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Measuring My Heart

Let me start by saying that this article has nothing to do with Valentine's Day. The timing is purely coincidental.

Yesterday morning, I had my annual appointment with the cardiologist, though not with the usual one. You see, my cardiologist of the last six to seven years, while in the office today, is leaving town. I switched to his soon-to-be former partner, who started the practice about 30 years ago.

At each annual visit, my cardiologist does a sonogram of my heart and measures certain linear distances — specifically, my ascending aorta, of which a small section is larger than normal. We got to talking about what I do here at EE Times. It turns out this doctor could have been an engineer, because he described building a Tesla coil while in college. Apparently, he was generating 1 kW, 2,000 V at 500 mA.

We then discussed engineering jobs versus tech jobs. The difference being that tech jobs don't require a degree or even an background in engineering. They do require expertise, but more like programming or IT — in other words, jobs that are closer to the user than engineering jobs.

The GE sonogram equipment in the examination room uses ultrasonic sensors to detect the parts of my heart. From there, the electrical signals go through connectors, cables, and PCBs before reaching a digitizer. From there, the digitized signals are processed in software with some microcontrollers and perhaps an FPGA and displayed on the monitor. The doctor can then measure the size of anything. In my case, it's the aorta. The measurement uncertainty is around 1 mm. Yes, a C/T scan can get better measurements, but it comes at an unnecessary cost. I'd need a shot of dye and would be subjected to radiation.

A sonogram lets doctors measure linear distance.

A sonogram lets doctors measure linear distance.

After seven years of aorta measurements, we have enough history to know that the enlargement is stable. I was probably born with it, but we'll never know.

The good news is that all is well. The better news is that I didn't get a parking ticket, given that the meter had expired. The doctor offered to send his assistant out to feed the meter, but that seemed unreasonable. Why would you ask anyone to climb this mountain to reach a parking meter? The local meter maids are a bit more forgiving under these conditions.

I didn't have the heart to ask anyone to feed the meter for me by climbing this embankment.

I didn't have the heart to ask anyone to feed the meter for me by climbing this embankment.

Apparently, this doctor does things the old-fashioned way. He takes his time. What a concept.

This article originally appeared on EBN's sister publication EE Times .

14 comments on “Measuring My Heart

  1. Nemos
    February 24, 2014

    “They do require expertise, but more like programming or IT — in other words, jobs that are closer to the user than engineering jobs.”

    Although I prefer the tech jobs from the other hand, this “close” connection with the final customers it is not always so “interactive” and in some cases really annoying….

  2. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    February 24, 2014

    It's amazing when you sit where we do, you start looking at the world in new ways. A UPS truck is no longer a UPS truck but rather the last step in a chain that stretches to African ore mines where the first step in component manufacture sits. The same with the many electronics products that touch our lives. All in all, it's really cool.

  3. Houngbo_Hospice
    February 25, 2014

    @Nemos: People rarely get annoy on a job that they like. Whether we are doing an IT job or an engineering job, we can still be part of the chain that connects the manufacturing plant to the end customers or users.

  4. Houngbo_Hospice
    February 25, 2014

    @Hailey, You are right, the real meaning and importance of objects are understood in the context in which they are used. A UPS truck is only useful when it fully participates in the smooth “running” of the supply chain.

  5. Nemos
    February 25, 2014

    Hmm, yes and no, people who have worked in the “customer care” can understand better what I am trying to say. Sometimes it is really difficult to apply the company's rules on the one hand and from the other to deal with customers complaints or demands.

  6. Houngbo_Hospice
    February 26, 2014

    @Nemos: I see, you still have to be able to balance between your company's rules and customers' demands. We should not forget that the saying “customer is king” is true for any kind of business.

  7. jbond
    February 26, 2014

    I know you say the customer is king but many companies say that but don't show that to their customers or treat them that way. It's not right but it happens more times than people realize.

  8. Nemos
    February 26, 2014
    • Hmm allow me to throw a doubt about it, the motto “customer is a king” probably begin from the sales departments in order to deliver more sales but in reality that doesn't not apply in most cases.
    • For example, what if you follow the above and you are working in a repair department that examines the warranty violation in consumer electronics?
  9. Adeniji Kayode
    February 27, 2014

    @Nemos, I agree with you on this. I feel customer is king when he exercise his authority in line with the company's policy.

  10. Adeniji Kayode
    February 27, 2014

    @Nemos, I agree with you on this. I feel customer is king when he exercise his authority in line with the company's policy.

  11. Adeniji Kayode
    February 28, 2014

    @Nemos, you are right on that. Customer is king when he exercise his authority in line with the company's policy.

  12. Adeniji Kayode
    February 28, 2014

    @Nemos, you are right on that. Customer is king when he exercise his authority in line with the company's policy.

  13. Adeniji Kayode
    February 28, 2014

    @Nemos, you are right on that. Customer is king when he exercise his authority in line with the company's policy.

  14. Nemos
    February 28, 2014

    @Aden I think you have some problems with your browser you have posted the same message 3 times.

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