Sunday, 31 July 2011

I've made a start

Sometimes I have Polos in my pocket
Sometimes I have dog biscuits in my pocket
Sometimes I have both
Sometimes Polos undergo a packaging malfunction
Sometimes the dogs get minty gravy bones
Sometimes I get gravy flavoured mints
Sometimes worse things happen!


DIY News

After an extended period of procrastination I finally made a start on the preparation work needed on the Stairs and Landing.  There was an abortive attempt to fit the final piece of skirting board last week but I quickly discovered that one of the radiators needs to be removed and repositioned to achieve this. As this will involve the local Plumber I have put this off until we get back from our holiday...

... so what did I do today? I stripped the paint from the Bannisters and am quite pleased with the result. I am aware that there is a huge amount of work to do before we are ready for the painters but at least I have now made a start.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Haircuts all round

I had an early start today to make an 8.15 appointment for a haircut. Fortunately the coiffeuse is only a 5 minute walk from home so at least there was no need to schlep in to town, park etc. By 9 o'clock I was back home; shorn and drinking coffee.

I had nothing major planned for the rest of the day when 30% came up with a stroke of genius...

... Yesterdays walk with T&M involved an encounter with a cat. They spotted it patrolling a hedgerow and charged off to investigate. The cat scarpered leaving the dogs frantically circling searching for it. I appreciate that this seems like an odd  diversion but I will get to the point. You see, once the dogs have got in to "chasing mode" that is it. Every rustle, every squeak is, in their minds, something that must be pursued and caught. So most of the walk was spent charging in and out of hedges and careering along the edges of fields in search of imaginary beasts. The end result was that they returned home with their coats filled to maximum capacity with grass seeds.

So faced with the effort of dragging grass seeds from 3" long poodle fur plus a weather forecast predicting very hot weather plus them facing two weeks in kennels 30% suggested that we give them an all over clip. I found the clippers, plugged them in and soon had two very skinny looking dogs.

I really fancy having a go at a sheep next. 

Friday, 29 July 2011

No, don't worry, I've got nothing else to do ...

Today it appeared that I got mistaken for MS Office Service Desk Support Specialist*.

First I may need to explain that I work with Professional IT Services Specialists. I therefore have a perfectly reasonable expectation that they can use Office software products to a proficient standard.  I'm not talking about them being Tools Gurus** or anything like that but they should be able to create a document or use a spreadsheet to manipulate data at the very least ...

... or that's what I thought. This morning I received a mail from our Contracts Guy. Let's call him Slippery Pete. Now over the past few weeks I have had a few e-mail exchanges with Slippery where he seems to want me to do his job. The communications go along the lines of "Badman, have you reviewed Section A of the Contract to ensure our Services are appropriately described?". I then have to trawl though Contracts so that I can point the aforementioned Legal Specialist at sub-sections and turn the question around to ask him if they meet his requirements.

In a less cynical moment I once assumed that he had a lot on his plate and was just to busy to deal with these enquiries but this moments is long gone. I now think that he is a lazy Inadequate, especially after today's e-mail. It went like this ...

"Bad man, is there any way you could convert your table in to MS Word document so I can then cut and paste it in to the Contract"
The table in question was a very simple, very small matrix created in MS Excel. I was somewhat flabbergasted by the request as it probably took longer to draft the email than it would have to highlight the cells in the spreadsheet, press Ctrl + c to copy them and then position the cursor at the required point in the Contract document and press Ctrl + v to paste them in as a table.

After a minor rant to Tigger about the lazy fuckwit I drafted a suitably informative reply. I'm guessing that the sarcasm was too subtle as he replied with "Thanks!!!".

Is it me?

* Now there is a fabricated Job Title if ever there was one. I see quite a few in my line of work and one of my favourites is a chap across the Pond who describes himself as "Executive I/T Architect - Solution Integration Architect". That sounds like Lord High God, chief of all Wizards but he actually appears to be a "Gopher", as in go for this, go for that.
** mind you, if I drop the "Guru" I'm bang on in this case

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Black Clouds?

A bit of an odd title considering that today was absolutely beautiful.

The title references a senior Daemon at Dante's who feels that his opinion and demands may have not been fully considered during the frantic two weeks when Tigger and I were working every hour god sent in order to catch us a nelifunt.

He has a bee in his bonnet about a Delivery issue and it appears that he is trying to use our Project to publicise his concerns. It therefore looks like I am going to be his whipping boy for a couple of hours next week while he has his little rant. I have encountered him before and he is one of those people that are always in transmit mode. It doesn't matter what I say or do, he is right and anything I say is going to be wrong.

