Monday, 31 October 2011

I need a plan

Three weeks, Twenty One days, THREE WEEKS.

It is Monday and I am now at home having been judged not fit for work for three weeks. After running around like a maniac for the past few weeks on the latest project I was thinking I would enjoy some enforced leave but now I am not so sure.

For starters the transition from 100% to zero mental effort is a bit of a jolt to the brain and that is combined with the frustration of only having one hand in full working order. Basically I am sat at home with a load of things I would like to do but even the simplest jobs need to be assessed and reworked so that they can be accomplished with one good hand and one little better than a boxing glove.

I have worked out that dog walking is feasible so that takes up an hour of my day and general tidying is well within my limits so that should take up more than my three weeks of sick leave. However heavy items or anything remotely grubby or soggy is most definitely off limits so garage projects are unfortunately not going to happen which is a real shame. 

I really enjoy working with my hands as well as my head and I really wish I was able to knock up something in the garage over the next few weeks. I'm not even able to drive so it looks like it will be limited to TV, books and tidying.

Ho hum!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Sick Note

It is up to you to decide which of the following three approaches I have used to jot down today's Journal entry;
  1. Using a stick attached to a band around my forehead to peck at the keys
  2. Dictation via 30%'s supreme typing skills*
  3. Child exploitation of TP by making him do it** 
It was an early start and 30% was an absolute angel to get out of bed at half past six to have me over in Droitwich for seven thirty. I was soon wearing a surgical gown and by nine thirty I was lay on the table having large quantities of local anaesthetic  pumped in to my left hand.

15 minutes later it was all done and dusted and I was being monitored for complications before being trundled back to my room. After a quick cuppa and a snooze I called the saintly 30% and she selflessly dropped everything to come and pick up the  ingrate  invalid.

I collected my "Get out of Jail Free Card" Doctor's Note and was soon being chauffeured back to The Pile to spend the day catching up on some TV and sleep on the sofa.

* He I very much under values me her and he I should show some bloody gratitude and appreciation by going out and buying me her something nice like a Mulberry handbag 
** very much like option 2 but with more shouting

Friday, 28 October 2011

It just gets worse

By now the corpse of the Badger is very smelly indeed but still surprisingly bloated.
"bad man, how can it be that big? The magpies and crows have been pecking at it for three weeks"...
 ... actually it was a lot more "shouty" than that!
"Your assumptions are wrong, make different assumptions"....
... I did have the genius idea of this one; It is assumed that there will be a breakthrough in Fusion Power generation in the next few months that will lead to electricity being free at the point of delivery by mid 2012. This assumption would solve many of my problems but, for some reason, Tigger was not keen to progress with this one now he is in charge of the Enterprise ...

... Try not to crash it Matey

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Role Play

Today Tigger attended a cultural awareness course. This involved him having his orange bits painted black so he could start to experience life from a Panther's perspective*...
"How was it Tigger?"

"Pooh it was great. I ate three deer and a Native who was planting pineapples. Pass me the dental floss will you old bean"
Back in the real world today has been pretty much the same as yesterday. Hence this nonsense rather than the usual griping about resources and costs.
* This may not be true

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Thought for the Day

Did you ever watch Changing Rooms? It was a BBC Makeover show where two Celebrity Designers would be teamed with a two home owning couples. They would then survey a  problem room in each house and then, here's the catch, they would then swap homes and sort out each other's problem room over the course of a weekend.

Now, as someone who likes DIY and home decorating, I used to watch the programme and wince at the corners that were cut and think what an absolutely dreadful job they would deliver. Everyone knows that "the key to decoration is preparation" and if you only have 48 hours your room will look like you employed Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles to do the job*.

Now you might wonder why this is my thought for today. Basically the current project is being run using the Changing Rooms approach - lets do a quick and dirty job, it'll be fine because it will only be viewed through a cathode ray tube and no-one will see the spiders in the gloss and the massive cracks that we didn't have time to fill.

Unfortunately the couples have now swapped back and they aren't happy**
* You can bet they aren't cheap either!
** everyone seems to forget that they signed up to the show in the first place

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Mission Impossible

Tuesday started with the Admiral's Team briefing and Tigger and I were there to recount the sorry state of the Enterprise. I gave my report as concisely as possible and watched all hell break loose. The Admiral was incredibly aggressive and seemed to be suffering a complete loss of memory about the train of events that lead us to where we are now. I stood my ground and took the flack and the net result is that a call needed to be held to see if we could progress the Mission with the Enterprise taking a less prominent role.

An interesting diversion was at the tail end of the briefing where one of the other Captains and our Commodore had verbal fisticuffs about crew numbers. We are reliably informed that there are NO issues with crew numbers...

... apparently the issue is with the way that Admirals are asking Captains to crew their ships. My Winnie-the-Pooh understanding of this is that all emergency situations now need to be planned in advance.

As Lunchtime approached Tigger and I stepped away from the problematic Replicator, it just will not dispense Hunny, and spent a happy hour in a briefing with another Captain. His plan is for the Enterprise to take a far less prominent role on the Mission and less prominence means less Glory. 

So it looks like, at best, we will limp along at the tail end of the fleet do the stuff that nobody else wants to do.

Now this might seem a bit cynical but certain Individuals have mentioned that we might have been set up on the current project. The thought is that we are in the "game" to make the US look good. Let's call it the Levis theory...

... even the most simple imbecile knows that a pair of Levis will cost far more in the UK than if you buy them in the US. This applies to many consumer goods and services, cars, property, food; they are all cheaper in the US.

The current project has the UK and US pricing a similar range of Services to present two pricing options to the client. The Sales Execs seem to be totally unaware of the Levis theory and think that we should be near to like for like costs with a small delta for additional UK activities.

There is a lot of "Make it so" management direction with absolute failure to acknowledge the fundamental flaws with the approach and the issues of resourcing and time lines.

I am very much looking  forward to receiving the tender ministrations of Nurse Chapel in a few days time.

