Tag Archive for: Izzy

Language In Engineering Report Has Nephew Izzy Baffled

The language of some engineering reports is more impenetrable than the armor of a battleship. My weird nephew Izzy floods badly. He was trying to slog through the Region 6 San Jacinto Regional Flood Planning Group DRAFT report and called for help today.

Marvel Comics It Ain’t

“Uncle Bob,” he complained, “This is @#$%&ing 295 pages long!”

“Put on your big-boy pants, Izzy,” I said. “Suck it up. I know it’s longer than a Spiderman comic, but you did apply for jobs as the Deputy County Administrator and Executive Director of the Flood Control District.”

“Yeah, but that was just to impress one of the dancers down at the Crystal Pistol.”

“Now the truth comes out!” I chuckled.

“Uncle Bob, you’re brain-shamin’ me.”

“I’m sorry, Izzy. Is there a problem beside the length?”

“Yeah, I can’t figure out what they’re trying to say.”

“That’s all?” I asked.

Izzy spat back, “They wanna spend $29 billion on the recommendations in here. You’d think they could afford $15 dollars an hour to hire a decent writer.”

The boy did have a point. But I explained, “Making it easy to understand wouldn’t make people think they were getting recommendations worth $29 billion.”

“They’re translating this thing into a dozen languages. You’d think English could be one of ’em.”

Nephew Izzy

“Is it too technical? Formulas and stuff?” I asked.

“No. It’s just confusing.” Izzy sometimes has trouble with the concept of “up.” So I said…

Izzy Cites Examples: Writer Paid by the Word?

“Give me an example, Izzy.”

He threw 295 pages down on my kitchen table. The dog-eared report was covered with notes. This was an amazing step up from Spiderman for Izzy. I was encouraged.

He turned to one of the pages. “Like this,” he said. “The most common types of projects in the region are channel improvement projects, which is inclusive of channel repair and channel conveyance improvement projects.”

My jaw dropped. Aside from the circular logic and redundancy, the subject and verb didn’t agree. “Projects is?” I asked. “Improvement projects include improvement projects? That writer must have been getting paid by the word,” I said. I was beginning to see Izzy’s point. “Show me another one, Iz.”

“Here!” he said, brightening now that he had an ally. Then he took a deep breath and said, “Due to significant increases in anticipated rainfall depth seen across the entire region due to the NOAA Atlas 14 as shown in Figure 2-4, change in rainfall depth was not included as a decision point for Flood Map Gap designations, as the change in rainfall amounts would qualify the whole region as a mapping gap since the effective FEMA mapping does not yet incorporate Atlas 14 rainfall.” 

“I’m surprised you could even get that out in one breath,” I said.  Izzy was turning blue and gasping. While he caught his breath, I counted up the words – 67. “There’s just no substitute for 67-word sentences when you’re trying to bluff your way through something you don’t know,” I said.

Impossible-to-Diagram Sentences

Izzy looked relieved. “So, I’m not so dumb after all, Uncle Bob?”

“I don’t think even my 4th grade English teacher, Mrs. Battaligni, could diagram that sentence, Izzy.”

“What do you think it means, Uncle Bob?”

“It means taxpayers should ask for their money back, Izzy.”

“Ya’ think? Cuz’ frankly I could use a tax refund right about now.”

“Don’t hold your breath, Izzy. It doesn’t work that way.”

“Well, how will I ever know if this will fix my flooding, Uncle Bob?”

Dream No Small Dreams

“It won’t, Izzy. The state has about a $1 billion budget that has to be split 15 ways. And these guys are recommending $29 billion in projects just for the San Jacinto watershed.”

“I know what that’s like.”

“How so?”

“I was sweeping up down at the Crystal Pistol last night and I told the manager I sure could use a new broom.”


“He said it wasn’t in the budget. Maybe next year.”

“Maybe you should go to one of the Flood Planning Group’s open houses and ask them to explain.”

“When are they?”

“5:30 to 7:30 … two days next week.”

“That’ll never work.”


“Happy hour. My boss’ll never let me off. Too many beer-nut dishes to refill.”

Izzy Considers a Career Change

“Maybe you could get a job helping them write the final version of the report.”

“Ya’ think?” Izzy brightened and moved to the edge of his seat.

“They recommend spending another $200 million on more reports,” I said.

“Man, I could use some of that bank!” Then Izzy’s enthusiasm quickly vanished. Uncharacteristically, he confessed, “But I barely scraped by high-school English.”

“That makes you perfect,” I said. “You know how to write a 7-word sentence.”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/22/22

1850 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Nephew Izzy Considering Homelets

My weird nephew Izzy wants to rent one of those new 660-square-foot homelets going up in the Preserve at Woodridge. He came to me so excited the other day that he was gesturing wildly and sloshed beer all over his Mötley Crüe T-shirt.

“Uncle Bob,” he enthused, “You gotta see these places! I can maybe actually possibly afford one!”

