View My Stats

Friday, 21 December 2012

And . . . relax . . . for quite a long time

Today is Friday, but not just any Friday, but the last Friday of the working year, before I have 11 days off.

Bloody hurrah.

It is fair to say, this year has over-stayed its welcome, and I am very happy to be saying bye and getting on with, as I have said so many times I may start to be filed under "senile old timer", eating my own body-weight in mince pies.

Today sees my doing a lot of tidying up of loose ends.  All those little to do items that are important but not urgent, and so as a rule do not even get a look in.  It is actually quite satisfying, in lieu of simply doing nothing and eating mince pies, and I hope to be in rude health with my day book having just a couple of things that will need to be done in the New Year, not so much because I don't do it this year, but more that I need to remind myself of anything and everything I may need to take on in the new year.

I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and New Year.  See you next year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

New Stuff

As we set about our unplanned renewal of many of our household appliances, this week sees us take ownership of a new hoover and a new cordless DECT phone.  The former is a mighty fine piece of engineering, I am sure, but to be honest, all I should really report is that it picks up dirt, and is much easier to move around than the old Dyson we temporarily borrowed off my parents.

The latter is a thing of beauty.  Actually, to be precise, it is fine as a DECT phone, however we have come to realise that with all the smartphones around these days, your average DECT phone looks just that - average.  Nevertheless, it does all the things a phone should do; it rings people, has an address book, you can ring the other extensions (we have 3 handsets) and you can transfer external calls to other handsets - hold the line please caller - and you can do hands-free.

This final feature is my favourite.  When I work from home, I spend around 3-6 hours per day on calls.  In know, bonkers, however that is the nature of a remote organisation such as Starfleet.  Anyhow, as a result of often hours of back-to-back calls, a chap does not have much time to do the essentials in life, such as have a pee, make a coffee, answer the door and make lunch.  So, I can often be seen with the phone on speaker, microphone muted, and the phone tucked in the collar of my shirt.  This provides me with a hands-free experience for life's essentials, whilst enabling me to nominally keep in touch with the discussion, to avoid those "what do you think Mark?" embarrassing silences.

Otherwise, I have been limbering up on the mince pie challenge.  I had two yesterday, just to loosen up the muscles, and my goal is to eat my own body-weight by the new year.  Wish me luck.

Until tomorrow . . .

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Mid-week is the new [blank]

You are free to fill in the blank with your own word, but mine is "can't be @rsed".

Don't get me wrong, some stuff is getting done, but not with the usual vigour.  I really hope that an overdose of mince pies will sort me out, and I can start the new year with gusto.

In the meantime, there are a few final purchases to be made - sadly, mostly to replace failing household appliances, the latest being the hoover and the phone.

Otherwise, it is just a matter of waiting for Friday when School's Out, and so is Scobi.

Friday, 14 December 2012

And . . . relax

I am a self-fulfilling prophecy in that Bad Man said that the Scobi would end up blogging only one a week, and had even invented "doing a Scobi", and here I am doing just that.

Blogging has not been my highest priority over the last few weeks.  Let's see what the New Year brings.

In the meantime, both LO and I are ill; not chucking up or listless in bed ill, but ill enough to get to 8pm every night and wonder what the f### that day was all about.  We are at Brad and Angelina's this weekend, and we have even fleetingly considered whether we will be well enough to go.  I for one will be, but I have to say LO is suffering a tedious and persistent cough that is keeping her awake at night*, and sometimes me, and irritating her beyond belief, even beyond that of which I am capable.  She has an important event tonight, the leaving do of her boss and mentor.  Here's hoping she is able to get through that without making herself worse.  So, hopefully, we shall be travelling north to B&A for, amongst other things, a drumming workshop, something us lads are very much looking forward to.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

* Last night, to add insult to injury, we had what was presumably some drunken d##k-head calling us at zero hundred hours, otherwise known as midnight.  "Hello, hello" said I, to silence.  Nice.

Friday, 7 December 2012

And . . . relax

Another Friday comes by, and it is, as usual, more than welcome.  The working week was more normal, which is nice, and we are slowing getting all our chores done at home in preparation for Christmas.

LO said the other night that we would quite like to get off the hamster wheel sometime soon, since things are soooooooooo full on soooooooo much of the time.  That moment will probably be our last day of working this year, which for me is Friday 21 December.  Can't wait.

Just want to get in writing that I owe Brad a call.  My evenings are at the moment not much more than eat and sleep.  I am, as usual for this time of year, very tired, my sleeping is suffering probably caused by the stress of too much work, so it really is Luge Time, lie flat and don't die.

This weekend we are at a school fayre tonight.  Actually, sorry, not a fayre, a fair, since it is really just a matter of a few stalls, a bit of tat on sale and the requirement just to attend for half an hour and spend a bit.

Saturday evening we have the in-laws over for tea and Strictly.  The Strictly Sweepstake is hotting up, and I have to say my own chances of winning are slim, since I only have Lisa Riley left in the draw, and while she is popular, I think her dancing skills may have reached their limit and she will be voted off either this week or next.

Have a fantastic weekend, and speak next week.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


I am well aware of the dangers of Googling yourself.  The two principles of self-Googling state:

  1. Why are you doing it?  Vanity, fear or self-doubt.  Whatever it is, it is probably not savoury.
  2. What do you hope to find?  Chances are, at least something you find will not be to your liking.

And so it was that the second principle of self-Googling came true.  Just check this out for confirmation.

Friday, 30 November 2012

And . . . relax ahhhhhhhh

It has been a lovely week.  That is not to say it has not been hard, but it was a normal week, and that means I have been able to do some normal things.  I played tennis on Wednesday*, I have taken the boys to school two days in a row, and I even managed to catch up with Golfy, to find out what the old bugger has been up to, and I have to say, it mostly had an 18 certificate.  I have never heard such filth.

This weekend LO is going to London for the day with Samantha, to go to a special at the V&A I think.  This visit is a re-plan from a few weeks ago, when Samantha fell ill and so they had to cancel.  This means it is just me and the Maggots.  Actually, Maggot 1 is at a friend's birthday bash, so until mid afternoon it is just me and Maggot 2.  He has a swimming lesson, but we will need to find something good to do, to get some quality father-son time.  I expect there may be a bit of Fifa 12, and hopefully some other things that do not require electricity.

Depending on when LO and Samantha return from London, we may then spend the evening with their family, so that will involve beer and food and chat, which is nice.

Other than that, I have nearly finished the remix of the Snow Patrol track, the third of my remixes and one I am very much enjoying, which surprises me slightly.  The first two were dance tracks, which are very much conducive to being remixed on a computer - lots of electronic sounds, farts and beeps as they are often called.  With the Snow Patrol, I am able to listen to other remixes submitted and they all took the basic track elements and added it to a very electronic track.  When I started to think about my remix, I had thought that I would do a Radiohead on it, some electronicness but with an indie edge, but in fact I have now gone for a very indie remix.  The original track is fairly acoustic, indie of course, but fairly acoustic with acoustic guitar, violin, piano and some delicate elements.  What I have done is made it much heavier, with none of the thrill - a real head drill track now, with the repetitive nature of the some really doing it for me.  Let's see what others think when I upload, probably Sunday.

On that note, have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* even though I did damage my shoulder - I guess I really am getting older, and need to acknowledge that, rather than charging round like a young Red Setter who has been licking the cafetiere.

Monday, 26 November 2012

And . . . I did relax

Missed Friday due to the madness.  Actually, that is a lie.  The madness subsided just a bit on Thursday evening, so Friday was actually akin to climbing out from your basement storm shelter to see what was left of your property after a hurricane has visited.   There might have been many things I could have done, including blogging, but to be honest, I just need to do some simple stuff like breathe, eat and sleep.

And so it was that I broke one of my golden rules, and that is to pretend I have any golden rules.

This week, I am hoping for a bit more sanity, tidying you the mess left from the "hurricane" and generally getting back in touch with the things that, until two months ago, constituted my actual job.  I will still have some extra-curricular activities to complete, but they will be at a relatively normal level and things a chap is more than capable of taking in his stride.

Have a great week, and we really will talk later.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Thursday, is that all?

Another nuts week, the third in a row at this too-high intensity.

Need my working life to get a bit normal, so that I can continue to contribute to society in ways other than profanity and body odour*.

Apparently I always say this, but things are nearly over now for this madness.  By the weekend some key things will no longer be on my plate, and while I am sure that other things will take their place, they will be things more willing to form an orderly queue and are able to speak at lower volumes.

Does Starfleet not know that there are things I need to do;  get the antlers on the Christmas reindeer**, feed the Christmas cake, go fishing again, finish some DIY chores, spend time with my family etc. etc.

I hope your week is not as bad as mine, and if it is, blinkin' 'eck but we are busy, ain't we?

* I apologise for the vulgarity
** Don't ask

Friday, 16 November 2012

And . . . relax

And relax I am very much going to do.  Nuts week, can't wait for 10 minutes time when I go for a bath with a beer.

Have a good one.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Time, the most scarce of resource

I know I am telling you what you already know, but modern life is busy.  The Scobi version or reality is no less busy.  Work is providing an awful lot of busyness right now, with an almost perfect storm of three key projects, plus a couple of escalations, plus a need to submit my appraisal feedback by the end of the week, plus a job interview that needs some preparation, plus we are going away 'vannin' this weekend.

