26 February 2007

Grant Hell: Version 1.0

Grant hell took on a new form today: electronic submission.

You'd think that would be a good thing, right? Save a few trees, at least.

Well, yeah, sure, it saves a few trees. I'm all for that. Except that it's costing me brain cells.

I mean, my synapses are Burnt Out. Something I was familiar with is suddenly total foreign. Something I knew how to gauge is suddenly unfathomable.

OK, I'm exaggerating.

But this is the very first time in my personal grant submission history that we've MISSED THE DEADLINE. And not with just one. I'm not sure yet, but I think we missed it with 2 out of 4.

Part of it was just bad luck. One of our PIs had a bunch of Appendices and they were scanned PDFs, and as anyone knows, scanned PDFs are HUGE. So when they attached the scanned PDFs to the "submission package" the package promptly went cross-eyed and crashed all over the computer screen with a resounding SPLAT.

OK, I'm exaggerating.

But the reconstruction of the Crashed Package took a long time. Too long and the Magical Witching Hour of 5PM (otherwise known as The Deadline) came and went.

Like the first domino in a line, the Crashed Package thwacked the package I was working on and - I think - knocked it right out of contention.

I had my package done in time. Well, barely. I sent it on to the Lady in Charge (LiC) at 4:56, which was really a minor miracle, since I got the science (which had to be converted to non-HUGE PDFs) less that half an hour before. And I even left the LiC, 4 minutes to attach the other required items to her email and send it on to the Research office. Barely, barely, barely enough time, but she could have done it.

But, naturally, she couldn't do it before the Magical Witching Hour because the Crashed Package was in the process of being Uncrashed.

Lessons learned:

1) PIs will send the science to be attached to the package before 4 PM or be laughed out of the building and soundly beaten with chopsticks.

2) Appendices will not be allowed under any circumstances. I don't care how wonderful you think they are, they aren't nearly wonderful enough. Get over it.

More lessons will follow, I'm sure.


Leslie said...

Just to sympathize a wee bit - School District applications are also totally electronic now, which means scanning transcripts, letters, and state documents on top of filling in all the boxes, and having to edit on screen, remembering what you wrote 3 pages ago because god forbid you don't match it all up nice and pretty. And the limits they put on attachments means that a)you spend an inordinant amount of time fooling around with your scanner and picture quality options or b)you have an obnoxious number of small files attached to your application, leaving you to wonder if anyone will really open them all and hoping that, if not, they'll open the best ones and not the one you added just for filler.

And, yes, I still pay my bills with checks and stamps and all that.

Bethanie said...

This is the Dark Side of the Computer Age, where everything is supposed to be wonderful and trees saved and much easier than it ever, ever was before. There's always a catch...

I actually pay most of my bills online, but a couple that I still pay by check with stamps - like my mortgage, because it keeps getting sold - are now treated as if I had paid it online. My own bank doesn't even reference my check number on my statement - how's that for annoying!