I have therefore assembled some carefully worded slides and suggested appropriate Subject Matter Experts. I will read from my slides and direct any questions to the SMEs that he may, or may not, have invited. I'm going with the approach of "the less I say, the less he has to latch on to".

Don't get me wrong, his concern is valid and the issue is real but my project is a symptom not the cause and he needs to bark up a very different tree to put things right. My managers share this view so at least I know that I am not being hung out to dry here.

The call is scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 5th August and he has a flight to catch immediately afterwards. At worst this limits the amount of ranting I have to endure and at best he may be distracted by whether he has packed his passport or not.*
* If any members of UK HM Revenue & Customers are reading this they should keep a close eye on wheezing Americans Execs leaving the country on Friday next. The chances are that their cases are filled with contraband. If you can't find any in the case you know where to look next lads ....

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Quote of the Day

Today Golfy and I met up down in The Village to assemble a piece of reusable Intellectual Capital...

... we threw together a PowerPoint Presentation that we would both be using over the next couple of weeks in an attempt to disengage from the Project.

During this escapade a fairly obvious statement was presented as a question and it earned the natural response of "Does the Pope shit in the woods". A brief discussion followed and I have now managed to argue myself in to a position where I have denied the existence of bears. As evidence of that I am presenting a photo of a Pope that I took - I nearly said shot - in San Diego in 2006.

A Pope, relaxing

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Horses for Courses

Tuesday evening saw a ride out with Chippy Ian, Mick, Cheryl and Steve. TP is away at his Grandma's so I contemplated taking the Ducati. I mentioned this to Ian when he called and he thought that the loosely planned route would suit it ...

... Cheers Ian.

I had ridden her on Sunday and most of the 40 or 50 miles had been a nightmare. She is designed to win races and consequently is suited to fast twisting roads with series of bends. Junctions and Traffic Lights, country lanes and pot holes are not her natural territory. My Sunday route avoided the narrow lanes but instead found horse boxes, caravans and open top tourers every where. It was a hot sweaty grind of crunched gear changes and bridled power. There were moments of pleasure when the road opened up, over taking was feasible and 3rd, 4th or even 5th gear could be selected but these were few. They do however make up for the general frustration JUST!

Back to Tuesday evening, Ian's rout took us out through Pershore and over to Upton-on-Severn before climbing up to British Camp on the Malverns, so far, so good. We headed out towards Ledbury and were now in to Herefordshire, famous for its country lanes ...

... yep COUNTRY LANES. I now had several miles riding a race bike in first and second gear, forced in to a race crouch with most of my upper body weight borne by my forearms. This was not fun. The company was great, the stop at the Pub for coffee was welcome and I had a great evening. I was just glad to bear off at Pershore and find a few open roads that allowed me to up the pace somewhat and use her at her optimum revs and pace rather than trundle her past a hop yard.

Ho Hum.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Hello, anybody there ?

I've not blogged for a few days ...

... the reason why is probably laziness, or is it? Every time I write something I get two or three sentences in and then scrub it out. The reason for this is that within a couple of sentences I mention "The Project" - You see, I did it again - and a few words later I find myself yawning.

I think that it has become "all encompassing" and now it has signed I just want to be rid of it and move on to something else. I also want to re-balance my focus so it is less "work" and more "nonsense". I am very conscious that the deal has taken over a large part of my thoughts and I want them back  ....

... yep, I want my thoughts back right NOW. Yes, all you little sparks of consciousness about PC baselines and cost case adjustments can just piss off back to where you came from and let me get back to the mental state where I can devote my time to seeing whether varieties of soup is a good theme to use when you name your cats ...

... For example :-
  • Gazpacho - a perfect name for any fat cat
  • Mulligatawny - what a great name for a Tabby
  • Tomato - any ginger cat
  • Tom Yum - a slender Siamese Tom Cat perhaps
  • Vichyssoise - definitely an  elegant feline name, if ever there was one
Is it just me that thinks that there seems to be some strange link between soup and cats? Think about it, Wonton, Borscht, Chowder, they are all great cat names. I admit that cream of mushroom is never going to work but there are plenty of soup names that would suit your cat. Thinking about it sadly departed Potato, who was really called Spud, is actually a soup name too. If you need hard evidence that I'm on to something that is it.

Moving back to a slightly saner plane of consciousness some other stuff did happen over the past few days.