I keep telling myself that we are lucky to be busy, because that means we have an engaging job and a demanding family and a busy social life, but do you know what, just once or twice that argument has worn a bit thin.

My expectation is that within a week, things will have settled down just a bit, so maybe I just have to Luge* it.

And in that spirit, I must bid you farewell, hopefully to return tomorrow.

Be good, and keep busy.

* It does not take much time in my company before you have heard all my little "gems", but just in case, the Luge has been described as a sport that requires you to lie flat and don't die.  I think this can be an excellent analogy for those moments when you just have to get through something is to keep doing it and allow time to pass.  Oh, and don't die in the process.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Was not much pleased to be scraping ice off my car.  Thought I would be a good knight and clear LO's car as well, only to be told when I went back inside that she was not using it until Midday.  Aaarrrggghhhhhhhhh!

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Just a quickie.  Today is day two of my three days off, and on behalf of myself and my family, I can report that we are having a lot of fun.

I lost, in spectacular fashion, at Monopoly last night.  I went all out for three houses* on my first triple, the Oranges if you are interested, spending most of my money in doing so.  Then unfortunately I got a Chance card, Advance to Mayfair, which is normally a fairly innocuous card, except when your eldest son has just splashed the cash for hotels on Purple.  Well ding my dangles, two thousand and something rent, game over player one.

Today, the weather does not look good, so we will probably not do much, although I am very keen to use my latest birthday present, a pair of walking boots, so we may try to find a dry moment to head out in to the woods.

Hopefully speak again tomorrow.

* For those not familiar with the tactics of Monopoly, one of the key tricks is to get to three houses ASAP, since the rent raises massively from two to three houses.

Monday, 29 October 2012

No lunches to be made

It is half term, so as the title suggests, there are no packed lunches to be made today.  The rest of the Scobi clan are having a lie in whilst I am at the grind stone.

I have finished my Fat Boy Slim remix competition, and if I say so myself (and I may be the only one TO say anything) it is pretty good.  Let's hope Mr Slim thinks so.

On that note, gotta go, Strictly: It Takes Two is about to start.  Gotta check out the armography.


Friday, 26 October 2012

And . . . relax

So here we are, at Friday again.  Guess what, it was a busy week.  Starting to sound like a broken record I know, but it is the final quarter of the financial year, and that always tends to bring out the weirdos asking impossible things, and throw in three local projects all with the status of "most urgent"*, sprinkle in sickness in the Scobi household and season with a healthy application of tiredness, and you have the perfect storm.

The good news is that it is half term next week, so at least 75% of the household will be taking a break, and from Wednesday it will be a full house 100%, as I have 3 days off.  Can't wait.

Enjoy your weekend, and speak next week.

* Go figure, as our American brethren say, how you can have three things as top priority.   Bit like Starfleet, it can get pretty busy at the top.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Please don't shout

I know, I know, I have not blogged for ages.

Things are busy.

Had a fantastic weekend, although Saturday night was cut short with a four and a half hour visit to A&E with Maggot 2.  The symptoms of a fever and a hot knee joint were the things that we were to look out for after our doctor's appointment on Friday evening.  Turns out that he just had a fever as well as a bad knee, the latter having had an x-ray just to be sure there we nothing broken.

It was great to see everyone, and also great to hear Brad and Angelina's bonkers plans for camper vans and houses.  Never ones for the simple or the ordinary, and I wish them the best of luck in their searches for both.

It is half term next week, and I have Wednesday to Friday off, which is fantastic, although will cause issues with the big "challenge" we have at work at the moment.  My philosophy is, right or wrong, that if well planned you should always have time off, because as sure as eggs is eggs, no time is actually a good time to be on holiday, and yet at the same time the world continues to revolve and, give or take, stuff gets done in your absence*.

Have a great week, and speak later.  Or, I should, speak again tomorrow.

* Although the alternative scenario is that you return from two weeks holiday to find everything exactly as it was when you left it.

Friday, 19 October 2012

And . . . relax

The fact that this is my first blog since Monday is all the evidence I need to confirm that it has been a busy week.  Some Maggot unwellness has added to the stress and needless to say I am very glad it is Friday.

We have Phase 2 or our birthday celebrations this weekend.  Brad and Angelina are coming down Saturday to stay the night, and to attend a meal for six we are having Saturday evening, the missing two being David and Samantha.

I have a lot to talk to Brad about this weekend.  Firstly I want a bit of a fishing chat, having been granted permission from LO for another day out.  I also need to talk to him about a remix competition he sent me, to remix a Fat Boy Slim track, as part of 10 year celebrations of You've Come a Long Way Baby.  I have a remix ready for his review, even though I don't really think it is finished.  It is certainly getting there, but I need a bit more polishing and probably need to get another section in to it to extend the time, as it is only just over 2 minutes at the moment.

Otherwise, there is not much about which to talk.  Both LO and I added another year to our age this week, but as already mentioned, we celebrated last weekend and this weekend, so on the actual day there was no celebrations.  A few letters, texts and calls, but otherwise a casual observer would not have notices anything happening.

I played tennis on Wednesday, and unbeknown to me my wallet, phone and shoe (complete with sock stuffed inside) fell out my bag.  After a fruitless search, I retrieved 2 of my tennis-playing buddies for an extended search, and during that we decided to ring my phone, which turned out to already be at the police station.  Thanks very much to the person who handed it in, because it saved me a lot of hassle.  I am unable to say thanks to this good Samaritan personally because they did not tick the "I can be contacted" box, but needless to say, I am very grateful.

I had to wait until 9am the next day to retrieve the items.  The lady on reception, who I am guessing has seen most things in her working time there, read out the list of items, and on my response that they had fallen out of my tennis bag, said "I had assumed these were during a big night out".  I had to laugh.

Anyhow, have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Monday, 15 October 2012

And so begins another week

We had a fantastic weekend away in the 'van.  It was a birthday weekend, if you recall, and so we overdosed on both cake and beer.  The weather was so much better that we should expect for October.  We packed waterproofs and wellies, and did not think even once about using them.  The sun shone, Fi and Chi was eaten, and we visited the hardware store in Lymington.  This hardware store, if it is not familiar to you, has become something of a ritual for us.  We park in the Waitrose car park, to return within the 2 hour parking limit and to purchase any bits we need for the Saturday night.  We then stroll in to town, stop off in the hardware store (washing up basket was this visit's purchase) before taking in the market, which consists of down the left side of the road, stop at the Fi and Chi shop for lunch, take that down to the harbour to eat whilst watching the boats and birds.  The we return back up the right hand side, or rather the left hand side when we are going back up the hill.

The it is back to the site, Maggots go off and play for a bit, then off the the swimming pool for a swim, jacuzzi and steam room session.

That makes us feel clean and worthy, meaning we need to be back at the 'van as quickly as possible to open the first beer.

Our next trip is to Crystal Palace for a day out in London.  I am probably taking off half a day to ensure that we can leave promptly, and we will also probably get the 'van back to the drive during the week so we can pack it, and actually so I can clean it, because with these short trips, there is no time or inclination to wash it, but it is getting tatty.  I even had to wipe a bit of moss off one side rail because it was offending my eye.

For this trip, we plan to do the V&A Film Costumes exhibition, followed by Ripleys.  i.e. one for the adults, one for the kids, although having said that there are some Star Wars and Indiana Jones costumes, so they will get something from it as well.

This week is gonna be busy.  LO has a bunch of early morning breakfast meetings which mean that I am doing the school run and the odd pick up as well, as well as being in the office for three days.  Roll on Friday.

Have a good week, and speak soon.

Friday, 12 October 2012

And . . . relax, a bit more

I find myself with a chance to catch a breath before the end of the day.  LO is late (for her) in the office so our departure time for the 'van is delayed a bit, giving me time to take stock, kick back and ponder the world we live in.

One thing that I have been wondering for a while is whether I should stop blogging.  I am not getting as much time as I once was to do so, which means the frequency is dipping, and so it seems is the readership, down to very low number of viewers per day.  It is not exactly that I do it for the readership, but if no-one is reading it, why bother typing it.  Borrowing from the "if a tree in a forest falls over but no-one is within earshot, does it make a noise" type reasoning, then if no-one is reading, does that mean I am not really writing?

And then I take a quick peak for this week and find twelve people read my blog today.  Twelve people.  And that equates to 80 page reads.  I must be writing some really good s##t, or that hidden "porn" tag I tested is really doing the business.  Either that or, unbeknown to me, 'vannin' is some new variant on dogging?  Whatever the reason, thx for dropping by, and do visit again.

Anyhow, whoever you are, thanks for reading.  I must get the car packed and all things ship-shape and Bristol fashion before LO gets home, to avoid "the stare".  Have a good one and speak next week.

And . . . relax

You don't need me to tell you that I am not blogging much at the moment.  Falling in to the old bad ways is probably what Bad Man is thinking.  My only defence is the fact I am a tad busy right now with work and home.

In fact, I may as well just repeat my blog from last Friday, except this weekend we are going 'vannin' with A&E, which will be lovely.  When we are busy, as we are now, the lead up is nothing but hassle, but come 9pm when we are tucking in to fish pie and our fourth beer and/or red wine and/or champagne (after all it is a birthday weekend for both LO and me) and the boys are beating the girls -- again -- at Canasta, then all of the world's worries will, for the hour until I fall asleep over the cards, gently fall away to leave a very contented chap.

