hrj: (doll)

I had a topic I was thinking of doing today, but insufficient brain to manage it. I have one more chapter to revise of Mother of Souls--and then at least a couple more passes to make sure I haven't screwed up anything else in the process--and it's eaten up everything I have left over from work. Work, now there's something I could talk about. Not a lot, of course, because the details are often sensitive. But just in general terms of "what is Heather doing these days in her day job?"

As you know (Bob), I work for a major international pharmaceutical company. My department does the purification of biologic molecules used to treat a certain hereditary disease. Periodically we improve either the manufacturing process or the molecule itself so that it works better, is safer, is more effective, or some other improvement. For non-biologic chemicals, there are a lot of changes where approval just requires demonstrating equivalence. For the sort of thing we make, pretty much any change worth making gets treated as an entirely new drug. So you start out with a relatively limited developmental manufacturing process for your clinical studies that demonstrate safety and effectiveness. My department isn't involved with that. And then you design your commercial-scale manufacturing process, construct any new equipment or facilities required, validate your equipment and processes, train everyone on how to use them, and then you produce a certain amount of drug to demonstrate that you are making material equivalent to what was used for the clinical studies and that you can manufacture it consistently and reliably, meeting established standards for all your quality specifications. Oh, and we do this using a living organsim as part of our "factory" with all the complexity inherent in that.

That process is what we're just finishing up with at the moment. It's pretty intensive because all the data from this initial full-scale production will be worked over with a fine toothed comb by the regulatory agencies who decide whether they're going to approve your license to manufacture and sell the stuff. It's also intensive because there are a lot of timelines that are ticking forward to the point when you've gathered all the data from this phase and submitted it and gone through the audits and inspections until the day comes when the new drug is approved. Nobody goes into this sort of process unless they're absolutely certain it will be approved, but that doesn't mean stuff can't happen.

We went through this process recently with one new version of the drug. There's a poster in one of our buildings with a picture of the first does being hand-delivered to its user. It's a big deal. The process is long enough that you've usually working on the next improvement before the last one is in patients' hands.

Big Pharma comes in for a lot of criticism, and I'm not going to defend everything that goes on. Not by a long shot. But I get to see the inside of the process that takes an idea from "this might work to help someone" to "here's your next dose of the stuff that keeps you alive."  Some of the stuff we do is f'ing miraculous. And I get to be a part of that.

And that's what I do when I'm not writing books.

My primary blog has moved, but feel free to comment in either place.

hrj: (doll)
When I get one of Those Calls at work--the ones that say, "So…something came up and $HigherUp would like you to drop everything else and work on it"--it's amusing to figure out what they think they're getting by tapping me.

To be honest, sometimes the answer is along the lines of, "The original investigator is on vacation/out sick/unavailable and we need someone who can come up to speed five minutes ago and be comfortable finishing some fiddly bits and signing their name to someone else's investigation report." There's a time crunch (because if there weren't they'd just wait for the original investigator to return), but very little stress.

Sometimes the answer is, "This investigation is going to be Important and we don't want to risk assigning someone who hasn't ever done that level of investigation before." That's bunk, because if people are never assigned projects above the level of what they've done before, they'll never gain that experience. I'm always delighted when projects of this sort get assigned to someone else because I enjoy seeing other people develop the skill sets to do them. Not that I don't enjoy the big complex ones myself, but…share the love, you know?

Sometimes the answer is, "This involves a topic that you were involved in the last time it came up, so we wanted to save some time and not reinvent the wheel." With these, I always like to point out the value of retaining long-term employees who know what was going on in the company a decade ago, and who was working on things, and what the issues were. $Employer isn't always that good at retaining talent. I'm unusually non-ambitious (in part due to where I am in my career life-path) and they shouldn't count on that.

But the ones I like (such as this week's project that inspired this topic) are the investigations where they picked me because of my writing skills. Because I can take someone else's detail-overloaded, highly-technical, bogged-down-in-minutiae explanation, convert it into a summary that a future auditor can understand easily, and word it in a way that neither minimizes the issues nor inflames concern. Here's how it goes:

1. Reads up on incident description, procedures, and initial search of past similar issues.
2. Listens to two-hour explanation from subject matter experts.
3. More focused read of relevant documents.
4. Composes three paragraphs explaining problem, its context, and underlying causes.
5. Subject matter experts: "Uh, yeah, wow. So glad they put you on the job."

