An Engineer’s Guide to Summer

We received this latest installment of “An engineer’s guide to…” on a sequence of 58 handwritten postcards from Costa Rica, each individually mailed to us over 3 days. We’re well past asking why, at this point, it’s like a car accident; we can’t look away. Without further ado, let’s dive into the mind of our anonymous engineer Mr. X and see how he does summer. Maybe you can learn something. At the very least, maybe all of this will be valuable forwarded to the American Psychology Association.

The Roaring 20s Are Back

Thanks to the incredible loss of 2020 due to COVID-19, we can all safely say that society is taking the moniker of “roaring 20s” from the long-dead grasp of the 20th century and putting it firmly in the palms of the 21st.

The summer of ’21 will go down in history as the world’s most celebrated season. I’m calling it now. With that in mind, I thought I’d share with my friends and colleagues a few tips for making the most of this short period of hedonistic mania after the depressive episode that was all of 2020.

Of course, I always keep a Google Flight alert open for Costa Rica. Did you know it has less crime per capita than our nation’s capital Washington D.C.? Not only is it a safe country, but it’s beautiful and cheap. I couldn’t help but take advantage of a cheap fare, so here I am, basking in the Central American sun, listening to “Do You Like Pina Coladas”, and yes, it’s rained a few times and I’ve deliberately gotten caught in it.

I try to keep my digital correspondence limited while in Central America due to some transgressions I was caught up in as a teenager (I have a second degree in Chemistry, as you know). I hope you don’t mind the postcards. Anyway, let’s get on with it. An engineer’s guide to summer.

Buy a Hammock

Whether it’s free-standing or the kind that you screw into a tree, I’d recommend you immediately go to your local hardware store or log into Amazon and buy yourself a hammock. You haven’t lived until you’ve laid flat, a full 5 or 6 feet above your lawn, while the wind gently rocks you and you fight back an afternoon siesta to try and get through the last pages of that mystery novel.

Get Bronzed, but Do It Safely

The sun provides us with warmth and, ultimately, life. Yet, that life-giving force is purely an accident; the byproduct of some taciturn and indifferent process we barely even understand. To put it another way; when you get a suntan, you’re exposing your flesh to the irradiated rays of our star and, as radiation will do, it sends microscopic radiation bullets through your body, killing your flesh, unraveling your DNA, and forcing your body to repair itself. Part of this repair process just so happens to give you a nice, smooth, tan. Have you seen Chernobyl on HBO?

To put it simply, wear plenty of sunscreen when you’re outside in the summer. Also, remember to reapply it every 90 minutes or so. To get bronzed, I suggest a spray tan. Have you ever wanted to feel like a fence post? You can; just drive to the nearest shopping plaza, throw down about $80, and you can stand in a room while a man or woman applies a thin coat of brown tint to your skin through a paint sprayer. That reminds me of a story “Tim” in our office told about the proper technique for making sure every spot is covered, unfortunately (or fortunately) it isn’t fit for print.

Wear the Right Sunglasses

Now that we’ve established that the sun is, essentially, a floating orb of death, I think it’s fair to discuss your choice of shades this summer. I always recommend you protect your eyes from the sun. Yet, not all sunglasses are created equal.

Look for sunglasses certified by the American Optometric Association. They’ll only slap their sticker on sunglasses that block 99-100% of both UV-A and UV-B light. It’s not as simple as picking a pair of shades that look “dark” when you put them on. Blocking visible light is great; it’s what you want for comfort. However, UV rays are essentially invisible to us yet do all the damage. A pair of sunglasses that block enough visible light to keep you from squinting also need to block the real danger; UV-A and UV-B. Look for that feature.

Make Deviled Eggs

Ever since my grandma brought them to our family picnics when I was a kid, deviled eggs have been a quintessential facet of summer. What’s better than mayonnaise, mustard, and egg baking under a hot sun? Nothing; that’s what. Here’s gramma’s old recipe, which I still make once a week for Archimedes and me to share at our local park.

Summer is Here, Time to Unwind

Look, it’s been a heavy year and a half. While I’ve got my doomsday shelter prepped (I’ll leave that for another article), I don’t think we’re quite there yet. Things are starting to look up. The warm weather is here, so it’s time to enjoy yourself and let loose a little.

In the world of engineering, it can be hard to find time yourself even under good conditions. I’m the kind of guy that puts everything into his work, sometimes to my detriment. However, I force myself to break away, forget about the news or current events, and just enjoy a little rest and relaxation. I think you should, too. Enjoy your summer.