April 3, 1999
Panic 97 For Dummies


I have exactly forty-eight hours to learn the difference between Java and JavaScipt, build a new website, become an expert at PowerPoint 97 and do my laundry.

But first I think I'll go have some pancakes. Details to follow.


Later That Morning:


I didn't lie to my boss. Not exactly.

When he asked me if I know PowerPoint 97, I said that I "have some familiarity with the program."  Which is true: I am "familiar" with the little PowerPoint 97 icon on my Windows desktop.  It sits right between the icons for "Catz!" and "You Don't Know Jack."  I often look at it and think, "Oh look! It's PowerPoint 97! I should probably learn that program someday."  And then I click on My Virtual WindChimes.

So yeah  ...  I'm "familiar" with the program. Knowing how to USE it is a whole 'nother story.

Actually, I have played around a little with older versions of the program. When I was working for the phone company in TicTac, a few years back, I used to spend my afternoons mindlessly creating "presentations" about The Tots, and about the Baby Boomer Chat Room ("Allowed To Live" versus "Order The Fatwa"), and about work ("1,001 Ways To Fruck Around On The Job And Still Make $8.80 An Hour").  

(What can I say? This was before AOL went flat-rate: I had to entertain myself on the job somehow.)


So I have a smattering of PP97 knowledge, tucked away in a cobweb-festooned corner of my brain. I figured that once I got the job, I would buy myself a good PowerPoint 97 manual and spend a few minutes every evening teaching myself the program, in a focused and leisurely fashion ... the same way I taught myself HTML last year. [Snort.]  Or hey -- maybe I would even take a class and allow someone to teach me how to do things
correctly
this time. In the meantime, if someone asked me to create a presentation during those first few weeks while I was still secretly training myself, I would simply smile cutely and say "Was that the fire alarm?" and grab my shoes and run out the door.

I had plenty of time. Or so I thought. But then disaster struck.

The new Sales VP from our San Ramon office caught me reading MicroTimes at lunch on Thursday. "You interested in computers?" he asked ... and that was pretty much that. My problem is that I am completely unable to contain my enthusiasm when I'm talking about something I'm passionate about ... be it The Tots,  David, It's-It Ice Cream Sandwiches ... or computers. The next thing I knew, I was babbling on and on about browsers, and FTP clients, and how I prefer to edit my HTML in good ol' Notepad, and why hasn't the company updated the corporate website in eight months? ... I even sounded like I knew what I was talking about ... while Jose stood there looking at me with a peculiar expression on his face.

I've seen that look before. Usually it means "Lady -- why aren't you taking your medication?" This time it meant something even more sinister.

"I wonder if the company has any idea what they have, sitting right here?" he said.  Meaning me, and my motley collection of oddball, four-fingered, self-taught computer "skills."

[Gulp.]

"I would love to see a copy of your resume next week," he said. "Including your web development skills, programs you've used, stuff like that. You have a website, right?"

[Gulp.]

"Oh, and maybe we can talk about getting you involved in the new Sales Presentation CDs we're going to be creating. You do know PowerPoint 97, right?"

[Gulp.]

So am I panicking? Yes, a little.

Am I running out and spending a fortune on "Dummies" books at Barnes and Noble, and drinking way too much Peet's Coffee, and trying to cram twelve weeks' worth of night classes into one frantic overstimulated weekend (while trying to simultaneously run five loads of laundry back and forth to the laundry room)?

Well, yeah ... I'm doing that too. 

But it's OK. I don't really expect to become an *expert* at anything in just two days. Right now I'll settle for a working knowledge of PP97 ... and some clean underwear.


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