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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Drak's LiveJournal:

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Thursday, September 5th, 2013
5:58 pm
Some random burbling about memory
keep meaning to write more, but then I forget..
So here are some thoughts on memory.
Please be aware that this is rambling and inconclusive.. I would prefer to have come to a conclusion, but am aware of the fact that if I wait until this is 'perfect' I will never finish it.. I may revisit the topic/ edit later, especially as the formatting seems to have gone a bit (far more a wall of text than I am happy with) weird..
Read more...Collapse )

Current Mood: pensive
Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
3:59 pm
An example of happiness
Yesterday and today, I did something I haven't done since my teenage years.
I made a model aeroplane from a kit.
It was a very simple kit (as it came in my christmas stocking) but the act of making something has been deeply pleasing.
The final product isn't too bad to keep either (which was one of my worries when I started..)

So from:
Model Plane Xmas 2010 002

Model Plane Xmas 2010 009

I'm quite proud of that - hence the public display!
(if you want a few more pics - head over to Flickr)

Current Mood: productive
3:32 pm
Happy new year..
With work looming again (after a mainly relaxed two whole weeks off) I'm taking this opportunity to wish all of you growth and happiness in the coming new year.

I have quite a few 'opportunities for growth' at the moment:
I've not quite come to the resolution I had hoped with my impending work issues: do I stay with my current employer, in a (newish) job I know I don't want to do, in expectation of another (very new) job that I really do want to do, which has become a little more will-o-the-wispish than I'm comfortable with? OR do I jump ship like the many sleek rats around me? (there is a raft passing with a recent rat waving to me, and offering me a share of his cheese)
I haven't done all the housework I promised myself (though I have done some significant pieces). I also haven't bit the bullet on getting a cleaner (the issue of letting some stranger know what a slob I am, is apparently much less than the issue of letting a stranger (or tbh anyone) into my home)
I left xmas shopping a little too late, and didn't get the presents for my family that I wanted to (part of the issue was that I left it far too late to give up searching for inspiration and just ask them what they wanted!)
I still haven't found my freeholder (and need to get myself organised to send some letters, to my vertical neighbours addresses), but the damp issue I found appears to have just been condensation, and no structural harm seems to have been done (flaking paint seems to be because when they redecorated to sell, they painted over the existing condensation.. bubbly paint is a different issue, still being investigated)
Due to the unexpectedly seasonal weather I didn't get to see my friends in Wales for Yule (a long standing tradition takes a sit down for a rest - but I WILL get myself organised to see them before their work makes it impractical to visit - they work most of the weekends of summer and autumn!)

I also have had quite a bit of happiness:
Spending Christmas with my parents - I count myself so lucky to get on well with them, and that they live close enough to visit.
Lots of good food, good company and games during the past weeks.
Catching up with Fiona (I had allowed myself to fall out of contact again, but her energy is always a welcome boost)
Allowing myself to dedicate time to quietly creative projects - the emotional boost of making stuff is quite an odd experience, and one I need to remember!
I have relatively good health, and equanimity to spare - to the extent that the hanging questions above feel more like the Pompom of Damocles than some crushing weight of impending doom.
And I've just found out that lj allows me to put 'chipper' as my mood. How can anyone resist that?

Edit: and due to a conversation at christmas, coupled with some poor impulse control, I'm going to go and see Bill Bailey on the last day of his current show in London..

Current Mood: chipper
Monday, December 6th, 2010
11:38 am
Not a rant for once..

Some high points of my recent week + a few days:

An evening meal of at Okawari in Ealing with my mother.  I’m a big fan of Japanese cuisine, and the sushi selection there has enough vegetarian options to be viable (as opposed to a couple of Japanese places in the area which look at you as if you are mad if you ask if there is any sushi without sashimi..). They also do one of my favourite dishes of all time – Nasu Den (aka ‘the little Aubergine Boat to Heaven’) a deliciously sweet and soft half grilled aubergine with a miso paste/sauce. Eating with my mother and her Blackberry meant that I will no longer idly wonder what the Oba leaf in Plum and Oba leaf rolls is – I will now know it is ‘Japanese mint’. It is always good to meet up with my family, as I usually fail to keep in touch by phone except in emergencies or times of stress (such as not knowing a particular recipe, or other such family-related issues).

