The lure of an almost FO
Miso soup for the soul

It's not going to be a good day when you're making play dough at 4:45am

So Craig's alarm goes off this morning at 4:30 and I'm trying to wake up enough to be sure he gets out of bed and doesn't miss his plane when all the sudden it dawns on me that we forgot to make the play dough for Emma's class this week.

(New play dough is required weekly for hygienic reasons and we all signed up for the job--the fact that it's in my Palm and I've known for weeks didn't seem to help).

Crap.  So I get out of bed and find the recipe and I'm standing over the stove at 4:45am making blue fucking play dough.  I don't have enough salt (1 cup) so I wing it and I'm cooking blue goop on the stove that's making me a bit queasy.  I wait for it to cool and knead it into a nice blue blob and set it on a rack to cool a bit before I go back to bed.  Of course, I can't sleep, but since I have about an hour before I have to wake up I give it a try.

Then I play with the snooze bar for about an hour and wake up late.  Crap.

Things go fine getting the kids to daycare and I come home to do my very first research interview for my project.  I've tested the machinery--tape recorder with a fancy hook-up to the telephone to tape the interview and all is fine.  I do the interview and it's great.  She provides lots of detail and information and is really easy to talk with and I'm really satisfied with the information I get.  The call ends and I rewind the tape and (you're seeing where this is going, and it ain't good) nothing.  Fuck. 

Well not nothing, my voice is loud and clear and is obviously being recorded over the telephone.  Her voice is not there but instead it sounds like a vacuum in the distance.  Nothing.  Fuck.  I can't call and do it again since it would be a big demand on her time.  Fuck.  I try to write out what I remember based on listening to the tape and what I ask her but it's not the same.  Fuck.

(I immediately called my Dad and tried the recorder and it worked fine--I have no idea what went wrong.  I even called the switchboard of the interviewee and it worked, maybe there's some freaky insulation on her phone or something--I'm getting conspiratorial in my defeat). 

Now I'm a wee bit afraid to leave the house in case disaster strikes again.  I have a meeting with my Principle investigators this afternoon and will have to confess the technical glitch.  I know they'll say these things happen and all that, but shit, I didn't want it to be on the first frickin one.  Grrrr.


What a nightmare. Sorry you have to deal with that sort of problem right off the bat. Hope it all goes well after this!

Whatever you do, don't bring out any complicated knitting today! It's going to fall right off your needles or something! I hope it gets better ...

Ah, yes. The old screwed-by-a-tape-recorder trick. I live in such fear of tape recorders--and such loathing of transcription--I only tape when it's someone famous, I need the detail, or an editor makes me.

Take to your bed. It's the only answer.

Don't despair -- it might not have been the tape recorder and it might never happen again. Some people have voices that don't pick up well electronically. . . like me. I have to be very careful to speak loudly on voicemail and when I'm in court because the taping/recording systems don't pick me up when I use my "indoor" voice. Yet, people have no trouble hearing me in person or on the phone. So, it might not be as bad as it seems.

I can understand the dilemma - I used to work as an adjuster for an insurance company and I had a big statement to get for one of our new clients. I had to drive 2 1/2 hours to get to meet with the person. Since I had never had problems with the recorder before, I didn't check the tape. When my secretary went to transcribe the statement - the tape was of course blank. I can tell you that I was not too popular that week!

I thought you could just buy Play Dough at the toy store, or even Wallgreen's.

at least the play dough came out okay! you may not need to hide under the covers, but move cautiously....

Ugh, that totally sucks. I'm a qualitative researcher too, and I guarantee you, it happens to EVERYONE at some point. Can I tell you about the $50 per participant, clients in the observation room and NO FRICKIN VIDEO focus group that I did? No, I'd rather not dredge up those memories. Now I plan for disaster. Video AND audio at focus groups. Notes after every interview. Arrive two hours early for focus groups so if the facility--er--FORGOT TO RECRUIT or something, they have time to fix it (well, maybe I don't want them packing the group with the realtors down the hall in the office building, but you know what I mean). It happens ALL THE TIME and you shouldn't feel bad about it. It's not you. It's an inherently messy process.

Still, that feeling in the pit of the stomach is never a good one.

Hugs from someone who has been there.

The comments to this entry are closed.