131 homes under construction, 13 to the acre. Photo taken 9/2/22.

That’s saying a lot. Or a little. Izzy isn’t exactly the top earner down at the Crystal Pistol. The owner demoted him from bartender to sweeping up beer nuts and cigarette butts. That happened after the owner learned Izzy had applied to be the head of the Flood Control District. Something about not showing loyalty and appreciation.

“A lease is a pretty big obligation, Izzy,” I said.

“It’s better than living outa the back seat of my Oldsmobile,” Izzy shot back.

“I thought you told me it would be a collector’s item someday.”

All the Amenities

“True,” said Izzy, “but these homelets, they got flush toilets.”

“I can see the advantage there. But they’re so close together, Izzy.”

“That’s one of the big pluses, Uncle Bob.”

“Why is that?”

“No trees to water. No grass to mow. More time for the ladies.”

Some of the homelets are more than 4 feet apart. Density is about 13 homelets to the acre.

“But Izzy. People commute all the way to Kingwood because they like nature.”

“Well, I heard they give you a geranium.”

“Will it fit?”

“Them homelets, they got plenty of room. Some even gots a study.”

“Do you own a book, Izzy?”

“No, but I got me a library card.”

“Have you ever used it?”

“I see your point, Uncle Bob. “

“Izzy, what you really need is a washer and drier.”

“They got them!”

“A shower?”


“When do you move in?”

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/3/2022

1831 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Izzy Hedges Bets; Applies for Flood Control Exec Director Job, Too

Yesterday, my weird nephew Izzy informed me that he was applying for the job of Harris County Deputy County Administrator for Infrastructure and Resilience. Nothing I said could deter him. What the kid lacks in common sense, he makes up for with stupidity.

The job description for the new Harris County Flood Control District Executive Director does not require an engineering degree. That’s why nephew Izzy is applying for this job too.

Backup Plan for Deputy County Administrator Job

But this morning, he called again. “Hey, Uncle Bob. Got me a backup plan.”

Maybe I was wrong about him. “Glad you didn’t quit your night job down at the Crystal Pistol, Izzy.”

“My thoughts, presactly,” he said. “Momma done told me, ‘Always get a new job before you quit your old one.'”

“Smart woman, that Yolanda Rae. So what’s your backup plan? Wal-Mart?”

“No Uncle Bob. Executive Director of the Harris County Flood Control District.”

Izzy Has Great Expectations

“Gotta hand it to you, Izzy. You set your sights high!”

“Got to Uncle Bob. One of the dancers down at the Crystal Pistol started flirting with me. She might be the one.”

“THIS time,” I mumbled. Izzy has already been married three times at age 32.

“I’m serious. She makes me want to settle down. I need to find a job that pays more than $8 per hour. And I need more than bar mix and beer nuts for fringe benefits.”

“I didn’t think beer nuts were your main benefit down at the Crystal Pistol.”

Izzy Meets Qualifications For This Job, Too

“Well, you got me there, Uncle Bob. But these dancers…they don’t take you seriously when you show up for a date on your bicycle.”

“What makes you think you’re qualified for this job, Izzy?” I asked as I quickly looked up the requirements for this new job online.

“First off, I only need a bachelor’s degree, which I got.”

“True, but I see many more requirements.

“And I got a driver’s license. That’s another big skill they want. I just ain’t got a car.”

“That’s true, too,” I say. “But it says here, ‘Excellent communication skills needed.'”

Izzy shot back. “You ever had to keep the orders straight for 20 drunks?”

He had me there. “No Izzy, I imagine that takes some skill. And then there’s the experience in ‘end-to-end program design.’ You have that?”

“Yeah, I put together our first chorus line down at the club…in my spare time. Just like the Rockettes. It was so popular, the manager, he laid a $10 bonus on me.”

“But what about this “experience in working with government agency personnel?”

“Hell, who do you think our customers are? We got one back room reserved for City Hall and another for the County crew.”

Izzy Has Answer for Everything

“But Izzy, you’d be responsible for managing more than 350 employees.”

“Simple. Get a time clock to track ’em. If I have to punch one, they can, too.”

“And you’d be responsible for managing hundreds of contractors.”

“I imagine they got plenty of good swag! Frankly, I could use some more coffee mugs. I haven’t washed dishes in two months.”

“Izzy, I don’t think you get it. You’d be responsible for managing $5 billion.”

“That’s the big attraction, Uncle Bob. I really need the money.”

“You don’t get to keep it all for yourself, Izzy. You have to pay it to other people.”

“That sounds un-American to me, Uncle Bob. I’d have to look into that. It just don’t sound right.”

Trying to Recalibrate Izzy’s Expectations

“Izzy, why don’t you look for something more in tune with your assets and abilities?”

“What assets, Uncle Bob?” He had me there.

“Did you ever think of becoming say…a party planner? You’d be good at that.”

“That’s kinda how I see this whole Harris County deal. They got billions of dollars from the Feds, the State and taxes rolling in, Uncle Bob. With that kind of bank, we can keep the party going for years.”

