Monday, December 15, 2008

Thing a week 09 - It’s the most hectical time of the year!

Yes I did just make up the word hectical. I think I like it. I may introduce it into a conversation tomorrow, just for fun.

This is in fact last weeks blog which didn’t happen last week because this time of year is just far too hectic. I work for a consultancy. The problem with consultancy work, like most others, is the necessity of clients. Clients tend to get to December and decide they have lots of things on their desk they’d like to get finished before the new year. So they send it to us and expect it to be done before January. Which would be fine apart from the big holidays that eat up at least most of your staff for a quarter of the month. So we get the work package from the client at the beginning of the month and take a couple of days going through it, then put in a request that they send us all the data they didn’t bother to give us that we’ll actually need to do the job. The problem being that they’re short staffed because of Christmas so it takes an age for them to get it to you. Anyway a week or two in and ready to start work with a week or two (if you’re lucky) left to finish. That’s just the professional side. On top of that there’s the personal issues of travel arrangements and shopping for gifts and life in general. It all adds up.

So sorry if you were inconsolable with grief on Wednesday that you didn’t have my pointless ramblings to make your life better but I’m rushed off my feet, I’m full of cold and I’m using all of my spare minutes playing Fallout 3 which I think I’m addicted to. It’s a brilliant game that is eating into my not sleeping time. Sometimes insomnia pays off.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thing a week 08 - What do you mean, “Bah! Humbug!”?

It may surprise people to learn that I really like this time of year. I like the cold, I love the snow (which we’ve actually been getting this year) and I really love the dark mornings when I’m out and about early before most people are even up. It’s a strange but in a really good way feeling to walk through the city when it’s practically deserted.

That said however, I’m not a fan of Christmas. It looms there like a dark cloud to blight what could be a great time of year. For any newcomers to the blog, go and check last Decembers entry for a good old fashioned Christmas rant where I vent a narrow slice of spleen over the glib fetid stench that is the modern Christmas. I don’t cover most of the reasons it’s bad, but I make a start. In this blog however I’m not going to moan about the stolen pagan festival though. It will probably come in a week or two because I know you all love to hear an ill thought out rant on the keyboard. Today I thought I’d pay homage to the little silver lining that comes with being a Christmas grump.

May the force be with you and protect you if you should dare speak out against Christmas. Point out to the most ardent environmentalist that they are using enough electricity on ridiculous lights and ten trees worth of wrapping paper or talk to a dedicated economist about the irony of people getting into debt buying presents they can’t afford in the middle of a credit crunch or mention to anyone that you think 3 tonnes of tinsel is just a bit too much and bordering on tacky and you will invariably be met with one of a limited number of responses. My favourite of these being the wonderful Bah! Humbug!

Bah! Humbug! It’s a great thing to hear. There are a couple of reasons I love it. First is the simple sound of it. How often in the general course of a year do you actually hear someone say Bah! out loud. Never. From January to November you’d be lucky to get this super syllable once, then suddenly it’s everywhere, and Humbug is a great word to say. It feels good coming out of the mouth. Try it yourself now. Hummmm, B’ug, Fantastic! almost as good as carbuncle or dumpling. Secondly and most importantly is the little internal smile I get at the thought of humbugs. I don’t have a sweet tooth. I was the freaky kid at school who preferred fruit to chocolate. But there’s something about humbugs that are just gorgeous. They’re so nice, and again, they feel great in your mouth.

Of course the Christmas bores aren’t referring to the delicious sweets. They’re quoting... anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
Well done, it’s the catch phrase of the awesome Scrooge from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. But where did he get it from? What does the word mean?

