Archive for the ‘Engineering’ Category

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Katana

September 30, 2007

Katana
Photo Taken from http://llbbl.com/data/RPG-motivational/target49.html. These Demotivators are hilarious!

In my opinion, the katana is the best sword type ever made. Its professional design makes me drool. Its silvery sheen makes want to feel its length with my fingers, savoring an almost metallic tang that forms in my tongue. Its history makes me want to clasp its handle tight as I picture battles and intrigue from ages past. It’s just so mysterious that I wish I had one with me.
Judging from the cost of an original, traditionally manufactured katana, which is also called a nihonto; it would be quite a long time before I could get my own self bought katana. A minimum of $8000 or approximately P400,000 isn’t cheap! Now I’m not even suggesting about the multi million dollar types. These stuff could could cause weakening of knees and passing out from their mere presence.
So I have to content myself with learning how these are made. Thanks to the National Geographic Channel, I got a grasp of the techniques used in katana manufacturing. One person is not enough for one blade. One week is not even enough for one blade. So that means one dollar is not enough for one blade*.
About nine days are required for forming the alloy. The blacksmith typically loses a lot sleep the entire time. He has to make sure his apprentices are not horsing around. One mistake could could mean the difference between steel that the gods would be proud of and steel fit only for commoners. That statement, however, is another way of saying that low quality steel usually ends up as spoons and forks.
Steel that passes the test is sent to another smith. This guy doesn’t get the easy work all to himself even though he has apprentices in his employ. In fact, he is endowed with perhaps the greatest responsibility. One mistake and he nullifies the work of the blacksmith before him.
His job, basically, is to form two materials in one blade from one steel. Martensite for toughness and brittleness, and pearlite for softness and flexibility. The marriage of these two materials produces a sword with an edge tough enough to slice through bone, but flexible enough not to break during combat.
Then the blade is sent to another specialist, the polisher. This guy, as the name implies, polishes the sword to perfection. He typically works alone. Nothing should break his concentration as he reveals the cutting edge of the blade. Whetstones of various types, shapes, and cost** are scrubbed lovingly on the blade. His is the most dangerous job. One mistake and he could nick his fingers or various other anatomical parts. If he’s not careful, he gets a bloody mess to contend with.
Now I don’t have to mention the casing and handle manufacturing. Suffice it to say, they receive the same excellent and perfect treatment Zen Japanese are known for. There are thousands of katana around, but very few of them are made in the traditional manner. One of these traditional blades, by the way, is waiting for me.
Now if only I could shell out a few thousand dollars…

*Forgive me for the lame remark. I needed something that has a “one” ring to it, not LOTR mind you.
** Some of these stones cost thousands of dollars each.

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Kuya Tutor

August 9, 2007

I have a degree in Engineering. I was trained with the skills of an engineer, and something once learned is very difficult to unlearn especially if you get to teach others about it. Take this incident in one of my Anatomy and Physiology classes.

“I still haven’t finished my assignment,” said one girl. “I’ve had some help in the other room but it’s still not done.”

“I can help,” I offered as I leaned close to the paper bearing their dreaded questions.

“Are you good in Math,” asked another girl.

“Yes,” I answered hesitantly. I knew that it was no time to be modest, but proclaiming what I believed to be true still left a bitter taste in my mouth. Besides, hey wouldn’t have agreed to have me help if I hadn’t made that pronouncement.

And thus was my fate sealed. All eyes in the class were peeled on me as I dissected problem after problem. It was about radicals, and I love radicals. I solved them in my usual pace, not hurrying or slowing down. Solving was routine, but the expressions from my classmates were far from it.

“Wow. You’re so fast,” said another classmate.

“It’s like he’s not even thinking about it at all,” added another.

“Can you wear a kumbong* and take the exam for me,” an apparently Muslim girl said to the laughter of the class.

So I smiled and grunted a little, never slowing down my pace until it was done.

“There,” I said. “That’s about it.”

“Your final answer is 1?” asked the girl who was given this assignment.

“Yeah,” I continued, “Oops, it’s 3. I forgot to multiply it to 3.”

“Yey, I’m right,” she told her friend. “I told you it was 3; you just didn’t believe me.”

And so I became a tutor for a few minutes, and I was surprised by the surprise I saw in their reactions. I don’t think they lack mental skills. I think they are just so ingrained with self defeating thoughts of math incompetence that they’ve taught themselves to not learn Math. They’re not the only ones. I’ve seen a whole lot of people like them in UP, especially CAL students.

Revealing my Math skills was not the only thing I revealed that day. Now they know that I’ve already finished Engineering. And now they call me kuya**. I can no longer pretend to be one of them, and that sucks. Now, I’ll have to do way better than I used to. It wouldn’t be right for an Engineering degree holder to get a low grade in something as “simple” as Anatomy and Physiology.

*The veil a Muslim woman wears to cover her face.

** Big brother. An honorific for guys older than the speaker.