I *do* smell today

Well, my hair smells, at least. Someone's got a wood fire burning somewhere near my house. My hair picked up the smell while I was unloading the groceries from the car. It smells kind of nice, but it also has me on edge since the smell is not completely unlike the smell of a house fire. I don't like house fires. Definitely not when I'm not working *with* the fire department and definitely not near my house.

It must be close to the holidays
So much for thinking I was going to be ahead of the crowd for the Thanksgiving shopping rush. The grocery store was about twice as busy as normal tonight, but then again there were twice the number of employees and everybody seemed to be in a good mood. I found everything I needed without too much trouble and only had to backtrack one time. There were several people wandering around lost, but they were busy on their cell phones so I couldn't really direct them where they wanted to go to find that which they were seeking. In case you need to know, the red boiling onions are on an endcap at the far end of the produce section.

I finally got some work questions answered today. As you may or may not remember, I had agreed to use a new piece of software on our next TB outbreak. Well, we acquired said new outbreak in early September. I immediately notified the folks who could help me with the software that I had this opportunity and asked several questions. Several weeks later I got some responses and also got told that the rest of the answers would be forthcoming. Then in October, after I got the data for the outbreak, I asked more questions of the IT staff. I actually got those questions answered. Today one of the new application people e-mailed me and gave me a completely different answer. It would appear that we will have to know from the onset of an outbreak if the outbreak will be restricted to our region/state or if it will end up being multi-region/multi-state. The reason for this is that the replication for the database has to be set up prior to data entry. Perhaps this is a function of MS SQL (the underpinnings of the new application) or of the application itself, but in other SQL platforms replication goes both ways and I am able to push data upstream to the central server. If this particular software package doesn't allow for replication after data entry, it's going to be a biiiiiiiig strike against using it. If we have a big outbreak blow up into a multi-state deal, there's no way we're going to have time to re-enter all the data. It takes long enough to enter it the first time.

Right now my biggest complaint is that the user interface is bulky and the data entry is incredibly time consuming. It took me half a day to enter 14 people. When using my spreadsheet, I could enter several hundred people in the same amount of time. On top of that, I cannot look at all the records for a given person's entry at a single time. There is, surprisingly, no way to flag records as having missing data without developing a new SQL query. I might be able to do that with some practice, but nobody else in my office could do that. There's also no way that I can see of figuring out who has been fully evaluated for TB exposure without building a new query. It's not as big and powerful as the central office wants us to believe and the holes in their training package are going to make it hard to make it useful in an outbreak. Contrary to their assertions, this software is NOT going to be making decisions for me.

What mostly aggravates me is that it has taken so long to get any answers to questions after being told that support/assistance would be readily available with the implementation of this software. I don't know if my outbreak isn't big enough or sexy enough or just not a high enough priority. I'm only tracking 500 people in this outbreak, not the 4000 in the previous one. I can only hope that this is not a sign of what to expect in the face of something bigger, but I suspect that this is the norm, which means this software is unlikely to be widely adopted. As with the infectious disease reporting software, we are being assured that assistance will be forthcoming "real soon now", but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Apparently it's cricket season again. There's a big cricket exploring my living room this evening. Earlier he was in the kitchen. I'm sure I'll find him down the hallway by the end of the night.


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