Tuesday, 28 August 2012

It's Elementary ...

Tuesday's itinerary included a morning walk out across the majestic sweep of Rhosilli Bay. TP and James flew their kite while 30% and I strolled and threw a ball for T&M. As we partook of a post perambulatory ice cream we noticed three grazing sheep each with a red mark on their back ...

... From this I deduced two interesting facts; firstly that these three had obviously been paintballing and we're members of the blue team, secondly and more alarming is the fact that there is a crack squad of ninja sheep out there going under the alias of red team!

Monday, 27 August 2012

It's Traditional

It's Bank Holiday Monday and true to form it rained all day. We all had a lazy day in and around the cottage apart from a brief trip in to Swansea to replace a dog lead that TP had managed to break the clip of on Saturday...

... He didn't even have the dogs at the time!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

And ... Relax

I think it is fair to say that both 30% and I are slow to wind down but we are working hard to achieve a state of relaxation.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and, after a leisurely breakfast, we left TP and friend James to swim in the surf while we wandered along the cliff path towards Caswell Bay. After forty minutes of walking we turned back as T & M would not be welcome on the beach. *

Back at Ship Cottage we lunched and the settled in for a snooze followed by my first foray in to the Kindle app on the iPad. TP and James managed to get themselves invited for a speed boat trip to the Marina in Swansea by the family staying in the other cottage in the bay.

The day finished with the boys attempting to fish from the rocks. Needless to say neither of them considered the rapidly setting sun and the clamber back over 100 yards of rocks in flip flops without a torch. They seemed quite surprised when I insisted on their return to the beach in the rapidly fading light...

... Bloody Kids!

* No Dogs from May to September

Saturday, 25 August 2012

We're off at last

After a busy working week it was fair to say that I was not packed and ready to set off for Pwll Du at the crack of dawn on Saturday. As a result we spent a good part of the morning doing the things most people would have ticked off their "to do" list a few days ago; bags were packed, cat and chicken minding was handed over to VI and TP's hair was trimmed ...

... By half past ten I was to be found sat on top of the Defender cramming luggage into the roof bag and imagining myself setting off on an expedition rather than a week away in Wales.

The drive down was uneventful and we were arrived and unpacking a little before three. All I need to do now is change down a few mental gear ratios and get in to doing nothing.

Friday, 24 August 2012

I'm glad that's over

It is Friday. It is my last day at work before I have two weeks of holiday to do what I please.* I really should be kicking back, setting my out-of-office and clock watching until it is time to knock off ...

... Let me assure you that there was absolutely no chance of that scenario ever encroaching on my reality.

Today started with an urgent call with my Security SMIs. These idiots had failed to get their deliverable approved and I held a rather menacing fifteens minute call where I made it perfectly clear that I didn't want to know what happened yesterday but was far more concerned about what they were going to do today to put matters right.

My threatening tones must have worked as I had the necessary tick in the box about twenty minutes later.

This improved my demeanour somewhat but there was no way I was going to start winding down until after I had got through the Solution Review call with the VP at midday...

... The call went really well and after thirty minutes he gave us the go ahead to release our costs to the Indians.

I then had the opportunity to check my in-box and noted that the aforementioned team had contacted me four minutes before that call telling me to defer the reviews until I had reviewed my costs and reduced them; preferably by around 60%! **

After five minutes of swearing I politely pointed out that it was too late to rework and they would need to give me direction on scope and baseline changes if the numbers were to be changed. I also advised that a new solution was an option but that would take a few weeks to develop IF we could get SMIs and this would be way too late for their stated target contract signature date.

They promptly replied telling me they wanted a complete new solution ready for the end of next week. In a separate mail they requested another smaller, contradictory solution by end of day next Monday.*** after I had finished laughing my arse off I forwarded the mails over to IM ...

... It's about time he earned his salary.

* provided 30% agrees
** 6% might have been feasible but 60% suggests that the Lead Team don't have a sound grasp on reality.
*** that would be Bank Holiday Monday

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Pulling it all together

It's not really surprising that I have missed a couple of Journal entries this week as work has been very busy. The principle activities have been ensuring that all of the necessary deliverables for a fixed price are available to send over to the Lead Team in India. The list includes finalising costs, multiple reviews and approvals and a Document of Understanding that ensures that the UK has its arse covered in the event of any nasty surprises.* It is fair to say that at the end of each day the last thing I wanted to do was write anything more.

Away from work the chap who bought the fireback on eBay was as good as his word and turned up on the doorstep on Wednesday evening to collect his purchase. Personally I wouldn't have selected a 5 Series BMW as my vehicle of choice for collecting a sooty, heavy, cast iron item but each to his own. We dissuaded him from attempting to put it on the roof bars** and watched him leave with it poking out of the back of his boot.

