Wednesday, June 20, 2012

13 April 2012

And when it rains, it pours, something I've likely written here before, perhaps to the point of boredom, though it's certainly descriptive of how things happen more often than not.

I have a second presentation. Two days. Two presentations. Two prospective clients. Many things are similar because they both are planning very similar activities. However, I can assure you that if they put their heads together, they'd identify thousands of important differences, and guess who needs to be cognizant of those differences, and least for a couple of hours. This might be the hardest part.

And again, someone has worked diligently for the past several weeks to make this happen, and that someone is not me. Again, I have a folder and some files. Perfectly organized. Ready to go. All I have to do is find another suit (Yes, I sweated all over the suit from yesterday.) and somehow manage to be smart-sounding for a couple of hours.

My colleague will also have to make do with this card until she can locate the bourbon and Vicodin. Of course, she's probably hard at work on what I'll be presenting in a few months, and not noticing such distractions.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

12 June 2012

I’m on a road trip to present a proposal from our company to an organization that has worked with us before. I’m also presenting alone, which is uncommon, but not a problem. My role is to look decent and be, generally, smart for a couple of hours. As you might suspect, both can be a challenge for me.

Nonetheless, I pulled out a suit, found a tie, read my materials, and prepared to give the organization two hours of free consulting. That's what these activities often are. Most organizations, especially as they're deciding what to do, really haven't developed a clear picture of what they want, not at this point, though they might think they know, and a large part of my job is to help them talk through options.

It's not bad duty, as duty goes.

However, there's an awful lot of work that goes on long before I receive my materials. Countless hours, we might say, though I’m sure someone really did count them. Without her work, I could not do my part. Not at all.

She deserves more than this card, perhaps bourbon. Well, more likely Vicodin. Perhaps the ink from this fountain pen will buy her a little. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

11 June 2012

You don't have to watch the television much to recognize that the drug manufacturers have figured out that the baby boomers are aging, and what we have now is a pill for about every malady and malaise known to old farts like me. Well, with one exception. We don't have an anti-death pill. Not yet.

This mess surely drives doctors mad. Marketing people drive the ads, not medicine, and if you review the litany of symptoms the pills are designed to cure, you quickly realize that you need that pill. Celebrex leaves you dancing. Cialis puts you bathing together with your spouse in separate tubs. Then there are the Low-T ads.

The people who worry about sex ed in the schools should pay a little more attention to the ads on the six o'clock news, not to mention the dialog on prime time TV. Come to think of it, there's more than a little rape and pillage in that book they so eagerly espouse as well. Okay, I digress. Again.

So I was in the doc's office for a mid-year check-in. No problems, aside from the usual for a 59-year old man, but like every other patient, I’m sure, I had one of those ads on my mind. We discussed some of the science and a lot of the statistics, and I declined the treatment. Clinical studies are one thing. Open trials on the population are another, and I will wait until a few million other people go first lest I become an underlying statistic a la Vioxx.

I appreciate her plain talking with me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

10 June 2012

Sometimes I think I've finished some little something, only to learn at an inopportune moment that what I thought was perfectly clear was somewhat less than lucid for the other guy.

That happened Saturday morning. The email and explanation I sent earlier didn't do the trick. Maybe one day I'll learn to get it right the first time. Wait. That's surely a jest.

So I'm stepping into the Ninja Challenge, and during a brief down moment, I look at email. Uh oh. I didn't respond directly, but I did send a text to a colleague asking if he could send the reference for computing the Brennan-Kane Index of Dependability.

He sent an email with a PDF attached. The PDF was the original article. He also sent a text in which he asked me why I was working on a Saturday when I was surrounded by Ninjas.

That was a good question.

Later in the evening, I returned home, cleaned up, and forwarded the article to my confused peep. I'm sure he grunted, probably even said something untoward, but he did solve his problem, and he can meet his deadline.

My colleague off to the west did a good thing on a Saturday, and he's getting a card. We might even sing to him later.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

09 June 2012

And we did it. We ran the Ninja Challenge. Survival was not necessarily an option, but we made it through. All together. We started together. We faced each challenge together. We finished together. Actually, we finished by skipping across the finish line like a passel of grade schoolers. We were smiling about as big too.

It has been a very long time since I had a Saturday afternoon that went so well. I hope the ladies know how much I appreciate them running with me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

08 June 2012

Our CEO sits on a few interesting boards, and that gives him contact with several interesting people. Occasionally, this mean that he brings the company tickets to events. It's often an opportunity to attend something we'd otherwise never consider. In this case, a concert on the lawn at the Art Museum. The question is: Will I be alive after the Ninja Challenge? We won't know for a while, but if we are, we might just step up the the amphitheater for an evening on the lawn. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

07 June 2012

The peep who usually corrects my broken English and who also agreed to run in the Ninja Challenge with me, took time from her off-work life, made cookies, and brought them in. Ninja sugar cookies. They were beyond good.