Or until the next election. Look Izzy, a typical executive search takes 4-8 months. They’re doing this in a month. That should tell you something. Don’t you think they wrote the job specs to fit someone they already have in mind? They’re probably looking for someone who can help them solve political problems more than technical problems.”

“Ya think, Uncle Bob?”

“Why else would they hire someone with only a bachelor’s, but no engineering degree, to supervise hundreds of engineers?”

Uncle Bob

Maybe Izzy has a real shot at this job after all.

Here are the full specs if you would like to apply or read them after Harris County has taken the listing down.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/2/2021

1465 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.

Nephew Izzy A Shoe-in for Deputy County Administrator Job

My weird nephew Izzy called me the other day. He was so excited, he could barely contain himself and probably didn’t. Thankfully, it wasn’t a video call.

Our family knows Izzy as the guy who’s ten cents short of a dime. Izzy graduated from college with the lowest possible grades you could get and still earn a bachelor’s degree. He managed to cram four years of college into seven years. Luckily, extracurricular activities helped land him a job as a bartender at the notorious Crystal Pistol.

Job Description and Benefits Have Izzy in Tizzy

I asked what had him so excited. His manager told him about a job listing for “Deputy County Administrator-Resilience and Infrastructure.”

Harris County from over I-10 looking west at downtown Houston and the I-69 split.

I quickly looked it up and couldn’t believe my eyes. It required only a bachelor’s degree and reportedly paid well into six figures. After ten years, Izzy is still trying to get into the two figure bracket.

Izzy has a hard time managing his bubble-gum budget. And the county job entails supervising the expenditure of billions of dollars. But Izzy swore he could do it. “Already got me a pocket calculator, Uncle Bob,” he said confidently.

“It’s good to think ahead, Izzy,” I said trying to encourage him, but not quite sure what to say. As I continued to browse through the job requirements…

Imagine my surprise when I learned that you did not need an engineering degree to supervise hundreds of engineers in the County Engineers Department, Flood Control District and Toll Road Authority.

Neither do you need any accounting experience to manage the $800 million per year that the Toll Road Authority brings in – or the $5 billion flood bond. But you do need to know how to operate a telephone. Seriously. That’s why Izzy figured he was a shoe-in.

Undaunted, Izzy pointed out that the job comes with a desk chair. Not to mention other benefits, including:

  • Dental
  • Vision
  • Life Insurance
  • Long-term disability
  • 10 days of vacation each year for the first five (5) years of service
  • 10 county holidays plus one (1) floating holiday
  • Dependent Care Reimbursement

Dependent care really rang his chimes. Even though Izzy is only 32, he pays child support for eight kids. But even with that, dependent care is not the biggest attraction for my nephew.

Izzy would get to ride Metro for free. That appealed because riding his bike to work has its drawbacks in August and September. He can only afford to wash his uniform once a week. No wonder the manager referred him to the County job!

The Resilient Izzy

But Izzy as usual saw the bright side. “Hey, it’s an online application. I won’t even have to buy deodorant.”

Reviewing more job requirements, I asked Izzy if he was certain he could solve “complex operational and structural challenges.” 

“Damn straight,” he fired back. “I can pour drinks with both hands and feet tied behind my back without spilling a drop. Show me another bartender that can do that!” I wasn’t going to argue the point with Izzy. I figured, at a minimum, his attitude could teach Harris County a thing or two about resilience.

“But do you have the ability to ‘thrive in ambiguity,’ Izzy?”

“What’s ambiguity?”

“That’s where your boss doesn’t tell you what to do,” I said.

He exploded with enthusiasm. “Damn! This job was MADE for me,” he shouted!

Interfacing with Local Officials

“It also says here you’d have to interface with local officials.”

“Hell, I know half of ’em from down at the Crystal Pistol,” he said. “That’s where you really get things done. In the back room.”

Izzy had an answer for everything. I was beginning to think he just might have the right stuff for the job.

Undaunted, I pointed out that he needed five years of supervisory experience.

“I’ve been supervising the dancers at the club longer than that!” he said with a smile that I could hear over the phone. “What else? Give me something harder.”

“Says here you need five years of experience designing, managing, constructing or operating major infrastructure projects.”

Izzy Plugs His Infrastructure Experience

Izzy fell silent. After a long, thoughtful moment, he said, “Well, I spend half of each shift in the bathroom and the other half on the phone. So yeah, I got experience operating major infrastructure systems.”

At this point, Izzy had exhausted me. So I said “Go head. Send in your resume.”

“What’s a resume, Uncle Bob?”

It will be tough to beat Izzy’s qualifications for this job, but if you’re interested, hurry. Applications close September 6th.

I didn’t have the heart to tell Izzy that they likely already have someone specific in mind for the job. Why else would you write a job description that involves managing half the county and fits Nephew Izzy?

Posted by Bob Rehak on 9/1/2021

1464 Days since Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.