30% discovered that she actually broke a bone in her foot when she tripped a few weeks ago. This late diagnosis was made when she went for some Physio for a completely different ailment. The good news is that it is healing nicely and she needs no plaster or additional support and should just carry on "as is". Needless to say, she is somewhat peeved that she didn't visit A&E at the time of the injury and benefit from a few days off sick.

I was invited to attend a series of meetings in the States during the week of the 8th of August. This is actually the first week of our road trip to Yellowstone so I will be holidaying out West rather than sitting in an East Coast Office. I did manage to delegate this to Tigger who is now busy working out the route from the Boston Office to the nearest Apple Store.

On the home front, I completed the cure of the bacon I started ages ago and I now have 6 lbs of Black, Back Bacon in the freezer. There is also a tub of lardons in the fridge, chopped up from the leftovers. 30% threw a handful in to the frittata that was this evening's supper and I can confirm that I am very happy with the way this cure turned out.

TP has broken up from school and has started his holidays by seeing how much time he can spend as a guest in other people's houses. so far he has managed a night at Henry's before disappearing with his Mum down to his Grandma's for a week. Every time I look at the pile of recycling and the full, but clean, dishwasher I realise how much I miss him*.

Finally my younger brother called round this afternoon. He has recently graduated from Cardiff University as an Illustrator and we are all very proud of him. Back in January I gave him a little help with his Thesis and by way of thanks he agreed to update the Avatar that I use in The Journal. Today he came over and gave me the jpg file. I am absolutely delighted with it. See for yourself ...

*I appreciate that I may have told that joke before but it is worth repeating in case you missed it first time around.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Apparently they did ...

... sign the contract but there have been no fanfares or ticker tape parades. It has all been very quiet and this is very unusual as Dante's Nine Circles of Hell do like to make an announcement on occasions such as this. There are promises of "announcements later in the week" once the client has completed its internal and external communications. So we shall see whether Tigger and me get a mention in the Supporting Cast.

If one knows what to look for, a quick Google search will rapidly confirm that the deal has been done and who is now in bed with whom. I have to admit that this stage of the deal is quite tedious. There is very little to do until the local contracts are signed and the Delivery Guys are ready to take on the project. So I sit on my branch in The Hundred Acre Wood listening telling stories I have told many times before and chasing Bunnies and Weasels  for long overdue deliverables.

Away from work, the weather was reasonably clear this evening so I had an early supper and took a ride out on the Honda with Chippy Ian, Mick and couple of other guys.

Rather than having to sit at home and scratch my head trying to remember where we had been, I used a satellite tracking application on my phone to log our route and it was then a fairly simple matter of extracting that route and presenting it as a map here in The Journal. So there you have it, 109 miles of twisty Cotswold lanes with some of the finest views. At one point the sky did turn a strange blue colour and a nasty bright object appeared in the sky but it didn't trouble us for long and we soon had that comforting grey cloud that has typified the weather for the past week or so. There was also a late evening stop at a Pub in Burford for coffee and we were able to sit and chat outside on that fine Cotswold High Street.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Waiting ...

Will they or won't they?

It seems that all the i's have been dotted and the t's crossed. The arguments have been settled * and today will be the day that the contract gets autographed. Backs will be slapped, hands will be shaken, there will be "high fives" ** and I am guessing that a few high end consumer goods will now be order for a few of the senior team members.

It will be late in the evening before I hear anything and it is obviously now too late for me to do anything but think about the next stage of the project and start to prepare to hand it over the the Transition and Delivery Teams.

There will still be a raft of Country Agreements to be signed and Project changes that will need to be progressed but today is the big hurdle. After the autograph session today we have it in the bag***

* let's see how long that lasts 
** God Bless our Colonial Cousins, as they know not how to behave. A simple "well done, old chap"  is more than sufficient.

*** Tigger and me just need some sharp scissors to cut the head of the nelifunt and some good glue so we can stick it on the wall above the fireplace

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Weekend Round Up

After Friday's intense series of calls and debates Saturday was a welcome blank on the calendar. TP was taken to a local carnival where he was playing Touch Rugby as part of a recruitment drive for his club. 30% was down at the workshop having her hair done so I was left to my own devices.

I am proud to say that I frittered away a good few hours drinking coffee, watching TV and reading the on-line edition of the New Scientist. After lunch I took T&M for a short walk. The weather was atrocious and there was no way that I would manage the Three Miler without a soaking so I did a much abbreviated route and managed to avoid anything more than a few drops of rain.

