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Thursday, 28 April 2011

And . . . relax

It is a funny feeling that just 3 days in, I am writing my end of week blog.  Such is the madness of the month of April, and very much liking it I am.

There is, apparently, a wedding going on tomorrow.  I have to say that I am broadly neutral on the whole event.  I don't have any negative feelings to the royals and their funny ways, but nor do I have any positive feelings that make me want to organise a street party or build a Union Jack out of pansies, or camp out all night to catch a glimpse of a horse and carriage.  I am not sure whether that makes me an agnostic or atheist, or maybe a Morris Dancer, but overall I wish any young couple the best of luck in their married life, and thank them for organising a Bank Holiday for tomorrow. 

This weekend will be full of a "royal fancy dress party" Friday night, plenty of DIY and family stuff for the rest of the weekend, and overall a bit of time to rest, remember what leisure time is, and to kick back and chill out.

I hope your weekend is planned as well as mine.  Until next time.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

And so begins another day...

Not been posting of late, due to being in holiday.  I have decided that that is a place I like to be.  We have a fantastic 4 day break with Brad and Angelina, and their two maggots, and had the sort of weather that would rival the Med in the height of summer, fantastic accommodation near to the amenities, but far enough away to be very quiet, backing on to a pond that became the hunting ground for the maggots.  We hope to do it again someday, once we are on top of our extension (and though it is hard to believe, that really was not meant to be a double entendre).

Talking of the building work, we had hoped to return to amazing changes, only to find the roofer had been called to another job, so things did not look that much changed.  The soakaway was completed and the garden put back to something like its former (in)glory, and the kitchen floor and wall tiles, plus coving, were also removed.

This week sees the final blackjack coat on the floor and the first fix for plumbing.  End of this week early next sees the windows and doors going in.  They then lay the insulation and concrete skim for the floor, followed by the plasterboard and plastering the week after, at which point the second fix for electrics and plumbing can be completed.

i.e. we are actually fairly near to the end, even though it does not feel like it at the moment.

On the work front, first day back sees the usual pain of a full inbox, and a bunch of usual hassles that come from having the audacity to take time off. 

Friday, 15 April 2011


Friday, seventeen fifty one hours, conference call, me? All a chap wants to do is start the weekend, but these other chaps and chapesses will simply not stop talking.  Not good for a chap's health.  Anything that stands between a chap and his first beer had better have something interesting or important to say, or risk being trampled in the rush.

Do what?

Friday, seventeen hundred hours, conference call, me?  A chap has his limits, and it seems that other chaps are keen to put pressure on those, to see whether they can push the envelope no doubt.  It makes a change from running the flag up the flagpole to see who salutes.

In-flight... project... implement... capability... upgrade... sequence of time... change window... various stages... lock-down... communicated... process managing... evaluating.... chill and freeze windows... solution... riddled with assumptions... committing to a fixed price... issues... agenda...

This is the sort of content of the call.  It is riveting.  And a chap is very good at being polite.

Have a good weekend.

And . . . relax

Another Friday, another sense of relief.  This one sees me frantically trying to close down loose threads so I don't leave colleagues with a mess during my week off next week.  My big project is pretty much there for my bit.  Due to its size, there will be many iterations, but hopefully they will come after I am back the week after next, and so will not burden my already busy colleagues.

The building work has been dragging a bit of late.  Still lots of work being done, but none of it high-profile stuff that makes it feel like we are progressing.  That changes today since we have the chippie back to finish the trim, so the roofer can then finish off his bit next week.  Getting the lid fully done will be a nice milestone.

Next major one is windows in, insulation and stud partitioning up so first fix electrics and plumbing can be done, then floor, then second fix and plaster, and then done.

Thursday, 14 April 2011


A chap is always looking to improve himself, and indeed Buddhists now ponder how you can improve on perfection, as light relief from pondering the sound of one hand clapping.

Anyhow, the current thing that is of interest is the Pomodoro technique.  I am giving it a go, so why don't you too.

On other news, the cladding for the roof edge is now going to be PAL 7016 colour, semi-gloss, which is very exciting.

The chippie is back tomorrow and Saturday to finish the cladding and fascia so we can get the top layer on the roof, when we can then also install the roof light.  Very excited about that.

We have also discovered that the rainwater down pipe from the existing extension is going in to a soakaway that is basically a handful of gravel, 2m from the extension wall, and less than half a metre under the ground.  i.e. totally against building regs. So yet again we are putting right a load of old sh!te as part of our building project.  The result is that we now have to did a trench to take the pipe out 5m from the building, and then dig a hole 1.2m diameter and 2m deep in which we bung a load of rubble, with a concrete layer on top followed by topsoil, to create a decent and legal soakaway.  While it will cost money, I like to do things right, and I also like the idea that slowly, we are eliminating every last bit of crapness from our lovely house.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A note from the front line

Life feels a bit busy right now, and with a week off next week, I need to do my best to close down all my loose threads at work, to make something easy to hand over to another colleague.  Poor sucker.

At home, the extension is still progressing, and there may well be some problems with the drains, which is not good news, particularly for the guy who has found the problem.  Not wishing to put you off your dinner, all I can say is that you should be glad, for now, that your work does not include digging for drainage.

Other news is there is no other news.  I am really enjoying the sunshine and realise that I am not Winter's biggest fan.  I like the way the days are lengthening out, the days are warm and the spirits of my fellow humans, for the brief honeymoon period between it starting and the roads beginning to melt, are soaring as well.  I just hope it holds for next week when we go away with Brad and Angelina and the entourage of Maggots.

