Saturday, 31 July 2010

The King is Dead, Long Live the King.

Born: August 2007
Died: 31 July 2010

A bit of a sad day at The Pile.

We returned from collecting TP at the end of his PGL week and returned to find Endemol; our Minorca Cock had died while we were away.

I come from Farming Stock and am not particularly sentimental but am sad to see him go as he was an absolutely stunning bird and a real character to have around. If you are not familiar with Cocks, other than knowing that they crow, they can be a diverse bunch; ranging from evil bastards that fly at you with their spurs at chest height because they see you as a competitor to soppy  old things that barely take notice of you.

Endemol was a Gentleman; not aggressive but elegant and refined. We will all miss him.

Back in 2007 we had recently acquired some Minorca Pullets from a fairly local breeder. Village Idiot said that he knew of a Minorca Cock at the other end of the Village and asked if we wanted to borrow him. We agreed and he turned up in a crappy cardboard box tied up with baler twine a few days later. If there is one thing you can say about VI - he has a certain style.

The Cock settled in and started to tread the pullets but we knew that he needed to be with them for at least 10 days for us to stand any chance of having some fertile eggs to incubate. However, after 3 or 4 days we had a Silky Hen go Broody and decided to put a few eggs under her "just in case". 21 days later we heard cheeping so we knew that "Dad" was fertile.

In the mean time we had started to collect eggs to put in to the incubator and so we ended up with 2 batches of chicks; one reared naturally by a broody and the other incubated and reared by us. Time passed and the chicks grew and at about 5 or 6 weeks we were able to work out which were boys and which were girls. Most of the boys were dispatched but we kept the best from each of the hatches and this is how Endemol got his name as he was the "Big Brother".

Endemol's Dad was returned to his owner and we realised that we liked having a Cockerel about and so we kept Endemol and he settled in to his life which basically consisted of food, sex and crowing.

He was so noisy that he couldn't sleep out in the coop at night as he would start up at around three in the morning. So, for fear of complaining neighbours, we used to tuck him up in a box in the cellar overnight and return him to his Hens in the morning. He got so used to this routine that when the hens returned to the coops at night he would wander in to the house as it got dark and would perch  on the back of a chair in the hall waiting for one of us to take him down to his box.

Maybe you can see now why we got attached to him. He was a real character.

Incidentally, people will tell you that a cock will not crow if it is dark and also if he cannot stand up and throw his head back to let rip. This is absolute nonsense. Endemol used to crow in a box in a pitch black cellar. His body clock let him know when to start. He didn't need the Sun to tell him it was wakey time.

His finest hour came in the Summer of 2008 when we entered him in the Minorca Class at the Three Counties Agricultural Show. He not only won his breed class but he was also judged to be the best of the Light Breeds and earned a place on the Champions Row.

This means that I can not only claim to have a prize winning cock but can also post a picture of it in the Journal.

Endemol's Finest Hour

Thursday, 22 July 2010

End of Work Checklist

  • Out of Office set  - Check
  • Voice mail updated - Check
  • Hair cut - Check
  • e-mail shut down - Check
The long weekend starts here........

....  We have a day at the CLA Game Fair tomorrow and then on Saturday we are taking TP off to a PGL Camp up near Grantham for a week. The lucky git is going to spend a week riding motorbikes and driving quads, go-karts and ATVs. No wonder he is known as Spoilt B@stard round here.

When I were a lad ... it was The Double Deckers and an episode of Why Don't You and then they shut the telly down* until Play School at 4 o'clock and that was for little kids. They might, for some unknown reason, put the horse racing on in the afternoon but I would have rather stuck knives in myself than watch that.

Digression over - He is a good kid and he will enjoy the week but he does look at 30% and I in a bemused Stranger in a Foreign Land sort of way when we start mumbling on about only having 3 TV channels and no DVD or Computer or Games Consoles when we were his age.

"What did you do?" he asks and I know I am lucky that when we say we read or made things and went outside he understands because he does those things too and does not start to suffer withdrawal symptoms if he is removed from a room with a 40" Flat Screen in it.

He has had his hair cut short this evening after being just off the top of his collar for the past couple of years. He looks very different and it will take a bit of getting used to. It is also quite ironic as he tried Sea Cadets earlier in the year but didn't really take to it.

