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Monday, 29 September 2014

Well, that went well

We had a great weekend.

I managed to get the front garden completed.  We are, there is no doubt, cliches of ourselves, but we have gone with "structural planting", namely 2 square pyramid and one round ball, which is simple and, we believe, effective.  It is also pretty much what every other bu$$er in the area is doing, at least those who are doing anything.  Nevertheless, it finishes the front, and apart from cleaning the front tiles (standard fare for these parts of black, red and yellow tiles in a diamond pattern, as those 1990s peeps liked), I really am done outside.

This meant that the second half of Saturday, and Sunday late after the karting, was spent working on the inside.  The last bits of paper have been stripped from the problem wall, the tricky bits up high round the window, which required me to have the ladder and plank arrangement to reach, and also resulted in 2 bits of plaster popping out on the upright inside edges of each window.  This is a pain, but to be expected, and small enough that my developing* skills in plastering should be able to address the problem.

I then sanded Maggot 2's bedroom wall and applied a scratch coat of paint.  This will then show up any bits to fill, and I plan to use plaster rather than caulk, because it will make a better finish, and with no lining paper, and matt paint, I need it as smooth as a proverbial.

As for the sporting activities, Maggot 2's first Saturday with the big boys went well.  The positives were that he scored, twice, that he always got in good spaces, and were he not the newbie, would have received the ball more often that he did in some good positions, and he made some excellent passes.  What he needs to work on is staying in position**, getting stuck in a bit*** and, his own thoughts, be ready to dribble it a bit more, once he gets more confident in the group.  All in all, a good first week.

On Sunday, we were at the box-karting.  This was at Goodwood, and the organiser, an extremely motivated and enthusiastic person, had built it up rather.  This meant that, initially, we were slightly underwhelmed as it was not on the race track, but in the car park.  Once over that initial disappointment, we all agreed that it was actually a very well organised event, that was a lot more fun that we had expected.  Maggot 2's team, The Asphalt Alligator, came a creditable third, though losing the semi-final did cause some strong discussions on whether the right team had been picked, but that was between the boys, and all part of building resilience.  At least that is what we told ourselves when we stayed well away.

Have a great week, and speak later on.

* It will still involve a lot of faffing when the plaster is still wet, and likely some vigorous sanding when dry

** He has spent so many years playing with not so good people that he tends to compensate by being a defender, a midfielder and an attacker in every game, and now he is with better players, he needs to be only one of those

*** While not as bad as some of the boys and girls, he did have the odd "my little pony" moments when he was skipping with his hands up, rather than getting stuck in a la Razor Ruddock

Friday, 26 September 2014

And . . . relax

Nothing of note coming from work.

Home has also been fairly uneventful.  To be sure it has been busy, and things have happened, but nothing of note.

This weekend is a fairly big one for a number of reasons:
  • Maggot 2 has moved up a group at football.  This is really his first big test against good and older players.  Will his dream of Premiership football crumble, or will he hold his own?  Only time will tell.  I just need to remember that it is a nice crowd, and not to get too excited
  • Strictly starts this weekend.  Must dig out my frilly shirt
  • On Sunday, Maggot 2 is taking part in the 7th Supreme Box-kart Championship.  If the leader's enthusiasm is anything to go by, it is gonna be a hellofa day*.  This is held at Goodwood Racecourse, the same as used by the Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival, so the surroundings will be something.  BBC TV will be there, as will a bunch of other secret, but very exciting, things.
Maggot 2 should be totally knackered by Sunday evening, which means two things; firstly, he will be grumpy, and secondly, he will be going to bed nice and early, as will his older brother, so the adults in the clan can enjoy a bit of adult time.

That is about all to say, so I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

* It will certainly be long, and maybe not always quite as exciting as billed since we have one child in the event, and there are 21 rounds of racing before the final knockout section.

Friday, 19 September 2014

And . . . relax

Another Friday has arrived, and a chap takes a moment to review the highs and lows of the preceding week.  In a fit of pique, I actually did review my week yesterday, so no need to bore you further.