Monday, 24 October 2011

They're not happy

The working week commences. Tigger and I are sat in the Briefing Cabin of the Enterprise pulling together our latest Mission Plan after the Admiral puked* all over last week's reports.

He needs us to get The Enterprise to the Gamma Quadrant Trade Negotiations by the end of the week and is not happy about the amount of gold pressed latinun we need to get her out of Space Dock. "You are incompetents" he bawled at us this morning. His rant continued with "I could procure a brand new ship from the Chinese Colony on New Beijing for the price you are quoting for having the Injectors recalibrated".

I'm guessing that our quip "Yes, but would you want to trust it to get you to the moon, let alone Vulcan?" whilst precise, was not the best judged of responses.

Basically he thinks we have had the Replicators re-programmed to deliver nothing but haute cuisine  and fine wine and that we have re-crewed the Enterprise with a team of the best looking, most highly qualified Mission Specialists in the Sector...

... We haven't. We just threw what we could together in the limited time available and he is a bit pissed off because we didn't have to time to got the planet Lidl to get everything cheap in a dented container with a label you don't recognise.

In the real world our review of our costs has made some significant reductions but the US are still not happy with them and I have spent a significant part of the afternoon having my arse chewed by American Salesmen. I'd like to take a moment to thank my UK Exec who stood to one side and let me take the bullets for him.

Cheers Mike.
* He claimed that he had Aldebaran Flu but I think it was too much Romulan Ale.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

It is Monday tomorrow

The day started with the Rugby World Cup final but I rapidly got bored. I have no national affinity with either the All Blacks or the French so watching a fairly mundane match between the two was never going to reach the top of my "must do" list. I wandered over to the laptop and fired off a few work e-mails while 30% watched the second half.

After the match we threw T&M in to the back of The Defender and took them for a walk through a piece of Forestry land near where TP plays rugby. We had a great walk through the plantation and there were pheasants aplenty for T&M to pursue.

In the afternoon I took the Honda out of the garage and popped over to see Chippy Ian. I needed to return  a couple of books I had borrowed and took the opportunity for a ride as the upcoming hand operation means that I am unlikely to be doing much bike riding this side of next Spring. We had a cuppa and good old natter and he was keen to pick up the Ducati from Cheltenham if my hand prevented me riding it back.

The late afternoon saw further time spent in front of the laptop "polishing the turd". The latest project is a complete pile of rubbish in that the requirements are very expensive but the salesmen want to sell it cheaply. I am between Scylla and Charybdis here. If I drop the costs the solution will not be viable, if I keep them at a viable level the Sales Guys are not willing to present them to the customer. Basically I'm buggered.

I therefore put work to one side and did something worthwhile instead. 30% had bought a pork loin joint and it is now sat in the fridge on day one of the dry curing process. By the end of the week we will have 2.5 kilos of back bacon. I am guessing that it will then spend another week being massaged in Black Treacle as the Black Bacon has become very popular in these parts.

If I look back at my day I see that there were many good things that happened and I enjoyed them all. So why does the day feel like I have been sat under a grey sky when I look back at it? I'm guessing that might be the latest project.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

If all goes to plan ...

Saturday started with a trip out to see an Orthopaedic Specialist in Droitwich. After a brief consultation he confirmed my layman's diagnosis and advised that my treatment plan was correct too ...

... I will be in for day surgery next Saturday. It is a recurrence of Trigger Finger in my left index finger and a brief procedure will be required to rectify it. Hopefully on this occasion there will be no nerve damage as happened when I left my right index finger in the hands of the NHS in August last year.

If all goes to plan the recuperation period* will facilitate my disengagement from the current projects and I'll be back in work just about the time the next big one is ready to start up. The big one has been on the books for weeks now but whenever anyone is asked it is always "at least another two weeks off"  or the even more discouraging "no news at the moment".

After the Consultation 30% and I drove over to Worcester to pick up TP's bike from Hallfords where it had been in for gear surgery. TP himself is spending a few days with Mama and Grandma so there will be no need to haul ourselves in to the car for Rugby Practice tomorrow morning.

Once home 30% and I lunched and then I took T&M for a wander around the Three Miler. While we were out 30%'s friend "Pinkie" and her children arrived so T&M had a 6 and 9 year old to play with on our return.

The rest of the day really faded away. A few work e-mails were dispatched, supper was cooked and eaten and the TV was switched on....

... and then off again not that much later.
* at least a week away from work

Friday, 21 October 2011


Earlier this week I made reference to SMIs or Subject Matter Idiots to avoid the TLA.

In the old days these used to be called Subject Matter Experts and they were an absolute boon to the Jack of all Trades Outsourcing Solutioning Lead. These guys would know the best and cheapest way to do all matter of clever things and would know who to check with in other areas to ensure that there were no gaps and no overlaps. Where are they now?

Tigger and I bump in to them occasionally and they are a delight to work with but we are seeing more and more SMIs. These are people that are paid like SMEs but think like they are on minimum wage. They are verging on a waste of skin. They may be nice people but having a good sense of humour and an easy going manner is not going to get me a realistic set of costs by Monday morning. I really need skill, acumen and dedication and my SMI's do not appear to be able to spell these attributes let alone present them.

Let me give you a couple of examples. Tigger and me are working with a team of about eight people. At least two of them do not actually have the ability to use a job critical tool. This means that Tigger has been forced to use it for them. This tool is fundamental to the job we all do and I am being provided with untrained support. This is a bit like expecting a Pizza delivery guy to drive an articulated lorry. He knows the "rules of the road" but is certainly not qualified to drive a 44 tonne truck.

