Oops! I Married an Engineer

In Houston, I live in close proximity to NASA and the oil and gas industry. Almost everyone I know is either an engineer, married to one, or has a close family member working in one of these two powerhouse industries. Mr. Rochester is an Aerospace Engineer, literally a rocket scientist. This is both a blessing and a curse.

Engineers are wired differently than the rest of us lesser mortals. Over the years, and many conversations with others who live with an engineer, I have come to realize there are certain things almost all engineers do which drive the rest of the world crazy.

This is why I have decided I should start a support group called Oops! I Married an Engineer. You are eligible for this new group if you have ever caught your significant other exhibiting one of the following characteristics:

  • An explanation, story, or anecdote which would take a normal person 3 minutes to deliver, takes an engineer 30 minutes. This is because the explanation often involves background, charts, graphs, and visual aides. (see below)
  • While telling a story, the engineer produces within seconds color pie charts, line graphs, and to scale mock-ups of the situation using materials they find on hand, including but not limited to sugar packets, silverware, paperclips, rubber bands, and innocent bystanders.
  • When planning a party, the engineer is useless in terms of food preparation and decor, but they will draw you a to scale schematic of where the table, chairs, food, and people should go given your current space dimensions. (Mr. R actually did this for our rehearsal dinner)
  • When asked to communicate anything requiring more than a simple sentence, engineers write entire computer codes or formulas with which to properly convey their idea. (Mr. R has also done this for me)
  • When assembling anything, from dinner to a complicated cabinet from Ikea, they require detailed step by step instructions. Failing to produce a recipe for a meal, even if the meal if as simple as spaghetti, results in the engineer’s head exploding. If an engineer catches you pouring a dab of this or a pinch of that into a pot, they are immobilized by shock that a civilized person can actually cook in that fashion.
  • All the clocks in the engineer’s house are set to within seconds of official NIST time.
  • When told that their spouse wants to join the Oops! I Married an Engineer support group, their response is, “Why? Because it’s so hard to live with someone who is always right?”

Just nod, say, “Yes, of course,” and come have a chat with us. We understand here at Oops! I Married and Engineer that you have attached yourself to a person who is more comfortable with formulas than people and drives you crazy. Relax. Prop your feet up. I promise there will be no charts, graphs, or math during the meetings.

 

Writer’s Devotional: Actions Yell

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:5-9

When my oldest son was about three, he was getting dressed with my husband one morning. He said, “Daddy, I take off my shirt just like you.” He then removed his little t-shirt in an exact imitation of his father. Before that moment, I could not have told you the movements my husband makes when he removes his shirt, but my three year old could. My husband was floored. He knew our sons were watching him but he had no idea how closely they watch every little thing we do.

When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in the desert, He told them to put the words on their hearts. They were to think of them every moment of every day. They were to talk about them with their children. They were to be such a part of their lives that they were like the air they breathed.

God asked this of them because He knew two things, denying yourself and living for the love of God and others is contrary to our nature and thus it is hard. We fail often. Secondly, He knew that their children would be watching.

The Israelites were surrounded by people whose cultures were different and contrary to their own. There were many other people their children could learn from. It was not enough that the parents taught their children the words themselves, they had make their actions match the words.

Love the Lord. Love others. Simple words. Complex actions. Actions our children watch us perform everyday whether we succeed or fail.

For you:

In what area do you find it a challenge to line up your actions with the things you teach your children? Where do you fall short of the love God and love others command?

For your characters:

If your character has/had children, what would they want to pass on to them as fundamental truths about life? Are there things they say they believe, but their actions do not line up? Is there a moment where they realize their hypocrisy and do they take steps to rectify their behavior?

Bouquets of Books

I overheard a man in front of me at the store on Thursday telling the cashier he had spent $80 on flowers for his girlfriend. He was purchasing a gigantic box of chocolate candy and bemoaning the money he would also be spending on dinner the next night.

I realize some women must love overpriced flowers and mediocre chocolates because Valentine’s continues to get crazier every year. I am just not one of them. I spent the evening on Friday, flower and chocolate candy free. I went to the Lego movie with all the boys in my house (it was adorable and hilarious) and then we had milkshakes (I got chocolate). It was a perfect evening out and everyone had fun. No pressure.

I could not help thinking as I watched the man being checked out that if Mr. Rochester came home with $80 flowers for me, I would be furious.