One of the differences of opinions was about his hair even though it met their criteria of being above the collar - JUST - he now has the perfect cut from their perspective but has decided to take another tack.

.......  and as for the rest of the weekend - I have to re-assemble the Kitchen.

* They didn't but they did tend to show programmes which didn't tend to appeal to a 13 year old. For example; The News and The Open University and I hasten to add that the Testcard does not count as scheduled programming

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Marauder's Bumper Book of Crime - an occasional series

Today I grabbed my fleece as showers were predicted.

I thrust "poo bags" in one pocket and my phone in the other and then grabbed a handful of dog biscuits as treats for good behaviour.  These were placed in the usual pocket and I watched as they trickled out on to the floor.

Somewhat bemused I investigated further ..........

............ That maniac dog had simply chewed through the pocket lining while the fleece was left conveniently on a chair back and had munched the biscuits that had been left there from yesterday.


I am feeling like I am in a strange Limbo Land at the moment.

Dante's have a rule that states that there is a 90 day notice period before I can move from one post to another. I find this peculiar as, if I resigned to take an external post I would only need to serve one month's notice. I can see no reason for this extended period other than it gives the Lesser Demons more time to find another tortured Soul to replace me.

Why Do I feel like I am in Limbo? The work I am currently assigned is unstructured and very messy. There does not appear to be any formal processes or management systems to follow so it is frustrating too. But a good while back I decided to move to another role...

.... now here is an interesting thought - not one of mine, but interesting - You don't decide to seek a new job, You decide to leave your current job. I gave this some thought and it has some merit. If one's job is great it takes an enormous incentive to get an individual to leave and take a new post with all the risks and uncertainties involved. However, if one's current position is not pressing all, or for that matter any, of an individuals buttons they are far more likely to seek new pastures. It is the current job that is making them go not the new one.

I have to admit that I do fall in to this category I enjoy my role but I have been on my current assignment for over 3 years and that is far too long. I am long overdue for a change and hence am moving on. It may well be a Frying Pan / Fire situation but at least all the problems will be ones I havent seen before.

What I am trying to get across is that I am on an assignment that I will not see the end of, I am in the process of handing over my job to my replacement and am only committed to my current assignment for a few weeks more. My work ethic ensures that I will perform my duties to the best of my abilities but this extended notice period and now the hand over means that I am rapidly becoming a spare part.

I have said before that I like to keep busy but I am going to have to take a back seat so that my replacement can take up the reins. I will find a few odds and ends to keep me occupied but I feel that this extended period is not good for me or the role I am filling.

My Associates become frustrated because they know I will not be there to finish the job but the person they need does not get identified for weeks. Also I am forced to perform my job more as a Consultant than at the more detailed level that I usually operate as that would be a virtual impossibility to pass to a colleague.

So the 90 day rule - who does it actually benefit? Option a) me, Option b) the Customer, Option c) My colleagues or Option d) My Manager......

...... answers on a postcard or the back of a sealed envelop to the usual address.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Nothing to see here!


Dropped in to the nearest circle of Hell to start passing over my work to the Tortured Soul that will take over from me when I move to another type of torture in a few weeks time.

He has taken over and pushed my rock up the hill on a few previous occasions and I know that he will do a great job. We both tend to push rocks in much the same way so the hand-over should be pretty straightforward.

I had a massive boulder operation going on last year and had to pass it to the same soul as I needed to go and have an Eagle peck at my Heart. When I came back a few weeks later all was well and the rock/hill situation was as Lucifer wanted......

.... a safe pair of hands!

On the Home Front it was dog training this evening and this is a revelation after Puppy Training which was becoming a little "samey". The training exercises are far more advanced and both Tyson & Marauder are really doing well. It is great for TP too as he is in a class with adults and it is a level playing field. He is able to work with Marauder and achieve at the same level as every one else. No "leg ups", no allowances. He is doing really well and it is great for his confidence and maturity. I am really proud of him.

It is a short week this week as I have Friday off. We are planning to spend the day at the CLA Game Fair. I am hoping for good weather and may have to make an offering to the Gods* to ensure Sunny Spells as a minimum rather than the Heavy Rain Showers that are currently forecast. 

* Hmmm - all I have a chickens and I think I'd need something approaching Human Sacrifice to get that degree of change in the weather. Ah well - better take a coat and wellington boots.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

All I have to do now....

..... is put it all back together.

