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Monday, 31 October 2011

Over the moon and under the weather

We had a fantastic weekend.  A bit of DIY was done, and some important jobs have been properly started,  and in the round the back of each has been soundly broken. 

The shelf above the fridge, hand made by yours truly, just needs a final coat of the-same-as-the-walls paint, and it is looking clean and proper, and will be a welcome resting place for the bountiful collection of LO's cookery books.

The pelmet is also well on the way to being completed to hide the gubbins above the downstairs toilet sliding door.  Pelmet sounds a bit like something my granny would have, whereas this will, I believe, be chunky and in possession of nice clean lines, so at a stroke both functional in hiding said untidy gubbins, but also being fully in keeping with the rest of the extension, which is all about white, clean lines et-cetera-et-cetera.  Indeed, a chap less modest than myself may even call it a triumph of form and function.

We also had a lovely night out on Saturday evening.  We were to dinner with A&E, along with eight other guests.  Much fun was had, and much good food and wine was consumed.  There was even a menu, with two each of starter, main course and sweet.  And there was a cheese board.  And then, just as you thought it could not get any better, out came the mics and some fine karaoke was sung.  Now, I know that karaoke is a bit of a Marmite thing, you either love it or hate it.  It would not, for instance, be tolerated in any of this chap's clubs, except maybe Peppermint Hippopotamus, a local night club which has some reputation, most of it low.
All I will say on the subject is that trying to sing as loudly (and badly) as I did is not good for a chap's sore throat.

During the main course, the topic of conversation veered towards technology, and it was mentioned that I did a blog.  This was met with a fair degree of interest, and the request for the URL to said blog.  In my wine-sodden state, it was a bit hard to work out whether I should see this as a chance to increase my otherwise flagging readership, or whether in fact it was a chance to keep very quiet lest I become the butt of all subsequent jokes.  I erred on the safe side and forgot all about it.

Sunday say some general catching up on being at home, with a fantastic game of Monopoly in the afternoon, a game where Scobi did, unfortunately, go bankrupt.  Again, board games are not everyone's cup of tea, but as far as board games go, Monopoly is pretty much perfectly formed.  The intricacies of property and cash flow and greed and negotiations makes it a compelling play, one that everyone enjoyed with gusto.  It does also tend to bring out the worst in people's Machiavellian sides, with much gleeful rubbing of hands as a full set of properties was handed over as payment for landing on someone's hotel.

Monday morning is now upon us and I am feeling bad.  The cold-like symptoms are now accompanied by an aching, not to the level of flu*, but certainly making me think twice about the joys of a day's work.  I will see how it pans out, and reserve the right to gently die on the sofa if needed.

* Remembering the way to tell a cold from flu is to take the £20 test.  You are told that a twenty pound note is outside your back door.  If you cannot be bothered to get it, you have flu.

Friday, 28 October 2011

And . . . relax

The good thing about a three day week is that it is over a damn sight quicker than a fiver.  Consequently, I have barely broken in to a sweat before I am ready for an orange quarter and a quick rub down from the masseuse.  This weekend, we will be doing, wait for it, a bit of DIY, a bit of family fun, and a going out Saturday night to friends. 

We will also be filling our new fridge freezer, which, after several months of planning and saving, has arrived today, delivered by two very nice delivery guys who were very happy to see our large folding doors through which to take away the old and deliver the new.
We need to leave it to "settle" for half a day, before we can then plug it in and wait until it is cold.

This is one of those so-called American fridges, which is to say that it is the size of a double wardrobe, with side-by-side fridge and freezer compartments, also with chilled water and ice dispenser on the front.  I do believe that the jury may be out on the latter feature, but while the jury is out we will be enjoying chilled and filtered water "on tap", as well as as many ice cubes as you can fit in a single glass.  I expect the Maggots to increase their water intake tenfold.

I hope you have a chill-tastic weekend as well, and speak next week.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

What a fantastic long weekend

We had a great long weekend away in the 'van.  No lucky heather was sold, nor palms read, simply a couple of days out in and around the capital. 

