Link to Profile Semperoper, Dresden Sieg (auf dem Siegesäule), Berlin Brandenburg Tor, Berlin Skyline, Frankfurt am Main

Saturday, April 29, 2006

This is not Rocket Science

"You're doing laundry now," asks the Partnerin, as if I am comitting a crime.

"What, I can't do Laundry?" I reply.

"No, it's 1:15 ... it's quiet hours."

Yep. It is a crime here to do laundry, or for that matter do anything that makes more than a whisper of noise. It's OK for the neighbors to start major garden excavations at 07:00, but don't spin the laundry at 13:15.

We were supposed to be out wandering today as part of the Partnerin's 3-Days-of- Holiday-Fun plan, but it was raining, so we cleaned house together because I was too lazy to do it last week. And now that we were into quiet hours, we had to turn to quiet pursuits, like lunch.

Nothing special ... I had Beans & Weenies and she made Haferflocken Porridge. It was time to use up stuff in the cupboard.

I don't know if I subconciously follow Department of Homeland Security advice when I do the shopping, but we have quite an accumulation of durable consumables, and it was time to eat down the stock, even though the apocolypse is not yet upon us. No doubt I will build up the stores again before the apocolypse actually arrives.

And then, over our DHS-approved survival meals, the Partnerin states,

"I want to build a tent over the bed."

I meekly reply.

"Yes, the room is drafty, and I wake up every day with a headache. I want to stop the draft!"

Yes, gentle reader, I know what you are thinking ... just put little foam strips into the window seals. Been there, done that, took pictures, and sent postcards!

And we have tried a number of other approaches. The problem is that as the house subsides due to the invasion of a neighboring tree's roots last year, the walls seem to have become rather porous. No leaks, but clearly a draft.

A tent is a reasonable short-term solution.

But how to do it? In America, land of pre-fab joist and plasterboard construction, drilling a few holes and putting in a few hooks is perhaps a 15 minute job. In Germany this can turn into a day-long ordeal. What I don't want to do is drill holes and put hooks in a very solid German ceiling. I did that once!

This isn't rocket science ... I can do rocket science. In my prior life, I was an aerospace engineer. It is amazing how useful that can be sometimes. The math background made getting an MBA easy. The geek-factor made computers easy to master. But the design and development experience is infinitely useful in things like figuring out how much weight a particular structure will present at several fastening points and how much weight those points will bear.

Even in Germany, you don't need to be an engineer to do this. You can, like America, put up 5 heavy-duty hooks and hang 20 square meters/yards of cloth from them and the job is done in a day ... remember, the drilling part?

I could use one hook to hang a few lightweight mylar "Space Blankets" in place, but the rustling of the material would drive us crazy. No, it had to be proper cloth, but now we had to get into densities and weights of the next order, and that meant multiple fastening points and spreaders and a whole system of weights and loading.

No, now this takes on a greater complexity: How can I maximize the weight bearing capability of a minimal number of fastening points, and simultaneously maximize the insulating benefit while minimizing the actual weight to be held in a semi-rigid structure that also maximizes useable headroom so we don't feel claustrophobic?

When I first started down the geek road, people were still using slide-rules. By the time I got to college, the venerable TI-59 was the the weapon of choice. With either of those things, cloth samples for evaluation and testing, and a ream of paper, I could have this tent designed and ready for prototyping in a day.

With my 1.5 KG, 1.83 GHz, 1GB laptop, MathCad, and internet access to various cloth manufacturer specifications, I had a 3-D model in a matter of minutes. Now we are cooking with gas!

This is proof of two things:

(1) That I need to get a life, and
(2) I've been in Germany too long, as I am now completely over-engineering solutions to the simplest of problems without actually delivering a workable real-world solution.

By the way, it might be easier to simply buy a canopy bed like in the good old days!


Blogger Maribeth said...

Hi Mike, I am rolling on the floor laughing at your entry. Great comic relief. My husband states that while he lived in Germany he found himself out thinking himself often. Is it something in the water? What about insulated drapes?

10:28 PM, April 29, 2006  
Blogger Haddock said...

Maybe get a four poster bed that has drapes. Women tend to go all misty eyed over those type of beds. I don't know why, and I haven't been able to figure it out yet with a slide rule either :)

9:17 AM, April 30, 2006  
Blogger Claire said...

You are also not supposed to do laundry on Sunday. But I do it anyway . . . I am doing it right now . . . I am waiting for the integration police to show up at any minute.

9:42 AM, April 30, 2006  

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