May 01, 2015

Abusive and Neglectful

That's how I would describe my relationship with blogging this week.

I've been neglectful, ignoring that my blog exists for all but an hour and a half. And when I do acknowledge it, I use it to tell stories like the one I'm about to tell. Somewhat suspenseful, exceedingly anticlimactic, and otherwise pointless stories like this.

(Abusive, I know.)

A little background on the events that are about to unfold: If you think back to third grade, when you were assigned a two page, double-spaced report on the life of Harriet Tubman, you might remember that you had to include a bibliography at the end. That dreaded list of books and websites, filled with "Sherman, Willis B."s and punctuation that didn't make sense.

Well, that sort of thing also happens in Patent World. It's called an Information Disclosure Statement, also known as an "IDS."

You see, for every patent, you have to submit a list of all the references that are relevant to your invention. A grown-up bibliography, if you will. The number of references you cite varies significantly with the invention; sometimes it's two or three, sometimes it's 20 or 30.

Sometimes, it's 300.

Yes, sadly, I found myself Monday faced with about seven folders filled with scientific journal articles that I needed to cite for a patent I'm working on. Seven folders filled with 300+ "Sherman, Willis B."s. (Or, if we're being honest, seven folders filled with 300+ "Wei, Zhang"s.)

Basically, I started my week with the first of 300+ articles which I needed to download, one at a time, from a website designed in 1995, and then cite correctly on an IDS.

To be honest, it wasn't that bad; once I got a system set up, and I moved fairly quickly through the list. And it was also pretty mindless, so I was able to listen to Mike and Mike podcasts while I downloaded, cited, and repeated.

Repeated. Repeated. Repeated. Repeated.


But although it wasn't horrible, you can imagine my relief when, at 4:30 Thursday evening, I downloaded the last Zhang Wei from folder seven. Sweet, sweet relief. Now, all I needed to do was transfer the articles associated with my list of 305 references to a shared folder so someone could submit them to the Patent Office.

Except there were only 297 files in the folder.

Luckily, my office door was closed because that moment may have been filled with more expletives than the Wolf of Wall Street. Then I banged my head on the keyboard and, literally, shed tears of pure, tired, 5-PM-and-I'm-hungry frustration.

Because I was going to have to go back through 305 references and see which ones I missed. Or maybe it was 297 references? I had no idea, hence the f-bombs and ugly lady tears.

But then, Jesus Himself whispered in my ear, "Check to make sure your list is numbered correctly." Okay, maybe it wasn't Jesus. But it was a miracle because when I did check my list, I realized quickly that Microsoft Word had inexplicably decided to skip over a few numbers. As in, my list skipped from 14 to 16, then 31 to 33.

Basically, Windows was just effing with me.

But the bright side was that a few elementary school level counting tricks later, my list was numbered correctly with 297 references. If ever there was an appropriate time to use the handless salsa lady emoji, that moment was then.

I have no good segue for this so, I'll just say it: This is the end of my story. And there's really no point to it besides to curse Microsoft and its questionable numbering. That, and so I could post this:

Happy Friday.
No, but seriously. Happy. Mother Effing. Friday.