Eighty dollars would buy a lot of books.

Going from Talking Head to Mob Rule, Engineering Edition

Readers, you know I love engineers. I married one, so I know how they love equations, following directions, taking things apart, and the process of things. It makes me completely batty, but I get it. I have now spent almost half my life working around the idiosyncratic ways of Mr. Rochester.

I received an email from a lovely gentleman engineer who will be chairing an engineering conference next year. He wants to shake things up a bit and add some unconference elements to his gathering. He told me they used to do what they called rap sessions, it sounded like birds of a feather to me, but the sessions have evolved into a panel of experts, which he wants to move away from. He also said there was a lot of time where people were just sitting around.

My first thought was, “Bless their hearts. They mean well.” (I am a southern girl, in case any of you have forgotten.) I wrote him a long email, with some decent advice I thought others might find helpful.

If you are facing an especially rigid group that you would like to shake up, here are some ideas from the email I sent:

For groups that have an especially hard time with change or unscheduled elements, planning an unconference type event works best at the beginning of the conference. You can use the session, whatever it is, as a type of ice breaker to get people interacting and engaging before the more structured sessions. If you give people an opportunity to start talking early, chances are high they will keep doing so.

A Birds of a Feather discussion to kick off the conference might be good for your situation. If you want the rap sessions to go back to their roots, small table discussions not led by experts, either be very clear that the format is going retro or rename the session. The problem is getting people to break out of their mold. Clear directions up front will help.

You can also use lightening talks, if the experts still want to have their say. Each talking head gets 5-10 minutes MAX to talk, say 6 speakers in a row. Then the participants break up into small discussion groups of no more than 8 (a round table) and discuss some of the ideas. People can be free to leave groups and join new discussions as they please. This might be a little chaotic, so you might need to add in some structure.

You could also do an AMA (Ask me Anything) like on Reddit. The experts would be there, not to give a talk, but to just answer questions from the audience. There are a lot of techie and nontechie ways to td that, but again, it would give the experts their time while allowing the audience to run the show.

In terms of people sitting around at the tables doing nothing: Is there a way to spark conversation while they are there? Consider labeling the tables with topics and allow people to sit at table that interest them allowing the conversation occur organically.

Don’t be afraid to step out of the accepted way of doing things and do something adventurous!

–Jane, an adventurer

Romance Heroes

I am currently reading Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell. Actually, I am going to set this to post tomorrow and I might have devoured the book by then. If you love romance, you are a scoffer of the genre, or you just do not get it, you must read this book. Now. Go.

It is both hilarious and touching to read how romance has impacted its readership. I am almost halfway through the book and I just finished the section on the top 9 romance heroes. I was a little meh on the list as I read it as none of my favorites were listed, until I got to the top two: Jamie Fraser from Outlander and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. *swoon* Both books are my two favorites of all time and by extension the heroes are two of my favorite as well.

Outlander is one of the books that I bang people over the head with until they read it. When I was in grad school, my roommate, the only other person I had met up until that point that read as much as I did, had never read Outlander. It was too much romance for her and I never did succeed in forcing that book upon her.

However, about a year after I graduated, got a job, and moved to a different city, my friend and former roommate called me. Instead of the usual greeting, she said, “I want to marry Jamie Fraser!” I giggled gleefully, knowing full well the rabbit hole she had fallen into. Honorable, but flawed, men in kilts. Be still my heart.

There are two heroes not on Sarah’s list that are on mine:

Fenris from Castle of the Wolf
I can not tell you all the ways I love this book and its characters. I have reread it almost every year since first discovering it, thanks to the Smart Bitches. Why do I love Fenris? On the surface he is a snarling, uncaring, and crippled beast, but underneath he is a man who wants only to protect his family and live a dignified life (and find love, though of course he does not know THAT… yet). There are so many scenes in the book that reveal the true heartache of the hero and his struggle to be a better man for the heroine, Celia. The main characters strive to be better in different ways because they love their partner enough to want to be worthy of them. Isn’t that really what true love is?

Mr. Rochester from my real life
I am not talking about Mr. Broody Pants on the Moors by Bronte. I am talking about my Mr. Rochester who recently performed the very important quest of rescuing a silver earring from the drain of the sink, the man who refills my beer (that we homebrewed together!), who does the dishes, loves my cooking, calls me out when I am being less than I can/should be, rolls his eyes at my bad jokes, is a total nerd (just like me but in different ways), makes me laugh, is a wonderful dad, and can still kiss me senseless. Every girl should be as lucky as me.