Folks: if you ever wondered whether superb writing skills can make you a decent living, I offer my career in evidence. Mind you, I wouldn't have the job in the first place without having the science background, and the writing wouldn't matter if I couldn't do the analytic parts, but what gets me those phone calls (and the implicit approval of $ImportantPeople) is the writing skills. It's worth it to work on them.
hrj: (doll)
For a while there, I had a very productive, if grueling, writing schedule worked out. Wake up ca 5am, on the road before 6, in the coffee shop near work and write for 1.5-2 hours then be at work by 8. Write LHMP entries on my lunch hour. Off work at 5 (well, generally it slides to around 5:30 just because), gym workout and cleanup until almost 7pm when the traffic should have thinned out enough that I can get home by 7:40 or so, stuff something in my face and get clothes, lunch, and gym bag prepped for the next day, by which time it's close to 9pm and time for bed. Weekends are for everything else: yard work, housecleaning, shopping.

But that's the schedule for winter when there's no way in hell I'll be home during daylight so what's the rush to get there? Now that the days are getting longer and we've bumped over into daylight savings, there's the possibility of doing yard work on weeknights. So this is the proposed schedule: wake up ca 6:30am, on the bike to BART to bike to work hopefully by 8am. Do gym workout on lunch hour. Off work at 5 (I swear, 5 promptly, mostly), bike to BART to bike to home by 6pm which gives me at a minimum an hour of daylight to get some yard & garden stuff done, get inspired to actually cook from the garden and lay out clothes, lunch, gym bag, etc for the next day, by which time it's maybe 8pm. At which point I have, in theory, 2.5 hours before I need to be in bed which, in theory, will be spent on writing. In theory. In theory, there's also about a total of 1 hour on BART that can be spent either reading LHMP articles or writing on the iPad, but some of this depends on whether I get a seat or not, which is tricker with the bike.

Writing in the evening has proven to be less of a certain thing than writing in the morning. But writing in the morning is dependent on getting myself out of the house (because otherwise I'll just try to sleep longer) and that works if I'm driving but not if I'm biking. So I'm going to have to come up with some clear rituals to enforce writing time. (Later in the year, "write in the long twilight sitting in the garden" works, but that's not an option yet.) And now that I'm doing fiction in Scivener, I need to come up with some sort of system for drafting things in the iPad then transferring so I can write on BART. And how will I keep up with all the podcasts I've gotten used to following now that I won't be driving? (Except on Tuesdays, which are dragonboat days.)

I like rituals, but I also like shaking up my rituals and reorganizing them. The "write in the morning' change worked better than I expected. I still feel guilty about driving rather than BARTing (although the difference is cost isn't as much as you might think, since I'm only going to the east bay, not SF with all the bridge/parking foo). But I've really been looking forward to getting the bike back into the mix, and that necessarily means shaking up the writing rituals.
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So you know how I had that dream that handed me my war cry of "Because I'm bossy and have control issues!? I think I had another one of those moments today in an off-site team building day with co-workers. We're doing this competitive small-team competition involving building a tower out of uncooked spaghetti with a marshmallow on top. (Look: either you've done one of these and you know exactly what I'm talking about or this makes as much sense as one of my dream journal entries.) And as the boss is explaining the scenario and even before we draw lots for teams I say, "Ok, I have the perfect design in mind, so whoever ends up on my team, be prepared to follow orders and hit the ground running." Which was totally against the intended theme that productive teams are all about give and take and open communication and cooperative interactions.

Things might have gone differently if this was a thrown-together group that was truly exploring new teamwork possibilities with unknown strangers. But no, my team members just shrugged and said, "What do you want us to do?"

