Thursday, January 29, 2009

Me and my identity crisis

I don't understand how I reached this point. I'm a musician, for crying out loud. I have a piano, a synthesizer and amp, guitar, violin, two flutes, and a few random percussion instruments in various parts of my house. I'm a pianist, but I dabble a bit. I have grade 9 Royal Conservatory and a college music diploma with a focus on jazz styles. There's a Real Book in my closet, where I also keep my score paper. I've been playing for 35 years, and writing for 25. And you just wouldn't think this kind of thing would happen. Why would it?

Going through college, things were good. And then, they weren't. Thoracic outlet syndrome. Cervical ribs, one on each side, cutting off the circulation to both arms. The ribs had to be removed. Scar tissue. Couldn't play for awhile. Couldn't lift, so my waitressing sideline was over. Minor nerve issues in the left hand impeded my playing. I'm a pianist, but for quite some time I lacked the necessary speed and agility to play professionally. I lack the patience required of a teacher. And there's even less calling for a composer than there is for a performer. Retraining became inevitable.

I worked in a collection agency for awhile. Debtors would hide. My job was to find them, locate their assets, and find a way to get the debt paid. I was good at it. Attention to detail helps. Got promoted to the legal department, and decided to retrain in that field. So I went to night school for paralegal certification. Worked in law firms for awhile, and it was all good. Until the day a lawyer told me that I didn't command a higher salary than average because, while I was smarter than average, my brains weren't required for my job. (Note for the future: Belittling staff is totally not the way to go.) And I decided to retrain again, to get past the financial glass ceiling and to command a bit more respect. Some paralegals go on to law school, but not me. In my time at the law firms, I'd learned that I didn't want to be a lawyer. I generally didn't like them very much.

I evaluated, considered my options, and settled on accounting. Music and math are highly inter-related. And the linguistic and problem solving skills I'd acquired as a paralegal would be transferrable. The training options matched with my lifestyle, so I could work while I learned. And I figured I'd probably enjoy it.

And I do. But still ... from music, to law, to accounting? It's an odd road I travel. But I'm traveling it and doing my best. I'm just over halfway done my designation now. I've gotten one scholarship thus far. Halfway through Level 4, and I've submitted my application for the integrated degree. When I'm done, I'll have an H.B.Com and a prestigious accounting designation. Pretty impressive, really.

But I'm a musician.

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This current class is in auditing. Dry as dirt in a summer drought. But it's required, so I plug along. Ten modules, five assignments, 12 weeks. As has become the norm of late, I am behind in my readings and playing catch up. I'm more behind than usual, however, and struggling to get through the past readings that I've missed. Not working out so well just yet. I'm sure I'll get there eventually. I always do.

Assignment #3 is due today. It includes a computer question, in which we're supposed to select a random sample of invoices using systematic dollar-unit sampling. (Yes, I now know what that is, much to my chagrin.) For systematic dollar-unit sampling, you take the cumulative population dollar total (P), divide it by the desired sample size (N), and set the interval (X). Then you select a random number (R) that's between the minimum (generally zero or one) and the maximum (usually P). And then you add X to R to find the next sample (R1), add X to R1 to find the next sample (R2), and so on until you've got N samples selected. No dollar value can exceed P, however, so interval X gets added until P is reached, and then it cycles back to the minimum number (generally zero or one) and starts over.

It's basically just really convoluted counting. See? Dry. Really, really dry. Drier than dry, actually. I need a beverage just thinking about it.

The computer question for Assignment #3 is to be completed in Excel, and both results and formulas are to be submitted for marking. The instructions say that random number R should be between zero and interval X. Takes a bit of time to set up, but then it all falls into place rather quickly. And no dollar value ever exceeds P, so there is no cycling back required.

Discussions in the student forum have revolved around whether or not a loopback provision should be built into the formula, even though no dollar value ever exceeds P. I say no; the dollar value never gets above the maximum, so we never have to start back at zero. Another student got all lofty on me and said that we should still provide the "correct" formula, even though in this case we never end up looping back. (The "correct" formula? You pretentious little snot ...) And I found myself actually typing this:

"In an audit, it is an inefficient use of time to build if-then loopback provisions into an Excel formula to deal with a situation that will never arise due to a mathematical impossibility. As long as R is set between zero and X, and as long as X is determined by dividing P by N, no number will ever be above P, even if R ends up being the maximum value of X.

Think about it:

The interval is P/N=X
R is a number between zero and X
N samples will be selected
Therefore, the maximum number that can ever be arrived at will be X*N=P

If it is mathematically impossible for a number to exceed P, no provisions will be required to deal with that non-existent contingency."


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I don't get how I just typed that. And I'm not sure why it makes complete sense to me. Because ... I'm a musician!!!

3 comments:

CK Lunchbox said...

exactly how I feel about having to work in the corporate world and being a writer.

well said!

iMommy said...

I'm a musician too... and now I'm working as a CRM Specialist in the IT department, working on a degree in education.

It's unsettling, in a way.

mrsmouthy said...

Wow, thanks for the reminder on why I majored in English! I absolutely adore math...up to an 8th grade level.

I had no idea you had been through so many careers. You must be like 60 years old!