This weekend we had a cookout here and a number of the guests were engineers, like my husband.
There are many benefits to being around engineers, such as the fact that they generally tend to know exactly where you are, where you need to be, and the absolute best way to get you there.
And then again there can also be some personality conflicts, especially if you personally are possessed of a non-engineer kind of mind. Like the time that my husband and I went to Germany with his family. He and his dad are both engineers. I, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law? Not so much. We had a lot of conversations like this.
We are all riding on the train.
We women: “So, how many kilometers is it until our next stop?”
My husband: “About 50.”
We women: “Do you think we might be able to find a drink with some ice there?”
My father-in-law: (wielding a sheaf of detailed maps, a calculator, a slide rule, and a stopwatch all at once) “No! It is exactly 47.975 kilometers until our next stop. At which point we will have exactly 6.025 seconds and only 6.025 seconds to walk from Platform 9 to Platform 17 and catch our next train. No ice for you!”
Or the time that we were entertaining another group of friends, 7 of whom were engineers, and yet not one of them was able to stop our oven control panel from beeping, beeping, beeping, beeping, My God! The beeping! Make it stop! And so they had to fall back on tripping the circuit breaker. (Their excuse? “We’re mechanical engineers, not electrical engineers.” Which is totally a lame-o cop out if I ever heard one, but whatever.)
So anyway these engineers were here this weekend, and one of them started talking about something called the “coefficient of friction” which, according to Wikipedia is “a dimensionless scalar value which describes the ratio of the force of friction between two bodies and the force pressing them together.”
He was describing a table he’d seen that gives values for the coefficient of friction between different materials, such as steel on steel, steel on aluminum, etc. And just as I was getting ready to completely tune out I heard him say this:
“And they actually had a value for the coefficient of friction for steel on steel that has been lubricated with bull semen.”