Citizen of the Year

Anne is Awarded MRH Citizen of the Year

Anne is Awarded MRH Citizen of the Year

Last night was a big night in the RegenAxe household. We went to the school district’s annual awards banquet that was held at the golf clubhouse in Forest Park. Anne was named Citizen of the Year by the Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District. She was awarded this honor for personal dedication to the school district and the community at least that is what her plaque says. Actually, I can’t count the number of teachers and administrators that told me how great she is, like I really didn’t already know it and they were telling me something new. Our longtime friend, Nelson, and now school board member presented the award. He extolled the years that she has substitute taught in the district, the years of long-range planning committee work that she has done and her tireless campaigning for numerous school bond issues and tax propositions.

Anne had prepared an acceptance speech that had an Academy Awards theme to it, “Thank you members of the Academy, I mean school district.” This opening line was paired with a closing one that after enumerating her many school accomplishments ended with, “I think that I hear the music, so I’ll get off the stage now.” That was her rehearsed speech, instead she went ad-lib and successfully joked, “I was a street-walker for MRH”, referring to her many tax and bond issue campaigns. She got a lot of laughs with this line.

There were a couple of hundred attendees there. They were all district stakeholders, or like me spouses. Most of them were her fellow teachers. After dinner, the first awards that were handed out were the service awards, for five, ten and fifteen years of district service. Most of the people who received awards, received one of these. Then it was on to the main event, which was followed by recognition of the retiring faculty. 

Anne was first up among these main awards. Next came the Volunteer of the Year, Family of the Year and an award for the Spirit of MRH. Each school named their Teacher of the Year, ending with the overall District Teacher of the Year. Her acceptance speech really did need some move along music, like in the Academy Awards, but she ended with a funny story. When she learned of this honor, she told her young daughter about it. The daughter seemed rather nonplussed about the award. The next day, the daughter asked her mother, “Who is going to be Teacher of the Year today?”

A River Runs Through It

Design Your Own New Airplane

Design Your Own New Airplane

This week Boeing stood up a new website that allows you to design your own new airplane. This Flash app gives you the tools to create your own colorful paint scheme. The above photo is of my creation and features a 747 outfitted with a yellow jacket like livery. This website will be up through May.

In family news, Dan worked his first week as an Otis College of Art and Design librarian. Dave filed his taxes and with the money from his refund he is going to Costa Rica next month. We filed our taxes already too, but we have to pay more taxes, so we won’t be going anywhere. Anne got some excellent news today that I would love to tell you about, but for the time being, I’m under a gag order.

The it in this post’s title is our basement. Everytime there is a substantial rain, water begins to seep into the basement. If it is a flash downpour, then the water shows up quickly. If the storm is a slow and steady soaker, then the water takes longer to appear. The water is restricted to just one quadrant of the basement, so I originally thought that the problem was that one of our four gutter downspouts was clogged, but the gutters are less than a year old and they are not supposed to clog. We’ve had the gutter company, the plumber that replaced our sewer line and our neighbor the architect out to look at this problem. They all left head scratching. After a wet winter and a wet spring, this has gotten rather annoying.

Breaking Bad

The IBM Punch Card Building - Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center

The IBM Punch Card Building – Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Center

Yesterday, Anne was able to regale me with two stories of people behaving badly. Today, I was able to try to one up her with a story of one of my co-workers breaking bad. The company routinely provides coffee pots, refrigerators and microwaves so that employees can drink coffee, safely store perishable foods and then reheat them. Some employees riff on this motif and bring in personal tea kettles, juicers and even a gelato machine, I kid you not. These appliances are frowned on, they can become fire hazards. More frequently, their use can throw a circuit breaker, necessitating the call for an electrician to reset the breaker within the locked cabinet. The loss of power and subsequent delay can lead to loss productivity, but such difficulties are only an occasional impediment to normal cube farm life. The incident that occurred today at work goes way beyond the pale though.

According to news reports, it started with a fire alarm. The fire department was called. They discovered the problem, chemicals that were later identified as precursors to making meth. This incident occurred in an office environment, in the building across the street from mine. The police were called, an employee arrested and the chemicals disposed of. Nothing in the news reports indicate that any meth cooking occurred, but I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that was going on in a cubical near mine.

I’ve gotten Anne’s approval to relate one of the two stories that she told me yesterday. The other one is too tragic to tell, but sadly, it easily tops mine. This one involved an adult who photo-shopped a picture of a child, by putting dog poop over his head. The photo was captioned, S***-Head. This adult is gone. Anne said, “Just because you work with children is no excuse to act like one.”

Corrections and clarifications: I spoke with one of my co-workers who knew about the story that Anne told me. He vouched for the individual and said that nothing like that happened. It was a much more mundane personnel matter.

