Badly Engineered Jim

Hot air balloonist Queen Annie (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am." The woman below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist.

"I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip."

The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."


Flight Maintainance Log

Never let it be said that ground crews and engineers lack a sense of humor.

Here are some actual logged maintenance complaints by QANTAS pilots and the corrective action recorded by mechanics. By the way Quantas is the only major airline that has never had an accident.

(P stands for the problem the pilots entered in the log, and S stands for the corrective action taken by the mechanics.)

P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement.

S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.


P: Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.

S: Autoland not installed on this aircraft. 


P: Something loose in cockpit.

S: Something tightened in cockpit.


P: Dead bugs on windshield.

S: Live bugs on back order.


P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-fpm descent.

S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.


P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.

S: Evidence removed.


P: DME volume unbelievably loud.

S: DME volume set to more believable level.


P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.

S: That's what they're there for!


P: IFF inoperative.

S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.


P: Suspected crack in windscreen.

S: Suspect you're right.


P: Number 3 engine missing. (note: this was for a piston-engined airplane; the pilot meant the engine was not running smoothly)

S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.


P: Aircraft handles funny.

S: Aircraft warned to straighten up, fly right, and be serious.


P: Radar hums.

S: Reprogrammed radar with words.


P: Mouse in cockpit.

S: Cat installed

Engineer's Choice (Queen Annie, Baton Rouge)

A Purdue engineering student was walking across campus when another engineer rides up on a shiny new motorcycle.

"Where did you get such a great bike?" asked the first.

The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business when a beautiful woman rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes and said, 'Take what you want. ' "

The second engineer nodded approvingly, "Good choice; The clothes probably wouldn't have fit."

How Specs Live Forever
The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's 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, which used that wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that's the spacing of the
old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United State's standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.

Specs and Bureaucracies live forever. So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

Three Golfers

A pastor, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers.

Engineer: What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!

Doctor: I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!

Pastor: Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him. [dramatic pause] Hi George. Say, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?

George: Oh, yes, that's a group of blind fire fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime.

The group was silent for a moment.

Pastor: That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.

Doctor: Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them.

Engineer: Why can't these guys play at night?



1. A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT APPROACHES ARE BEING TRIED - We are still pissing in the wind.
3. CLOSE PROJECT COORDINATION - We know who to blame.
4. MAJOR TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGH - It works (sort of), but looks VERY hi-tech.
5. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION IS DELIVERED/ASSURED- We are so far behind schedule the customer is happy to just get it delivered.
6. PRELIMINARY OPERATIONAL TESTS WERE INCONCLUSIVE - The damn thing blew up when we threw the switch.
7. THE RESULTS WERE EXTREMELY GRATIFYING - We are surprised that the stupid thing works at all.
- The only person who understood the thing quit yesterday.
9. IT IS IN THE PROCESS - It is so wrapped up in red tape that the situation is hopeless.
10. WE WILL LOOK INTO IT - Forget it! We have enough problems already without you adding to them.
11. PLEASE NOTE AND INITIAL - Let's spread the responsibility for a possible screw up.
12. GIVE US THE BENEFIT OF YOUR THINKING - We will listen to what you have to say as long as it doesn't interfere with what we've already done.
13. GIVE US YOUR INTERPRETATION - I can't wait to get a load of this bullshit!
14. SEE ME or LET'S DISCUSS - I really don't give a rip but I'll pretend to listen!
15. ALL NEW!! - Parts not interchangeable with the previous design. In software: no backward compatibility.
16. RUGGED - Too damn heavy to lift.
17. LIGHTWEIGHT - Slightly lighter than RUGGED.
18. YEARS OF DEVELOPMENT - Whew, one finally worked!
19. ENERGY-SAVING - Achieved when the power switch is set to OFF.
20. LOW-MAINTENANCE - Impossible to fix if it ever breaks.

THE ENGINEER'S SONG (Karel C.; Houston, TX)

Sung to the tune of The Ballad of Jed Clampett

Come and listen to a story bout a man named Jed,

A poor college kid barely kept his family fed,

But then one day he was talking to a recruiter,

He said "They'll pay ya big bucks if ya work on a computer",

VAX that is ... CRT's ... Workstations;

Well the first thing ya know ol' Jed's an Engineer,

The kinfolk said "Jed move away from here",

They said "NASA is the place ya oughta be",

So he bought some donuts and moved to Webster,

Gemini that is ... humidity ... no medical plan;

On his first day at work they stuck him in a cube,

Fed him more donuts and sat him at a tube,

They said "Your project's late but we know just what to do,

Instead of 40 hours, we'll work you fifty-two!"

OT that is ... Unpaid ... Mandatory

The weeks rolled by and things were looking bad,

Some schedules slipped and some managers were mad,

They called another meeting and decided on a fix,

The answer was simple, "We'll work him sixty-six"

Tired that is ... Stressed out ... No social life

Months turned into years and his hair was turning gray,

Jed worked hard while his life slipped away,

Waiting to retire when he turned sixty-four,

Instead he got a call and they escorted him out the door,

Laid-off that is ... Debriefed ... Unemployed ...

Notice to Engineering Personnel (Dr. Astro-Psycho Pam, Phoenix)

Re: Foul Language

Dear Engineering Staff:

It has been brought to management's attention that engineers throughout the company have been using foul language during the course of normal conversation with non-engineering coworkers. Due to complaints received from employees who are easily offended, this type of language will no longer be tolerated. We do however, realize the critical importance of being able to accurately express one's feelings when communicating with coworkers. Therefore, a list of "TRY SAYING" new phrases has been provided so that proper exchange of ideas and information can continue in an effective manner without risk of offending our more sensitive employees.