We also had an odd coincidence on Thursday evening ... a few days ago 30% mentioned that she wished we had hedgehogs in the garden and reminisced about the one that used to potter in her old garden and annoy her dog; Sell-by-date ... As I shut the door on the chicken coop I looked down and there in the run was a hedgehog presumably munching it's way through the huge number of slugs in the garden. I called 30% out to make the acquaintance of our newly discovered garden wildlife.

On Thursday TP returned from his trip to his Grandma's and was suitably impressed with the changes we had made to his bedroom on Saturday. To be honest neither of us had a chance to really catch up with each others' news as Chippy Ian called round this evening to give me the verdict on the Dining Room floor...

... after a quick examination his professional opinion is that it is not worth replacing the joists and that some carefully placed noggins will give the structure the integrity and stability necessary to support an oak floor. He is happy to do the work but I have a few preparatory activities to complete first. I need to get the local Plumber in to replace the radiator pipes with plastic as the last thing I want under a wooden floor is a leak. I need to get the structural timber and floorboards in to the room to acclimatise for a couple of weeks before Ian comes to lay them and I also need to source a slate hearth stone in order that he can install the new fireback too.

Sounds like a plan.
* it runs to over twenty pages but can be neatly summed up as "India pays for everything as they are getting all the profit"
** any rain and it would have been a lovely shade of "rust orange" by the time he reached Salford

Monday, 20 August 2012

Winding Down, I Wish!

I am now well in to the final week before my holiday which is also the final week to get a set of costs completed, approved and issued to India. As a result the focus has been pretty much directed on work rather than packing and winding down.

Monday was spent pulling the loose end together to ensure all the requirements had been covered and today's major activity was our full solution review. It only took the morning as our deliverable is relatively straightforward and it went well. We seem to have covered all the points and no major gaps appeared. Our Delivery Reviewer sees us a Low Risk from a technical perspective so I am hoping for an easy ride when we present to the Senior Daemon on Friday.

I can report that IM has returned from his long weekend and managed to add his usual magic to the day by gently admonishing me for talking to his Boss when he was out of the office and demanding to be included in an activity when I had already ensured he was on carbon copy...  He is, and always will be, a twat.

The rest of the working day was spent with my Buddy on this deal reviewing rewriting an Agreement to ensure that Dante's in the UK do not get shafted by the Indians if this deal ever gets signed. I eventually got home at around half past six after ten long hours in the Office to be greeted by two very excited and newly clipped dogs ... T&M have had their holiday haircuts.

I was hoping for an evening of vegetation in front of the television but that was not to be as VI and his long suffering wife turned up on the doorstep. This was good in a bad way as we were able to arrange cat and chicken feeding duties while we are away but it meant that after a long day in the office talking to people I had to spend my evening delivering social niceties when I would have rather shut down all but basic brain functions.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Finishing School

At the back of the garage is a dusty chest of drawers; we have had it for years. 30% found it in a Charity Shop and bought it after inspection showed it to be a very well constructed piece of hardwood furniture.* At some point lost in the mists of time it spent at few days in a Stripper's tank and since it's return has sat in the garage neglected and gathering dust.

It is destined to reside in the spare bedroom but before it gets anywhere near the house it needs to be refinished. Today I finally got "medieval on it's arse" with a variety of sanders, planers and other power tools. It is years since it was stripped but for some strange reason the drawers never fit properly afterwards so considerable time was spent planing, sanding and tweaking to ensure they actually slide in and out of the carcass without the accompanying curse of "get in their you little bastard". Apparently an application of soap on the runners is the coup de grace to stubborn drawers. I promised I would try that after I had finished with the belt sander!

After several hours working through the abrasive grades I finally ended up with a silky, smooth finish on the piece and, after dusting down, applied a coat of Danish Oil to the carcass. It is going to look fabulous once it is finished.**

Today was also the finish of another eBay auction. I had been threatening to take the old fire back that I removed from the Dining Room to the local tip but was persuaded to offer it to the world via the Global Flea Market. I couldn't believe it when some loony a) paid £36 quid for it and b) is prepared to drive all the way down from Manchester to collect it. I'm guessing scrap iron prices must be high at the moment.
* Satinwood, Edwardian
** two more coats of oil and then a wax polish

Saturday, 18 August 2012

He's Off Again

Saturday started at a fairly leisurely rate but I was out of the door with T&M by nine thirty. I did say my goodbyes to TP before I left as he would be collected by his mum for a trip to his Grandma's before I would be back.

 Once back from the walk it was time to hitch the trailer to the Defender and make our way over to Dave the Stripper to pick up the book cases. He has done a super job and they are a perfect match for the ones we already have. While we were there 30% took a liking to mahogany, eight day, wall clock and I have to say that it would look lovely in the Dining Room but we have been on a bit of a spending spree recently and it can stay on Dave's wall unless the September windfall actually happens.*

 Once back home it was time for lunch followed by a huge amount of furniture rearrangement ...

