My wife recently had me take an Enneagram test. I'm apparently a type 9, the Peacemaker, “the easygoing, self-effacing type.” My wife is a pastor and it’s possible that clergy folk take a bit more stock in personality types than others, but I find it fascinating as well - mostly as a method to see myself in relation to others or, as they put it, view relationships in type combinations. Also, it’s certainly enticing to feel as though we have an immediate understanding about ourselves.
My former employer administered the MBTI and even held a day long training as a follow up, and let’s just say that I’ve always found that my personality (tests aside) differs strongly from my engineering colleagues. Although I’d rather not spiral into an existential crisis over it, I can’t say I haven’t questioned how I ended up in the engineering world. Maybe it’s a form of imposter syndrome that creeps in during an overwhelming sense of otherness, but I think this type of diversity is often missing in STEM. For that reason maybe my point is that in our stereotype ridden, white male dominated field, we’re often missing out on the input from those of us who “shouldn’t” be engineers.
But I’ve resolved to assert that, in fact, none of this matters. Peacemakers - and all types - belong here.
Planning & Strategy.
- Disney’s Mosquito Surveillance Program (from 2020-08-31) got me thinking about their public response to COVID-19, which has largely been to prioritize safety over profits - though anecdotal evidence on Twitter underlines the difficulty in truly enforcing social distancing requirements. This article details just what precautions are being taken during reopenings in Florida and around the world; In Shanghai, the usual face coverings and temperature checks are paired with a required “QR code on a government-affiliated health-tracking app to prove they are clear of the coronavirus.”
- My favorite COVID-19 tracker was created by a 17-year old who refused to take $8 million to put ads on his site because “he doesn't want to be a profiteer.” Oh, and he also created a 2020 protest tracker.
- Further discovery of water on mars and Earth’s impending doom reminds me that I may actually need to read How to Live in Space.
Making & Manufacturing.
- A good video montage of an at-home acoustic guitar build. Three years ago I ambitiously decided to take on an acoustic guitar making project, and I am only slightly embarrassed to say that I’ve only made it to about the video’s 5 minute mark.
- Matt Benedetto is the inventor behind “Unnecessary Inventions” - products that solve problems that don’t exist. In my opinion the Not Hot Blanket is reminiscent of the usefulness of the snuggie.
- A particularly satisfying video of a master skillfully making a Yixing teapot.
- The American prison industrial complex is a monstrosity masquerading as a means of teaching vocational skills and reducing recidivism. Prisoners make pennies on the dollar and are now being used to manufacture PPE; their lives are put on the line when they train and serve to fight wildfires. And still, rejoining the general population upon release is no easy feat: Prisoner disenfranchisement restrictions typically bar formerly incarcerated folks from jobs as firefighters. Recently, though, inmate firefighters in California have been given a chance to “expunge their records and have their parole waived because of their time as firefighters.”
- We have Japanese industrial engineer Shiego Shingo to thank for our understanding of the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing tools like kaizen, jidoka and (my favorite) poka yoke. His book Zero Quality Control provides examples of the poka yoke method that strive for absolute perfection and excellence in design.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- A good explainer on the Compagnons du Devoir, a French society of craftspeople and artisans which dates back to medieval times. When Notre Dame caught fire last year, I wondered who might help complete the restorations; turns out that the Compagnons du Devoir, were called to rebuild and train new apprentices for the prestigious task.
- 1 in 3 of America’s bridges are structurally deficient and it would take 50 years to fix them. See also this fun map showing the county-by-county rate of structurally deficient bridges.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A comprehensive report detailing the significant role of the transportation industry in human trafficking. This largely narrative report made me wonder how the human trafficking network might look on a map; this (somewhat glitchy but still interesting) map gives a good visual.
- In July, USDOT issued new guidance on funding for “non-traditional and emerging transportation,” much of which seems aimed at Hyperloop rollout. I remember blissfully hoping that Hyperloop and Elon Musk would revolutionize travel back in 2012; hopefully this will bring it a little closer to reality.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- My family and I moved to the Detroit metro area this past February, just in time for the global pandemic to destroy any chance we had at a normal life in our new home. When we visited Flint just to get out of the house this spring, all I could think about was that much of the city *still* doesn’t have clean water: 90% of the pipe replacement project is complete, but COVID-19 has compounded the effects on Flint residents.
- During Tuesday night’s debate Trump claimed that a COVID-19 vaccine was weeks away. Although headway is rapidly being made, the administration's Operation Warp Speed exaggerates availability for the general public and is, in fact, causing vaccine hesitancy even outside of the anti-vax community.
- Nike Vaporfly shoes are borderline magic. The winners of the 2018 and 2019 world marathons largely wore Nike Vaporflys, and runners are even ditching their sponsor’s shoes to run in blacked-out Vaporflys instead.