Monday, November 29, 2010

Headdesk: A Timeline

T-minus 6 months: As part of an overly ambitious post-tenure career plan, agree to take on major project for outside organization: I am to Revise the Thing, a process that involves a new format, new content, new mechanism for dissemination -- and, like most academic projects, no budget or staff (though other organization members have been generous in making sure I have whatever materials and guidance they can provide).

T-minus 4 - 2 months: Figure out content for the Thing. Worry that I don't have enough, or that it potentially sucks. For the first time in the history of academia, receive promised contributions from outside contributors well ahead of schedule. [?!?] Lapse into false sense of security.

T-minus 2 months: Realize that I need to figure out a design for the Thing. Find software to make it work. Figure out software. Sink back into sloth.

T-minus 2 weeks: Realize that deadline is approaching and, in a burst of activity, get the Thing three-quarters done, then procrastinate for several weeks, letting the guilt build up to critical mass, until...

Liftoff!: Finally finish the Thing (about a month behind schedule) and make it available to organization people.

2 hrs later: Read and respond to two notices (out of 400 recipients) reporting the same minor technical glitch that appears to have occurred in the dissemination phase.** Deduce from the evidence that the problem is likely technology-related, user's end (since the issue appears to have only affected a few individuals rather than everyone), and provide a one-click solution.

24 hrs later: Receive terse one-line e-mail from one of the two correspondents (the other had no problem viewing the Thing once I resolved the issue) explaining that since s/he still can't view the Thing, s/he will be forced to cancel hir organization membership.


**to be fair to myself, this was balanced out by half a dozen e-mails received in the first 24 hours, congratulating me on what a good job I'd done with The Thing.


squadratomagico said...

Repeat after me:

[Insert name here] is an asshole.

That's about the long and the short of it. Has nothing to do with you. You should be congratulating yourself on an awesome job well done.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Oh, I am. Not to worry. And I certainly don't need praise for everything I do -- I know well enough that I've done a good (if somewhat delayed) job on this. I'm just constantly amazed at some people's ability to throw a snit. It makes me both laugh and sigh deeply (though if you try to do both at once, you risk choking).

Anthea said...

Awesome job having done a time line. I love time lines. They make me feel that I'm getting my act together and I've control of what it is I'm working onwards. Some people will always throw snits..sadly.

Historiann said...

What Squadrato said. I'm sorry!

I took on a similar big post-tenure service-to-the-profession project once upon a time. Most people were nice, and only a few were jerks, but the jerks were pretty memorable. We could mostly avoid criticism from the jerks if we never did anything for the profession, but somehow, I don't think that's the way to go.

So, yeah: Squadrato's right. Some people are just looking for an excuse.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

Only one douche out of 600 is a pretty good ratio. My experience is that there's usually about one total raging douche per ten people.

The worst is with committee work: Months of effort discussing and organizing and planning and vetting and then, once you have a detailed plan of action and you send the final "If there are no further comments or concerns, WE RIDE!" e-mail, and then fucken douchebagge who was copied on every single fucken e-mail and at every single fucken meeting chimes in with "I have serious concerns about this plan and I do not think it will work and blah, blah, blah..."

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Thanks to all. Blog post aside, this is not actually bothering me. It's just one of those eye-roll-provoking things that had to be shared.

Susan said...

Isn't it amazing the people who are still emotionally 3 years old and think it's all about them?

Let me introduce you to some colleagues.