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Friday, 28 November 2014

And . . . relax

Starfleet had an all-hands call on Wednesday, and it was one of those calls to declare a "...notification of intent to enter a period of employee consultation, to review options for addressing the business challenges in the UK."

This is an exceedingly long-handed phrase for "there is about to be another round of redundancies".  In a very interesting article on Forbes about Starfleet, where it described accurately what a lot of us are feeling, one of its key messages was that we cannot continue to cut our way to business success.

Apparently the article was wrong.

Anyhow, that news feels about as fixed a diary date as Christmas, and there was a lot of animated discussions afterwards, in fact plenty of it before hands, since the phrase "All Hands Call" is one that conjures sadly only one thought. 

One wagster suggested that the call might be about to offer us a Christmas bonus for all our support during a tough year.  It is perhaps a sad indictment of the climate at Starfleet that there are several in my sphere of acquaintance that would definitely see voluntary redundancy as a Christmas bonus.  Indeed, one colleague stated that he would not consider leaving Starfleet of his own accord, since, in his words, "that is a waste of nineteen years of service."

We are not doing much this weekend.  We were out Saturday, but events have changed and actually I am not so sad to be staying in.  Last weekend's Seventies night was great fun, but set me back in terms of recovery from the illness, so a quieter Saturday evening will be good for the soul.  We have A&E for lunch on Sunday so will no doubt have a few drinks then to make up for things.

Have a great weekend, and speak next week.

Friday, 21 November 2014

And . . . relax

It was parents' evening last night for Maggot 2.  Feedback was fairly good, some areas on which to concentrate.  Discussing with Maggot later did not go so well.

I had a couple of beers last night, and felt worse for it.  My cold, very much a head cold now, congestion, headache, sore throat, seemed to get thicker, and I was awake twice in the night for an hour, clearing throats and generally feeling quite uncomfortable.  Plan is to have no alcohol tonight, but then I a can resist anything but temptation . . .

On Saturday we are at a Seventies fancy-dress party celebrating R&R's fiftieth, both of them, and also combined with a friend of theirs, at the local tennis club.  I have, as mentioned previously, cobbled together a pastiche of Mark Bolan, including a leather jacket that had seen better days in the nineties*, so having spent the last two decades in the loft in the "dressing up box" has done nothing to refine its look.  It now smells a lot less, and while it is hard to say that the creases have fallen out of it, I can report that it is just about ready to be taken out in to the big world.

In terms of outfit, as I say, it is a pastiche of Mark Bolan, in that it has flares, a feather boa and a few other Seventies-style accoutrements.  The fact that I will probably look like a docker in a tutu is neither here nor there.  I have a long history of similar looks, recounting for a moment when I decided to go as a French maid in biker boots.  Ah, the memories, the memories.

I am reliably informed that there will be many and varied costumes on show, including the Village People, which Wikipedia says is "an American disco group that formed in 1977, well known for their on-stage costumes depicting American masculine cultural stereotypes, as well as their catchy tunes and suggestive lyrics", so there goes my intended line that I thought they were the Eighties.  I do love the term "masculine cultural stereotypes".

* or vintage, as it was known when I bought it then

Thursday, 20 November 2014


I played tennis last night.  My breathing was impaired, but overall I was OK.  We practiced the backhand slice, a very useful shot which, when done well, is hard to return.  My slice was pretty good, and while I used it previously, I plan to use it more, coz, as I said, it is lethal done well.

Today, not sure I feel quite right.  More paracetamol is needed I think.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I have been unwell latter part of last week, and that has meant a lot of catch up this week.  That, combined with a reduction in my team (there are wheels in Starfleet squeakier than mine), and a confluence of important bits that only I can do (not being big-headed, but only I can use a key tool used for creating costs), means I seem to be experiencing a perfect storm.

And, as if that is not enough, I am also still not feeling one-hundred percent.  I really want to feel right, but I don't.  I want to play tennis tonight, with the new racket I had as one of my birthday presents from A&E, R&R and J&M, but I am reserving the right to miss it, not because I want to, but maybe because I may need to for self-preservation.

It is the time of year when we have to do our submission for our appraisal process, which is a most disagreeable process, on several levels.  The latest challenge is that we have to submit on a web-based tool, which is really rubbish. We should be able to simply cut and paste from our Word master document, but it is not that simple.  Formatting is shot, word count is shot, and I have spent several hours trying to get it trimmed.  To no avail.  It seems that I am not alone, and the trick that I used - actually not so much trick but fiddle - seemed a bit clunky, but it seems that it is the same trick as several of my colleagues have used.

Anyway, it is an irritant, and it will pass.  Just like a bout of diarrhea.

On the home front, in what has become known as the "post-glossing era", I am catching up on the little jobs, a list which is growing due to problems.  The latest issues are the lock on our front room door and the upstairs shower head.  That is my weekend sorted.

We are off to a seventies night at the weekend, and I have had to dug deep in our dressing-up box in the loft, and have pulled out my outfit, which smells just like they are straight from the seventies.  LO's only comment was "you won't catch me wearing that", which is good for me, since I want to wear it myself, but I think that maybe it signifies how ridiculous I will look.

Ho hum.

Monday, 10 November 2014

I'm finished

In more ways than one, but more of that later.

I have finally finished the glossing.  It will require several days of hardening before it is open to the public, but the job is done, and while not exactly fanfares, there is some relief in Scobi Towers if for no other reason than we can clear all the painting paraphernalia from our bedroom, the hall and my study.  In the words of LO, "it has been hanging over us like the Sword of Damocles".

