austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You got me running and there's no fun in it

Some recent excitement at the office actually resulted in my having something specific to do. I don't want it to sound like I haven't had anything to do, because I have, but most of that was learning enough of Asp and Visual Basic -- web page scripting tools to make pages look as if they were hand-carved to the user's needs, the way our grandparents did for the War -- and then SQL -- a database tool in which you pass up requests to a shadowy server somewhere that somehow reads some database somewhere and gives back results which look correct -- most of what I've really had to do was figure out why they don't work the way instruction guides claim they will and then to try translating Microsoft tutorial pages into a language which has actual content. (This is not possible.) So a lot of what I do is to try to think of something I could claim to be doing when the owner marches in for his aperiodic and rare visits.

Part of the work of this company, down on the first floor where people actually see one another, is mass mailings with government-grade information to whole towns. These cards are printed on fan-fold paper to perforate along the seams easily before mailing. The catch is that for reasons which I'm sure made sense at some point, the sheets have natural folds every other card, and the machinery to detach separate cards can't cut them at the perforation unless there is a fold there already. So they need people to take these huge stacks of cards and fold them back and forth so that the perforation in the center is ready to split.

So, since I was not fast enough with the correct answer (``yes, very'') to the question (``are you busy right now?''), I spent several hours on the first floor folding an apparently infinite number of stacks of cards. Fortunately they only have to do this twice a year, and my inner Gilbreth found a workflow speedy enough that I actually got ahead of their printing out of cards, but this was actual work, and something I must take pains to avoid because hours of folding stacks of cards is really not fun.

Trivia: Einstein began searching for tutorial students on 5 February 1902. First lessons were free. His address in Bern, Switzerland, was Gerechtigkeitsgasse 32, 1st Floor, and he offered tutoring in Mathematics and Physics. Source: Einstein's Clocks, Poincaré's Maps, Peter Galison.

Currently Reading: The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery, Wolfgang Schivelbush.


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