuuuuust does not paaaaaaassssss. Time draaaaaaags by so slowly that you wish someone would give you a fly swatter so you can swat away flies (human flies or otherwise). Just make sure you ignore the fly that settles on Big H.’s* head.The result of hitting that fly might not be that funny.

Also, you start thinking about the summer holidays from November, and you think of lunch from 8.15 a.m. Then after lunch, you return to your office all full and sated, and stay close to the phone, lest someone out there needs you, then when that phone finally rings, and you excitedly pick it up, the person on the other end says, “Mimo? Oh sorry…wrong number.”

Here are some tips on how to kill time in the office;

1. CONSULT DR. GOOGLE. Google “bored”…If you’re still bored, google, “I’m very bored”…If you’re still bored, google, “I’m very very very very bored”…

2. SOLITAIRE CHAMPION. I know playing solitaire is one of the oldest tricks in the book. But the new idea is that when you win for the umpteenth time (since you can probably play it in your sleep by now) and it asks you, “Do you want to play again?” answer “No.” Then close the screen, go to the start menu and open it again. Repeat this process every single time you play, and that shall help time pass you by.

3. PRINTING DELAY. When you’re given a 10-page assignment or a 30-page report to finish, work on it quickly. However, when it comes to printing, print it one page at a time so you have a reason to spring off your chair every minute and rush to the printer. This will give the impression that you’re a very busy person even though you’re actually printing the same document. Also, intentionally causing paper jams will get you more time as you’d need to call the technician for help.

4. GET DIZZY (NOT BUSY). Take off your shoes, go around and around and around in your swivel chair, until you get dizzy and have an excuse to go home early.

5. EMAIL FORWARD VERIFICATION. Verify all the email forwards you receive by checking how true they are on

6. ACT WEIRD. Make a long chain out of paper clips, and when someone asks you what you’re doing, tell them to, “Shhhhh! I’m working on a piece of art here.” When you’re done with your chain, make shapes out of it.

7. ACT WEIRDER. Make paper airplanes and throw them around in the office. (Again, avoid Big H.’s head). (NOTE: if you do steps (6) and (7), most probably, you might be granted official leave on the grounds that you need to take a trip to a mental institution).

8. COUNT COMB TEETH. Get a comb like the one below and count how many teeth it has. The closer the teeth are to each other, the more time this process shall take, since most probably you’ll lose count, and you’ll start counting again and again and again. 

9. COUNT YOUR OWN TEETH. Don’t ask me what the purpose of this exercise is; just check if all your teeth are still there, maybe.

10. CHANGE OFFICE TIMINGS. Sneak into the office at night and move the hands of all the wall clocks backwards, then use it as a permanent excuse to answer why you’re always late.If someone points out their computer screen time, tell them, “It’s 10 a.m.? Really? It says 8 a.m. on my wristwatch. I’m sorry, but I’m a little bit old-fashioned, and my wristwatch is calibrated to the wall clock so…” shrug. During lunch hour, move the hands of all wall clocks forward. Repeat this exercise everyday.


*terminology introduced in The New Kid In The Block Syndrome (Part 1).



Engineeringly Incorrect Statements

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For the past few months, I’ve been receiving bloggable engineeringly incorrect statements from people at our level (the inexperienced) working among experienced engineers. Being the engineer’s voice for whom literal meanings are quite important , I thought to organize them into dialogues as examples to define the term “engineeringly incorrect statement.”

Example [1]

EE* (1): This needs to be done by tomorrow.

IEE* asks EE (1): How do I do this calculation?

EE (1): It’s not as easy as it seems.

IEE: Since it’s not as easy as it seems (and I don’t have the experience that you have), I can’t do this by tomorrow.

Then EE (2) appears out of nowhere, and shows IEE that the only extra thing that IEE needed to know was to calculate; T x sin 60.

Say again, It’s not as easy as it seems?

Example [2]

For IEE to do a calculation (which involves a force unit), she needs an input from the EE. So a number is thrown her way, “370.”

IEE asks two EE engineers the same question: “What’s the unit?”

EE (1) says kg, and EE(2) says N

That’s a factor of 9.81, people. If they can’t decide on an answer, aren’t they both engineeringly incorrect statements?

Example [3],

IEE: “What does this value mean?”

EE: “This is how you calculate it.”