What she didn't know was that I was moving too fast to grab some lunch, and even though I had a late breakfast, my tummy was complaining. Her cookies saved my life, or at least the lives of several people around me. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

06 June 2012

Like every other organization in the world, we have someone who is in charge of processing our expense reports. I do my very best to get them right because the penalty is missing the fortnight cycle and having to wait that additional two weeks for my money back. Well, the credit card's money back.

I usually get the paperwork about right, but of course today, being in a hurry, I fouled one up. Extremely fouled, and it was only one line long. Yes, it takes some special talent to do that. Nonetheless, the reimbursement fairy fixed it, brought it to me so I could learn something, and then went on about her business. She could have just said nope, and left it for me to figure out. Of course, I'm not sure that I ever would have gotten this particular one right. She probably knew that already. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

05 June 2012

When I think I've finished a project, I usually burn the files to a CD, and then send the CD to the client representative for safe keeping. Often, that means I send the Word file and the corresponding PDF to a helpful peep to put on the CD, and that's that.

Other times, there's a complicated directory structure involved, and then it's a different beast. In those cases, I just burn the CD myself. It's simpler than duplicating the structure on a shared drive, and then explaining what needs to go on the CD.

However, I still need a label, and while I'm quite fine with using a Sharpie, company standards encourage me to do a little better, and that means I wind up visiting my helpful peep. I try not to just walk in and expect her to do something because that's just plain unfair, but she did just that, dropped everything and made me a pretty label while I waited today.

She makes our lives at work simpler, and she does so with a smile. And now a card.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

04 June 2012

A project is defined as something that has a discrete beginning and end. If something is on-going with no end expected, we call it a process. There! You're all educated now.

I work on a lot of projects that are embedded in processes. The final step of those projects is, usually, me writing some kind of report, and let me tell you right now: Those reports are simply compelling reading.

The thing is a few other people, generally, get to make edits, and the apparent human need to change the written words of another runs very strong, especially in those people who do not write much.

I just turned in a report for the third time to our editor. She smiled. She didn't slap me. She didn't release the Kraken. She just sent me a revised PDF about an hour later.

I doubt I made her day, any more than the revision made mine, but she was a very good sport about it all. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

03 June 2012

So a few months back, I finally got some of the work peeps to participate in a baby mud race. 5K and about a dozen large obstacles. It's called the Ninja Challenge, and it's held locally.

That's all well and good, and then I get to work. We have ninja t-shirts. One of the peeps found ninja t-shirts at Target, and she got some for us. We'll be very well dressed as they drag us through the mud.

This one requires two death waivers. I hope the obituary mentions the shirts.

Friday, June 8, 2012

02 June 2012

I work with a lot of volunteers who are selected by the management of professional organizations. These volunteers work for free, and receive only reimbursement for their expenses. Food. Travel. Lodging. Manicures. Well, not that one.

The important thing is that someone has to assemble the volunteers carefully. One volunteer with an agenda or one volunteer lacking the ability to negotiate and compromise can put our work at risk, and given that these meetings are generally very expensive, it's important that we accomplish the work we've planned in the time we've allocated.

Today, I facilitated one such meeting. Our charge was to determine the passing point of an examination. This is not a trivial task, and it has to be done right, or I get to spend some quality time with fire-breathing attorneys later on. This means much of my success, and peace of mind, is predicated on the work of another, who, in this case, put together a fine panel of volunteers.

We finished our work early, and the panel produced solid data. I want my organization representative to know that I appreciate her hard work and planning.

May in review

May? We had a May? It was so short, I hardly noticed. What I did notice was the many things that happened. Josh graduates. Josh commissions. I spent a week in Daytona Beach running on the beach and eating sweet potato fries with a barbeque sandwich for lunch. Got to see Lil and Maddy. Michele too. Spent a morning with Josh running on the beach with a sandbag on my shoulders. There's some interesting metaphour there. Of course, I spent that week far away from the ex-in-laws, and that was a smart move.

Ran another baby mudder directly after graduation. Mostly alone. Again. Did much better than the last time except it took longer. I'll get there one day. At least the parking for this one was reasonable.

Invited a young woman to dinner and a colonoscopy. Don't tell me that I have forgotten how to entertain the fairer sex. Sang to the staff while I was waking up. Farted excessively. Where else can a grown man do that and have it considered a sign of good health? 

