The ongoing prattlings of a lifelong geek and his random luck with love, work, children and rediscovering himself.


THEATER: The Wedding Singer

Wow, talk about an Eighties overload! This musical was a BLAST!! Drawn directly from the original Adam Sandler movie by the same name, The Wedding Singer had great music, funny moments galore, and that totally awesome song from the original screenplay, "Grow Old With You". I truly enjoyed this trip to Orlando. Going to go find the original cast recording if it exists... Go see this musical if it's available to you!


The movie was a little too short. As well, I actually did not understand the ending (!) which bothered me. Apparently it was tied to Saw II and possibly Saw III, but in any case, I was confused. Very frustrating...


Cunningham, revisited

So Friday, Carolyn at work decided to arrange a Ten Year anniversary cake and desk-calculator with an engraved "10 Year Anniversary" message for me. And then of course, several employees came in and allowed me to be embarassed in front of them.



Ten Years With Cunningham Research

So today I silently celebrated ten years to the day at Cunningham (tomorrow's the official day, but I don't work tomorrow, so nyah).

I still recall not wanting to take the job, because my position at I-CARE Children's Advocacy Center was "comfortable". Heh.

And now I'm one of the five longest tenured employees at the Corporate office of   Cunningham Field And Research Service   Cunningham Research Services   Cunningham Datatelligence CRG Global, Inc. I think I missed some names, but you get the idea.

I started in the IT Department as a basic helpdesk employee. My friend Mark Robb saw my name as one of the potential employees and mentioned that I was a "fellow computer geek" (in so many words). I remember Paul, in his golf shorts and knit shirt, telling me that they were not really looking to pay for someone like me (the income was slightly better than I was making at I-CARE at the time, but that Mark said I was some kind of computer guru and that I would be worth being brought on staff).

A year later, they had hired a gentleman fresh out of college to head up the new Data Processing department, where computerized surveys would be programmed, as well as being where data entry and data cleaning processes would be handled. This gentleman, who I only called "the piano guy" because, at the time, I found it amusing that someone with a degree in music was being hired for the position, came to me about two weeks into his time at the company, and told me that he didn't know if he could take the stress (I could understand - to this very day - CRG is a litmus test for how much you can take and still be able to do your job, in many ways). He said he didn't know if he wanted to come back from lunch. I suggested he take a long lunch if needed. He did. He hasn't come back yet. That was late 1998, by my recall.

I was helping Diane with an Excel spreadsheet one day after my normal working hours, and Mary Cunningham caught wind of what I did and how "proficient I was" with such things. I was suddenly working in Data Processing (I "was" DP, though we quickly obtained a couple more employees to help out, along with the data entry staff I managed. I was the Data Processing Supervisor. I rocked. (cough)

A couple years and several data entry staff members (including my being ordered to fire Carly, our fastest clerk and a very "nice person" - God, I hated that day), Mary Ann came onboard as the Data Processing Manager. She had (by my recall) 20 years experience in Tabulations and Data Processing environments. She lasted about 9 months. She did not like "how things operated" at Cunningham. She asked me, immediately before letting the powers that be know that she was quitting, if I wanted to be in charge. I said "of course" as I had always assumed I would be totally in charge of DP (and possibly IT). The rest is history. I became DP Manager and have been ever since.

We've had a variable staff size. We've had employees of almost every basic type. We've had a couple of... dependent employees (who needed special care from a doctor, let's say)... a loose-goose who I later found out had encounters with other employees "in the bedroom" (she was not missed either way)... a couple who never really belonged... a couple who I truly miss if not at least for their work ethic...

Right now, my staff is comprised of all long-term experienced Market Research Data Processing professionals. This has been very helpful, as we now also outsource a minority of our work to India (which has it's own challenges - language, expectations, etc).

So... ten years. Wow. I can honestly say that DP is "my baby". The various employees over the years have helped shape the department, but there is very little in the department that I did not either create, or take something and completely customize it to our needs. We've gone through (officially) four software packages for computerized interviewing (started with Quancept CAPI, then tried out GMI NetMR, which we never ran one single survey in after a year of prep work, then use a Norwegian product, MI Pro, which was "good" but was very much a work-in-progress). Now we use Confirmit, which is a "very good" product. It has some shortcomings (from the view of me and my staff who are used to quite a few functional options that they do not apparently use much in the internet/panel world, but which we in market research, especially for personal interviewing, use daily). It also has a lot of power that we're learning to harness and expand on every week.

We still clean data using Quantum. Nothing beats it so far. We have to produce data in so many formats for so many different clients. No "gui package" or "user-friendly" package has ever come close to having what we need to handle all our clients' various needs. Quantum is like a nice warm blanket for our cold-data-nights.

David Prather is my long-term partner in DP. He's a good friend, and a great worker. Without him, I would be doing nothing but the everyday programming and data prep, and never have time to handle the special needs brought to my attention, or to make the various "data generators" we use, templates we program with, functions we employ daily, etc etc etc... And Michael Britton, another experiended data handler who's recently come onboard, has proven to be a reliable and self-sufficient programmer and data cleaner. We are, for all intents and purposes, "Carolyn's Angels" (inverting the idea of the classic "Charlie's Angels"). We make it happen.

Ten years. I wonder if I'm going to be tied to CRG longer than I was Jamie? Five more years...

Mark Robb's long gone. Keith's moved on. Fred's gone and getting married very soon. Tammy (thank God) is gone after "subtly sabotaging" the department in her own pathetic way (I hope you've grown up). Mary's sister is gone (thank God - sorry Mary...). So many people have come and gone. And... 25% of my life has been spent at this company.




Pet Peeves, updated

A loooooong time ago, I started a "Pet Peeves" document, because I wanted to document those things that really bug me. I just added a new one today.

#10   People who make you repeat things, and then cut you off before you've barely even begun to repeat it. Example:

  • A: "Do you think the survey will require us to use the new Active-X control?"

  • B: "What?"

  • A: "Do you think *" (interrupted)

  • B: "Yeah, I think maybe we'll have to when the time comes"

In other words, if they'd taken a half-second to think about what was said, instead of wasting the other person's time starting to repeat what they said, it would be less frustrating. For this reason, I always wait at least 1-2 seconds before replying to "What" to people like this. I also force myself to think about what people say to me (imagine that!) so that I'm not guilty of the same thing.