On Saturday we acquainted ourselves with the site and the locale.  The boys, whose whole existence is only made bearable by the playing of football, were very happy to be playing said game on the grass opposite.  First they were told to get off the seeded grass - just about OK, but a bit grumpily delivered - second they were told to play only between our two 'vans - starting to feel like we were "not from around here" now - and finally, were were informed that due to complaints they had to stop playing football altogether.  Let's just sumarise it by saying that Maggot 2 scored the site nought out of five.  And that was only coz he was not allowed to go negative.  The silver lining, as much as it was, was that they found a new game that definitely played to their strengths, by discovering the games room, from where they started their club, with Maggot 3 (eldest of our friends' children) being the boss - she is good at that - and Maggot 2 being the second in command - he is good at that, some authority, but not too much - and Maggot 4 (youngest of our friends' children) being the general dogsbody - not so sure he relished that particular role, but he is a trooper and soon knuckled down.

Sunday saw us visit Hampton Court, which for Tudorphiles like ourselves was about as good as it got.  The buildings and the history and the exhibits and the live enactments were right up our street.  Five out of five from the older members of the group.

Monday saw us visit Legoland.  This was for the children, was what I was saying under my breath, and through gritted teeth, for most of the day.  In fairness, we did get wet on the very first ride, so spent the first six hour with a wet bum, so there was some fun to be had.  Children gave this five out of five.  Adults, for political reasons, and the threat of a beating from the Whip's Office, gave it two out of five.

A most enjoyable time was had by all, and I returned to work feeling refreshed and relaxed and full of the joys of Autumn . . .

I think you can probably finish that sentence.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Golfy and Bad Man

Having had a comment come back from Bad Man, I decided to give him a ping to say hello.  Well strike me down with a bloated badger if the phone did not ring but five seconds later, and it was Golfy on the line.  At first I thought this might be one of those amazing coincidences, but it wasn't; Golfy was sitting next to Bad Man and they thought it would be funny to ring me up.  Apparently they are together planning the local Gay Mardi Gras or something.  Anyhow, it was great to hear from them and good to find out what has been happening in their lives and to pour some sunshine into their otherwise dismal existences* by telling them all about my 'van.  Apparently they need neither lucky heather nor their palms reading, so I was politely informed to do one.

On other news, it seems that the challenge of finding suitable troopers to assist with their work is as acute in their bit of the business as it is in mine.  I am not sure whether that brings consolation exactly, but the devil in me is sort of happy that they are suffering as much as me.  I am not proud of that, and in fact will be retracting is with a statement to the House early next week, and anyway it was not me but my unpaid adviser** friend***. 

All is left for me to do is to wish you all a fantastic weekend, and see you next week.

* This scientific analysis is yet to be peer reviewed, so may not be universally accepted.
** I know you folks like a good fact as much as I do, so I just wanted to report that I was not sure whether this should be "advisor" or "adviser".  The general consensus on Google seems to be that either spelling is correct, with some suggesting a UK/US divide, but most concluding that not to be the case.  One further bit of info; if you are a chap who likes to know what other chaps are doing, then on the web at least, Google returns four times as many incidences of "advisor" as "adviser", so if you like to buck the trend, spell it with "-er".
*** I say friend only in as much as my wife has yet to talk to the press to say that she is standing by me, so I am pretty sure it is "friend" and not "leather buddy".

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Unconsequential mutterings

I am really trying to think of original titles, and not keep using old ones.  The trouble is, that means I need to think, and that is not always compatible with my working day.

However, in the round, not much will happen today, so the title is not utterly irrelevant.  I will do work, and that work will involve a constant round of Quarts and Pint Pot escapades, which means not much time to think due to a constant round of IMs, calls and emails.  I also need to plan my handover whilst I am away, something that is painful but necessary, however as the "team leader"*,

Home is geared around preparations for the 'vannin' long weekend.  I will visit said 'van this evening to get the winter awning, the clothes and the Maggot's bikes in the van ready for when we go pick it up on Saturday morning.  I may also be changing the windscreen wipers on LO's little jalopy.

And that, my friends, means an Album Filler Track of a day.

* which does not sound very grand at the start, and yet is still a lot grander than it is

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Alone at last, but will it last

I have just read Bad Man's journal, and alongside teaching me some new vernacular to describes one's colleagues, I was most taken by his terrible evening out with dull colleagues.  Conversation was, he reported, nigh on non-existent, and where it did exist the general opinion was that it should not have done so.  I did like the visit to the loo to text tigger bit.  Most ingenious.