Well from the on-line dictionary we have this,

Pronunciation: \ˈhəm-ˌbəg\
Function: noun
Etymology: origin unknown
Date: 1751
1 a: something designed to deceive and mislead b: a wilfully false, deceptive, or insincere person
2: an attitude or spirit of pretence and deception
3: nonsense, drivel
4: British : a hard usually mint flavoured candy

and from the first three definitions we can see what Scrooge was getting at. Already in the 1840s, Dickens, through Scrooge, was sick of the crass commercialisation of the Christmas festival and how it had become false and deceptive and drivel and needed an outside force (four of them in fact in the story) to bring back the true meaning. Ironic really that it is now said as an attempt to put down any comments against the nonsense and pretence that has overtaken the modern Christmas. I wonder if it makes Dickens spin in his grave as much as Orwell does every time Big Brother is on the TV. Ahhh to the miss-represented classic. The fourth definition is the best though.

Still, I don’t want to be labelled a grump so I wish anyone reading, happy Saturnalia.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thing a week 07 - Workers comp’

There’s actually been a lot going on since last week but I’m really not ready to put any of it down in type yet. Good bad or indifferent.

I could make little inconsequential comments on things, I got the skates out again this weekend did a bit of a play. I went out with an old friend, my first proper night out in Liverpool, that was nice. Went out with the housies for one of their leaving do’s, he moves out on Saturday. I did the whole public speaking thing last night, scary stuff. etc. etc.

Doesn’t make for much of a read tho’ does it. I really can’t find the words to flesh things out just yet. Like I said, a lot’s been happening.

Otherwise I couldn’t think what to write. Then I was hit by inspiration by my good friend Jane Doh. I leave it to you to decide whether I’ve allowed her to become my muse or simply stolen her idea. Jane enjoys writing and has put a few paragraphs up on her t’intermaweb blog type thing from her latest work. I liked it. I can’t wait to hear more.

I enjoy writing. When I’ve got the time, which is rare of late, and the inclination I really enjoy stroking my creativity and letting the juices flow. For the past few years especially it’s mainly been scripts. They rarely get finished. Even rarer that they get read by someone other than me. Even rarer that they’re any good. None of that matters because they serve no other purpose than giving me pleasure while I write them.

So after that preamble and a thanks to Jane for the inspiration of which this blog entry is born, I commit to the net the first act of something I started writing almost two years ago and actually do still work on every now and then. I’ve still got no idea how it’s going to end. It’s changed completely at least three times. If anyone reading this is overly religious easily offended by inoffensive things, please remember, this all happens in a tiny universe in the corner of my imagination and not the universe that you live in. I’m not picking on you. Please don’t start picking on me. That said I’m always pleased to have a rational debate over anything. Oh and sorry about the jpeg thing but it was going to be a pain to get the formatting done.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thing a week 06 - the search for week 5

Hello again. Welcome back to my little corner of the blogosphere. Come in, make yourself comfy.

The regular readers out there (and I like to tell myself there are some) may have noticed that my thing a week project to post a blog every week at around the same time hit a small snag last week, namely there was no blog. Thing a week 5 was mysteriously, erm, missing. Well there’s nothing mysterious about it really. I just didn’t post one. That’s right, 5 weeks in and the project’s already falling down, ho-hum.

However it hasn’t fallen down, at least not in spirit. The point of the project was to form a habit of writing a regular blog. While the old nattars would have missed the blog, not written anything for months on end then come back with an excuse and an apology and a promise it wouldn’t happen again until next time. The new nattar blog isn’t going to give you an apology, not even an excuse, this time I have something better, I have a reason.

Last week my faithful little macbook, after years of loyal service and beautiful friendship, eventually gave up the ghost and died. On Tuesday my fine silver friend passed over. Or at least so it seemed, after a little cajoling I eventually brought the old girl back to life, at least in part. The keyboard and superdrive are dead and gone but the heart of the machine is alive and kicking and ready to play. So I had no way to post the blog last week. I was mortified. I even thought to myself, damn, I’ll miss the blog. So The habit is forming and the project survives.

The repair bill for the Mac was going to be in the order of £400, so that’s not going to happen especially just before the evil christmas, but she’s fighting on. She has the electronic equivalent of a pair of crutches, namely an external keyboard and dvd player. Good old usb. She’s more of a desk top than lap top nowadays anyway so it’s not that big a deal really.