We won (naturally). Me? Competitive much? What gave it away? And for anyone who isn't already aware: if you ever end up on a team with me, just know that I can lead, I can follow, but I will not tolerate futzing around negotiating and "processing" -- especially when there's bragging rights to be won.
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The theory was that I'd spend the day making some progress on one of my stale investigations, spend lunch editing the 'Zoo paper, maybe go out in the evening to see Iron Man 2. Instead the morning starts with the ominous sound of clucking chickens and the skreeeeeeeeech of a guillotine blade being sharpened. Yeah, one of "those" investigations. Fortunately, I get to dodge having it assigned to me by virtue of my upcoming vacation next week; unfortunately, I got to do the preliminary running around today because the co-worker it's being assigned to is on the Sun-Wed shift. So it's put together an investigational testing plan, trace some batch genealogies and mine a bit of QC data, arrange for sample deliveries and set up the paths of communication for results, and -- just when I think I can go home -- interview a bunch of people who are dead certain they're going to be blamed for a rather expensive error. And in the mean time, I get a phone call from [ profile] cryptocosm saying, "So since Dad is back in town because of the car registration glitch ..." huh? did I know this? "... how about we all get together for dinner to split the difference on the April/May birthdays?" And to make a long story shorter, I ended up being almost an hour late for dinner, between the last-minute interview and traffic, and the phone message that I left on Dad's cell about the delay no doubt will get listened to when he retrieves his phone from Stockton, where he left it when heading off for dinner.

I had a plan -- really I did. It didn't originally involve going in to work tomorrow morning to write up the notes on everything I did on the investigation so they'll be waiting for the co-worker on Sunday when he finds out what landed in his lap. Fortunately, I don't have anything else scheduled for the weekend ... besides editing the 'Zoo paper. And Iron Man 2.
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Clearly I need to get back to the "write every day" program. The combination of several nights of mild insomnia (of the wake-up-at 5am variety) and an attack-scene for the novel forced me to deviate from The Plan (of only writing chronologically) because the attack-scene was cresting at that "write me now or lose me forever" point. If I've got spare imagination that's up to working out scenes, I need to give them something programmed to chew on. The scene is useful, but I want to avoid falling into the old habit of writing all the "good parts" first. So I typed in that scene tonight and finally typed up some notes on chronology/relative ages of the various main characters (including tying them in very approximately to key events in our timeline, although even the real-world history bits that affect my plot are all well off stage).

Work is creeping into my weekend, but in a good way: baby shower for a co-worker tomorrow afternoon (she gets a promissory for a hand-knit something-or-other for the baby), then a random party thrown by someone I've gotten to know in the course of several of the Life-Eating Investigations. I'm thinking of that one as more of a career investment than a "have a good time" event since I'll get to schmooze with Key People.

Sunday, I am keeping unscheduled.
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The headless chickens failed to consume my weekend, despite the creeping advance of work deadlines. (I.e., the deadlines have been moved to earlier dates, not simply that time marches forward and the deadlines with them.) If I hadn't been able to tell my boss in advance that I had a pre-existing social commitment for this weekend, I'd be in at work at this very moment. I did, however, bring some files home to work on. 2010 is not "back to normal" yet.

Today is all about finishing the start-of-year housecleaning (especially since it involves the two rooms most involved in tomorrow's tea party) and doing some advance food prep. Oh, and relaxing. I'm scheduling some relaxing. The middle brother gave me some fancy imported bubble bath for Xmas and I'm planning to try it out.

Given the recent and current weather, I'm perusing the calendar and thinking about scheduling a getaway ski expedition. I've been thinking about checking out Royal Gorges, and it would be easier on my wallet if I did a non-weekend stay (Sun & Mon nights) rather than the weekend rates. The first half of February looks good all around. We'll see if I do anything about it before time creeps up on me.
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1. Dad arrived for a week's visit (a wedding and a memorial) and told me all sorts of horror stories about his flights. On the other hand, if you're going to absent-mindedly pack a kitchen knife in your carry-on, you can't expect the trip to go completely smoothly.

2. Over lunch today I started matching names with characters on my Dramatis Personae list. I'm starting with the major characters and will fill in the minors as I do the revision I think. But I'm not quite ready for that as I need to work on surnames and place names as well. Also forms of address. Using the usual English words just doesn't feel right, so I think I once again need to pick some Latin roots and ring my changes on them and see how it looks.