All I can say to that is, has he tried working from home unexpectedly for an enforced period of ill Maggot watching, and a Maggot, I should remind  you, that had lost his voice completely, thus denying a chap of even the most basic of conversations.  "What ya watching?".  "repeats of The Simpon's", and the like.

Overall, the busy week is as expected.  School run followed by Maggot watching until mid morning, then a quick scoot up to the local Starfleet to be with the team and to spend at least a small amount of time face-to-face with my work colleagues.  Also need to be back pronto to attend two times parents' evenings. 

After that, two more days working before we are off for 4 days in the 'van.  We are going to the outskirts of London to a lovely, peaceful and relatively rural site, but as a base for a couple of day trips to London.  I hope and expect that a fantastic time will be had by all, we just have to remember not to spend anything.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

How to Spot a Liar

I caught this and it rather appealed.  Some of it I have heard before, but the overall tone of the talk I had not, and I found it very interesting.

The week from hell

Slightly melodramatic, however it is a week the back of which I will be very pleased to see. 

LO has a number of breakfast events, which means she is out the house by 7.15am, and I am then on school run duty. 

This had originally meant mixing in early drop offs before heading on to the office, however Maggot 1 happens to be ill at the moment (croup/sore throat/fever with a bit of hallucinating thrown in) so I have had to change arrangements and do even more juggling than usual, and spend my time working at home. 

Starfleet may not be perfect, my words and those of my fellow bloggers can attest to that, however it does at least provide the option to work at home, something very useful in our armoury of tools to answer the question "how the hell are we going to manage that?".

We are away in the 'van for 4 days starting Saturday, which right now feels like the last thing we need, but will actually be a bit of a break from the roller-coaster that is our normal life right now, and the absence of most electrical devices will be a welcome change*.

On other news, there is no other news, except that the dishwasher may be on its last legs, the top of one of our new floor-to-ceiling doors in the utility room was left half open under a spot light, so now has a Daliesque melted bit at the top, our second fridge has died (a phrase that strikes me, on re-reading, as decidedly middle class), the PVR, as already mentioned, is becoming unreliable and I am on pain of death to find a suitable replacement, and we have still to finish all the bits in the extension.  In summary, we are facing similar challenges as the EU in that we have more things on which to spend money than the money itself, but without the ability to go print ourselves some more if we do find ourselves in such a position.  As Golfy so eloquently says, "Ho hum".

* this is of course only as long as the PVR does its job over the weekend for our not-to-be-missed weekend viewing.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Can you tell a story?

I attended a Starfleet one-day event during the week, and in the final half an hour leading up to lunch, we were asked to share our "personal" stories about working for our company. 

Two examples were given. 

Example one was about a Starfleet employee who was driving through France with her family, and who had a bad road traffic accident.  When the medics attended the scene, they found her Starfleet badge* and immediately contacted the local French office, who mobilised the whole process of getting medical help for her family right the way through to assisting in the arranging of passage back to the UK, including notifying her own Starfleet manager of the problems she had experienced.  In her words, Starfleet all but saved her and her family's life.  That one brought a small tear to a chap's eye I have to confess.

Example two was when an employee was enjoying a beer outside a pub opposite one of Starfleet's offices in London.  He was approached by a tramp, who asked this person "Do you work for Starfleet?".  "Yes", he replied.  The tramp then asked "do you work on System Q?", to which the man replied "yes", somewhat surprised.  "We love System Q boxes down at Cardboard City, they make the best shelters", the tramp responded, before walking off down the street.

Faced with those two different but touching and/or funny stories, we were then set to task with our pens and our papers.  I had no idea what story I was going to tell.  Then I had a flash-back to when I was working in Worcester, when I started a band with my customer, his mate, and two colleagues/friends from Starfleet, and how we were in "harmony" with our customer, demonstrating cross-brand collaboration, etc. etc.  and how we raised good money for two charities.  I know this was rather blowing my own trumpet, or more precisely strumming my own guitar, but nevertheless it was the one and only story I could think of.   And you you know what, my story was read out.  Shame I was in the karzie at the time.

