Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Is it me?

Covering letter written - Check
Camera carefully packaged - Check
Royal Mail website investigated for postage options- Check

Suitably prepared I wandered down to the local Post Office and requested that my parcel be sent on a recorded, signed for, next day delivery basis with a with Compensation capped at a value of £1,000.

The chap in the Post Office carefully weighed my package and then gave me the cost of sending it using the Standard Parcel Service which is only suitable for items with a value of no more than £46. I pointed out that the contents were worth considerably more than £46 and reiterated my request for the compensation cover of up to £1,000. He then responded by telling me that it could be sent "next day" with cover up to £500 for £9.05...

... at least we were heading in the right direction. I pointed out that I wanted it covered for the higher level of compensation and he advised that I would incur an additional ninety pence in charges. I told him that was exactly what I wanted.

I am fairly certain that I had told him exactly what I had wanted when I first walked in to the Office but for reasons totally unknown to me he decided to try to sell me a totally different postal service. I appreciate that he might have felt that he was doing me a favour by starting with the cheapest options first but I had come in and asked for a specific service and then had to spend a good few minutes coaxing the chap to give me what I had asked for in the first place.

Is it me?

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Result ?

I wasn't quite sure how to view Tuesday.

My toothache had diminished but it still needed looking at. I suppose the optimist would say that the lack of pain was a good thing but the realist in me said that a trip to the Dentist really needs to happen and I rarely exit that establishment with a smile on my face.

My camera was still broken but at least I had a detailed complaint sat in someone's in-box at their Service Centre. I can but hope that sense prevails on that issue.

My working day looked to be fairly uneventful with very little in my diary ...

... all in all the word "Meh*" really summed up how I felt this morning.

I breakfasted and then prepared to start the day and this is when the sun started to peep through the clouds. First I rang the dentist and they advised that they had an appointment at eleven which was perfect as the only scheduled work call of the day would be finished by ten.

Fifteen minutes before I was due to leave for the Dentist the phone rang. I picked it up and was asked if I was Mr Badman. I confirmed that I was and the caller advised that she was Vicky from Canon. She advised that she had reviewed my complaint and had decided that, as a good-will gesture, Canon UK was prepared to repair my camera provided that costs were "reasonable". All I needed to do was package it up and send it with a covering letter to their service centre in Hertfordshire. 

Obviously buoyed by this news I trundled over to the Dentist where I was prodded and probed and advised that the tooth's future is uncertain but a course of antibiotics might sort out the problem. I was stunned as I climbed from the chair and my Dentist advised that there was no charge for the consultation.

By this point I was wondering whether I had slipped in to some alternative universe as today seemed to have taken a complete change in direction.

In the afternoon things settled in to a more normal plane of existence when the Americans came on line and started asking some very vague questions. I spent the best part of a hour trying to get some clarity on what they wanted and what they were planning to do but I might as well have been talking to the cats.

In the end I picked up the 'phone and had a chat with a US colleague who worked on the previous project and has now been assigned to the current one. This Good Shepherd advised that the US team were in such deep water that they had given up on using a snorkel, had progressed beyond scuba gear and were now looking at using a bathysphere to try and get themselves out of the shit they now found themselves in.

The requests for me to review some of my costs was going to have the same effect as trying to take a pee in the middle of a hurricane; pointless, having little effect other than now being soaked in both rain and piss.

The day ended with 30% suggesting that I consider replacing The Defender rather than spending cash on the upgrades I had in mind.

* Meh: an expression of indifference or boredom

Monday, 27 February 2012

Don't you hate being right

It was another Red  Letter Day today when my Manager pinged me to let me know how much bonus I was to be awarded after a hard year of pushing rocks uphill. I was pleasantly surprised and the news couldn't have come at a better time as one of my teeth is starting to ache, my Land Rover needs some love and attention and ...

