My day:

0800

I get an email to perform some calculation. Due by noon.

This is far outside my area of expertise and experience, and if asked, the SMEs who do this daily could give me an answer in 30 seconds, but I'm not allowed to ask the SMEs (because politics). I have no idea what this calculation is for or what the big picture is. Just do it. I also asked to show my work, as if I'm back in undergrad.

I do the calculation exactly as asked and send the result by 1000.

1015

Boss doesn't like the answer. Tells me to check it against something else. I had already done that once, so I do it again, and verify that my number is right.

1030

Boss realizes he didn't ask me to do calculate the right thing. Tells me he needs an answer, dammit! Tells me that he thinks the answer should be xxx because he sorta thinks he heard that somewhere at sometime. He likes the number he has in mind because it would help him make the case he's trying to make. According to

1045

I tell the boss I have no data on the system he is asking about and can't do the calculation he wants.

1055

Boss tells me failure is not an option. Tells me to come up with a number.

1115

I ask my wife to think of a number between one and a million and to defend her choice. She ignores me and goes for a walk.

1130

I ask my other boss for guidance (and maybe some top cover). I ask him if I can ask the SMEs. He tells me to use google.

1230

By some stroke of luck, I find a paper that if I wave my hands around and assume this and that and some other things, might give me a barely defensible answer. However, there are many key differences between this paper and what I'm trying to do, and as I said, I was outside my area of expertise, so I don't know what I don't know. I have no idea of this is right from a physics standpoint, but the boss wants an answer dammit, so I do the calculation.

1300

I have a new answer, but it's not close to the answer the boss thought he heard. But, given the information I have, and my five hours of experience in this field, it's the best I can come up with.

1315

Redo the calculation. Type an email and cite my references as if I was submitting a paper for journal publication. Redo the calculation again. Water the new grass seed. Redo the calculation again, download the report.

1345

I send the email with the new calculation.

By the time I logged off at 1530, I had not heard anything back. I'm dreading tomorrow morning because I am expecting to see an email that says "I told you the answer I want is xxx. Go check your math."

0800

I get an email to perform some calculation. Due by noon.

This is far outside my area of expertise and experience, and if asked, the SMEs who do this daily could give me an answer in 30 seconds, but I'm not allowed to ask the SMEs (because politics). I have no idea what this calculation is for or what the big picture is. Just do it. I also asked to show my work, as if I'm back in undergrad.

I do the calculation exactly as asked and send the result by 1000.

1015

Boss doesn't like the answer. Tells me to check it against something else. I had already done that once, so I do it again, and verify that my number is right.

1030

Boss realizes he didn't ask me to do calculate the right thing. Tells me he needs an answer, dammit! Tells me that he thinks the answer should be xxx because he sorta thinks he heard that somewhere at sometime. He likes the number he has in mind because it would help him make the case he's trying to make. According to

*The Wire*, that's called "juking the stats."1045

I tell the boss I have no data on the system he is asking about and can't do the calculation he wants.

1055

Boss tells me failure is not an option. Tells me to come up with a number.

1115

I ask my wife to think of a number between one and a million and to defend her choice. She ignores me and goes for a walk.

1130

I ask my other boss for guidance (and maybe some top cover). I ask him if I can ask the SMEs. He tells me to use google.

1230

By some stroke of luck, I find a paper that if I wave my hands around and assume this and that and some other things, might give me a barely defensible answer. However, there are many key differences between this paper and what I'm trying to do, and as I said, I was outside my area of expertise, so I don't know what I don't know. I have no idea of this is right from a physics standpoint, but the boss wants an answer dammit, so I do the calculation.

1300

I have a new answer, but it's not close to the answer the boss thought he heard. But, given the information I have, and my five hours of experience in this field, it's the best I can come up with.

1315

Redo the calculation. Type an email and cite my references as if I was submitting a paper for journal publication. Redo the calculation again. Water the new grass seed. Redo the calculation again, download the report.

1345

I send the email with the new calculation.

By the time I logged off at 1530, I had not heard anything back. I'm dreading tomorrow morning because I am expecting to see an email that says "I told you the answer I want is xxx. Go check your math."