(April 9, 2019 - Hogan's Alley #22)

Letter to the editor.

(April 1, 2019 - VideoPoker,com)

Poker story from Jan-Feb 2019

(August 18, 2018 - Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers pay Clayton Kershaw $35 million a year but they will not let him pitch the ninth inning.  Why are they saving his arm?  Is it so that he can make $40 million next year to pitch for a Texas team?

(August 26, 2017 - Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers management's plan to "rest" and "save" players for the playoffs probably cost Rich Hill his spot in baseball history.  With four All-Stars kept in limbo on the disabled list, this plan may also interrupt the momentum of a game-winning machine.  Time will tell whether the team can regroup for an October run.  Let the players play.

(December 2016 - Mad)

This is a very sad day in the history of classic humor and art. [death of Mad artist Jack Davis]

(August 20, 2016 - Los Angeles Times)

Can you imagine what the critics would be saying if Yasiel Puig was hitting .158 with zero RBIs, 36 runners left on base, and three dropped fly balls?  Is Dodgers management really going to try to win a baseball title with their best right fielder playing in triple A?

(January 9, 2016 - Los Angeles Times)

I used to be a Mike Piazza fan.  But when he jumped ship in 1998 and criticized the Dodgers organization that took a chance on him in 1988, he lost me (a Dodger fan since 1958).  If your only goals are money and egomania, you are no friend of mine.

(December 27, 2014 - Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers' new management team has already made several changes that may bring a better team to the city.  However, there is one glaring problem that remains to be solved.  I live in a portion of Los Angeles County that is not served by Time Warner Cable.  Will fans like me suffer through another year of Dodger Blackout in 2015?  Shameful.

(November 20, 2014 - unpublished)

Was MAD Magazine censored in 2013?  To preface this article, I state that I have been a MAD reader since 1957; I am a subscriber and have a copy of every regular issue; and, I plan to continue to subscribe as long as MAD is published.

Mr. Al Jaffee has been an artist and writer for MAD since 1955.  His name has appeared in MAD as contributor in more issues than any other contributor.  In 1964, Jaffee started the "MAD Fold-In" that continues to this date and usually appears on the inside back cover of each issue.  Each fold-in reveals a hidden message when the page is folded as indicated.  This clever feature displays Mr. Jaffee's engineering skills that his fans have come to know and love.

Last year (MAD #521 - June 2013), some MAD readers noticed that the fold-in was a reprint (from MAD #309 - March 1992).  However, one reader mentioned on social media that his copy of MAD #521 had a different fold-in (see photo).  Apparently, MAD had initially printed a new Jaffee Fold-In in #521 but then decided to scrap the initial run and put a reprint in its place.  Apparently, someone in post-production at MAD decided that this particular, one-page article should be censored and removed from the publication.  For all of my life since age ten, I have considered MAD Magazine to be a paragon of honesty and integrity, satirizing all social and political subjects with impunity.  This one episode makes me wonder what else I have missed. 

(August 30, 2014 - Los Angeles Times)

I agree with columnist Michael Hiltzik that the migration of Burger King tax dollars to Canada is a low blow.  And the participation of fiscal hero Warren Buffett makes it doubly sad.  I will be taking my burger dollars elsewhere.

(February 1, 2014 - Los Angeles Times)

Lakers: Lose, lose, lose.
College football: Sanctions, sanctions, sanctions.
Pro football: Zip, zip, zip.
Dodgers: Spend, spend, spend.
Jim Murray: Spin, spin, spin.

(May 25, 2013 - Los Angeles Times)

When the going gets tough, Don Mattingly blames Andre Ethier.  Last year it was James Loney, currently hitting .350 for Tampa Bay.  Someone should remind Mattingly that he hit .256 for the Yankees when he was 29 and was out of baseball at age 34.

(August 27, 2010)

Jiffy Lube is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  I know this because there is a big sign in each of their stores that proudly states the fact.  What does it mean to be a member of BBB?  It means just one thing: Jiffy Lube pays an annual fee to BBB.  Consider the following situation that happened to me in May of this year.

I took my car to Jiffy Lube #355 in Bellflower, California for an oil change as I have since I retired in 2009.  The Jiffy Lube mechanic said I was also due for transmission service.  I said: OK let's do it.  The work was completed and the work order showed no causes for concern.  After the service, I drove to a hamburger stand to get lunch.  When I restarted the car, the CHECK ENGINE light was lit.  The car was overheating.  So I drove back to Jiffy Lube #355 and asked them to check the coolant.  The mechanic opened the hood and immediately said that I had a hole in my radiator and that I should go down the street to his favorite radiator repair shop.  I asked him how that was possible.  The radiator was fine when I got there.  I had driven to Laughlin, Nevada in April.  If the radiator was going to break, it would likely happen during a trip across the California desert.