Let Your Fingers Do The Walking

Today was a doubleheader of good financial news. No, I’m not talking about the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500 and their record highs. No, I’m talking about my brother Chris who sold a couple of pictures and Dan who got a job.

Monterey Yellow Pages Cover

Monterey Yellow Pages Cover

My brother Chris sold two of his photographs this month. He sold them to Valley Yellow Pages. One photograph depicts McAbee Beach at historic Cannery Row. This photo will cover the Monterey edition of the Valley yellow pages. The other photograph covers the Carmel edition of the Valley yellow pages. It depicts Mission Carmel. Chris got $200 for each picture.

Carmel Yellow Pages Cover

Carmel Yellow Pages Cover

Dan announced that he got a job today, with a Facebook photo post of his new employee parking pass. He will start work as a librarian for the Otis College of Art and Design. This work with a regular paycheck will help out financially and will still allow him time to work on his art. This is a good thing, because he has three more tables to make.

Seattle Sunshine

Seattle Skyline

Seattle Skyline

With the photo for this post, I’m reaching back towards a sunnier, happier day. This photograph was taken last September, near the end of a summer long drought in Seattle. It was a brilliantly sunny and warm day. Was this week in Saint Louis sunny and warm too? Not so much.

It has been grey all week-long. Occasionally, the unrelenting grey was punctuated with falling precipitation, running the gambit in form. It has been a long dull week, with only a couple of events of note to report. The first one, was a good one, I received my bonus. Our bonuses are calculated as a function of our base pay, influenced by how well the company did last year. The company had a very good year lat year. The current hub-bub about the 787 will be reckoned with next February. So, consequently bonuses were very good too. Unfortunately for me, I had already effectively flushed my money down the toilet last fall, when I had a new sewer line put in. The money did a touch-and-go today in my bank account.

The other notable event for this week is the sequester. This event has no promise of goodness, but so far, it doesn’t look like it will have any immediate negative effects. We are still hiring. My boss was in Seattle today, to greet a new employee on his first day. Also, in his stead, one of my other co-workers interviewed another prospect.

The fact that both events occurred on a Friday is an artifact of our company’s culture. We are a company composed of and ruled by engineers. But it is the bean counters, the accountants, who really rule the roost. Our work week begins on a Friday and ends on a Thursday, all so the bean counters can balance the week’s books, without having to work Saturdays. Personally, I kind of like this arrangement. It makes Thursday feel like a faux end of the work week, speeding the arrival of the approaching weekend.

I was wondering how I would wrap up this post, when Anne called out a relevent factoid. In 1900 engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River.  Prior to its reversal, hundreds of people were dying in the City of Broad Shoulders each year. At that time, sewage from the Chicago River was flowing into Lake Michigan and contaminating the city’s drinking water. The Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal preserved the city’s water and provided a route from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River basin. The relevance of this factoid comes with our planned trip to the Windy City. Of course there is just one little downside to this engineering feat, Chicago’s waste is now sent south to us in Saint Louis.

Engineers Week

Monorail Beam and the Exterior of the EMP Museum

Monorail Beam and the Exterior of the EMP Museum

OMG, I forgot all about Engineers Week last week. I should have been dancing in the streets! The one week out of the year, when me and my kind of people are honored. By my kind of people I mean, engineers. Yes, we are a subtype. If you ever had any doubts about this, come by the plant at quitting time and watch my folk as they exit the building. It is a geek show. When I say honored, I mean we recognized ourselves. This is pretty much like what Hollywood did with their Academy Awards last weekend, except in our case, no one else was watching.

“We built it”, was a campaign slogan last year. It is a tautology among the engineering community, because we really do build it all. Be it planes, trains or automobiles, or water, power and light, America could not function one day without its engineers.

Oh, when the engineers go marching in
Oh, when the engineers go marching in
I want to be in that number
when the engineers go marching in

I’ve worked thirty-three years as an engineer. I’ve done automotive and aerospace engineering. I’ve even dabbled in civil engineering, but all that please and thank you manners, was too much for me. I much prefer a technical conversation peppered with cuss words. Especially, when it is with the modern female engineer, like some of the people I work with now. They are as ably competent cussing you out over a slipped schedule, as any manager that I have known.

I am a third generation engineer, like my father before and like his father before him. My son, Dave, is now a fourth generation engineer and a Boiler Maker to boot. I wonder how long this line can go unbroken?

The photograph with this post is the perfect blend of art and engineering. Seattle’s monorail line, with its clear, crisp lines runs like a slash across the photo. Contrasting nicely, is the wavering exterior of the EMP Museum. Together they combine to become a metaphor for the complementary nature of art and science. My two sons, Dave the engineer and Dan the artist also complement each other well. They are almost like yin and yang to each other, in so many ways.