Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Square Peg - Well, S.H.I.T... Again.

The Square Peg - Well, S.H.I.T... Again.
© S. Bradley Stoner

That’s right folks, So Here It’s Thursday... again. Where did the week go? Matter of fact, where did the last two weeks go? No, I don’t have old-timers disease. I know where it went, but damn it went fast. Before y’all whup some admonitions on me for failing to amuse you on a more regular basis, let me explain.

To conjure up those dicey dollops of suburban silliness, I have to go outside. And I haven’t. Well, not much at least. How can I write about Bingo Bob, Duncan Donutz, Patti Peeksalot, and all those other loveable characters when I’ve been living like a troglodyte? That’s right, I can’t.

So why have I been living like a troglodyte, you might ask. Work. The dirtiest of all the four letter words. Yes sir, it mires you in metaphors and drowns you in detail. Well, maybe not in your work, but it does in mine. And we’re not even talking fiction here. Nope. It’s the real McCoy.

Now, before you go and think I’m grousing, let me assure you that I’m not. In fact, I enjoy what I’ve been doing for the last couple of weeks. In fact, I love it. It kind of gives me a global reach, and who can’t use that? Let me explain. I began mentoring two young colleagues I met on LinkedIn a couple of years ago... or maybe three... who’s counting? English is a second language for both of them, so they struggle writing reports that have to be in English. That’s where I come in.

It all started with a simple request or two. Could I take a look at a grant application? That one from my colleague in Uganda. Could I share some environmental information? That from my colleague in New Guinea. See what I mean about global reach. Of course, I was happy to pitch in on both counts. Hey, I got to help the careers of two bright young men and make a contribution to environmental science all at the same time. And I got to do it in two critical areas for biodiversity. Not everybody gets a chance to do that.

So, week before last, I was reviewing, editing, and making suggestions for improvement to a faunal survey in New Guinea. That was a trip. I know more about things like native and invasive fish species in a foreign land than I thought possible. It took me three days to get through that report and help prepare it for universal publication, but the end product will pass peer review anywhere, and it’s a tough audience out there. By the way, my colleague just got promoted to Environmental Supervisor of the company by whom he is employed . Bravo young sir!

This week, it was a booklet explaining Cooperative Forest Management in Uganda, and proposing a path forward that will help in reforestation and forest defragmentation. The goals are lofty, but the path is difficult and woefully underfunded, not to mention having to cope with corrupt local officials. This one was a bit more difficult. Sentences and whole paragraphs that make sense in my colleague’s native language come out garbled when put in English. On top of that, I had to do this one in the King’s English... and I are an American. Sigh.

Nevertheless, I managed to make sense of the texts in both of these documents, rewrote parts, made suggestions for improvement to others, and generally polish them. Polish as in make them better, not... oh never mind. I’m not sure I’m done with the CFM document. Quite often I get back second drafts from Uganda for further review. That’s okay... writing is an iterative process. In any case, I hope this helps my Ugandan colleague obtain more assistance from grant organizations and private contributors.

So, there you have it. My lame excuses for not entertaining you as often as I would like. Get over it... I plan on walking a lot next week. I’m getting butt heavy from sitting in front of the computer.