We had planned to go to a fairly local site, but a mix up on bookings, with A&E only booking one night and, can you believe it, the site being totally booked on Saturday night, meant we had to cancel the lot and return to one of our favourite haunts (in Autumn/Winter anyway), namely Litten Lawns.  This means that we will be eating Fi & Chi in Lymington for Saturday lunchtime, because it is the law, and likely spending some time at the sister site swimming with the maggots, which saves us all the hassle of a shower at the site.

Have a great weekend, take it easy, feel free to wish me happy birthday as you take the first sip of whatever Friday evening balm takes your fancy, and speak next week.

Friday, 5 October 2012

And . . . relax

The weeks are whizzing by at the moment, and it doesn't feel like seven days since I last wrote my Friday blog.  Oh well, that probably means either that I am very busy or having too much fun.  I think I know which it is, but then again us men can be fickle.

This weekend is a birthday weekend for Maggot 2.  His actual birthday is next Tuesday, but we have Nanny, Mick and GG over on Saturday for home-made pizzas, and on Sunday afternoon we have a football party co-hosted with is best friend H.  This has been an event fraught with difficulties, mostly around Maggot 2 "not inviting him coz he is rubbish at football".  We had a few conciliatory words about it being about the taking part, not the winning, which fell on deaf ears, so we just got H to invite them.  At one stage, they were inviting every boy in their class bar one, and he had already invited Maggot 2 to his party, but we managed to win that battle.  There are even a couple of girls being invited, which is almost unheard of, but then we will need someone to cut up the orange quarters*.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* now, before you burn your bra, I was only joking.  We are not having oranges.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


The bane of the modern office worker. Nice to be in a face-to-face one, but the fact I am blogging suggests this one is not occupying all my attention. Oops, just been asked a question, better go.

Friday, 28 September 2012

And . . . relax

The winning argument for me as to whether you should use the same numbers every week in the Lottery, or just use Lucky Dip, is that if you use the same numbers every week, you are are committing yourself to not missing a week for the whole of your life.  Imagine missing one week, and that being the week in which your numbers came in.  The agony of that possibility would be more than enough to ensure you do the damn thing every week.

It is the same with my Friday title.  One of the only responses I have ever had to a blog, rather than several rather lovely letters from Mrs Trellis from North Wales, was from Golfy, complaining that I had not used the "And . . . relax" title on one Friday.

Truth is, I always struggle with the titles, so having just one a week that needs no thinking works for me.

Anyhow, enough of the dozi*, let me actually tell you something.

This weekend sees another one of the legendary lazy weekends.  When I say lazy, I mean that we do not have any specific social engagements.  We have swimming and tennis, and I will probably mow the lawn if the weather is good, and do some tree-lopping of the weather is fair, and maybe even a little dozing if the weather is.  However, we have nothing "booked" so will be doing just enough to avoid cabin fever, but no more.

We do have a number of birthdays coming up, starting with Maggot 2, followed by me and then LO.  Now, every year I have some kind of scare, when I leave things too late and then panic-buy a card or present, or maybe even both.  Each year I swear that next year will be different.  Each following year it is not.  I am not really sure what is going on here, but I think deep down my subconscious believes I am useless at presents and so should just avoid them.  Unfortunately, this is not LO's analysis, her view being more that I cannot be bothered and that just proves I don't care, or some version of that, sometimes more and sometimes less severe, depending on the misdemeanor I did prior to the outburst.  All this sounds a bit "under the thumb", but I can assure you it is.  Is not I mean.

We may well also rent a Blu-ray with 3D to watch on our new TV.  I have to say, it is a gimmick, and not something I expect us to do very often, but Saturday night (at least until Strictly starts) is good for a family film, we have the damn glasses so we had better have a go.

I hope you have a good weekend.  Speak next week.

* debate on zero information

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


I am sitting at the breakfast bar, having just finished my porridge, preparing to leave for the office, the first of three days at an office.  As I have commented before, this will prove a long week.  Quite how I ever used to go to an office every days is beyond me, and that makes me realise how lucky I am to have the option to work at home, at least sometimes.

I am experimenting today.  The meeting I am attending starts at 10am and lasts for 3 long hours, and the slightly later start means I am experimenting with an equally late departure from home.  The theory is that all the worst of the traffic will have passed and my journey will be less busy as a result.  This worked will a couple of weeks ago, but not so one week ago, and I fear the effect of the school term starting, albeit seemingly one week later than most schools I know have started.  Today I am leaving slightly later to test a theory that last week was partly impacted by me leaving slightly earlier.  Confused?  You will be.  Anyhow, time will tell and time, as anyone of note will tell you, is an abstract concept.

This is the second to last week of the intense meetings for my improvement project, or rather for the improvement project of which I am a part.  To be honest, it is getting a bit tedious now and the effect of taking the time out for the project is having a negative impact on my "day job".  I even got escalated yesterday, for goodness sake.  A chap is not used to such rigour and attention.  Hopefully he can hold out until the week after next and emerge unscathed.

Right, must finish now to get my teeth cleaned, flossed and mouth-rinsed (a chap must ensure he keeps up standards all over his body) ready for my long journey.  At least I have a Friday Night Comedy Show to keep me company, for the first half hour at least.

Keep having a good week.

Monday, 24 September 2012

That was the weekend that was

We had a great weekend.  Down a Maggot, life seemed a fair bit easier, and we concluded on Sunday afternoon that the main reason was because we are not having to constantly break up or police arguments, and all the fall out that comes from them.

Saturday was a lovely, sunny day, and we took advantage.  Sunday, however, was dreadful.  It rained incessantly and it reminded me that we have a long long winter ahead of us.  Having a skylight, a thing of beauty in usual circumstances, just accentuates the incessantness of the weather.  Boy oh boy but rain is depressing.  Having just said goodbye to may parents, who are now in thirty degrees of Spanish weather does not improve the feeling.

We did not let it get to us though, with a trip to the cinema in the afternoon to see Paranorman.  This was actually fairy good, and in fact was a pretty scary film for a PG, although Maggot 2 did not seem unduly worried by it.

The rest of the day was spent preparing for the week ahead, cooking meals, tidying the house, and generally girding our loins in preparation for the weekday Assault on Precinct Scobi.

May your own loins be suitably girded, enjoy the week and speak again soon.

Friday, 21 September 2012

And . . . relax

I forgot to mention on my "user manuals" blog, which will probably not make the blogging history books, that the main reason for writing it at all was my new barbecue.  This is a fairly recent purchase, bought with Amazon vouchers from a cashback site, primarily to be used when 'vannin'.  It fulfils its requirements perfectly, being fairly small and portable, but big enough to actually cook food on, and sturdy enough that it does not fall apart after the third use.  It is, to use the local parlance, a beauty.

Having said that, and even with a twisty bit on the side to regulate air to the coals, and another twisty bit on the lid to regulate the oven features when the lid is on, it is a pretty simple object.  Therefore it was with some consternation and amusement that I found the user manual to be a dozen or more pages, repeated in eight languages.  Now, it was a self-assembly item so that needs a bit of explaining, all done in a double page, and thereafter it was page after page of the most mindless twaddle.  I am now thoroughly and exhaustively informed and educated on several important aspects; setting fire to barbecue coals can make them hot; not cooking food thoroughly can make you vomit; using the barbecue in a tent can give you carbon monoxide poisoning (fair enough, I had forgotten I knew that) and I should not be using the barbecue to jack up my car.  That would fit in to the "way too much information" category for me.  I am guessing that the make is American, so chock full of Health and Safety type stuff, and that is all that needs to be said.

This weekend we are without Maggot 1.  He is off at lunchtime today, returning Monday afternoon, to a 4 day trip with his year group at school.  There was many a parent anxiously wanting to know if they rang when they got there, and many a small child lugging the family suitcase in to school (Maggot 1 being one of them), and there was obviously some conversations in the playground yesterday because most of the boys were in tracksuits, albeit of a sporting rather than a shell-suit variety.  Ho hum.  Peer pressure at work.

So, we are left with Maggot 2 for the weekend, who will, he has already told us, be really enjoying the one on one times two he will be getting.  We have some free cinema tickets and we are also going over to David and Samantha for the afternoon and evening on Saturday, which should be fun.

Sadly, Brad and Angelina can no longer come down for the weekend in a week or twos time, having tickets to some other engagement that I don't know about only because LO does not like to furnish me with facts, she considers them dangerous in my possession.  We are hoping to book an alternative arrangement.

I hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

User manuals

We have been executing on our home improvement project this week by making some strategic purchases, and so the subject of user manuals has risen to the surface for me.