This weekend, we have a fairly normal weekend.  Clubs Saturday morning, Maggot 2 second week at Fishbourne football, and Maggot 1 at tennis later.  In the evening, we are at a party, attended also by David and Samantha, A&E and R&R, with David and Samantha's eldest Maggot baby-sitting for us.

Otherwise, a normal weekend, when I hope to carry on with my tasks for outside, which is now reduced to:
  • laying weed-supressing membrane under the stones up the right-hand side of the house, which means actually the tedious task of clearing back the stones, clearing the weeds, and laying down the stones back on top of the membrane once laid
  • fitting the handle and associated bits to the gate
  • cleaning the paint and dirt from the front path.
If I can do all that this weekend, then it will have been a good weekend, and I can say, probably, that I will then have finished everything outside for this year.  The only bit that I may still do, if we get some work booked in to deal with the shady end of the garden, is a final bit of garden tidying up, and perhaps treating all the wooden fences and the shed in a single darkish colour.  Then that will be it outside.  Absolutely.  Definitely.  No more tasks.

Once I have done the outside, I will then need to turn to the inside, where I need to finish the wallpaper stripping of the upper hall, before painting the whole hall, stairs and landing with a matt paint (as part of my experiment on trying to stop damp retention in walls), plus doing the same in Maggot 2's bedroom, both of which have had bare plaster for most of the Summer, drying out the walls and, frankly, being overtaken by more urgent outside work.

Now, anyone who has done any decorating knows that the phrase "hall, stairs and landing" strikes terror in any decorator's heart.  Firstly, there is the vast expanse of wall to cover, not least the bit from the bottom of the stairs to the ceiling upstairs - needs a ladder and plank setup to reach - and also, even more time-consuming, the large number of doors and other woodwork that will need painting.  In our case, this is five doors, a loft hatch and hundreds of feet* of skirting, architrave and door frame.  All this is slightly harder this time round because we are moving back from eggshell to old-fashioned, but infinitely tougher and better looking undercoat and gloss, which is, as any self-respecting decorator will know, rather trickier to apply.

As part of our return to gloss, I have invested in tack cloths, sometimes called tack rags and other similar names, which are impregnated with something that is sticky but does not leave a residue, used for the final wipe of the undercoated and sanded surface prior to the final gloss application.  This is definitely filed under "anal retentive" but does ensure a much smoother finish, as I can testify by the window sills I did in our bedroom a couple of weeks ago.  They simply remove that final layer of fine dust that other methods leave behind, and they seem to work very well.  If you are still reading, that suggests you are mildly interested, in which case, I would definitely recommend them, if you can be bothered.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* I may be exaggerating slightly, but believe me when I say, there is a lot

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Some things have happened, some things have not

Things that have happened:
  • Had a ping from Golfy, which is always a pleasure, which proves that he is alive, and his sense of humour is a bad good as always
  • At last, we reach the day of voting on the Scottish Referendum, which means that we must, surely we must, be at the start of the end of the continuous rounds of news items on the subject.  I noted Golfy's comments*, which made me smile
  • A colleague, let's call him Mike, pinged me a week ago to say, in confidence, that he was leaving Starfleet, only to ping me yesterday to say that his manager had made him an offer he could not refuse.  My view is usually that no offer of matching salary will keep pace with the likely salary growth in a new organisation, mainly because in that new org you are at the start of things, whereas in your current org you are nearer the top of things.  So, as a rule, a salary match would not tempt me, however for Mike, he was not that unhappy with Starfleet, so he has achieved his goal of more money
  • I have worked pretty hard, for me, and it is both envigorating and exhausting since it is large problem-solving stuff, which I like, but intense, which I sometimes don't
  • I managed to install a new aerial cable for the back room.  You may recall that during my "grinding out the cracks" phase of exterior renovation, I was rather gung ho and cut through said cable, and while I fixed it with a cable box filled with sealant, the signal strength we definitely down, and on the lesser channels, reception was pretty bad
  • The front gate is back in place, finally painted with the right shade of grey, and ready now for handles to be put back on.