So it was also good to ‘pop’ up to visit my sister in Shropshire. A general natter and potter around, interspersed with a viewing of her latest DIY/gardening type projects and plans was rounded off by a visit to a ‘Winterval’ evening of music and amateur dramatic sketches. The am-dram was as parson’s-eggish as expected. They were definitely better with other people’s material – a highlight was Dinner for One (which I recognised shortly into the performance) and ‘...And Yet Another Partridge in a Pear Tree’ (apparently by Brian Sibley) which was gender flipped (as the original was letters of complaint from a young lady) and performed with warmth and gusto by what appeared to be the youngest member of the troupe (in his twenties?).
The music was very good. Even if I could have been contractually obliged to enjoy it with one of my sister’s longest standing friends in the line-up, as it happens the mix of folk and rock, covers and original music, delivered on two acoustic guitars and a violin meshed with my personal tastes as well. So if a bit of rootsy folk appeals – pop over to
website and have a listen!

Even the drive back down (getting home at 2 in the morning)  was fun: bright moon, dark clear roads and not much traffic (sensible people avoiding the potential snow, no doubt) and a very weird mix of local radio stations (I think I had somehow set my radio to seek the strongest signal when it lost the current one).

A job interview that felt more like a chat (and which I found later through very random channels had gone 'excellently). This really feels like a good move, if it happens (extremities crossed, wood touched).

Being told that a suggestion I gave the boardgames designer I do some occasional play-testing for was 'excellent' - this from a man who introduces nearly every game with 'prepare to lose'. (and has made it almost ritual to qualify 'coffee' with 'hot, liquid, in a mug, with cow's milk and a bit of sugar' though I am curious to see if he would try and serve it otherwise if I didn't specify in a mug...)

Playing my first online games of Starcraft II against human opponents (and losing spectacularly - utterly trounced!). The only way to get better is to continue, of course. Strangely - people do things differently to AI opponents..

Finishing a 28mm figure I've been planning/working on for a while (he sat undercoated for about two months while I waited for my detail painting to get back up to scratch..).
Discovering my new camera is TOO GOOD - when I took photo's of the little guy I could see all the mistakes, misplaced brushstrokes and gaps.. so now I'll have to get better at painting and photography ;)

Meeting up with faerierhona for a meal and a chat - good to see despite the perpetual cavalcade of mishaps she is obviously higher on spoons than she has been for a very long time.

All in all a lot of things to be positive about. So I will.

Current Mood: cheerful
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
6:18 pm
Expleted Delitive!
If you find yourself thinking - "I could just do a quick spray of varnish on my 28mm figure that I have been painting for about 2 months (because I just couldn't get the colour balance right, and kept restarting) as it is finally finished and I want to have it dry for packing soon", it would be advisable, wise and some would say necessary to check BEFORE pressing the nozzle to check if the tops between your clear varnish and your black undercoat cans of spray had, perhaps, been mixed up.
Bother, poot and darnation.

Now I have to work out if I strip the paint off entirely, or try to cover up the mess..

Current Mood: aggravated
Monday, November 22nd, 2010
3:10 pm
from the latin for standing over..

OK, so the universe is trying to make me superstitious. Better than everyone trying to make me paranoid, I guess!

Some background (and therefore an update) first, the universal conspiracy to freak me out later..

We are currently losing the account I work for, haemorrhaging agents (over half the team gone, and the rest awaiting confirmed end dates before it gets communicated to them, but most are aware that the writing is, if not on the wall, definitely at the copy-writers), and the work I do (in essence supporting the call floor) is soon to be no longer needed. The ‘good’ news is that the client expects my role to metamorphose into a new role that supports other call centres around Europe. The downside of this is that the changes are essentially removing the parts of my job I like and concentrating on the data entry/data management aspects that I endure. So the metamorphosis is definitely giant human cockroach, not beautiful butterfly. I have expressed my reservations to my line manager (who is understandably despondent as the Account he has spent years building disintegrates around him) and he has tried to cheer me up by suggesting that the role may be different to what is being proposed, but his suggested improvements (such as having a team of data monkeys to supervise) have not filled my heart with joy.

As the company as a whole thinks I am quite spiffing (naturally), I was approached separately by (in order) the managing director, the HR director and the IS director to let me know that I shouldn’t worry about my job security because of the upheaval with the account and that they would find me something to do (this approach working much better that the unsolicited comment from Account Director/line manager about a week before the meltdown was announced that ‘I didn’t need to worry about my job’ which only made me worry).

