All posts for the month February, 2014

Our trainer seemed surprised to see me back so soon and asked me if I would like to know how I did. I said sure, and she pulled my test out of the pile and marked it, then pulled out a chart. She looked a little surprised and asked me to confirm my name and section, which I did. She said that according to my test results, I would be strongly suited for a career in the Biomedical Science Operation Division. I said I was happy where I was, because from what I’ve seen of the people who work in Biomed it doesn’t exactly have “hospitable working environment” written all over it. She said she would forward my file to the division director anyway. I didn’t argue. Maybe I’ll have an easier time climbing grades under Dr. Cranor if she knows I have options.

That kind of thinking doesn’t normally sit well with me, but I think it’s time I acknowledged that this is a game and I have to be willing to play it if I want to progress.

On the subject of progress, I really hope we’re done with the corporate-type preliminary stuff and can start getting down to brass tacks. So far I’ve been here an hour and a half and I don’t know anything I didn’t know when I was Grade 3.

I guess I missed the trainer calling a break while I was writing that last post, but everybody just filed out of the room when they were done with the test, so I did the same. I don’t know how long we have, so I’m just going to get my thoughts down and then go back in.

The test wasn’t any more relevant than the film strip but it was short. Ten questions multiple choice, and the only thing more random than the scenarios they provided were the responses they gave us to choose from. Things like, if someone cut their toe on a doorframe, would you A, hack the toe off; B, scream for help; C, disinfect the wound; or D, strap them down for observation. Those are paraphrased from memory, I couldn’t remember the exact words, but they’re seriously not even exaggerated a little.

I thought this was supposed to be one of those “no wrong answer” personality tests—though obviously when an employer gives you a test they are looking for specific things—but that question in particular made me think that it’s really a last-ditch attempt to make sure they don’t let anyone above Grade 3 who’s asleep at the wheel. I mean, seriously, the only answer that makes any sense is C.

That made me a little nervous about some of the questions that didn’t seem to have any reasonable answer, but maybe there’s a Kobayashi Maru element to it. I’m actually a little bit nervous about that because I wasn’t sure if the test would be to see who doesn’t select any of the horrible answers, or who can recognize the least harmful of several bad alternatives. I went with the latter, because the instructions were clear about answering all questions with one of the provided answers.

Whatever. It’s over and done with. Now, the mysteries of Grade 4 await. On to the good stuff!

For those of you who graduated from gym shorts more recently, I want to make sure you understand what I’m talking about here.

A film strip’s not a movie. It’s basically a 16mm slide show with a separate soundtrack. The first frame is shown and then you push play on the soundtrack. When the narration is done with the first frame, the tape beeps and someone needs to push a button to advance the frame.

The technology to automate the whole thing has been available since the 70s. Though of course full motion films with integrated soundtracks are even older than that, but the magic of film strips is that they were cheap and durable. Hence their use in public schools. Since the point of the thing was to save money, a lot of schools didn’t bother to update to the automatic system before the whole thing became obsolete. There’s nothing you can do with a film strip that you can’t do with a computer, a presentation manager, and an overhead projector.

I can guess why no one’s bothered to convert this particular relic for the digital age. Probably the only people who would think it’s worth the effort is whoever insists that they still show it before the Grade 4 training, and that kind of person does not have the sort of mindset that willingly embraces the future. Or even the past. PowerPoint is two decades old at this point.

I did ask why we don’t have an automatic one. Federated Para-Sciences has seen its ups and downs, funding-wise, but it’s not a public school and it would have been plenty flush at the time the technology became available. Hell, I’m surprised that we didn’t have it before it was available.

The person from PIP told me that that if I had a suggestion in that area, I should direct it to Automation Services, but that I shouldn’t bother because there’s been a ticket open for that for years now.

I could say a lot more about the film strip, but I think I’m going to have to end this soon. We’re about to take some kind of occupational aptitude test. Seems a little redundant when everyone in the room has already been approved for Grade 4, but I guess HR departments love their personality tests.

Hopefully this will be more relevant than the preceding waste of time, or at the very least it won’t be long and then we can get on to something more substantial. I know I’m champing at the bit here, but ever since I started I’ve wanted to do something meaningful and understand what it is that I’m helping to accomplish. I’m almost there.

Okay, really have to go now. I almost got caught blogging in class. Could have been awkward, especially since I’m not really clear if this is kosher to begin with. Even if it’s something that most people would tacitly let slide by, I can’t really expect human resources to look the other way.

Shit, almost got caught again. Wise up, Harper. Post and put away.

The film strip was called “Grade 4 And You”. It starred a cartoon drawing of a really chipper (and kind of inappropriately childlike) blond guy in a jumpsuit, giving the thumbs up and winking at a bunch of bullet points. He looked kind of like an Aryan version of buddy Jesus.

Really, it was everything I was expecting it to be and more. Totally pointless. The narrator was REALLY excited about science, but since we’re all adults who went to university and received multiple degrees, I’m not sure why they thought we needed a pep rally on the subject.

Well, they haven’t bundled me into a helicopter or taken away my padphone yet, so maybe the Grade 4 training is all done on site. Another promising sign: they’ve had me report to a classroom. Except for the lack of a window and the desks being slightly bigger, it’s a lot like my old elementary school: painted cinder block walls, acoustic tiles for the ceiling, off-gray tiles that don’t exactly match or fall into a recognizable pattern. Institutional architecture didn’t really change that much over the course of the cold war, I guess.

Talking about elementary school flashbacks and things that haven’t changed since the cold war, someone from Personnel Information Processing (what they call HR here) just wheeled in a fifty year old A/V cart. It looks like the Grade 4 training begins with a film strip. Goody. I wonder what vault they dug this one out of?