Heading Out

Seeking the winds that help to sail on Shakespeare's tide.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Our ageing company

Yesterday I took off at lunch to chat with the Bear, over the odd glass of wine (we drank the bar out of red - but it was only 1 bottle). He retired about 13 years ago and we were reminiscing about things. And I mentioned my stepping down. Turns out he has a fracture in one of his hips now. Then we began talking about one of the senior technicians, of my age, who had worked, at one time or the other for us both. He passed away on Monday.

Today one of the staff was called to see her doctor to "discuss the test results", and did not come back. And others made sure that I was dragged away from the computer to walk every half hour of the day. The Administrator had to go home with a reaction to a shot she was given this morning. Things are not going well.

So here I am trying to get this data into a form that a layman can look at and grasp the meaning of. Not fantastically difficult. Some 20-odd years ago we did it with crabbed together software and some fancy program writing. Now we decided to rely on Excel. Which does not like the size of the data set. So it was manually divided and loaded. And gradually over 3 days I have got it down to where I can get a set of graphs out in about 15 minutes. So the grad student comes in and watches as I now start to pull the trendlines off the curves and post them into Photoshop so that the spacial meaning of the results are easier to understand.

After about 10 minutes of watching as I work out how to do this he suggests that he can do it faster. Good - so he gets to spend the night developing a procedure that I have just finished doing - but . . . .

And I get to re-correct his last paper, which means I need to work out how to present his data in a format that people can understand. I think I might just lock him in a closet with Tufte's three books and not let him come out until I have finished the new Harry Potter.

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