Parsing data

One of my many little day jobs has woken up a little bit. On and off for years now I’ve been invigilating exams at a nearby college. It’s reasonably undemanding work so I could do the Christmas season and then do a show in the evening. They’ve moved everything online for now. I’m having to train up, as it’s a very different fish.

Now, instead of keeping an eye out for somebody sweating profusely whilst furtively examining their wrist, we are watching and comparing flows of data generated as they go through their exam process. We are parsing it and keeping an eye out for anomalies. It’s thrilling stuff. A bit less of a workout than the old model of running around a big hall for ten minutes giving out pencils and fixing wobbly desks before sitting watching people write for the best part of two hours before running around again gathering up papers and counting them. But likely to be even less stimulating. I might start to regret having given up coffee.

I’m really starting to notice the lack of Christmas Carol now. Sometimes when I look on Facebook I see back to back adverts for other people’s Christmas Carols and it feels like I’m the only person who isn’t doing one this year. Six months of my life, that show, stretched over six years. I’ve made some wonderful friendships through it. Not this year, Ebenezer.

Time for something new. Something which hopefully involves a little bit more fun than just parsing data from exams I could never answer. Well – that and prancing around in a window with silly heads on to cheer up the Christmas shoppers at the behest of a kooky artist. That’ll be back again at least and should be fun and tiring enough to balance out the parsing. But yeah, I’m excited to see what strange delights the coming year will bring.

It’s kind of nice, meanwhile, to get really good at another piece of software. I’ve always been a secret geek. I used to build my own computers, and in the early days I could even code a bit. I let that slip but I always like having to dig into new technology, and lift the lid off. The downside is the capacity for those screens to suck the time away. You plug your face into one of those little shiny rectangles, something takes your interest, and the next thing you know it’s dark outside. They really do eat time.

I haven’t left the house all day and it’s bedtime. I had some Thanksgiving apple pie, in solidarity with our American brothers and sisters who too are teetering on the edge of total societal collapse. I’m full and I’m warm and I’m lucky to have something for December. The light is still on the wane and we are all getting frightened about money. Here’s to a lovely fortunate Christmas, and to all of us getting a break of some sort on the way.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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