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1965 built, US flagged steamship Pacific Tracker lays at the ready in Portland Oregon, picture by Martin Leduc

The Officer's Lounge
...the nerd (ETO) section

Marine Engineers have a reputation of being direct, methodical, dry - even boorish. After all, spending four hours clearing the 265 pounds of mussels from the strums boxes does, sometimes, give that appearance. The Officer's Lounge on is a little place online for ship's crew to relax and laugh, as we explore marine and engineering lore.
Q: What do engineers use for birth control?
A: Their personalities.

I would like to submit to the rest of the world that, yes being methodical, careful, even maybe - anal, isn't the best of reputation for a profession. But it's the attention to details that makes great engineers. Really, it is !

This area is here to

...and we do that by...


Here a some common machinist terms explained


The following is an actual question given on a University of Washington Chemistry midterm. The answer by one student was so "profound" that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)? Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law (gas cools off when it expands and heats up when it is compressed) or some variant.

One student, however, wrote the following:

First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate that souls are moving into Hell and the rate they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, some religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell.

Since there are more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

This gives two possibilities:

1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

So which is it? If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year, "...that it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then, #2 cannot be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and will not freeze.

The student received the only "A" given.

Computer are down, doing it manually

Marine Engineer

taken from the "Ideal Deckhand Manual"

Product name: Engineer
Product code: r-u-up-2-69
W.H.M.I.S. classification: lower class if any class at all
Material use: Not much use at all

Hazardous ingredients:

avoid injury, keep mouth shutPhysical data:

Reactivity data:

Toxicological properties:

Effects of acute exposure

First aid measures:

Additional info:

In the days of sail, this was not a problem, life was good. Now we have to put up with them until an unmanned engine room comes along. Oh what a happy day that will be.



sausageAt +70F - Black Gang turns on the heat and unpack the thermal underwear.
Deck Crew goes swimming.

At +60F - Black Gang starts turning on the heat.
Deck Crew plants gardens.

At +50F - Black Gang shivers uncontrollably.
Deck Crew sunbathes.

At +40F - Black Gang fingers won't work..
Deck Crew starts wearing T-Shirts with short sleeves.

At +30F - Engine Room coffee freezes.
Deck Gang eat coffee flavored ice cubes.

At +20F - Black Gang dons coats, thermal underwear, gloves, and woolly
Deck Crew throws on a long sleeved T-shirt.

At +15F - Black Gang turns up the heat to full.
Deck Crew has a cookout before it gets cold.

At 0F - Black Gang begins freezing to death...
Deck Crew licks the mast.

At -20F - Black Gang evacuates to Samoa.
Deck Crew puts on a flannel shirt

At -40F - Black Gang fingers and toes disintegrate.
Deck Crew kids are back home selling cookies door to door.

At -60F - Polar bears begin to evacuate the Arctic.
Deck Crew postpones "Winter Survival" classes until it gets cold enough.

At -80F - Mt. St. Helens freezes.
Deck Crew decide to watch some videos instead of fishing.

At -100F - Santa Claus abandons the North Pole.
Deck Crew gets frustrated because they can't thaw the keg.

At -297F - Microbial life no longer survives.
Deck Crew complain about wearing gloves with fingers.

At -460F - ALL atomic motion stops (absolute zero in the Kelvin scale).
Deck Crew starts saying, "Cold 'nuff for ya?"

At -500F - Hell freezes over.
The Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup

That's when things get serious.

How to write 4 in the middle of five

Top Ten Reasons to Date An Engineer

10) They are used to all niters
9) They get to learn what all those buttons on your calculator are for
8) They are always willing to experiment
7) They know how to decrease and increase friction
6) They know all about heat transfer
5) They do it with more torque
4) Engineering couples have better moments
4b) They know how to deal with stress and strain
3) They know how to test their rigid cantilevers
2) "Lubrication, Friction, and Wear" is really a class
And the number one reason to date an engineer....
1) They design and build larger erections