... as predicted last Thursday, my suspicions about Canon's customer service were proved right today when Canon UK confirmed that they had absolutely no interest in the faulty camera I bought in America and that I should bugger off and annoy their US colleagues. After some choice invective I decided to attempt this and found that Canon's US web-sites will only allow US residents to raise Service Requests and that non-residents should contact their local Canon Group ...

... Urghh! This was starting to go round in circles. My local Canon Group had already expressed a complete lack of interest and when I phoned again the Customer Service Representative could not grasp the issue and suggested that I use "snail mail" to link up with the US to open my warranty claim. My remonstrations that I could not be the first person to have this issue and the fact that their web applications would not allow me to open a US warranty claim fell on deaf ears and they simply gave an insincere apology and advised that they would be more than happy to fix the camera if I was prepared to pay.

By now I was fucking fuming. Rather than ruin my evening I sat down and wrote a long, detailed and in some places illustrated e-mail of complaint that pointed out the deficiencies of their Global Operating model, their lack lustre Customer Service and their crappy product quality. I hit send safe in the knowledge that someone at Canon was going to wince when they opened that one.

To be fair, the legitimate punishment for poor customer service should be to be flayed and then dipped in a warm salt bath while the recipient of the poor service watches and occasionally shoots vinegar at you from a Super Soaker water pistol.... Too strong?

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Weekend Round Up

Saturday: Overdue Tasks 

For the first time in a fortnight I am at home for the weekend and my stated aim was to have some "down time". The preceding week had been demanding and I really didn't feel like running around. As a consequence much of the morning was spent clipping Tyson & Marauder. This was a job that was regularly interrupted for coffee breaks whilst the clipper blades cooled and were oiled. We had let the dogs coats grow over the Winter and, with Spring approaching, it was time for them to be shorn. It is amazing how skinny they look after their 3" long coats are reduced to 1/8th of an inch.

The shearing was followed by lunch and then a walk. I then set about connecting a first generation Apple TV* to the television in the bedroom. This was a fairly straightforward exercise and we now have access to the video library upstairs too.

As an aside, I needed to buy an HDMI lead to install the Apple TV. I had bought a couple of these a few weeks ago when I installed the 2nd Gen ATV in the living room and literally winced at the cost of these cables which can easily exceed £20 depending on the cable length. It is possible to pay silly money for these leads. With Christmas credit card bills still fresh in my mind I therefore bought a 1m HDMI cable from Amazon for the princely sum of £1.59 including postage. It was so cheap I worked on the principle that if it was rubbish I was prepared to loose a couple of quid and step out and pay a tenner for a replacement...

... No Need! The cable was perfect; well manufactured and did exactly what was required of it. I am now wondering what the profit margin is on some of these cables and how their manufacturers would attempt to justify the price differentials.
* Purchased from Tigger

Sunday: Red Letter Day

TP had Rugby practice this morning so 30% and I made best use of the time by taking T&M for a good walk around the fields and woods just over the road from the club. The weather was splendid and  we covered the best part of four miles while TP got muddy diving in to tackle bags.

In the afternoon I had another go at the dogs and clipped their faces. I just need to do their feet now but they are not that keen on having their toes clipped; ticklish perhaps?

After that I settled in front of the TV to watch the Scotland:France match but couldn't keep my eyes open and ended up snoring on the sofa. It seemed like I had spent a good chunk of the day avoiding watching rugby.

The title of today's entry comes from the fact that a long awaited e-mail finally arrived in my in-box this morning...

... hopefully Tigger got one too.

Friday, 24 February 2012


After a text and two voicemails I finally managed to grab Tim Hyett's attention today. The Ducati has been in his workshop since last October and I wondered whether he had got round to the light refurbishments we had planned. He sent a text advising that the exhausts had been polished and the engine cases were about to be painted. All being well she should be ready for collection in a couple of weeks.

Other than that, the day was fairly uneventful. The project deliverable was finally sent to the Lead Team in the US and I made a few loose plans to occupy my time over the next couple of weeks.