When I complained, all of the mechanics walked away from the car and disappeared.  After a while, I went back into the Jiffy Lube office and found one gentleman (Mr. Bun) who offered to complete an "Incident Report" for me.  I told them to fill the radiator with water and I drove the car to my regular mechanic near my home.  The CHECK ENGINE light became lit before I could get there.  My mechanic examined the car and told me that the radiator was beyond repair and needed to be replaced.  He later also told me that the transmission fluid had been overfilled and that work had to be redone.  The repair work cost over $500.  I contacted the Jiffy Lube home office after the repair and they refused to take responsibility for the damage and referred me to the shop manager.  When I called later, they did not return my call.

Since Jiffy Lube was uncooperative, I sent a formal complaint to BBB on the day after the incident (May 5, 2010).  I did not hear from BBB until August 10, 2010, three months later.  BBB reported the following to me: "The company states they showed the customer the recorded video camera of the repair.  The crack on the radiator was pre-existing according to the camera."  This is an absolute lie.  They never showed me a video if such a thing existed.  The car was not overheating when I arrived.  And, their work order did not mention a leak.  I responded to BBB that the report was untrue.  BBB waited just two weeks and then sent me the following message: "Although we forwarded your comments to the company, they have not responded further or their response failed to address your concerns.  We are therefore unable to pursue this matter further and are closing our file."  They closed the file with no resolution.

My message to Los Angeles Times readers is this: Beware of local businesses that claim to belong to the Better Business Bureau and especially beware of Jiffy Lube #355 in Bellflower, California.  Although Jiffy Lube regularly pays their BBB fees, they will not pay for the damage they do to your vehicle.

(September 22, 2007 - Los Angeles Times)

Grady Little has done a good job of resting his key players this year.  Soon he will be able to join them as they all rest for the entire month of October.

(September 1, 2007 - Los Angeles Times)

Tiger Woods is a great golfer.  We love to watch him play.  The game and the fans have made him rich and famous.  How does he reward his adoring fans?  He rewards us by playing fewer golf tournaments.  By the time Tiger is 40, he will be playing four tournaments a year.  Thanks for nothing, Tiger.

(February 25, 2004 - Los Angeles Times)

What would Republicans have said if Davis had proposed the passage of Propositions 57 and 58 before the recall?  "Borrow and spend" would have been their chant.  I will vote no on Propositions 57 and 58 and yes on Proposition 56.  Let the governor show that he can govern better than Davis. - without the second mortgage.

(2002, Journal of Madness #13)

John, I realize that I told you how much I liked the Boswick border and that all issues should have the same border, but it is OK to change the number of each issue.  Or, are you creating collector items for loyal subscribers?

I believe the JoM list now is: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (color reprint), 6, 7, 8, 8.5, 9, 10, The Anti-Norris Edition, 11, and 11 (again).  Have I missed any?

(June 2001, Journal of Madness #11)


(November 2000, ASGE News) Should an Engineer Become a Manager?

You are an engineer.  Your primary concerns are the safety and function of the product that you are designing, manufacturing or testing for the company.  However, your future with the company may be decided by someone who does not know how to size an orifice.

Your education and training have prepared you to apply engineering knowledge and expertise to your job.  Your goals may be to complete your assigned work satisfactorily and support your family as a result of that work.  However, the officers of your company may have completely different goals.  They may be planning to cut benefits and reduce staff in order to sell the company to the competition and collect large bonuses for themselves.

So, should an engineer become a manager?  The answer could be "yes" if you are willing to endure the trivialities of office politics and be a positive advocate for employees and customers, as well as stockholders and board members.  The answer could be "no" if you are not willing to fire your best friend.

Individuals, who are able to perform well as engineers and managers, are hard to find.  Engineers work with details, rules and absolutes.  Managers must look at the "big picture", develop budgets, write performance appraisals, and make staffing decisions.  Such diverse talents do not exist within all of us.

The world needs engineers and the world needs managers.  In college, I found that business courses (accounting, statistics, etc.) were much easier than technical courses (differential calculus, quantum mechanics, etc.).  However, in a company the engineer is usually able to focus on a project while the manager must react to the demands of bosses, customers, vendors, competitors, regulators, employees and the rumor mill.

There are benefits in management including compensation, flexibility and clean hands.  If you decide to accept that offer and jump into the management world, consider the following:

1.  Please do not treat employees like commodities to be used and discarded.  Without employees, there is no company.

2.  Do not compromise your personal ethics.  There is no such thing as "business ethics".  Right is right.

3.  Be an advocate for the employees you supervise.  Management gets the staff they deserve.

4.  Take some business courses.  I recommend accounting, business law, business-plan writing and organizational behavior.