So that’s week 6. A reason for week 5. Now my tea smells like it’s ready, posh fish and chips. Potato wedges and salmon steak. It smells lovely so I’m off. Hopefully I’ll do a retrospective blog latter in the week to make up for the missing one but I’m not going to promise anything. In the mean time, please offer get well soon wishes to my poorly puter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thing a week 04 - What politics?

Well, it’s happened. A mere four weeks into my thing a week project and I can’t think of anything to write about. If only there was some great historical event in the news today. How I wish that every media source ever invented by humanity would scream at me a single message in a billion voices. Why oh why can’t some monumental change come into the world?

I jest of course, as you may have guessed from the title this blog will be about politics, however I will try and mention the American election result as little as possible. I’ll just say thank you to any Americans reading this for electing Barack Obama as your president. From the rest of the world in general. Thank you. Of the rich privileged lawyers who were running for president he was by far the better choice.

What I will do for this forth blog is ask you for a favour. I know it might be too soon in this little project to be asking for things, too early in this relationship to be making demands, so I’ll demand nothing. I simply place this before you and humbly ask that you consider taking action.

In 2006 at the United Nations 153 governments voted to develop an arms trade treaty to implement international control of the hideous and evil international arms trade. That is a massive amount of congruity for the United Nations. 153 countries agreeing on something is outstanding. There’s only 192 member states in the club, all out for themselves, so for that many of them to agree on something is nearly miraculous.

So, 2 years later, you might be confused as to why nothing’s happened. I am. If you’d like some background info, here’s an extract from an Amnesty UK article.

Every year, millions of people suffer as a result of the irresponsible global arms trade. In 2006, 153 governments voted overwhelmingly at the United Nations to develop an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to control this deadly trade. Two years on, we are still watching and waiting for governments to honour this promise to deliver a treaty.

The ATT is due to be debated again at this year’s United Nations General Assembly in October 2008. At this meeting, we need governments to commit to start formal negotiations for the ATT and for them to ensure that it is delivered within the shortest possible time frame necessary to help bring an end the current arms crisis. 1000 people a day die as a result of armed violence caused by small arms alone (rifles, machine guns and pistols), and millions more suffer from the consequences of armed violence.

Throughout 2008, a group of experts from 28 countries has been meeting to discuss the content of the treaty. Now is the time to turn words into action and deliver an Arms Trade Treaty strong enough to save lives and stop irresponsible arms sales.

A small minority of governments is opposed to international controls on the arms trade and are determined to block, derail and delay any further progress on the treaty. As a key supporter of the ATT, the UK government must take further action to ensure they do not succeed. 

Despite the suffering and poverty fuelled by irresponsible arms transfers, there is still no comprehensive, binding international treaty on the trade in conventional arms. By contrast, there are international treaties governing the trade in, for example, Dinosaur bones and postage stamps.

Since 2003, the Control Arms Campaign has been calling for a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) based upon all government’s obligations under international law. If properly implemented, such an ATT would reduce the human cost associated with the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons, by ensuring that all importers and exporters or arms are abiding by the same high standards regarding the use, management and transfer of military equipment.

The UK government announced its support for an ATT in September 2004, following a prolonged period of intensive campaigning by Amnesty International, Oxfam and others. Since then, the UK has been a crucial champion of the ATT, working with a core group of like-minded governments to help drive the process forward.

Well the arms trade treaty is on the cards to be debated again at this years UN general assembly in October. I’d ask you to do one small thing for me. I’m not asking that you join Campaign Against the Arms Trade, though it would be nice if you did. I’m not asking you to move your pension into an ethical investment policy, but you could take a look at what your fund is invested in as a large percentage do invest in arms companies because they are seen as “safe”. All I’m asking is that you write a letter or an email asking the people in charge to do something they promised they would because, well, they promised they would. If you can’t think what to write, here’s the sample letter from Amnesty.

Dear ......,

I am writing to urge you to take swift and decisive action to deliver an effective international Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The continuing loss of life and tremendous human suffering caused by extremely poor regulation of the international arms trade makes it vital for the UK government to redouble its efforts and mobilise international support to ensure that an effective treaty is negotiated as quickly as possible.

