Monday, March 31, 2008

The ham of the sandwich

A long, long while ago I promised a post laying out the grossly misused turns of phrase that float around in the corridors of my client site. At long last, here they are.

I've divided them up into three categories:

1) Simple Grammatical/Spelling/Pronunciation Errors
2) Misused Idioms and Expressions
3) I Don't Know Where the Hell This Came From

Most of these come from two people in particular at my client site. One of them sort of has an excuse because he's Puerto Rican and English is his second language. The other one has no excuse, unless it's possible that chest hair detracts from intelligibility. And now, the list:

Category 1

-hoz poz (in place of "hodge-podge")
-physical year (in place of "fiscal year")
-chow (in place of "ciao")
-per say
-interpretate (Being in the business of treaty implementation, it reflects poorly when you don't know how to conjugate the verb "to interpret.")
-nucular (Again, we're in the treaty business. Arms control treaties. They should probably learn how to pronounce "nuclear.")
-vise (in place of "vice")
-hey or nay
-Respectively, (name)
-Have you did that yet?
-Wallah! (...voila)
-with all do respect

Category 2

-passers byers
-read between the tea leaves
-breathing light back into it
-cut the cheese (in place of “break the ice”)
-we’ve taken a different tactic (Once again...considering that this is a Naval client, you would think that a simple nautical term might be correctly used.)
-whimsical chairs (in place of "musical chairs")
-Run Will Roberts! (My client was flailing his arms like the robot on Lost in Space as he said this.)
-Hulkian effort
-throw out the baby and keep the bathwater
-Nobody wants to touch the pink elephant in the bathtub.

Category 3

8 – 3 = 6 (This came from a presentation that my client was giving to a room full of high-ranking officers. He told them that he had eight slides, but since we were short on time he could cut out three and just present the six...)
-appropriately massaging our customers
-like the stick that doesn’t work
-from Joe to Blow
-hit the stick and see what shakes it out of it
-I don’t want to see you caught like the ham of the sandwich, in the middle of the two loaves.

That last one was my favorite. The Puerto Rican said that to me to let me know that he was looking out for my best interests. I walked away feeling slightly uncomfortable.


Friday, March 21, 2008

To start-up, or not to start-up?

So after 11 months of a fruitless job search, I'm being approached by a small renewable energy start-up to do a job I am grossly unqualified for. As some may know, I worked for another start-up for three years, after which we swore in our wrath we would never do so again due to the unpredictability of the paychecks (They still owe us $12,000). But all this time of being turned down for traditional jobs in my field of choice (physics research in a laboratory) with regular paychecks has taken its toll, and gotten us to the point of actually considering the start-up.

Its a company with, as far as I can tell, just one employee- the CEO. She has managed to obtain funding from a Texas oil-man, and is licensing some new technologies from various government labs and companies, planning on building some power plants that turn garbage into electricity, emission-free (which, if it really works as claimed, would be the holy-grail of energy). She wants me to basically be her chief technical officer- the guy that coordinates and directs all of the different scientists and engineers at these various labs and companies that she is licensing technology from, and to put all the pieces together into a 50 megawatt power plant. Grossly unqualified is an understatement. I've even told her that using words like: "I believe I am grossly unqualified for this position". She didn't seem to care, saying: "Oh, you'll learn!"

So here we are: she's going to call tonight and make an offer. Jenny and I have sat down and worked though some numbers, taking into account the risk factor, the fact that this is not what I had planned on doing, and what this position should pay if filled by a well qualified person. If she offers a salary below that we'll turn her down. But if our salary threshold is met, what should we do? Its risky. Riskyyyyyyyy! But on the other hand, its a job. Johhhhhhhhb! If I turn this down, how many more months will we have to wait for another offer?

When I think about it, a job like this is actually what I've always wanted. I mean, doing research is ok and all, and it pays well, but lab work gets kind of tedious, and if I work for a fairchild or a micron or an intel, its not like I'm doing my own research and get to go off on whatever tangent I like as if I were a professor doing research, you have to research what the company tells you to. And if its incredibly boring, oh well. But with this job I'd be in charge of organizing and coordinating a huge project. Even though I've gone to school to do research, I always envisioned myself running an organization as opposed to researching in a lab (in the long term). I thought I'd have to "do my time" as a lower level scientist before breaking out and starting my own company or something. But here is the opportunity right now, years ahead of when I thought I'd have it. Maybe that is what is contributing to the sense of riskiness about this whole thing: by all rights I should have to wait years for this opportunity, but here's the shortcut. Risky. What if the company goes down in flames in two years? That's two years I'd have to explain to a hiring manager as I try to come crawling back to a research lab somewhere. I can just hear him say: "Well its says here you were the CTO of company x for two years, but it ended up going bankrupt and sued by the shareholders. And you've been indicted. Why should that make me want to hire you?" Risky.

What I can't sort out is if the feelings of uneasiness I have are just the usual feelings of fear that accompany a new job that one is underqualified for, or are they trying to tell me not to touch this with 10 foot carbon nano-tube. But then I see all these 27 year old CEO millionaires in silicon valley and wonder what makes them so...... able to be successful. I suppose they took the risk. I just worry that the following scenario will happen to me:

Reporter: Uh, question for the barbeque chef. Don't you think there is
an inherent danger in sending underqualified civilians into
Homer: I'll field this one. The only danger is if they send us to
[ominous] that terrible Planet of the Apes. Wait a minute...
Statue of Liberty...that was _our_ planet! You maniacs! You
blew it up! Damn you! Damn you all to hell! [weeps]
Barney: [burps] Oh -- [falls over]
Scientist: Thank you, that's all we have time for.

Or this:

Nerd 2: Oh, man, I can't believe you failed.
Homer: [whining] Oh, I'm going to lose my job just 'cause I'm
dangerously unqualified!
Nerd 2: Mr. Simpson, there is a way. We could -- well, use a computer
to change your grade.
Homer: [surprised] Computers can do that?
Nerd 2: Well, yes...the only problem is the moral dilemma it raises,
which requires --
[Homer kisses one of the computers]
Homer: Oh, I love -- moral whuzzah?


Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Peeps of Mormon

Check this out.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Free Toddler Entertainment Kit

So. I wanted to teach Lu to play a game, and the one thing she's pretty good at are colors. So, Candyland was an obvious choice. Except for the whole candy thing—I'm personally pro candy, but at the moment, Lu asks for a piece of chocolate every morning first thing upon waking. I thought maybe Candyland wasn't, therefore, the best choice. So instead we're now playing Veggie World. It's simpler than Candyland in that it's all about drawing cards and moving to the next color (I didn't want to try to explain "missing a turn" or "going back to start" to her ... that just seemed to invite tantrums). Just in case you have to entertain a toddler at some point in the future, here's Veggie World for your own enjoyment. :)