I also found a few minutes to download the holiday photos and was quite pleased with this one.

Pwll Du Bay, February 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Finishing things ... and starting things

The weather today was quite astonishing. Yesterday I had to hold on to my hat as I climbed the hill to stop the wind blowing it clean away. The skies were grey and it felt cold and damp. Today is the complete opposite; the skies are blue and I wish I had left my fleece at home as the temperature climbed in to the high teens.

There are no work tales today as my plan is to now have a very gentle second half to the week. There is still a final, tedious task to be done but it is a one man job and I, fortunately, am not that man. All being well Friday will be a very early finish.

I finally got around to finishing off the bacon that I started curing a few weeks back.  It had spent the past two weeks wrapped in muslin and hanging from the rafters in the garage. There was no specific reason for this. It was just that I needed somewhere cool to keep it while I was occupied by work and our holiday in Wales. The belly joint has now been sliced and I have just over two pounds of Streaky Bacon to freeze. The cured cheeks have been cubed and these produced nearly three pounds of lardons. Most of these have been batched, packed and frozen but I held back half a pound and made Spaghetti Carbonara for Supper this evening. This culinary effort was judged a success by TP and 30%* and I must admit I was quite pleased with it myself.

I also need to give warning of a possible rant about Canon in the near future. After a week away in Wales with the EOS Rebel T2i that I bought in the States last year I can confirm that it is most definitely not right.  On occasions the mirror will lock up when taking a shot and this can only be rectified by turning it off, removing the battery and then replacing and turning it back on. It also doesn't seem to like being used in a "portrait" mode and has a tendency to do nothing but tell me to replace the battery pack. I rang the Canon Customer Service Desk to lodge a warranty claim and they advised that I need to send it back to the US as that is where I bought the camera. I pointed out that they were a global company and that was not acceptable adding that the only reason I bought the camera out there was because my EOS 350D's shutter failed on the first day of my holiday. They chap on the Service Desk took pity and raised a ticket and I now need to wait to see if Canon UK will take pity on me and repair the faulty camera...

... I found it quite ironic that I was being told that I needed to progress this with Canon in the US rather than the UK when Canon UK uses a Dutch Service Desk. It seems to support my view that they are a Global Organisation and should operate as one. Rant not yet started.
* 30% did have an ulterior motive in getting me to cook supper as she knew it would prompt me to replace the blown light bulb over the cooker.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

And Relax

The title of this Journal entry would more normally be seen heralding the weekend but it seems appropriate for today too.

As may be guessed, the Review Call went quite well and I have been given a green light to send my materials and costs over to the US to be built in to a Global response for the client. I did think the Senior Daemon's comments about lacking a unique selling point were a little churlish in view of the fact that a) my scope was incredibly restricted and b) the Americans dictate the overall design. Never mind, at least he said "Yes".

All I need to do now are some housekeeping duties and get everything sent out to The States. The pressure is obviously considerably reduced and I can, as the title states, relax a little. I found time this afternoon to step away from the desk and take T&M for their first walk around the Three Miler since returning from Wales last week. I also finished work at a civilised hour and was able to fall in to a persistent vegetative state on the sofa until bed beckoned and sleep followed rapidly after the News at Ten.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Pre-match Jitters

Today is the day before my Project Review call with the Vice President of our Organisation. He is a very senior Daemon indeed and it is he that gives the ultimate thumbs up before I can package my deliverables and send them over to my American colleagues. As a consequence much of today has been spent tweaking my Presentation Deck and chasing up fragments of information just in case a tricky question is asked.

I have done a few of these review calls now and I can honestly say that they get better as you do more of them but I am most definitely not at all comfortable with them. It is fair to say that I just want to leap forward fifteen or sixteen hours and get this damned call out of the way.

