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Wednesday, 30 November 2011

A Bad Man one told me . . .

I read this, and smiled, on the inside at least.  This reminded me of a delightful apple I had the other day.  I say delightful only in as much as I did have a certain degree of delight at the prospect of taking the first tasty bite.
Imagine my surprise when I was confronted with something that would most definitely scare the horses.

I don't know about you, but I think there is a bit of Posh Spice in there.

Monday, 28 November 2011

A new week starts

We had a pretty good weekend, albeit rushed.  The Meal for Eight was fine, although there was a need for some serious planning of the weekend away in two weeks' time, and that did not leave much time for fun and frolics.  However, it does mean that we will be eating well during the weekend away, and good food can only but lead to good fun and good frolics.

We did a bit of family Christmas shopping on Sunday, which involved two sessions of roughly equal time with each of the maggots, so that the said maggot could then buy the presents for those in the other party.  It was as complicated to execute as it was to explain.

It was, if truth be told, one of those weekends where the stuff that had to be done filled up most of the spare time, but we did have a "pyjamas on and sitting on the sofa" sessions Sunday evening which was very welcome.

Have a good week, speak again tomorrow.  Or the day after.

Friday, 25 November 2011

And . . . relax

Friday comes
and Friday goes
If you swim with sharks
best count your toes

"What an odd start", I can hear you saying, "there is a chap who needs the weekend if ever I have read one", you continue.  There is, of course, a reason for starting like that*.

I am reminded of that Roy Lichtenstein take off of the guy painting a picture, with his mum looking over his shoulder.  "What are you painting dear?", she says.  "It's kind of abstract mum", he replies.  "That's nice dear", she concludes.  In fact, I am further reminded that my sort of third band, maybe second depending on your counting method, which was called That's Nice Dear.  We were nearly the next big thing, but it turns out there was not much call for acoustic abstractism in the music business in those days.  Oh, and I also went off to Australia for six months, thus making band practices a bit tricky.

This weekend we have a "meal for eight" on Saturday night, but otherwise the family intends to get reacquainted with each other in a warm and relaxing environment.

Have a good weekend, and maybe do something a bit abstract this weekend, as long as it does not frighten the horses or cause offence to Lithuanians.  Talking of Lithuania, and mixing in a bit of football, I see my club, having just been through several years of turbulence, and starting to bottom out and look to the future, is in trouble again, with one of its owners having a warrant issued for his arrest by his home country of Lithuania.  Pay Up Pompey, Pompey Pay Up may well become the chant from the terraces.

* standard comic fare to introduce an idea to which you return later in the piece.  Being as I am in my abstract phase, I plan to introduce it, then leave it dangling with

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Have you done something different with your hair!

I know what you are thinking; something has changed, can't quite put my finger on it, but something has definitely  changed.

I lieu of actually blogging, I thought I would change the design of my blog.  Then I realised how vacuous that was and decided to blog as well.  Then I realised that I would need to start writing and allow my fingers and brain to converse directly, without involving my conscious self, but it turns out they are not on speaking terms at the moment.

Actually, I could tell you about the book I am reading.  It is called The Social Animal, has been NUMBER ONE ON THE NEW YORK TIME BEST-SELLER LIST* and it is, so far, very interesting.  It is a sort-of psychology book, talking about what succeeds and what does not, and what influences your parents (damn those parents) have on the person you become.  I can tell I am starting to lose you, so only thing to add is that it is told as a story about a person from before he was born, in a similar style as the One Minute Manager** and thus manages to discuss complex stuff in a simple way.  I should also add that Barak Obama is a fan, and apparently all of Westminster has read it also.  This is a book I would very much recommend, but I do concede that the way I have described it will put off all but the hardiest of souls.

* that was how large it was writ on the cover guv
** Another book of which I am very fond, again due to it conveying clever and complex ideas in a very simple way via a story.  Another book I would recommend

Friday, 18 November 2011

And . . . relax

Wow, that was most definitely the week that was not.  I am not saying that it was a bad week, but rather that it was one of those weeks that does not linger long in the memory, simply because it was a week whose sole reason for being was to bridge between the week before and the week after.