... the running order went something like this ...
  • TP's current bed was dismantled and reassembled in the spare bedroom
  • TP's new bed was unpacked and assembled in his bedroom
  • The smaller of the original bookcases was carried from the Study and installed in TP's bedroom
  • The larger of the new bookcases was installed in the Study
  • The smaller of the new bookcases was installed in the spare bedroom
  • The exercise bike that 30% has never gone beyond looking at was removed to the front cellar
 This abbreviated list makes light of the fact that it was a very warm and very humid day and the peripheral activities and necessary trips up and down the stairs left 30% and I exhausted by supper time.

We managed a couple of movies and a compulsory episode of Family Guy before retiring to bed in a house that now almost  has a completed upstairs.
* see here for origins

Friday, 17 August 2012

What a Tit!

This morning's team call was filled by the Drama Ugly Sister telling us all of his huge problems and how each and  every one of them was a potential show stopper. I had my doubts, if I needed this up and running in the next couple of months he might have a point but this solution will not be needed until next Summer and everything we need was always on the Technology road map ...

... it is not as if we were asking to keep pigs in a hen house and I think he creating a storm in a teacup. An urgently arranged called with SMEs* later proved that point. Fundamentally, if this prat had engaged earlier and spoke to the Indians and the Team that run our target infrastructure we would have had none of this unnecessary drama two working days before we are supposed to be compiling costs. As is says in the title; what a Tit!

The rest of the day went smoothly. The ultimate review call was arranged for next Friday and I actually found time to start pulling the worlds most ridiculous slide deck together for presentation at that call.

Away from work we actually managed to go out for Dinner at a local pub. We had driven past it every time we visit Worcester but had never mad e it through the doors. The reason behind our visit was that 30% had fed a colleagues cat and hamster while they we away on holiday and a gift token for this hostelry was her reward ...

... I WILL point out the amusing incident where 30% gave this woman a major slagging on Tuesday as she refused to speak or even make eye contact when encountered at work only to have to eat her words on Wednesday when she received the aforementioned thoughtful gift as a thank you for her kind efforts ...

... TP and I may have pulled her leg a little on this point.

The food was great and the pan fired trout with garlic crushed new potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce went down my throat at a fare rate of knots. The only reasons for our short stay was fatigue from the busy week coupled with the vicinity of a table with 20 seats bearing a number of balloons indicating a 40th Birthday Party was going to happen.
* Note; SMEs not SMIs. 

Thursday, 16 August 2012

SMIs or Monkeys. Which are best?

Did I really want to turn to this pristine, virtual page and start to write about Thursday 16th August? Did I really want to recount the tale of another day filled with calls and e-mails, pointless debates and the virtual arse wiping that certain of my colleagues expect me to perform?

To be honest; things are going reasonably well considering the tight timescale and the usual compliment of lacklustre Subject Matter Idiots. I am so glad that I have a few that actually appear to know what they are doing and are willing to grasp the simple concept of identifying an issue, determining an action to resolve that issue and then progressing that action to completion. It isn't rocket science.

I appear to have a couple of SMIs that are not so target focussed as I am. One seems to think that I am here to provide administrative support functions. I have already offered him Technical Support in view of his current lack of tooling skills but he is now coming across as a bit of a piss taker when he is asked me to chase for outstanding items and collate a slide deck. The last time I looked it did not say Secretarial Support at the bottom of my e-mails. The other SMI is a bit of a drama queen.* He really knows his stuff but every thing is a HUGE issue and his communications can be a little rushed so it is often not clear if he is progressing things or not and also whether the world is going to end or whether he has just chipped a nail. Part of the reason for him flapping is because Dante's diverted him to another project so he is two or three days behind everyone else and manically trying to catch up.** Today I finally managed to get some of his time and the call did not start well ...

... "Bad Man, I'm not sure that sending the Indians those documents was a good idea" ... I promptly responded that I found that statement somewhat fucking ironic as a) it was at his suggestion that I sent them and b) they were sent to determine whether a standard service met their needs because the he was too busy to engage with my work ...

... at least he had the interpersonal skills to realise just how fucked off I was and apologised tout suite.

* Mind you, if you had seen his Instant Messenger photo you might more accurately  think of him as a Panto Ugly Sister.
** This is obviously neither good for him nor my project but Dante's has not yet mastered the allocation of staff to projects. My personal opinion of this failing is that it is due to a tight arse approach where a) they will not employ a slight surfeit of staff to deal with workload peaks and b) they pay well below average and we all know what peanuts buy you. ***
*** A couple of weeks ago Golfy and I did some analysis on the adage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. We assumed that people might want a huge amount of monkeys due to a poor comprehension of the thought experiment that an infinite amount of monkeys with typewriters will eventually deliver the Complete Works of Shakespeare. First things first; the mental image of a lot of monkeys with typewriters does bear a striking similarity to the view across Dante's open-plan offices. Putting that to one side, lets get back to the Monkeys. If you have an infinite amount of monkeys you are going to need a quantity of peanuts that is greater than infinity to keep them nourished. If an infinite amount of monkeys is tucking in to a pile of peanuts even greater than infinity, as sure as eggs are eggs, you are going to get a lot of monkey poo ...

