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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.