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Friday, August 1, 2003

Now I don't remember what the auditor said to me the last time we talked on the phone. I thought she said she'd reschedule the audit for the first week in August. To do that, she would have had to phone me today and tell me when she wanted to come. So maybe she said she'd call the first week in August to set a date for the audit.

In any case, I didn't get any more work done today on preparing for the audit. The Boss had other plans. He's been faxing me requests for various reports ever since I got back from vacation, but I haven't had time to work on any of them. With the audit shunted to the back of my mind, I could have worked on his reports today, but instead he came up with a whole different project.

He's been writing a specification for a new client, and he needs to have it typed. He's had weeks, maybe months, to get it done, but today was the day. He faxed me eight pages first thing this morning, then phoned and asked me if I had time to work on it. Since my job is to say "no problem," that's what I said. Out loud, that's what I said. Before I hung up the phone.

I don't really mind these big typing projects. They're actually kind of interesting, because I know so little about the engineering that goes into the construction that we do. I'm learning little by little what the words mean, but only in the abstract. I couldn't tell a lag bolt from a machine bolt if my previous existence depended on it. I've typed the words "hot dipped galvanized" so many times in my career that I should know how to do the process.

I don't think I'll try it, though. I don't want to have anything to do with something "hot" and "dipped" unless it comes from the bakery.

There's a lot of legal language in these written specs, too. A lot of "Contractor shall" and a lot more "Contractor shall not." I can help him with the phrasing on these sections, because it's easy for me to tell whether something is clear. If I can't understand it, I either ask him what he really means or rewrite it myself and hope for the best.

We can't produce a document without at least a half-dozen drafts, so he catches all my misinterpretations of his pencil scribblings, and I manage pick through most of his old familiar quirks. Because of what I assume is a rare, mutant form of dyslexia, he can't write the letter "s" at the end of a word, even if it's plural. Sometimes I can tell by the context, and sometimes I have to use my judgment. After seventeen years (as of next week), I've learned how to fill in the gaps in his brain.

However, if you ever come to my house and find a chair turned over, it might be because he's just sent me a revision of a revision, before I've had a chance to revise the original revision. So I have to look at the two revisions side by side and figure out what's been revised and what's been re-revised. Otherwise, I might be taking a step backward and unrevising something. Tossing furniture sometimes helps with this process.

That's how I spent my Friday, typing new material instead of making any progress on my to-do list. I suppose I could work all weekend, just in case the auditor shows up Monday unannounced. That's going to be hard for her, though, since she has no idea where I live. She's coming up from San Jose, and if I had to I could get her lost half a day just looking for the right street. I'm hoping that kind of tactic won't be necessary.

30 July 2003

Hen and chicks.

All in all, it was a good day. I produced a lot of work, even if it wasn't exactly the work I thought I absolutely had to do today. It's still important, and it might get us new clients, which would be good for the company and therefore my job security. I'm always being told how close we are to running out of projects to keep the business going and the cash flowing. Any effort toward avoiding that fate is worth it.

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The Summer Repertory Theatre season has just a week left to run, and tonight we saw Tom Stoppard's witty, wordy "Arcadia." Despite being marred by bad British accents and the fact that it's about 45 minutes too long, I loved the mix of literary mystery, theoretical mathematics and sex. Within the play there are several long, complex speeches that just blew me away with their intellectual agility. It made me want to go back to school again (which I would do, if not for the grades).

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Passing the Audition
"Has the earth flipped on its axis, and is it suddenly summer in the Other Hemisphere? (You know, the one you have to turn the globe upside down to see?) If so, I hope you're enjoying our weather, because I don't much care for yours."

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