The IS director even went into some detail of another role that was in the offing (and that he thought I might be a good fit for). And that’s where the seed was sown. The description of that job, which was challenging, an opportunity to learn, but also to use my analysis skills that have been languishing for the past year or so as the client decided to no longer listen to our input (‘strategic partnership’ coming to mean ‘we give you a discount, you boss us around even more..’), lit a flame that I had long let gutter out – the ‘I want to do that’ flame.  With its counterpoint ‘I don’t want to do this’. The loss of most of my closer colleagues on the team and the prospect of losing the others made it more appealing to move onto something new. Especially something I want to do. Even more so something with a sensible job title.. my current job as ‘Play Production Manager’ is a silly title, and ‘Data Steward’ (which is what the client and account director want me to become) makes me think either of a green jacket with a logo on the breast pocket and a clipboard or, worse, a hi-viz and a walkie-talkie.. “sorry mate, you’re data’s not on the list, it’s not coming in”.

[Just in case I hadn’t got the message about the company liking me, shortly after I had the chat with the IS director the IT director asked if I was looking for new work, because she could probably get some budget to get me a position.. ]

Last Friday the job appeared on the noticeboards at work. I read it and began to fret. According to my mother, this is my feminine side coming to the fore. Apparently, if you give a job description with (say) 10 items to two people, equally qualified, male and female will react differently. The man will usually see that they have (say) 8 out of 10 requirements and say ‘I can do that’, while the woman will say ‘I only have 8 out of 10, I can’t do that’. So after some pep talks from family, and some friendly bullying from colleagues, I finally got myself organized enough to apply for the IS job. (Sorry Rhona, just an internal application, I’m not leaving the trenches just yet..) I put in the application on Friday morning.

Now for the spookiness.

On my way back from lunch on Friday, the knot of anxiety over impending change eased slightly by the application of an emmental panini, I detoured to see the newly posted menu on the Indian restaurant down the road (used to be my favourite in the area, looks as though the new management are trying to be funky – but as long as the food is still good I won’t mind the occasional hot pink neon sign). As I went to cross back to my normal route something caught my eye: a tarot card, lying by the side of the road. Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never seen a single tarot card lying around in the street before. I have seen a whole pack, but that was after someone threw the cards out of a window ranting about witchcraft, so that was quite understandable. I, despite several attempts, cannot come up with a reasonable scenario where someone would drop/lose a single card. So the unusualness of this occurrence sparked my interest and I stepped over to look at it. It was the three of pentacles. I took a picture on my phone (and once I work out how to get it from there to here I will do so..). Now I only know a little bit about the tarot, having been vaguely interested in its Gnostic application as it applied to the personal journey in my twenties, but I remembered that the pentacles (or rings, or coins) are to do with money and work. So the fact that I had just submitted a job application seemed a bit of a coincidence. So over the weekend I looked up what the internet has to say on this card.. which turns out to be a lot. But the (omg hundreds of them , hundreds I tell you!) sites all pretty much agreed with this summary:

Three of Pentacles
Street tarot

Upright - Success gained through hard work and effort. A gain in commerce and an increase in material things.  This is the card of the businessman, craftsman and merchant.  Skillful work is both awarded and appreciated.  A good time to start a project, with an indication of help in business.

Hmmm.. While I appreciate the encouragement, it seems a bit, well, weird. Downright spooky, in fact!

Edit (hopefully) for picture:
I doubt anyone will be able to identify this - my phone isn't all that great for pictures.. if it helps it was huge for a card - about A6..