Later in the afternoon we both collected TP from the carnival and then returned home and finished our slothful day.

Sunday was marginally more productive. I extracted the two pork loins that I have been dry curing; soaked them for an hour and then liberally massaged them with black treacle before returning them to the fridge. In another six or seven days these will be fine pieces of Black, Back Bacon.

We also spent a couple of hours making preparations for our holiday. 30% booked our first night's stay in Las Vegas and I completed the on-line Visa waivers for TP and 30%. We then started to break up the long trip from Las Vegas up to Yellowstone in to reasonable chunks.

The chosen route will take us over to Bryce Canyon National Park and then on to The Arches National Park. We will then leave Utah and visit the Dinosaur National Monument which straddles the Utah / Colorado State Line. From there it is a long haul up to Jackson, Wyoming for the Grand Tetons National Park  which is at the Southern end of our destination; Yellowstone. This is in the region of 1150 miles, excluding any trips off the beaten track, and we have seven days to complete it. We have chalets booked in Yellowstone for four nights and then will take the more direct route down the I5 back to Vegas. This is around 800 miles and we have three days to reach Las Vegas for a final night on The Strip before we fly home...

... so that's the theory, lets see how it all pans out.

I also finally committed myself and ordered a new zoom lens for my digital SLR. I have been mulling this over for several weeks and have steered away from my "never to happen" fantasy of buying a Canon professional lens and went with the sensible option of the Canon EF 75-300mm f/4.0-5.6 III Lens at a very reasonable price.  I was tempted by the latest, image stabilised model but much of my photography nowadays is with a compact as I usually have two dogs which deter me from lugging an SLR camera around.  I decided that potential use would never justify the price of the latest model ...

... and I also have my eye on a fine carbon fibre Hugger that will sit nicely on the swinging arm of the Ducati.

That pretty much summarises the weekend; relaxation and holiday planning. Roll on August.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Between a rock and a hard place ...

... with a 'phone stuck to my ear.

After my late night call with Christopher Robin I have spent most of the day on calls with the Deal Team discussing how to deal with a significant increase in the number of PCs. Understandably the Sales Guys just want to close the deal and simply want to increase the price using our current unit rates. Unfortunately it is not that simple and this change is so large that it will invalidate our unit rates in certain countries. Hence the Delivery Guys will not approve this approach.

I have therefore been summoned to call after call to reiterate this message. When I wasn't on these calls I was talking to our End User Guy who has the largest most sophisticated fag packet I have ever seen in my life. He did a sterling job of coming up with best and worst case estimates and lets just say that the best of them is not particularly encouraging.

It might sound quite stressful but to be honest I just rolled with it. We are scheduled to deliver final contract papers early on Saturday morning and this change will take the best part of a week to do anywhere near properly. Realistically all I am here to do is clarify the impact,  report approval positions and do my best to quantify the impact of the change. It will then be down to some Executive Daemon sat in their own Brimstone Jacuzzi to make a call and the deal will be signed, in blood of course.

The working day actually finished at a reasonable hour and I did get to break away from the 'phone and chat with my Dad and Sue when they called to collect Tilly. We had been dog sitting as they had spent the day at my younger brother's Graduation in Cardiff.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Do you know what time it is?

Thursday pretty much came and went, if you know what I mean.

The main gripe from my perspective is that I seemed to be repeatedly drafted in to do other people's jobs. These were jobs that were well outside my remit and clearly attributable to other team members but, for whatever reason, I seemed to be getting the shitty end of someone else's stick. I dealt with the sticky matters (did you see what I did there?) and eventually stepped away from the laptop.

The  remainder of Thursday evening was spent doing very little before 30% and I retired to bed at around half past ten ...

...  about an hour in to deep slumber we were disturbed by the telephone. I switched on the light and 30% reached for the phone ...

... "Hello? Yes? Who's that speaking please? Just a moment, I'll get him for you. He is asleep in bed"

It was Christopher Robin who was over in Boston. Apparently the client had discovered an extra 2,000 PCs in Europe and he needed an instant impact analysis of this and how quickly we could revise our pricing. I spent a bleary eyed hour talking them through the ins and outs of this before I was permitted to return to my pit.

I am fairly sure that tomorrow is not now going to be a gentle glide in to the weekend.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Today I took the compact camera out with me on my walk...

I haven't done this for a while but I have been promising myself that I would get a  couple of pictures of T&M that show my first attempt at a lamb clip. I also like to illustrate the Journal as it is a way of giving my photos a purpose, so many pictures are given only a fleeting glimpse before being tucked away in a drawer or filed on a computer hard disk.

