When presented with a problem I tend to see the solution as a snapshot encompassing the depth and breadth of whatever is presented. What is usually wanted is an answer that is some subset of that snapshot. Naked bear just walked by. Unfortunately, I tend to try spewing out the entire thing and make the answer worse than the original problem.  The solution would be to filter my responses down to the immediate subject at hand. This entails taking what is a full picture and editing out the relevant bits and then pushing those out in a coherent linear sequence. When writing this is more easily done then when talking off the cuff. There I have varying degrees of success. Often the result is my stuttering out the answer as too much information heads for the door at the same time. The other issue is that even if I do limit the information stream  and it comes out it in a somewhat smooth sequence, the sequence is wrong. The result is confusion, not enlightenment. There are times though when I am ‘on’, often when I am tired, and everything just flows. The key would seem to be that when I tired my mind is less active and more pliable to linear thinking. In other words I tend to be more focused, because I have less energy to cast a wide net. How to capture that focus? Bear being chased by rabbit now.  I like letting my mind loose, it is my natural instinct. The act of writing tends to force focus, this piece notwithstanding, so one way would be to only talk off a written script. Churchill was quoted as saying many of his ‘extemporaneous’ speeches came from written preparation. If I remember correctly something on the order of three hours prep for each hour of speech.  While that works for quite a few situations, it not a complete solution. A more concerted effort of pre-editing the information stream would seem to be the general solution. Leave my kitchen sink thoughts to myself. Bear up a tree, rabbit barking. I can see a lot of biting my tongue in the future

Social Networking

A very brief look at social networking now and then and what it means.

Recently I gave a short presentation on the Python package Brewery. At the conclusion of said talk I was so bold as to mention I was thinking of subclassing some of the code to make it work with DBF files. To that end I went to the GitHub repository to fork it and start my work. At the conclusion of the process I went into contemplative mode. The realization struck that the code started with a guy in Bratislava, Slovakia was uploaded to a site hosted somewhere and then downloaded to my computer here in Bellingham, WA. GitHub being the social hub that facilitated the exchange. Now, since I have a restless mind and need to feed it a varied diet I also read histories/biographies on a regular basis, Theodore Roosevelt being the current topic.  Over the past year the subjects covered have included the elucidation of DNA, Einstein, Darwin and the Desert War in WWII.  Much is made of social networking and its impact on the current world(though it would not seem the stock market:)) While I would admit the ease with which people can interact has been significantly improved, I am not sure there is anything truly new or useful going on. In all the books mentioned there where active social networks present. Needless to say the means of interacting where tailored to the technological level of the day.  Though the pace would seem glacial by today’s standards information managed to traverse great distances and human thought progressed.  In fact my feeling is it progressed at higher plane than currently. The speed and relentless persistence of  present information flow seems to preclude the deep and contemplative thought found in the not too distant past.  So the question is the social networking of today really an improvement or just another problem to overcome?

Quantas gripe sheet

Ran across this years back, it still gives me a chuckle:

After every flight, Qantas pilots fill out a form, called a “gripe sheet,” which tells mechanics about the problems with the aircraft.

The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, and then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.  Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor.

Here are some actual maintenance complaints submitted by Qantas’ pilots (marked with a “P”) and the solutions recorded (marked with a “S”) by maintenance engineers.

By the way, Qantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.

P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough.

S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.

P: Something loose in cockpit.

S: Something tightening in cockpit.

P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back-order.

P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent.

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.

P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.

P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That’s what they’re for.

P: IFF inoperative.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

P: Suspected crack in windshield.

S: Suspect you’re right.

P: Number 3 engine missing.

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.

P: Aircraft handles funny.

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.

P: Target radar hums.

S: Reprogramming target radar with lyrics.

P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed.

And the best one for last…

P: Noise coming from under instrument panel.  Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.

S: Took hammer away from midget.