Example number two is actually about the cheapest way to do a particular task. I have one SMI who is a really nice guy. He is willing and is doing his best but had a very high cost in his sub-project. I pointed out that he had a 1,000 man-days of work all being done in the UK and that he could very easily have 700 of those days performed by less expensive Indian labour. I told him this verbally last week and again at the beginning of this week. I put it in an e-mail to him on Tuesday and fuck me if on Friday he still had this bloody work being done in the UK. I asked him why and he advised that he was unaware of how this could be done. I pointed out to him that we had taken this approach on the last project we had won and gave him names of people that were actually doing what we proposed. I ended up having to send him copies of e-mails from the previous project to prove that his area of Speciality were doing what I said.

How on Earth am I expected to stand a cat's chance in Hell of getting a decent set of project costs together when I am working with nice people but lacking the skills or specialist knowledge they are expected to have. Now I know that everyone has got to start somewhere and 12 months ago I was a novice in this area but I had some valid background experience and I when I came across something that I didn't understand I went and asked someone who did.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

I didn't know I could still do that

I'll avoid work today as it is most definitely a case of the same old story. I will only mention one incident in the day where I was hosting a virtual team meeting and, at 12 minutes in to the call, I had to repeat my Introduction for the third time as late comers were still joining. I did take a moment out of the call to comment on their poor time management as the ignorant sods didn't even have the manners to introduce themselves or apologise for their tardiness....

.... that was a bit of a "tumble-weed moment" and hopefully they felt suitably chastised.

The subject of today's Journal entry is our local Plumber who arrived today to reconnect a radiator that had been disconnected to allow me to fit some skirting boards. All seemed to be going well and after an hour or so he advised that he had finished and would drop an invoice through the door at the weekend. As soon as he left I let Noggin and Tog out as they had been shut in the "soon to be Dining Room" out of the way. Imagine my surprise horror to see water pouring through the ceiling. I slipped on a pair of shoes and sprinted, yes actually bloody sprinted, the 200 yards down the road to the Plumbers house in the vain hope that he was going home rather than on the way to another job....

... The Gods smiled upon me and he was just getting out of his van. I still had enough breath to advise that I had a leak and we were back at the house a couple of minutes later.  Fortunately it was nothing major. Basically the daft sod had left a radiator valve open when he partially drained the system and had forgotten to close it when he re-pressurised. There is no major damage done as the ceiling is scheduled to be ripped down and re-plastered and there was no electrical components or wiring near the leak.


Quote of the Day ...

I was hosting a conference call this afternoon where we discussed our latest set of project costs. My summation was as follows ...

... We are like Magpies pecking at the bloated corpse of a badger in the road.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Picture Post. No. 12

Wednesday has mostly been Tigger and me being "gently" interrogated about the poor state of the Star Ship Enterprise and asking us how we are going to leave Space Dock on time. I'll tell you now that I am rapidly running out of ways to politely say " For Christ's Sake you idiot I am not a miracle worker and I cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear in a ten day time frame".

In view of my frustrations I have therefore decided to go with another Picture Post. These were taken on Day 5 of our holiday at the Jackson Hole Rodeo.
Stetson held over heart; "God Bless America"
Got 'im

What is mean and pointy?
It was a great evening and it is claimed to be America's oldest sport.  I saw some of the finest riding I have ever seen in the Barrel Riding event. This involves riding a horse as fast as one possibly can over a start line and looping around three barrels positioned to form a large triangle in the arena. The control over the horses was amazing and their ability to literally turn on a dime had to be seen to be believed.

There were also fun events too and at one point they had youngsters Rodeo riding on sheep. Now I'm not oblivious to the fact that use of animals for entertainment is questionable but the stock welfare seemed to be carefully monitored and there were certainly no animal injuries during the event. Some of the cowboys looked a little battered though.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Think of a number

There is an extremely high probability that the statement "Think if a number" got me in to this mess ...

... let me explain; allegedly Tigger and I are trained to understand a set of requirements and then compile sets of estimates that will cover the costs of meeting those requirements. We do lots of other things too but the previous statement is a fairly accurate description of the job basics. Obviously there are lots of associated activities such as team management, client and internal liaison, management of interactions with other business units etc but fundamentally we work out how much shit costs.

To put it another way, if someone asks how much it costs to cook a meal most people will tot up the cost of the ingredients. Basically they will tell you how much their Tesco bill was. Tigger and me will start to work out lots of other stuff too like :-
  • the time and associated cost of shopping for the ingredients
  • the time and associated cost of preparing the meal
  • the energy costs to cook, chill etc
  • the cost of clearing up and washing the dishes at the end of the meal
  • possibly even wear and tear on dishes and plates
  • even a proportion of the cost of the tools and appliances used
Basically we will get to a number which explains why a Steak Dinner in a UK restaurant will easily cost you £25 when you could buy the steak in the supermarket for a fiver.

I have digressed a little but it appears that a nameless individual in the USA has produced a very poor and very low estimate of the likely price for the current project. They have also produced, and there is no other way to say it, a piss poor estimate of how long it will take to work out an Indicative Price.

The net result of this poor estimating is that I have run around like a maniac to gather a team together. They have had no time to develop a reasonable estimate and we now have a number that is colossal compared to the aforementioned inaccurate pricing estimate.

The US have been preparing a similar number and the two should have some similarities in much the same way as apples are similar to pears but unfortunately they do not. This, again, is the result of the poor estimate of how long we needed to do the job. We have been rushed. We have not had the time to understand the requirements properly and we have made some mistakes.

The result of all of this is that we I have had some very difficult discussions today and we have been grudgingly given some more time to refine our numbers. People are NOT HAPPY ...

.. neither am I.

Monday, 17 October 2011

The Meal from Hell

Today Tigger and I met at the nearest Starfleet Space Port and spent several hours preparing the Enterprise for our latest mission ...

... basically you need to use your mind's eye to picture the gleaming Bridge of the Enterprise, displays throw coloured highlights and there are those reassuring chirrups from the bridge infrastructure. Periodically there is that paper pulled from envelope sound as the Bridge doors open and an ensign in an attractively short uniform comes in to present Tigger or me with a tablet showing vital status information.

I am sat in the Captain's chair with my little Pooh legs dangling over the edge. Tigger, on the other hand, has no problems with his seating options due to his innate bouncing ability.....

