take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Full of beans 

My brain is full to bursting with objects, methods, and classes; with variables, constants and primitives; with arrays, collections and iterators. This can only mean one thing. I've gone all modern: I've been on a Java course.

Quite a change from the 40 year-old language I've been using for the past eight years, amusingly described as: "one of the few languages created for punch card machines that is still in common use today". Bless. Although, of course, the language has made considerable advances since then, the mention of it still draws blank looks from many people in the IT industry. Makes me feel great about my "profession", if one can call it that.

Most people in the business have heard of Java, however, and when my boss said there was a space on the upcoming course, I was keen to see what all the fuss was about.

It was incredibly draining to be back in a classroom situation for five days. I would arrive home later than usual, like a zombie, unable to summon up the energy to produce my usual culinary delights, contenting myself with hastily prepared, simple snacks rather than the proper meals I pride myself on providing. Luckily Big didn't suffer from my slovenliness, as he had a seemingly endless array of parents' evenings to deal with that week. From which he now has a whole week to recover. Grrrr.

I was bewildered by the behaviour of the colleagues who were on the course with me. Almost as soon as we entered the in-house training room, they were scrabbling to configure Outlook so that they could access their email accounts from there. While the trainer trained, they would be clicking and tappity-tapping, replying to the no-doubt incredibly important, earth-shattering issues which couldn't possibly have waited.

Many of them failed to turn up on time, some even attended meetings during the course. And then, when we got to the practicals, they wondered why they didn't understand what they were supposed to do. There was nothing in those practicals which hadn't been covered by the trainer if you were paying attention. Which, like the teacher's pet I have never grown out, I was. Well, mostly. I must admit that my traditional post-lunch lull almost had me nodding off on a couple of occasions, despite the fact that I was genuinely interested in the course and had deliberately dosed myself up on wincingly strong, double espressos at lunchtime to prevent that eventuality.

Apart from the fact that it is appalling bad manners to sit there emailing people when someone is giving a presentation, it was also extremely offputting for those of us who were paying attention to hear the clattering of keyboards and the clicking of mice. Why do so many people imagine that they are indispensible, particularly in a large, corporate organisation where they are no more than one of many anonymous, faceless drones? I am fully aware of the futility of my workaday existence and that if I were to disappear into a puff of smoke, the business would simply carry on without me, as if nothing had happened. This is not good for the soul, clearly, but it is quite simply the truth.

I was annoyed on behalf of the trainer, who I thought was extremely good. She was lively, animated and totally brought the subject to life, relating some truly abstract concepts to real-world situations with enthusiasm and touches of humour. Her voice projected well and changed tone regularly. "How dare they disrespect her!" I would frown to myself as they tapped away. Yes, I imagine she was being paid handsomely to deliver the training, regardless of whether or not the attendees were paying attention, but still, this just felt downright rude.

I made sure to thank her after the course. There was a lot to take in, but I felt that she had done a brilliant job.

She described me as the "star pupil". I was no star. I just listened and learned. Which seems to be what I do best...

(Yay, something I'm good at!)

I have to wonder if I'll ever get to use my newly-acquired knowledge, though, especially given recent developments...

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