Thursday, June 7, 2012

Captain's Log, Day 72: Rule One and Red Lobster

          "MIKE!!! RULE ONE OF LAB!!!"
          Rich quickly cut Mike off before he managed to rearrange our circuit board. Mike attempted to free his hands as he complained, "But your circuit's all wrong! The 100-ohm resistor is supposed to be connected to the end prong of the variable resistor!"
          Ben and I rechecked the circuit diagram. "No, because if we do that, we lose the variance," I pointed out. "End to end is a constant resistance. End to MIDDLE varies it."
          "Well, yeah, you have to move the other connection too," Mike pointed out.
          "Which gives us the exact same thing," I reminded him.
          Mike thought for a second. "We should move it anyway. It will look better."
          Ben sighed. "Rule One of lab, Mike!"
          Rich looked bemused. "Does he always do this?"
          Ben and I yelled "YES!!!" at the same time.
          Mike, Rich, Ben and I were up at the University of North Dakota for a one-week summer lab. Ben, Mike and I had been lab partners for the past few semesters, while Rich was a student we'd worked with long-distance on a couple projects. I'd quickly brought him into our lab group as soon as I met him, and now he was discovering exactly how disorderly and yet strangely efficient our team was.
          Rule One of lab had been formulated by Ben and me during the spring semester. We were working on a process trainer, carefully programming various parameters into a heat-transfer device in preparation for a 15-minute wait to find out if we did it correctly. We got it done and turned it on, and I watched with satisfaction as our graphs for the hot and cold sides of the process leveled out nicely. I figured we all didn't need to be staring at it, so I asked if either Ben or Mike could check calculations from a previous lab. Ben agreed and popped open his computer. I went back to studying the graphs. Neither of us checked to see what Mike was doing.
          Five minutes later, the graphs went haywire. I freaked out and frantically yelled at the other two to GET OVER HERE NOW BECAUSE SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG!!!!! Ben and I discussed the issue for a few moments before I noticed Mike fiddling with the external control panel. I pushed Ben aside and scooted over. "Did you find the problem?"
          Mike looked a bit sheepish. "Yeah, these switches were all on manual."
          Ben followed me over. "I set them all on external before we started the experiment!"
          I glared at Mike. "Miiiiiiiiikkkkkkke....."
          "I got bored!" he protested.
          Ben and I exchanged a look. "New rule of lab; Mike is not allowed to touch ANYTHING without permission," Ben decided.
          "Better make that Rule One; this is bigger than the one about safety glasses," I suggested, chuckling a bit.
          "Okay. Rule One of lab; Mike needs written permission from both of us before he can mess with anything," Ben agreed. "I'll write up a form."
          Naturally, once Rich joined our team, we briefed him on the rule. He at first deemed it unnecessary, but after seeing Mike in action a few times, he joined us in complete agreement on Rule One.
          After the circuit incident, we decided to go out to eat at Red Lobster. Ben didn't feel like it, so he stayed at the hotel, and I drove Rich and Mike over. Once we got there, Mike ducked into the restroom seconds before the waiter arrived to seat us.
          "Two?" he inquired politely.
          "Three, actually," Rich inserted.
          "And...uh...could we get a children's menu for the third guy?" I asked quickly, glancing over at the door to the men's room.
          The waiter studied me for a moment before seeming to pick up the situation. Grinning, he asked, "And would he be wanting crayons?"
          "YES!" Rich and I answered simultaneously.
          Mike took the joke rather well, but still ended up ordering off of Rich's menu. The three of us spent an enjoyable dinner coloring and playing games on the children's menu, although Mike pointed out that the waiter was going to come by and think us strange.
          "Let him," I chuckled. "You're the one with the crayon in his hand at the moment. You know, I've never had a lobster at Red Lobster."
          "Why not?" Rich inquired.
          "They're giant undersea BUGS!" I retorted.
          When I got back home, I was asked to help rearrange the house furniture. My brother and I got the plan and began shifting items around the house. Mom hovered nearby, offering suggestions and attempting to help. Finally, I motioned to my brother to put down his end of the desk we were carrying and turned to Mom. "Hey, Mom, I have a quick story to tell you..."
          I ran through the story of Mike and our lab. At the end, I asked, "Get it?"
          "Because I just made a new rule. You get to go off and read while we finish up here." My brother and I picked up the desk again and began walking.
          Mom bent down for a box. "Let me just move these over--"
          "RULE ONE OF MOVING!!!" my brother and I chorused.

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