Real estate checklists gone wild

Letters From the Home Front

A hundred years ago, I was in college. After a long and deliberate process of considering viable fields of study (involving a thoughtful analysis of the boy-to-girl ratios of each), I chose civil engineering. Engineering, it turns out, indeed involved a lot of boys but also a lot of numbers.

Mostly, though, it involved a lot of rules, or as we called them, equations. Remember the right equation for the right situation; plug; and play. That’s how I tended to approach it. But then there was Sherman. He was in a different area of engineering — the magic kind where you had to take certain things on faith, like the fact that a bunch of random wires carrying who-knows-what could actually power a blow-dryer — or Bill Gates.