... "Fuck me Tigger it's a bit different to the Hundred Acre Wood in here" say me.

"Pooh, my bear with little brain, they have only done it again and totally forgotten that we are stuffed toys and have given us another ginormous project to manage" replies Tigger ...

... "Oh, and don't swear so much. Lt Uhura doesn't like it and it makes you sound like a cu ...."

Yes, we are teamed together again and are trying our very best to cram a quart of workload in to a pint pot of time using fluid ounces of resource.*

 We had a fairly strenuous day of wrestling with costs, dealing with SMIs** and playing the system to ensure that our Technical Review is realistic rather than a punitive rating just because we hadn't filled in the right form and sent it to the right bunch of people.

At the end of the day we left the Space Port and joined a few colleagues from our last Mission for a couple of drinks and a meal. WHY DID WE DO THIS ?

We had dined out with some of them at the beginning of August and  they thought another team meal was a really good idea so we pitched up. It needs to be stated that we had just had a very intensive day and Tigger was still suffering from near fatal alcohol poisoning after a week of Beer and Golf in Marbella.  We arrived at the Pub and rapidly realised that everyone else at the table had a complete Personality bypass. It was dreadful, it was like wading through treacle. All they wanted to do was talk about work and none of them had the interpersonal skills to engage in any sort of social conversation.

At one point I went for a pee and sent Tigger a text to see if he was hating it as much as I was. His reply of "Kill them all" suggests he was of a similar opinion.

The meal itself was lovely. We went to a Mediterranean Restaurant called Gallu's in Leamington Spa and the food was really good. I had Piri Piri Chicken Livers followed by  Pork and Mussels in a white whine sauce as a main and was really pleased with the choice. I only wish that, with the exception of Tigger, the company was better. At times it felt like we had been invited out as the evening's entertainment but we were far too fatigued and sober than do anything more than try to keep the conversation from stalling.

My personal High / Low Point was when the subject of China came up and a colleague advised that his daughter was adopted from China. He added that he already had two sons and that he and his wife really wanted a daughter ... I managed to insert the quip that he "sent out for a Chinese"....

... we thought it was funny.

Eventually we were joined by the Exec that I travelled to Switzerland with a few weeks ago and he was a real breath of fresh air. We had a drink and a reasonable natter with him before making polite excuses and disappearing back to my favourite branch and the Hollowed out Volcano. It had been a long day and neither of us needed an evening like that. I have a phrase that really fits my opinion of the evening...

... I would have rather shoved live wasps up my arse!.
* to use the vernacular "we are so fucked".
** In the old days these used to be SMEs (Subject Matter Experts). Nowadays we are given SMIs (Subject Matter Idiots). These are people that are paid at least £30K but think like they are  paid minimum wage.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Sunday: Nothing to see here

In a break from the normal routine I dropped TP down at the rugby club and returned home to walk T&M around the Three Miler. It was a case of divide and conquer this morning as 30% would pick him up on her way back from the supermarket.

The rest of the day was taken up with general domesticity. The kitchen was tidied, the lawn was mown and I finally shifted the remainder of the half ton of sand from in front of the garage doors.

As I said in the title "Nothing to see here", the only moment of madness was when we realised that Tyson might actually be eligible to play for the All Blacks based not only on her colouring but also on the fact that her pedigree shows New Zealand champions a couple of generations back.

This combined with natural ball handling skills makes her a definite option if they are short for the final.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Everybody fight!

The behavioural trend at The Pile this week seems to be pugilistic to say the least ...

... let me explain. In ring 1 we have Noggin and Tog, being kittens they spend every waking hour knocking seven bells out of each other. Being kittens they are also very cute and their antics have us all in hysterics. They even have a tendency to fall asleep mid fight, presumably so they can recommence without the hassle of having to track down their opponent.

In ring 2 we have Tyson and Marauder, both of them are in season at the moment and they are simply a hormonal mess. They too spend most of their waking hours either sparring or trying to hump each other. Being Standard Poodles their size and enthusiasm makes then far from cute, especially when they hurl themselves on to the sofa whilst one is trying to wind down after a hectic day.

In ring 3 we have TP up against the tag team of bad man and 30%. He is generally a good kid but he is going through the typical teenager know it all/inconsiderate/ thoughtless/stroppy/hormonal stage and has been a real pain in the arse this week. Basically we have had a number of clashes this week over homework, his desire to buy a BMX bike and a couple of village fuck wits that he has taken to hanging out with. Hopefully we are making some headway but it has been a series of arguments that we could really do without. The only resident who has not been fighting is Eddy but even he has produced some quite belligerent snarls in response to Noggin & Tog.

And so I turn to Saturday ...

... I spent an hour or so clearing a couple of work mails and sent Tigger a text to arrange a briefing session before all hell breaks loose on Monday. The rest of the morning was spent completing a few odd jobs and loading TP's Mountain Bike in to the back of the Defender as it appears to have developed a gearing issue and requires the attention of an acned youth* in a Halfords workshop.

After lunch 30% and nipped in to Worcester to drop off the bike and pick up a Motorcycle Jacket that I had been tempted by last Thursday. On our return I walked the dogs and 30% hit the housework. The evening involved a home cooked curry and a wander up to the village hall where  a local bad were playing a gig.
* I believe they refer to themselves as cycle mechanics. If I had spent three years in an apprenticeship I would be pretty peeved at a 16 year old with a bike spanner assuming this job title based on their ability to mend a puncture.

Friday, 14 October 2011

I appear to have cracked a rib

Friday has finally arrived and it is a beautiful Autumn day. The sky is blue and cloudless and the weather is mild. This evening's walk around the Three Miler was a great escape at the end of a fairly successful day.

On the work front I can now report that Scotty is back in Engineering and will spending the weekend recalibrating the dilithium chambers so that we can look to disembark early next week*

The rest of the crew are starting to submit their tactical analyses and, providing we don't have any problems with Klingons, all should be good for a First Contact Engagement on Star date 2011.11.21. All we need is Tigger to return from his R&R on the pleasure planet Risa and we'll be ready to go.