There seems to be three main approaches to user manuals:

  1. The item is computer related, and comes with some kind of CD, so just load the manual on the CD, only to be read by girls or my mother (who is also, I hasten to add, a girl, but one of growing years)
  2. The item is so damn complex that it comes with a fifty page manual presented in eight of the key languages, making it marginally smaller than a telephone directory* (remember those?)
  3. Regardless of whether they are simple or complex, they have a one page, at-a-glance, pictures only leaflet that tells you all you need to know.
So, but way of expanding on this subject, here are some examples.  One of the items I have bought is a cheap** wi-fi dongle for Humax PVR1, so that it can talk to Humax PVR2 (which is hard-wired) and we can then watch the programmes recorded on PVR1 via PVR2.  This, dear readers, has impressed LO more than the rest of the technology put together.  This dongle, costing six quid, does the same job as the official Humax dongle, which costs twenty six quid.  Thanks to for the great info on this little beauty.  Needless to say, this came with a CD, so fits in to approach 1 above.  Quite right too, since I plugged it in, spent 23 seconds configuring the box, and it was working like a dream.

The item I bought for the second was my home cinema system, which does have numerous inputs and outputs ranging from USB to HDMI, covering SCART and various other video and audio inputs and/or outputs.  It also has the Samsung SmartHub embedded, and so does need some reading, though obviously not by me.  Having said that, there is one feature I want to put in place whereby it is integrated in to the TV so the TV controller can control it and all sound automatically goes through it.  I just need the final TOSlink cable to make this happen, and then will probably need to just peek at the manual for a couple of seconds, and no more, to remind myself of where I find the configuration menu item.  This fits approach 2 above.

The final one that meets Approach 3 is, surprisingly, the Samsung TV***, which has the briefest of instructions but a built-in, on-screen user manual for those with way to much time on their hands.  So far it is been a doddle, so you will be pleased to hear that only LO has so far wanted to check the manual.  Even Holly-dog was able to change channels without reading any instructions.

This now completes phase 27 of project home.  We now need to take a breather, or to be more precise, our bank account does, in preparation for Christmas.  Phase 28 will then start sometime in the New Year with more audio purchases.  More of that another time.

* Interesting fact, for some of you, is that the leather-bound books in the set of Dumbeldore's office are in fact mostly telephone directories covered in aged and dust-encrusted leather covers.  See, they do still have a use.
** On the subject of cheap, and in case you did not know, I also bought cheap HDMI cables, two for four quid, after having read everyone on the web saying the same thing; namely that a cheap one is all you need, so don't spend tens or even hundreds on a fancy hi-fi vendor model.  Oh how those vendors must hate the digital age.
*** LED, 3D and a bunch of other clever stuff, and with a bezel so thin the overall dimensions of this 40" beauty is the same as our "old" 32" model.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Monday Monday here again

As weekends go, that one went.  It fulfilled all criteria, starting as it did on Friday evening (around 6.30pm when the first beer was opened) and ended Sunday night with no beer (the outlaws having come for lunch, beer, wine, say no more).

In-between we had a somewhat normal weekend.  Scouts and tennis for Maggot 1, swimming for Maggot 2, bit of shopping for essentials and otherwise getting our house ship-shape.

We did go and buy another telly.  This has been planned for just over a year, and financially planned for six months, so it was with much excitement that we took ownership of a new beauty.  This one is forty inches of screen and less than an inch of thickness, being of the LED persuasion.  It is also HD, of course, 3D, of course, and packed with the kind of wizardry that we will never use.  Maggot 1 did a demo for the outlaws and they were, to my great surprise, very interested and impressed.  I had forgotten that they are planning to replace a very old CRT telly, when it finally gives up the ghost, and the idea of a web browser and all the wizzo stuff really did resonate with them.  The fact that the TV can take an external wireless keyboard and even Granddad was thinking he might just get in to this computer lark.

My parents return to Spain tonight.  They are going on the overnight ferry and then driving down to Spain.  It is funny because we do not see them every day, sometimes only once a week, but we will very much miss having them around, and not just because they are a free baby-sitting service.   We will pop over tonight after work for the final goodbye, and to get our last orders from Mama.  She always has a few things she needs us to do; post a letter here, get a prescription there.  She also has some things she needs to discuss directly with Maggot 1.  Hmmm.

Have a good week.

Friday, 14 September 2012

And . . . relax

Quick note only today I'm afraid, coz v. v. busy.

Had a wonderful day fishing with Brad on Tuesday.  Caught a wopper.  Talked a lot.  Will do it again.

Having a quiet weekend.  Thank heavens for that.

Nearly finished The Mockinjay.  Very much enjoying it.  No idea what I will read next.

Work is mental right now.  Doing a project basically on the side of my desk.  Not fun, but necessary.  Not helped by one of my competency's managers getting concerned we are doing things unilaterally, and not considering best practice.  Had a call with the guy in another account who has all the best practice, and pleased to say that mostly what he did is what we plan to do, so back in to a more comfortable place that the said manager is worrying over nothing.  He has however arranged a face-to-face meeting next week to ensure we are doing the right things, yet interestingly the stuff concerning him is all about another team, and not my bit of the process at all.  I guess I will need to attend to get the full SP.

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

Monday, 10 September 2012


I have been inspired by Golfy to write a film review.  It has to be said that on the How Much Do You Know About Films spectrum, Golfy will score higher than me, so my film is a bit lower of brow.

I read a lot.  In fact, I read so much that at times my acquisition of new reading material is akin to a swarm of locusts descending on a field; I will happily devour anything and everything in sight.  This has meant I have read some things that I wish I hadn't, some things that I would not have picked myself but thoroughly enjoyed, others also not of my picking that I hated, and some that, despite the hype, did nothing for me.  In short*, I have read all sorts of books.

It was in this position that I came in to the possession of The Hunger Games, the first book of the trilogy.  These are aimed at young adults, so in one sense might be viewed as slightly more grown up than the early Harry Potter books.  Either that, or some unfortunate genre combination, like "soft rock".  I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, so much so that the same friend offered me On Fire, book two of the trilogy.  I am now half way through Mockinjay, the third of the trilogy, and continuing to devour them with great pleasure.

LO on the other hand, just to prove that it takes all sorts to make a world, didn't get on with the first book, and committed the cardinal sin of ditching it before she had got to page 100*.  It was with this background that we decided to rent the DVD of the first film-of-the-book, unsurprisingly entitled The Hunger Games.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it, giving it 8/10.  LO, as if to prove free will really is wasted on some people, only gave it 7/10.

The plot may or may not be known to you, so I shall not provide any kind of plot spoiler, but I was struck by visuals of the film.  The poor areas had a bit of Grapes of Wrath about them, whilst the Capitol was a garish pastiche of some white-wigged-and-dodgy-lipstick Royal Court of some foppish king or other (you can tell I didn't do history, although I know enough to say with some confidence it was not Henry the Eighth's court).

The risk, of course, in watching a film of a book that you have just read is that you find yourself shouting at the screen "it was not like that in the book", however this one did not have too much of that.  Of course, there has to be some plot scrubbing to get the film length down, but that was not too obvious and they did still manage to provide some space for the plot-points that needed a bit of air, mostly acknowledged when LO declared it was "... all going a bit slow, and something needs to start happening".

I would be happy to recommend this film to anyone.

This week I am taking off Tuesday to go fishing with Brad.  We planned this a while back, and it does seem both odd and extravagant to have a day off midweek to fish, but nevertheless I am really looking forward to it.  Let's hope the weather stays dry, and the forecasts predict as much, and that our lines are tight.  See you tonight Brad.

* Yes please. Ed.
** It is one of my better theories that you need to give every book until page 100 to impress you, and this theory has meant I have stopped reading very few books.  Likewise with story books, one CD is the minimum commitment.

Friday, 7 September 2012

And . . . relax

I now have my first full week under my belt, and I have to say that while is was an interesting experiment, it is not entirely to my liking.  I guess I should thank my lucky stars I am not Greek, facing the prospect of a six day week.

This weekend we are off 'vannin' to Brighton.  Not necessarily the first place one would think of as a 'van destination I know, but it is a lovely site, and it is a short bus ride in to Brighton where, tomorrow, there is a food festival, which we plan to attend and, I hope, greatly enjoy.  We are going with A&E and I hope to finish early today to facilitate an arrival in the light.  Let's see how it goes.

Next week I am off fishing with Brad for a day, an event to which I am very much looking forward.*  If Brad should read this, sorry for not ringing, got caught up in a bunch of stuff and had to rearrange a haircut and....

I hope you have a great weekend. Speak next week.

* I know that is probably the correct way to write it, but it don't harf sound funny

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

First day back to work*

This section left intentionally blank

* not for me, but LO, and what a trying time it is for all concerned**
** you may be asking "how come LO going back to work is a trying time for all?"  All I can say is, when LO is prowling, we all know about it, and she is most definitely prowling, preferring pretty much any chore*** to actually working.
*** When I say pretty much anything . . . 

Monday, 3 September 2012


The Paralympics are in full swing, and there are plenty of medals flowing to Team GB.

One interesting story of note revolves around Oscar Pistorius, a 200m race and the fairness of running blades.  I have been pondering on this one for a while, and here are my rambled thoughts.

When I race my six-year old, I try not to run at full speed so that I nearly win, or lose as we call it round here.  The main reason for this is about maintaining the delicate balance of self-worth and self-confidence in my six-year old, because the fundamental reason why I can probably, at full speed, run faster than him is because I have longer legs.

When we were camping recently, there was a boy with those blade leg extension type things, that makes him about ten feet tall with a leg length of six feet.  He was not expert at running with them attached, but nevertheless he could cover the ground at a frightening speed.