Two years ago, 153 governments voted overwhelmingly at the United Nations to start work on developing an ATT. I am delighted that the UK’s support for this initiative has been central in moving it forward. However, two years on from this vote we have yet to see governments commit themselves to negotiating the treaty. It is imperative that the ATT is not allowed to slip from the international agenda. Considerable efforts are now required by supportive governments over the coming months and years if the goal of an effective ATT is to be realised.

I also wish to thank you for your work in securing the new landmark international treaty to ban cluster bombs, agreed in Dublin in May 2008. That this robust treaty was agreed after just an 18-month discussion period shows what can be done when governments unite with a common purpose. We must now see the same political will brought to bear on the ATT process.

The UK’s strong role in supporting an international Arms Trade Treaty demonstrates a deep commitment to preventing irresponsible arms transfers that risk contributing to serious abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, and to armed conflict and poverty. A small minority of governments remains opposed to tough international arms controls, and will continue a concerted effort to block and delay progress towards an ATT. I urge you to do all you can to prevent any attempts to undermine these humanitarian aspirations.


If you’re in the UK the best person to send it to would be David Miliband at the Foreign Office. His address is
David Miliband - Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AH

or you can email him at

It would also be good if you could contact your local MP and ask them to put some pressure on. If you don’t know who that is you can find out at They Work For You. It’s a great site for pestering our elected representatives in actually representing us.

If you don’t live in the UK I’m sure you can find your own politicians to mither, maybe you have a new president you want to test out.

Anyway, think about it. Please and thank you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Thing a week 03 - I’ve been developed

For those of you that don’t work in a caring sharing modern company environment it may be necessary, before I start, to explain a few things about the modern company family I’m a part of. They aren’t a bad company to work for, truth be told. They’re worse than some, better than most, the pay sucks. As far as modern touchy feely company policy goes they are really good. Not up there with the likes of Google and been bags in the office but a long way ahead of a cola bottling plant intimidating its workers with violence. For a middle sized engineering company in the UK they are ahead of the pack as far as employee friendly policies go. Pay still sucks though but I suppose every thing’s a trade off. Better conditions = Worse pay.

In a modern workplace such as this there are certain hoops you have to jump through every now and then. One of these is the PDI or personal development interview. If you don’t speak “human resources” this is where you go in to a quiet office with your line manager who you talk to everyday anyway and bullshit each other about what you’ve done the last year and what you will do next year. I go in saying I want this or that training and here’s how it would be good for the company and I want more responsibility blah, blah and they’d reply blah etc. At least that’s how I thought it went. Yesterday I had a PDI of an entirely different flavour. This time things happened.

While I’ve been with the company I’ve been unlucky with managers. They’ve moved on or what not and with one shining exception they haven’t given a damn about me or my career. I don’t think I’ve had two PDIs with the same person and generally resulted in nothing much happening apart from me wasting a morning. My latest manager is one of the good guys I think. He’s smart, knows the job inside out and I think I’ll learn a lot from him, that said he’s still fairly new to the company and doesn’t know the staff management procedures so one of the big bosses came down from our head office to do my PDI yesterday with my new manager sitting in to learn the ropes and it was a whole different animal. I went in there with my now habitual cynical attitude to the whole process, said where I wanted to go in my career and he did something completely unexpected. He listened, worse, he paid attention. He even gave reasoned and reasonable responses. He even put things into action there and then. I’d say I needed this training and he said, “I agree that’s a great idea. That would help us on these jobs, I’ll book you on it. That confused me a bit, then I asked for more responsibility and he said, “Yes That would help the team if you could take some of the management tasks off the seniors, how about you take over this, this and this on these jobs”. I was on the ropes by now. Then he hit me with the knock out punch. Honesty. All this was good and would help the company and would I also consider doing some more extra training and going for professional charter-ship because it meant the company could charge more for me and get more money, It would mean more work but as a result I’d likely get a bigger pay rise. I was floored.

So today as well as my usual tasks I dipped my first little toe into staff management with some of my new responsibilities and it felt great. I’m not completely sold on the PDI idea, but at least now I know that they can work. And yes, I do feel on my way to being a bit more developed.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thing a week 02 - Once more unto the bard dear friends once more...