So today I picked up the compact and off we went. The skies weren't particularly inspiring so I was peering in to the hedgerows rather than taking in the views.

Field Scabious
Field Scabious
Meadow Brown Butterfly
Thistle Flower
 On the final leg of the Three Miler I walk along the edge of a field that is planted with fodder beans. T&M were darting in and out of the crop chasing real and imaginary creatures. As I tried to locate Tyson amongst the 3' tall bean plants I noticed this ....

Sat on its own in the field was this solitary sunflower. Apparently a weed is a plant that is growing in the wrong place. A rose in a corn field is often given as an example. Here is my contribution.

Marauder's Bumper Book of Crimes. No. 9 in an occasional series

This evening I let T&M out at around ten o'clock for a last minute run around the garden / toilet opportunity.

Marauder was somewhat reluctant to come back in but eventually returned after numerous calls. She wandered in to the lounge and plonked herself on the sofa in front of the TV news. After a minute or so I heard chewing and turned to see that she had returned with a mouse carcass hidden in her mouth and was now giving it a thorough mastication....

... she dropped it on command and that was the point that I discovered that it was ripe with maggots.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Little chance of derailment?

Tuesday was another quiet day.

I need to be available in case an urgent response to a particular question is needed but I am becoming more and more puzzled, or possibly less and less concerned, by the discussions that are being held and the issues that are being raised.

We are literally days away from the signing of a major International Contract. Some of the most senior Devils* from Dante's Nine Circles of Hell have ridden in on flaming chariots built from skulls to ensure that this deal gets signed. Taking account of that, do my colleagues really think that the presence or absence of a back to back agreement with a third party vendor or an imprecise definition in a Service Level Objective is going to stop this Juggernaut?

The answer is patently "No". The sales guys are in there doing their stuff and, if they hadn't already, they would be putting their Grand Mothers on eBay to ensure this deal gets closed.

I therefore half listen to the conference calls and deal with my actions, knowing full well that short of finding out that we will be contracted to prepare an army of cloned, killer weasels that will allow our prospective client to take over the world nothing is going to stand in the way of getting this signed.

* Apparently the Lord Beelzebub himself has become involved to ensure that this "happens"

Monday, 11 July 2011

Not the most significant day of my life

I often write yesterday's Journal entry today ...

... if that makes sense*.

I suppose it is a way of filtering the previous day's events and determining what I consider worthy of jotting down. It is also part of my daily routine; a cup of coffee and a few moments to think about yesterday and whether any of it is worth noting! There are a few days over the past months when I have gone for a Picture Post which suggests that some of my days are somewhat less than exciting.

Monday 11th July was one of those days. On the work front we are waiting for the client to sign up to our contract. If all goes well this will happen in the next week or so. Tigger and I are basically hanging around shuffling papers and generally just being there in case we are needed to answer an urgent question. There are a few tweaks to perform here and there but basically our work is done until the papers get autographed.

I gave Monday some thought and the main thing that seemed to stand out was the following ...

Golfy and I had a discussion which rambled about and then landed on the subject of the Duck Billed Platypus. Apparently they are all called William. I then advised Golfy that they have a poisonous claw and a bifid penis.  He was not impressed with me cluttering his head with further rubbish.

Why is it, that of all the things I did, this is the thing that stuck in my head and why do I know that the Platypus has a poisonous spur and a penis with two heads? I can't remember how old I am some days.

Oh, and we had Haggis for supper.
* I will write Monday's entry on Tuesday and then "back date" it to Monday's date.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Subdued Day

Sunday was an understandably subdued day.

Spud was buried in the garden. Sausages got made, bacon was salted, dogs got walked.

We will miss the big fellow.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

From Good to Bad

30% and I had the weekend to ourselves with TP away on his field trip.

We drew up a list of things we wanted to achieve and the day started with a trip to the Supermarket to offload some dry cleaning and on-board some groceries. Pork was on offer so a couple of Loins were bought to be turned in to back bacon and a couple of leg joints were bought for sausage making.

On the return journey we stopped at Redditch Motorcycles  so that I could collect the Honda after it's MOT. Chris had forgotten to change the oil so I had a pleasant half hour mooching around the workshop shooting the breeze while this was done before I could part with cash and ride it home.

Back home we lunched and then T&M were walked before we took another trip out. This time to Stratford for coffee beans and to arrange for new lenses to be fitted in my specs.