Whoever your favorite romance hero is, I hope you visit him soon, in the pages of your favorite book or when you lay your head next to his at night.

–Jane, everyone needs a little romance

Lust and the New Droid X

After being around everyone at ALA who had shiny phones with internet access and iPads, I have had some serious tecnohlust going on. I would absolutely adore a Droid X, but we can not afford two and Mr. Rochester already assured me we would have to fight for it. He was not joking, but I think he underestimates how dirty I would fight for a Droid.

The Smart Bitches, while usually purveyors of all that is romantic and full of man titty, are some very smart ladies who love their technology. They tend to choose technology for similar reasons that I would and use their tech tools for similar purposes. Sarah reviews her new Driod X phone in a recent post and loves it, because it has some great features and works as a cell phone (unlike the iPhone). This is the review I would have written if I could afford the data plan.

Thanks Sarah, for keeping the tech reviews real and the man titty fresh.

–Jane, wishes she could meet the SBs in person one day

You’re Welcome

I married a man who can be as full of the snark as I am and Lord does that ever make me happy. Today he sent me a link to a CNN article about Apple admitting their iPhones have reception issues. Really? I never knew.

The best thing about the email was that he said not even to read the article. He had wrote a summary for me which I would like to share with you.

Let me translate what Apple says here.

We have been trying to deceive you for years. We tried to make it seem like you had good phone reception by purposely miscalculating the number of bars to display higher than the actual signal strength. We have been doing this since the first iPhone but now that enough people are buying the iPhone 4 the low din of complaints has turned into a loud roar as more and more of you are not the brainwashed fanboys that market our products as genius. So, now that you have discovered our deception, we will no longer ignore our deficient hardware, which can be seen in other smartphones too, by the way. Instead we will spin this as great customer service by releasing a software update that will remove the deceptive calculation of signal strength and now you will be able to tell better how poor your reception is before attempting to make a phone call that you clearly can’t. You’re welcome.

–Jane, no Apple fanboys here

Silly Girls and Vampires

Two interesting articles on vampires came across my sights today.

The first one is an interview with Neil Gaiman (we aren’t worthy!). He talks about the evolution of the vampire motif and what it has meant to fiction during different parts of history. It is brilliant and lovely as only Neil Himself can be.

The second article is one that Mr. Rochester sent to me. It is from the Today Show website and before you click on the link, I should warn you. Their website is so full of social software gunk, pop-ups, and MySpacesque formatting that I almost threw up when it loaded. Who the hell designed that piece of garbage? Tiny icons at the bottom of the article are much preferable to the huge bar taking up all my browser space. But I digress. Sorry.

I can basically sum up the article with a Smart Bitches phrase, TSTL. Bella Swan is Too Stupid To Live. It is a term given to especially annoying and whiny heroines that under any other circumstances (other than a romance novel) would have been killed because of ridiculous choices they make. That or the other characters get so fed up with the TSTL heroine’s antics that they kill her themselves.

Mr. R asked me why women would like that kind of character. I responded with this: Yes, we hate the TSTL ladies of fiction but they represent the fact that (warning broad generalization coming) most women want to things: 1) for someone to think they are special and 2) to be rescued by the said person in above phrase. The TSTL ladies are a perfect foil to the never wrong knight in shining armor (or shiny diamond skin).

Yes, it is archaic. Yes, it is a bit dumb. But the story of the “knight in shinning armor” has appeal for a reason and I think the two statements above are the underlying reasons.

That being said. I prefer heroines who want to be special and rescued, but who also do some rescuing of their own. We can not let the boys have all the fun.

–Jane, hopes she is not TSTL

On Books and Unicorns

Mr. Rochester wrote a post on our family blog about his plans on funding his retirement. The previous post on this blog was my take on our conversation. His is a bit different. While he gets almost everything wrong but the “conferences” part about my book, the rest of his post is very amusing (says his adoring wife, bless his heart). Mr. R is also correct in that my book does not focus on libraries, though I do toot libraryland’s horn a wee bit. You know, because we are so fabulous.

I do like his advice to me on what I should include in my book. He gets most of the cliches perfectly. Perhaps, I should just make him write it.

–Jane, thinks she’d leave out the unicorns… unless they were evil unicorns!