Turning to the title of today's entry, I appear to have cracked a rib. This injury was not as a result of a brawl with a Nausicaan  but actually came from a collision with an item of street furniture.

Last week 30% and I spent the morning in Worcester. As we left the camera shop deep in conversation I walked straight in to a 4' high bollard. This was very painful and I assumed that I had suffered some bruising.  I was expecting the pain to subside over the next couple of days but it has not and at the moment coughing and sneezing are bodily functions to be avoided. This morning I popped in to the local Surgery for my flu jab and mentioned this incident to the Practice Nurse as she pumped influenza vaccine in to my arm. She smiled and after a quick chat confirmed my self diagnosis and advised that it would be six weeks before this minor crack healed.

I obviously don't know my own strength if I can break my own bones and will be taking care if either of my nostrils need excavating, I might fracture my own skull.
* This Star Trek bollocks translates to I now have a full project team on-board and can therefore pull my costs together early next week

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Picture Post. No. 11

Thursday was pretty similar to Wednesday. Resources are still missing but my 2nd Line Manager contacted me this afternoon and is now on the case so hopefully we will be in better shape when I record Friday's fun and games.

I am still standing firm with my refusal to commit to a delivery date and so far no one has shouted at me although I have heard that a Senior Sales Exec has stated "we will not de-commit from our price submission date".  That is all fine and dandy providing you set your date after ensuring that you have the appropriate resources and have asked them for a realistic delivery date. Needless to say, he did not and as I am bound by a set of processes with absolutely no authority to bypass them I am standing my ground.

Away from work I was supposed to pop round to a local Farmer's to give her a hand dispatching a few cockerels but when I turned up a family row had taken place and she was in a bit of a state so we decided that the boys can have a temporary reprieve and we'll do the deed later on next week.

I also had a call from the camera repair shop and they advised that my old EOS 350D needs a new shutter mechanism, a clean and a service and that this is a viable repair in view of their current second hand values so I gave them the go ahead and it should be available in about three weeks time.

Whilst on the subject of photography I have decided to go with another Picture Post and have chosen a few photos from day 5 of this years holiday in America. These were taken in Jackson Hole, Wy and the nearby Grand Tetons National Park.

Jackson itself is a nice enough town. It is the nearest sizeable community to the Grand Tetons National Park and consequently is heavily focused on tourism. It has however managed to preserve its origins and grow whilst managing to avoid becoming tacky. There were plenty of restaurants and bars and an array of shops far beyond what anywhere else in the region could sustain if it wasn't for the constant flow of visitors along the main street. I liked it.

The Grand Teton Range
And this is what they all come for; The Grand Tetons National Park. It is a magnificent range of 13,000'  peaks surrounded by glacial streams and meadows. The fact that they lack any foothills and just rise straight up off the prairie adds to the spectacle.

On our first day in the park we took a ride across Jenny Lake and took a short hike up the trail to see the Hidden Falls and the views from Inspiration Point. The trail was packed with American Families* who detracted somewhat from the concept of wilderness but the views were fantastic and made up for the hustle and bustle of the trail.

Hidden Falls, Cascade Canyon
* It was more like a Shopping Mall than a trail

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

When in doubt, Think of an analogy ...

The lack of resources and the impending deadline meant that today I had to implement Plan B.

Basically Plan B said the following...

Dear Mr Manager and Mr Sales Exec, You did not give me enough time and then you did not give me enough people on day one of the aforementioned, miserly time frame. Taking this in to account I have to advise that I will not be delivering the requested deliverable on the requested date. In fact, I will not be delivering them at all until you provide me with the appropriate pond life*.


bad man
 Now obviously I applied suitable spin to this and did the appropriate calls to warm people up to the idea and ensure they understood why we were where we were**. The net result is that I appear to have come out of this rather well and may have managed to gain some more time to complete the work.

We are still under the cosh but at least the Senior team now have a realistic view of what we can and cannot achieve and are now allowing us to progress with an understanding that the dead line may have to be resuscitated and kept on life support for another week or so before they decide to pull out the plug and feeding tubes.

Although this seems like a major achievement the best thing about today is that I will no longer have to work unsupported through the weekend flogging the proverbial dead horse. We may now have time to do the job properly ... sort of.

* I actually said " You wanted a meal. The best I can do at the moment is give you some of the raw ingredients"
** God, I hate that fucking saying

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Time for Plan B perhaps

Well that it Tuesday finished.

It has not been a good day. I have 5 days to do a piece of work and have it ready for review next Monday. In real terms this means that I actually have to work straight through the weekend to stand any chance of achieving this. I also need a number of key individuals assigned to provide deliverables.

I appreciate that this is one of many opportunities and that prioritisation decisions must be taken by the Management so I waited for my Boss* to advise on whether I would get them or not, nudging him gently by Instant Messenger on occasions over the morning.

By lunchtime I was advised that this project had been prioritised and then took a call from a Dispatcher to advise that although I had been "prioritised" there would still be gaping holes in my team. These would not be minor bullet holes in the Superstructure these would be massive fucking torpedo holes on the waterline just so we all have a common understanding.

Basically I am screwed but still bound by process so am in a position where I am being asked to give up my weekend to have a piece of incomplete nonsense ripped apart by a review process next early next week.

I definitely need a new plan.
* I will not go on about him today but needless to say he was as much  use as a chocolate teapot today. Same as yesterday, still a Prick.

Monday, 10 October 2011

What do you get if you lock a fat fish in a safe?

After several weeks of hanging around with no real direction I have finally had some proper work to do today. Tigger has gone off to Spain for a golfing drinking break leaving me to run his latest project. The poor fellow  only got it last Thursday and had hadn't really got stuck in other than to request some assistance before he started packing his arm bands, Speedo "budgie smugglers"  and factor 30.

