Write Your Problems Down In Detail, Take Them To A Higher Place
(The following is in the manner of "airing dirty laundry" of a sort, so please feel free to ignore - it's just something I need to get off my chest).
I just finished up a conference call with our National Finance Director, and about a dozen executive directors from locals scattered across the country (my boss was traveling, and so unable to call in). Ostensibly, the purpose of the meeting was to clarify some procedures pertaining to our "new" accounting software, although it actually consisted of the NFD telling the participants that, "well, that particular function exists, but none of you have access to it", at least three times, which really made the whole exercise rather pointless.
But, the best part was the last 20 minutes, which turned into a bitch-session by several execs, who took the opportunity to complain about a number of issues that, frankly, have been keeping lil' ole' me awake at nights. First, the consensus amongst the group was that the "new" accounting system basically sucks: the graphic interface isn't user-friendly, the report functions are confusing, and nobody can print anything from it anyway. In short, everybody except the NFD hates it. Aparently, the only reason we're using it is because that's what the NFD and his staff use, and they didn't want to change, so they made everyone else - almost none of whom are trained accountants or bookkeepers, mind you - change instead.
In addition, there was general frustration with our recent transition to National accounting, which, rather than decreasing workloads at the locals, has instead increased it significantly, again something with which I'm quite familiar. Also, several challenged the NFD on the need to prepare and present some of the "required reports" that just happen to be the same ones with which I've been struggling, and furthermore, they expressed the same confusion about the purpose, format and presentation of these reports, as I've had. And finally, there was a lot of kvetching about all of the extra work created as a result of National's annual audit, since it turns out many locals have been exempt from performing their own audits for quite some time, and so don't have many of the documents we're now being asked to produce.
So, it was a very enlightening session for me, particularly since this same NFD has been pestering, badgering, and otherwise berating me for the past several months, due to my lack of accounting accumen, and my inability to provide precisely the same information and reporting these high-level execs have clearly also been unable to provide themselves. I must admit, I felt a bit of vindication over being able to sit back and listen to the civil, but nonetheless pointed dressing down he was receiving at their hands; something I, in my relatively low-status position would never have been able to do myself.
In short, I may be a complete dummy when it comes to accounting, but aparently, I'm not the only "dummy" around, and some of the other dummies are getting fed up with constantly being called "dummy".
My first appointment today was a no-show, and when I emailed her to let her know she'd missed her time, she replied: "I'm moving to Hawaii on Monday and totally forgot about cancelling."
Another of today's appointments emailed me last night with: "I'm writing to let you know that there is a possibility I will be late to our meeting tomorrow... The play I'm doing at the Seattle Rep just got picked up for a national story on NPR and they want to tape the show, the talkback, and then a quick interview with me tomorrow after my 2pm matinee."
*Sigh!* Excuses, excuses. Where ARE these kids' priorities?
Ever have "one of those weeks"? Sure, you have. Everybody does. I've been having one this week, and just when I thought I'd gotten most of the alligators to stop snapping at my behind, along come a whole passel of new ones lining up for next week. Most of it consists of putting out minor fires (I'll try not to mix the metaphors too much here), but one or two have turned out to be rather massive projects, for which truth be told, I'm not at all adequately prepared, and which frankly fall waaaaay outside of my limited area of expertise in these matters.
For example, if anybody out there with accounting experience knows how to do an "account analysis" for asset/liability accounts, I could sure use some help.
I guess it figures all this would occur while I'm right in the middle of tax season to boot.
St. Patrick's Day this year coincides with my first day of tax preparation, and it just so happens that I'm doing tax prep at the Seattle Center, where much of today's festivities are occuring. Luckily, I set up a light schedule for today, so had some free time to wander the few merchantile booths set up in the Center House, before the mobs of Irish-for-a-day overran the place in their Kelly green plastic accoutrements, after the annual downtown parade was over.
I suppose it's no surprise that St. Paddy's Day has gone the route of pretty much every other secular or religious holiday in this country, providing a handy excuse for commercialization of what was once (and still is to many of authentic Irish ancestry) a day of sober reflection and observance.
Of course, not all True Sons & Daughters of Eire are too particular about the "sober" part of the observance.
This has HUGE implications, as the discovery now makes it practical to produce both oxygen and hydrogen-based rocket fuel from materials found ON Mars, rather than having to transport large quantities of these necessary resources from earth.
I warned you about the "geek factor", but it's an image I've had in my head for roughly 41 years or so, imagining what it must have looked like. Of course, no photos were taken of Ed White II and the Gemini IV spacecraft from this angle - nobody there to take them, naturally, as his commander, Jim McDivitt, never left the capsule.
Just to give you an idea of the composition, here are the two main images I used:
(Image Courtey of NASA)
(Image Courtesy of NASA)
- although obviously, I changed the positioning significantly to get the angle I wanted. The background is a rough approximation of their orbit over the Gulf of Mexico about half-way through the 23 minute spacewalk performed on Gemini IV's third orbit, June 3, 1965, at an altitute of approximately 120 nautical miles.
White was initially elated at the experience, even getting off a memorable quip, "this is fun!", as he floated weightless above the earth. He managed to maneouver briefly using a "zip gun" before its limited supply of compressed air ran out, and spent several minutes working his way in front of, and below the capsule before finally squeezing himself back into the cramped cabin, at which point he noted somberly, "this is the saddest moment of my life". 18 months later, on January 27, 1967 he, Mercury 7 veteran "Gus" Grissom, and rookie astronaut Roger Chafee would all perish in the Apollo 1 launchpad fire.
Ironically, White's historic spacewalk was somewhat of an afterthought; the original Gemini IV mission profile didn't include an Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA), and it was only added after Soviet Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov's 12 minute excursion two and a half-months earlier, on March 18, 1965.
I've seen several artists' renderings from a similar perspective as this image, but I really wanted to try to capture a sense of what it must have felt like to actually be OUT THERE. I think it turned out pretty well, although the image is slightly washed out due to the flash, so some of the detail doesn't show quite as clearly here. Still, I think you get the idea of where I was going with it.
So, now have two pieces finished, and a third one ready to lay out - as soon as I give my back a few days to recover.
Speaking of which - where did I put that bottle of Tylenol?
Not much on the news front these past few days. Spent 10 hours yesterday doing another light hang for the next show, which opens on the 20th, and am in the throes of scheduling my annual round of tax appointments, which starts up next weekend. Trying to finish my latest art project before then; it's about 80% complete, but unfortunately, the process exacts a physical toll, since I don't have a good set up for my art board, and several hours of hunching over it doesn't seem to make my back terribly happy, so I have to give myself rest periods to let the muscles work themselves loose again between sessions. Still, I'll try to get it done this week and post a picture - it's definitely on the "geeky" side, but I think the execution of the piece is definitely an improvement over the previous one (which wasn't bad - despite not selling - just not up to the high standard I'm apparently setting for myself).
Otherwise, nothing else really exciting going on; just waiting for the rain to cease, for spring to arrive, and trying to enjoy the few, brief moments of non-blustery weather that come our way.