Today I went one of the silliest meetings I have ever attended.
That’s saying something.
I worked for HP for almost ten years, and at one time firmly believed that Scott Adams had a spy camera in my office. I used to think that HP held the patent on silly meetings. I used to imagine that people in other corporations actually had to pay royalties to HP if they held any silly meetings. I couldn’t think of any other reason why my stock was increasing in value.
I didn’t even know that I was supposed to be in a meeting. My boss’s administration assistant, oops, that’s not pc; around here she is called a Staff Associate. Anyway she has a tendency of sending out e-mails inviting people to a meeting with out actually including the time and date. We use Outlook as our e-mail program and meetings are simple to coordinate, so I figure she must be doing this on purpose. I believe that it’s a way to enable some sense of flexibility for my boss. I am told by radio that there is a meeting in one minute and that I am required to attend. Luckily I happen to be just down the hall from the conference room, it would be much more difficult to arrive on time if I was in another part of town, in a different city, or at my desk which is a quarter of a mile away.
I find out that the meeting has been called to discuss reliability issues with our electrical supplier and how we can address the multiple power outages that we have been experiencing lately and prevent future power hits.
All the Important people were in attendance. We introduced ourselves around the table starting with the big boss. Director of Facilities, Assistant director of facilities, Buildings and grounds supervisor, Master electrician, Master plumber, Controls system specialist (that’s me), Electrical engineer, Information Technology manager, Electrical company executive, High voltage electrical contractor, and some guy named Jack that showed up late. Just about everyone who has any stake in reliable electrical power was in this meeting. After introductions, and some history on power reliability issues, the meeting found its target.
It seems that the major cause of our electrical reliability issues on campus is caused by Squirrels.
This is not my first squirrel meeting, but since I am one of the few employees not to take early retirement and have been on campus for over three years, am designated the campus squirrel expert.
During the meeting three separate incidences of fatal Squirrel sabotage were discussed. This discussion of power problems was starting to loose focus, not all were Squirrel related. Some issues were weather related, so we needed some clarity. I suggested cutting through the fog by naming the Squirrels.
The meeting went down hill from there.
I suggested they be named “Snap, crackle and pop”, because there were there incidences. However, since one squirrel was already named Sparky and the latest one was being called Rocky, I had to concede and could only name one.
I named the July squirrel Crackle.
The meeting went something like this:
“So a little history is in order; first power hit was in March by Sparky, which was when you put up the squirrel guard”
“Yea, then in July Crackle apparently ran across the lines from the other pole to avoid the shield.”
“Were additional shields put into place after the Crackle incident?”
“No, we didn’t consider it to be a credible threat since Crackles body wasn’t found for a few days, we assumed there was another cause”
“Then in August, Rocky, single phased the campus for two hours”
“Right, but it was not just a single phase, Rocky managed to pop the fuses on the two opposing breakers!”
“Wow, he must have been a limber squirrel”
“Ha ha ha”
“Maybe the jolt flung Rocky over the middle leg and then he hit the third”
“Oh, I would pay to see that!”
“Do you have any Raccoons around here?”
“Raccoons can cause much more damage than Squirrels; they are larger and tend to stay in place rather than fall”
“Oh, that would make restoring power more difficult”
“I once saw a raccoon take out a whole city block in Texas, or was that a Possum?”
“We don’t have any Raccoons. Besides, if we did we would have named him Rocky”
“Don’t you remember the Beatles song?”
“Something about bibles right and a gun fight?”
At this point I left the meeting to use the restroom. One of the design features of this building is the distance to the restrooms. It’s a great excuse to get out of a meeting for a while; the restrooms are at least a hundred yards from the conference rooms. When I return they are back to talking about squirrels, I get the distinct impression that the conversation went another direction then took a u turn and arrived back where I left off.
“So it’s agreed that to prevent future squirrel attacks we need to add more protection to the power lines.”
“I agree, the threat from future Rockies, Sparkies, and Crackles is too great to ignore”
“What do we call the next squirrel?”
“Hopefully there will not be any more squirrels”
“How about Foamy?”
“Nice, here did you come up with that name?”
And so on.
One and a half hour after the meeting was called I got to go about my business. This kind of thing makes me wonder if this is how meetings are run in Washington. Maybe with any luck they will be as productive. They are already as silly, if not more so.