The evening saw us have dinner and settle down to watch a film. As the movie was about to reach it's climax we were disturbed by a loud knocking at the door. We opened the door to find one of TP's acquaintances stood there. He told us that a cat had just been run over outside the house.

It was Potato, better known to us as Spud.

Spud. Autumn 2005 - 9th July 2011

Friday, 8 July 2011

Friday Fun

There is not a huge amount to report from Friday.

TP left for school with a weekend bag as he has a 3 day geography field trip down on Portland Bill studying Coastal Processes. Work was steady; not so quiet that I became bored and not so manic that I had to remain at the key board until late in the evening. This was fortuitous as this evening 30's employer holds a "Family Fun Do" a few miles away at the Rugby Club where TP plays.

This is an outdoor event for employees and their families with free food and soft drinks. There are Dodgems and Tea Cup rides and plenty of "inflatable fun" including the opportunity to take part in Zorb Balling or life sized table football.

It was a pleasant evening and we were joined by Jules who came along to catch up with her old work mates. We also bumped in to the Oranges and Lemons tribe which is always a pleasure and Master O&L gave me the perfect excuse for two outings on the Bumper Cars whilst Mr O&L escorted his younger sister. I have to say that it still remains to be established whether it was I or Master O&L that was steering but, based on leg length, I am fairly sure that it was me depressing the power pedal.

Later in the evening I was briefly abandoned but before I get to that I have take a minor diversion ...

... 30% frequently complains that I walk too fast and of late, with her recent foot injury, I have had to temper my pace. When she is firing on all four cylinders I do tend to walk a little faster than her although I have noticed this does depend on whether we are walking around the Three Miler or whether there  is the possibility of a new hand bag to be added to her collection...

... back at the Rugby Club 30% suggested that we walk over and say hello to a frolleague's wife who we hadn't seen for a good couple of years. So we wandered over and I sat down and started to converse. I then turned my head and saw that 30% and Jules had left a trail of flaming footprints as they had scarpered at an incredible speed towards the table football. I then had an interesting twenty minutes talking to a very nice lady who is, shall we say, a  little fragile and basically very different in outlook and approach to life from me.

Let's just say that a session of polite small talk was hard going and I never did establish what it was that necessitated 30%'s high speed exit.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Trying the patience of a Saint

TP                          Dad, what is Hosiery

Bad Man               It’s French for Socks


TP                          No it’s not!

Bad Man               It’s a collective term for footwear like socks, stockings and tights …. and mittens

TP                          Oh, thanks

30%                       You don’t put mittens on your feet

Bad Man               Would you like to retract that comment in light of the current participants in this conversation?

30%                       frustrated silence followed by grudging acknowledgement

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Marauder's Bumper Book of Crimes. No. 8 in an occasional series

30% returned home from work and noticed an Avocado missing from the Kitchen work top. She asked me if I knew of it's whereabouts. I denied all knowledge and so began a quick scout around the house to look for the aftermath of a Canine / Avocado encounter...

... none was found and I could see a glimmer of hope in Marauder's eyes but then 30% went out in to the garden and returned with an Avocado stone found at the centre of the lawn.

30%              What’s this?

Bad Man      A Tortoise Egg ?

Marauder      I ent sayin nuffin!

It was interesting to note that Tyson kept very quiet during this Crime Scene investigation.


The tooth extraction was nowhere near as bad as I expected it to be.

To be honest my new Dentist didn't do herself any favours at all at the first consultation on Monday. I told her that I was an absolute coward so she reassuringly responded with the following forecast ...

... "Oh don't worry Mr Bad Man. Things will be fine. We'll use plenty of anaesthetic you won't feel a thing"

OK, I'm fine at this point. Well, when I say fine I actually mean that I will reluctantly come back and endure the torture. But the blood crazed lunatic then went on with the following ...

... "On teeth like these, where root canal work has been done, the roots can become brittle and fracture during extraction. If that's the case we may need to just cut the gum, drill in to the jaw bone and there may be a stitch or two". Note the key words here CUT, DRILL, JAW BONE, STITCHES. She should have stuck while she was ahead as not one syllable of that utterance encouraged me to return. I have most definitely not been looking forward to this morning's visit.

Fortunately the extraction was straightforward and apart from the ominous cracking noises it went without a hitch. It is at times like this that I wish I didn't have such a vivid imagination. I also wish that I had the personal restraint that would have prevented me peering at the blood and gore covered pre-molar as it lay on the dentist tray.