Current Mood: weird
Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
11:03 am
If found please return to village
Its official. I am an idiot.
This was confirmed this morning when it took me four tries to leave the house, two of them where I got all the way to sitting in my car before I remembered the other thing I needed to take with me..
The groundwork of my suspicion I might be an idiot was on my proper return from Towersey folk festival to discover my house infested with small black flies.
Which were obviously happily breeding and living on the rubbish I had collected, bagged and then left in the house instead of throwing in the bin. A week before. I'm now hoping that they haven't properly infested. A bonus is that I have had a good root around for anything that might harbour/infest so its provoked a bit of a tidy up and clean that was long overdue.
The main body of evidence of fooldom was yesterday though.
It was the last day of my booked holiday. However, I went into work. Because I'd forgotten how much time I'd booked off. And my up to date calendar was at work. Harrumph. A day of explaining to people that I was supposed to be on holiday but had come back early, and being met with incedulity over a) forgetting I was on holiday, b) not turning right round and going home again..
I have an excuse/rationale for forgetting when my holiday ended though, I had originally booked off the time as just under a week, but an opportunity to go to the RSC and see Morte d'Arthur arose on the day before so I extended my holiday - but I don't think my mind made the adjustment for 'having a day off just before the holiday = the holiday is a day longer..
btw Morted'Arthur was disappointing - well staged (except some of the combat was overly stagey and some wasn't - the mix jarred) but the script and cast didn't seem to know if it was farcical, mystical, post modern or traditional - again the mix of tone and performance jarred. Too often I was finding myself thinking about how the scene could have been done better, rather than being swept along.
Towersey was also slightly disappointing - many of the people I had hoped to see weren't there and the mud and rain put a dampener (heh) on just wandering the site. Due to the mud, torrential rain on the first day and my approaching curmudgeon status I had decided not to camp - but drove in and back each day - which meant that I didn't go to see some of the morning workshops/concerts that I would have gone to if I was actually there - leaving me with the nagging suspicion I might have missed something. However there was some excellent music,good food, occasional good company (and the realisation that soon the entire UK folk scene will be related to Martin Simpson in some way) and also it was not being at work - so I am feeling relaxed and happy. And I go on holiday again in just over a week.
To the welsh coast, so there won't be any of that rain and mud to worry about, right?
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010
4:57 pm
Suddenly, a post appeared!

Well I haven’t posted in a while, despite telling myself I should. Bad me! No biscuit!

 Life has been doing its thing as usual, and I've been following along – some ups and downs, but mostly on an even keel.

 Had the surprise of my line manager announcing that he’s leaving at the end of the month – to go work for our client in the position he effectively reports to now.. Good for him, but leaves us a bit in the lurch, and I’ve mixed feelings about how good for us as a company it will be – I like him as a person, but he is very much a Newspeak manager, so Dogbert only knows how it will be when he starts passing instruction and I’m not allowed to go ‘that doesn’t make any sense! use English, you idiot’ any more..

 Coupled with reading Hello Laziness recently, this has lead to a less than stellar motivational level, and hence the posting during the working day..

Been making an effort to do more interesting stuff. Mostly this has been simply changing from ‘I’d like to do that but..’ to ‘I’d like to do that!’ – a deceptively simple change!

This has lead me to going to the zoo (on my own -  which got me odd looks from the ticket person, though this may be because there was a large group of Goths in there already (I saw later) and maybe he thought I was late!),  I have gone out to restaurants for nice food (again alone - which got me an odd look in one place, and a sympathetic smile and a corner table in another), which still somehow feels a bit wrong, in a hangover presbetyrian/anti-luxury kind of way. I also managed to overcome my basic inertia to go to my first proper prom (as in stood up ‘promenading’) which was fun and a good chance to catch up with a neglected friend.

Saw my sister a while back when she was in town working – I now have a new past-time of 'spot the time traveller'. Again it was good to catch up on her news, but it ended up reinforcing my encroaching feeling of disconnection/ isolation.


Cut for mopery...Collapse )Hmmm..

My gaming pals (local) have started up a Necromunda game, and not only has it reminded me that I’m actually quite good at it, it’s sparked the desire to paint little lead people and make things and generally be a bit creative again. Which is good!

That and some random surfing lead me to Tetrastar and their rather upbeat free-to –download bleepy cover album Songs We Didn’t Write (includes a Four Chord Song that outdoes the Axis of Awesome’s version), which in turn has lead me to the work of Jonathon Coulton especially his song Skullcrusher Mountain, which has been wheeling about in my head (in either his and/or Tetrastar’s cover) version for most of this week..

“You like monkeys, you like ponies / Maybe you don't like monsters so much”

Lyrical genius to match Tim Minchin..

And yes maybe I am spending too much time online – but I bought some new paintbrushes yesterday evening, so that will change soon!

