Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"You may ask yourself... Well, how did I get here?"

Today, in an eerie moment of clarity, I feel like I'm officially a career woman. It's kinda weird.

8:45 AM -- Arrive at work to be confronted with a last-minute event-organization emergency. Negotiate between parties, reconcile their schedueles, timelines, and technological requirements with very, very limited room availabilities. Solve by 10:45, whereby I notify my division of said event.

10:50 AM -- Join team at weekly morning teatime. Discuss our weekends, life in general with teammembers. Eat cookies. Mmmm...

11:15 AM -- Boss walks by the team, informs us of the Minister of Statistics visiting this afternoon. Warns us, when asked to shake hands, not to scream and run away.

11:20 AM -- Tea wraps up. On the way back to my desk, aforementioned boss runs an idea by me: that I be specifically introduced to the Minister. The general theme for introducing me seemed to be something to the effect of "raising StatsNZ's international visibility by reinforcing inter-organizational relations within the international statistical community". Nevermind that within mere line of sight, there are representatives from Germany, South Africa, China, Samoa, USA... it speaks highly of the esteem StatsNZ has for StatCan. Nice, huh? I tell him I'd be delighted.

11:30 AM -- Return to my desk, resume work. Begin testing data received from our systems-development branch, who had already caused a two MONTH delay in the entire survey processing. Upon brief inspection, I see immediately that crucial instructions were not followed.

11:45 AM -- Write terse email to systems developer informing him of this discrepancy, and encouraging him to reread the system specifications. CC to project managers, so that they can anticipate further delay, and know what the reason for it is.

12:10 PM -- Annoyed, I get a tasty coffee from the cafe downstairs. Upon arrival, I notice that there is a line, and remember that this is when normal people get their lunch. Change coffee order to coffee and muffin. Both are yummy. And the clerk was very nice. I feel better now.

12:25 PM -- Resume work at my desk, this time on my work for a different survey. Do research on editing and imputation methodologies for Census 2006. Make detailed notes, as this information concerns several of the projects I am working on.

2:00 PM -- Discuss the upcoming visit from Pacific Island statisticians: What information/guidance do they need in order to maximize their enjoyment of Wellington? What training will they be requiring, and at what level, and how to customize it to suit their informational/cultural needs? Brainstorm with other project helpers, distribute tasks between us.

2:45 PM -- Resume Census research at my desk.

3:45 PM -- Hear a commotion in the usually-silent StatsMethods section. Assume it's the Minister's visit. Discreetly check a handy reflective surface for muffin-bits between my teeth.

3:50 PM -- I hear the boss's preamble ("...and, representing our Foreign Contingent...") so I turn around with a smile. Then it's the usual schmooze: Stand up, handshake, introduction and brief chitchat, and usually a joke thrown in there somewhere. It went well, as he was extraordinarily pleasant.

Minister: "Canada, eh? Do you miss the snow, then?"
Me: "Not at all. Central Heating, on the other hand..." ^_^
Everyone: (ho ho ho)
Minister: "Aaah, yes, snow or not, Wellington can still get cold. My assistant's husband is from Whistler, and always talks about how he misses the snow. Where are you from?"
Me: "Originally, Winnipeg, but I moved from the StatCanada office in Ottawa."
Vince (boss): "...and to complicate matters, she's planning her wedding in a third city, Vancouver, from here!"
Minister: (surprised) "Wow! What's the statistical probability of all those cities being linked that way?"
Me: "I don't know, but the probability of getting grey hair while arranging such a thing is equal to one!"
Everyone: (ho ho ho)

3:55 PM -- Minister and his party continue their rounds, whilst I get back to work. Reflect on how I am glad I got a manicure the day before!

4:20 PM -- Work interrupted by persistent, unsettling feeling of being a manicured, high-heeled career woman. When did that happen? Scary...

4:30 PM -- Leave work a little early, humming Talking Heads, "Letting the Days Go By..." Thank you David Byrne.

(This post goes out to anyone who ever wondered what I actually DO for a living...!) ^_^


Margaret said...

I thought ,for a moment,
that I was reading an excerpt from Bridgette Jones diary.
Then I checked the spelling of excerpt in my dictionary, and found I was missing the 't',so I corrected it.
Sometimes even I'm amazed that my lovely (and wacky)daughter has ended up such a polished career gal!
I still remember the purple/blue/red/blonde/and green hair!!
Love you Karla
from Mum XXXOOO

Taylor said...

Well done on the when-i-grow-up scene my lovely cousin!

In former, less refined years I would congratulate you with a *use left hand to pull hairline tightly back, lick right thumb and give approving sideways thumbs up* "RIGHT ON!"

Glad to hear of your schmoozing success. Way to be a Helgason! (albeit, a LAME STATS JOKE making one!!)

Take care love!
(but if you come back more tanned than I am, we can no longer speak.)

xx Taylor

ps. for the record i really dug (digged?) your purple hair.

Tamara said...

Hello Karla,

I thoroughly enjoyed the detailed account of your day and very much appreciated the Talking Heads reference as well as the lame stats jokes.

Glad to hear (and see) that you're doing well. Cannot wait for yours and David's return - when is that again?

Love to you both,

Faye said...

Great day Karla. Yes, I do recall the days of pointing out the real world to system developers! (Don't tell Doug I said that...he was one).)
And Taylor, I'm surprised you aren't salivating over the term "central heating"; (I hear you ran out of oil at your house!)
On the hair discussion, I think my vote goes out to pink.
By the way, greetings from North Carolina; we're one third of the way home from Florida to Ottawa.

Karla said...

Believe me, mum, no one's more surprised than me about how this all worked out. :-)

No worries, Taylor -- I would never challenge your tan supremacy! ^_^ Oh, email me your cel number... I've found a way to text overseas!

Double-"Amen" on the central heating bit, Aunt Faye... winter is on its way here, and I am SO not looking forward to a 5-degrees-Celsius bathroom!

Oh, and Tamara, I saw your note on the wediste -- don't worry, the RVYC does a MEAN veggie lasagne... It's not "average" at all!! (ok, I'll knock off the stats jokes!) ^_^

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