LO is off for a weekend away with one of her good friends, which means there is a lad's weekend looming.  Now, this will not be a normal kind of lad's weekend.  The only kind of stripping will be the removal of PJs so we can put on our blue-jeans and cowboy hats; the only binging might be a slight over-dosing on popcorn during the obligatory Saturday night Strictly, Merlin and X-Factor marathon.
We have exchanged Tesco's Clubcard Points for cinema and Pizza Express vouchers, that will be in the weekend mix, and otherwise we hope to chill with da hood, and likely "play a footy match", which is something Maggot 2 asks nearly every day, first request usually as he climbs in to bed for the morning cuddle.

Enjoy your weekend and speak next week.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Nothing to report

I wanted to post, but don't really have anything to report.  Maybe I could tell you about my day.

That was my day.  Working.  Baby-sitting a sick Maggot (number 2 if you are interested).  Ate breakfast.  Had a cup of tea.  Had a cup of coffee.  Drank oodles of water.  Had lunch.  Day is nearly over, just one 2 hour call to go.

Some days are like that.  When you look back, there is just a gaping hole where life should have been.

I hope your day is more full of fun.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Is it really that time of year already?

We are currently in the performance appraisal season, when colleagues are asking for me to provide them with feedback, and managers are looking for reasons to give us good, or maybe not so good, marks.

I therefore present a couple of cartoons that sum up how this works for me.

Friday, 11 November 2011

And . . . relax

It has been a very long week.  If time always went this slow then my life would be passing in dog years.  No, hold on, I mean if a dog took this long then I would be an old man, or is it a day is a year when a dog eats chum?*

My job is the sort of job that, when mentioned at dinner parties**, has one of two reactions from the person to whom I am talking.  Either they say "really, how interesting" and look for the nearest exit, or they say "really, what is that then?" and look for the nearest exit.  Even close friends don't really know what I do, and even under severe interrogation would only be able to admit that I am a "something manager I think".  Conversely, the role has never yet been mentioned during one of those slow-news-day items about daft EU or daft government or daft council, you know the ones where they discuss the daftness of various job roles such as Invasive Plant Removal Manager of some such.  This means I am hovering between "dull as ditch-water" and "not daft enough to care".

We are planning a quiet weekend, with some family time and a bit of kicking back and doing not much.  There will be DIY, and there will be beer drinking.  And my mum thinks I am important.

Have a good weekend.

* The week has also done bad things to my mind.
** Not things I attend with any great frequency you understand

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Should I stop listening to the news?

It just seems to be getting grimmer and grimmer, and things that a month ago seemed unthinkable are now being proposed as the likely next step.  It makes a chap consider whether he should be waking up to Radio La La rather than Radio 4.  It is interesting to see that the money markets are basically insisting on a regime change in Italy and I would have thought Mr Berlusconi would welcome a bit of time off to go partying with Frankie Cocozza*, but there you are.  The fickleness of fame and power.

On another tack relating to power, it seems that James Murdoch is back for Round 2 of his commons committee grilling, where I assume the committee will be trying to identify whether anything James has said before is wrong, either because it contradicts with what he is saying now, or because of new evidence being uncovered to contradict those previous statements.  I imagine it may make interesting TV, but sure as eggs is eggs it will not be one of James' Top Ten days out.
One thing did interest me, and that was the story that James signed a check for £750k, but did not know what it was for, and it turns out that this check was paid to settle a claim with Gordon Taylor***, allegedly relating to phone hacking.  Now, being a Libran, and therefore able to see both sides - some say always sitting on the fence - I know that you can loose a bit of money here or there.  Many's the time that I have gone out with £50 for a night out and managed to spend every single last penny of it.  How does that work?  Anyhow, I know how easy it is to mislay money.  But, and it is a pretty big but, £750k is no small change even for someone like James, so I am guessing that may come up.  I would very much like to be putting in some expense claims in his company if that kind of stuff happens.  "Lunch for thirty thousand pounds?".  "Ah, yes, well, it can with a free car".

* For my more elderly readers, Frankie is a X-Factor contestant, or to be more precise, and ex-X-Factor contestant, who has decided that staying up all night, drinking and snorting everything and everyone was preferable to singing** in a talent competition.

** Although, it has to be said that as time went on, his abilities in the singing arena seemed to be reducing.

*** I needed Uncle Google to confirm that he used to be an England Football Manager.  Why do I keep getting a picture of a turnip in my head?

Monday, 7 November 2011

I heard an interesting thing on the radio

As the title suggests, I head an interesting thing on the radio.  In fact I have been hearing a number of interesting things.