30% and I have finally finished painting the kitchen. We started it weeks ago and should be proudly showing off our efforts by now but a few things came up. There were occasions when simply doing nothing seemed a much better idea than applying emulsion to the walls. Anyway, we applied the last coats t the walls today and this is when I found out that I am probably no more intelligent than a pigeon...

.... let me explain. We have a tall larder fridge and we moved it in to sit along side the island so that we could paint the walls and skirting boards of the aforementioned appliance's aperture. As I have already explained it then lived in this temporary location for a few weeks but it now back in its proper place. The thing is, every time I make 30% a cup of coffee I go to get the milk from where the fridge was rather than where the fridge is.

In other words I have managed to condition myself to go to a location where I expect to received milk in much the same way as a pigeon will peck at a coloured spot in order to receive a few grains of corn. I hasten to add that I have managed to break this conditioning in under 24 hours but it was quite an odd experience to find oneself walking towards a space expecting to grab a carton of semi-skimmed.

Other decorating events. For  brief spell Marauder - it is always Marauder - had a few patches of "Putting Green" on her. That's the feature wall, the rest of the room is Ivory Lace. I didn't want an "accent" Dog so then spent a good few minutes cleaning off the paint. I then discovered that using the dish cloth did not earn 30%'s full approval.

This reminded me of a Fly/Drive holiday we had in the States three years ago. No, not the moaning about using the dish cloth to clean the dog, the fact that the dog was briefly green in places.

As part of our Road Trip we visited Monument valley which is in the Navajo Nation. If you have never been there it's worth a trip but the Navajo Nation has its own ground rules which mean that it is unlike the rest of the USA.

For starters there is no alcohol allowed. Apparently this is an attempt to control the alcoholism that is prevalent in the population. I have a couple of thoughts on this...

... thought number 1; that law is great and will stop people who can't drive and don't have any friends that can drive from drinking. Everyone else will just get in their car and buy it just outside the border. Thought number 2; the Nation ought to concentrate on making the Nation a little more hospitable and encouraging to visitors as they seem to have two potential industries farming and tourism and they don't seem very good at either. It is no wonder that the locals tend to drink.

The end result is that we spend a night in a Trailer Park in a static van that smelt of Horse Piss.

The Valley is a fantastic natural spectacle and worth a visit - just don't try to spend a night in the vicinity until the Navajo Nation get their act together.

What about the dog and the paint - Yes. I'm getting to that. To give you some idea of what it is like in the Nation, they paint a broad, coloured stripe of gloss paint down their dog's back to show that it isn't a stray. Hence the dogs at the Horse Piss Trailer Park were a a shade of aquamarine that matched the caravans. They smelt pretty similar too. The reason for this........

........ apparently a local hobby is shooting strays so painting your dog reduces the chance of it ending up as target practice for the bored and drunk locals.

Only in America.

Friday, 16 July 2010

I've just got my life back

Its Friday and the weekend has started.

I have had an odd week. For the past few days I feel that I have been a complete arse hole and have repeated pointed out deficiencies in an attempt to get matters on to a sound footing. Let me explain.....

Dante's Nine Circles of Hell is a very sound analogy for my Employer. We have the normal stuff that we do day in, day out like having tortured souls push rocks to the tops of hills. The rocks then roll back down and are pushed back up ad infinitum. Occasionally one of these rocks rolls in to a pool of molten brimstone and we have to engage other Souls and possible Imps to sort this out but this is all pretty much Business as Usual.

But Lucifer has a plan for Universal Domination and that means tempting new Souls to come to Dante's Circles of Hell. We have a set of 7 Service Lines to do this. You must have heard of them; Gluttony, Greed. Envy, Pride, Lust etc. and we use these to bring in new souls to torture.

Now you must understand that there are other Forces out there that will try to protect these Souls and divert them from Lucifer's path or at least ensure that they give Lucifer a good talking to. These other Forces fall in to a number of categories including Competitors and Lawyers.

As a consequence of this we have a number of Business Processes that we need to follow to ensure that we are torturing souls in the right way and have all the necessary paperwork assigning their Souls over to Dante's - signed in blood, Obviously - before we get them up to necks in Brimstone or chained to rocks whilst a large Eagle pecks at their heart on a daily basis.