Engineering is an honorable profession.  Management is a different profession, not higher or better.  The decision to remain in one profession or the other should be made based on individual characteristics and preferences.

(August 2000, The Journal of Madness #10)

It was a dark and stormy night.  I arrived late at the doorstep after a long battle with the 405.  My beautiful assistant, Lorna was waiting for me with a concerned look on her face.  She looked away, hesitated, and then whispered two words, "It's here."

Immediately, I knew.  Issue number nine was here.  I fumbled for a cigarette before I remembered that I don't smoke - not now, not ever.  I grabbed a roll of Mentos and plopped two in my mouth.  As the cool, sharp minty essence spread through my being, I sat in the nearest chair and opened the plain brown wrapper.  The cover was good, slick, glossy.  Not Mingo.  Not Freas.  But good with Neuman in red, green and blue - and, a promise of Jaffee.  Inside was a new Boswick: computer, ax and a sales pitch.  Did this ed really believe that anyone was reading other than those who already subscribed?  It was open now and I was reading, consuming, devouring.  Pipebombs revealed little - some British rambling and more of the Norris drivel, but at the end of page three: a ray of light.  I looked at my watch and decided to read on.  Lorna begged me to eat something but I would not.  D.S.A. (without F.B.?) left me cold.  Not Regis.  Anyone but Regis.  I pondered the mystery.  How did it happen?  Who did JBJ bribe to get his own column?  Then it got better.  Much better.  Twenty pages of the wonderful Al Jaffee.  I read and read and savored every word.  The man is a genius and a saint.  The rest of the world is not worthy.  I looked up briefly to see Lorna offer a plate of enchiladas but I waved it away.  I had to finish before dawn.  I would not be stopped.  On page 26 I found the tribute to Martin by Marten.  I remembered fondly the letters and drawings by Marten J. in MADlog.  This was good.  Marten J. and Frank J. gave closure to the end of an era.  My mouth was dry.  I had just one Mentos to get me through the issue.  Lorna appeared in the doorway with a short negligee and a twinkle in her eye.  Not tonight baby.  The Tao And Why (translation: filler) provided a few clues.  Geissman's signature, Landivar's website.  What did it all mean?  I was dizzy and disoriented.  My stomach rumbled.  I fought to make sense of the blurred image of Tom Collins.  I had to know about the Mad Straight Jacket.  It was an interesting story about collectible crap by a true Mad nut (Dick H.).  Was that all?  Almost, but not quite.  There on the back cover was the image that made this ordeal worthwhile.  Beyond Mad, Trump and Humbug, the final prize: Patsy Walker #42 in good condition ($4.00 in Overstreet 29th).  The answer discovered, I dragged myself back to the bedroom; Lorna was snoring softly.  Suddenly, I heard the cacophony of my alarm and I cursed as I kicked the machine across the room.  Blast you, John H. [A-; no puzzles]

(April 2000 - ASGE News) Gas Engineers Deserve Recognition

In 1995, I wrote an article for ASGE News encouraging members to obtain a professional engineer (PE) registration.  The State of California offers PE registration in several categories (Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Mechanical, Safety, etc.).  Other states offer similar programs.  There is no program in any state for gas engineering.  To become registered, engineers must select the discipline that most nearly applies to their industry or experience.

I chose "Safety Engineer" and began studying about building permits and construction sites.  Most of the material had nothing to do with gas engineering, but it was closer than any other category that was offered.  I took the test four times (1995-1998) and did not pass.  When I scored 84, the passing score was 88.  When I scored 99, the passing score was 104.  When I scored 110, the passing score was 118.  No reason was ever given for this moving target.  In these four years, the state failed 67% of the people who took the tests.

After the test in 1998, I received a letter from the state informing me that the Safety Engineering category was being discontinued.  It occurred to me that there should be some program to recognize gas engineers, and that ASGE was the right organization to sponsor such a program.

I presented a proposal to register gas engineers at the 1999 ASGE Board of Directors meeting.  The Board approved the formation of a committee to study the matter and make a recommendation to the Board in the year 2000.  Following, are the results of the committee meeting that was held in Irvine, California on November 4, 1999.

1.  The  committee will recommend that ASGE initially offer, to members and non-members, a "certificate of registration" that verifies knowledge of gas appliance      safety     fundamentals.

2.  The committee will also recommend that ASGE consider development of subsequent programs to recognize design engineers, test engineers, technicians and installers.

3.  To qualify for the certificate, engineers must have experience equivalent to that of a voting member of ASGE.  Third-party verification of experience should also be required.

