It may be useful to deconstruct the events of this past Friday, in the event that I should suddenly go on a murderous rampage at my place of employment sometime in the coming weeks.
Friday started for me at about 8:30, as it does every weekday. I agreed to work on this particular Friday because we are in a “crunch” trying to prepare for a workshop in the first week of November. I arrived at work with very little to do except wait for Julio to dictate some text to me so that we could declare this version of the, ah, let’s call it, BEAVA program finished. I had been waiting for him to dictate this text since I arrived at work Thursday morning. He assured me at the end of the day Thursday that he would be in Friday morning to dictate this text. (I remember commenting to a co-worker, “I’ll believe that when I see it.”)
Having nothing to do, I began to work on tying up loose ends, polishing up comments, cleaning up directories, setting up todo lists, and all the various little things that mark the end of one project and the preparation for the start of the next project. (This was nice, actually, because I am rarely afforded the luxery of being able to do these things.)
The other programmer at Gulag 727 commented to me that he also had nothing to do, since he was waiting for some wav files to be recorded and some testing to be done. Since he had already worked 50 hours during the week, he commented that he might just go home and if Julio said anything about it he would tell him to, and I quote, “suck it.”
Julio called me from home at around 10:30, sounding like he had just gotten out of bed. This has become a regular habit for him in the past few weeks. Typically these phone calls start with his declaration that he is “just checking in,” which is usually followed by the question, “where are we at?” This is Julio-lingo, and can only be used by qualified PhD-holders. Roughly translated, it means, “I have absolutely no idea what is going on at my own company and I can’t remember anything that we were working on less than 24 hours ago, so can you please bring me up to speed so I can then tell you the best way to continue your work?”
These phone calls might have some mild purpose if they occurred at 8:30, but since they usually occur at 10:00, you can probably imagine that by that time I have already figured out on my own what I’m going to be doing for the day and am well on my way to doing it, and really don’t need any guidance. In fact, more often than not, I have already determined what I will be doing on a given day at the end of the previous day.
But I digress.
On this day, Julio’s phone conversation will have nothing to do with anything that we’re working on. He commenced explaining to me what we will be doing with BEAVA and related products over the course of the next year. This took a long time, seeming an hour but probably more like 30-45 minutes. He concluded by saying he would be in to dictate the text I needed, then asked to be transferred to someone else.
About an hour later, I saw that he was still talking to other people at the office. I think it was around 12:15 that he finally got off the phone.
I then learned that he was scheduled to see a patient at 3:00. I recall commenting that he would probably not get around to dictating any text to me until 4:30 or so.
The day continued to pass fairly uneventfully. I started working on coding that would have to be done for the next project.
Julio arrived about 2:45. He did not dictate any text to me before seeing his patient at 3:00.
After seeing his patient, he started making noises about working with me about 4:10. He came into my cubicle a number of times and then left again. It was not until about 4:50 that he actually sat down in a chair long enough to start working with me.
Did he dictate any text?
For this version of the BEAVA test, Julio had requested changes in the computation of two of the scores the test reports. BEAVA is a test designed to look for the presense of, let’s say, buck teeth, in the test subject. The determination of whether the test subject has buck teeth or not is based on examining the values of a number of key test scores. Now, the test is supposed to have a “specificity” of 10%, which basically means it is only supposed to be wrong 10% of the time. (This is apparently good in the testing world.) Prior to the changes Julio requested, the BEAVA test had a specificity of 10.47%. Julio had been happy with that. It meant that his test was scientifically credible and not a complete farce.
So when Julio sat down at 4:50, he wanted me to recalculate the specificity of the test based on new computations, just to make sure his new calculations didn’t “throw anything off.” Wondering why he hadn’t asked for this several days ago when he told me to change the computations, I started generating the statistics he wanted. This takes a minute or so.
My heart sank when I saw the test now had a specificity of close to 12%. This was going to be a problem. This was going to be a MAJOR problem. And here it was 5:00 on a Friday.