Current Mood: complacent
Friday, July 16th, 2010
12:27 pm
Cold hard irony
Monday - received email from our training department, relating to the fact that we have to take a couple of modules on company policy to maintain compliance.. The modules are Privacy, Security and Ethics. Each has a short test to confirm that you have in fact read and understood..
So far so normal.

Yesterdays follow up email was a little unexpected:

"Here are the answers for this ethics test - your call if you want to use them. If you do please read the questions as the online test does shuffle the optional answers around and questions around."
Going on to say that the answers are available for the other two tests, but are a bit longer so haven't been attached to this email.

So that's us being sent the answers to the Ethics test...

Current Mood: amused
Tuesday, March 9th, 2010
9:21 pm
I bought a new coat.
Because I got fed up looking in High street type shops and never liking what I saw, I ended up buying online.

I bought a long leather coat to replace my long leather coat, because I like having a long waterproof heavy coat. However, I thought I would get something in a different style, a little more military in cut, in an attempt to be less shambly.

The people I bought it from sent me an email on the lines of 'sorry that particular item is out of stock and we've changed suppliers so we are replacing it with an equivalent item'. Which is a bit much considering how long I spent finding one I liked the look of (approx a month of comparing suppliers around europe - I am a bit fussy). However they did say that I could return it if I didn't like it, which I suppose was actually them adhering to distance selling rules, but felt like a reasonable idea, so I let them continue.

Anyway the coat arrived today.
Its almost identical to my old one, only not scuffed, ripped and falling to pieces. The only real difference is the collar starts a little higher, and is a bit wider, and its a little squarer in the shoulder. I'm half expecting people to not notice the difference (apart from the fact that its new, of course).

Now do I sulk about it being not very different from my old coat (which, let's face it, I liked so much I've worn it beyond its reasonable lifespan), and therefore remain new-coat-less, or do I embrace it for its newness and its undamaged, unscuffed, not-scruffy-ness?
Or do I just accept that the universe likes me to be a bit shambly?

Current Mood: pensive
Saturday, March 6th, 2010
3:22 pm
A general update
Hello World!
How are you?
I'm quite well, all things considered. My Bell's Palsy seems to have cleared up faster than expected - I have a little stiffness in my cheek and an strange twitch inside my lip, but otherwise I'm back to what I was before (avoiding claiming that I was ever normal). Which is a huge weight off my mind.

Work is settling down to a bearable level of stress. I've come to the conclusion that a lot of the stress i get is self-inflicted, especially where I take on resposibility for other peoples work because they aren't doing it (and it needs to be done). Somehow knowing I'm doing it to myself makes it a bit easier to bear.
The new person (who was going to be responsible for a lot of the stuff that is on my plate because there is no-one to do it) didn't show up on their first day. Which might be why they only announced he was joining the team the Friday before he was supposed to be starting. Apparently this was the sort of didn't show that means we have to go back to the start of recruitment.

On Thursday I had a day off work (if you book about a month in advance they can't object even if 'important' meetings get booked), and visited faerierhona , which was good - an afternoon of chatting (mostly on the subject of her recent medical excitements). I still can't navigate Cambridge though - I got lost on the way in, and on the way out. If only their ring-road was consistently sign-posted.

I have my time booked off for Towersey and Whitby, and my ticket sorted for Towersey. I ought to decide soon if I'm driving or train-ing to Whitby.

All in all life is ticking over, with pleasant and fun things planned for the future..

Current Mood: chipper
Monday, February 22nd, 2010
2:23 pm
Facewatch - 1 week in

I know several people out there are interested in my Bell's Palsy, so here is an update.
Please note that even in 'best case' scenarios, there is normally a period of 2-3 weeks for recovery.
Well, I have had several people mention an improvement in mobility today, after not seeing me for the weekend. I had thought as much myself, but I wasn't sure how much was me getting used to some of the difficulties, and how much was genuine improvement.
So (touch wood) this is a Good Sign, as improvement in the first two weeks normally implies full recovery. And the fact that I still had some movement after onset was also a promising sign.
Steroids run out tomorrow, but that's not a worry, as they have not been giving me the massive energy rush that others have mentioned. If anything they appear to have made me sleepy. Which has been good, since it has meant I have slept quite well last week.. up to the heady heights of five hours in one go!