I recall the first review I presented where the pre-call adrenaline had me jumping around like a maniac and I can definitely confirm that they don't call it a "fight or flight" reflex for nothing.  I suppose just wanting to get it out of the way is a definite improvement and I wonder how many more I need to do before a) the stress does me in or b) I see it on the same level of annoyance as taking the wheelie bin out in the rain.

As a diversion I did end up pouring oil on waters that had been troubled by Judge Dread. He had managed to totally alienate a European colleague from whom he required an approval. As a result I had to step in, get a call arranged, provide a slide deck and then host the call as JD felt that it was best if he kept quiet ...

... it's not like I had anything else to do!

As I make this Journal entry I know that everything is as it is. There is no time to make any further changes. I just hope that I have done enough and there are no glaring errors.

Roll on eleven o'clock tomorrow morning.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Chiefs & Indians

Monday involved a trip to the nearest Circle of Hell to perform a Hand Back with Tigger. Most of the day was spent in a windowless room staring at a PowerPoint Presentation projected on to one of the walls. Tigger had done a fine job of keeping the ship on a steady course and all being well we should be in to Port some time on Wednesday.

That is not to say that there aren't a few last minute activities that need to be completed and tomorrow's agenda seems to be mostly chasing for stuff that should have been completed a good few days back.11th Hour changes are common place in this job which means that we are all kept on our toes right until the very last minute.

This is why I was somewhat miffed to find that Judge Dread had managed to annoy one of his European colleagues to the point of them declining to discuss an issue any further and I was being dragged in to sort out his problems...

... talk about spilling milk and then just wandering off!

By five o'clock my head refused to take in any more information and it was time for home. TP had completed his first day of work experience at a local Engineering firm and was almost* vociferous in recounting tales of his first day at work. 30%, like me, had returned to work after a week away and had a mountain of unread mails in her in-box. I'm not sure what she did with hers but I just filed mine and relied on Tigger to point out the nasty ones.

The title of today's entry comes from the saying "Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians". There were times today when four of us deliberating over a problem tended to make it bigger rather than solve it faster. It was so much easier on the last project when it was just Tigger and Pooh bumbling along, each knowing the best time to stop for lunch and elevenses, twelvses and threeses and who was best at sharpening the sticks or counting all the numbers...

...Happy Days, I really miss the old team. In fact I think I may demand a return to the Hundred Acre Wood if the client wants us to take our wet finger out of the air, dry it and do stuff properly.
* ALMOST. He is 15 and usually manages a grunt at best. In this instance almost vociferous means a limited number of complete sentences

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Weekend Round Up

It is Sunday evening and I am finally at home. The past 36 hours have been spent as "responsible adult" accompanying TP on his mini Rugby Tour. To be honest it was OK but, if I am even more honest, after a week away in Wales the last thing I wanted to do was to schlep down South in advance of what is going to be a hectic and critical week at work.

So let's start with Saturday; we drove down to Twickenham where we took a tour of the home of the English Rugby Team. This was vaguely interesting but was it worth driving the best part of 100 miles for? ...

... No, not really. I like watching the game but I am not so obsessed that I want to examine the venue. If we think about this in greater depth would athletics fans want to examine a 400m running track and do Formula 1 fans want to look at the pit lane and vacant garages? I am guessing that the hard core fans might but I most definitely do not fall in to that category.

After the tour we walked across to the Harlequins Ground to watch the evening match against the Worcester Warriors. This was a pleasant one mile walk during which the heavens opened and ensured that we were all thoroughly soaked. I then sat in a wet seat and watched a match where both teams were playing in mud-brown after a quarter of an hour. This meant that I was a) freezing cold and b) had problems identifying who had the ball. It was actually quite a good match but the near freezing temperature made a decent job of removing any enjoyment.

The match finished around half past seven and the car was a welcome shelter from the cold and wet as we then drove up to Didcot for our overnight stop. This was a cheap hotel and an average meal. Nothing to complain about but nothing to praise either.

Sunday dawned and we took a short drive over to Wallingford for the lad's match. I think it fair to say that the opposition were very, very good and TP's team did well to score a couple of Trys in the face of such opposition.