All this is to say that taller people will probably, on average, run faster than shorter people.  This theory must therefore extend to those without limbs, who are using blades as a replacement "lower leg and foot" combo.

So, how do you regulate the size of such blades, what they look like, what they are made of?  This is certainly a question in Oscar Pistorius' mind, having just been beaten by Alan Oliveira in the 200m final.  On deeper inspection, he has called this out previously, and has now followed up his initial comment with an apology for the timing of the said comments, however, for him, there is still a question over the length of his opponent's blade.

So, the question for me remains, how long is too long.  Should they all be a regulation length?  If so, then this will penalise those who have had more leg amputated.  Should they be as long as the leg would have been if the individual had them?  Maybe, but this is likely to be at least a smidge subjective and something over which even the Silent Witness crowd might disagree.

I am hoping that as this story unfolds, if it remains in the public eye, some intrepid reporter does get to the bottom of how long they are allowed to be, and all the regulations surrounding the design of the blades, because there is a little chap down South that, even with the Force, is struggling to get his head round the details.

Friday, 31 August 2012

And . . . . . relax

For those of an observant nature, you will be wondering why there are a couple of extra full stops in the title.  Weeeeeelllllllll, you know how it is, a four day week following a week off, and a chap can be forgiven for being a bit more chilled than usual.  I still have that faint glow of "there is a world out there" that time off gives you, and that means that this Friday has arrived with a lot less pain that some.

A couple of things have grabbed my attention of late.  The first is a Starfleet article about caring.  Not a thing you tend to hear much in the cut-and-thrust corporate world that I inhabit.  Nevertheless, it resonated with me, and I think in the round it matches my view of the world.  The article was written by a chap, let's call him Stan, who was starting out as a trainer in Starfleet, and had been assigned Fred as his mentor.  Stan recollects his first meeting with Fred:
When Fred and I first met, he said to me, "Stan, I want you to tell your students something from me. Would you do that? Tell them, 'How you handle people will determine how successful you will be.'" I said I would, and I have.
He went on to share that what he meant was that we must be authentic, we must be truth-tellers, and we must really care about others. Quite simply, he said, "It is all about the relationship."
I may have written about this before*, but I have a simple approach to life.  I have core values by which I live my life, both in and out of work, and I have layed out my stall as to how much of my life I will give to Starfleet.  This translates in to me having a limit as to what I will do for work.  That is not to say that I shirk or let my colleagues down, since teamwork and doing what I say I will do is one of my core values, but I will not work to stupid o'clock for no reason, I will not work weekends for no reason, and I will not take a job that I know will take me away from home regularly.

I know for sure that this stance is limiting my work possibilities.  Again, that is not to say that it is affecting my working role now, in which, if I say myself, I am doing pretty well at the moment, but I am finding it limiting when I am looking for other opportunities within Starfleet.  It is a massive organisation with massive potential, but so much of the work now is "assignment based" which means you do an assignment for a period of time, and you generally travel to wherever that assignment is based, be it just down the road or at the other end of the country.  Finding interesting new roles that are a bit different from my current role and that I am skilled to do is proving tricky.  I realised this fully when I happened to become connected to an old boss on LinkedIn, and realised that he has been gone 2 years and I had been having "what am I going to do next?" chats with him for the year before that.

The other thing that has grabbed my attention has, in the time it has taken to write the words above, ungrabbed me and done a runner.  I cannot remember what else I wanted to say, so I will say nothing.

On that note, have a good weekend and speak next week.

* but if we follow the music principle that "there has been nothing new in music since Bowie in '76", then there probably has not been anything new in the written word since I don't know when, and so plagiarism, even of yourself, is probably OK.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New Car - Part 2 of an occasional series

I now have the email from a machine saying my car order is received, and also a couple of missed calls from BMW* Portsmouth which should hopefully be to validate the order.

This is what passes for excitement in Scobi Towers.

* dang, I only went and gave away the make of car

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

New car

I Forgot to mention, the new car is ordered*.  I do know that I am very lucky to have such a privilege, and the weight of this privilege has been weighing heavily on me and Mrs Scobi.

You will be pleased to hear that we have met the challenge head on, done oodles of research and visited two, count them, garages to check our decision, and in the process LO has identified her perfect car, albeit one for when we are without kids and looking to tour Europe for a year or two, and perfection for LO starts with the cup-holder, and pretty much ends there if the cup-holder in question is a shiny chrome piece of modern art.

Our car ticks all the boxes on our list, and even a few that were not on our list, so we just need to wait until mid January for it to arrive.

* and by "ordered", I mean the first phase of a nineteen phase process has been completed.

I'm back

It is amazing how quickly holidays pass, and the one I have just had is no exception.

We have had a fantastic break.  It was lovely to spend some quality time with my family, and while "quality time" is very much over-used, it is totally apt in this case.

As you may or may not know, we have forgone our usual two week Summer holiday due to financial constraints, mostly caused by the completion activities on our extension.  This meant the twelve days off was mostly a staycation, however we did spend a long weekend away with David and Samantha in Lyme Regis, and we had a wonderful time walking, swimming (yes, really, in the sea and everything), BBQing on the beach and failing to catch any mackerel.

Other than that, we had days out to the cinema, to a country park and other free places, mixed up with plenty of mooching about.

I am now back to work, and it is the usual catch up on the email Inbox (nearly under control in record time) and picking up all the threads I put down before I left, and all those new threads that have appeared whilst I have been away.  Needless to say the world has managed to keep spinning on its access and my absence was felt about as much, in the words of an ex-colleague, "as a hand being removed from a bucket of water".

My parents are about to get some of this free insulation installed in the bit of their house from which it is currently missing and as part of the preparation, they have cleared out all their loft space.  As a result of this, I have taken ownership of a folder containing a sample, if not all, my school reports.  It also contains some airmail letters I wrote back from my time in Australia, and was pleasantly surprised at how well I wrote, even back then.  There was even an attempt at humour, but "... you had to be there to really appreciate it".

My school reports were goodish, sometimes excellent, but with comments like "prone to recklessness" and "lacks attention to detail" sprinkled through the report comments, which slightly surprised and disappointed, whereas comments like "proving to be a fine addition to the house football team up front" being rather pleasing.  I know, I am a fickle soul.

I had better get back to work as I have a hard hour call that I chair starting in three minutes.

Have a good week, and speak later.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

And . . . relax

For this week only, Thursday is the new Friday as I am off tomorrow and all next week.   Add in a Bank Holiday the following Monday and we are looking at 11 days off.  Bliss.  The Tuesday I am back will then, of course, be the new Monday.

The final step in the test drive was to take the new car to my local Starfleet office, about 45 minutes away and a relatively cross-country route.  This would test the suspension and the seat.  The former just because reports have the car's suspension as hard, and my option had the Sport's upgrade which made it harder.  All I can say is that it was hard, and probably the non-Sport option is for us.

The latter is, for me, the most important.  It is amazing to me that the best seat I have ever sat in, by a country mile, is the Saab.  Nothing else I have ever sat in comes close, and with my very specific back issues means that I would probably go for a tank with a good seat over a Ferrari with a bad seat.  I am totally sure it will not be to everyone's taste, but it was bang-on for me.  The new car's seats are more firm, and the model I am driving has sports seats which are, presumably, designed for twenty-three year old boy racers with snake hips, because they are too narrow for my larger frame.  Having said all that, they were comfy enough, and as I will be going for the non-sport seats which are not so narrow, all should be well.

So, it seems that we will be going for this car.  The final decision is around what colour interior and exterior.  Now, there are a lot of hard decisions one will need to make in their life, and this is not one of those, although you would not believe it if you could see the thinking and analysis I have been doing over the last week.

We are off to Lyme Regis for a long weekend, meeting David and Samantha down there, who are already ensconced in David's mum's van.  We will be staying and David's mum's friend's van.  There will be much talking, drinking of beer, game-playing, swimming and mackerel fishing.

I hope you have a great weekend.  Speak in a week or so, unless I blog from the iPhone.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Just a quickie

We have a new car on test drive, and so far so good.  Our criteria are many and varied, and include:

  • it needs to be heavy enough to tow a caravan
  • it needs to be the same as or cheaper than our current much-loved Saab (and this is a combination of list price and emissions for me)
  • the kids need to think it is cool
  • LO needs to think it is cool
  • I need to think it is cool, and while I did not think I am a badge snob, it turns out that I do suffer slightly from that particular allergy
  • it needs certain features that we all like - cup holders, heated seats and a bunch of other attributes that, were I actually to write them down, would sound rather silly.
Now, first and foremost, we really do know quite how lucky we are to have such a problem, but once we are over that guilt trip, a chap finds himself in a real dilemma.  What possible car could he possibly find that meets all these criteria?

"Now, was that a rhetorical question?" I pondered.

So, rather than get slightly embarrassed by mentioning the car we have on test, in case it is one that you think is rather naff, I am going to leave it dangling until I have come to terms with it myself.  If you think you know, then feel free to leave a comment, usual rules apply.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Well, wasn't that a rollercoaster of a games

It seems that everyone has had a say on the Olympics, so never one to follow the crowd, I would like to have my say also.

This has been a long journey.  It started 7 years ago when we won the bid, which was a marvellous day that was followed by a terrible day; seven-seven.