... and you can bet your bottom dollar they are going to work out how to chuck their poo at you a long time before they get anywhere near "Signor Antonio, many a time and oft. In the Rialto you have rated me...

Therefore the moral of this story is that if you pay peanuts you are going to end up covered in crap.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A not so gentle Let Down

There is not a huge amount to report for today. It was mostly "head down and get on with" ... although that was after the early morning Inqury with IM ...

... Let me explain; a little more than a week ago I was asked to support a Business Development Team with some high level estimating. At the time I advised IM that I had plenty of other commitments but he glossed over this and asked told me to take on this piece too. As the days passed the Business Development Team flooded my inbox with e-mails and demonstrated that they expected far more from me than I would be able to provide in the measly time that had been allocated. In addition a dormant piece of work had raised it's head and was now demanding my full attention. I alerted IM to this workload issue and he sensibly suggested that I decline the Business Development Team meeting invitations and just get the estimate assembled using no more than the time originally allocated.

Either side of the weekend I managed to find time to review the raft of emails and my prognosis was bad in a good sort of way. There was plenty of information but very little was of use to me. Fundamentally there was nowhere near enough for me to develop their estimate without a considerable amount of work. I reported back to IM and advised him that I was proposing to go back to the team and politely let them down and direct their attention to a tool that they dislike and distrust but would give them something to present to the client. IM agreed with this and so, late on Tuesday evening, I crafted an e-mail to gently let down the BD Team ...

... I think it fair to say that they didn't take it well. As a result I had to spend a good thirty minutes explaining the minutiae of this activity and the reasons why I was unable to comply. To be fair to IM he was fully supportive of my position and felt that the BD Team were taking the piss ...

... BUT I don't trust IM as far as I could throw him and I wonder how supportive he would have been if I hadn't cleared my approach with him before I had backed off from this commitment.

Today's Lesson: If you are going to tell someone to Fuck Off make sure IM is in Agreement first. It is better to have one person on your back than two.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Wanderer Returns

Putting aside work for a moment, TP arrived back home today after three weeks sunning himself in an Expat Compound in Qatar. The unfortunate thing was that work only really allowed me a moment to say hello and then I had to dive back in to the repeating conference calls and urgent e-mails that need to be handled if I am to stand any chance of kicking a solution out of the door by the middle of next week.

Eventually work quietened and I had the chance to walk the dogs and spend some time with TP and 30%. He had a fine time in Qatar and seemed to have spent much of his time in the pool. He sampled camel and reported back that it tasted a little like beef and he also returned with an Oud* and another stringed instrument played with a horsehair bow called a Rababah.

He will only be here for a few days before he disappears again, this time with his Mum to visit his Grandma. We are away to Wales at the end of next week and I may get to talk to him then.
* a round backed, stringed instrument of the guitar family

Monday, 13 August 2012


Today there was only ever going to be one priority at work. That was to chase up resources, get my team assembled and get them briefed as we only have somewhere between six and eight days to develop a solution and get the costs fired over to the Lead Team in India.

I must have done something right in the past because the Gods smiled and before midday I had the key players identified and they were hassling me for directions. Around lunchtime I held an impromptu briefing call and was reasonably pleased with the reception to the ludicrously short timescales. There was a certain individual that threw a few brickbats but his criticism was misdirected and I alternated between ignoring him and pointing out that an impromptu call was just that ... something that had been thrown together at short notice to meet an urgent need. I then went on to point out that the urgent need was to give an overview to the team and that I had already committed to providing him with the requirement information he kept saying he hadn't got. It is at times like this that I really would just like to deliver an old school "Why don't you just shut the fuck up and listen, You Prick".

To be fair he did advise that we needed clearance for our approach from an Architect but I personally feel that he mentioned this in the hope that we would stumble and fall. I took the action and set to as soon as the call closed down.

I eventually got linked up with the Architect late in the day and managed to pull in a few of the SMIs for the discussion. The Gods smiled again and he had no objections in principle to our plan to use his environment to deliver our service. I was expecting him to be precious about the integrity of his design and baulk at our proposal to start bolting on non-standard bits and pieces to his infrastructure but he was quite happy for us to go ahead.

All in all it was a successful day but I need this run of luck to continue for another week if we stand a chance of meeting the deadlines. This type of activity is usually last in the line when it comes to resourcing and I am amazed that I have managed to pull a team together. I must leave you now and make an offering to the Gods of Outsourcing ...

