Wednesday, June 30, 2010

When Insults had Class

These very expressive insults are from an era, before the English language boiled down to four-letter and crude words.

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor:

She said, "If you were my husband I'd give you poison."
He said, "If you were my wife, I'd drink it."

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."

"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy."

- Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." 

- Winston Churchill

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." 

- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." 

- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." 

- Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." 

- Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends.." 

- Oscar Wilde

"I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend.... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill

"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." 

- Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." 

- John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."

- Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." 

- Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."

- Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."

- Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."

- Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" 

- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."

- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.." 

- Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts... for support rather than illumination." 

- Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." 

- Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." 

- Groucho Marx

Friday, June 18, 2010

Understanding Engineers (Humor)

This post deals with something very dear to me: engineering.  Yes, I know I demonstrate a lot of right brain (emotional, talkative, etc.), non-engineering traits, but deep down inside, I really am an engineer.  Scary ain’t it? Some of you might have seen this before, as I do have a great deal of engineering friends.  For all of you who have not seen it or who are not engineers, enjoy!  You now will understand what we are, maybe.

Understanding Engineers: One
Two engineering students, one pushing a bike, were walking across a university campus when the other said, "Where did you get such a great bike?"The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business, when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike, threw it to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, "Take what you want."The first engineer nodded approvingly and said, "Good choice; the clothes probably wouldn't have fit you anyway."

Understanding Engineers: Two
To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. (my personal favorite)

Understanding Engineers: Three
A priest, a doctor, and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer fumed, "What's with those guys? We must have been waiting for fifteen minutes!" The doctor chimed in, "I don't know, but I've never seen such inept golf!" The priest said, "Here comes the greens-keeper. Let's have a word with him."He said, "Hello George, what's wrong with that group ahead of us?
They're rather slow, aren't they?" The greens-keeper replied, "Oh, yes. That's a group of blind firemen. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free
The group fell silent for a moment.
The priest said, "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight."
The doctor said, "Good idea. I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist colleague and see if there's anything he can do for them."
The engineer said, "Why can't they play at night?"

Understanding Engineers: Four
What is the difference between mechanical engineers and civil engineers? Mechanical engineers build weapons and civil engineers build targets.

Understanding Engineers: Five
The graduate with a science degree asks, "Why does it work?" 
The graduate with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with an arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Understanding Engineers: Six
Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Understanding Engineers: Seven
An engineer was crossing the road one day, when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me I'll turn back into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke up again and said "If you kiss me I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for a week." The engineer took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me I'll turn back into a beautiful princess and stay with you for a week and do ANYTHING you want me to." Again the engineer took the frog out of his pocket,smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
Finally the frog asked, "What's the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess and that I'll stay with you for a week and do ANYTHING you want me to. Why won't you kiss me?"
The engineer said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that's cool!"

Understanding Engineers: Eight  
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing who must have designed the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer. Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "No, actually it had to have been a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Whole Star Spangled Banner Anthem!

Do you know the Star Spangled Banner? All of it?

Here it is, in its entirety.

First Verse
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light, 

What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight, 

O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air 

Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave 

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Second Verse
On the shore dimly seen, thro' the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes.
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep, 
As it fitfully blows half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam, 

In full glory reflected, now shines in the stream; 
'Tis the Star-Spangled Banner, Oh long may it wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Third Verse
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore?

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion?
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave 

from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave. 
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave 
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Fourth Verse
Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand 

Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land 

Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 

And this be our motto, "In God is our trust"
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave 

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

What Are You Worth?

Some time ago, Seth Godin (the father of the "Tribes" and "Ideavirus" concepts" wrote a great little piece about what are you worth (see: Hourly work vs. linchpin work)? In this article he goes on to suggest that what makes you worthwhile is not so much how rare your skills are, but if there are no ready substitutes, what are you really worth? Essentially, if you have the ability to bring in an additional $1 million dollars pretty easily for a company, or sell 20% more seats for a concert quickly, or save a company 25% of their operating budget?  What is that REALLY worth? $100K, $1MM or more? This is an excellent question.

This reminds me of the story of Admiral Nimitz and the mechanic that after WWII the aircraft carrier Enterprise was having a problem with its boilers. This mechanic had retired in the Philippines, and after exhausting every possible solution, the crew finally contacted this mechanic and flew him to the carrier. Once he got there he asked a few questions and then proceeded down to the belly of the ship. After about 10 minutes, he comes upon a set of pipes, takes out this sledge hammer, and gives a few really good hits on the pipes. Amazingly the ship is again at full steam! At which time, the mechanic hands Nimitz a bill for $10,000. Nimitz is outraged, and being the crafty Admiral he is asks the mechanic to itemize the bill. At which point the mechanic takes the bill and writes: “Use of hammer: $1.00; knowing where to strike: $9,999.00.”


It is precisely this ability of knowing where to hit that makes a person valuable. As I like to say, “Being good is making it look easy, but getting good is never easy.”   What are you doing in your life to get being good and earning what you are REALLY worth?  Here is a clue, working for someone else you will most likely never know.