Yes - I'm getting to the point - These processes are there for a good reason and have been designed by people far more experienced than I am. they are bulky and they are arduous but they are there for a reason and ensure that once we have a Soul chained to a rock they better have a bloody good reason for asking for Sunday off to go and see their Mum.

I have had to be an arse hole because I have been repeatedly pointing out that these processes need to be engaged to absolutely no avail.  I might as well have tried to fly by flapping my arms - and as you know I don't have the right Employer - you have to work for one of the other Guys if you want to have flying perks.

Yes - I was getting nowhere and then I started to point out what a lot of stupid questions they were asking and copied the Imp's Skidmarks manager in on a couple of mails and suddenly things start to happen.

This tells me three things;
  1. I was probably right to press for these things to be done
  2. The Skid Mark was probably not right to have ignored me
  3. Escalation can be an effective tool
The thing is, do I want to be an arse just to get things done?

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Escape Committee

Day # 263 - The Escape Committee met in Hut C. Golfy, Stretch and myself were joined by a new chap called The Doctor. Stretch & Golfy say he's a Decent Sort but he seems a little too friendly with one of the Camp Commandants for my liking. He may just be keeping tabs but I'm going to be cautious until I know him better.

We discussed progress on "Tom, Dick & Harry" and it seems like Tom is progressing better than the other two escape routes at present. I am certain that it is on target to surface deep in the trees and I plan to make my escape on the evening of 5th August when it is a new moon.

I obviously need a Dummy to put in my bunk in case the Night Guards sweep the hut with their torches and I hope to have news on the Dummy in the next day or so. Golfy & Stretch are concerned that I will get caught but I'm prepared and there is no way they are going to catch me off guard with "Good Luck". I know that the correct response is a puzzled look and "Danke" in my best Bavarian accent.

I had hoped to keep my escape Top Secret but it seems that Stretch lost his nerve under questioning and may have let something slip to one of the sub-lieutenants . Everything seems fine but I need to keep my ears open for any unexpected changes in Guard rotas.

Golfy is having problems with his Dick ....

..... having hit a strata of shale. He either needs to take apart  more of the bunks to shore up the length he has managed or give up and look for another way out of the camp. Personally I think the Glider has much style about it but is not the most practical option. Disguising himself as a Trooper and joining the back of the squad as they exit the main gate is much more likely to get him to the Swiss Border.

As for Stretch he has had no luck with Harry and may be here until the Conflict is over. He says he can see but his failing eyesight is common knowledge and I plan to run fast and can't carry him with me. He is a Good Egg and I know that he can be trusted to keep on making escape attempts. He know that this is his duty  as an Englishman's and an Officer. He is so Brave.

He should look on the  bright side though - he will get to open all of the Red Cross Parcels with me and Golfy gone. I gave him a parcel today that should make his supper much nicer than the gruel we have been getting these past 8 months.

I have to go now as they Guard is coming round - "quick, tuck this under the stove"

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Heart Rate

Following on from yesterday's post I carried out a few basic calculations.

The average heart rate for a Human Being is 72 beats per minute. After a few divisions this can be seen to equate to about 39.6 years.

Apparently our ability to manipulate our environment and provide medical care gives us an extra 1 million heart beats or 26.4 years. That is quite an impressive improvement but surprisingly still not that far off the Biblical "3 score years and 10".

Using this basic information it would be wise to keep people you dislike as stressed a possible, thereby getting them to hit the magic 2.5B as early as possible.

It is with great disappointment that I learn that even if I can push the heart rate to an average of 100 bpm the Imp's Skid-mark is still going to be around for another 19.025 years. CURSES!

Saner stuff - it was the first Dog Training Class since Tyson has finished her Season. We have also now been promoted out of the Puppy Class since T&M achieved their Bronze KC Award. They both did really well and are definitely not the worst dogs in the new class and it is surprising how their behavior changes when they are in a class of older dogs.

Whilst in an educational vein it was also TP's Parents Evening and all was well. Anyone who knows TP will be relieved to hear that the XBox Controls and i Pod Touch privileges have been reinstated.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

A change in the weather.

My mood matches the weather today - overcast, grey clouds, a little sullen perhaps.

A few entries back I boldly stated, or should that be "stated boldly" ? - that I wouldn't be mentioning work as it was hard to make it interesting to a reader with no actual investment in the Organisation. You didn't beleve me did you?

