Sometimes a choice has to be made even when all options are horrible.


Considering a secular outlook of reality dominated by entropy, unavoidable situations can arise where a decision is warranted over a set of unpleasant selections. Take for example the juxtaposition of a scathingly honest, down-to-earth business magnate turned celebrity and a pragmatic traditional politician too acclimated to diplomacy. When both are pitted side by side in a leadership race, it becomes increasingly difficult to make a confident vote. In such unwelcome dilemmas, the most sensible approach would be to gauge which option weighs the least cons. Pretty much the same as my predicament after my excommunication in Part 2 of this series of articles.

The poster above circulated on local police billboards after my banishment from professional society. Now a fugitive, I have to make decisions that entail unenticing results. I mean, I do have to put food on my plate and being where I am now does not make things any easier.

The fact that I have to start making choices on a losing basis is an inconvenient truth I have trouble accepting. I mean, isn't life an uphill climb as long as one puts enough Herculean effort - like some kind of fantastic premeditated system of inviolable karma? I guess this way of thinking is bellied by how we were molded early on by the education system. But then again, if early education did not constitute a quintessential system of justice albeit being actually imperfect in practice, it may have led my juvenile mind astray. So it is a small price to pay to avoid a loftier one in the long run. That's why the word 'maturity' was coined after all.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has proven some are also insanely attached to this unrealistic stigma - either that or there's a concerted act being put on display by the media to set a gross example to the majority - which in my opinion is highly unlikely but also disagreeably effective. I explicitly state again the inconvenient truth of part 3 - that is choices we need to make even if all of them are uncongenial and distasteful. An excellent pervasive example related to the pandemic is refusal to wear masks or any piece of cloth to impede virus transmission. It can be an uncomfortable habit to grow into, but the alternatives are graver and denote inhumanity. Again a small price to pay to avoid a loftier one in the long run. (the same goes with all forms of refusal to adhere to quarantine guidelines)

Unsurprisingly, the same can be said when it comes to reaching for a certain goal (though not blatantly obvious to many). When an agenda is desired, a certain price must be paid. So the choices become: a.) meet the goal whilst paying the price or b.) do not pay the price, and instead pay for the consequence of not meeting the goal. And due to the tendency of the mind to reject the price stated in 'a' (as mentioned in part 2 of this series of articles), this causes the more natural and recurring default choice of 'b'. It is worth noting that the price can also be put off for a later time - which then leads to the infamous Filipino manana habit.

Since instances when one is left with no good options - is in a sense cosmopolitan to a vast number of facets, I again make the connection of this inconvenient truth to engineering applications. In fact, a spectacular result comes out with the right engineering mindset. 

There may be times in one's engineering career where he/she is faced with a deadline over an overwhelmingly challenging technical problem, and that person has to make the embarrassing call to the costumer informing him/her of an incorrigible delay (being the only feasible course of action). For starters, such is avoidable with proper planning and project management. That is the relevance and purpose of having extensive background experience after all in one's field of specialty - to have the correct exacting insight to apply pre-emptive measures in case the worst happens by Murphy's law. Though let's go with the assumption that the project is a fresh endeavor, what then?

This is where an engineer's ingenuity comes into play (and trust me when I tell you this, a lot of engineers would be fond of telling you their war stories over a cold bottle of Bud Light, if not for an NDA or non-disclosure agreement). When an overwhelmingly challenging technical problem drops on an engineer's lap, his skills in problem solving, debug and troubleshooting spring to life like wildfire. Of course, no man is an island and he/she also enlists the help of his/her colleagues. (This is why I've paved into stone the habit of checking up on everyone in the lab at work asking if they have a problem or not - even if it mayhap causes slight irritation to some who are kilometers deep into their undertaking.) What may seem obvious to some are completely invisible to many - there's no such thing as a perfect know-it-all after all. So I'm more than willing to shoulder the price of nosiness (with the comeuppance of vexed looks) than pass up the opportunity to lend a helping hand that may save hours of valuable debug time.

Anyway, I digress - this is not the spectacular result I was talking about, but a nice habit to pick up  either way. The spectacular result happens when the engineer manages to arrive at a solution to the overwhelmingly challenging technical problem through an established set of rules. Personally, I recommend the book by David Agans - The 9 Indispensable Rules for Finding Even the Most Elusive Software and Hardware Problems. (poster below courtesy of debuggingrules.com)

Image courtesy of debuggingrules.com

The rules themselves apply to a diverse set of fields, maybe worthy of another article in and of itself. When it comes to electronics engineering, a personal favorite of mine would be Mr. Robert Pease's book - Troubleshooting Analog Circuits. There are a number of more exhaustive books on troubleshooting analog circuits but Mr. Pease has the talent of relaying problems and solutions in an exciting and lively manner in which you won't fall asleep head first on your keyboard or soldering iron.

Anyway, that is all for this article. I haven't thought of a great way to end it - as I don't want my story to conclude with me being a runaway criminal, or a scathingly honest, down-to-earth pirate for that matter.