Today was, for me, a very strange day. A great deal of my thoughts and concerns today were directed at the issue of the reporting that is asked of me. I spent much time adding information to existing reports, pondering where this information was to be gathered, and the contradictions inherent in many of the requests, seeing as there was a desire for a lot of information on one sheet, which requires a great deal of manual collection and formatting, an inherently time-consuming process. The desire for more efficient and automatic work appears to be at odds with a desire for having more information together that can be seen at one time. I believe both wishes are sincere, but at the same time, they are contradictory, at least given present resources and tradeoffs, and today was all about wrestling with present resources, of time, of patience, and of the accessibility and availability of data. Let us hope things go well tomorrow.
There were related concerns as well. All this week, one of our vendors has been trying to encourage me to sign up for their conference early next month during the Days of Unleavened Bread (which is going to make food concerns a bit tricky). The organizers of the event were willing to give a free registration (of no small value), but it remains to be seen whether my own bosses will be as willing to part with my time for a couple of days while I network, listen to speeches from leading data science figures, and watch concerts and drink Shirley Temples, while squeezing in time to blog. It could happen, but at the same time, it might not happen, so I feel a bit disinclined to get my hopes up too much in order to face disappointment, because I don’t like being disappointed when I think something really good is going to happen but it falls through for one reason or another. Life can be cruel like that–it is our dashed expectations and disappointed hopes that hurt us the most.
Often, we present challenges to other people that may not be easy to recognize. How people really respect us and regard us, or don’t, can be clearly visible by these tests, sometimes where others are not even aware of the test. To what extent do we know what people say about us behind our back when they pretend to be nice to our faces? To what extent do we share our limited resources of money, time, and concern with others? To what extent do we know how much we are worth to others by what they are and are not willing to do or put up with for our sakes. We learn a lot about ourselves indirectly, and often the lessons are not particularly pretty, and often spectacularly mistaken. Since we do not tend to trust ourselves, we very easily believe the incessant lessons about ourselves that we learn from others about our worth, and the grounds on which that worth is based.
How is it that we are able to get better data about ourselves? We may not be able to trust our senses or trust our judgment, we may recognize our own biases and limitations, and know that others are similarly unreliable, but even if we do not trust any of the means that we have of gaining an understanding of our worth and our state, still we recognize that some sort of at least preliminary judgment is impossible to avoid for our own sakes. We need to know where we stand, relative to our own pasts and relative to those around us. This should not be as hard a task as it is, and it should not fill us with such terror and fear to know what it is that others feel about us. We could all probably use some help getting good data that we can trust, for our own sanity at least.