Friday, March 04, 2011

Clearly I Am Bad at Reading Minds

A non-trivial part of my job is based on being a native speaker of English who can write at least semi-literately.

Somehow I have gotten involved in a project to write a grant proposal. I'm not really sure what it is that we're proposing, but that is neither here nor there.

This morning the lead PI (this is an all-new project -- not any of the PIs from the project I work for) sends me an email with the subject line "Budget" and has attached a Word document that reads like, "Fringe benefits include 22% of PI’s salary, and the cost for the GA’s insurance ($XYZ amount) This totals to $X, $2Y, and $Z each year." and "In year two, $Xis the base, and the indirect cost is $Y. In year three, $X is the base, and the indirect costs are $Z." The entire text of the email is
Will you be able to help me with Budget justification and budget while I am working on proposal development? I am attaching a rough draft for you.
So I called up the Research Office to get the graduate student fringe benefit cost, the current overhead rate for this particular department, and assorted other missing numbers to take all the $X and $Y and $Z from the document and turn them into actual numbers. I totaled and tabulated everything and sent it back.

Turns out that this is not what I was meant to do at all. Lead PI of this new project writes back saying, "We will add numbers later." Not really sure what we are doing now.