Albert Masetti & Associates,  Consulting Engineers

Newsletters

September 2001

Contents

  • Semantics
  • Trance Work
  • Recently Published Articles


Editorial Note

September 16, 2001

Just to let you all know that all is well. Yes, I was at the World Trade Center when it was hit, felt the jolt of the impact and got out of there just in time. I'm fine. Won't bother you with the details.

I witnessed many heroic efforts by workers, associates, and the police and firemen who found and guided evacuees and saved so many peoples' lives, often at the cost of their own. Greater love hath no one than if he gives his life for his friends and the definition of friend is defined by the parable of the Good Samaritan. I also witnessed the selfless and creative exemplary service performed by the many ferry and boat operators and NJ Transit people in helping people get home.

I am saddened by the loss of friends and am appreciative of being in my own disassociated protective cocoon state. (I am "here" and the horrible events are "out there".)

In addition, I want to thank the dozens and dozens of people who called and emailed their concern. The volume was so large that the machines overwrote earlier phone numbers and messages, so the earlier ones were lost. I never realized how many people were part of my life. I have never had so many handshakes, back pats, touches, and hugs in my entire life. so to all of you, thank you.


Semantics

Previous issues of this newsletter focused on how our brains interact with our daily "working" environments, also known as ergonomics or human factors.

The initial work in the area of ergonomics in the 1950s related to the design of aircraft controls and instruments. Later work spread to other types of controls such as those used for power stations and elevator panels. One of the curious and disheartening things, though, is that many of the classical references and design guides are being discarded solely because the date of publication. There are some data that are "forever". They don't expire. Just like the "old" Seelye design guides that so many libraries are throwing away. Stair tread ratios, ball field dimensions, and ergonomic metrics are among the "eternal" verities. But as the original data and design guidelines are being tossed, we are starting to see silly design errors reappear. For example, switches on control panels are now being lined up in neat rows, susceptable to erroneous actuation, instead of in logical, functional, clusters. The key to good design is the nature of the actual message that is received by the user; not the INTENT of the designer.

Designers have an obligation to put themselves in the brains of the receivers who will be using the designs. They must ask themselves the following questions before proceding with a design: "How is my message being received?" "What IS the message that is being received?" "How can I modify my transmission so that the receiver gets the message that I think I am transmitting?" And lastly, "Is my message a reasonable one or am I being excessive in some way?" The last question opens up a Pandora's Box of issues. But, since designers are subject to public scrutiny, all of these factors must be considered.

Some of the discussions surrounding message transmission can be fun and interesting, such as in the area of semantics as evidenced by the following discussions where words may mean different things to different people.

First example: During some recent testimony, opposing counsel sprang a U.S. Government 500-page report on us and I found myself being "coerced" to acknowledge that someone's construction (to quote the report) was "subgrade" or inferior. I was momentarily at a loss and struggling to think of where we were going with all this. I sort of stammered that the installation was fine. Then I remembered that part of it was, in fact, below the surface...as in SUBGRADE. Opposing counsel had misconstrued the word "subgrade" to mean inferior, when it merely meant below the surface.

Second example: Some years ago, a group I was a part of was reorganized several times. The capital projects "gang"-- people with engineering and MBA degrees -- reported to the chief accountant. (Long story, but it was at a Fortune 100 company, where I was Director of Capital Investment Analysis. The chief accountant had an important job.) Anyway, this fellow kept demanding that those of us who were new to his supervision "control" our projects. And so we began to micro-manage. We asserted obsessive-compulsive control freak tendencies. Much unhappiness from the chief accountant ensued.

The problem (figured out much later) was: in the accounting profession, "control" derives from the word "compte", as in "comptroller", which is pronounced "controller". The French root of the accounting term for someone who "counts" is "compte" - pronounced controller, and often mispronounced "COMP-troller". All this fellow had requested us to do was be sure that the numbers added up. Count. Add the numbers.

What we did was CONTROL, as in dictate, every nuance of the project. Ugh!!

Semantics -- affected by cultural differences, job classifications and misinterpretation.


Trance Work

If anyone is interested in doing trance-work, let me know. In the last newsletter I wrote about how the brain works. And it has evolved into a new sub-specialty, working with individuals.

Trance work can be considered as taking six steps: induction, deepening, statement of purpose, establishing a time limit, the actual "cheer-leading" work, and post-trance-suggestion.

The areas of perception, altering perceptions, self- perception, ergonomics and human factors, have always been of tremendous interest to me.

Generally, brain processing can be done 10 or 20 times faster while in a focused, directed Trance State rather than in a normal awake state.

Trance State is a normally-occurring brain wave state -- Theta or Alpha waves. When we are in the awake state our brains generate Beta waves. Ever missed your highway exit because you were daydreaming or distracted? That is an example of Trance State. Ever been engrossed in a Tom Clancy novel or a dramatic movie? Trance State.

An unfocused or undirected Trance State doesn't reap many benefits. But, a DIRECTED Trace State can be used to relax, reconstruct, revivify, repair, renew, rejuvenate and refresh. It can also be used to reduce anxieties, get rid of phobias, improve sports performance, change aspects of personality. Learning self-hypnosis can pay big dividends.

As a result of all of this, I am now offering consultations to individuals. Appointments, using professional office facilities in several locations, are available by calling (201) 652-5997.


Recently Published Articles

The items below that I wrote appeared lately:

"New Treatments for PTSD," Vietnam Magazine, June 2001, p. 32

PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has been around for as long as there has been trauma; however, this article discusses eye movement techniques that work easily and quickly.

"Storms Linked to Earth's temperature," letter to the editor, The Wall Street Journal, July 6, 2000

I did a Web search on solar storm activity and discovered an array of stunning and interesting information. There have been 23 numbered solar cycles since records were kept. Various graphs showed the last three cycles and upcoming peaks. Solar storms occur on average every 11 years. There appears to be a strong correlation between solar-cycle activity and the Earth's temperature.

Since the effects of solar storms will plague us for some time, regular updates may be of value and interest. Three Web sites that are useful sources for solar storm activity research are www.sepp.org; www.marshall.org; and www.sunspotcycle.com.


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email: almasetti@gmail.com