... I think the kidneys* of a Network Solutioner are an appropriate gift this evening.
* I wonder if I go with the liver and heart too whether the same Gods will cause the other Indian team to suffer immediate and eternal damnation in some Hell of Hells? They are currently totally out of control and, after spending two weeks totally fucking up a piece of work, are now expecting us to pick it up and sort it out in under a week. I'm keeping my head down on this one.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

30%'s new ability.

The chickens were irascible when I finally hauled my arse out of bed and let them out a little before nine o'clock. I left them to their irritable squawks and retired indoors to gently increase my caffeine levels. A little after ten I wandered outside again and headed over to the Feed Stores to pick up food and wood shavings for the disgruntled occupants of the Stalag at the end of the garden. I suppose the trip and unloading in to the garage took the best part of 30 minutes so it was probably about half past ten, quarter to eleven before I wandered back in to the house... 30% was still snoring upstairs.

On her eventual awakening we set about some light Sabbath Pottering. At one point I was having a mid morning banana and wandered in to the Study. 30% followed and instantly focused on a banana peel that I may have inadvertently left in there from Friday. "What's That? You Scuzzy Git" came her dulcet tones at a volume that caused three slates to slip from the roof.

Quick as a flash, and I am still amazed at the speed of my response, I calmly advised her that she had developed a super-human power and was actually looking in to the future where she was seeing the skin from the banana that was currently in my hand. In simple terms she was seeing the skin that I was yet to leave in the Study.  This obviously caused a mild intellectual derailment but 30% made a reasonable recovery and advised that she didn't care when it was she was more concerned about the where it was. I advised that I would move it as soon as it was really there and this seemed to calm things down. I also made polite enquiries about whether she had a Super-Hero Suit but this seemed to fall on deaf ears ... I may have a look through the wardrobe later and see if there is any lycra tucked away behind a secret panel.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful; the dogs were walked, loose plans were made for another trip to the tip and further garage clearance activities were considered. I actually got as far as shifting a stripped chest of drawers to a point near the garage doors where it can be taken outside for sanding if it ever stays dry for long enough.
* This isn't the first time I've used the Time Travelling defence. I first threw 30% the temporal curve ball a good while back and it worked pretty well then too.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

I seem to be keeping the gossips busy

Today's plan was to get all of my chores out of the way as early as possible as we are out this evening for Dinner with 30%'s brother and his GF.

First on the list was to gather a few tools and trim the door at the foot of the stairs so that it clears the newly fitted carpet. That went reasonably smoothly and only needed offering up and tweaking a couple of times before I was happy to screw it to the frame permanently.

Next on the list was to load the recently acquired bookcases in to the Land Rover and trailer and deliver them over to Dave the Stripper in Worcester.  They should take a couple of weeks at most to be refinished so they will be back cluttering the garage before I know it.

By the time we got home it was most definitely time for lunch and then it was out around the Three Miler with T&M before, I am afraid to say, a solid hour's kip on the sofa occurred.

The title of today's post comes from a chance encounter with the chap who owns the small office building next door to The Pile. I don't know him particularly well but we always exchange a greeting and a few polite conversational nonentities. To be honest I tend to be a little wary of him as he has a tendency to ask quite intrusive questions ...

... today was one of those days.  His opening gambit today was to let me know that a conveniently forgotten acquaintance of his had let him know that I had now retired from work on health grounds and he continued by asking about my well being. I corrected this complete nonsense with minimal detail but assured him that I was fine, in gainful employment and suggested that this assumption had probably arisen as a result of the fact that I work from home and therefore could be seen in the Village when most are at their places of work.

As I wandered away I pondered the mentality of the "unknown" individual that had come up with and then decided to disseminate this complete piece of crap. I am guessing that my regular, day time walks with T&M have led them to construct a complete work of fiction to explain why I am not tied to some desk or stuck in a rep-mobile between the hours of 9 and 5. I have to admit that I can sort of understand why people might like to construct a scenario which explains my unusual working patterns but I cannot fathom why they would then present this fabrication as a fact in a conversation.

As mentioned earlier, the evening saw a trip in to Stratford for Dinner with S&E. We had a leisurely dinner at a Pasta Chain. The food was perfectly acceptable and the company was great. It was one of those evening when there was a strong temptation to return home and carry on but sense prevailed as S needed to be down in London VERY EARLY on Monday morning to carry out some decommissioning work at the Olympic venues. We therefore settled the bill the right side of midnight and went our separate ways.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Why I'm not in Politics

The current project workload looks a little daunting, especially with India Team#2 asking for a piece of work to be resourced, understood and completed in a little over a week. That type of activity is going to occupy most of my tiny brain leaving little to deal with the other pieces of crap IM has dumped on me. As a result the first call of the day was to  IM to do a little expectation adjustment and ensure that he is aware that you cannot get a quart from a pint pot.