I had a brief overview call with him last Friday and that told me that there was going to be a lot to achieve in a very short time. Basically I have been tasked with getting a cost estimated developed and approved in the space of a week.

I'd be a liar if I didn't say that this occupied quite a few of my waking moments over the weekend but that allowed me to hit the ground running this morning and I feel that I have got a reasonable grasp of what we are trying to achieve. There is nothing particularly complicated or earth shattering about the project scope. The only issue is that a week is nowhere near long enough to do this ...

... actually scratch that. A week is plenty of time to do this if we had the resources we need on day one. My major obstacle to achievement is my pen pushing, bean counting, process obsessed, obstacle constructing twat of a manager. It goes like this; "ah bad man, but I need you to build me a profile of the resources you need down to a fraction of a head and the critical path for deployment". For Heaven's Sake! I have a week to do this and need two days of each resource type NOW. I do not have time to arse around drawing pretty patterns because he is obviously not used to  responding to Business pressures.

Now I appreciate that there are other projects that need the same resources but it is his job  to allocate or deny. At the moment all he appears to be doing is fannying around burning the little time I have avoiding making a decision.

My manager is basically the Ed Milliband of the IT Services world. Fundamentally says the right thing but ends up just sounding like a weird prat*. Basically his problem is that he doesn't have sufficient depth of knowledge of what his team do so manages us at a quite a superficial level.  This is a problem because the cracks in his knowledge show through quite regularly which means that trust is not engendered and neither is confidence. This is one of the reasons I am somewhat apprehensive about the appraisal he will give me at the end of the year despite my alleged successes.

Back to today, although it sounds dreadful I have actually had a pretty good day. It has been long and tiring but I have a goal and focus and actually feel that I have done something rather than the past few weeks where my role has been that of Corporate Andrex.
* at best. The more I think about the more I realise how demotivated and negative I feel after talking to him.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

On the mend.

I woke on Sunday feeling slightly more human and a gentle stroll across the fields in the sun whilst TP attended rugby practice did me the world of good.

I had another lazy afternoon that was punctuated by a little light housework and I made a start on relocating the half ton of sand that Hank kindly left on my drive...

... Cheers Hank.

Other Stuff:
I received a call from the local Farmer who supplies us with beef. She did make mention of an upcoming kill but the main purpose of her call was to ask me if I would give her a hand to dispatch some cockerels that have just reached killing weight.  I was flattered to be asked, but surprised that there was no-one at home she could have asked. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I'm off up to help her on Thursday evening and have been offered a couple of the birds as a reward for helping out...

... Cheers Kathy

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Duvet Day

That pretty much describes my day; sprawled on the sofa and alternating between sleeping and watching television.

I declined breakfast and lunch and by mid afternoon I had started to feel slightly more human. I actually managed to step outside and put the trailer away after yesterday's Tip run and I also managed to joint the pheasant that Marauder caught on Thursday. Both activities left me shattered and the smell of pheasant did cause a gag or two.

However, by Supper time I actually felt peckish and joined 30% and TP for a Chinese take away meal ...

... a very small portion though.

If all goes well I might be brave enough to attempt a fart in a day or so.

Friday, 7 October 2011


I didn't feel particularly chipper when I woke this morning. There was nothing I could identify as being wrong but I just didn't feel quite right.

Shrugging of this non-specific feeling of mailaise I started my day with a trip over to my Dad's house where I picked up him and his redundant freezer. We came back via the local Tip and after several circuits of the facility managed to deposit the aforementioned freezer, bags of patio rubble and green waste in the appropriate receptacles.

Once home we settled at the table to chat and drink coffee and this was the point that I realised that the last thing I wanted to do was to eat or drink anything. I started to feel most unwell. I was definitely going down with something ...

... and that something was presenting all of the symptoms of gastric flu. I had a fever, the shakes and other things that begin with "sh" too but I won't go in to that.

It is fair to say that I did very little for the remainder of the day other than attend a DVLA mandated eye test as my Driving Licence is up for renewal and have a hand-over call with Golfy as I am covering for him while he swans off to Spain for a week of golf and beer.

I was tucked up in bed by half past four and that is where I stayed for the rest of the day.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Day Off

Although today is a holiday there was no lie-in for me. Mark had rung to say that he had finished working on the Defender so 30% took me over to pick her up early this morning. The work was an MOT test, a service and a repair to the windscreen wipers and the bill was large, about what I expected, but still large. He also advised that my flywheel was on the way out but that I need not panic as it is not urgent and I should have a good few months before it needs to be done.

After giving me a substantial estimate we started to talk about my options and whether I should sell her on. He advised that her trade in value was only £1,000 less than I paid for her three years ago and I realised that whilst I had been hit by a few repair bills her depreciation had been negligible and the total cost of ownership was actually very good. I drove home pondering this and decided to get a few quotes for the flywheel/clutch replacement in the New Year.

Once home I ventured out on to the Three Miler with T&M. It was a fairly event free ramble until we wandered back towards the village. As were were walking along T&M suddenly dived in to the foot of the hedgerow and many scrabbling sounds could be heard. I assumed that they had found another another rabbit suffering from myxomatosis. I called them off and found Marauder stood over the body of a cock pheasant that she had caught. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I picked it up and it is now hung up in the cellar waiting for me to pluck and joint it. Thanks M.

Later in the morning 30% and I took a ride in to Worcester for a wander around and a light lunch. Whilst there I dropped my Canon EOS 350D body in for a repair estimate following it's failure when we were in America. I also wandered in to the local Motorcycle Dealership and was rather taken with a very nice Textile Motorcycle Jacket. To be honest. if I hadn't just been stung with the Defender repair bill I would have been flexing the plastic.

We lunched at Mac & Jac's in The Shambles which turned out to be a pleasant little deli-come-bistro and I can definitely recommend the Serrano ham, sun dried tomato and mozzarella flat bread.