Well the Imp's Skidmark has been on form today. I had three emails from him. Every one of them, and I am not exaggerating, had been answered, prior to their issue by me over the past few days. He was, of course, on the distribution lists of these mails. I tried talking to his Senior PM but "birds of a feather...."

In the end I decided to reply to each of his mails embedding a pdf of the earlier mail where I had answered the questions he was now asking. I had responded to all three by 9.30 this morning.

Funnily enough I have had quite a quiet day today.

Other stuff: It is Step Mum's birthday today she will be 412 in cat years. I don't think I ever properly grasped that one. "How old us your dog?" "He is 9, which is 63 in dog years". No its not. It is 9 years. Your dog is not on a planet that is rotating round the sun 7 times faster than the one I am on, and the last time I looked the definition of a year was in the region of 365 days or the period of time it takes the Earth to complete a full orbit of the Sun.

What is happening here is that they are trying to equate the age of a dog with the age of a human so you can work out when it is likely to go and scorch patches on the Elysian Fields.

This is where it gets interesting - vaguely - not really interesting. For most mammals their lifespan is approximately 1.5 Billion Heart beats. The reason that mammals have different lifespans when measured in years is all down to body size. The smaller the animal the faster the heart beats and hence the shorter its life when measured as a unit of time.

The only exception to this is Human Beings as medical advances have allowed us to live longer than our body size would suggest. So, going full circle - comparing a dog's life span to a humans is a bit odd.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Success at last.

I forgot to mention that it was the Village Horse Show on Saturday. I had absolutely no intention of going as I am not a great fan of the horse. That has a lot to do with a pushy, horsey Mother but I'm not going to go in to that now. I just need to state that I can ride, but don't.

I have a great respect for working horses but I just cannot see the point of hacking..... and how bloody miserable do they look as you crawl past at 4 miles  per hour. Why do something if it makes you that unhappy? I'm not sure if it is a regional thing but the women and girls (never, actually very rarely, men) who hack around here look as miserable as sin.

Anyway, another digression, I had no intention of going but I was walking Tyson & Marauder on Friday evening and we happened across a Gentleman with two aged Collies. He asked if we were planning to enter them in the Dog Show that was in the Schedule of the aforementioned Horsey Extravaganza - thus the seed was sown.

I mentioned it to 30% and she thought it was a marvelous idea and I could see that it was going to get me out of at least 2 hours of emulsioning so obviously I was all for it.

The weather was splendid and the afternoon could only have been better if there had been a beer tent. Marauder came third in the Puppy class and Tyson stormed through to win the Dog in best condition. How she managed to not get a place in the Puppy class but win another class hands down does question the Judges objective set of criteria but I'm not going to dwell.

We drove home - too damned hot to walk and bathed in T&M's reflected Glory. 30% was considering making an official complaint as the dog that won best in show was from Stourport which is over 20 miles away and therefore not local - "Leave it 30, they're not worth it"......

.... plus they are going to regret getting a St Bernard when they realise it is basically a drool machine. I hate slobbery dogs - Sell-by-date take note!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Where are they now?

Today, for some reason, I found myself with an urgent desire to track down the Mice from the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ that used to appear on 1970s Children's TV Series Bagpuss.

Now I bet you are all thinking Bagpuss; Saggy, cloth cat, baggy and a bit loose at the seams - Yeah Right! That is all "front". He was an evil manipulator that made Jabba the Hutt look like a thoroughly decent fellow - that stuff with Han Solo and the carbonite was all a misunderstanding that was sorted out over a few drinks a long time ago ....... in a Galaxy far, far away.

Sorry, bit of a digression, back to Bagpuss - That shop was a front for all sorts of  criminal activity including drugs and prostitution, Why do you think that you never saw much of Emily in any of the episodes? She was too busy upstairs "earning" to pay for Bagpuss's opium habit.

If you look closely at the character you can see that they are all nefarious individuals; Madeleine - Brothel Madame, Gabriel - a Drunk Musician and Professor Yaffle - a Gay Intellectual that amuses Bagpuss or Don Bagpuss as he is better known.....

..... and now to the Mice, that evil cloth cat had them hooked on drugs and enslaved them to work for him in that sham shop; fixing thing and putting them in the window for their owners to find and collect. What sort of Business Model is that? How can you run an Organisation with approximately 10 employees, that we know off, with no apparent income. It just doesn't add up. That cat was up to something - something VERY BAD.