After the match it should then have been a simple drive up the M40 to get home but we then seemed to enter a low budget Horror Movie from the 1970s. For some reason Wallingford did not want us to leave...

... let me explain. First we needed diesel so used the Sat Nav to locate a Petrol Station. The nearest one was temporarily closed to received a fuel delivery, the next one the Sat Nav suggested didn't actually exist and the third one was inaccessible due to a Police road closure. Remember this it is important later one. We finally found fuel a few miles away and finally hit the "take me home" button on the Sat Nav.

There I was thinking "that is it, the Rugby Tour is finally over, in an hour or so I'll be home". How wrong was I? At every turn the Sat Nav insisted on taking us back to the road that had been closed by the Police. We tried several evasive manoeuvres but every time it kept taking up back to this bloody road block. I think it fair to say that I was not a Happy Bunny. I was tired and just wanted to be home but Wallingford was not playing fair. It seemed that the only road to the Motorway was blocked and we would be doomed to spend eternity circling a very middle-class Oxfordshire town.

Eventually TP managed to make sense of the map and we headed North. I am sure that I saw sinister dark figures in pursuit as we sped away towards Oxford.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Revolving Doors

We're home again after our week in Wales but in my case only briefly. Tomorrow TP* and I are off for the mini rugby tour ...

... I can hardly wait; a behind the scenes tour of Twickenham, a night in a cheap hotel with people who at best can be described as acquaintances and the lads will play on Sunday. I think it's fair to say I would rather be at home.

We returned home to a raucous greeting from Eddy who had stayed at home and been tended to by VI. 30% thought he was pleased to see us. I am much more fluent in feline and am pretty sure his miaowing was best translated as "turn the thermostat up, it's been bloody freezing in here".

There's not a lot more to say about today, just the regular unpacking and restocking that follows any trip away.

* TP is only just returned too from his skiing trip in Italy. Apparently is was great and no bones were broken. Well, none of his anyway.

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Thursday, 16 February 2012


The plan for this morning was to take a walk along Broughton Bay but some iffy signage, or lack thereof, meant that we actually ended up on the sands of Rhosilli Bay once again.

This was not a major issue and we all enjoyed the space and solitude at the far end of this fine beach.

After lunch we scrutinised the map and had another go at reaching Broughton Bay. This time we parked up in Cwm Ivy and after a walk across the dunes were soon walking towards Whiteford Sands. We had some unexpected entertainment as the RAF were practising bombing runs just across the water on the Cefn Sidan ranges.

By the end of the afternoon we were all shattered and even T&M lacked any enthusiasm for chasing a ball so it was back to the cottage for our last evening before we return home tomorrow.

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Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Coastal Views

This morning we wandered out of Pwll Du Bay and took the cliff path towards Caswell Bay. For virtually all of its mile and three quarter length the path hugs the cliff edge with precipitous drops to the sea below.

The views were splendid and Caswell Bay gave T&M an opportunity to chase after a ball and we treated ourselves to coffee and a cake at the cafe at the head of the bay.

After "elevenses" we returned the way we had came and lunched back at the cottage.

The afternoon saw us try the coastal path in the opposite direction. This was a much rougher track and after a steep climb up through the woods we were eventually rewarded with views across towards Three Cliffs Bay.

Aching calves and the threat of rain meant that the original plan to loop back through Bishopston Valley was curtailed and we cut back across Pwll Du head and were soon back home.

This evening the plan is to drive up to the village and try the menu at The Joiners Inn.

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Location:Pwll Du Bay

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Bishopston Valley Walk

Today the Land Rover stayed parked up and we left Pwll Du Bay on foot.

Our route took us up through the woods of Bishopston Valley and after a couple of miles we arrived at the edge of the village. After another mile we were stood in front of the Valley Inn wondering if they were "dog friendly"...

