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Tuesday, 30 July 2013


It is funny how things turn out.  My intention had been to get my affairs in order to enable a neat and tidy handover to my deputy before I disappeared for the European tour.  How things have actually shaken out are that I have had two unsolicited approaches for new work.

The first was an unexpected from my boss* telling me how lucky I am that he is prepared to offer me something that, reading between the lines, it might be hard to refuse.  It is well documented on this blog that I have been looking for my next role, and many have cried, with some justification, that maybe I have not been trying hard enough, because I have not been able to identify the "next thing".  Even my boss, the one who rang me with the offer, is aware that I have this itch since he facilitated a failed attempt for me to take my first steps in to management.  So imagine my surprise** when he offered me something new, however not a new role, but a new environment in which to do my current role.

Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather**, so once I had dragged my jaw off the floor**, I started to ask a few questions.  It is fair to say, and this is said without any intended slight on my boss, that he did give off a few signs of desperation, and as the story unfolded, it was clear why.  This new environment is well known to me, mainly because I know of three people who have left it for other things, two of them to things outside of Starfleet, and one, the incumbent, who is likely to be joining the exodus.  This forth person is my potential predecessor, in that by all accounts he is definitely someone's predecessor, I am just not sure I want that someone to be me.  I then rang around those that I know who have worked there, to try and find someone who could say a good word about it, and maybe I am contacting a "self-selecting populous" by ringing only disgruntled employees, however the picture they painted is not great, which is in fact that a weak euphemism for "really sh!t".  While I do believe I have some skills and experience that differentiate me from my potential predecessor (a man, let it be known, who is not short of talent or experience), I do need to be working in an environment where the phrase "one team" is not said pejoratively and with a sneer on the face, since I do need to have some collaboration and team spirit if the going is tough, and this one sounds like a forced route march (is there any other type of role in Starfleet these days) but with stones in my shoes, and a 150Kg backpack.

I was meant to have rung my boss yesterday to discuss further, but to be honest I am still looking for someone who can say something good about the place.  I must not prevaricate, but instead must face it head on and have a frank discussion.

The other opportunity came via LinkedIn, which is not something I use in any anger, but has thrown up the odd lead, and is certainly a good way to maintain a link with ex-colleagues and others who you would otherwise lose touch.  For this opportunity, I need a CV, and so I spent several hours at the weekend getting my dusted down and fit for purpose.  After the first review from LO, it was clear that it was looking very dated.  To be fair, I have not needed one in anger for a very long time, and while Starfleet do have an online CV tool that is a mandatory thing to maintain, the CV it produces is, well it is hard to describe without rudeness, but let's just say that it is layed out like you would imagine a Cobol programmer would present themselves, the paper equivalent of scuffed shoes, baggy trousers and a shirt four sizes too big, with the sleeves rolled up.

So I contacted an old friend who is rising high in the ranks of our industry, for a copy of his CV, and what a fantastic document it is too, so for an hour yesterday afternoon I migrated my content in to the new format, borrowed some of his better phrases (better in as much as they could be used to describe me) and was able to send it off the the agency at the end of the day.

Even if it is just an interview and one or other of us is not keen to take it any further, I want this to be a bit of a wake up call to get me back on track to improving myself and my employability.  Starfleet has many opportunities, but it can institutionalise a chap, and this particular chap is very very keen to avoid becoming too entrenched.

* That would be my "feeding and watering" boss rather than my task manager, what with all that new fangled matrix management thing that Starfleet uses to confuse the uninitiated.
** a hackneyed phrase, but still does the trick

Friday, 26 July 2013

And . . . relax

The family has finished for the Summer, so yesterday saw them in bed watching Merlin* on DVD, while yours truly headed for the office, since there is nothing worse than being the only mug in the house who is working.

The office was quite hot.  We found an office in the early afternoon for a cost model review, and it was well air-conditioned, so I tried my luck and spent the rest of the afternoon in there**.  By the end of the day I was actually freezing cold, so much so that the accumulated heat in my car was very welcome on the drive home.

At home, I found the family busy doing the things you do when you have no things to do.  That is actually unfair because LO had been very busy doing all the things that her busy working life had stopped her from doing, so the place was spick and span and everything was in its place, and there were bags of old clothes ready for the loft (for ex Maggot 1 items) or the charity bag (for ex Maggot 2 clothes and anything LO and I were wanting rid).  The washing bin level was actually below the lid level, a first this term, and overall it was a calm and clean environment to which a chap were to return at the end of the busy day.  It was almost like one of those nineteen-fifties "happy families" pictures, if only I were in a bowler hat and was carrying a briefcase (remember those grandad?) and umbrella (remember those everyone?).