With IM on side the next metaphorical room we entered was with India Team#2. After three quarters of an hour we developed a reasonable understanding of what they were after and identified a potential offering that should be fairly straightforward to solution and also deploy ... the only problem now is getting Subject Matter Idiots assigned to iron out the details. As a result the priority post call was to get a Resource Request in to the machinery ... Job Done! As an aside I should point out that this team were far more "on the ball" than the other India team I have to deal with and I am hoping that we can have a relatively smooth ride with these chaps.

Talking of "the other India Team", next on the list was a call with India Team#1. This is the bunch of fucking morons that just haven't got a clue and just seem to spend hour after hour on conference calls wittering about things that seem to have no relevance to the fundamental problems they need to resolve. Today was no exception, I entered the call 30 seconds after it's start time* and found myself midway though a tale about some major problem but at no point did anyone think that this was important enough to defer describing until all attendees were present or to summarise it on completion ...

... as I type this I have no fucking idea what the problem is but I do know that someone far enough up the food chain has finally realised that a) these people have the intellect of Mike the Headless Chicken ** and b)  this project makes no sense from any perspective either financially, operationally or politically. Fundamentally it is a pile of crap that we shouldn't touch with a barge pole and it looks like someone somewhere has finally got the message.

Towards the end of the call things got momentarily scary when the Indians thought that they could just pass their pile of shit over the fence to me and my colleague on a Friday afternoon and that we could spend the weekend and the early part of next week sorting it out. Fortunately the UK Sales Exec stepped in and gave them a polite "No Way". 

That was a good job because I was all ready to say "You're having a fucking laugh!"
* That is classed as early by Dante's etiquette standards
** Look him up. He really existed

Thursday, 9 August 2012

I see how it should be done

Much of today was spent avoiding what I should be doing and preparing for an urgent client meeting in the Black Country. Talking of "black" that is also the colour of a cloud that appeared on the horizon an hour or so before I was due to depart ...

... for some weeks now I have been waiting for another piece of India lead work to commence.  I have been chasing for updates on a regular basis and have also flagged that resources are scarce in these parts and that we need as much notice as possible to stand a chance of getting to grips with their requirements and "cranking the handle"...

... I was pinged today by Bangalore to advise that they need me to develop a costed solution in six to eight days time. Fuckers! I got them to set up a kick-off call and raised a few warning flags and then put thoughts of my Indian colleagues suffering tragic and painful accidents to one side.

By midday I was climbing in to the Defender and trundling up towards Sandwell and Dudley station to collect a Sales Exec and taxi him to the meeting venue.

There were three of us in the meeting where the client wanted our views on their first venture in to Outsourcing. It was apparent that they view us very favourably and unless we do something really stupid we should stand a very good chance of success in the next few months.  The title of today's entry refers to the performance of one of my colleagues in this meeting. He is quite senior with several years of experience under his belt. He is not a particularly personable fellow but I was privileged to be given a lesson in how to dissect and analyse a  set of requirements and present suitable offerings to meet them. I did manage some relevant input in the meeting but watching this chap was a clear indication of how far I have to go yet.

I bet my taxi driver patter is better than his though.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Early finish

Day Two of the "Jolly" ...

... although I was a mandated attendee at the workshop there was nothing here that demanded my presence. As a result I had a good part of the day to contemplate the joys of sitting in a cramped sterile room with bunch of humourless people. There is only so much surreptitious web browsing that one can perform before a sneaky question catches you unawares. Ooops!

My lack of involvement did allow me the opportunity to make arrangements for tomorrow's trip in to the heart of The Black Country ... Dudley here I come !

Fortunately the afternoon session finished a couple of hours early and I was home at a very reasonable half past five. This gave me enough time to change and walk the dogs before supper and the joys of one's own sofa.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

"Work" Shop

Tuesday morning found me standing on the platform of Redditch Station waiting to be whisked towards Nottingham. I was required to attend a Lessons Learned workshop for the large deal that we won last year and a couple of days in Nottingham seemed like a nice break from work ...

... the train took me in to New Street, Birmingham where I changed trains and then shuddered as I realised that I had chosen a carriage with a rather large and vociferous working class family.* Christ were they noisy and I really didn't fancy having my window gazing interrupted by their regular, noisy and inane eructions. Fortunately the Gods smiled down and caused a Goods Train to break down in the Burton on Trent area. This resulted in a diversion and most of the occupants including the loud family left to seek the replacement bus service. I therefore had a carriage virtually to myself and arrived in Nottingham only fifteen minutes later than expected.

The day went pretty much as expected. It was very much a "Jolly" and the few questions that were directed at me were easily handled. There were a few interruptions by my regular workload and it looks like I may be heading out to darkest Dudley on Thursday for some fun and games with a potential new client.