4.  Engineers must pass a test developed by an "ASGE Commission".  The committee will seek permission to use existing training materials for development of the test.

5.  The cost of the test will be approximately $200 for nonmembers and $150 for members.  ASGE should encourage industry companies to sponsor the testing for their employees.

6.  The test will be administered annually by the ASGE Commission at each ASGE Chapter site.  The Commission will travel to each site to ensure uniformity of conditions.

7.  ASGE Chapters will be encouraged to develop training programs to prepare members and non-members for the tests.

8.  The Committee will prepare a questionnaire and solicit comments from the membership regarding the proposed composition of the registration program.

Gas appliance engineering is a profession that requires knowledge and training, combining the relevant aspects of chemical, electrical, mechanical and safety engineering.  Talented individuals are in demand for manufacturing, installation, research, design and laboratory organizations.  The establishment of a program to recognize and register qualified individuals is a significant way for ASGE to serve the industry.

I seriously encourage all members to complete the survey form provided with this newsletter.  The Planning Committee and the Board of Directors need your comments on this important issue.


(October 1999 - ASGE News) Engineers Do the Right Thing!

A recent public opinion poll ranked the profession of engineering as one whose members maintained the highest degree of ethics.  Considering the importance of their work to consumer safety, personal ethics may be the greatest asset of an engineer.  Being ethical is not always easy or comfortable, but it is the right thing to be.  Following are two true stories that illustrate examples of ethical choices faced by engineers and others every day.

When I was working for the American Gas Association Laboratories in East Los Angeles, I would often go to lunch with several of the engineers from the company.  One day, we noticed a young teenage boy standing outside of the restaurant (Wendy's).  He seemed to be anxious, hungry and lost.  We all walked by him and entered the restaurant.

After we purchased our food, one of the engineers went back outside and talked to the boy.  He learned that the boy had run away from home, had no money, and had not eaten for two days.  The engineer brought the boy inside and bought him a meal.  He also gave him a telephone number to call if he needed help.

It would have been very easy for all of us to do nothing and not get involved.  However, the engineer had the strength of character to do the right thing.  That engineer is my good friend, Doug Hammer.  Doug knew what to do.  His parents taught him well.  If one of my sons was ever in a similar situation, I could only hope that someone like Doug would be there to help.

Applying ethics to business situations can be even more difficult.  Customers, supervisors and coworkers are often under pressure to take a short cut to meet a deadline or satisfy a demand.  I remember a particular incident that occurred when I was testing gas valves with another engineer (Ron Davis).

One manufacturer (now out of business) found a consultant to help them with a design that had failed standard tests several times.  The consultant flew into Los Angeles with a sample of ten valves.  He took both engineers and our supervisor out to lunch.  During lunch he explained that the manufacturer was counting on this design to save the business.  The owner was broke and could not afford to hire the consultant.  He was only doing this to help a friend.

After lunch, the consultant watched as we conducted the leakage test that previous samples had failed.  The first nine valves passed but the last valve showed a small amount of leakage that was higher than allowed by the standard.

Ron and I had to tell the consultant that the design had failed again.  It was the right thing to do.  To do otherwise would not be ethical.  Although the consultant was very disappointed, he accepted our decision.  The consultant did not return to our lab, the valve design was never certified and, the manufacturer did not continue the business.

Engineers can face difficult decisions every day.  I challenge you to apply the highest degree of ethics, character and personal integrity to the decision-making process.  I challenge you to always do the right thing.

In conclusion, I offer the fundamental principles of the Code of Ethics of Engineers as written by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology: "Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: I. using their knowledge and skill for the enhancement of human welfare; II. being honest and impartial, and serving with fidelity the public, their employees and clients; III. striving to increase the competence and prestige of the engineering profession; and IV. supporting the professional and technical societies of their disciplines."


(May 1999 - The Journal of Madness #6)

John, I have just been authorized to release information about a giant Mad project.  Since December, I have been working with others to develop a CD-ROM now called Totally Mad.  This project is totally authorized by Mad.  The final product will include all Mad regular issues with a huge index and lots of surprises.  My initial assignment has been to provide indexing and commentary for Mad's 1-100.  Work will continue for several months.  The publication date has not been announced.  This will be a necessary resource for all Mad collectors.

(May 1999 - The Journal of Madness #6)

Thank you for printing the letter from Albert B. Feldstein.  Mad readers and collectors certainly owe a lot to this man.  It was Feldstein (and Wally Wood) who saved Mad Magazine when Harvey Kurtzman and gang departed for greener pastures in 1955. 