The afternoon was pretty lazy but I did eventually rise from the sofa and load up the Defender with some debris from the recent patio work and garden clearance. The plan for tomorrow is to pop over and pick up Bad Man Senior and his redundant Freezer and come home via the local Tip.  Then we'll have lunch and I'll drop pater off at home later in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Picture Post. No. 10

Wednesday was another day in the Office for me. Tigger, on the other hand, declined on the grounds that he couldn't be arsed to drive in twice in the same week. Most of my day was spent in meetings of one sort or another but I can think of nothing of worth to note down here. The high points of the working day were the commute on the Honda and pressing the enable button on my "out of office" at the end of the day.

In view of the lack of excitement I have decided to go with another Picture Post and today I have selected a choice from Day 2 of our Summer Holiday. These were taken in Arches National Park in Utah.

Landscape Arch
Balanced Rock
South Window - I think!
Turret Arch
Although named for the 2,000 plus sandstone arches to be found there the park has many other geological features including petrified sand dunes and the hugely impressive sandstone towers that form the Courthouse Towers group. It is a gorgeous place and, like most of the US National Parks,  easily accessible by road and foot. I can see that some might say that the walkways detract from the concept of "untouched wilderness" but it can be argued that they prevent damage to the fragile desert soils and were a boon for us in view of 30%'s recently broken foot that would not have stood up to rock scrambles.

When planning our trip we nearly struck Arches off our itinerary on the grounds that it was too far off route. I am so glad we didn't as it was truly one of the high points of the holiday.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

My work here is done .... almost.

In a break from the normal routine Tigger and I met up at the Nearest Circle of Hell today, rather than the more usual Wednesday congregation.

The reason for this change is that a vital process needs to be established and the victim process owner could only meet with us today.  Like a lamb to the slaughter he had kindly booked a room and arranged a teleconference for those that could not attend in person. He sat there smiling meekly with his preconceived ideas about the scope that we would address ...

... it may therefore have come as a bit of a surprise when we wandered in and hit him with both barrels, not giving him time to breathe let along disagree with our proposals. Before he had worked out what was going on we had established a tracking spreadsheet a full Governance System with the Account Executives and a regular weekly review where Senior team members would review and hopefully ratify the decisions...

... we then left the meeting informing the victim process owner that he was best placed to run this new process as we were about to disengage and he would provide the continuity that was vital to the success of this key activity*.

Apparently we left this meeting so fast that two trails of flaming footprints could be seen leading from the meeting room to the coffee bar.

Congratulating ourselves on job well done we then had an interesting discussion with a lawyer who seemed to think that Poland was not part of the European Union. Having put him right on that Geo-political fuck up we then corrected his understanding of our project scope and left him to bugger off and sort out whether Model Clause Agreements needed to be put in place.

All in all this had been a successful day and we were able to leave knowing that a couple of key disengagement activities had been completed.

However the great thing about today was nothing to do with that.  As a result of the Defender being in the workshop I used the Honda to get in and out of work. I normally only use her for recreational purposes and had forgotten how joyous she makes the daily commute. Heavy traffic no longer slows me down, overtaking is done with ease and each set of bends become and exercise in line and pace. It was only when I got home that I recalled that Tigger had commented on how bad the traffic was and this had gone right over my head as my drive in to work had been an absolute pleasure.
* some of this week's finest bullshit.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Before 'n After or There 'n Back

Today has involved a bit of running around mostly due to fact that the Defender is in the workshop and the dogs has been booked in at the Groomers. I therefore had to take T&M in to the Poodle Parlour and then drive 30% on it to work before I returned home to make a start myself. That was return journey number 1

I then muddled through my workload until just after lunch when Jenny called to advise that T&M were ready to be picked up. This was return journey number 2.

I then spent the afternoon pondering the complexities of European Model Clause Agreements before making return journey number 3 to collect 30% from work.

The net result of the day is that I have two very smart looking dogs and have had a sizeable impact on Global Warming.

Tyson - rasta dog & glamour puss

Marauder - 70's throwback & modern chic

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Manners maketh man

The heat wave continues and Sunday morning was glorious. 30% and I dropped TP at the Rugby Club and went exploring with T&M and an Ordnance Survey Map...

... The fields behind the Club pitches are becoming a little congested with walkers so we explored some of the other paths in the vicinity.  To be honest they were equally, if not more, busy as there appeared to be both a Rambling and an Equestrian event taking place and there were groups of silver haired walkers and horses, some pulling traps, at every turn. We agreed that the new path showed potential and there were some lovely woods to be explored over the next few weeks.

On our way back we spotted a rider ahead and called T&M back and put them on their leads. The rider was well aware of this courtesy as he halted and watched and then walked slowly past ...

... without a single word of thanks, in fact without a single word of any sort. Now I wasn't expecting gushing votes of thanks or anything like that but good manners suggest that a simple acknowledgement and word of thanks might be in order. I am pretty sure that he would have been far more vociferous if I had left T&M unrestrained.

As he passed I couldn't resist and went with a very passive aggressive "THANKS, YOU'RE WELCOME" to his complete lack of acknowledgement. Even this failed to promote a response from the ignoramus. We both agreed that he was very rude but that we wouldn't let it spoil our walk. We wandered on hoping that he would be thrown and die a slow death in ditch crushed under the weight of his mount.

The afternoon's main event was a visit by 30%'s mum and dad who had insisted on coming over to see the kittens. Tea was taken in the garden and the Autumn sun was enjoyed.

The kittens have settled in really well and are amazingly confident with T&M. The dogs still have a tendency to get over excited but are adjusting very well considering it has only been a week since the little monsters turned up. At one point this evening one of them misjudged a leap from the coffee table and landed on Marauder who was sleeping by the sofa. M barely stirred and continued her doggy dreams...

.... as for names, I think we are going with Tog and Noggin but who knows whether these will stick or get corrupted over time.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Week in Brief ... Again

It appears that the need to spend a day away in Europe seems to totally screw up my ability to maintain The Journal. My last entry was a week ago and I would go with a variant of the Catholic Confessional " Forgive me Father but it is seven days since my last Journal entry" but I am most definitely not Catholic and The Journal is definitely more record than confession.