The evening saw the obligatory team meal at an Italian restaurant. It was a pleasant enough outing but a Tuesday night is not the best point in the week to pour several G&Ts down one's throat...

... I did, but refrained from ordering doubles in view of the fact that Friday is still far off in the distance.
 * the validity of the word "working" is highly debatable and "benefit claiming" is probably a much more accurate substitute.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Indians perform as expected ...

Today I carried out an experiment to see if it is possible to get out of bed minutes before eight o’clock, perform one’s ablutions, get suitably attired and be at the Nearest Circle of Hell by nine … it isn’t.* One positive outcome of this experiment is that I failed to dial in to the early morning call with the Indian Team and therefore avoided listening to their waffly, shouty bollocks, instead I was en route to work.

I had been informed that the Indian team would be providing us with costs to review today and I had planned to link up with my new partner in crime to peruse these over several cups of coffee. True to form the Indians failed to provide anything and it now looks like it will be nearer the end of the week before we have their numbers.

As a result I spent my time clearing as much as I could from my inbox and was home by five o’clock. This allowed me to take T&M for a ood walk around the Three Miler and arrive home in time for Dinner. A glass of wine was presented with this …

… I am guessing that 30% has had “one of those days
* The more astute will have realised that we didn’t set the alarm and slept in.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Sunday; the day of rest.

I started with a trip out to pick up supplies as 30% had decided that we needed to combine a huge piece of pork and several packs of liver with a mountain of onions, a loaf of breadcrumbs and a mass of suet and seasonings ... yes, she had decided that we were going to make some faggots.*

I also needed to pick up a birthday card for Bad Man Senior and my simple trip to the Supermarket soon became a muti-shop, multi-town visit as I couldn't find a card that suited. An hour and a half later I eventually walked through the back door and was soon up to my elbows in raw meat ...

... This turned out to be a mammoth session and we ended up with more than seventy faggots portioned up in batches of six ready to be transferred to the freezer. By the time we had finished it was early afternoon and we then made a trip out to wish BMS a happy eightieth birthday.

A celebratory dinner** had taken place the previous week at the same venue that BMS and SMS had celebrated their wedding 25 years ago. It was something of a joint celebration as this year is SMS's 60th birthday, BMS's 80th and their Silver Wedding anniversary. It was therefore a much quieter "do" today and we just had tea and cake and a natter. We also managed to link BMS up with TP in Qatar via the wonders of FaceTime so TP could give his Birthday Greeting in person, so to speak.

* I have to say this every time in an attempt to avoid upsetting any of my American readers. Faggots are a British meatball made of minced pork, minced liver, onions, breadcrumbs and suet and are a tasty dish. They are not a disparaging reference to Homosexuals.
** This was hosted by my two sisters. I was invited***but decided it was best for all if I declined.
*** grudgingly through gritted teeth and via BMS. 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Another Saturday ...

... another Mission!

This morning 30% and I were in the car by nine thirty. We were headed over to Worcester to have a chat with Dave the Stripper about the cost of refinishing the two bookcases that we acquired last week. He thinks it will be in the region of £70 for each case and they will then be a perfect match for the ones we have already. It looks like I will be hitching up the trailer to drop them off in Worcester next Saturday.

On our return, hitching the trailer to the Land Rover was my next job as I needed to collect and deliver Bad Man Senior's "new" mobility scooter. This involved a short run over to Henley-in-Arden to collect The Beast and then a drive over to BMS's house to deliver it ... and, of course, take it for a quick test ride at full speed up the road.

I also collected BMS's Planer Thicknesser as he now needs his garage to house The Beast. The net result is that his workshop is being relocated, piecemeal to The Pile ... Thanks Dad. Unfortunately my garage is now so crammed that you couldn't swing a kitten let a lone a full sized cat and it will be that way for a while longer as the Dining Room furniture is taking much of the space.

It was finally time for a  late lunch and then T&M were let loose on the Three Miler. I finally managed to get a snooze on the sofa late in the afternoon setting me up nicely for dinner and a movie evening with 30%.

Friday, 3 August 2012

What a bunch of useless c .....

What does leadership mean to you? There are whole tomes on the subject and a number of different styles but fundamentally it all distills down to the action of heading up a team of individuals and ensuring that they complete a set activities. Now you can do this well, badly or Indian style and it is the latter that I have been experiencing this week.

One of my latest projects is being "lead" by an Indian team. They are responsible for the overall design and my role in this iteration of the project is to provide local consultancy. So far I have done my best to get an idea of what is going on and have attended calls and read relevant documentation. To be honest there seems to be very little that needs to be done in the UK other than provide career management for 30 or 40 individuals  as everything else should be delivered from the chaps in Bangalore.