Feldstein recruited some wonderful artists and writers such as Mort Drucker, Don Martin, Dave Berg, Antonio Prohias, Frank Jacobs, Tom Koch, Larry Siegel, Dick DeBartolo and many others who transformed the publication into the cultural treasure we know and love.

Before Mad, Feldstein was editor, writer and artist for Panic and other EC comics.  The twelve issues of Panic were as good as, and sometimes better than Mad comics of the 1950's.  The healthy competition at EC caused both editors to explore uncharted territory.

As Kurtzman before him, Feldstein wrote many of the articles and ad parodies for Mad.  We may never know how many he wrote since he didn't take byline credits for writing.  He stayed in the background and allowed the Mad artists to take center stage.

Regarding Dick DeBartolo's book, "Good Days and Mad", I agree that there are some gaps.  Dick DeBartolo is an excellent humorist who has contributed greatly to Mad.  I read his book and I enjoyed his comments, but I was often irritated by the typographical errors.  Dick could have used an experienced editor like Al Feldstein to improve the product.

It is time for The Journal of Madness to conduct an in-depth interview with Albert B. Feldstein!  No study of Mad would be complete without his input.  For me, Feldstein will always be the editor of Mad.

(February 1999 - The Journal of Madness #5)

I just realized that Mad has dropped the middle initial from founder William M. Gaines' name in the index to #377.  What is going on here?  Soon it will be Wm. Gaines then W.G. then it disappears altogether.  I plan to ask this question in the next issue of MADlog.  MADlog #13 is nearing completion .  It will have about 40 pages.

(May 1998 - The Journal of Madness #3)

Regarding JoM #1, the first reference to the Mad staff as idiots appeared in Mad #34 which included a list of "12 of America's Most Famous Idiots."

(October 1996 - Mad #350)

The "POIUYT" was introduced by Mad in issue number 93 (March '65).  The "Usual Gang of Idiots" gave an unpronounceable name to an optical illusion.  Yesterday, I realized that P-O-I-U-Y-T is six consecutive typewriter letters starting backwards from the P.  In other words, it took me over 31 years to get this joke.

(March 1996 - ASGE News) Professional Registration for Gas Engineers

The following is an account of the examination process for the state of California.  Other states have similar processes which are recognized as equivalent.

On Friday, October 27, 1995, I spent all day at the Pomona Fairplex.  I did not win a stuffed bear.  I joined hundreds of others at an event that occurs just once a year.  The Department of Consumer Affairs (DOCA) was administering professional engineer (PE) examinations to anyone who had survived the obstacle course of bureaucratic red tape to be in possession of an application number, an admission notice and a photographic identification card.  For many of the applicants, this was a return engagement.

The strictest security is maintained at the examination.  An attendant checks your photo ID and admission notice at the door.  There is a proctor at each table to recheck your photo ID before the morning and afternoon sessions.  The proctor will also ensure that your application number and examination booklet number appear on all answer sheets.  You must get a pass to leave for lunch or go to the rest room.  An attendant will check your pass at the rest room door.  The word "trust" is not in their vocabulary.

The PE tests are open book.  As soon as I arrived at the Fairplex, I realized that I did not have enough books.  People came with suitcases, orange crates and luggage carts full of serious reference materials.  The veteran applicants had virtual libraries arranged on the tables in front of them.  But, in this modern electronic age, computers are not permitted.  The examinee adjacent to me was asked to leave during the morning session because his calculator had turned into a palm top computer.  Above all else, the Board of Registration protects the confidentiality of the questions that appear on its tests.  It must have been assumed that this individual had time to use the memorandum capability of his calculator to copy the test and thereby compromise the secrecy of future tests.

I sat for the eight-hour, professional safety engineer examination.  As far as I know, this PE category comes as close as any to fit my experience (gas test engineer, manager) and educational degrees (mathematics, business administration).  The State of California Department of Consumer Affairs Board of Registration For Professional Engineers And Land Surveyors (SOCDOCABORFPEALS) gives examinations for agricultural, chemical, civil, control system, corrosion, electrical, fire protection, geotechnical, industrial, manufacturing, metallurgical, nuclear, petroleum, quality, safety, traffic and zebra engineers (OK, not zebra).  But, they do not recognize gas engineers.

The gas engineer is a rare breed.  So rare that the technical discipline is not taught in any college or university.  So rare that it is not recognized by this country's system of professional engineer registration.  The breeding grounds for the gas engineer are in the engineering departments of gas appliance manufacturers, the research departments of gas utilities, and in the laboratories of third-party certification bodies, such as the International Approval Services (IAS). [Currently known as CSA International]

The American Society of Gas Engineers (ASGE) list 455 members.  The qualifications for membership are "... good moral character and in good business and community standing, and must be engaged in the field of gas engineering or interested in the advancement thereof ..."  In addition, "... voting members must have demonstrated experience and proficiency in the field of gas engineering for a minimum of six years."  In effect, our qualifications are self-declared and are ratified by mutual acknowledgement.