From that point onwards, right up to maybe a day before the games started, it was a case of business as usual for the British and their press, by which I mean that the negativity versus positivity was at a pretty standard 80:20 ratio.  There were a few gems in there; G4S provided some headlines, and even visited Parliament for a chat, and there were other general moans and groans about how much it was costing etc.

Then we had the opening ceremony.  Wow.  I am sure there were knockers, but I simply loved the magnificent, extravagant and bonkers nature of it, and felt it reflected the British character very well, as much in the little details as the big scenes.  That made a bit impact on the turning of the tide.

Then we had a few days of worrying about empty seats, and more than that, worrying about the fact that we had not won any medals yet.  And then the rowers got on the water, and Heather Stanning and Helen Glover won GB's first gold medals in The Coxless Pairs.  From that point on, we could not stop winning the medals.  There are so many golden moments for me, and on reflection, the most important bit was that from the moment GB first medalled*, all the negativity evaporated, and from that point onwards, we also became a happy nation of believers, and that atmosphere continued right until the final medal, the Modern Pentathlon, a most strange but magnificent sport.  It was also something of a delight to turn on the news and sometimes not seen any but stuff about the latest medal.

I will remember the GB gymnasts getting bronze, Tom Daley's smile, Jess, Mo and a bunch of other people that, actually, I cannot quite remember at the moment, but show me a picture and it will all come back to me.  I only hope that that rather dodgy word "legacy" really can linger and make a difference in normal life.

And on that fine note, I wish you a good week.

* I know, medal is a noun, and should never be verbed

Friday, 10 August 2012

And . . . relax

Not a lot of blogging this week, since I have been v. busy and all that.  Reverting to type would be Bad Man's conclusion.

It has been a busy week, mostly due to the effects of the holiday season taking so many people out, but also because there is a lot on at the moment.  We had our first joint meeting yesterday of another working party looking at another improvement initiative.  All this improvement should enable us as an organisation to achieve something that, to date, only footballers and reality show contestants have managed to achieve - the ability to give one hundred and ten percent.  Indeed, if every improvement programme introduced just one percent of improvement long term to our organisation, we would actually be operating somewhere around two hundred and fifty percent.  The fact that we are not should enable the reader to infer the effectiveness of improvement programmes.

Nevertheless, it can be good for appraisal time, so I for one am prepared to keep quiet in the name of high performance.

On other notes, we had a lovely BBQ last night with Mr and Mrs Scobi senior (a.k.a. my parents) all cooked by Maggot 1, with just a little help from yours truly.

This weekend we are looking forward to the sunny weather, and have a night out on Saturday at A&E's with the Maggots on a sleepover with my parents, which is a result for all concerned.  Other than that, not actually sure what we will be doing, which is usually the precursor to a great weekend.  I am sure we will catch a bit of the Olympics, which is continuing to grab the attention of the whole Scobi clan.  Glad to see all that taxi-queue fight training has put our women boxers and Taekwondo fighters in good shape to win Gold medals, and also rather amused at some of the ensuing discussions in such esteemed publications as the Daily Mail and others, about the appropriateness of "delicate ladies fighting".

May your weekend be full of sun and beer, and empty of fighting and work.  Speak next week.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Another week, another dollar

We had a lovely weekend.

We actually watched quite a lot of the Olympics, and call me an old romantic, or call me a cry-baby, I don't particularly mind, but I found some of it quite emotional.  The thing that resonated with me was one simple fact about Mo Farah's training routine.  Now, don't get me wrong, I know they all train like nutters, however it was the fact that Mo does underwater treadmill work to build leg strength.  For some reason, that for me took the nutter factor up a level.

The medals have really begun to roll in now, and this is making everyone happy.  It would be lovely to think we can carry over the feel-good factor in to real life, and get ourselves out of a triple-dip recession we are apparently in right now.  It has probably fulfilled the desire to "inspire a generation or two".  Even LO is thinking of upping her training schedule... to include exercise as well.  Boom boom.

This week will be a fairly normal week, albeit one over-shadowed by the lack of resources that the holiday season brings.  To be honest, my approach is to batten down the hatches and look to weather the storm as best I can, and once we are in calm waters again, assess the damage.  As metaphors go, that one is pretty damn near perfect in reflecting what needs to happen.  The only missing element is the nine-legged giant octopus arriving to sink the ship, that part being played by either my customer or my manager.

Otherwise, it will be a very normal week.  I hope your week has just the right amount of normalness with no octopuses* in sight.

* I so wanted the plural of octopus to be octopii, but Uncle Google informs me that it is not.

Friday, 3 August 2012

And . . . relax

Thank goodness it is Friday.

Nothing much to report today.  We have a relaxing weekend, and a lunch out on Gee Gee Sunday, and right now it does not get much better than that.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Nearly there

Yesterday was a long day.  I left the office at about 5.45pm, which is not so late for a little bunny of my stature, unless that little bunny had started at stupid o'clock, even if they did have a Duracell battery.

Anyway, by mid afternoon I was a slightly manic, dribbling mess, and very thankful that I was in a Starfleet office and not the office of my customer.  I was finding solution approvals hilarious and everything, so I was very happy to be back home.  Bizarrely, after a small power nap, I managed to watch all the "team GB" football and then went on to make love to my wife until the early hours*.  I think it is fair to say we all put it in the back of the net.

And on that rather smutty note**, I shall bid you farewell until tomorrow.

* complete lie of course, but we all know the story/truth theory well enough to know that this is completely above board
** only really included for Golfy and Badman.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Wednesday, it is all downhill from here

Wednesday finds me at my laptop at 0500 hours.  I am an early bird, but this is even a bit early for me.  The truth is, the two days out, plus the fact half my team are on holiday, and one of them has not been pulling his weight, means that I have a short-term pile up of commitments, one of which is directly with one of my customers.  So it was that, at 0415 hours, I glanced at my watch, considered all the things I have to do today (a day when I am in the office, so the chances of doing anything other than answer questions is very slim), and decided I might as well get up and get on with things.

So it is that I have nearly re-written the solution previously done by my less that popular team member.  Just need to get the polish out and send the resultant "pig with lipstick" to a couple of PMs who are managing the previous iteration of my current solution, so they can give their considered views on how I have done.

Anyway, enough of that, I need to tell you about my long weekend away.  We stayed at Riversidelakes, which was a chilled camp site which allowed open fires.  The website, which you can see if you click on the link, does have a slight tone of "we are very relaxed people, so if you are not, f##k off", i.e. it felt to me rather passive aggressive, but in fact I could not have been more wrong.  The owners of the site were absolutely lovely, friendly and could not do enough for us.

And so the tone was set for a wonderful 4 days.  We did a bit of fishing, we have open fires every evening on which the Maggots cooked* marshmallows and we had a long and chilled time.  The sun shone every day, and the Maggots were in seventh heaven, making friends with the two girls next door** and spending all their time on "Pie Island", "Diarrhea Island***" and other Swallows and Amazons type locations.  They also seemed to acquire a fairly large group of followers, or "little kids" as the called them.  We became friends with the whole family next door and spent every evening round the fire chatting and toasting.  In fact Elspeth, mum of said family, was very sad there was no-one with a guitar, as the web site had intimated.  I had not taken mine, and in truth she does not know how lucky she is.  In the evening, the staff came round on their golf buggy selling bags of firewood and also to hand out glow sticks to the children.  This latter element delighted the kids, and maybe harked back to the site's previous incarnation as a festival site, however it did not quite sit with the overall ecologically sound stance they had for the rest of the site - for example, at the back of the main field, they had a "composting toilet" which was described by the kids very succinctly; you do a poo and put sawdust on it.  Yeuch.

Since we have returned, Maggot 2 has talked of nothing but the site, and what they would be doing now if they were still on the site, and all the things they did, some of which he cannot divulge because adults wouldn't like it.

It was a fantastic site, with fantastic company (thanks to Brad and Angelina) and fantastic weather.  It was the perfect storm of holiday experience, the only thing letting it down being that it was for only 4 days.  Having said that, the Tuesday were were back (yesterday) was raining, so maybe even the departure day was perfect.

I shall leave you now to complete my solution, and will speak to you later in the week.

* incinerated may have been a better choice of word
** another great feature of the site is that they do not believe in cramming you in, so we had three times the space of a usual site, which themselves are always adequate, and so you needed a strong arm for them to be a stone's throw away
*** Don't ask, because we didn't

Friday, 27 July 2012

Are you relaxing enough?

Just a quick note.  I am day off today, so yesterday, Thursday, was the new Friday for me.  As you will all know, this was actually the new Saturday for Golfy, who had Thursday and Friday off to play golf and go to a wedding.  A very civilised way to end a week I think you will agree.

I am just waiting for my email to compact, the final stage of a process to clear it down lest it reach is storage limit, and cease to function.  This sounds like a dumb thing to be considering on your day off, but I am up a bit earlier than I had planned, 7am to be precise, we cannot be on the camp site until 1pm, and the journey is an hour and a half, so we really do have a slow start, for once.  I had also forgotten to do a couple of work things; the first was a nagging thought I had as the fallout from a complicated but excellent call with an American colleague.  It was to do with the use of open source software, which sounds benign to you kids who can download anything from anywhere and expect it to be free, but for an organisation like Starfleet is a very scary thing.  In short, if we combine things in the wrong way, we may be obliged to surrender our source code, our intellectual property, just because we are mixing it up with that open source stuff.  Baffling stuff, with a baffling process to get it right.