... they were, and we were soon settled in the bar and doing our best to get on the outside of a couple of G&Ts and the Fisherman's Platter.

Refuelled we took the rough track back to the cottage that clings to the edge of the cliff.

The views of the bay are fantastic but the overcast skies are not great for photographs. Still, it would be churlish to complain about the weather as it is the middle of February and so far we have had no rain.

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Monday, 13 February 2012

Body Count

Marauder's holiday hobby seems to be the location of as many dead things as possible. The body count thus far is as follows:-

Seals (advanced state of decomposition) ... 2
Cat (also well rotted) ... 1
Bass (lacking eyes,presumably due to Gulls) ... 1

God knows what she will find tomorrow!

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Location:The Gower Peninsula

Another Day, Another Bay

Today saw us drive a few miles down the road and walk out and back across the two mile arc of Oxwich Bay.

It was another grey and cloudy day but the rain held off and we had a fine walk across the sands as the tide retreated.

A late lunch was taken at the Oxwich Hotel. They welcomed dogs and, after some initial fidgeting, T&M settled under the table with only occasional bribes to keep them quiet. This is their first ever venture inside a hostelry and I am amazed at how good they were.

Back at the cottage the log burner is lit and a quick walk across the bay is planned before we settle in for the evening.

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Location:Oxwich Bay

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Marauder's Bumper Book of Crime. No. 10 in an occasional series

The tide was right in at Pwll Du this morning, with the waves washing against the mound of rounded cobbles that stands between the cottages and the bay.

The was hardly any beach to walk on so we climbed in to the Defender and drove over to Rhossili with its 3 mile arc of sandy bay.

Having parked up we clambered down the steep path to the bay and stood in the still cool air taking in the view under the grey cloudy sky ...

... Meanwhile Marauder found a decomposing seal carcass and proceeded to roll vigorously against it.

I'm guessing the is no chance of a pub lunch after our six mile walk but the need for a bath before she is allowed back in the cottage is an absolute certainty.

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Location:Rhossili Bay

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Going Away

TP is away in Northern Italy skiing so 30% and I decided to take advantage of his absence and spend our 10th anniversary with T&M in a cottage in a secluded bay in South Wales.

The cottage is situated at the end of a rutted dirt track that winds its way down the side of a valley in to the bay and the final obstacle is a river to be forded before the destination is reached. Needless to say we took the Defender rather than 30%'s Seat.

So here I sit cosy beside the log burner with a glass of St Emilion feeling very relaxed. How different from 48 hours ago ...

... This break has been booked for weeks. As a result my request for leave was submitted weeks ago too. I flagged up the need for a stand-in at work verbally more than a month ago and my written request for support was dispatched a good three weeks ago. So why, dear reader, does it take my fuck-wit of a manager until Thursday to provide me with a name leaving a little over one working day to get them up to speed with a hundred million dollar project at a critical point in its design process...

... and why does he seem to do his best to avoid selecting Tigger who has a huge amount of valid experience and instead try to lumber me with an able chap who has no previous experience?

I could go on at length about requests for me and my supporting chap to cancel our leave and the failed commitment to provide resource on Tuesday and then on Wednesday...

... the man seems to have some perverse agenda that seems to make absolutely no sense whatsoever. To be honest he seems to be totally out of his depth. It is getting to the point where my colleagues and I are totally bemused.

But now I am going to put that arse out of my mind safe in the knowledge that somewhere common sense prevailed and Tigger is minding the shop.

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Location:The Gower Peninsula

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snowy Sunday

The two or three inches of snow that fell last night was already starting to melt when I ventured out to let out the chickens. There was still a decent layer but the temperatures were well above freezing and the white blanket already had a soggy, heavy texture that told of a rapid melt rather than a slow, lingering covering.

Rugby training had been understandably cancelled so the dogs were walked early. This gave the maximum amount of drying time before they were allowed in the lounge. TP also disappeared early for a sledging session with his mates at a nearby farm.