In today's world, professionals need credentials.  As general manager of a nationally recognized testing lab, I know this from experience.  IAS is accredited by ANSI, OSHA, ICBO, BOCA, SBCCI, IAPMO, ASTM, MEA, RAB, RVC, the state architect, the state energy commission, the state fire marshal, the air quality management district, the building and safety department, and every other city, county, district, state, or national program that cares about gas-fired products.  These organizations want to know why they should accept the test results of my gas engineers.  They would prefer that all IAS engineers were registered as professional engineers by the State Board of Registration.

It is time for gas engineers to start putting "PE" behind their name even though the SOCDOCABORFPEALS will not design a test for us.  There are a very few Safety PEs in the country; so few that there have been rumors that the category would be eliminated.  I think that the time is right for gas engineers to claim the Safety PE registration as their own.  The gas engineer must know about electrical, mechanical and chemical safety, as well as the safe use of fuel gas.  All that is needed is the addition of a little bit of knowledge about playground equipment, mobile cranes and ergonomics.  That is, assuming that one has survived the fundamentals of Engineering (formerly Engineering-In-Training) test.

Following are the steps to be taken in order to become a professional safety engineer:

1.  Unless you have a BS degree in engineering from a Board approved curriculum and 15 years of qualified experience after graduating, you must first take the Fundamentals of Engineering test.  The eight-hour test is given two times per year.  The next test will take place on Saturday, April 20, 1996.  Anyone with three years of experience and no felonies can take the test.  Call (916) 263-2222 for an information package.  The cost is $60.00.

2.  Study for the test.  Reference books are not permitted.  The questions are all provided with multiple choice answers, but many require calculations.  The Board has prepared a short outline of engineering formulae and concepts that will be sent to you and also distributed during the examination as the only reference information.  Unless you regularly review thermodynamics texts as a hobby, you will need to review basic engineering principles and problem calculations.  The Board has a list of study materials.  There are also college and private review courses that are offered.  When your application is received, your name will be placed on mailing lists for related material.

3.  Wait eighteen weeks for the test results.  If you passed, go to step four.  If not, go back to step one. 

4.  If you now have six years of qualifying experience and still have not committed a felony, you may send  $175.00 to apply for the PE test of your choice.  The application must be typed and sent with four sealed "Engagement Record and Reference" forms completed by four different individuals who are registered PEs and have observed your qualifying experience "... with no gaps or overlapping engagements and with all statements made under oath."  Time credit may be given for education if "... an official transcript is received in a sealed envelope ..."  The next test will take place on October 25, 1996.

5.  Study for the test.  I recommend the three-volume CSP Refresher Guide ($240.00) offered by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals through the American Society of Safety Engineers (1800 East Oakton, Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187).  I would also suggest that you take the National Electrical Code, the Uniform Mechanical Code, the Uniform Building Code and OSHA/Cal-OSHA regulations including Title 8 Chapter 4 Section 1509 Injury and Illness Prevention Program.  Memorization of material is not necessary if you know where to find it in your reference library.  There were 179 multiple-choice questions in the safety PE test.

6.  Wait eighteen weeks for the test results.  If you passed, you can call yourself a PE, if not, go back to step four.

The jobs and responsibilities of the gas engineer are no less demanding than those of electrical and mechanical engineers.  We are all in the safety business.  The professional engineer registration process, although complicated, is the best way for gas engineers to establish themselves as credible professionals.


(February 1995 - Jamlog)

I am the editor.  This is my page.  Jamlog is an outgrowth of my recent search for my childhood and early adulthood.  Call it mid-life crisis if you like.  I published Jamlog for me and I enjoyed every bit of the process.  If you enjoy reading it and I make some money from it, these things are also good.

As a Vanguard Boomer, born in January 1947, I have seen my childhood artifacts: baseball cards and comic books turned into huge national businesses to remind me that I gave away thousands of dollars worth of paper and cardboard.  Jamlog celebrates the things that I kept: Mad, National Lampoon, Harvard Lampoon parodies and other classic humor (see definitions on page three) publications.

I was an avid comic book reader.  I bought DC, Harvey, Disney and Marvel issues in large quantities.  But none of these gave me the joy that my first issue of Mad did when I bought it in 1958.  Every frame and margin of every "cheap" issue was crammed with bits of the absurd, the silly, the non sequitur.  Some of these bits actually related to the parody/satire of the movie, trend, election, etc.  I read Mad from cover to cover, examining every frame and word lest I might miss one subtle humorous item.  My friends and I enjoyed immensely the finding of a new non sequitur on the second or third reading.