With these thoughts in mind I drafted an e-mail and requested clarification of scope and assumptions and patiently waited. I also ensured that the Indians were aware that they were developing the solution in this round and we were just here to provide advice and sanity check their numbers ...

... On this morning's call my patience finally gave out. I am fed up with the Indian method of leadership which appears to have the following tenets:-
  • Failing to provide any direction to the team
  • Failing to answer relevant questions
  • Ignoring clear statements of activity ownership
  • Ignoring clear, expert direction on redeployment of personnel
  • Making ridiculous and untested assumptions that are unworkable
When I was asked if I had any questions I finally gave them both barrels. I pointed out that I had repeatedly requested a clear overview of their UK solution requirements and was still waiting for an answer. I pointed out that I was lined up to review a set of costs on Monday but that activity had absolutely no value if there was no solution description to provide a frame of reference for the aforementioned costs.

At this point a member from the Indian team advised that he sent over a solution description this morning. The stupid fucker hadn't counted on the fact that I had taken time to review that pile of crap and was able to promptly respond that there wasn't a single reference to the UK in the entire fucking worksheet and it was therefore of no value to me at all.

At this point I stopped and watched the tumbleweed roll across the aural vista. Eventually the Senior Sales Executive gathered his thoughts* and suggested that the lead team were challenged by the short time frame and would soon be able to provide some clarity and that I shouldn't let their lack of delivery slow me down...

... That is a bit like telling a Fireman that  they should let a lack of water slow down their extinguishing activities.

Fuckwits !
* that is never going to be a lengthy activity

Thursday, 2 August 2012

It rained today too ...

I appear to become a victim of my own success ...

... let me explain. A couple of weeks back I was asked to develop a rough estimate for some Business Development activities. It was a new approach because, for some reason I fail to comprehend, the Sales Team don't like using the tool that has been developed, honed and maintained by Dante's and instead would rather have an idiot from Worcestershire just make stuff up based on far less experience and far less source data.

They were so pleased with this less accurate figure that they have requested that I provide another team with similar support. At this point you might like to take a few moments to consider the psyche and intellect of Dante's Sales Team. I used to do this but now I try and avoid it as it leaves me confused and angry. I now just try to think of them as aged, brain damaged cats, snoozing on the sofa smelling of piss. If I keep this mental image in my head at all times I find that I can just about tolerate them.

So it appears that along with the Indians I now have the Cowboys to support too.

Away from work; we had the fitter in this morning to carpet the stairs and very nice they look too. I also managed to break away from the desk in the late afternoon to take T&M for a walk. All was going well until I was as far as I could possibly be from home...

... at that point the heavens opened and it poured down. We sheltered under a tree until the worst was over but it continued to rain all the way back to The Pile. I'm glad I had the foresight to take a hat and coat.

I just wish I had had the foresight to totally fuck up the last piece of work I did for the Business Development Team.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

It's not going to rain tonight.

Wednesday was spent clarifying the scope of the two shitty projects IM has passed to me. The first of these has been passed back to a colleague to progress. It has minimal scope and should be fairly straightforward. The other is being run by an Indian team and is a complete and utter mess. From a UK perspective there doesn't really appear to be a lot of UK scope and my value add was to construct a mail asking what they exactly expected to be delivered in the UK...

... it worries me that they can't actually describe their solution when, from the little I have seen it, appears that they need to get everything off-shored as soon as possible leaving little or nothing for the UK to do.

Ah well, as they say, I would get paid far, far less if there weren't so many problems to be handled.

I knocked off at a reasonable time this evening as a ride out was planned with Chippy Ian, Mick and Cheryl. By half past six I was fed and watered and heading over to Ian's house...

... We rode over to Evesham to meet up with Cheryl and Mick and then on to Broadway. From Broadway it was on to Winchcombe  and I have to say that it's High Street never fails to delight me with its fantastic Cotswold Stone architecture. After Winchcombe we climbed up Cleve Hill and then dropped down though Prestbury in to Cheltenham. The views from Cleve Hill were fantastic but the sky was an ominous shade ahead and I had neglected to bring waterproofs.

Once on the other side of Cheltenham we headed out on the A435 towards Cirencester before cutting off the main road and in to the Village of Elkstone. As we travelled the last mile in to the Village the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down. At this point I should mention that this destination had been selected by Ian as he had to visit a client at the Rectory to see about some work so he was indoors chatting and drinking tea whilst we were seeking what ever shelter we could find from the deluge.

After ten minutes hunched miserably under a tree Ian was done and we decided that it was most definitely a case of "rain stopped play".  We therefore had a frantic run down the A417 to the outskirts of Cirencester and popped in to a Little Chef Thief for a coffee and a break from the rain. After that it was the shortest route home which happened to be the A429 in to Stow-on-the-Wold and then the A424 and A44 back towards Evesham...

... twenty five minutes later I was wandering in through the door leaving a trail of drips on the floor.