Things that have not worked:
  • still nothing from potential new manager on an interview.  I am not pushing it now, since I would really like to get the other side of the appraisal decision before I make any noises to my manager about moving on, since the standard approach to such news is to lump a poor rating on the person leaving, coz they no longer need to be molly-coddled with good ratings, in lieu of anything tangible like, oh I don't know, a pay rise, recognition or a bonus.
So if I follow the Winston Churchill "pros and cons" measurement process, this week has been a pretty good week.

* Golfy has always been a man with an opinion

Friday, 12 September 2014

And . . . relax

I doubt you really care about the title, but nevertheless, I wanted to draw your attention to the fact that I have been experimenting a bit with different Friday titles.  It was worth a try, but I have decided to return to the original classic title, as demonstrated above.

So, "how was your week?", I hear you ask.



Played tennis on Wednesday, which was nice.

Work is, as I said at the start, busy.  I think my contribution is adding a little something to the overall net worth on Starfleet, but sometimes, being a wheel within a wheel within a wheel, it can be hard to tell.

Needless to say, we have an exciting weekend coming up.  I plan to replace the aerial cable to the back TV, which I accidentally cut through during my render crack grinding* work.  I did subsequently repair it with a cable-joining block thingy, but it was not great; the TV received the main channels OK, but was somewhat patchy on some of the lesser (and I can only assume weaker-signalled) channels. 

I also plan to give a second coat of exterior paint to the worst leaking wall, the hall, stairs and landing exterior wall, just so that I have made it as waterproof as it is going to get.  This will then complete all the exterior painting.  I just need to finish glossing the gate, get it back in its rightful, and then the exterior - until we can afford to do the drive and side path, hopefully next year - is done.

LO wants to, apparently, install some kind of ball on a stem sort of architectural plant type thing by the doorway, and also wants to leave what was the small garden strip bare for now, to maybe receive some other architectural plant type thingies next Spring, if we fancy it.

The we are going over to David and Samantha's for an afternoon and evening of drinking, eating and talking, which will be nice.

Finally, on pain of death from LO, we are going in to the country on Sunday afternoon, for fresh air, exercise, and some free entertainment.

This weekend is Goodwood Revival, a wonderful day for those attending, a right royal pain in the ass for those trying to navigate round the local environs.

Anyhow, have a great weekend, speak next week.

* which probably should be a musical sub-genre, but isn't

Friday, 5 September 2014


I am trying an experiment at work.  The climate is, it is fair to say, fairly down at the moment.  I speak to someone every day who is either considering or actively looking for jobs outside Starfleet.  I don't think that they have necessarily fully thought it through, but it is enough that they are considering it and so provide a sense of their state of mind.

This means that, if two or more people are gathered together, once they have worked through the Parrot Sketch*, they then move on to talking about all the bad things about Starfleet.

So, it is against this backdrop that, on my return from Tuscany, I decided to try an experiment.  It is an NLP-type thing, and something that was discussed on my favourite learning cassette**, and it is very simple. 

Whenever anyone asks how I am, I answer "terrific".  This has, to date, had two interesting effects:
  1. There is a pause when the person asking thinks "this guy is slightly unhinged"
  2. From that point on, they then themselves tend to be more upbeat, to the point that the parrot lives, and Starfleet does not get a kicking.

It is early days, but an Indian colleague was rather taken by the idea, and I suspect he is now similarly baffling colleagues.

The Maggots are both back to school today, and it is a bit of a shock.  Looking back, we have had a fantastic Summer, which is nice to have experienced, but makes getting used to real life all the more difficult.

Anyhow, tide and time waits for no man, so onwards and upwards.  This weekend we are out Saturday night, for a couple of hours, with A&E at a mutual friend's house, then back to ours to end the evening. 

In the daytime, I will be doing DIY, finishing off the outside painting.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* an old joke, that ages me, and that is most likely not really true any more
** and the word "cassette" immediately ages this learning device