Or how education is controlled by idiots and wasted on the young.

The main thrust of this blog is something we Brits tend to be very proud of and most of us completely ignore, namely the works of William Shakespeare but there's also an undertone commentary on the regular complaint of the politician and tabloid on a slow news day about children not reading anymore.

I'm a big fan of the works of Shakespeare (though not the man himself, do some research and you quickly realise he was a bit of a git), it doesn't matter how, reading the books or watching the plays performed I'm hooked, but I wasn't always.

Like most high school pupils in the UK I had Shakespeare rammed down my throat at about the age of 13 or 14 and I hated it. The national curriculum force fed us two of his plays, in my case Romeo and Juliet and Henry V, and I hated them. Now they're two of my favourites. I was simply too young to get them. They didn't appeal and I couldn't relate. It put me off the bard for far too long.

In fact the whole reading list was fairly dire and for the most part obviously not aimed at the young teen audience. Which brings me to the second point. Books forced on children at school are so often the choice of middle aged committees based on "classics" they think children should be reading rather than good books that they will enjoy reading and will encourage them to read more so that they will carry on reading throughout their lives and find the classics on there own. Thankfully because of the wonders of comics and a great library I was an avid reader despite my education so I still read lots now. Most of my old school friends don't.

So how did I fall in love with Shakespeare. No surprise there. It started with a girl. A little over ten years ago on my first stay with a University. I was studying chemistry at York and got together with a young thesp. In an effort to impress, I borrowed her books and read with all diligence. The relationship was short lived and when it ended I was heartbroken. Now I would have to buy my own copy of the complete works of Shakespeare. No mean feat for a poor student. Then, six years after being put off Shakespeare for life by a misguided education system I had rediscovered and become smitten with Shakespeare while studying chemistry. Education is truly wasted on the young and it would be great if we could just let people learn things instead of teaching them until a person knows what they want to be. Sadly impractical though.

And how better to end this blog than with a couple of the great turns of phrase from the master wordsmith, firstly the first Shakespeare I learned by heart to impress the young lady (and it worked and hasn't failed to raise a coquettish smile whenever I've tried it since)

Take all my loves, my love, yea, take them all.
What hast thou then more than thou hadst before?
No love, my love, that thou mayst true love call,
All mine was thine, before thou hadst this more.

and lastly how the git with a great turn of phrase wanted to be remembered,

If thou survive my well-contented day,
When that churl Death my bones with dust will cover,
And shalt by fortune once more re-survey
These poor rude lines of thy deceased lover,
Compare them with the bett'ring of the time,
And though they be outstripp'd by every pen,
Reserve them for my love, not for their rhyme,
Exceeded by the height of happier men.
O then vouchsafe me but this loving thought:
"Had my friends Muse grown with his growing age,
A dearer birth than this his love had brought
to march in ranks of better equipage;
But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thing a week - A Tribute 01

Has anyone heard of Jonathan Coulton. He's a musician, very talented, writes a lot of great comedy songs. You should check him out.

Anyway the point is he can attribute his fame almost entirely to the internet and no small part of that was a podcast he did some time ago called thing a week. It's still on itunes for free download. Plug plug. Thing a week was a simple concept whereby Jonathan would give away free a song every week for a year. People like me heard it, liked him, went to his website and bought his stuff. Not a recording giant in sight, not even the toes poking out from under the bed.

Anyway again, the point, I'm often trying to blog more regularly. But, and then, yet...

So this is the project, inspired by Jonathan Coultons' thing a week, I aim to post a blog at about the same time every Wednesday for a year. This means we can be a team. It gives me a week to find something at least mildly entertaining to put on screen (and compose some waffle to pad round it and make it less interesting) and it means that if anyone out there who does start reading this mess has carte blanche to get in touch and chastise me if I'm late.

So I'm not promising length or quality, in that I may be the first honest man, but I do promise to feel guilty and post something if I forget and you pick on me. I've set a reminder on the ical and everything. I have high hopes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'll tell you why I don't like Mondays.

