May 6th, 2005



It is one of my favorite quotes from both the book and the film, Little Big Man. Grandfather does the magic chant and dance, and when it is done, says, "Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't."

I am working on a report. Off and on, I've been working on this report for about six months actual time and over a year calendar time. Originally it was to provide data to someone who no longer works here. Maybe he got tired of waiting for the data. I don't know. It's a report that is looking for a lot of data and I won't bore you with what the data is for that reason and because, well, frankly, I can't tell you.

I have put this report together three different times now, starting from three different directions which is sort of interesting in itself, because no matter what, I need to go back to the same "closets" where the data lives. I start asking for simple parts, and the magic works. I add some more parts, and the magic works. A couple more things get mixed in, and still the magic works.

Then I add just one more thing... and the report breaks. The magic doesn't work anymore. The data is all still there, but I can't lure it out of the closets anymore, can't tease it with enough curiosity to come out and play.

Sometimes the magic works. Sometimes it doesn't. I don't know why.

ETA: Nudged in one more connection. It worked. I don't know why. Nudged in another connection. It worked too. I don't know why. The two connections come from a common point. Didn't work when I added them together. I don't know why.

Do you note a trend here? I don't know why.
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Better is the Enemy of Good

OK, the magic finally worked. And lo, data was produced in a form which yeilds information (because data is just that, data, and don't mean squat until it is interpreted into information). Then I started counting cases. For a week. For three surgical services.

The number did not appear... correct.

And so there is a small side trip into the total number of cases for the same week, for all services, and then narrow it down fo the three services. Do not ask for any other data, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

I've been looking at the hourglass for, oh, 3 x 10^6 records and counting (bit over three million, eh?). And still counting. And counting.

Where's that damn bunny?
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    geeky geeky