As I matured, so did my appreciation of fine humor.  I discovered the Harvard Lampoon parodies and I graduated from Mad to National Lampoon, which I happened upon in 1970 during my tour of duty with the United States Navy.  Thus was my hunger for special humor fed.

For some reason, I recently dug out the old Mads and Lampoons from the trunk that was their home since I married in 1976.  They were as wonderful as I had remembered.  I was again reminded that some treasures had yet to be found (see The Search for Mad No. 24 on page four).  I had probably seen most of the old Mad articles in the pocket book reprints, but that could not be the same as savoring a 1955 Mad for the first time, forty years later.

Jamlog is dedicated to my wife Lorna and my sons, Cameron and Evan.  It is not a new thing, but just a continuation of the journey that began during the days of my innocent youth.

(Date unknown - Rejected by Strictly Slots) RNG, My Foot

Your brain is a computer.  Video poker machines are computers.  These machines leave the factory with tidy little random number generator (RNG) programs to make video poker fair and equal for all mankind (and womankind).  But after a few months in the casino, these machines mutate into sentient beings with diabolical senses of humor.  They feed on the befuddlement of homo sapiens.  Erstwhile VP expert and guru Bob Dancer will tell you that all is in order with worldwide RNG, but we know better.  Consider the following examples that happen to every one of us with such frequency that it must be the work of intelligent life forms.

Royals - Have you ever drawn to a four-to-it, miss it, and then have your card show first on the very next hand?  Even though this should only occur 1/52?  Of course you have.  This happens to everyone oh so many times.  I will only see four-to-it 5to10 times per day, but the sixth-card-hit seems to happen every day and often more than once.  This is VP machine humor.  If you listen closely, you can hear a faint chuckle deep within the VP circuitry.

Aces - You sit down to a machine and hold jack-queen on the first play and draw three aces.  Has this happened to you?  You think this is going to be a good machine but for the rest of the night you can't draw one ace for 800 credits.  How can you draw three aces to squat and then never the fourth ace for all eternity?  It's just a little VP joke on you.

Deuces - Not only do VP machines have a sense of humor but sometimes they communicate with each other.  One day I watched a couple playing next to me.  He was playing Deuces Wild and she was playing Bonus Poker.  As I observed, she hit four deuces three times.  Meanwhile, he was hitting four natural aces and four natural threes with no deuce in sight.  So, they decided to switch games.  Guess who was the next one to hit four deuces?  Both machines had a good snicker over that one.

4K - In a variation of the missed royal joke, I am forever drawing to three-of-a-kind (kings, etc.), missing it and then getting the fourth king on the sixth card.  And it's not just any old king.  It's the king of clubs that I needed for 4K on the last hand.  I know that this should happen 1/52 but this always happens several times a day and I sure don't get 52 - 4Ks in a sitting.  What do you say to that one Mr. D?

Full Houses - For aces full dealt in 10/7 DB, we are supposed to toss the small pair and wait for the fourth ace - and wait and wait and wait.  As responsible WinPoker devotees, we throw away those 35 credits time and again.  Someday my ace will come.  On the other hand, when dealt two pair with aces in 10/6 DDB, we toss the small pair and draw the third small guy every time.  We groan and it guffaws.

Flushes - If you hold four hearts and draw a spade, on the next hand you will hold four spades and draw a heart.  You knew it was coming.

Straights - This will happen at least once during a VP session.  I will draw to an outside straight four times in a row and miss each time.  Then on the fifth hand, I will throw away all five and draw a straight.  The probability of those five consecutive hands occurring is one in four billion (plus or minus) but it happens to me every day.  Also, when you have four to an outside straight and a small pair, some games (10/7 DB) call for a straight draw and some games (9/6 Jacks) say hold the pair.  If you draw to the straight, you will hit the third small card.  If you draw to the pair, the first card will be the straight.  After you do this a few times, you start pointing at the screen and calling the draw card to the amazement of your friends.

Trips (3K) - In every session there will be one pair that you cannot hit.  You never know which pair it will be but soon you will find yourself talking to the machine begging for it to stop punishing you.  Finally, toward the end you will get trips but then miss ten more times before you quit.

Two Pair - If you are playing DB or DDB where two pair pays five credits, you will be dealt two pair six times in a row without hitting the full houses.  This sequence will repeat several times.  Meanwhile, the machine is mocking you with its "bloop" sound over and over again.  That was your winning streak.  Now it gets worse.  No pairs for the next six hands.  If you switch to Jacks where two pair pays ten credits, the two pair streaks disappear.