I very nearly lost my faith in humanity yesterday. Why? Let me tell you.

My day starts early, I generally leave the flat at about six, I ride my bike to the station and have a bit of a play on the way. The city centre is mostly empty at that time so you can get away with things like jumps off the library steps without bothering anyone. Then I can get to the station in good time for the 6:35 train to Northwich.

On Monday the train was running late, in fact a lot of trains were running late, a lot of trains were being cancelled. I asked one of the conductors what was going on. To use his words, it was down to "a bunch of thieving scallies" who had stolen a load of copper wire out of the signals at the rail depot. Already by 6:30 am they were in chaos with only 5 of 46 scheduled trains having been able to leave the depot. But he assured me my train was on the way and only delayed by about 5 minutes. He was a nice helpful man who was obviously feeling put upon with complaints that morning but was still helpful and professional so I thanked him for his time and went back to waiting for the train.

Sure enough, it turned up 5 minutes late so I wasn't overly annoyed with the bunch of thieving scallies. Then the train didn't move. It continued not to move for some time then it was announced that it had been cancelled because of a shortage of drivers, but it was all right because they were very sorry for any inconvenience. This was about 6:50, the next train is at 7:39. This was not good, but I decided to make the best of it. After all this was very nearly an hour to spend playing on my bike.

Well I'm back at the station and I'm feeling quite good considering I'm running over an hour late, I'm sweaty and tired, but the 7:39 train was bang on time. Then it didn't move. It continued not to move for some considerable time. We were told this was because they were waiting for some extra staff to join the train from another train that had been delayed. So 2 hours after I left the flat I was on a moving train on my way to work. I was starting to lose my temper with the bunch of thieving scallies.

Then it comes to the time to get off. Running very late, and my bag is gone. Hmm. I suspect thieving scallies. This is turning into a very bad morning. My bag is gone with my clothes for the day, my bike lock and my wallet. At work it didn't get better. A lot of the jobs I was working on were delayed, waiting for data, so I was pretty much finished by 2. I cleared it with my boss to have Tuesday off and left early to try and sort things out.

I've spent my time since then ringing help-lines and visiting offices to report my missing cards and this is what saved my view of people. Everyone has been really helpful and understanding and yes, I know it's part of their job, but still, for the most part everyone went above and beyond to help me out. So thank you for Tuesdays army of good souls that helped me forget the low down thieving scum of Monday.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

It's him again

Hello again,

How are you? What have you been up to? Anything nice? Been busy?

I have. I've been up to my eyeballs in all sorts of things. Some of them interesting, some of them hectic, all of them overlapping. Whenever I thought the chaos was over and I'd have a few days peace, bang, another thing blows onto the scene. I even got tempted to write the odd blog entry every now and then but by the time I got the chance I forgot that I was even going to do it.

So here it is, the readers digest version of where I've been the last few months rather than pestering you all over the intermaweb.

First off I suppose was the getting fit again. I used to be very fit. Uber fit. I could put marines to shame in the fitness stakes. This changed a few years ago when a doctor advised me to take a year off and rest or I would likely need major surgery on my knee. The knee problem is an old thing, lets add it to the pile of things I'll talk about later. Well a year off exercise easily becomes a habit that easily becomes two years, then three, then I'm thirty and fat. Not Good. But losing weight, especially at 30 is not as easy as putting it on, this is a design flaw in the universe and if I ever find out who's in charge I'll lodge a complaint.

Now however, I had a target, a cause if you will, the Greater Manchester Run. This is a 10 km run, about a quarter marathon for the non metrics. I ran this in the respectable time of 55 min 23 sec. I was proud of that. I've never been a distance runner and I wasn't expecting to get under an hour. The next 10 k is on Saturday (amusingly called the Moonraker 10k run for some reason) and there are some half marathons planned for the end of the year. I've really caught the runners bug.