3. Wrote another fill-in scene in Part I. It occurred to me that if one of the justifications for saddling the unexpected heiress with a professional bodyguard is the potential for abduction and forced marriage to gain control of her fortune, then it would probably be a good idea to actually have a foiled abduction somewhere in there, otherwise everyone looks unnecessarily paranoid. Besides, it means protagonist #2 gets to kill someone on-screen, and it may actually be her only chance to do so in the entire story. I'm sure it would be very frustrating to be a highly trained bodyguard and professional duelist and then not get to kill anyone on-screen in the entire book.

4. It's a good thing I like to do lectures fairly free-form and off-the-cuff, because when I got pulled in to do a training session on one day's notice, only got my hands on the powerpoint file hour before the training, half an hour later discovered that I would have no power except emergency lighting in the conference room (and therefore would need to print out the slides as handouts), and then got bumped from the room by a bunch of engineers halfway through the hour and needed to move the entire class to the break room instead ... well, let's just say that a rigid presentation format wouldn't have worked very well. Got some very useful questions as well.

5. Some friends sent me the following: my very own plush headless dancing chicken. (It has a purple tutu -- that's how you know it dances.) It was made by Stuffe & Nonsense. I don't think I'll take it in to work, but a better version of the picture may well become an icon.

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I pulled up my online paystub this afternoon to see if my annual gym membership reimbursement got processed in time to be on this deposit and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the special bonus related to the Headless Chicken Project that my boss had hinted at was also in this period's deposit. A rather nice, hefty bonus. I was severely tempted to take myself out to dinner and a movie to celebrate it, but tonight was scheduled for making my potluck contribution for tomorrow's dinner at Collegium, so I did the Responsible Thing and stayed in. (Besides which, I'm already planning to celebrate it with a nice lunch out with [ profile] thread_walker next week. One shouldn't celebrate the same item too much.)

Tomorrow I'll be reprising my "Genealogy of Clothing Construction" slide show (basically: a survey of basic construction strategies and how they relate to each other physically, if not always evolutionarily) and participating in a panel on "Food and Compromise". Sunday I'm doing "Conversational Medieval Welsh", which I don't think I've taught since I was a guest teacher at Caid Collegium a number of years ago. It's convenient to be able to pull out a couple of classes that both require no advance preparation and yet aren't something I've done at all recently. But it really is time to put together some new material for next Spring's collegium.
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Having gotten a delightfully full night's sleep (the biggest sleep aid being the knowledge that the project was DONE), I showed up all bright and perky at work at my usual 8am this morning. My boss greeted me with the equivalent of "What the heck are you doing here?" but I figured today I'd have the biggest leverage for my comp time request. I probably needn't have bothered -- he agreed to my request for all next week (i.e., the 4 non-holiday days in addition to Labor Day, which I get anyway) so quickly that I probably could have gotten more if I'd pushed it. But it's all good. Then around about lunchtime he comes into the office and says, "You have an appointment with a chair massage at 1:30 and then I don't want to see you again until tomorrow." Do I have the bestest boss or what?

So ... I had a nice leisurely afternoon to start the logistics for my surprise vacation. Scheduled the Element for its 10,000 mile service (which will be about 400 miles early, but better that than later) and decided to take the opportunity to get a trailer hitch receiver installed because .... went to REI and picked up the bike carrier I've had my eye on. It attaches via a trailer hitch socket and has a hinged arm to swing the bike(s) out of the way to the side for access to the rear doors without having to remove the rack -- or even the bike(s) from the rack. (It still makes more sense to put the bike inside the vehicle for long drives to improve mileage, but the carrier will be more convenient in other circumstances.)

When I was thinking in terms of adding a couple of days to the long weekend, I was thinking of hitting the redwoods and up to Crater Lake. But with a whole week, it occurred to me that I should go a bit farther afield, so I decided on Yellowstone. It isn't an ideal bicycling area (although people do ride there) but there are lots of shortish day hikes and I can mix things up nicely.