I have managed to collect some very fine comments, some intentional, some less so. So, for your delectation - some things you might* want to avoid saying to someone who has had half their face seized up:
"Keep a brave face on it"
"Stiff upper lip"
"Keep your chin up"
"I suppose you just have to try to smile through it"
"Oh yes my sister had that. Of course, it was worse for her because she is pretty"

*unless like at least one of these comments you are aiming for the gentle cruelty that implies friendship!

Current Mood: calm
Monday, February 15th, 2010
5:42 pm
Mixed bag weekend
Well my weekend was really quite good up until the last minute.

I went and saw Sherlock Holmes, which wasn't really a Sherlock Holmes story but still an enjoyable romp - it struck me as all a bit too 'actiony' for my personal view of Sherlock..

I went to Oxford to meet up with my sister and go to the 'Steampunk' exhibit at the Museum of the History of Science. The museum itself was a bit too old-fashioned (case after case of essentially the same thing with little explanation or insight), and seemed to be much more a museum of the history of Astronomy (plus a hall of chemistry) than of Science. Then again Science is very big, as is History.. the complete one of the other would probably not fit comfortably into any building..

The Steampunk exhibition was ok - in its last week now but was still packed.. and I came away with the realisation that I like my steampunk to actually do something - the pieces that really caught and held the mind were the giant brass 'hot-air' engines, that ran off tealights in a truly victorian fashion, and the computer keyboards 'victorianised' by the well known american who does that sort of thing whose name escapes me right now.

Sunday was poddling about tutting at all the romance on the radio, then meeting up for a boardgame in the evening. Which is were things started to go a little fruit-shaped.
On Saturday I had a sort of tingly feeling in the corner of my mouth - I had dismissed this as hot drinks and cold weather. By Sunday evening it had started to affect my facial movements, eating and my speech. I was trying to laugh this off, but it was worrying. (Not least becase a big smile made me look like I was doing a bad Billy Idol impersonation).

When I got home I used the NHS direct 'diagnose your hypochondria' site, but no matter how I tweaked my responses, if I gave a fair representation it told me to go to hospital. I called the phoneline instead, hoping (against rationality by now) that they'd say 'oh stop being silly'. They didn't so I trundled down to A&E.

It's very difficult to sit calmly in A&E while considering that I might be having a slow-burn stroke. I came to the conclusion after the first hour (when I had my 'initial assessment' which was repeating what I'd told the receptionist to a nurse and raising my hands above my shoulders) that it is probably impossible to notice yourself losing mental function. Which didn't help calm me down. However, a swift 3 hours later when I saw the doctor (apparently they had lost an SHO whatever one of those is, so were having difficulty getting through people - it might have been good to knw this somewher during the 3 hours wait from assessment to doctor), they rapidly dismissed the more nasty raft of neurological conditions that I had already decided it couldn't be because they took so long to see me, and diagnosed Bell's Palsy.

Which is the catch-all for 'half your face is paralysed but we don't know why'.*
Which was actually better than most of the 'we do know why' reasons available, so a win of sorts!

They then tried to prescribe some steroids and anti-virals, which it turned out they didn't have enough of, and the doctor I was seen by got shouted at by the senior doctor for her original advice, came back and gave me a cut-down plan and told me to go see my GP as soon as possible to get the prescription. At 6 in the morning I get home and decide I won't make it into work.

I texted my boss, explaining why, and hoping I hadn't woken him. Apparently he was out walking his dog, so one worry gone. He fully understood that I must be shattered, worried and not in a fit state to come in. So could I work from home instead. Nice. Especially since his response to 'it was possibly a mini-stroke' was that he 'couldn't be held responsible for that'.. which I hope was just shocked blather rather than an attempt to avoid possible litigation over workload stress!

So now I've just come back from the doctor (where I was a showcase for a medical student - something I seem to be gifted at) and trying to gather any vestigial enthusiasm/sense of duty for doing work, while processing the news that this paralysis will either clear up in 2 to 8 weeks, or never. And if it clears up slowly I'll probably gain facial tics from the after effects. Poot.

So I'm not at my most cheerful.

* Goes nicely with my fairly recent 'vaso-vagal syncopation' - 'you fainted and we don't know why', my 'interstitial atypical neuralgia' - 'you have joint pain and we don't know why', and my (fortunately no longer a major feature of my life) 'endogenous chronic depression' - 'you are really miserable and we don't know why'

Current Mood: worried
Wednesday, November 25th, 2009
10:55 am
I have not posted for approx 24 weeks.