The problem I'm having with the running is the uneven effect on my body. My legs are now totally buff. woo-hoo! I have a runners toned arms and even my man boobs have receded and actually look good. Unfortunately my beer gut is very slow on the uptake and lagging behind. If you've ever seen a frog at full stretch you'll get the idea.

Fitness leads on to my next endeavours, new toys! I've recently treated myself to quite a few retail therapies. A new bike, I've not rode on a bike since I was about 17. Over the last week it's starting to rival the skates as the most fun way to get to work. The Wii Fit, this is perhaps the reason computers were invented. It's awesome fun, if you get the chance try it. The new camera, an Olympus E-500 along with aperture, I'm still learning to play with them properly but I am loving it. Oh and a PS3. I do so love the bonus time of year.

This has been an upbeat bit of a tale so far and it's getting long so i won't bring up any of the down side of the hectic. Maybe some other blog, maybe it will mean I post again before i forget how.

For now I'm off to sit in the afternoon sunshine and take reality off the hook for a couple of hours with a good book and have some quiet time.
Speak to you soon I hope. with any luck things will calm enough now for me to infest the net again and pester you all on forums and social nets.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What's been occuring

Well it’s been yet another age and here we are again. I’ve had high and lows and been a bit to preoccupied to write, sorry, then I get out of the habit, then I wonder if there’s any point in writing a blog since in all likelihood nobody out there is actually reading it. Aren’t the occasional bouts of depression and paranoia that come with chronic insomnia fun.

So what makes me put digit to keyboard after all this time. You can all thank a conversation I had today with my latest favourite super hero, the Fabulous Laura. She saves cute dogs for fun. Anyway, the long and short of it was after a too brief chat when I should have been working I decided it was time to break the silence and let you know what’s been going on. I’m going to stick to the highs since I’m in no mood to analyse the lows and I won’t remember them all since the last blog so you’re just getting some highlights.

So middle things first, as some of you know I’ve been a bit, how can I put it, dissatisfied, with my current employer for a while. There where a number of reasons for this and to be fair to them they are doing things to help put things right. Their latest efforts a few weeks ago involved giving me a very generous pay rise, it takes effect this month so I’m planning on treating myself with some new toys, I’m planning on getting aperture for my mac. Has anyone tried it? More slowly but apparently just as surely I’m getting more of the work I want rather than the jobs no one else does and even more slowly I’m getting aimed towards some of the training I’ve been after for a goodly while. So things are looking up in the professional stakes. If anyone is interested in what I do, ask, otherwise I wont bore you.

Speaking of new toys I bought myself a new pocket camera recently. I like to have two cameras. A big “proper” camera for planned trips and events when I know I’ll need a few good memories and a compact camera to keep in my pocket. Just in case I see something I’d like to snap. My old sony cybershot has been on the fritz and getting worse for some time so I decided on a shiny new olympus mju, yes, like the ones of the advert with the annoying child and the dog, I got the new version as my first treat to myself over the pay thing. I’m a big fan of tech that bounces. And yes it does take pictures under water. I’ve not tried to freeze it yet but it did survive Newcastle weather and my two year old niece last weekend so it must be tough. Next to replace is my proper camera and I’m thinking I might go all out with my first D-SLR. Wait and see what turns up on ebay I suppose.

There’s more to tell but I’m tired of typing and you’re probably tired of reading (be honest). I’ve not talked about my latest trip home to Newcastle when I got to dance with Wiley Kit from the thundercats and cement my place as favourite uncle with the cutest blonde bundle of trouble I’ve ever met. I’ve not mentioned my latest exercise regime and why I’m off the booze and ice cream for a month. I didn’t even get close to why I shaved my beard off.

This is what happens when I don’t write things down regularly. Ah well. I’m a rotter. Hopefully someone out there is reading this and specially for you I hope to talk to you again soon.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

That was the week that was.

Yes that was an event filled and for the most part funderfull week. A lot of it's still jumbled up in my mind so I'm not going to talk about it yet. I'm just back here to sift through the pieces and try and make some sense of it all by finding the one event that started it all. It's quite important to me that I do because it set off an avalanche of events that led to me being a happy chap once again.

