Speaking Your Language

The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

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Speaking Your Language - The business users' blog about document generation and all things reporting software

And Then They Arrested Frosty The Snowman…

I don’t know who was more excited – our 3-year-old watching his first Christmas parade or my husband and I watching our 3-year-old watching his first Christmas parade.

It was a typical small town holiday event. Local marching bands, cute puppies from the animal shelter, skittish ponies and a poop mobile, and Santa and Mrs. Claus high atop the fire engine. All making their way down Main Street, Chestertown.

Watching the parade moments before Frosty's epic meltdown.

And, of course, there were holiday creatures. We gave high fives to the Grinch, shook hands with Rudolph, and got pinched by the Big Red Crab. (Remember, this is the Eastern Shore of Maryland we’re talking about here.)

We were two feet from Frosty The Snowman when he took an abrupt turn and walked back through the crowd. Sad for our son, I turned to call out “Hey Frosty, come say hi to our little buddy.”

That’s when we saw the police officer.

He approached Frosty and they started going at it, nose to carrot nose. At first we thought this was part of the show, like one of those fake sports mascot beatdowns.

But then Frosty starts yelling out his own version of Don’t Taze Me, Bro.  And I start doing my best to distract our toddler from what’s going on. It went something like this:

The officer and Frosty going at it nose to carrot nose.

Frosty The Snowman: “Why are you doing this to me?!”

Me, turning our son around and pointing vigorously: “Rowan, do you see the marching band? Look at those flutes!”

Frosty: “Get your hands off me!! Back off!! Leave me alone!!”

Me: “Look at those flutes!! And trumpets!! Do you like trumpets? Check out those clarinets!!”

Frosty: “You can’t do this to me!!! Get away from me!!! You have no right to arrest me!!!”

Me: “The piccolos!!! Check out the piccolos!!! Aren’t they awesome?!!!!”

Eventually the officers got Frosty down on the sidewalk, cuffed his hands behind him, and hauled the snowman off to the cooler. A few minutes later an officer came back to retrieve Frosty’s head, which had come off in the scuffle.

Here are some pictures another parade goer posted on YouTube:

As for why Frosty was arrested, we found out the details later. Check out the story and video posted by CBS News.

Can’t wait ’til next year’s parade.

Six Enterprise Reporting Horror Stories To Make You Cringe

The Thanksgiving holiday is upon us here in the States. That makes this a good time to give thanks if you weren’t involved in any of the following enterprise reporting horror stories.

#1 So that’s what the minus sign means. Imagine you’re on the board of trustees for a major university. And the day before you’re supposed to approve the annual budget, you realize you have $2.4 million LESS to work with than you thought. That’s what happened at the University of Toledo. A projection indicating a decline in enrollment was shown instead in the spreadsheet as an increase. Ouch.

#2 Copy and paste goes very wrong. Yes, we love anything that saves us time, like copy and paste. But due to a copy/paste error, the Center for Regional Strategies at Virginia Tech study showed a mere 11 percent of the region’s population age 25 or older had at least a bachelor’s degree – much lower than other national regions included in the study. That didn’t make the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany regional commission very happy, because a low figure makes it harder to recruit businesses to relocate, expand or open new locations in the area. The true statistic? Closer to 20 percent.

#3 Copy and paste goes very wronger. You’d think winning dozens of unexpected multi-million dollar contracts would be a good thing. Not when it means you bought more contracts at higher prices than you should have. Canadian power giant TransAlta did just that – losing $24 million in what the company called “literally a cut-and-paste error in an Excel spreadsheet.”

#4 Ummm… let’s pretend we didn’t just say that stuff we just said. It’s the stuff of executive nightmares. Not only is the financial news really bad, but you’re forced to call attention to it by publicly retracting statements you made touting such positive – and incorrect – data. Ireland’s C&C Group (makers of Magners hard cider) boasted about quarterly revenues rising 3 percent. Stock shares tumbled when they announced revenues had really fallen 5 percent. The kicker is that the executives were brought in with the express purpose of turning around company performance.

#5 Where did you say that data was again? In 2009, UC San Diego sent out about 47,000 emails to students congratulating them on their acceptance to the school. But – you guessed it – only 18,000 or so had actually been accepted. The admissions department had accessed the wrong database when generating the emails. So the admissions director apologized and began planning for the onslaught of unhappy phone calls.

#6 Hold the phones. The town of Nevada, Missouri was about to vote on its annual budget when the council realized the city finance director’s copy of the budget was different from the one the city council members were looking at. How they got there: 1) the finance director printed out a copy of the spreadsheet. 2) Someone altered the spreadsheet. 3) The altered spreadsheet was distributed. 4) No one checked to make sure the documents matched up. 5) The mistake was discovered just prior to the aforementioned budget vote. Epilogue) Subsequent budgets were posted as (unalterable) PDF files.

Got your own business reporting horror story you’d like to share? We’re happy to post your experience – anonymously.