Until we speak again, be good, enjoy the sunshine, and don't step in anything smelly.

P.S.  I have been doing some thinking on AV.  My first important thought was that if it did come in, and a chap was not a fan, then all that chap would need to do is to only vote for one person, and then their vote would be as it is now in the first pass the post (FPTP) approach.  Now, if everyone on the whole country did that also, then AV would be no different to FPTP. 

Therefore, I was thus far thinking we may as well go for AV.

Then I had a second thought, and that was that the only time the second vote was of any use was if a chap was to vote for the person who ultimately comes last.  Only in that situation would his second vote have any influence.  Now, this would mean that a chap would have to vote for, say, the Monster Raving Loony Party with his first vote, and then something that was either first or second with their second vote for the AV principles to have any real impact on a chap's vote.  When I gave that some thought, I was not sure that AV was going to change stuff very much at all.  The ideas a chap has heard on the old wireless seem to be the idea that an chap or chapess may be more likely to vote for who they really want to vote for, and put the party they dislike least as a second, rather than use their first vote as a protest vote.  Now, this is all well and good, except the chap's first vote would have to come last for the second vote to have any effect.  A chap does not have the data to hand to prove it, but rarely has a serious contender in a constituency come last, since there is always at least one nutter party "Free gobstoppers for all" or "the yellow custard party" or some such thing, who will take the bottom slot.  And is someone really going to vote for free gobstoppers with their first vote, and the Lib Dems for their second? 
So, based on that, I am not sure how much influence AV will really have.  Maybe it really is a "miserable little compromise".

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Is it really Thursday already?

Time is an abstract concept, we all know that, and my mate Professor Brian Cox hasn't helped much with all his mind-blowing information, however, where did the time go?

I do stuff, and mostly the stuff I do is little and quick, sometimes it can be middle sized and not so quick and sometimes small and not so quick.  The stuff I am doing right now is a biggie.  In value, and complexity, and I find myself having to revert to good old fashioned techniques, ones that can be dulled in the "fast moving consumer goods" world I tend to inhabit, and while there have been a few growing pains along the way, overall I have enjoyed having the time to really get stuck in, and have to think about deep stuff, and to engage with a number of troopers who I have never met, and probably never will. 
I also have one of those dratted deadlines, and am reminded of someone, it may have been Terry Pratchett but don't quote me, that said "I love deadlines, I love the wooshing sound they make as they fly past me".  This deadline is, as the name suggests, a line that crossing or not crossing (can never remember which one it is) will result in instant death.  It may not be to everyone's taste, but it focuses the mind.   And thus I am focused now.  Except for the little break to write this blog, obv.

Other news sees us venturing up North to visit Brad and Angelina, for a fun time, and also to plan our up-coming holiday the week after next (indeed, the week after my deadline, so another reason to hit the said deadline).  It will be fun, and I am very much looking forward to it, and with the weather being just fine, hopefully plenty of outdoor stuff to boot.

Building is still going.  We hit the tricky bit now where we are dependent on plasterers, chippies, sparkies and other neer-do-wells, and the project may well judder to a slower pace now, albeit the foreman will be running as tight a ship as he can in pursuit of the good deal.  We are water-proof now, and looking for first fix and windows to make it water-tight. 
Now, BadMan told me that week 11-12 is when you just wish they will leave.  He did a two-storey extension, and mine is single storey, so maybe it is OK that at week 6 I am having similar feelings.  In fact, I have a bit of a trough of disillusionment right now, and can only hope that time away from the pad will make my heart grow fonder.  Time will tell.

Until next time, adieu mon amigo.

Monday, 4 April 2011

The start of a whole new week

Monday sees me working from home.  Plenty of calls and solo work to do so home is the best place to be.  Will be in the big bad world in the middle of the week, to return home again for the end.

My car as Electronic Stability Control.  No idea what it is, but assume it is worth having.  The problem is that it keeps going wrong.  The warning light has been coming on, on and off, for over half a year, and the car has been in about five times.  The first was to a local cheapo garage that my lease company decided was a good place to send it, and they did nothing.  The other four times have been to the local Saab garage, who do know what they are talking about, mostly, but who have struggled to find the root cause.  Several things have been adjusted, and the previous visit they did manage to isolate a dodgy connection, which was replaced, and the problem stopped.  For a while.  It is now back, probably on nearly every journey, so I will need to once again book it in and be at home when they need to collect it.  Now, don't get me wrong, being forced to be home on a Friday, and have some nice man come and pick it up, is no real hardship, and I do know how lucky I am, but to be honest it does have to be that easy because I have zero interest in cars.  On two previous occasions I have managed to run a car nearly dry of oil, so bad am I at doing anything useful when I lift the lid.  I think the clever stuff is best left to those that know, and I am very comfortable in the position of being a chap who does not know.

Friday, 1 April 2011

And . . . relax

Lots of work on, building going very well, with three uncle-in-laws currently on site doing their respective things.  Upstand for skylight in, nearly insluated, gonna look awesome.  Black-jacking being done to existing inside walls today - be very glad you are not doing that.   Think bogies mixed with dark black molasses and a bit of No Nails thrown in.

Weekend is fairly free, so hope to do a bit of DIY and a lot of nothing, and spend some time with the maggots playing footie or going swimming or anything really that does not involve a screen.

Have a good weekend, catch up next week.