So the basic plan is to spend Saturday and Sunday driving out. Then spend the week spread across two or three home bases in the park, taking side trips. Then the second weekend driving back. I've been perusing maps, hiking guides, and the list of the (relatively few) bike-oriented trails to get a sense of where I want to spend how much time, but I figure I'll leave the specifics for when I phone the campground reservation folks tomorrow and see what's available.

Given how hard it is to justify a purely kick-back vacation to myself, it's rather nice to have the time off on such short notice that kicking back makes the most sense. (The comp time policy is pretty much "take it now" -- they don't want people treating it as "bankable" vacation time.) Getting away will be far more relaxing than hanging around the house would have been. I've missed this sort of trip.
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The Big Investigation is finished, completed, signed, uploaded, done. We were all a combination of snappish and slap-happy all weekend, but towards the end it was that end-of-marathon grim determination. I still don't think I can discuss details, but let's just say that closure was immediately followed by phone calls to the mothership in Germany and the packaging facility in Italy for further follow-up. The investigation was successful in that we determined and demonstrated that no product quality was compromised at any point. But the process was considerably fraught with fraughtness.

I've been griping a lot about the long hours, but the fact is that this sort of schedule happens very very rarely, and nobody at my level was in a "do it or else" situation. While I didn't exactly volunteer for the weekend work, I wasn't exactly commanded to it either. And if I'd had a hard conflict, other arrangements would have been made. Furthermore, the Big B is quite excellent about rewarding and appreciating above-and-beyondness. And, as I've noted before, I'm quite gratified and made secure by the fact that it's become reflexive for them to assign this sort of project to me.

But I'm still going to see just how many comp days I can squeeze out of the system. (It's never a one-for-one thing for us exempts, but I put in over 50 hours more than my 40-a-week in the past week, and that doesn't count all the rest of the hours in the past month and a half.)

And now, I'm going to go to sleep at my regular bedtime and get up in the morning for my regular workout, and then go to work again.
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I suppose we could have pushed to make it to 24 hours straight working on this bleeping report, but the Directors and Managers all wimped out after 21 hours. It's ok, I haven't been much good for anything but taking dictation since around 2am. I made the effort to format another one of the appendices around 4:30, but Word could tell I was exhausted and started getting obstinate. We reconvene at noon or thereabouts. That gives me a whole six hours or so to try to sleep. I'm starting to be of the opinion that an entire week of comp time wouldn't be over-generous.


Aug. 27th, 2009 10:44 pm
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I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job. I love my job.

I do not, so much, love averaging 12 hours a day at work this week and the prospect of working both Saturday and Sunday. But if the Big Investigation is closed at the end of it, it'll have to be worth it. If I do end up at work all weekend, I plan on squeezing a couple of comp days out of the boss. Things should slack off enough to tack them on to the holiday weekend. If it all comes together, I'll be packing up the Element and heading for trees and mountains. No specific plans (wouldn't want to jinx things) but I have in mind heading vaguely north somewhere. Maybe redwoods. Maybe Crater Lake.

But first I have to survive the weekend.
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I made a big dent in dealing with the archaeological strata on the dining room table. Most of it was various pieces of paperwork that needed to be sorting through for either filing or disposal. The major incentive was the need to clear the table for dining with [ profile] goldenstag, [ profile] aastg, and the youngest brother coming over.

[ profile] aastg and I had the planned objective of looking at sealing methods for early medieval Welsh charters in order to finalize the plans for sealing my laurel scroll, for which purpose the collection of charter photos at the National Library of Wales' Digital Mirror site was invaluable. ([profile] ermine_rat finished the scroll a couple years ago, but first there as the fruitless attempt to hunt down the original issuing royalty for signatures and then it's been kicking around for special seal handling for the last year or so. And given that the award was given nearly 30 years ago, it's not like there's a sense of urgency.)

The youngest brother was there for the purpose of utilizing HRJ's airport satellite parking lot and shuttle service.