But aren't we supposed to be discussing gratitude here? I believe we are. Work was very busy, and that meant I withdrew to the home office to be sure to meet my deadlines, what with all the social distractions of an office. Of course, I luxuriate going 48 hours never speaking to another person, but that leaves me stretching to continue this project. I think that's a good thing, and while it leaves me frequently expressing gratitude for a simple and small thing, it means that the simple and small thing is also recognized. When I think of it, I believe the simple and small things are important, just as important as, perhaps even more so than, those larger things we more easily see.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

31 May 2012

I mentioned sometime back about the peep holding forth until we had finding for an intern. The intern starts soon, and she's going to develop something called equating software for us over the next two months. If she survives that task, and that's a mighty big if because I'm not sure who in this world can survive two months of focus on statistical equating, then she'll know what she never wants to do again and we'll have a software package we can modify as we need.

Today a card. This summer, a wreath. Oops! Sorry for the hyperbole. She appears to like statistical equating. Go figure.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

30 May 2012

When it rains, it pours. Another proposal was accepted today. This time, it's shared with another organization, and that's very good. Now I just have to figure out what we'll actually talk about, and given that I don't have two decades of history with this accomplice, I'm going to have to actually think this one through. Imagine that.

But, she's a good peep. This will work out just fine, which is why I asked her to dance in the first place. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

29 May 2012

I've probably said it far too often, but I don't work in a vacuum, though I suspect there are those who occasionally wish I did. More to the point, this is the season in which we make proposals for technical presentations at fall and winter professional conferences, and one of the rules placed on us is that we have co-presenters affiliated with a separate organization. The idea is to prevent us from turning the presentations into sales and marketing, not that they really have to worry about that with me.

Most of the professional organizations with which I work are not inclined to participate in these activities. For the most part, the individuals involved say they don't feel qualified. They might feel that way, but I see them as imminently qualified. More likely, they are a bit afraid, not interested, or perhaps already busy enough. Regardless, I don't push the issue.

Instead, I solicit participation from a bud who works as a professor of what we do. I was on his dissertation committee, and we've presented and published together for almost 20 years. Damn, I'm getting old. Nonetheless, he usually agrees to play along, and that make life simple. Yeah, we just had another proposal accepted. We'll be in Palm Springs together again this November.

Monday, June 4, 2012

28 May 2012

After all this time, it finally happened. Last night, the toilet drain slowed, but still drained. This morning, the draining stopped. On a holiday. These things never happen at convenient times. I'd hoped that my snaking the drain myself last night would have solved the problem, and I could avoid having to ask management to call a plumber on a holiday, but it was not to be.

I don't know how much that plumber charged, but I am certain it wasn't enough. I left the light on. I left the fan running. I left the door closed. I stepped in once to fetch my toothbrush, and I haven't smelled such since I toured the maggot farm in Burlington.

The apartment manager was quick to respond, and all was well by the time I returned home later in the afternoon. I should send her flowers.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

27 May 2012

Yep, a Sunday evening, and I had company. This time, it was not dinner and a colonoscopy, but then every day can't be Christmas. This time it was just dinner and a flick. She brought the flick. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In doing so, I believe she saved my life. I'm pretty sure that I could read my way through the books, but now I know for a fact that I never want to be exposed to the movies ever again, no matter how many there are and no matter what the reviews. I could go on about how poorly that story was told as a flick, but I'm going to restrain myself and only write a note.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

26 May 2012

The apartment building hires someone to clean up after us, and by us, I means the slobs who live in this building. Apparently, their mothers were derelict in teaching them how to behave. They drop stuff and walk away. They leave trash in the stairwells despite the risk of a huge fine. One peep tossed the trash bags out the window. I can only assume that many of the foreign nationals living here had staff back home.

The management company hires someone to take care of the building, and the current woman does a wonderful job, though I fear she's overworked and underpaid.

She smiles. She's friendly. She collects discarded clothes for a shelter. In a few days, she'll collect a card also, though it won't go far at the grocery store.

Friday, June 1, 2012

25 May 2012

Today, we had a company meeting. Many organizations do this, and although I'd rather receive the information by email, I do like the pizza lunch that follows. Unfortunately, this time I had an obligation at lunch that took me out of the office after the meeting and away from the pizza. I'm sure wars have been started over less.

However, when I returned and went to the kitchen to refill my quart of artificially sweetened and flavored tap water, I noticed there was left over pizza. Pepperoni. Not my first choice, but this beggar is no chooser, and three pieces found themselves wrapped for my dinner, fueling the 4-miler that followed.

Not a bad way to end a week.