Thursday, October 28, 2010

Crazy Eyes

Scott Adams of Dilbert writes a funny and interesting post on "crazy eyes."

("I have a hypothesis that you can detect in a person's eyes when they have a preference for imagination over direct observation. Let's call that look Crazy Eyes...") - Adams

I was reminded of an experience I once had:

I have been harassed for having "remembering eyes" before, however. I was once on my first forensic parts failure assignment, in a meeting, and I had to figure out why a big transformer cable had crumbled into crap. I inspected it closely and tried to think. Couldn't come up with anything. I began staring at the ceiling, musing over what to do or think. A guy in the meeting began mocking me or getting angry, demanding to know "what I was doing."

What I was doing was trying to remember what a book I had read said to do. I looked back and said "When in doubt, examine the part closely again." (I had recalled it just then.) So I took off my glasses and scrutinized it VERY closely. And the guy started mocking me again!

He forced me to explain that being nearsighted, my close-up vision without glasses was almost microscopic in its excellence. Which this dummy, although nearsighted himself, didn't get. Anyway, I found nearly invisible bits of paint on it. Someone had spilled paint on the power cable and then, furtively, cleaned it with powerful paint thinner, almost completely. A few months later the insulted insulation cracked and fell apart. No one else saw the tiny remnants of paint and wipe-marks. After I found it, they could see it, though.

This makes me wonder too about the not-all-there stare of people too vain to wear glasses or contacts. I expect in the past, before optics were invented, they were considered stupid or crazy in a different way. I suppose they could have been good tailors.

My boss, a PhD. organic chemist, agreed completely with my diagnosis and that the problem was solved. As we left the meeting, I groused about the fellow who had doubted my skills. "When he asked me what I was doing, I should have told that guy, 'Thinking. You should try it sometime.'" My boss just smiled and suggested it's probably good I didn't.

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