Pairs - When you finally get 3K or even 4K, two of those cards will return on the very next hand.  But don't worry.  You won't hit the same 3K or 4K back-to-back.  The machine just sent two back to tease you.

Throw Aways - The mutant machines will have a lot of fun with you but they will also tell you when to go home and make room for the next victim.  For me, the message comes in a throw away hand.  I will throw away 10h-8s-6d-4c-2h and draw 10-J-Q-K of spades and the five of clubs.  This is the final joke.  It's time to go home.

The conclusion to reach from these examples is: be kind to your video poker machine.  Talk to it in soothing tones and massage it gently.  Treat it with respect and let it have its little jokes.  Laugh with your machine and maybe it will come to like you and give you a jackpot here and there.  Have you ever received a dealt royal?  That was a machine that liked you for some reason.  May be it was your cologne or your excellent sense of color coordination.  While some experts will rely upon the RNG and (ha!) the pay schedule, I say you must understand the psychology of an equal life form.  If you don't, you will be doomed to be the butt of electro-mechanical trickery until your bankroll is depleted. [JAM - archive]

(1/25/1986 -Making Concessions to the Trash God) My First job at home was carrying out the trash.  We had a small trash can in the kitchen that would be filled once a week, sometimes twice.  I earned 25 cents a week.  On Saturday, my father would burn the trash in the incinerator behind the garage.  It was 1955.  This practice was soon outlawed, as air pollution became a major problem.

As the years passed, I noticed with chagrin that the small trash can became full daily.  Then it was replaced by a larger can.  Small cans also appeared in the bathroom and garage.

Now my 6-year-old son, Cameron, has his first job.  He takes out the kitchen-size, plastic garbage bag (with twist-tie).  It's a daily job for which he earns $1 a week.  We also have trash cans in the bedrooms, garage and utility room.

Outside we have two large aluminum trash cans, modest for our neighborhood.  To be honest, we need more but I'm holding out.  The overflow goes in big, lawn-size Hefty bags.  On trash day, all the yards look like disaster areas.  After Christmas, our house was not visible from the street.

I heave a sigh of relief when I reach home the night after trash day.  Once again the trash men have relieved me of this burden, and they do it for only $6.25 a month.

My wife hates it when I get in these moods, for it's a well-known fact that for each item of trash that reaches a repository, 10 similar items are lurking about the house.  I will always be reminded of the time I threw out her paycheck.  Although she is the one who threw her car keys in the trash.  (She claims to this day that the kids did it.)

Our neighbors swear by their trash compactors, but once again I am holding out.  I refuse to make one more concession to the trash god.

What has changed since 1955? 1- Milk comes in disposable containers.  We once reused glass containers that reappeared on our doorstep in the morning. 2- Vegetables come in cans and frozen cartons.  3- The mail comes in large handfuls, 50% of which goes directly into the trash; including the loan advertisements disguised as government checks or lottery prizes.  4- The Sunday Los Angeles Times outweighs Webster's Third New International Dictionary (Unabridged).  5- Paper towels and tissues have replaced their washable counterparts.  The handkerchief has joined the dinosaurs and the dodo.

I became more aware of the trash phenomenon during our trip to Japan in April of last year.  I saw no evidence of a regular trash collection in the country.  I saw no trash in the streets, or anywhere.  The trash receptacle in our hotel room would barely hold our nail clippings.

Japanese people live quite well in homes the size of one of our bedrooms.  There are no lawns.  All available yard space is planted with vegetables.  Hillsides are terraced for planting.  Their newspapers will slide under our front door.  They eat raw fish.

My conclusion from all of this is that trash may be our solution to the balance-of-trade problem with Japan.  They must have a use for it.  It is up to us to convince the people of Japan that they need our trash.  They will probably find a way to process our trash and sell it back to us.  This cycle may not solve economical problems, but it will ensure that we have a constant supply of trash. [JAM - Los Angeles Times]


(11/27/1966 Los Angeles Herald-Examiner TV WEEKLY - Puffs And Pans) [This letter was edited to the point that it no longer made sense.] "As an upper division math major at CSCLB I feel it my duty to inform the College Bowl program that the number 18 in base four is a numbering system consisting only of the numbers 0, 1, 2 and 3.  If base four, the base 10 number 18 would be represented by 102."

(date unknown - Los Angeles Herald-Examiner TV WEEKLY - Puffs And Pans) "I have just finished making the pilot film for a great new TV series.  A one-armed space dentist loses his memory when he crashes on a deserted island.  He meets a female Martian-genie with an itchie nose.  They marry and acquire a 50-foot whale as a pet.  All I need now is a title."