After lunch I spent a happy hour sorting out the Apple TV. I have finally finished ripping our video library and have over 300 titles sat on an external drive so you can imagine my frustration when the Apple TV periodically decides to forget my WEP password or simply refuses to integrate with my media library on the i-Mac. This is pretty unusual for Apple gear which is usually very good at this sort of thing and I am hoping that this re-configuration will put the connectivity problems to bed.

The rest of the day involved the Ireland vs Wales match, the packing of TP's case for his skiing trip, much sitting by the fire and plenty of TV watching...

... did I mention the analysis of QA Delegation conditions? Probably not!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

My Good Deed for the Day?

I woke this morning with a nagging feeling that I had to get up for work. The relief as the mental fog cleared and I realised it was Saturday was enormous.

Today's  plans were not far off non-existent if I am to be totally honest. We had sort of agreed to pop over to the Rugby Club for a Pizza Evening combined with the Six Nations Calcutta Cup match on the TV in the Bar but, if I am truly honest, I don't think we were ever going to drag ourselves out particularly if the forecast snow arrived.

But I am getting ahead of myself;  after a leisurely start to the day a few flakes appeared on the wind and I put on hat and coat to walk T&M before it really started to snow. I was just about to leave the house when our local Community Support Officer appeared on the door step. He was following up on Thursday's call. Basically he was looking for our agreement for him to go and make contact with the miscreant and, in his own words, "go and give him an old-fashioned bollocking". We agreed and he disappeared with a glint in his eye. There is a bit of history between him and this family and I think he was quite looking forward to this opportunity to pay them a call.

The rest of the day was a fairly lazy Saturday. The dogs got walked. The bacon I have been preparing was removed from the cure, soaked, dried and wrapped and is now hanging from a couple of meat hooks in the kitchen.

In the early afternoon, the snow started and the fire got lit. As predicted, the trip to the club got written off and we settled in front of the fire to watch the rugby with the occasional wander to the window to see how deep the snow was...

... and that would be the end of today's entry if it wasn't for 30%'s concern about a motorist who had pulled in to the nearby lay-by. The driver's windscreen wipers had broken and she was understandably having difficulties driving in falling snow. It transpired that she only lived a few miles up the road so we chucked her and her belongings in the back of the Defender and took her on to her destination. That could be regarded as my good deed for the day but to be honest I do love a drive out in the snow and her misfortune gave us the perfect opportunity to get it off the drive.

We do like a snowy adventure in the Land Rover.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Well, I've made it to Friday

It's Friday and I appear to have fallen in to a pattern of twice weekly blogging or, as it is known in these parts, "Scobi's Trap". Apparently this is a very difficult thing to get out of as can be seen if you look at Golfy's Blog. Some may say that he may well be falling in to "Stretch's Abyss of Nothingness" but I know he will keep it together.

As it may be guessed by my lack of output, it has been a bit of a busy one and, for the past three days, once I have managed to extract myself from the laptop the last thing I wanted to was go back to it for recreational purposes*.  So here is my round up of the week. Incidentally don't you be looking for fun and excitement it is drudge and grind with a glimpse of Bad Man Senior's Dark Side on Friday.

Wednesday - He'll have us all in Gaol
Today's title refers to the chap in America who is leading the Global Project. Let's call him Cowboy Kevin. He is a real charmer until you spend a few minutes analysing what he does and doesn't say. He doesn't like to be questioned and if you raise a difficult issue he will talk over the top of you rather than let you explain the situation so that it can be understood and resolved. Basically he is an arrogant Fuck.

Also he doesn't appear to like my e-mails because he reads them and then refuses to answer them. Basically he doesn't like difficult questions and in this game you have to like dealing with difficult questions.

Well today he told us that our project scope would include being responsible for a range of services immediately after the Contract has been signed. ** There is a teensy, weensy issue with that approach and unfortunately I can't go in to too much detail here due to confidentiality but lets just say that his approach contravened a number of European laws and would have resulted in a number of quite senior Daemons at Dante's Nine Circles of Hell  being at risk of imprisonment.