* In preparation for our visit to the castle in which Merlin is filmed at the start of our European tour
** I know, Bad Man would not approve of such office-squatting habits.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013


Has anyone else noticed that it is still very hot?  Working from home has many advantages, but air conditioning is not one.  I have windows, of course, and they can be opened, and I am able to adopt the casual dress code of the home-worker (flip-flops and speedos*), however this can only mitigate to a certain extent the extreme heat that starts before lunch and remains until the early evening.  So it is plenty of water, most of which escapes the body via the pores, and not the bladder**, and sit it out. 

I am actually treating it as extreme climate training for my holiday, and that thought keeps me going.

Anyhow, gotta go coz I need to get my Scobi-latte*** in before the heat descends.

* Yeuch
** I refer you to my previous comment
*** some habits die hard

Monday, 22 July 2013

It's not about the nail

I saw this, and it did make me smile.  Patently from the male perspective, but nevertheless it does paint a picture of the man-woman divide.

I know, I know

Slightly at risk of assuming anyone is actually reading, I nevertheless have to quickly apologies for not posting on Friday.  We went away so I just did not get time to post.

And away was fantastic.  Slightly stressful getting there, but once on site, we saw both Brad and Angelina and David and Samantha on the first evening, sufficient to agree to rendevous for the following morning's breakfast meet up.

Then it was down the beach for the whole day, ending with a BBQ until the lights went out.  We did not see a repeat of last year's wave phosphorescence, but that was the only imperfection on an otherwise fantastic day.  We took our wetsuits (once the preserve of the beach bum surf dude, now also used by the middle classes to extend their bathing calendar) and had fantastic fun in the water and on the beach.  We took the mackerel rods, but even they were taking it easy and we did not have even a snifter.

The following day, we repeated the process, and left around 5pm for a pretty easy drive home.

The 'van is now on the drive ready for preparation for Riverside Lakes and then the big European tour.  It will be cleaned, all surplus items (dressing gowns, blankets, slipper socks etc) will be removed, and it will also get a service, when, hopefully, the fridge can be fixed to work on electric again, having failed us on this trip.  We were able to run it on gas, so all was well, but on a hookup site electric is "free" so we would prefer that it did work on electricity.

Now I have a normal and rather full week of work, it feeling like a whole holiday ago that I was last at work.  And that just about defines the perfect weekend.

Have a good week, speak later.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

It is still hot

As the title suggests, it is still hot down here in the South, and I understand that even in some of the darkest corners of our great kingdom there is sunlight and warmth, the like of which the natives have not seen in many a year.  Even down South, where we tend to enjoy these temperatures all year round*, we are finding things just a little bit sticky.  The plus-fours are back in the winter storage trunk, and I have moved to my summer cravat collection.

Joking** apart, at times I have been so hot that, as I open my eyes, I expected to see a swimming pool and a Pina Colada.  To find that in fact I am staring at two computer screens and a rather fetching poster of the David Bowie exhibition at the V&A is, to say the least, rather disappointing.

We are away this weekend down in Lyme Regis, with David and Samantha and Brad and Angelina.   The following weekend is free, and the following we are Riverside Lakes with Brad and Angelina.  The weekend after that we are on our Summer holidays.  Not a bad vista for the next month or so.

Right, need to get back to work.

Enjoy your sweating, speak soon.

* I am of course joking, we sometimes have to wear a cardigan in the colder months.
** Joke?  What joke?

Friday, 12 July 2013

And . . . relax

Nearly forgot to post.  Just going to get Maggot 1 from Scouts.

Both Maggots had their school reports back, and both did very well.  We are pleased and proud, so can we just go on holiday now pls?

Have a great weekend, speak next week.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Sun

It is still here, maybe not as hot as the weekend, but very much welcome.  Long may it continue.

The only downside to this is that my local Starfleet office has an interesting policy with respect to air conditioning*.  The centre of the building is a server room, perhaps it could even be called a small data centre, in which are a whole bunch of IT kit that generates heat at a rather alarming rate of knots, and so requires constant cooling to ensure they are able to function as designed.  So far so good.  The issue is that the air conditioning units are quite old** and/or underpowered, so that when the temperature exceeds a fairly modest outside temperature, the units prioritise the IT kit over the human beings.  On such days, by the afternoon we all feel like Steve McQeen sitting in the tin shed*** for the day.

As I sit in my office at home, with the windows open, and just a small laptop, a second screen and a hi-fi creating the heat, I can report that all is well with the Scobi heat-balancing systems.  I may even have a cup of tea in a minute****.

Enjoy your day, the weather and life.