TRY SAYING: Perhaps I can work late.
INSTEAD OF: And when the fuck do you expect me to do this?

TRY SAYING: I'm certain that isn't feasible.
INSTEAD OF: No fucking way.

INSTEAD OF: You've got to be shitting me!

TRY SAYING: Perhaps you should check with...
INSTEAD OF: Tell someone who gives a shit.

TRY SAYING: I wasn't involved in the project.
INSTEAD OF: It's not my fucking problem.

TRY SAYING: That's interesting.
INSTEAD OF: What the fuck?

TRY SAYING: I'm not sure this can be implemented.
INSTEAD OF: This shit won't work.

TRY SAYING: I'll try to schedule that. (Kevin H. slogan to practice)
INSTEAD OF: Why the hell didn't you tell me sooner?

TRY SAYING: He's not familiar with the issues.
INSTEAD OF: He's got his head up his ass.

TRY SAYING: Excuse me sir?
INSTEAD OF: Eat shit and die.

TRY SAYING: So you weren't happy with it?
INSTEAD OF: Kiss my ass.

TRY SAYING: I'm a bit overloaded at the moment.
INSTEAD OF: Fuck it, I'm on salary.

TRY SAYING: I don't think you understand.
INSTEAD OF: Shove it up your ass.

TRY SAYING: I love a challenge.
INSTEAD OF: This job sucks.

TRY SAYING: You want me to take care of that?
INSTEAD OF: Who the hell died and made you boss?

INSTEAD OF: Blow me.

TRY SAYING: He's somewhat insensitive.
INSTEAD OF: He's a prick.

TRY SAYING: She's an aggressive go-getter.
INSTEAD OF: She's a ball-busting bitch.

TRY SAYING: I think you could use more training.
INSTEAD OF: You don't know what the fuck you're doing.

Thank you,
Human Resources

Statements from the Technologically Incompetent

(No! No! That's the Technologically Challenged)

1. I worked with an individual who plugged their power strip back into itself and for the life of
them could not understand why their computer would not turn on.

2. 1st Person: "Do you know anything about this fax-machine?"

2nd Person: "A little. What's wrong?"

1st Person: "Well, I sent a fax, and the recipient called back to say all she received was a
cover-sheet and a blank page. I tried it again, and the same thing happened."

2nd Person: "How did you load the sheet?"

1st Person: "It's a pretty sensitive memo, and I didn't want anyone else to read it by accident,
so I folded it so only the recipient would open it and read it."

3. I recently saw a distraught young lady weeping beside her car. "Do you need some help?" I
asked. She replied, "I knew I should have replaced the battery in this remote door unlocker.
Now I can't get into my car. Do you think they (pointing to a distant convenience store) would
have a battery for this?" "Hmmm, I dunno. Do you have an alarm, too?" I asked. "No, just this
remote 'thingy,'" she answered, handing it and the car keys to me. As I took the key and
manually unlocked the door, I replied, "Why don't you drive over there and check about the's a long walk."

4. Tech Support: "What does the screen say now."

Person: "It says, 'Hit ENTER when ready'."

Tech Support: "Well?"

Person: "How do I know when it's ready?"

5. My friend called his car insurance company to tell them to change his address from Texas to
Vermont. The woman who took the call asked where Vermont was. As he tried to explain, she
interrupted and said, "Look, I'm not stupid or anything, but what state is it in?"

6. Several years ago we had an intern who was none too swift. One day he was typing and turned to a secretary and said, "I'm almost out of typing paper. What do I do?"

"Just use copier machine paper," she told him.

With that, the intern took his last remaining blank piece of paper,put it on the photocopier and proceeded to make five blank copies.

7. I was working the help desk. One day one of the computer operators called me and asked if
anything "bad" would happen if she dropped coins into the openings of her PC. I asked her if
this was something she was thinking of doing. She said, "never mind" and hung up. So I got out
my trusty tool kit and paid her a visit. I opened her CPU case and sure enough, there was 40

8. One of our servers crashed. I was watching our new system administrator trying to restore it.
He inserted a CD and needed to type a path name to a directory named "i386." He started to
type it and paused, asking me, "Where's the key for that line thing?" I asked what he was
talking about, and he said, "You know, that one that looks like an upside- down exclamation
mark." I replied, "You mean the letter "I"?" and he said, "Yeah, that's it!"

9. This person had a broken lamp which he wanted to discard. Unfortunately, the power cord
ran under his refrigerator, making it impossible to move the lamp while the cord was attached.
He decided to cut the cord, since the lamp was unusable anyway. He didn't remember to
unplug it first. I found him in the hallway rolling back and forth.

10. I was in a car dealership a while ago when a large motor home was towed into the garage.
The front of the vehicle was in dire need of repair and the whole thing generally looked like an
extra in "Twister." I asked the manager what had happened. He told me that the driver had set
the cruise control, then went in back to make a sandwich.

11. I called a company and asked to speak to Bob. The person who answered said, "Bob is on vacation. Would you like to old?"

12. I rented a movie from Blockbuster. Before the movie begins a message comes on the screen saying, "This movie has been altered to fit your television screen."

Comment from person: "How do they know what size screen I have?"


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