So here I go with a round up of the last week. The main theme seems to be travel and transport problems but other shit happens too.

I woke with that nasty scratchy feeling at the back of the throat that presages a cold. Great, that is just what I need this week.

The morning was filled with the usual trip to the Rugby Club so that TP could train. We took T&M and 30% and I walked the dogs while TP did his stuff on the practice pitch. We congratulated ourself on avoiding the rain which held off until the drive home and transport problem number one raised it's head. A couple of miles from home in the middle of a downpour the Defender's windscreen wipers gave up the ghost with a noise that would make even the most mechanically insensitive wince.  It is due for a Service and an MOT and now the wipers need fixing too. Bugger!

The wiper failure messed up my afternoon's plans as I had intended to drive round to Bad Man senior's house and take a redundant Freezer over to the local Tip. The frequent storms meant that this was not going to be possible so I spent the afternoon caulking cracks and filling holes on the Landing and the evening saw me packing a case for the trip to Zurich.

My flight out to Zurich was at lunchtime so I did very little in the way of work before driving over to The Nearest Circle of Hell where I met up with one of the Account Executives who had kindly offered to drive down to Heathrow. He is is a good few years younger than me and is probably best described as a Belfast Boy done Good. He has done very well for himself and the drive down was my first inside experience of a Porsche 911. As a rider of motorcycles I was prepared for the brutal acceleration and high speed but I must admit that my age has tempered the aggression in my driving whilst his is most definitely still there. I think it is fair to say that if we had had bionic hearing "look at that wanker in that Porsche" would have been a frequently repeated phrase from those we passed.

The main activity on Monday seemed to be drinking lager as we started in the Departure Lounge at Heathrow and continued through until a little after midnight in Zurich. After the trip to Luxembourg where I had seen nothing to suggest that I had left the UK I had intentionally planned my Swiss itinerary so I had the chance to see a little of Zurich and actually get a sense of Switzerland...

... after checking in to the Hotel which was just over the road from the Zurich football stadium we took a tram ride down to the Old City by the lake shore and spent a few hours taking in the fine architecture, imbibing several more lagers and tucking in to a beautiful but very expensive Thai meal.
 The trip home involved a compulsory visit to an Irish Bar where I switched to G&Ts before we poured ourselves in to another tram back to the hotel for a nightcap or two before retiring to bed.

I woke on Tuesday feeling much less shabby than expected and after a shower I climbed in to my suit and took the lift down to breakfast. The lift paused on the second floor and the Exec climbed in on his way outside for the first cigarette of the day. He looked absolutely dreadful and made me feel much much better. I was going to describe him as looking like death warmed up but road kill better described his appearance.

The day with the Swiss team was long but productive. They were a reasonably good natured bunch and they seem to be focused on getting their local contract signed and starting to deliver the necessary services. I picked up a few actions but nothing that couldn't be cleared over the next few days.

Surprise, surprise we finished the working day in the Zurich departure lounge with a lager before boarding our flight back to Heathrow....

... and that should be it. I should now be typing "after a short flight back to the UK I was chauffeured up the M40 in the 911 and was home by half past nine". How fucking wrong was I? The fuck wit baggage handlers at Heathrow couldn't get the luggage off the plane and we spent the best part of two hours waiting for our cases at Carousel 2. The end result was that it was gone ten thirty before I finally walked through the door at home.

I met up with Golfy at our Nearest Circle of Hell on Wednesday and we started the day being shouted at by Germans. I have to say that they were most unfriendly and I took some persuading to change my tack from taking an armoured Division across the Rhine to sort things out once and for all.

The Senior Account Exec took a slightly different approach and basically said "Oy Sausage Munchers. You can moan all you like but you are already on the hook to deliver this stuff and if you don't sign the local agreement you still have to deliver but you just cant bill for it. Lets see if her threats sort this out.

The rest of the day was filled with meetings, chat and failed attempts to clear the e-mail that had accumulated since Monday Morning.

Thursday started with a trip over to Bromsgrove to drop the Defender over at MP Trading for repairs, servicing and MOT testing. Mark is up to his ears in work and it will be early next week before I can collect her and I am expecting a rather large bill.

The rest of the day was spent catching up on stuff and swearing at the utter, utter bastards who attempt to drag me in to stuff that is nothing to do with me or ask me for responses on matters that are quite clearly not in my area of responsibility. I bent poor Tigger's ear quite few times with my ranting.

The working day finally finished and I took a walk around the Three Miler enjoying the heat wave that currently has the UK basking in Mediterranean temperatures.

Friday was very much a case of "more of the same" and after finally completing the week's objectives I reached the mental nirvana that is "Fuck them all" and booked a couple of days off next week with the very real expectation that they will implode without me. I appreciate that this will not happen but after the arse wiping that I have had to do this week one wonders how some of them will find the coffee machines without me!

The evening saw 30%'s brother and his girlfriend visit for dinner and a very pleasant evening was spent catching up on their news and seeing how much lager/red wine I could drink without falling asleep*.

Saturday started WAY TOO EARLY with 30% throwing two kittens at me while I still slept. These were followed in very quick succession by two standard poodles that leaped on to the bed to join in the fun. Just to make sure I was fully awake, 30% then started to chastise T&M for being too enthusiastic at full volume.

I was now most definitely awake and threw on some clothes and wandered downstairs in the vain hope that coffee would drive away the fatigue.

The morning saw me take the Ducati over to Moto-vation in Cheltenham for some some scheduled maintenance and 30% kindly followed me over to provide the necessary transport home.

The rest of the day has been spent in the garden mowing lawns and starting the Autumn tidy up. This looks like it could well run through to the Spring as there is a long list of jobs that need to be completed.

* a litre of the former and two glasses of the latter thank you very much