Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Pangrac Effect


I was trying to think of something significant to write today, but I couldn't really think of anything. It is just a very average and ordinary day here in San Jose. work has been relatively sane.

I've spent most of the last couple of days in meetings. The evenings have been relatively quiet and enjoyable. (I spent most of yesterday evening catching up on "24" episodes I had on DVR, so I can say I am up to speed on the latest adventures of Jack Bauer!)

It has just been a nice and quick week. The month of January is almost over and all in all it's been a good month. I only had one day of stress.

We had a customer report a data problem at work (an expected value was not appearing). I documented it and relayed it to the technical team. I asked for a specific fix (to the problem itself) and a wider investigation into root cause.

We meet daily and discuss technical challenges as they arise. In the daily discussion I was overruled by technical management and my functional management. They agreed to fix the specific problem but felt that the "science project" of investigating the root cause was too broad in scope.

I disagreed because of what I call the Pangrac Effect. The Pangrac Effect is named after a former analyst I worked with. He found a small data problem and brought it to my attention. I took a look at it, thought it was just a fluke, fixed the specific problem and moved on. A few weeks later, he ran into another one. I fixed it.

Then, it arose on the third time and I peeled back the onion - and it got really, really ugly. Underlying systemic data corruption. Ongoing for several months. Effecting tens of thousands of records. Took scores of hours to fix.

I learned the lesson. Treat every reported data anomoly as if it was the tip of an iceberg. The Pangrac Effect.

So, in the meeting, I registered my objections and was overruled by functional and technical management. I was frustrated and stressed out, so to deal with it I reviewed my actions. I had done everything I needed to do. The assignment of other resources (beyond my team) is beyond me. I objected to the decisions and gave my business reasons. I let the frustration go.

Then, today...guess what rose up and took a big bite? Yep, the Pangrac Effect. The "science project" is now underway.

I've been busy through January, but more importantly, I have been successful (in my assessment) at focusing into the moment I am in. Pulling things in. Staying local and specific. Not letting things outside of that locality to distract me or to pull me out of the moment. Far from perfect, but better than last year.

I don't have anything planned tonight. I am thinking about making a potato sausage casserole tonight and spending a quiet evening at home. I am planning on going out and seeing "The Wrestler" tomorrow at a matinee and then probably getting some lunch at one of the restaurants in Santana Row. I've got a couple of options there.

I've nearly finished Michael Fick's "One Bullet Away" (The autobiography of a Marine officer and his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the officer in charge of the Marines whose story is told in "Generation Kill", an excellent book and an excellent HBO series now on DVD - I highly recommend both or either.) I finished Michael Crichton's "Next", which it turns out I had already read some years ago - I realized that about half way through the book, but I just keep going. I started reading Douglas Preston's "Blasphemy".

So, tonight is shaping up to be a nice home cooked meal and another quiet evening watching a movie on DVD or reading and writing.

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