We started out with sourdough baguette with two kinds of bruschetta (tomato and artichoke) and some Cowgirl Creamery "Mt. Tam" cheese. A salad followed, with sliced heirloom tomatoes and snake cucumber (from the CSA box) plus fresh mozzarella, all sprinkled with truffle salt. (Yes, I have a serious thing about tomatoes and truffle salt. I'm sure I'll get tired of it after a few years.) At this point I discovered that the big propane canister on the grill had run out -- with the lemon-basil chicken nicely browned but not yet cooked through -- so I tossed it in the oven and rearranged the dishes. We went straight to the cold tomatillo soup (which counts as a "mystery produce" item because I've never cooked it before -- another CSA box item), followed by corn-on-the-cob, with the roast chicken bringing up the rear. (Recipe: in a food processor, combine 3 cloves garlic, a handful fresh basil, zest and juice of 3 lemons, and one stick butter. Work this in under the skin of the chicken. Fill the cavity with the spent lemon rinds and truss on the rotisserie. Or if the propane runs out ... roast at 350. Cook until the proper internal temperature.) Finished up with mango sorbet. It wasn't exactly a menu designed for the brother's more narrow tastes, but I don't think he'll starve.

Then it was off to SFO the long way around through San Mateo (since the Bay Bridge looked like a parking lot) and twice around the domestic terminals before we hauled out the iPhone to go online and discover that Jet Blue operates out of the international terminal.

This morning I took in a silly movie (G-Force in 3D -- I'm just a sucker for those 3D animated flicks), put in a 15 mile bike ride along the bay (to make up for skipping the gym Friday), dropped by my haircut place to make an appointment before the trip east (they squeezed me in Thursday after work -- just barely in time), then continued dealing with paper strata (which had ended up being moved in stacks to a shelf to clear the table last night).

To-do this week: drop by the credit union for deposits and to pick up the new checks (which they don't seem to have notified me had come in -- I noticed the debit came through on last months statement, so I assume they have them); look into the previously mentioned credit card mystery; buy cat food; process most of the produce box into non-perishable form (since I'll be off in New York for half the week); pack; get my hair cut; briefly contemplate going shopping for something new to wear on the trip (the event is my uncle and aunt's 50th wedding anniversary) and decide I don't have time and have perfectly reasonable things to wear already; verify cat-sitting coverage; verify transit schedules to the airport. Oh, and work on a massively important investigation report at work. (After gloating that at least someone else was the principal investigator for this one ... they transferred it to me after all. I am, of course, flattered and comforted.)
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So having gotten off work on time for the first time this week (a week that involved two days working to 7pm and one working to midnight), I was able to put in enough sewing time to finish the tunic I committed to making to help expand the wardrobe of the Prince of the Mists. Now I just need to figure out how to arrange delivery, given that I don't appear to be attending any SCA events this month.

And now I'm really really tired and going to bed. I had a waiver from my boss to sleep in and come in late this morning, but round about 8am the Director of QA invaded my dreams demanding to know where the documents were that the VIPs wanted to review and I gave up on the whole sleep thing. Today was a lull, but I suspect tomorrow may involve more "do not leave until this is done" events. Next week should be more relaxed -- the headless chickens will be plucked and gutted and we can begin debating recipes.


Jul. 15th, 2009 11:49 pm
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The mad whirl that started last night with the unexpected dinner expedition continued apace. Today was my jury duty summons date. The phone message last night said to call again at lunch today, and the message at mid-day said to come in. No sooner had we gotten the preliminaries over than pretty much the entire jury waiting room (including me) got sent off for an empanelment. By the end of the day, they'd processed the first sitting (not including me), and whittled 18 down to maybe 9 or so. Tomorrow morning I get to go back and do it again.

But first, after we got released for the day from the courtroom, I dashed back to work because I had to interview a guy who works grave shift about one of my investigations. The first thing I needed his help on was to locate the duplicate "retain" samples for the batch I'm investigating. Retain samples are stored at -70 C. We pulled out an entire bin of them and froze our fingers working through them four times until we determined that not only were the retains from the day I was interested in not there, but the retains from that entire week weren't there. Now I have to track down the guy responsible for organizing the freezer and find out if they were discarded for some reason (bad) or moved elsewhere for some reason (good). Having spent an hour on sample inventory, I then had the guy walk me through the sampling process. I'd planned to get away from work by 7pm at the latest, but finally got un-gowned and out of production around 7:30, which meant it was a mad dash to ...