Well I can report that every dog has his day and that dog was Shep. With little to do when not on the Blue Peter set he used to Moonlight as a Sniffer Dog for "The Met" and Don Bagpuss was one of his first major Busts. The Don was put away for a long time. Personally I think that he should have gone to "the Chair" but they could never get anyone to testify to the allegations about the Clangers "sleeping with the fishes".

Madeleine did a 10 year stretch in Holloway which was reduced to 3 after she spilled the Beans about Magpie hostess Jennie Hanley.

Yes, the Mice, they did OK - after rehab they took to the High Seas and became Pirates. They fashioned a Long ship from a Nike Training Shoe using the lace holes for the oars and can be seen locally when the stream is high singing in their high pitched voices......

"we will rape and we will pillage,
we will burn your bloody village ...."

I love a happy ending.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Thumbs Up

I forgot to mention that the Customer Services Team at Dualit deserve a vote of gratitude as the Bean Hopper for the coffee grinder has turned up.

I can now remove the large bandage holding a soggy wodge of coffee grinds against my skin. I was hoping it would work in a similar way to an HRT Patch.

I have had positive experiences with this Company before. Six months ago our Toaster  failed. It was about 20 months old and outside the warranty period. I called Dualit to see whether it could be repaired and the Lady at the end of the line simply asked what colour it was and where I lived. She then promptly sent out another unit.

I was amazed and it is a classic example of how much higher we rate a company when we see how well it responds to a problem. Apparently we will rate such an organisation higher than one that gives consistently good service. I have a 40 year old Kenwood Blender that is fantastic. It never misses a beat and I really rate them but Dualit sits higher in my Consumer Consciousness because of their Customer Service.

Incidentally, 30% smashed the Liquidiser on the Kenwood - she breaks all of my Kitchen toys :-(

Friday, 9 July 2010

All Sorts

Well Yesterday was somewhat monopolised by a lesser Demon from Dante's Inferno. No, he is not even worth the title Demon, Imp's skid mark is probably more appropriate. I spent the day being told stuff that I had told him and his two predecessors, and their Managers, weeks if not months before.

They have finally got the message. I don't understand why it takes so long. I'm mean I am not allowed to punch them in the head and recite the problem with each syllable being timed to a punch. Apparently we have a code of conduct which prevent this educational approach. I am therefore left to produce PowerPoint Presentations, E-mails and documents to describe the issue.

Now I'm not in the same galaxy as professional writers but I can string a few paragraphs together and one of my readers was complimentary about a succinct analysis I recently made in the Journal so I do not understand why it takes months for a real problem to be recognised.

Actually I do. I have had the pleasure to work with some really good Project Managers in my time all very different but all very good. This is not one of those occasions.

So, Yesterday, a 13 hour working day including an hour spent on the M25 travelling 11 miles. Most of the hour was actually spent travelling the first 7 of these. How do you think I handled that? ....

... actually it was OK. The Prius is nice and high and allows me to peer in to peoples cars and I just munched a load of chocolate and crisps and watched the world crawl while I listened to Radio 4.

The only thing that jars is that, by the time you get home and eat, there is very little of the day left for me. I don't count 6 hours in the car as "me time".

Also no Red Kites.

Today, I have found my Mojo and have had a good day pinning things down and getting them passed to the people who need to know, reviewing materials and pointing out how it can be improved. Real work and I feel that I have actually made a difference as compared to yesterday where I am banging my head against an immovable object - My PMs Evolutionary quotient.

You might ask what an Evolutionary Quotient is. I have just invented it. It is a number that indicates how far up the evolutionary tree one is. All species should have an EQ value of 100 i.e. 100 represents that you are 100 percent human or 100% E. coli.  My PM is about 42. In other words Eddy could probably do a better job.

You are probably guessing that I'm not too enamuored with him - and you would be right

Back to today  - I got loads done and had an enjoyable lunch with Dad - he brought home made Tomato soup over and we had a lovely time chatting and keeping up with each others news. He is really excited about his forthcoming birthday present. He doesn't say but I know he is. It will only be three or four weeks more before his puppy arrives and you can see from the way he interacts with Tyson and Marauder how keen he is to have a dog back in his life.