* I told this to my NHS friends and their rather disinterested reply was "Air conditioning?  What's air conditioning?".  Oh well, you can't cool all the people all the time.
** In fact a colleague who lives locally tells me the locals in the office area have complained about the noisy air conditioning units.
*** The Great Escape for those too young to remember, or those who are not drawn to watching fifty year old films over the Christmas period.
**** Had to Google the old adage "to cool down on a hot day, have a cup of tea" and the general consensus seems to be that while it makes you sweat more, thereby increasing the cooling effect on the body, the overall effect is only to increase cooling to remove the heat that the tea put in to the body in the first place.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Where was the Friday post?

I blame the weather.  The amazing sunny weather, and its associated heat, plain wore me out and so I just orgot to blog.

I would have told you that we had a fairly quiet weekend, going out on Saturday night, on the town no less, with David and Samantha for Samantha's birthday.  What I could not have told you, however, was that I would get just a little bit drunk - I blamed the weather and the novelty of actually going out - and I can also confirm that the cut by my eye was caused by my head making contact with the table salt in Zizzi's, though quite why my head was that close to the table is unknown and the cause of much conjecture.  I expect I needed to tie my shoelaces or something.

It was a fantastic weekend for sport, of course, and the Scobi clan had the tri-folds open to the garden and the TV on the Wimbledon coverage, and what a Wimbledon it was.  The man done good and the whoops and shrieks could be heard nearly over the other side of the allotment.  What a match, and what a great victory.  The amount of tennis currently being played in the Scobi household has increased tenfold, so the legacy will certainly live on here.

This week is normal, and really just another week to get through until we can go on holiday. 

Have a good one, and speak again soon.

Monday, 1 July 2013


A lovely hot and sunny weekend, not too much on, lots of loose ends tidied up.  That was just the kind of weekend we needed.  The Summer holidays are tantalisingly close, and before they start we have a weekend in Lyme Regis to celebrate the sixteenth birthday of our Goddaughter*, and we also have four days at Riverside Lakes, a wonderfully natural site where we had a most magical time last year, and weather allowing, will do so again this year. 

It is hard not to put too much expectation on our Summer holiday, and in fact I think we are failing, because we all cannot wait for it to come.  The prospect of a European tour would, I know, make most people start applying for overtime, but we are really excited and cannot wait to get on the road.  We have just purchased recliners**, and I anticipate that the 1pm to 3pm siesta time slot in Italy will be well used by me.  

Only other comment of note is that for those that read these pages, you may know that my fishing rod snapped on my last trip.  The*** one that got away.  Ever since, I have been on a campaign with the finance manager to get a new one, and she is not so far very supportive of any such purchase.  In fact, she was at one stage heard uttering "it is your fault for trying to catch such a large fish", which for anyone who has fished, is about as wrong as it is possible to get.  Anyhow, I have found the rod I want, and it is modestly priced, but better than the previous, with a bit more strength to it.

As part of my preparation for Riverside Lakes, and as a further example of my slow descent in to OCD-type tendencies, I have also been using Uncle Google to educate me on the vagaries of good quality hooks, leader lines and general lines, as well as the correct knots to use to avoid "losing the big one".  As you can see, I take this stuff very seriously.  I now have some large, eyed hooks (to take the large bait), some fluorocarbon leader line (all but invisible to the fish), a new hook-tying device and a couple of fine knots memorised, all in the pursuit of presenting the bait well, hooking a fish when the bait is taken, and not losing it as I play it in to the landing net.  With such dedication, who knows where things will take me.

Final story is about Maggot 2.  He is currently obsessed with tennis, already spending the millions he plans to make winning championships, though perhaps a bit more hazy on quite how he plans to get there.  He has a lesson 11-12pm Saturday, followed by his swimming lesson, and the first thing he wants to do when he gets home is have a game with his brother in the garden.  Anyhow, we were watching a film, The Big Year, a very pleasant family film with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson (Hutch to me and LO, the little fella in Night at the Museum for the Maggots) as bird watchers****.  At the end of the film, the TV switched to whatever channel was on the TV at the time, which turned out to be Primal Scream at Glastonbury.  At the end of the song, Bobby Gillespie shouted to the crowd "come on you f##kers", at which point Maggot 2 said "I don't want to be a tennis player any more, I want to be a singer, so I can say that".  Priceless.

* I know, we were there at her birth, not quite literally coz that would just be wrong, but within a hour or two of her entering the world, and now here she is, about to turn sixteen, having just been to her prom looking like a very grown up woman, in fact looking just like a young version of her mother.
** And if that does not cement the image you have of me as being a boring, typical 'vanner, then I don't know what does.  All I can say is that I deserve it.  I am not saying that I go for comfort over style every time - I am not yet buying my shoes from the back of the Sunday Times supplement - however I am saying that, as part of this big tour, we are taking the opportunity to spend some of our holiday budget on things that will be useful beyond the holiday itself.
*** there were two actually.
**** An unlikely premise for a good film I grant you, but fun nevertheless.