11 November 2005

On the dole again, I just can't wait to get on the dole again...

Well, doodies. It appears that our critics were correct. A small minnow of a start-up cannot long compete with the sharks of the semiconductor industry, no matter how useful and advanced our technology is. My dreams of selling my stock off and retiring to some place where I could sneer at the peasants, have been shattered. Why do bad things happen to evil people?

In reality, things aren’t really all that grim. We’ve been at this for ten years now and have had a damn good run. Besides, I can get another job quite easily, gather dirt on my new unsuspecting bosses, and before long everything will be back to normal.

Believe me, leaving a job this way is far less traumatic than the spectacular way I had once achieved the noble state of unemployment.

Way back in the murky past, when I still had a liver and the cold war had fizzled to a close, the Navy decided that funding 20 identical research programs for developing turbomachinery flow and noise solvers was a slight waste of money.

The Navy was willing to waste money on two identical projects (the hoary spendthrift traditions of the DoD must be held sacrosanct, after all) and decided that if there could only be two, they wanted the ones whose results actually came closest to reality.

Yes, I agree. Spoilsports.

In any event, it was decided that Lincoln labs at MIT would measure the flow field and resulting radiated sound from flap foil wakes impinging on a control surface. We were given the geometries, inlet and outflow boundary conditions and were told to go to it.

Long story made bearable, (nerdy bits removed) we saw a feature that our boss told us could not occur. Basic physics, we argued back, proved that it should.

“This is all wrrrong! You are the worst graduate students I have ever seen! Your code is crap!” Replied our boss. “The sponsors are very unhappy!”

Now, this was very unfair to the other grad student, who was actually conscientious. I, on the other hand, fit the label fairly well. I spent most of my time on schemes like filling his car with expanding foam, putting butyric acid in his air ducts and lubricating the soles of his boots.

He was an easy man to hate.

Still, we stuck to our guns, and eventually we submitted the data at the deadline. We arrived in Carderock after an unpleasant four hour trip during we were berated for our stupidity. Lo and behold, the feature was real, and we were the only ones to capture it. The Bossman decided that he would present our results, after all.

So there he stood at the podium, smirking. His audience included all of the luminaries of the incompressible flow / hydroacoustics field, a few Navy four-stripers and an admiral.

“You are to be congratulated.” Said one of the Professors “The cogent question is, what did your group do to capture the effect that the rest of us missed?

The Bossman, having no clue, answered. “My code’s just better than all of yours, that’s why!”

There was stunned silence. This from a man who couldn’t turn on a pc. I leaned over to the other grad student and whispered “What an asshole. Two hours ago, we couldn’t even convince him that was real.”

Stifled chuckles revealed that my voice had carried further than I intended.

I looked up at the Bossman, to see his knuckles white on the podium. A blood vessel in his left eye burst, giving him an ever more demonic aspect. I could hear his labored breathing from where I sat. I cast a panicked glance around the room, and my eyes happened to lock on those of the grinning admiral. “You are sooooo unemployed!” said his expression.

Well, eventually the meeting ended and his wife, who had come along to do some shopping, came to pick us up.

“How was your meeting, dears?” She asked. Why she married that turdball, I’ll never know.

“It went great!” Said the other grad student. “We got to say things that we’d wanted to say for a long time!”

Well, it was nice of him to try to take some of the heat, but it made for a very uncomfortable silent drive back.

When we returned, my belongings were in boxes stacked outside of the door that no longer bore my name.

The Bossman had called ahead.

And that's the way I likes it.