We talked about when I was a child and the Dogs he had then and before; Peggy the ratter and Lassie, Lulu and Fly the three working Border Collie Bitches that my Grandfather had when I was young. Apparently Fly was the best of these and cost £40 back in the early 1960s. That was a lot of money for a dog in those days but she was trained by a local Stock-man and apparently was unbelievable with Cattle and Sheep.

We also pinned down a saying that I recalled from my childhood but wasn't too clear on the details. I have a memory of my Grandfather saying that if you were looking to buy a piece of land you should first tie a donkey to the biggest thistle in the field.

What? I can almost hear you. Basically thistles are deep rooted and like good soil. If the soil is poor or there is bed rock just beneath the surface the thistles will not be good specimens and the Donkey will be left without a tether.

So that is just about it. TP had a successful Sports Day yesterday with two firsts in the 100m and Hurdles and a third in the 800m. I am obviously very proud as I am with the recent School Report which was so good that he actually got the XBox controls returned and I think that the IPod Touch privileges will be reinstated shortly too.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Torn... ?

Today the Other Bike was finally discharged from the Ward and I went and picked her up. Thanks Dad - you are obviously never too old to give your Kids a lift.

She is still lovely and managed to turn a head at the Workshop despite being 15 years old. Now the Vespa is a wild and torrid beast of a Bike and is approached with a feeling of apprehension every time she is ridden*. The Other Bike is completely different. She delights every time and you know that she will give you a fantastic ride but there are no "butterflies". That is not to say that she is boring, far from it but she instills confidence not awe. 

So I feel very differently about her than I do towards the Vespa but in no way is she a wall flower or second rate. She is Japanese in origin and will start every time, she will run forever if serviced properly, if it rains she will shrug it off and will not fall into a pile of rust overnight after the aforementioned downpour. She is the practical one. Comfortable, she will take you to the top of the Country and you wont need a Chiropractor at the end of the trip. She is the practical one. The Vespa is the High Maintenance option. Both are great, just different.

There is no Readers Wife/Supermodel differentiation going on here. If you are half way up Mount Kilimanjaro and there is a camp that needs setting up before the Heavens open - do you want your chosen Life Partner or Naomi Campbell helping out?

The Service and MOT Bill was incredibly low so a big thumbs up to Chris at Redditch Motorcycles. He decided, after a road test to leave the original rubber on as the tires are performing fine. That saved me the best part of £250. Definitely the way to encourage people to come back and explains why he is so busy.

This evening I took TP for his first ever pillion ride. We took it nice and steady and he absolutely loved it. I think it helped that two of his School Mates were passing as he climbed aboard. I asked him if his Cool Rating had risen or plummeted as a result of being spotted. "Definitely risen" was his response.


* The feeling afterwards generally tends to be along the lines of "What a Rush" or " Die you Dawdling Gits"

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Fair Day

Today has been spent in a Conference hosted by Dante's most senior Demon in this fair isle.

On the whole it was an enjoyable day but it was very high on glossy presentation and incredibly low on tangible deliverables. I suppose this makes it easy for the senior demons to declare it a success.

I wonder where this cynicism has come from? It may be because these initiatives are a pretty regular occurrence and change tends to be fairly minimal as a result. I feel that I should say "thus far" in case this time they really mean that it, but in an Organisation the size of Dante's fundamental change is all but impossible and dilution of ideas and objectives is a fact of life.

On a more positive note I met a few new people and some of the Presentations were of relevance to the new role that I will be taking on in a couple of months time. So I left at the end of the day in a positive frame of mind.

I got home and picked up a message from the Other Bike's GP who had called to advise that all is well, MOT has been sorted and new rubber has been applied front and rear. A quick call to Dad was made and a lift has been arranged so I can go and collect her tomorrow.

TP will be delighted but in the incredibly nonchalant way that is necessary for a teenager in these modern times. "Cool" is about the most I can expect from him but I did get a "Thanks" when his leathers arrived today. He is very off hand about it but I know that he is really keen to get out on the Bike and he spent a good few minutes trying on his new attire and ensuring that both helmet and gloves worked as an ensemble.

So I will bid you Good Evening at the end of a Day where nothing much really happened but fortunately the little that did occur was all relatively good.

Monday, 5 July 2010

I'm not dead.