It was later in the day that I finally released why dentists are so bloody well off. I bet that thieving git goes to bed every night with a sack full of teeth under her pillow. I further wager that the Tooth Fairy has installed a credit card payment handset rather than lugging a huge bag of money to her house every day. 

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

An insult from the French ...

The French like to call us "Les Ros Bifs" . Apparently this is an insult.

Well, I have given this matter a little thought and have to say that I am actually quite flattered at being associated with this dish. I think the French should have really taken a little more time to think this through. You see, if you are too busy retreating in the face of danger, having affairs, blocking Channel ports or setting fire to imported produce at the side of a Motorway this is what happens, you end up having your sarcasm back fire and that is not a pretty situation.

To attempt to explain myself we need to go back to the beginning of man's history in the post glacial British Isles. If we peer between the branches of the birch and oak forests that have established since the retreat of the ice we see a magnificent  beast browsing on the herbs and shoots that cover the wood land floor. It is an Aurochs; the ancestor of all modern domestic cattle. This beast stood 2 metres at the shoulder and weighed in excess of a tonne. Comparisons with modern cattle show it to be much heavier in build and with a larger brain...

... and remember, it had two very sharp points at the front end. We are all aware of the reputation that a modern bull has for short temper. Imagine what one of these beasts was like *.

So there we have it; an ancient British Man stood at the edge of a Forest Glade. He picks up his flint tipped spear, wipes a bead of sweat from his brow and takes aim at this large, dangerous animal. With this first kill the British Nation will become forever associated with cutting a chunk off the hind quarters of this beast and  roasting it.

Well Mr Frenchie, as I have just established, first you have to kill the damned thing because they don't tend to shed rump or topside in the same way that apples and nuts fall from trees.

Now lets, tie a few logs together with vines and take a hazardous Journey across the Channel (La Manche) to see what our French Neighbours are up to...

... The sun is shining as we walk through the woods and we come at last to a marshy area, buzzing with insects and high with reeds and rushes. It is hot and humid and there we see the archaic French Man crouched at the edge of a pool. His furs are soaked and covered with a foul smelling mud. His hair is plastered against his forehead. He is bravely hunting the prey for which his future nation will forever be associated ...

... Yes, while your savage Englishman was taking on a huge and fearsome beast with basically a sharp stick, his contemporaries across the Channel were bravely risking life and limb hunting frogs and snails in the French marshes and ponds.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions ......

* In the future there may not be a need to imagine. Although the last of these fine creatures was killed in the early 1600s their DNA lives on in modern cattle and there are plans, through selective breeding of archaic stock, to produce something very akin to the Aurochs.

Monday, 4 July 2011

I am guessing ...

... that the Tooth Fairy has a statute of limitations and that I am not going to get any reimbursement for the £49 I forked out at the Dentist today.

Yes, after the Crown fell out last Thursday I popped in the the Dentist for a consultation. It is as I feared and a further appointment has been made for Wednesday morning for an extraction. Apparently there is only so much repair work that a tooth can take and over the years this one has had fillings followed by root canal work before finally being crowned about 5 years ago.

I will, of course, consult with Bad Man Senior* just in case he feels flush and will pop a fiver under my pillow** but I am guessing that my chances are slim to zero.

On the work front I had another argument stone walling session with the Luxembourgers followed by much better luck with the Swiss and the Execs. All of the changes that we have had to make to reduce cost should actually necessitate another Review Cycle. Fortunately I have been keeping the Execs up to speed with VERY SIMPLE slides showing what we have done and VERY CAREFULLY worded e-mails reassuring them that no crimes have been committed. This evening they confirmed that no further review is required which means that the rest of the week should be reasonably steady.

*   Truly one of the scariest incarnations of the Tooth Fairy in the entire Universe
** This is actually a parental obligation and he needs to be careful as this is verging on Child Neglect

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Time for a Haircut

Sunday started at a civilised hour with coffee and toast. Then it was a case of "divide and conquer".

30% took TP over to Rugby Fitness Training whilst I took T&M out for a walk before the day got too warm for them. The walk was fine and we were back in a little over an hour. After rehydrating it was time to break out the Porn Mower and loose some more fluids striding up and down the turf followed by a good forking over the compost heap.

By the time TP and 30% had returned I was finished and had settled my backside on the sofa to watch the Mugello MotoGP. This was never going to happen. To be honest I don't have the patience to sit and watch an hour of bike racing and lunch followed by a kip seemed a more attractive option...

... so that is what I did.

