Gotcha

It has been a while since I last sat at this keyboard to share what has been going on.
What has been going on is work, work, game, work, and a show.

It is now summer, and we had our day of summer.
One day, and maybe a little into the next.
It has been in the 60’s since, but the promise is for it to get warmer in the next week, and for

(shhhhhhh) the 4th of July weekend may even be sunny!

You don’t want the gods to remember that it is their duty (apparently) to make it rain on the 4th. This tests each person to see if they are a true northwesterner, willing to get wet to see their fireworks.

I am not truly complaining, it just gets tiresome to not be warm all day. And it really has been getting warmer by bits. My evening game wear no longer includes long johns or the big jacket. I am generally happy with a sweatshirt and jacket. And my gloves. And frequently a scarf.

Scarves are du rigueur for soccer matches here – so I do not look out of place.
Sounders had a fun game on Thursday evening against the NY Red Bulls. The Red Bulls are a really great team offensively. Lots of creative ideas to watch as they race down the field. We got 2 goals on them early – which they matched. But then we managed a third, and then their goalie had a lapse of concentration, during which our forward took the ball, literally, from the goalie’s feet, moved around him to the left, and putted it into the goal.

Last night the Mariners played as the visiting team, under National League Rules against the Florida Marlins – at Safeco Field. But we were not in attendance. We were at the Seattle Men’s Chorus at the other end of downtown. A fun evening, and we will get to see Mariner pitchers bat tonight and tomorrow. [The Marlins lost control of their stadium to U2 for the weekend, and so must play 3 home games on the road.]

That was the usual for last week.
The mostly usual concerns work. I have two MAJOR projects right now. One is ending, and the other is just starting. I need to get the one ended, and am working on final edits. However, as usual, other work at work interferes with my ability to focus on what I am in charge of, and instead work on all of these things for others.

The primary OTHER thing this past week has been editing redoing a PowerPoint presentation for a focus group customer participation meeting. It is much easier to work on something when you completely understand the motivation and goals behind the project. But sometimes you just have to suck it up and do what you can anyway. In this particular case, the originator of the original piece is an elected official. This makes it doubly difficult, because you just can’t talk to them the same way you can talk to a “regular” boss, and you can not have the same expectations of technical skill sets. But in this case there appeared to be a real hesitation to allow any changes. But on the other hand, whatever went public would reflect on the workplace as a whole, so you just have to try to put the best face forward.

The elected’s goal was to have 20-25 random customers (out of 16,000+) come into our office on a Saturday, and watch the presentation. The presentation would include a few slides with “education” about a particular subject, followed by a related question or two. These are opinion type questions, no right or wrong answers. They would have “clickers” that feed the responses to a program, that could then display the results, anonymously. This way the electeds could get a better understanding of what our customers felt about certain matters, and consider those results in setting policies.

This is a good idea. Except that 20 out of 16,000+ is just not statistically significant. You could start down some strange paths with such a small sample. And while we know the technology for the Question/Answer/Response review exists, it is not a product we have in house or know how it all connects together. The elected has indicated they will get a piece of this technology from a regional group, of which we are a member.

Three of us were unwilling to let a less than professional looking product leave the office, so we took on the task of “editing.” As it actually turned out, we tried to look at the body of work presented, determine what the real question/point behind each slide was, and then craft a bit of education followed by a question. We formatted, discussed, argued, laughed and eventually came out with a set of 14 questions that we could live with. Then we left the product in our most creative members hand to dress up. (A pig with lipstick comes to mind.) And we put out a request for the Q/A/R technology, so we could make sure it would work.

Of course, this product was fine with the three of us, but it needed to be vetted by the other managers – especially the GM, and then rolled back out to the elected. And if the elected did not accept it – what then?

All of this took probably at least 1/2 of my work time during the past week. And it was not the easiest work, because it was not a project I was whole-heartedly behind. Nor in my area of natural skills. And it was keeping me from doing the work that I really need to get done. With deadlines.

The GM requested a meeting Friday afternoon to see what we had put together, and get whatever edits the rest of the Managers determined would be necessary. Only two of the workplace re-creators were in attendance, as the third was telecommuting for the day. As folks gathered we opened up the presentation, took a step back and opened up the original presentation.

There were a few in attendance that had not seen the original. Including the final slide with the puppies who’s eyes blinked and then stuck out their tongue as the words, “We love you,” flashed on the screen. Professional? Maybe for a small child or animal based operation. Well, that got the laughter started, including us re-creators, as it had been a long week – and some release was in order.

Then the Q/A/R technology arrived.

It was about as professional looking as the original elected’s presentation.
There were six clickers – with stickers, and – well it is hard to describe – I will add a picture later. But there were no instructions, and the switch did not seem to always work correctly. Only the green light would turn on, not the red. And our answers were not logic – yes/no – answers, but A.B.C.D. type. OMG – it just continues.

The two of us re-creators are trying to figure out how we can get a machine that does work. The City had one at a meeting we attended – did they rent or own it?

There were many things about the Q/A/R machine that should have told us immediately what it really was.
A bunch of bits and pieces cobbled together, with enough extra wiring to make a few bells and whistles activate. (Actually, just lights.)

But it had been a stressful week, and when you are too close to something – you just don’t see the big picture.

And as the realization hit, we had been duped, and our new GM was the master duper. The laughter increased. Most in the room were laughing so hard they were crying. Stomachs ached. It was raucous enough that the receptionist appeared and reminded us that there were customers about that were wondering what the noise was all about.

Super Duper Voting Machine

After it was all over, I realized that it was an excellent joke. Really.
Total gotcha.

But some of my tears were real. And I don’t think it is that I can’t take a joke, it is just that I have to work today – Saturday – because I have not been able to get my own projects worked on during the “normal” work week.

One Response to “Gotcha”

  1. regenaxe Says:

    So was the whole original presentation a dupe, or just the voting machine? Sounds to me like you should telecommute for half a week to focus on your own projects, and let the other, also important, things land on some one else’s shoulders. Redirect all calls to the GM with the comment, “I’d like to do this, but I’m debugging the Q/A/R processor.”

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