I have been following with some interest the various discussions being had on TV and radio regarding the state of the world's economy, more particularly the start of the economy in Europe and the UK.  Mix that with some protesters seemingly cr@pping in St Paul's (some of them at least), some discussions on what they are really there for, and wider, and let's be honest slightly more esoteric discussions, around wealth and the disparity between rich and poor, and what capitalism is and is not.  There was even some discussions today on bankers, and whether they have souls and how they can become ethical bankers*.

Several things resonated with me during these various discussions.

The first is that there is strong evidence that societies that have the smallest gap between the richest and poorest tend to be the happiest.  Put in reverse, societies that have the largest gap between the richest and the poorest tend to be the least happy.  This resonates with me right now, in light of rioters and St Paul's protesters and all the vitriol a bile directed at bankers.  Not that I have any answers to the effects that this principle has on our particular society.

The second thing that has struck me is that I really do not relate to the views of the anti-capitalist arguments.  Not sure if this makes me a capitalist or not, but I do find it hard to chase the anti-capitalist arguments through to their logical conclusions, since they do not feel that they are holistic and viable.  The trouble with such groups is that while there are always a core of people that really do have good views that are well presented in a way that does not cause harm or distress to others.  However, living as they do on the fringes of society, they tend to also attract ne'er-do-wells and other riff raff who are more into the anarchic end of the scale, with little regard for holistic and defendable arguments, nor for other people's possessions and property.

The third thing was something said during, I think, Thought for the Day on Radio 4 (and that, dear readers, definitely ages me).  The person made the comment that the trouble with capitalism is that it pits man against man in a negative way; with communism it is the other way round.  I liked that very much, and will be incorporating it in to my wide and amusing repertoire.

* and yes, it was quite hard to listen to that particular discussion without making myself smile by rearranging the odd letter.

Friday, 4 November 2011

And . . . relax

It has been a long week due to my man-flu illness, and I am very glad that it is Friday.

As you know, I have had to do a piece of work which requires me to read 650 SoWs and identify any that have storage in them.  It is 2pm Friday and I am up to June 2011, so I do need to crack on.  I have also had several machine problems that have required reboots, including what seems to be Firefox upgrade which has stopped it working with all my add-ins.  I sort of found it out by accident.  After several attempts to load Firefox and it crash just as the screen opened, I thought I would try running it with the Shift key depressed, which opens it in Safe Mode.  Voila, as they say in Clapham, it then loaded.  I then slowly enabled each add-in one by one until I found the offending one, which turned out to be my WebMail Notifier.  That is now turned off, as is a bunch of other add-ins that are not compatible with my current version of Firefox.  Based on a very quick Googling of the issue, I think this may be one of Mozilla's less successful auto-updates, and I am guessing 7.0.2 will be coming very shortly.

All that detail was included only so that you could think "who's a clever boy then?".  I was certainly pretty impressed with the way I accidentally stumbled on the issue. 

If the luck can just continue to the Friday night Euro Lottery . . .

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Someone is talking, and I am typing

I am listening to a Q3/Q4 Update from one of our leaders, and it is actually remarkably like all the other such updates through which I have sat previously.  To keep it simple*, the general message is "some good, some bad, need more next quarter".  The numbers are, of course, eye-watering, though for any Greek it would be loose change, them liking to work in Frooglepoopillians.

I am feeling a bit better, although I am acutely aware that it is mostly due to my dear old friend Paracetamol.  And we know why there are no headache pills in the jungle don't we?**  I did rally later last night, which was nice, so that I could fit the flush handles on the sliding door for the downstairs bathroom, and to give the pelmet another coat of Silkwood.  Today I hope to find half an hour to fit it, and then the outside of the bathroom is complete, bar another coat of paint on the door and the walls surrounding the door***.

My working week has just been reorganised, with the need for me to work through all the deals signed since last October, which at an average of 50 per month, means around 650 deals.  I anticipate that taking me a full 8 hours to do, which means in practice it taking the next 2 days of all my spare time, spare being the time not spent on conference calls.

* i.e. at a level that I can both understand and explain it
** Just in case you do not have pre-teenagers in the house, it is because "the parrots ate 'em all"
*** It is the downside of taking your time to finish stuff, that the stuff you finished a while ago ages and needs re-working.  Having said that, most of the woodwork would benefit from another coat anyway, since it started as bare wood.