* there is a whole back-story to be had as to why she was carrying said badge whilst on holiday me thinks

Friday, 7 October 2011

And . . . relax

Another week nearly over, some good work done, some DIY tasks completed.

On the DIY front, I have been building a built-in desk for my office, using off-cuts from my Uncle-in-Law, oak-veneered MDF, and the base desk is now installed, oiled and waxed and looking mighty fine, if I say so myself.  It will still need a cable management bit added, possibly procured from Ikea, and also a shelf to hold the broadband router.
Phase two is to build a raised section for the middle of the desk rear, which will be to raise up the screens, and will also include two small drawers.  The main frame pieces are cut and sanded, ready for oak edging and assembling.  Once that is installed, I will then do phase two point one, which is to add the drawers to the unit.  I was slightly worried that my carpentry skills would not be good enough to make this, but so far it is looking pretty good. Still have the drawers to do, which are the most complicated bit, but based on what I have done so far, and how it is looking, I think they will come out well.

It is Maggot 2's birthday this weekend, and we are having a family day in London, going up on the train, and visiting the Tower of London and Hamley's, the latter for Maggot 2 to buy his present.  To avoid excessive sibling rivalry, Maggot 1 will have a small allowance to spend also.

Sunday is then a visit to a local "soft play area", with a friend who shares a nearly the same birthday, and their mutual and other friends.  It should be fun, for the little ones at least, and I may even get my shoes off and have a play.

I hope you have a good weekend, speak again on Monday.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Sad news

I read today that Steve Jobs has died.  Fifty eight really is way to early to shuffle off this mortal coil.  I am not sure if he was universally loved, but overall he did design some pretty cool stuff, or at least some pretty cool stuff was designed on his watch.  My thoughts go out to his family.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Flies and spiders

Is it just me, or are there a lot of flies and spiders around at the moment.  I know Autumn is a time for spiders, and there have been a few whoppers leaving the building via glass and magazine cover*.  The flies may be to do with the warm weather and food waste** so we have no-one but ourselves to blame.  One "feature" of the skylight is that it does act as a very effective fly trap.

The week is progressing as weeks often do, starting gently to lull a chap in to a false sense of security, before unleashing the full force of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, or at least their second cousins who work for my current customer.  In fact, I think I can hear the faint rumble of horses hooves right now, so gotta dash.

* While I am the bravest of the family, even I need a glass to catch the little blighters
** I know, and I agree with all the arguments that say this is a terrible waste, and I am not proud of it

Monday, 3 October 2011

Monday Monday Here Again

We did have a lovely Saturday night, but as is the general rules of cause and effect, we had a pretty terrible Sunday.  The day itself was beautiful, and I did manage to paint the kitchen, but we were hung over*, and so the day dragged, with a few bad words spoken, until the time** when we could sit down and veg out with all our recorded programmes, which included Strictly, Merlin, Doctor Who*** and X-Factor.  Whether you consider that list your idea of hell, or a bundle of pleasure for the whole family, will inevitably be dependent on how you view the world.

Brad and Angelina stayed over, with their maggots, and it was a pleasure as always to have their company.  They are undertaking their own DIY activities right now so we had a bit of a chat over methods and materials.  It is fair to say that Brad is a man with many talents and interests, but DIY is not one of them.  Having said that, on a quick trip to Tesco the previous evening to buy beer, we did spend way to long in the odds and ends aisle, and we were both very impressed with a Dulux brush set which had the most tactile brushes a chap has ever handled.  The pack included a brush with the bristles in a triangle, so shaped for cutting in.  Based on this experience, I have not given up hope that Brad can develop very nicely in to the worst kind of DIY person - very interested in the purchasing of tools, but less good at their use.  And if Brad wants to write in to give me some stick, I probably deserve it.

Final news was that Uncle Chippy brought round some oak-veneered MDF that was left over from one of his jobs, so is free to me and will make a very nice built in desk.  I did have ideas of grandeur that I would get a free-standing desk, but finances are tight so needs must and all that.  Uncle also brought round the oil and wax to finish off the wood, so all's well in the Scobi world.  I just need to find a few moments to make it.

* I blame a very nice vintage port.  I must remember "sip, don't gulp".
** 3pm, if you are interested
*** Which we now know really is a question.  Kind of one in the eye for that old knock-knock joke.