The second was that I have not informed via email all the goblins and trolls who might need to know I have a couple of days off, so I thought I would correct the error and send a little note out this morning.

All I need is for the disk compaction to complete so I can do these two things and press the off button on my laptop, which is metaphorically and literally I guess a portal to everything I need for my working life.  No wonder I have stiff shoulders.

Enjoy your two day weekend, as I will enjoy my four day version.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

And . . . relax

Huh?  Thursday, relax?

So, this is the thing.  Tomorrow I am off 'vannin' with Brad and Angelina, who prefer the canvas outdoor look.  We are going to the north of the New Forest, to a site which allows open fires and has 3 fishing lakes and a river.  The weather is looking fairly good.  Small bits of rain, but plenty of dry and even a fair amount of sun.

We cannot wait.  Without a big two-weeker this year, a long weekend with good weather and good company is just what the doctor ordered.  I plan to kick back, sit back, drink tea, eat cake, drink beer, eat more cake, fish, relax, talk and generally live for a few days without all the annoying modern conveniences, but with just enough of the nice modern conveniences.  The Maggots, I know, will absolutely love it; Boy's Own stuff with trees, water, mud and lots of space.  They will, as always, go feral and much fun will be had by all present.

There is just the slightly tedious bit preceding it where I need to close down a number of work activities, and plan my absence.  I awoke early, and was at my laptop by 5.45am, feeling the need to crack on, and at 7.34am I can report that the time was well spent, and I feel a bit more in control than I was lying in bed.

I also have a haircut this evening.  I was climbing the steps to my seat on Centre Court of Wimbledon when I suddenly remembered I had forgotten to cancel my haircut for that evening, and things being what they are, and Nige being a very busy hairdresser, I simply had to skip my usual five-week haircut, which means that, as I sit here tying this, my hair is longer than it has been since those dark days of the Seventies*, and with the sun now shining, I want to be rid of most of it.  The agony is almost unbearable,  which is, even as I type it, melodramatic in the extreme, however please be assured that I really do like my hair short.  You know that thing when you are working all day on a very physical activity and at the end of the day you are hot, tired, aching and very thirsty.  You walk to the fridge, pull out a can of 1664, pour it carefully in to a glass and take the first sip.  You know that feeling don't you.  The absolute pleasure of a cold beer.  Do you also remember the feeling you have when you are maybe half an hour from finishing, imaging that beer, and it is a sort of exquisite agony having the pleasure ahead of you.  Well, that, my friends, is how I feel about this haircut right now.

And on that melodramatic note, I wish you a wonderful weekend.  Enjoy the sun, and the beer, and speak next week.

* I was, of course, barely born in the Seventies**, so actually I probably had that bowl-cut-half-way-up-your-ears type of cut all people under twelve seemed to endure.
** Ahem. Ed.

Monday, 23 July 2012

That was the weekend that was

A fantastic weekend.  Fixed the loose skirting board in the study, tick.  Created a need for re-decorating the study.  Untick.

The sun shone this weekend, which would not normally be so news-worthy, but what with all the rain we have had in the last month or two, a bit of warm and dry was just what the doctor ordered.

We went to the beach on Saturday for a walk, and to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park Sunday for picnic and walk.  Holly dog, who we have been keeping entertained while the outlaws are busy in Wales, did not know what had hit her - more exercise in 2 days than she usually gets in a week.  At least she slept well, which is just as well because the only location she would sleep without barking in the night was under our bed.  I know, don't ask.

Tonight, in a break from tradition, and in deference to the marvellous weather, we plan to go surfing*.  If you need something to keep you going, assuming you are not within one hour of any meal, then try and imagine me getting myself in to a wetsuit.  Makes me laugh every time.

Have a good evening.

* I think the correct term is actually body-boarding, however us surf dudes don't worry about the words, we are too busy cutting some waves.

Friday, 20 July 2012

And . . . relax

And boy do I need a bit of relaxing.  I am sitting here, sweating like a pig that knows it's dinner* waiting for the weekend to start.

I think it is fair to say that I am a bit stressed at the moment.  The little bit of exma above my right eye is flaring up, and my sleeping is not so good, and that all says I am suffering.  And while I wish them all the best, through gritted teeth, the fact that the rest of the family are now on Summer Holiday is just adding to the overall feeling that this particular chap needs more than a G&T to get him in the mood.

This weekend is fairly free.  Bit of sport Saturday AM, but otherwise an event-free weekend.  With the weather threatening to be sunny, we may even get our boogie boards and wetsuits out the loft and go surfing.  We may even take the BBQ.  Man, but we know how to live.

Oh, forgot to say, I have fixed the fan.  Having first cut a flooring board in two so that I could access the wiring for the isolator switch, only to find that did not actually help me much, I then proceeded to check that the wires had not been disturbed in the said isolating switch.  They were fine, and I did take a moment to note down the wire colours for Neutral, Switched Live and Live.  I then tested the joining box that takes the wire out the isolating switch and links it to the wire going to the fan, and with my newly bought tester I confirmed that all voltages were as they should be.
The final step was then to check the wiring in to the fan, and this is where the schoolboy error was discovered.  I had wired the three wires as Uncle Google said the three wires should be, which, based on my notes from the isolating switch, I was able to confirm that that was not how the electrician wired in the fan.  A quick re-ordering of the wires in to their correct position, and it worked like a dream, even though it is a bit disconcerting that it had worked on the previous pull switch.  The only difference between the old and new switch seems to be that the lights are brighter on the new switch.  Conjecture, but the old one was a dimming switch, and maybe at full power it was not actually at 100% of power output.  Why that would make a difference I don't know, but then it is a mysterious thing, electricity.

I hope you have a good weekend.

* I am not really, but I heard Frasier say that as I passed the TV on the way to the loo, and liked it so much I vowed to use it.  In fact, I am fairly cool, but you know that already.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Another Thursday

It is a measure of how busy and how tedious my life is at the moment that when I started writing this, I could only think to mention stuff that I have mentioned several times before.

Tedious.  Monotonous.  Repetitive.  Stressful.

That is my life in four words.

Sad but true.

Friday, 13 July 2012

And . . . relax

The title is obviously not for Golfy, as I am guessing he does not need much relaxing, having done nothing but take it easy all week.  I hope he is having fun and trying to take the edge of his eye-watering white skin*.

The big event is looming, the event whose name we cannot mention.  Let's just say that LO has us marching like a dressage thoroughbred and the to-do list is prominently displayed.  Only the fickle and those tired of life would ignore it.

Otherwise, I am hoping for a bit of a "And . . . relax" kind of weekend.  I really ought to sort out the bathroom fan, so that may well be Sunday's joy, but otherwise I hope and pray for a dodgy Sunday Afternoon Film and a few zeds.

I had better go make the sandwiches for the Maggots' lunches, and knock up some of my finest Flahavan's Jumbo Oats porridge.  If I have not mentioned these yet, then shame on me.  If I have and you are still reading, shame on you.  These are, in my opinion**, simply the best porridge oats I have ever eaten.  Large, nutty and with a good bite even after cooking.  I absolutely love them.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.  Oh, and Golfy, take it easy.

* I know it is not good to laugh at your own jokes, but I did have a little chuckle at that one.
** and as if to prove that giving man, and women, free thought is not always a good thing, LO does not agree with me.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

What a week

I seem to be having a lot of what-a-weeks at the moment, and this week is no exception.  I am at the point of almost not coping, but of course not coping is not really an option, so a stiff upper lip and plenty of fibre is the order of the day.

There are home things that are coming to fruition, and their passing will ease some of the home-based pain.  There is also a week left of term, so that will ease things further as Maggots and LO have "nothing to do" for six weeks.  While this increases the volume of noise in the house, it does also mean a break from the school routine for all three, and with that comes a general calm over the whole house.

Work, I am not so sure.  There are a lot of things on in the "day job", so many that we are overloaded as a team.  There is also an impending big project on the horizon.  I have been part of the initial stages of this, where we all agreed that this was not a project that could be done "on the side of the desk", a new phrase I learnt during these early meetings, and one I have abused mercilessly ever since.  However, there is many a slip twixt cup and lip, and so it will not surprise you to hear that as events unfold, there seems to be a view that I can contribute fairly considerably to the project.  Subsequently, it looks like I am gonna need an extension to the side of my desk.

One small ray of sunshine was that I had a good appraisal.  These are rather ritualistic in large organisations, and Starfleet is no exception.  They are all things to all men, depending on your angle; for some they are a useful way to develop their career, for others they are the devil's own work devised to humiliate the hard working and to provide reasons for your employer to not provide career development or pay rises.

There is also the real factor of luck.  If you the right person, in the right role, exposed to the right activities and in the sight of the right management, then you can do very well out of the process.  If not, then better luck next year.

The key thing about the appraisal is that doing your job well gets you a bog standard result.  Doing it very very well will ensure that the tick in the "bog standard" box is done with more pressure. i.e. only doing your job is not enough.  You need to expand your working life to give-back projects and other profile-raising activities, and even then, your appraisal is done by comparing you to every other person at the same level as you.  If you climb Mount Everest, but the other guy climbs it in a Gorilla suit, he is gonna beat you.

