Jack's blog

Jack and his twin sisters Alice and Amy live in a household devoted to engineering, as Dad and Mum both work in the sector. Today, Alice (with a little help from Amy) has hijacked Jack's blog.

I really didn't expect to start this blog with an argument with my sister. She's insisting on getting in on this post but needs her own identity. How about, I said, I am the alpha version and you, Amy, are the beta? Because you've got all the bugs! But as I came out first, maybe I should be the beta version (obscure programming joke there, ha! ha!).

Beta post: Alice thinks her 15 minutes extra breathing in and out actually means she knows something. I blame Mum: software engineers never deliver the right package on time. And ha ha to you, Alice, even more obscure software joke.

Alpha post: So where's Jack, I hear his legions of fans ask? In his blimmin' bed, that's where. He has advanced stinkyboyitis, which means lazing about flicking through NME and making smells - and I don't mean the chemistry set sort.

Dad would be chuffed if he actually blew up his bedroom ("My son the scientist!" he would cry, clutching him to his manly bosom. Have you noticed how men fill out like balloons at a certain age?) but no chance, unless the build up of methane does it for him.

Beta post: Gt on wt it.

Alpha post: Don't get texty with me. Where was I? Oh yes, filling in for Jack, who could be doing so much more with this blog. Boys are lazy and lack focus, they are lazy focusers, as I am always telling Mr Pritchard, my English teacher. And as I am going to drop English like a hot brick as soon as an unjust educational system allows me, I do not care if he gives me detention for "unseemly use of language".

Anyway, back to Jack, who "can't be bothered to do it" this week. Honestly, so limited. He could be using this blog to reach out to

a) hopeless romantics who think the upcoming Star Trek movie will be anything like as good as 'Wrath of Khan'.

Beta post: And who can swallow the teeny weeny Simon Pegg as manly-bosomed engineering genius Scotty.

b) young economists waiting for the current financial system to be swept away by a tsunami of bankruptcies and redundancy payments before setting up a new world order, based perhaps on barter and home-grown apple chutney and/or robotised food production - could go either way.

c) disgruntled engineers now well into another year of underpaid, under-resourced and underdog drudgery, working on a project so paralysingly slow-moving that they've no chance of being laid-off and retraining as a teacher "who actually knows something". But then, I don't suppose any of them are reading this, are they?

Beta post: So, Dad flooded his best friend's house this week.

Alpha post: And it's become a complicated metaphor for the uselessness of modern design engineers.

Beta post: Sheesh. What were the chances of that?

Alpha post: I know! Engineers = knowledge+smirkiness+major mardiness (that's sulky, to you southerners).

Beta post: So, get this, he's staying at his friend's unbelievably swish London apartment for a conference and he's in the wet room which looks like the cockpit of a Boeing 737, according to him, and instead of turning the dial to off he switches it over to "handheld shower" and because the handheld was on the floor...

Alpha post: ...and because he's deaf as well as blind...

Beta post: ...he wlks away and lves the shower rnng for 8 hrs! rofl! lol!

Alpha post: Friend comes home to find water running out the front door...

Beta post: ...and Dad can't bring himself to apologise because he says it's a design fault in the wet room (ie no door or lintel) and there should be a mechanism to stop the water doing that. Major bust up! Friendship in tatters! All because Dad can't switch off a shower!

Alpha post: And he's so angry with himself that he's gone round the house making a list of all the design faults in modern living and he's writing to the Times about it. Our Dad is one mad person!

Beta post: Mum is furious because he's sent back the Dualit toaster she got for Christmas. It only toasts one bit of bread, unless you turn the switch over and Dad's like: "Design fault. Doesn't take into account human error." What is he like?

Alpha post: Then he goes into the cupboards and starts having a go at all the unused equipment in there - sandwich toasters (too hard to clean: design fault); breadmakers (too hard to keep stocked with raw ingredients: design fault); the rubbish PVR he ended up buying (takes too long to switch between modes: design fault). And Mum's trying to get them back into the cupboards, and he's heaving them out again and shouting about consumer technology being a triumph of style over substance.

Beta post: Of course, if he'd just apologise, he wouldn't need to be so angry at the world...

Alpha post: What would an engineer do, if he didn't have a world to be angry at? Anyway, they're making such a row that Jack actually gets out of his scratcher to come and have a look and manages to catch the sandwich toaster as Dad hurls it at the bin:

"What's up with the sandwich toaster?"

"It doesn't get used, it's going. If it's not designed right, it's not staying in the house," says Dad, sides heaving. "I don't know why people buy these things in the first place."

"It's not a design fault in the thing, it's a design fault in humans," says Mum. "The inability to imagine you'd ever get tired of eating cheese toasties."

"But I'd never get tired of eating cheese toasties," says Jack. "At least, I can't imagine I would."

Tumbleweed moment in the kitchen. Boys. They are indeed an inferior species.

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