Drinking Trouble-shooting guide

Feet cold and wet. Glass being held at incorrect angle. Rotate glass so that open end points toward ceiling.
Feet warm and wet. Improper bladder control. Stand next to nearest dog, complain about house training.
Drink unusually pale and tasteless. Glass empty. Get someone to buy you another drink.
Opposite wall covered with fluorescent lights. You have fallen over backward. Have yourself lashed to bar.
Mouth contains cigarette butts. You have fallen forward. See above.
Alcohol tasteless, front of your shirt is wet. Mouth not open or glass applied to wrong part of face. Retire to restroom, practice in mirror.
Floor blurred. You are looking through bottom of empty glass. Get someone to buy you another drink.
Floor moving. You are being carried out. Find out if you are being taken to another bar.
Room seems unusually dark. Bar has closed. Confirm home address with bartender.
Taxi suddenly takes on colorful aspect and textures. Alcohol consumption has exceeded personal limitations. Cover mouth.
Everyone looks up to you and smiles. You are dancing on the table. Fall on somebody cushy-looking.
Drink is crystal-clear. It's water. Somebody is trying to sober you up. Punch him.
Hands hurt, nose hurts, mind unusually clear. You have been in a fight. Apologise to everyone you see, just in case it was them.
Don't recognise anyone, don't recognise the room you're in. You've wandered into the wrong party. See if they have free alcohol.
Your singing sounds distorted. The drink is too weak. Have more alcohol until your voice improves.
Don't remember the words to the song. Drink is just right. Play air guitar.


Did you know...

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4' 8.5". That is an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used?

It is because that was the way railways were built in England, and British expatriates built the US railroads.

So why did the English build them like that?
This is because the first rail lines were constructed by the same people who built the pre-railroad horse drawn tramways, and that is the gauge they used.

Why did they use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons.

Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd width between the wheels?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would not match the ruts on the old, long distance highways.

So who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which became the standard rut. Otherwise your wagon would not fit and would break. And long before the EU, it was the same standard for the whole of Europe. The USA standard railroad gauge of 4' 8.5" is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

And why did the Imperial Roman war chariots come up with this standard size?
Easy. So that two Imperial Roman horses could fit into the shafts of an Imperial Roman war chariot (or the back end of two war horses if you prefer).

Now the twist to the story...

When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made in a factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.

The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses' behinds.

So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's rear.

And you thought you had trouble with standardization!

Irish email virus

Bush's WMD

At New York's Kennedy airport today, an individual later discovered to be a public school teacher was arrested trying to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule, and a calculator. At a morning press conference, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he believes the man is a member of the notorious al-gebra movement. He is being charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. Al-gebra is a fearsome cult," Ashcroft said. "They desire average solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute value. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns', but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philosopher Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle'." When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said: "If God had wanted us to have better weapons of math instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes."

back ordered



Baby, dont hertz me no moreElectricity Lesson

Now that the Leckys and ROs are to be joined to form the mighty green empire and have all been sent off to college to learn each other's jobs it has been noted that there is a shortage of both in the fleet.
As a stopgap, Hedgehog House in its infinite wisdom has decided to train some of our engineering friends in the ways of electricity. The following is an extract from the course.


There are two types of electricity, red electricity, used for heating and light, and black electricity, used for fridges and freezers. Both types flow along wires, which are colored to show the type of electricity they carry. Some wires are fatter than others and the fatter the wire the faster the electricity flows. If the red and black terminals (outlets) are connected together the red electricity tries to heat up the black and the black tries to cool the red. Sometimes a few sparks occur when this happens, a good test for the presence of electricity is to short out the terminals with your shifter or oil can and see if there are any sparks. You can sometimes feel the red electricity flowing as the shifter heats up. On other occasions neither the red nor the black win outright but first one wins then the other and a sort of see saw effect occurs. This is called the alternative current and because it moves we use it to drive motors.

As every schoolboy knows, you get electricity when you brush your hair. Generators consist of a number of brushes that sweep past hair as they rotate. A lot of wear occurs. Which explains why Leckys and Ros go bald prematurely from carrying out first line maintenance and why brushes have to be replaced. However, modern generators now use black ebony rods stroking against sheets of silk (the so-called brushless generator). Electricity from these generators is not red or black but, in fact, green (unleaded) and it is this type of electricity that you see on the screen of an oscilloscope. Once generated we can store electricity in batteries and the size of the battery depends on how hard the electricity in it is compressed. 'Wet' batteries, like those in cars, tend to be bulky and heavy and so to save space we dry the electricity, in the same way steam is super saturated, and store it in dry batteries used in torches.

Electrical safety depends on stopping the currents escaping from the wires. Any holes in the covering of wires should be blocked off and this explains why modern sockets have shutters over the holes to prevent the electricity pouring out over the carpet when there is no plug in the socket. It also explains why on board ship, that under the emergency connections in Compartments there is a fire bucket so that any current leaking out will be caught safely and extinguished. Finally. Increasing the fuse rating or doubling the fuse wire does not make the kettle boil faster at smoko.

low coffee

How many engineers to change a light bulb ....what do our engineers say ?