From a management perspective, this enables the process to be measurable, quantifiable and defendable. From an individual perspective, it can kind of the luck of the draw, albeit with you able to influence a number of aspects of the draw.

Be lucky, and speak tomorrow.

P.S. Got a day's fishing planned with Brad in September.  Can't wait.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


On phone typing, watching Robson Jeroen's Extreme Fishing on TV. V funny and the maggots love it.

Monday, 9 July 2012


What a weekend.  We spent a lovely afternoon and evening at David and Samantha's, but either side of that it was a relentless, non-stop, never ceasing endless round of sporting dates, chores, cooking, washing up, eating and some time spent preparing various aspects of the mystery party* which included tidying the garden, cleaning the bi-folds and trialling the sound system**.

We even moved the TV out to the main room so that we could watch the tennis whilst Maggots played football and us oldies did our chores.  It was pretty tense watching, and I am in agreement with GF that, at some stage in the final third, Murray's voice in his head started to get a bit negative, and to be honest that is all it takes for Federer to hammer home the advantage, which he did with ruthless efficiency.

The best bit, for us soppy ones at least, was Murray's losing speech where, possibly for the first time, he appeared human.  In fact, so human that a chap might have had a small tear in his eye.

We come to Monday looking forward to two more weeks of school before the holidays, when three of the four Scobi clan will be finished for six weeks.  In the meantime, we are wrestling with illness from both Maggots, and even LO has a throat, not helped by four nights of poor sleep from all of the clan.  Sadly, we are getting that end of term thing, where everything gets busy and we all start to feel the stress in one way or another.

Have a good week.  Even Golfy, gloating in the sunshine.

* that for good reason we cannot mention by name.
** sometimes referred to "hanging the hi-fi out the window"

Friday, 6 July 2012

And . . . relax

Just had a quick read of Golfy, Gorse Fox and Bad Man's blogs, as a small distraction from a long update call I have to chair.  I can report that Golfy is doing nothing, GF is on a new project and looking at Plan C for his new abode, and Bad Man is playing at Sparkies.

I have to say that Bad Man's stories of electrical work, shorting wires and other sparky-related antics both resonated with me, and left me slightly bilious.

The former because I have a problem with my bathroom.  I replaced the ceiling-mounted pull switch, and ever since the fan is not working, but the lights are.  Simple thinking says that as they are on the same circuit, that is not possible, so either I dislodged a connection in to the fan isolator switch when I replaced the switch (maybe possible because I did have to pull the wire down and then push it up again to effect the rewire) or some other really weird thing about the earth wire being used for something else, the switch being put in the wrong way round (though in the true tradition of cowboy builders, I did put it both ways round just to check that one) or some other as-yet undetermined problem.

The plan this weekend will therefore be to bring up the floorboards in the loft so that I can access the wires and check for connections, using my newly-bought tester (lost the old one and too embarrassed to ask to borrow E's again) as required to work out where the power stops flowing.  Wish me luck.

As for Bad Man making me bilious, it is simply because it did give me some painful flashbacks to my own building work, and the realisation that there is a lot of stuff you have to do to get it finished, and that I am glad that I have finished that work.

Have a good weekend, speak next week.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Uhh, Thursday I think

Was home at around 9pm last night, which is not so late for normal chaps, but tired little early-bird chaps who need their sleeping to be getting under way early, it was a bit of a killer.  Four veggie sausages and piccalilli for tea.  Not our finest hour.

Last night, I thought I could wheedle out of the meeting set for today up country at the customer's office, but sleeping on it I realised I really did need to be there, which was a pain because Maggot 1 was ill.  In the end, LO was able to drop him off at the outlaws for the day. Sorted.  Then I had a text from colleague to say the meeting was at 10am, not 10.30am as I had mis-remembered, so a quick call to A and I was able to drop Maggot 2 round there for her to take to school.  This kind of last minute disruption can sometimes set off the sensitive Maggot 2, but going to A meant hooking up with H and playing football in the cul de sac so he was more than happy.  Sorted.

Left him at 8.15am and found the journey up so pain free that I was at the offices before 9.30am, which is some kind of record.  Sorted.  Made a note to aim for that time every time I need to go there.

Had to leave early as LO is working again tonight, so just now finishing off work so I can go and make Maggot food, which is Spaghetti Bolognese and Garlic Bread.  Not original, but a winner in the Scobi household, and also gives me a chance to sneak a slice of GB whilst I am sitting with the little darlings.

Then I need to do some finances, and watch some brain-numbing telly, awaiting the return of LO after 9pm, when we can hopefully watch something off the Humax.  Sorted.

I hope you can sort yourselves as well as we can here.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Sadly, no tennis tonight, originally due to Maggot duties, but now because I am in an urgent meeting that started at 12.30pm, and, at the time of writing, 6.12pm if you are interested, it is still going on.

It is fair to say that this project is hard and complicated and we have a customer contact who spends all her time in the weeds, and anyone unwary is dragged down to them with her.  This means that all our heads are spinning with too many facts, lots of management guidance and a real sense that we might be here for some time.

The real trouble is that our customer has a customer, and our customer's customer needs an update that instils confidence that we, as the supplier, understand what we are doing, when we will do it, and at what point we will need to engage with our customer's customer.  This is something like trying to thread a needle with twenty foot arms.

I am really hoping that I need to be picking up the Maggots from my parents, however I cannot get in contact with LO to confirm who is doing what, and I fear my signal, which looks good on the phone, is somehow stopping any calls coming through.  I have rung home, rung her mobile and texted here, but nothing back.

It can only be downhill from here.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Horrible day

Yesterday was a horrible day, with a lot of different high-priority work activities vying for my attention, and causing me to work a 12 hour day, which is much longer than a chap signed up for, and certainly took the edge off the first G&T.

For today, see yesterday.

For tomorrow, I am in the office, so see yesterday but with added interruptions and "while I have you" moments.

LO is now working or out every evening for the rest of the week.

Friday sees Maggot 1 invested in to Scouts, so we myself and Maggot 2 will probably be attending, sans LO.

The first Friday beer will, I already know, taste very sweet indeed.

Monday, 2 July 2012


We had a fantastic day on Friday at Wimbledon.  We had centre-court tickets, which sounds rather posh, however when we continue that we were literally in the back seats, it sounds less so.

If you are struggling to understand what this might look like, then take a look at the picture below.

At the start, it was faintly claustrophobic, but actually as you got used to the seat it was not so bad, however I think you will agree that it does look like we are at the end of a long tunnel.

In case you are in any doubt, the tennis court is that little green bit in the middle.  Boom boom.

The whole day was a blast.  It was great to have an adult day out (with no kids, not the kind of adult day out Golfy goes in for).  The site is over 40 acres and there was so much to see, do, eat and drink that we could have spent a dozen days there, however by the time we were leaving, just before Federer finished off his opposition, we were absolutely cream-crackered.

The rest of the weekend went well, with a tennis match between me and the Maggots on Sunday, LO spending the time on her college course.

To top the weekend off, we watched the football.  Well done to Spain, and other minds greater than mine are heralding the team and their victory as "the best ever", so who am I to argue against that.

Have a good week, speak later.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

And . . . relax

Off to Wimbledon tomorrow.  Centre-court tickets, v. excited, Maggots on sleep-over with my parents.

Could it get any better.

Have a lovely weekend.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Another England stat

Another statistic from the England vs Italy game.

Apparently, the highest passing statistic was from Hart to Carrol, the good old Route One, and Carrol did not come on until 60 minutes.

Monday, 25 June 2012

How much?

In continuance of my previous thread on the fact that the English football team cannot keep the ball, here are some statistics from the BBC News website that should make any decent chap weep in to his Pimms.

Just in case you were in any doubt, the table really is comparing two (of our better players) to one of Italy's players.  And our two were absolutely knackered at 70 minutes.

Parker and Gerrard v Pirlo

Reality bites

And so the story continues, with the ending a tedious, nay tortuous, repetition of history, a history that never ceases to sadden those of us who like to try and be optimistic.  Last night, optimism died.

So let's look at the positives.  Hmmmm.

I heard Henry Winter on the radio, sports writer for the Telegraph, and he introduced a new concept that made sense.  The question asked of him was why is England not as good at passing and keeping the ball as everyone else.  His answer was that, some years ago, the FA decided to spend money on rebuilding Wembley.  They decided they wanted to create a fantastic stage on which the footballing players could perform, rather than investing in the actors who perform on that stage, which would have been things like skill schools for children.  Apparently, we are doing these skill schools now and we now just have to wait 15 years or so for the benefits to show in our young players.

So, there you have it.  England are just not technical enough, we know that, and are starting to do something about it, so just be patient.

I hope this is true.  I actually rather enjoyed our performances in the initial games, but last night all that enjoyment evaporated and I was back to that gut-wrenching feeling that our team is just not good enough, which is a very hard pill to swallow.

On lighter news, we have a fantastic weekend with Brad and Angelina.  Fantastic time, fantastic food and fantastic company, marred only by the absence of Cherry Madeira.  We are also in the process or arranging a course fishing day for Brad and me, and a wider sea fishing trip with David and associated Maggots too, the latter once we have cleared the idea of Maggots going out sea fishing in a boat with our beloveds.