Where to start, at the beginning I suppose but where is that. Real life stories don't have starts and ends. They constantly intertwine. A tantrum becomes a rest, a fight becomes a reconciliation. A week last Thursday I think is a good place. That'd be the 7th. I was in the office naked. Erm hang on, maybe I should start a little earlier and explain that.

I've been increasingly worried about my mental state of late. I've been getting angry a lot. First because there was a lot to be angry about then it was just like a habit I'd picked up. I was blowing up over tiny, inconsequential things. This is not like me. One of the things that was really winding me up was an ongoing situation at work which I won't bore you with so when the weather picked up to the point when I could skate to work again I jumped at it. As long time readers know I'm a big fan of my rollerblades and treat them like a kind of moving meditation. There's very little that can upset me after a good hard skate. When I got to the office I was a bit ripe so I had a shower and the thought suddenly popped into my head, "You are at work naked!". I burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it. I've had showers at work tons of times and it never even occurred to me. Anyway it put me in a great frame of mind to deal with the day. Find the silly and rather than let it upset me laugh at it. I'm sure I got a few odd looks that day for my strange little giggles but there is so much in the world to laugh at.

Now stop picturing me naked in the shower and find something else to laugh at. The water was very cold ok.

A lot of the rest of the time between then and now has been spent back up in Cumbria. Yes that hellish surveying job has started again. I haven't got the battery power to talk about it now. Maybe some other time, but I wanted to share a few pics with you of what I consider to be one of the most beautiful parts of the world. To use the now famous Pratchet footnote, "For Americans and other aliens reading this" If you get the chance to visit our little island don't do the London thing. It's not that nice a place. Hire a car, go to the lake district. Here's some of the reasons why.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What I did on my holidays

I've been away for a little bit thanks to either a shortage of time or a shortage of wit with which to write. You know how this bit goes, I say sorry and promise to write more often, you say yes, that would be nice and shrug your shoulders in a believe it when I see it kind of way then wait for the next random event to inspire me to actually type something, anything. Well lets just skip that bit and pretend we did it eh. You really want to read about the random.

Not technically what I did on my hols, just this weekend. I went to a barbecue which turned into a party then escalated to a shindig. Thankfully it died down before we had a full blown hootanany on our hands. No you read right, I said barbecue, yes in Salford, yes in winter. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but I'm glad it did.

There was of course a reason given. It was arranged by my good friend Hannah, who is a visitor to our shores from the merry old land of Oz, in honour of Australia Day. This is a day when Australians celebrate Australia and, I'm told, Barbecues are cooked on and beer is drunk. Thanks to the way the planet works they have their summer over the Christmas period (crazy I know) so the timing of their national day is quite clever and conducive to barbies.

Salford is approximately 15000km or 9400miles or 1.59684e-9 ly from Australia. If you drill a hole straight through the Earth from Salford you would come out, well actually in the Pacific Ocean a little bit South East of New Zealand, but it's quite close to being the opposite side of the planet. So yes the idea sounds crazy. And it was. This is exactly why it worked. Winter can be a dull and dreary old affair. Especially now with storms and rain rather than good proper snow. I'm not knocking it, it keeps me in a job, but it used to be fun to model snow melt. Back to the point. Winter can be depressing. Especially towards the end of January when the holidays are wearing of and the sniffles are setting in and to be stood huddled round a barbecue gathering for warmth off the charcoal and talking nonsense while waiting for snags (that means sausages, we were practicing our lingo quite a bit), it was a fantastic occasion. The planet either agreed with the bizareness or felt we deserved points for effort because it gave us a mild clear night to enjoy it in.

Later it got colder and we moved the party indoors and a game called cereal box was played. There was also a good old fashioned sing song where everyone chipped in with any Oz songs we knew. The home and away and Neighbours theme tunes featured prominantly with some of Rolf classics thrown in for good measure and the crowning glory of the whole first verse of the Australian national anthem.

It anyone else wants to celebrate their national day outside their nation, I suggest the UK. We seem to have a knack for adopting the mildly insane. We call it quirky and eccentric and accept it for the fun it is.