How many first year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That's a second year subject.

How many second year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
One, but the rest of the class copies the report.

How many third year engineering students does it take to change a light bulb?
"Will this question be on the final exam?"

How many civil engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two. One to do it and one to steady the chandelier.

How many electrical engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
None. They simply redefine darkness as the industry standard.

How many computer engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
"Why bother? The socket will be obsolete in six months anyway."

How many mechanical engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five. One to decide which way the bulb ought to turn, one to calculate the force required, one to design a tool with which to turn the bulb, one to design a comfortable-but functional- hand grip, and one to use all this equipment.

How many nuclear engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Seven. One to install the new bulb and six to figure out what to do with the old one

How many Industrial / Manufacturing Engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Five, 1 to do a time and motion study on the process, 1 to do the costing, 1 to design and fabricate a fixture to hold the bulb, 1 to get management approval before proceeding, 1 to negotiate with the union for installation .

How many Safety Engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
Six, 1 to look at the ergonomics of unscrewing and replacing the bulb, 1 to inspect the ladder and decide whether or not it meets industry standards, 1 to review ASTM ZZ234.98.67.84 � Bulbs, Light, Installation before proceeding, 1 to install the lockout / tagout devices, 1 to secure the ladder and ensure that all safety procedures have been signed off, 1 to change the bulb.

Army Pipe Specification

couldnt resist

Engineers - for non technical people

People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the non-technical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations.

This chapter will teach you everything you need to know. I learned their customs and mannerisms by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.

Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.

Engineer Identification Test.

You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...

  1. Straighten it.
  2. Ignore it.
  3. Buy a C.A.D. system and spend the next six months designing a solar-powered, self-adjusting picture frame while often stating aloud your belief that the inventor of the nail was a total moron.

The correct answer is "C", but partial credit can be given to anybody who writes "it depends" in the margin of the test or simply blames the stupid thing on "marketing".

Social Skills.

dont fix for freeEngineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction. "Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:

In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:

Fascination with Gadgets.

To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories: (1) things that need to be fixed, and (2) things that will need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them. Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems. "Normal" people don't understand this concept; they believe that if it ain't broke don't fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

No engineer looks at a television remote control without wondering what it would take to turn it into a stun gun. No engineer can take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon coating would make showering unnecessary. To the engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.

Fashion and Appearance

Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.

Love of "Star Trek"

Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television show and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers of the starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms.

Dating and Social Life

Dating is never easy for engineers. A "normal" person will employ various indirect and duplicitous methods to create a false impression of attractiveness. Engineers are incapable of placing appearance above function.

Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They are widely recognized as superior marriage material: intelligent, dependable, employed, honest and handy around the house. While it's true that many "normal" people would prefer not to date an engineer, most "normal" people harbour an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineer-like children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their virginity.

Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness later than "normal" men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid-thirties to late-forties. Just look at these examples of sexually irresistible men in technical professions:

Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent and remain that way until about thirty minutes after their clinical death. Longer if it's a warm day.


Engineers are always honest in matters of technology and human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests, and other people who can't handle the truth.
Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They say things that sound like lies but technically are not because nobody could be expected to believe them. The complete list of engineer lies is listed below:


Engineers are notoriously frugal. This is not because of cheapness or mean spirit; it is simply because every spending situation is simply a problem in optimization, that is, "How can I escape this situation while retaining the greatest amount of cash?"

Powers of Concentration

If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the complete exclusion of everything else in the environment. This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started checking resumes before processing the bodies. Anybody with a degree in electrical engineering or experience in computer programming is propped up in the lounge for a few days just to see if he or she snaps out of it.


Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. This is understandable, given that when an engineer makes one little mistake, the media will treat it like it's a big deal or something.

draft drinksExamples of bad press for engineers.

The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:

Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good thing. The best way to avoid risk is by advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain. If that approach is not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defence: "It's technically possible but it will cost too much."


Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers:

The fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to declare that the problem is unsolvable. No engineer can walk away from an unsolvable problem until it is solved. No illness or distraction is sufficient to get the engineer off the case. These types of challenges quickly become personal - a battle between the engineer and the laws of nature.

Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to solve a problem (other times just because they forgot). And when they succeed in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better than sex - and I'm including the kind of sex where other people are involved.

Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that somebody has more technical skill. "Normal" people sometimes use that knowledge as a lever to extract more work from the engineer. When an engineer says that something can't be done (a code phrase that means it's not fun to do), some clever "normal" people have learned to glance at the engineer with a look of compassion and pity and say something along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out. He knows how to solve difficult technical problems."

At that point it is a good idea for the "normal" person to not stand between the engineer and the problem. The engineer will set upon the problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.

Turning on an engineer


Chocolate Chip Cookies.
1. 532.35 cm3 gluten.
2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3.
3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite.
4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride.
5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11.
6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11.
7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of proto catechuic aldehyde.
8. Two calcium carbonate-en-capsulated avian albumen-coated protein.
9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao.
10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size 10).

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor 1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 BTU/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation.

In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impellor operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six and seven until the mixture is homogenous. To reactor 2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogenous mixture in reactor 1. Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation.

Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extrude attached to a 4" nodulizer, place the mixture piecemeal on 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm).

Heat in a 460K oven for a period that agrees with Frank & Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.


The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.
- Albert Einstein



1- Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
2- Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
3- There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.
4- The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
5- A shark is the only fish that can blink with both eyes.
6- There are more chickens than people in the world.
7- The longest one-syllable word in the English language is "screeched."
8- On a Canadian two-dollar bill, the flag flying over the Parliament building is an American flag.
9- All of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.
10- No word in the English language rhymes with month, orange, silver or purple.
11- "Dreamt" is the only English word that ends in the letters "mt".
12- Almonds are a member of the peach family.
13- There are only 4 words in the English language which end in "dous": tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.
14- A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
15- An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain.
16- Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
17- In most advertisements, the time displayed on a watch is 10:10.
18- Al Capone's business card said he was a used furniture dealer.
19- The characters Bert & Ernie on Sesame Street were named after Bert the cop and Ernie the taxi driver in Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life."
20- A dragonfly has a life span of 24 hours.
21- A goldfish has a memory span of 3 seconds.
22- It's impossible to sneeze with your eyes open
23- The giant squid has the largest eyes ! in the world.
24- In England, the Speaker of the House is not allowed to speak.
25- The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket.
26- The average person falls asleep in 7 minutes.
27- There are 336 dimples on a regulation golf ball
28- The average human eats 8 spiders in their lifetime at night.
29- A cockroach can live nine days without its head before it starves to death.
30- A polar bear's skin is black. Its fur is not white, but actually clear.
31- Elvis had a twin brother named Aaron, who died at birth, which is why Elvis' middle name was spelled Aron: in honour of his brother. It is also misspelled on his tomb stone.
32- Donald Duck comics were banned in Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
33- More people are killed by donkeys annually than are killed in plane crashes.
34- Stewardesses is the longest word typed with only the left hand.
35- Shakespeare invented the words "assassination" and "bump."
36- Marilyn Monroe had 6 toes on one foot.
37- If you keep a goldfish in the dark room, it will eventually turn white.
38- Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
39- Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people do.
40- The sentence "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" uses every letter in the English language.
41- The names of the continents all end with the same letter with which they start.
42- TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters on only one row of the keyboard.
43- The word racecar and kayak are the same whether they are read left to right or right to left. So is Glenelg.
44- A snail can sleep for 3 years.
45- American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987! by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class.
46- The electric chair was invented by a dentist.
47- Vatican City is the smallest country in the world with a population of 1,000 and a size of 108.7 acres.
48- "I am." is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
49- No president of the United states was an only child.
And last and definitely most important:
50- The average chocolate bar has 8 insects' legs in it.


Have you got the Knack ?
If you're here, maybe you do. Have a listen...





Remember it takes a college degree to fly a plane, but only a high school diploma to fix one;
a reassurance to those of us who fly routinely in our jobs.


ENGINEERING and MANUFACTURING definitions for corporate communications:


" I'm a horny engineer... i never joke about math or sex "
- Wolowizt, Big Bang Theory

Root beer

Other Areas of the Officer's Lounge Other areas of
- Play practical jokes on unsuspecting mates - Top of page
- Telling jokes - Officer's Lounge
- Learning about seafaring lore and culture - The Common Rail - our forum
- Telling funny stories about seafaring - The Monitor - our blog

- Learn about "nerdy" stuff

- @dieselduckster on Twitter
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