30% and I were discussing something this evening and we had one of those "jinx" moments where we both think and say the same thing. I can't recall what it was and it really doesn't matter. We have them a lot as we are very similar in a lot of ways.

But I digress, I said " I am like an open book to you" and she replied "possibly a pamphlet" and then revised this down to "actually probably more like an open comic". We laughed and that was a good start to the evening.

Both of our days have been frustrating and it is so nice to spend the evening taking supper in the garden and then just relaxing away from the posturing and game playing of the work environment.

Both of our Employers have recently undergone a culling process and this has had effects that may not have been quantified or expected. Many of the survivors seem to be suffering a form of battle fatigue having been on notice of possible redundancy for 3 months and having been notified that they are safe are now tired as a result of the stress and have a questioning outlook having been forced to consider their job role and what to do if they are forced to consider pastures new.

Basically they have undergone a period of self examination combined with a review of their working life and what it actually means to them. It comes as no surprise to me to talk to people that are less committed than they might have been previously.

That is why it is so good to have 30% come home and to be able to laugh and switch off.

So, what have I been doing since my last entry? Well I suppose I need to state that this is my Journal and if things are mundane or bogged down with work there is not much point in jotting it down. Do I want to look back at this in 6 months time and see oblique references to a tit of a Project Manager who is now long gone?

No, not really and I am sure that they will mean even less to you, if you are out there, so if the day is dull I will try to find something that is worthwhile but if not - no entry. The post about the Red Kites a couple of days back is a good example. The working day was long and left little time for anything else. The Kites were a high point that perhaps could mean something to a casual reader and, if I look back, the memory of them soaring above the Motorway is a better thing to hold on to than a debate about the technical intricacies of a long dead project.

So, what have I been up to? Well the weekend saw me take another crack at the lawn that has been mercilessly attacked by Tyson & Marauder. I hope that, as they are nearly ready to go on to adult dog food, the lower protein level will result in less scorch marks on the lawn.

So, I'm an open comic. I'd hope it was like Wilf in The Bash Street Kids but it is more likely to be something out of Bunty.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

I forgot to mention.....

This talk of wild life has reminded me that the Bear may have returned to the locality.

I went to stroke Eddy a couple of days ago and he pulled his head away. This is very unusual as Eddy is one of those cats that loves to have his ears scratched and his cheeks rubbed. On closer inspection I could see that he had two nasty gashes on his head; one at the base of his left ear and the other above the right eye.

His claws are a little ragged too.

He has either been involved in a major scrap or has forgotten that cars are harder than cats. I really hope its just a bad fight as he really has used up all of his nine lives. With just three legs he cannot afford to damage any of his remaining limbs.

On the plus side his wounds are all superficial and are healing well - but then again cat bites tend to get infected, car wounds are less likely to.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Yesterday, and the day before.

Yesterday saw my working day start at 7.30 in the morning. Not a leisurely perusal of emails but assembling a status report in preparation for a 9 o'clock call.

"Why didn't you do it earlier?" I hear the scathing questioners. I tried, oh yes, I tried. I asked for the updates 36 hours in advance, and reminded for them too, and my dear colleagues decided to drop them in at the last possible minute. Don't worry - I know who you are and am likely to be equally cooperative should the tables turn.

A call at 8 and another at 9 and then a shower and shave and a Journey South. I wont go in to boring detail but it was a long day.

I took the Prius which is never the first choice for a Motorway Journey* but the drivers seat is very high, not at truck level but at least at White Van heights, and so commands quite splendid views from the M40. The high point was to see the Red Kites circling over the surrounding fields searching for prey. Their distinctive curved Swallow tail makes them easy to identify and they are a spectacular site and very common nowadays. Here in bad man's locality Buzzards are the re-surging bird of prey but it is reported that the Kites are making a comeback here too although I am yet to spot one locally.

I mentioned that a sausage making session was planned for Wednesday evening. This went well and we ended up with about 6.5 lbs of Black Pudding sausages and about 4 Lbs of Cajun sausages. Part of the process is to test fry a sample of the mix before stuffing to make sure that the seasoning is right. Wow! The Cajun recipe calls for Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Garlic, Minced Onion, Salt, Black Pepper, Allspice and fresh Thyme as well as the contribution made by the Pig. They certainly hit the spot and it will be interesting to see what they are like once the flavours have had the chance to mingle and mature.

* especially when Dante's mileage rate is taken in to consideration