The net result of this was a series of calls running in to the evening that put the US team back on the right track and, although they have not totally backed down, they now acknowledge that their approach will not work for Europe...

... Note to self: find a few minutes tomorrow to set out the European position and send it to Cowboy Kevin copying the great and the good and our Legal people.

Thursday - More Risky Business
Thursday involved a trip down to my nearest Circle of Hell to be trained in the use of our Risk Logging Tool. Up until now I have used a simple spreadsheet / e-mail combination for risk management but this is a Beast of a tool. A lot of people don't like it but, having had an introduction and started to enter in some of the serious risks on the latest escapade, I can advise that it is a bit of a slog to get them logged and that it takes a conscious effort to ensure that it is regularly updated but, in the long term, it will be well worth the effort...

... "look in the Tool" is far easier to type in response to an e-mail than a trawl around my mail archives to find the particular communication that a person wants to see.

The rest of the working day was spent in conference calls and meetings. The majority of these did nothing to move the Beast forward. In fact, the majority of these calls seemed to be to ensure that the team were up to speed .... Communication rather than Resolution.  I know that both are necessary but with the amount of time I have available I need to have far more resolution and communication needs to be concise and not repeated - SMIs Take Note!

Thursday evening saw me just want to vegetate in front of the fire. I did manage the fire element of that desire but vegetating was not going to happen. Instead I spent an hour or so chatting with a very nice Community Support Officer about some local Youths who now seem to be moving away from harmless pranks in to the realms of vandalism and assault.  I'm not sure where this will end up but I'm guessing that there is more going on than meets the eye.

Friday - Playing Games
The title actually relates to Bad Man senior rather than me.

Today BMS called round for lunch and a chat. If I am really honest I have so much work on that I really didn't have time but I could tell that he really wanted to get away from the house and so I made an early start and planned a later than normal Friday finish so that I could switch off the laptop for an hour or so in the middle of the day.

What actually happened was that I spend the first forty minutes of his visit with a 'phone glued to my ear and he was left to potter and chat to Tyson and Marauder***.

Right, the playing of games, let me explain; BMS is eighty later this year. Step Mum Sue will also be 60 and this year is also their 25th Wedding anniversary. Basically there is a need for a bit of a celebration in the Summer. Add to this that I have two sisters that I don't have any contact with and things get a bit sticky when it comes to Family Gatherings.

Now BMS fully understands the position of me and my sisters as he also has a sister he almost never has any contact with but he does occasionally like to stir things up ...

... Last Sunday the Sisters were at BMS's house for Lunch and the conversation turned to his upcoming Birthday celebrations. This was the point at which BMS pointed out that they could arrange what they liked but they had better ensure that bad man. 30% and TP were on the invitee list or he wouldn't be turning up.  Apparently there was, what is known in the trade as,  a tumble weed moment. This was only dissipated when Brother-in-law**** asked for another glass of wine.

Now BMS knows that there is so much distance (geographically and in outlook) between me and my sisters that it would be better for all of us if we did not attend but there are times when he does like to make my sisters squirm and feel very awkward ...

... it is rare that his manipulative side ever shows itself as he is a very straightforward man but it is quite amusing to see that he has put his two controlling daughters in an uncomfortable position. He knows that I will decline and there are likely to be a couple of events but he is the Patriarch after all and there are occasions when the Silver-back roars and the family group takes notice...

... as the saying goes; "You can choose your friends ..."
* There is always a very high risk of an inadvertent peep at the in-box and that just results in swearing and another hour on a fruitless mission.
** The HUGE assumption there being that the Client will actually like our Proposal and sign up  to it
*** This involves them sitting adoringly at his feet while he feeds them digestive biscuits
**** BMS is not a huge fan of BiL. He would call him a parasite but doesn't want to offend the Tapeworm community