IEE (inner voice): I don’t want to know how to calculate it. I want to know what it really means…as in, the concept, in real life, what does the number correspond to, but do I get that?

What do you think?

Example [4]

Reference drawings are given, and they have obvious discrepancies in the reference axes (that’s X, Y, Z), so which one shall IEE use? In one drawing, the 2-D plane drawing shows X and Y, and on the other, the same 2-D plane shows X and Z. IEE asks more than one EE which dimensions should be used for the given analysis, and guess what? Again, two different answers.

If they can’t decide on an answer, aren’t they both engineeringly incorrect statements?

Example [5]

A calculation was being made, and the answer did not make any sense according to the drawings given, and when asked, the EE said, “Ask the calculator.”

*UFF! Engineeringly Incorrect Statement! You don’t ask the calculator, you ask the person who issued the drawing what does the number mean*

Add to that, the “Assume anything” from an EnginE-eeer’s Life, and you got IEE imagining the following scenario:

IEE: “Can you please open the window?”

EE: “Why? Are you cold?”

IEE: “No, no, I might need to jump out the window before the place blows up because of these engineeringly incorrect statements, because then I’d get blamed for them.”

*IEE: Inexperienced engineer

EE: Experienced engineer


The Social Outcast

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One thing about the work experience is that it tends to remove the social outcasts from their shell. In university, the social outcast character could just hide away all morning – and night – to do their own work. Teamwork usually meant different teams for projects at the end of which, the social outcast could say, “I’m sick of seeing this project and everything that reminds me of this project, including you, so don’t call again.”

However at work, you’ll be working in the same team, and you’ll be seeing the same people over and over again. From the computer screen backgrounds, you can tell who’s married (*hint*hint*: children’s picture), who’s still single (*hint*hint*:their own picture as a child), who’s getting married soon (*hint*hint*:A spreadsheet with TOTAL EXPENSES= ), who’s getting divorced soon, (*hint*hint*:

Courtesy of Google Images

With time, you also start to know the details of people’s lives, the number of children/wives, the names of these children/wives, in what schools these children study, not because you’re interested so much, but because there are a lot of mundane conversations taking place.

“Good morning.” Smile. “How are you?”

Inner voice: “Not that I care so much”

“I’m fine. I had to drop my kids at school, but you know there was traffic today on…”

*Tune out*

Mental note: Next time, don’t ask ‘how are you?’ when you’re not interested.

And this happens assuming you even understand the language of the people you work with. Some of our professors already spoke to us about the importance of adding new languages to our CV. At first, we used to think languages like Spanish and French were what made a CV stand out, until with time we discovered they were very impractical in the UAE, so the Spanish coursebooks had to be replaced by…


P.S. No offense intended to any racial/ethnic group

The Office Chair

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This chair is one of the most amusing furniture pieces you’ll see in the workplace. The yawns this chair induce are enough to form a yawning orchestra.

*Imagination break*


*Glass breaks because the yawning sound is close to the glass’s natural frequency, which causes resonance*

It makes you think that there’s a “sleepy” cloud over this chair and this chair only, because some employees concede that they may be so sleepy while seated in this chair, but the moment they leave it they’re so fresh and active that they are ready to go pump iron. This chair might explain the increasing number of gym enthusiasts among the employed.
*Imagination break*

Employee’s phone rings, “Hello?”
“Hello? Why do you sound this way? Are you asleep?”
“No, no, I’m at work.”
Ya3ni just tell me, you’re asleep.”

People with sleeping-in-class experience won’t find this chair different from the uni chair, except that there’s no monologue to put you to sleep. The office noise is different, and consists of clicks, printing noises, people talking in different languages. So basically, the suffering is caused by two things,

a) You have to stay in this sleep-inducing chair for 8 hours because of the attendance policy as mentioned before.

b) There’s no monologue there to put you to sleep.

Working in this chair is not even efficient for some people, especially those who are used to working on a bed, and sleeping in a chair.

Someone once proposed to take the office chair home because her baby nephew kept on waking up in the middle of the night crying, so maybe replacing the baby’s crib with this chair might be the solution, what do you think?

But then again, if you’re working, do you still think?

Shown below is what I call a truly multi-functional chair, designed by Dutch designer Roel Verhagen Kaptein; a chair that transforms into a chaise, then a sofa, and then back again. Now if I started a company I might replace the office chair by this one. Of course, the sofa appears in the morning, and the chair at night.