Tag Archives: bad analogies

Lost in Translation?

29 Jun

funny-anchorman-gifs

I was at a coaching workshop two weeks ago taught by two Harvard professors up in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The goal was for participants to learn how to facilitate sessions using the material themselves, so the teachers would alternate between treating us as regular audience members experiencing the material for the first time and then as facilitators, learning how to use the material with other people.

As you’ve probably gathered, it can be confusing to try two different approaches to the material, so to simplify things, they asked us to pretend we were somewhere else (San Diego) when we were going through the program simply as learners, and then would ask us to, “Come back to Cambridge,” when they wanted to address us as teachers-in-training.

Our first day, we toggled between “San Diego” and “Cambridge” regularly. I found it to be a clever way to shift gears easily and know which role I was playing (student or teacher) during the program.

At the end of that first day, we were broken up into small groups to prepare our own presentations. While we were doing this, the instructor called out, “Think about what you experienced when you were in San Diego – that will help you with this!”

A woman from my group leaned over and said – in full seriousness, “Can you explain this whole San Diego thing to me? This seems like a smart group of people – how are they tricking themselves into believing that THIS is San Diego?”

I have no idea.

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We call this independence.

6 Jul

I live in our Nation’s Capital and I love it.

It’s a great city for so many reasons: It’s super walkable; there are hundreds of miles of bike paths around the area (56 miles in the District itself!); the architecture is pretty; each neighborhood has its own distinct personality; the residents are some of the best educated in the nation; the public transit system is clean and safe; there’s so much culture – museums, theaters, galleries – and most of it is free… I could go on. And on.

But one thing I do not like about living here: The tourists.

DC Tourists

See what I mean?

I know, I know. This city belongs to all Americans, so I can’t really get territorial.

But from April to September, DC is transformed into the urban equivalent of Walmart as loud people wearing Cheetoh-stained flag shirts and fanny packs crowd the sidewalks (four-across, no less!) with their mouths agape, making it hard for those of us who live here to get from Point A to Point B. I’m here to tell you that the stereotype of “Obnoxious American Tourists” isn’t reserved for how we behave in other countries.

So then, to continue the analogy: If DC is like Walmart for six months of the year, Independence Day is like Black Friday. People show up early. They push and shove to jockey into position. There are more people than real estate. And Neil Diamond is playing over the PA system.

Most locals either stay home and watch the fireworks from their roof decks or scoot out of the city all together, choosing to relax on a beach for a week while the inmates run the asylum back in DC.

Alternate Source: www.animalcapshunz.comThis year, since Independence Day fell on a Thursday and Alan had to work on Friday, we decided to stay in the area. The forecast was hot and humid, so rather than hanging in the District, I hopped on my bike Thursday morning to head to Alan’s place in Arlington so we could relax by the pool and grill up some steaks for dinner, far from the crowds.

We thought we were clever – hatching a plan that allowed Alan to avoid the District in his car on a notoriously crazy traffic day – but apparently we had overlooked a wee detail. Namely, the fact that it hasn’t even been three months since the Boston bombings.

Meaning: Homeland Security spared no effort in securing our Nation’s Capital, something I hadn’t realized until I was on my bike, trying without luck to cross Constitution Ave in front the White House.

As I came rolling down 15th Street, I saw a crowd ahead of me, blocking my path to Constitution Ave. I could tell they were watching a parade (as evidenced by the people dressed in old-timey gear, riding old-fashioned bicycles in circles while waving over the on-lookers’ heads), but this in itself didn’t deter me – I’ve accidentally participated in races, runs and parades before due to bad timing. (The most memorable was when I accidentally became the pace car for the Gay Pride Parade because I remembered to move my Jetta just as the cops where showing up to tow it.)

Image Source: http://www.jointaction.org.uk/media/Joint%20Action%20Media/News%20Pictures/X-Ray%20Bike%20Rider%20(colour)%20(smaller).JPGSo the crowd was thick, but I was going to try to wiggle through and cross – until I saw that the Mall had an eight-food chain link fence barring access to the other side of the street. Huh? (After Googling, I’ve learned the barricade actually ran 32,000 feet in length.)

I did a U-turn and asked a cop for advice about where I’d be able to cut across the Mall. He was friendly but useless. Apparently when they’d done the briefing for the event, he had only paid attention to his specific role – not the overall design of the parade route and city plan in general.

I thanked him for nothing, then rode back up 15th Street, where I asked a Secret Service agent the same question. As expected, he was more dialed in and offered good advice. I’d have to cut up to the Memorial Bridge and take that route out of the city. No problem.

Or at least – no problem until I got to the bridge and saw that it was blocked by a series of Metro Buses parked nose-to-tail, creating a rather effective barricade, with cops monitoring the only gap that remained. Turns out, the ENTIRE Mall – from the Lincoln Memorial/Memorial Bridge to the Capitol Building, was fenced in. The only way to get out of town was to pass through one of nine pedestrian checkpoints.

So I biked back half a mile, then stood in line with other bikers and walkers trying to get to (or across) The Mall. The police inspected my bag and wiped my bike down with the chemical/explosive detecting wand typically used at airports.

The security measures ended up adding 30 minutes and two miles to my commute out of town. A headache on a hot day, but it appears the efforts were effective since there were no major “events.”

Unless you count Alan fetching me from the pool later that afternoon, blood dripping off his hand at an alarming rate after he took the tip off his finger with a potato peeler. Guess next year we’ll have to put an eight-foot fence around his kitchen.

What to expect when you’re launching.

17 Jun
One difference between birthing a BABY vs. a WEBSITE.

One difference between birthing a BABY vs. a WEBSITE.

Holy smokes! I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without posting SOMETHING.

It’s not that I’m tired of blogging. And it’s not that I’m tired of you, kind readers. It’s just that I’ve been fairly consumed by my day job lately. I’m leading a project with a lot of moving parts, one of which is the development of a fairly complex website that is slated to launch this week.

To give you some sense of how it’s going: In more than one meeting lately, I’ve found myself unintentionally substituting the word “birth” for launch. As in – when someone asked if I’m excited about the launch – I said, “Can’t wait to birth it and burp it!”

After using that word for a third or fourth time, I paused to figure out where it was coming from. I’m not a maternal person. I have no personal experience with pregnancy and hopefully never will. I’m not hanging out with a slew of pregnant friends where vocabulary creep could be to blame.

But I realized that although it’s an odd analogy, it’s not a completely inappropriate one. There is more than one parallel to pregnancy stemming from this project:

  • I’ve been working on it for about nine months.
  • I’ve gained weight from stress eating (although thankfully I haven’t had to give up wine).
  • I can’t sleep through the night so I’m generally walking around exhausted.
  • I often feel barfy and have sharp pains in my stomach (that’s the Crohn’s, but still…).
  • There’s been epic debate over the name.

Also? I suspect this week is going to play out much like a real delivery. There will be a lot of yelling, maybe even swearing. At some point I’ll probably beg someone to “just get it out.” And although none of us will talk about what they see when I push, no one will ever be able to consider me a lady again.

I swear, I’ll get back to more regular (and more comic) posting after I squeeze this thing out.