Friday, October 11, 2019

Is Tech Place at Brunswick Landing on the level?

Side is an old geezer of advancing years at this point.  Now that we think about it, our years have been advancing since the day we were born.  So to be more accurate, we should say instead that we are an old geezer of nealy four score years.  Which sounds scary, if you don’t mind us saying so.

We’re fairly certain that we were genetically pre-disposed to pursue Engineering as the focus of our college education, including post-graduate degrees.  Engineering deals with the realities of the physical world in all its varied expressions.

Most of us who have done so end up instinctively becoming “handy around the house,” which in our case means a bull-headed conviction that we can fix most anything that goes wrong with our house or its contents.  Not to mention our cars and our mowers and anything else we use regularly.

Just ask Mrs. Side, or anyone else married to or closely related to an engineer.
We usually act on that assumption until it becomes clear that we are in over our head.  So along the way, we tend to accumulate quite a collection of hand held tools, and depending on our predelictions, a goodly number of power tools and larger and more complex and expensive powered devices like miter saws, routers, sanders, and various other drills, routers and cutting tools.

                Image result for levels
One of the most basic hand tools, besides hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, and pliers is the level.  And related to that is the plumb bob.

A level is that thing shown above, and in it’s most basic form it includes a “bubble” encased in a clear viewing tube.  It is intended to help one make something “level”, which is to say parallel to the distant horizon, or exactly perpendicular to the gravitational force that attracts all things to the center of the earth, including our bodies.  Note that we use levels to tell if something is “horizontal,” which is a variation on the word horizon.

Plumb bobs are related in that they show the direction of the gravitational force, which is exactly 90 degrees from “level.”

Levels are very useful, and indeed necessary, for any number of tasks “around the house.”  They help put a fine touch on getting things aligned accurately.  Those that build houses and larger buildings rely on them for fundamental alignment of all surfaces, walls, and every other element of building construction.

As we advanced in our “seat of the pants” education and grasp of all things physical, one of the lessons we learned is that while the purchased tool called a level is an invaluable aid, nothing beats “the eye” at determining when something is “level.”

This is especially true in situations where you are erecting something in an environment which is decidedly not level, such as a sloping piece of property.

We became extremely aware of this decades ago when we were erecting a gym set for our children in our back yard, which had the typically sloped profile of a housing tract development.
(“If you can’t relate to any of this, just ignore it until we get to the punch line of our essay, when you may suddenly “get it.”)

We thought we had set the gym set up correctly with our level, but when we stepped back to eyeball it, it just didn’t “look right.”  So we adjusted things until it did, and were happy ever after, until the kids outgrew it and we removed it.

The lesson we learned was just how fine a device the eye is for leveling things.  Our mind and our eyes and our body integrate every other input in our field of view into a complete picture and from that, establish what is level for any individual elements.

This is why just about anyone can walk into a room and say that a hanging picture is “crooked,” meaning it needs a slight nudge to become level.  You don’t need a tool to figure this out; your eye and your mind and your body do it for you.  Such is the wonder of gravity, the human body, the human mind, and the human eye.


You should rightly ask at this point why we’ve dragged you (if you are still with us) through this tedious narrative.  The main reason is because we‘re an engineer, and “it’s in our nature.”  The more important reason is shown in the picture just above.

We wanted to give you “the predicate” for our main point here.  “Tech Place” is a major bragging item for the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, the State sanctioned entity charged with converting the former Brunswick Naval Air Station into productive civilian use.  It is considered to be an “incubator” for all sorts of emerging and promising technology concepts, and is the recipient of  funding from various sources who dole out taxpayer provided monies in hopes they will eventually provide a return on those “investments.”  Or as we like to call them, speculation.

As a focus for new, emerging high technolgy, we’d like to think the face the place shows to the paying public would be worthy of their support, and an element of pride for the enterprise.

We couldn’t help but notice every time we passed the entrance to the place that something seemed out of whack, to use a precise engineering term.

Our eye told us this was so.  And if you look at the photo above and compare the various horizontal lines with each other, it should be apparent that they are not parallel.  If that doesn’t jump right out at you, don’t worry.  Your talents probably lie in other areas.  Like writing, or painting, or poetry; things we will never be known for.

Such differences aside, we can’t help but wonder who is responsible for the caddy-wampus image the entrance to “Tech Place”  presents, and why anyone in the chain of management for Brunswick Landing facilities didn’t notice the problem when they set the facility up.

Even more, why didn’t they realize the contradiction in terms the image embodies?

The question, we suppose, answers itself.  This is what you get when you have career bureaucrats spending other peoples’ money, with no sense of accountability for the results.  Sometimes the simplest things become emblematic of larger pathologies at play.

You might say we’re being judgmental and that we’re criticizing those who did this work and oversaw it.

You should know this was exactly our intent in drafting this treatise.  Someone somewhere needs to point these things out, don’t they?

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