Monday, September 30, 2013


OK, so I finally have a little room to breathe at work. I still have a ton to do! But what remains is not quite as time-sensitive as what I plowed through over the last couple weeks, so I can pace myself and go back and forth between that remainder and, just to pick a for-instance totally at random, writing little casual musings on what the hell I’m doing with my life.

I ended up hitting my killer deadline by taking a page from the playbook of Jim Kirk: if you can’t beat the game, change the rules. I started with a massive pile of data that had been entered into spreadsheets over the course of almost two months, all of which needed to be captured in the database which was out of commission between networks for awhile but is now back online. Some of the data was simple and clean, and some was messy, and obviously the messy data was slowing me down. Fortunately, I realized that the reports that were going to be looked at come the end of the year (today) don’t touch on that messy data at all. So I just set all of that aside and focused on getting the data that actually shows up on the reports into the system. There was a little more to it than that, as I had to keep accurate track of everything I was doing so that I could eventually tie everything back together again, since the messy data does need to be entered for long-term archive purposes. But I kept everything from plunging into absolute chaos, at least. (For now.)

Really, I have no one to blame for how difficult the task in total was, and the messiness of the messy data, other than myself. Ultimately I’m the person who told all of my colleagues, “Use this spreadsheet to log your work while the system is offline, and then when its back online I’ll take back the spreadsheet and sync everything up.” And I am of course the person who designed the spreadsheet, but sap that I am I prioritized making the spreadsheet easy for my colleagues to use, as opposed to easy to reverse-engineer back into the database. If I had made certain columns in the spreadsheet more restrictive (and a bigger pain-in-the-arse to populate) then I’d be able to automate the uploads now, and they’d probably already be done. But I didn’t, through a butt-biting combination of lack of forethought and wanting to be seen by my colleagues as an accommodating, easygoing dude.

That self-inflicted wound was really just a capper, though. The fact that I was planning on the system being unavailable for two, maybe three weeks, and therefore willing to volunteer myself to massage three weeks’ worth of data into something the restored database could swallow, but then the total data was at least triple that projected amount? That was more or less out of my hands. As was the fact that the entire absurd network-transfer project took almost an entire year when it should have taken a month or so, tops. Plus, the boss-of-bosses was just installed a few months ago, and is only now really getting up to speed, which of course means this round of reporting is going to be the first she really pays careful, knowledgeable attention to, and this is her first end-of-fiscal-year in her new position as well … it’s a colossal pile-up, really. I should, sensibly, be thankful that the transfer project was finished when it was and that I even had the opportunity to drown in data synchronization for a couple of weeks so that the reports could be delivered at the end-of-fiscal-year. Otherwise my colleagues and I might all have very well found ourselves trying to explain to the bossN+1 that the entire system was still offline as of September 30 and there was no way to report on anything for the foreseeable future. That would have been a markedly more bitter flavor of suck.

And have I mentioned yet that half the office is wailing over the impending government shutdown that looks unavoidably likely to happen tomorrow? Some are scrambling frantically to get things done today since they won’t be able to tomorrow, and others are blowing everything off because as of tomorrow there’ll be no point because everything will be hosed. If I had shirked the data reconciliation for the reports, there would of course be no shutdown and the reports would be expected first thing tomorrow morning. They should be ready to go as of tomorrow, but no one will be around to ask after them. Typical.

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