Reprising my "Dublin-Viking caps" class from A&S for the Teufelberg Wednesday night gathering. Had about half a dozen people making caps and a few others hanging out watching and listening. Just about the right number, although we had to do noise control several times, given the number of different activities going on. It was nice having other people there who could jump in on some of the philosophical and methodological blathering, so my voice was less likely to give out before the time did.

It might be nice to end up on a jury. It's actually a reasonable convenient time at work to get pulled away for a few days.
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Thursday I was at this all-day training session at work for "managing multiple priorities". Among the other dumb and questionable things the lecturer said was, "a scientific study has proven that e-mail and texting interruptions lower the IQ twice as much as smoking marijuana." My instant reaction was, "This is just like those pseudo-scientific sound-bite studies that the folks at Language Log are always frothing at the mouth about." (I.e., sociological or behavioral studies with extremely marginal distinctions between categories of individuals based on small data sets where not only is the actual difference statistically insignificant, but is much smaller than each category's internal variation.) I want to see data. I want to see controls. I want to see the study design. I want to see statistical significance.

And then, lo and behold, today's Language Log column makes reference to a column they'd done debunking this exact study all the way back in 2005. Hah! Question #1: Is it worth my time to direct the attention of the trainer to this debunking? Question #2: If I do, is it likely to result in any change in his obviously canned patter?
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... for many reasons. One of them is that when I stay at work until 8:30 pm finishing the final version of the report for the Big Investigation, it's still mildly duskish when I'm bicycling home. With any luck, my two primary reviewers will approve my melding of our three opinions, there will not be an[1] egregious typos, errors, or formatting glitches that somehow escaped my last several reviews, and we can sign it off and close it out with no drama tomorrow.

And then I can begin working on the new investigation for exactly the same type of elevated test result that just came into the system last week. (There wasn't enough time to incorporate it in the current report.) Annoying, of course, but then one of the conclusions of the investigation was that we haven't actually addressed the underlying causes yet (we just understand the nature of the questions better) and can expect to have the problem recur.

Fortunately, I'm not bored by the topic yet. (We're really only closing the current investigation for logistical reasons -- we're confident the quality of the material is ok, but we can't move it forward until the investigation's closed.) This will give me an excuse to plunge once more into digging through that last half dozen years' worth of data ....

ETA: [1] Per internet regulations, any sentence mentioning typos must contain at least one typo ... 'scuse me, "typoe".
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Work was a lot of tidying up today -- both the things that got pushed aside to finish the Big Report and the things that needed to get done before a week off. But relaxing, even so. I dashed off at lunch to get my hair cut (which, for some reason, I felt was important to squeeze in before heading out of town). But now I'm all packed and ready to get a good sleep before heading out to the airport at an ungodly hour of the morning.

Oh, and I've finally gotten around to signing up for a CSA weekly produce box. I'd done a bunch of research on CSAs that deliver in the East Bay and selected the optimal one ... but hadn't gotten around to signing up. And then someone at work got the company to sponsor a CSA delivery site for Full Belly Farms, so I dropped my previous plans and signed up for that one. Can't get much more convenient than that! Full Belly doesn't do different box sizes, so I'll see how well their standard weekly box works for me.
hrj: (Default)
I swore to my boss that I wouldn't leave work today until the completed final draft of the investigation report went out in e-mail. I left work at 8pm with my honor intact. Now it's up to the rest of the investigation team to spend the next week reviewing and commenting on all 230 pages of write-up. *evil giggle* I'm going to be particularly interested to see what the grand-boss and my QA partner's grand-boss have to say. It still feels like I've invested the last half year of my work-life without actually solving the underlying problem. But I'm quite happy about how thoroughly I've laid out the questions that might lead to solving it (if anyone cares). And now I can forget about it until I get back from Kalamazoo.

The temptation was to blow off steam by going out to see Wolverine, but instead I came home and got most of the packing done. What I really need is a serious shoulder massage. I've got knots on my knots. Sleep now.


hrj: (Default)

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