Later in the afternoon I did something that I have been threatening for quite some time but thus far have failed to find the nerve to complete. I gave T&M a lamb clip. To date I have only been brave enough to clip their faces and their feet but the time had come to have a go at their bodies. Both dogs were amazingly patient and within an hour both sported a reasonable attempt at the cut. I will post pictures in the next day or so but I am pleased with my first attempt...

... I am guessing that the dogs are too in view of the warm weather.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Testing, Testing

Saturday started relatively early as 30% had an eye test scheduled for half past nine in Redditch. I had also managed to arrange mine for midday so we planned to spend a leisurely morning Chav Spotting in the Kingfisher Centre when we were not occupied with this....

H   C   U
A   O   H   T
D    H    L   E   N

I had also managed to arrange for the Honda to have it's MOT test as I realised that this had expired a week or more ago. Unfortunately realisation dawned mid way through the ride out on Tuesday evening. Oops! 

So I dropped the Bike off at Redditch Motorcycles and then 30% and I popped in to town. There is little more to report on the subject. Chavs were spotted by the score and eyes were tested. I may need a new pair of spectacles but, like the idiot I am, I forgot to take my current glasses in to be checked against the new prescription.

Whilst on the subject of Chavs*, I did wonder whether there was a collective noun for them. I have pondered this for a while and, unless anyone knows any better, I propose "moronical" as in " a moronical of Chavs". If anyone has any better suggestions please feel free to offer them up.

The rest of the day was reasonably relaxed. T&M got walked and then were bathed and brushed. Dinner was served in the garden  and then an evening was spent in front of a film on the TV. All in all a relatively relaxing day.
* or as Mr Miliband would like to see them; "those for whom social mobility is a fine aspiration"...**
** ... and their response; "uh ?"

Friday, 1 July 2011

Time for the Nuclear Weapons, I think !

Friday came and went.

Most of the day was not particularity noteworthy; calls were held, mails got sent, missing resources were escalated and located. The main focus at present is an exercise to reduce our costs and special mention must go to my colleague in Luxembourg. Let's call him Michel.

Michel is part of our team and his specialisation is in the specifics in Luxembourg. If anything is to happen in Luxembourg Michel is the man to ensure it is properly recorded, that it complies with the appropriate legislation, that it has been through the proper reviews, that it covers every possible eventuality including the sun crashing in to the earth, that it is presented in such a way that it is virtually impenetrable and therefore impossible to scrutinise ...

... are you getting the picture? Thanks Michel, you are the most obstructive,  awkward, uncooperative, vague, stalling Bastard that I have ever had the displeasure to work with.

To give you an idea of what a complete arse hole this man is let me present an example. A couple of weeks ago we noticed that Michel had costs in his project for support of a particular infrastructure requirement. We discussed this with him and pointed out that the latest information, provided by the client clearly indicated that they had none - that is zero, nada, zilch - of this type of infrastructure. This obstructive Fucker still refused to remove the million dollars of cost until I had provided him with written evidence from the Lead in America and then he went through an internal review and challenged the Lead because there was an empty cell rather than a zero in the particular spreadsheet.

I know this looks like I have a personal vendetta against this guy but my feelings are reciprocated at the most senior levels on the Global Project but it is me and Tigger that have the displeasure of dealing with him on a day to day basis.

Today we held a call with all of the team to discuss the need to reduce costs and the time line for  doing so. Good old Michel was his usual self and stood fast against a tide of logic and clear instructions that indicated that he was carrying costs for services we did not need to provide. That Fucker then told us that he was not able to comply with the very tight time scales and deliver by Monday lunchtime. I decided to respond with "that is not acceptable" and a reiteration of the delivery date.

I am also working with the Swiss who had similar errors in their costings but their approach was the exact opposite. They simply said "OK- show us the evidence" and then went away to get everything sorted for the beginning of next week.

At one point in this deal the Luxembourgers were accruing hundreds of thousand of dollars of cost for a  service that was not in scope. There justification was that this was just in case an entirely separate Agreement was at odds with local regulations. How on earth they intended to get the client to sign up to that was never established but it makes you think that as well as being obstructive they might also be bent and stupid too.

I have one final piece of evidence to show what an absolute cock Michel is. He has included over £360,000 dollars of travelling expenses for a country that is no bigger than the average dining table. I have repeatedly challenged the ludicrous assumptions used to come up with this ridiculous figure and have just been stone walled.

I have to say that the longer I think about this situation the more I think that this is a case of profiteering whilst using local legislation to hinder closer scrutiny.