If you have an engineer within your close circle of friends, save yourself some trouble. Go to YouTube and watch “Dilbert – The Knack”. As the doctor is explaining young Dilbert’s condition he characterizes an engineer with  two statements, “extreme intuition about all things mechanical and electrical” and “utter social ineptitude”. Yep, that pretty much covers my early life.

It’s not that we like it that way ( the utter social ineptitude part, the extreme intuition part is great). Engineering rules tend to be based on physics with demonstrative properties. Take for example Ohm’s Law. Ohm’s law is a basic principle in measuring flow of electricity.  if  I have 120 volts and place a 2 ohm load across it, I’ll see 60 amps flow through the load. At least until the circuit breaker pops. It’s a very graphic demonstration and one I’m not likely to forget, sorry Mom.

On the other hand one of the social aspects that usually give engineers trouble is fashion. The rules keep changing and even worse, no one seems to know why. Look at a typical fashion rule, “Don’t wear white after Labor day.” The first thing an engineer has to do is ask “Why?” What are the consequences? How can I scale the importance of this rule? If my only clean shirt is white and it’s after Labor day, is it better or worse for me to wear a dirty shirt?

I know, I can already hear you saying it’s a stupid rule and I picked it just because no one can defend it. How do you explain the 70’s fashions then?

Engineers look at cause and effect, efficiency and rule sets. I know my computer has a power supply, a processor and memory. I can break each one of those elements into smaller understandable elements. Somewhere around the atomic level, the mechanisms get a little fuzzy to me but I have faith there is a similar unchanging rule set there.

Once I got married my wife carefully explained how to match shirts and slacks. Do you remember the Simpsons episode where Bart was training the dog? It was a lot like that. I know she said something and it made a lot of sense to her. I’ve learned though, now I always ask her opinion before wearing a new shirt and slack combination.

My problem was always socks. Did they match what I was wearing? I had a great collection of single socks because I could never give up hope that the mate might appear someday. That is, until I came up with a typical engineering solution. I bought 12 pair of identical black socks and threw away all my old socks. I can even get dressed in the dark without fear of mismatched socks.  No way to make a mistake, no more unmated socks, I had it made. Of course, I forgot about fashion. When our puppy had shredded enough to force me to replenish, I found out the manufacturer had discontinued that line. Back to sock testing and mismatch concerns.

© Copyright 2012 Byron Seastrunk, All rights Reserved. Written For: Opinion by pen