The rest of the day was spent cleaning the 'van and LO's car, using my newest birthday present, a power wash.  Now, I am not an overly gadget-obsessed chap, just as happy with spade as with an iPad*, but I have to say this is one gadget that I already really love, a love that can only grow deeper as I venture to walls and patios and other surfaces to clean.  I went for the Karcher K2 Premium, 25% off at Homebase**, which comes with two lances - number one the usual take-your-head-off nozzle, the second a flat beam that can be turned down to gentle and up to nearly-take-your-head-off.  It also has a built-in detergent tray, an confusing plug-in detergent gun, a brush and a patio cleaner.
I now have a handle on when to use each of the two detergent reservoirs - I used the internal one for wash, and the gun I added "Bobby Dazzler", a treatment added to the rinse phase to give sparkle.  This seemed to work well since I used the brush with the detergent, and just the gun for the Bobby Dazzler, which gave a pleasing gentle wide fan of rinse, just as the doctor ordered.

Finally, have taken the 'van back in to storage, and stopping via Homebase** to buy a pair of HoseLok connectors, mine having worn out, resulting in them popping off regularly, which is about as frustrating as you need when trying to do a jet wash.  I therefore arrived home expecting the shower, sit down and maybe doze off routine, only to be bullied in to the garden to pick up two hundredweight of leaves from the trampoline and garden.

Needless to say, when I did finally sit down, clean and ready for a beer, I was knackered, only to realise that I had a cold coming on.

Overnight, we have the most intense thunder and lightening, interspersed with immense downpours lasting maybe five minutes, followed by normal rain.  We had two power cuts, the first requiring investigation, the second one bring the Maggots to our room, so we all had a terrible night's sleep which for me was worse as I also had a sore throat, catarrh and a runny nose.

* utter rubbish, but never let the truth stand in the way of a good story
** not my favourite store by a long stretch, but a discount is a discount

Friday, 7 November 2014

And . . . relax

Glossing continues.  All upstairs is done now and ready to come down the stairs, so nearly getting towards the step before the bend ahead of the final straight.

Work is very busy, with stuff that is important, to others, which means it is urgent for me.  To be fair, it is both important and urgent, but it is taking an inordinately large amount of my time.

One of my team, let's call him The Farmer, is very vocal about many things.  He left us for four months, and the peace that prevailed was heralded, and greatly enjoyed, by all.  He has now returned to us.  The Farmer is also very opinionated, which just adds to the overall mix, a potent cocktail of loud and opinionated.  Ouch. 

Anyway, he asked me the other day why I was so busy when the volume of requests in our pipeline is so small.  I said that the pipeline management is something I could easily avoid completely and still be fully occupied, and it is fair to say that he was unable to compute that, since for him, my job is all about the pipeline, and nothing else.  I am trying, but so far not succeeding, in offering for his consideration an alternative view on both the world, and my role, not least because he is probably the best option to be my replacement if/when I move on.

"Best option" could easily be misconstrued, since the stock of possibles is very limited, partly due to a lack of people with sufficient experience to do the role (the inevitable outcome of years and years of pruning, itself driving some to move to a different inter-galactic provider.  In fact, one competitor has had five of my type of cadet in the last four months).

It is also partly a matter that the role is not attractive.  We are tasked with running a team, doing all the interface work between our local account and our profession, with coaching, reviewing, supporting and mercilessly beating our team to produce their widgets both quickly and of a high quality, and at the same time we are measured on how many widgets we can produce ourselves, and penalised because we inevitably cannot produce at the same rate as our team DUE TO THE TIME WE SPEND SUPPORTING THEM (sorry for shouting).  I think this is the Starfleet variant on the Catch 22, and it would be a lot funnier were it not so grim.

This weekend will be more glossing, clearing the leaves from the garden, and hopefully going to a fireworks display on Saturday night.  Around that, I hope to get some remixing in, and some rest, and some Strictly.  What a heady combination.

On that note, I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Glossing over the cracks

Having completed the undercoating before we went on holiday, I returned with the task of glossing.  So it was that on Friday afternoon and early evening, I started the glossing, and completed 4 doors, the loft hatch and all joining architrave and skirting.  This all went well, though in the cold light of day, I have made a couple of little mistakes.  I missed a whole section of the door lining in to our bedroom (a fifteen centimetre wide piece), which will necessitate me rubbing down the whole section to re-gloss.  I also missed a tiny bit on our bedroom door, bottom left panel, which I think I can just about touch up without issue.

I am now back at my work desk, catching up on my over-flowing Inbox, and dealing with the immediately urgent stuff.  What is nice is that an email on Monday, raising a nasty issue, is often resolved by the end of the week, so I have learnt to read from oldest to newest, and don't do anything with any seemingly urgent stuff until you have reached the top of the list, lest you find the problem has resolved itself.

Speaking of holidays, we had a fantastic five days in Oxford.  We had a lovely static, or flat really, fitted out nicely and with a hot-tub on the decking.  We did the bus tour of Oxford, visited Christ's college, and a couple of pretty Cotswold villages, and overall relaxed greatly, saw much, ate all that we wanted and even drank a little.

We also went to a party for one of my college buddy's birthday on Saturday.  J was fifty, the old bugger, and we went up his house in what are probably the Northern Home Counties.  It was fantastic to see J, and also M and P, aka the Taffies, the other two that make up, with me and J, the "college four".  We had a great time and are likely to meet up again in January for P's birthday.