Mostly I haven't had the time when I've had the inclination, and vice versa.
The one time I had both inspiration and time to write was during a power cut.
It amazed me how poorly I coped with said power cut - functionally I was fine, I had candles and a lighter in a logical place, blankets etc. It just jarred my sensibilities so much, and I still found myself flicking the light switches as I wandered round with a candle in my hand.. Since I had been talking to a work colleague the week before about how her hometown (somewhere in South America) regularly lost power to whole city blocks for days at a time, it reminded me of one of the more insidious privileges of my life - the whole assumption of safe water, readily available heat, light and safety.

If you Google recursion, it asks Did you mean: recursion

For some reason I am a lot less busy and stressed at work when my line manager is on holiday. Even though the workload and requirements have not significantly lessened. On a related topic, anyone out there recommend a non-prescription sleeping pill type thing?

The freindly people at Google (or the clever people at albinoblacksheep) have got the 'I'm feeling Lucky' search for 'french military victories' working again

It was only because someone posted an image of the packaging that I realised that Tofurky was an actual product. Though everyone spells it tofurkey.. I am somehow disappointed in the reality of it. Maybe because they didn't feel the need for tofu drumsticks. Or more likely because I don't trust americans with tofu..

Anyway break time is over. Back to trying to reconcile 5 different reports of the same statistic that won't agree.. I am the UN negotiator of Excel these days.. though sometimes I do feel the need for a slightly more American approach.. "This report doesn't match up with what we expect. Let's blow it up and replace it with one that does."
Sort of hoping my official work picks up so I have a valid business reason to give up on getting these reports to match up rather than my actual one of 'I don't care.'

Current Mood: calm
Friday, June 5th, 2009
10:40 am
Democracy in reaction

I point you to the ever insightful bunny as to my shock at just how rightwing/and or nut-job laden my EU ballott paper was. Though I didn't get the Roman Party..
Fortunately all the right-wing bigots are probably too bigotted to form up into one universal 'in-god-we-trust send' em all back to Africa and keep our vegetables imperfect and down with the French' party.

Current Mood: shocked
Thursday, March 19th, 2009
2:09 pm
Life imitates art that imitates life

I have finally got my assistant (four months after I first asked). So now for the first time in those same four months, I am caught up and don't have lots to do. Not because my assistant is assisting. Because the work has dried up. Typical.

However as part of this assistant joining I have to provide some metrics to monitor his performance with.
So I thought I'd ask for the metrics that I'm measured by, as logically they would be similar.
Only it turns out my metrics are completely made up - my monitoring Performance Related Pay sheet refers to the call monitoring, team leading and agent training that doesn't play any part in my work (but apparently I score a regular 5 out of 6 for all these aspects). No actual metrics based on my actual job. And I'm not even able to be slightly surprised (apart from the fact that there is a whole bunch of metrics which are patently made up, but still used.. why not skip all that and make up the total?)

However the bit that caught my eye was in the areas that need monitoring/improvement..

"especially with regards to communication with AD - his natural reaction is honesty and brutal fact of what can or cannot be completed - this often comes over as too negative & honest rather than actual thinking about problem solving - this has progressed with solutions to AD or AM when issues arise"

Where AD means Account Director and AM means Account Manager (my direct boss).
So basically one of the things I have to improve is not telling my bosses when something is impossible. I have to say I'll look into it, wait a while, then tell them its impossible. Or say that we'd have to research a solution.. I'm being targeted on telling my bosses more lies.

Compare and contrast:

Ho hum..

Current Mood: amused
Thursday, December 18th, 2008
1:18 pm
Apparently I'm a freak
'Have' to be in work today - as I'm off tomorrow next week and boss is panicking about cover (I asked a month ago if I could have a designated deputy - and have been asking at least weekly ever since).
So when I woke up with massive pain in my mouth from cracking a tooth (grinding them in my sleep - why yes I am still very stressed, thanks for asking), I had two options - go to a dentist and probably cause my poor boss to have a full-blown aneurism or fix it myself. So I fixed it myself. With Superglue.

When I explained this was why I was a bit grumpy this morning I was met with incredulity. When I went on to explain that superglue had been developed for use in field surgery, and was still used medically, I was met with even more incredulity.

Am I the only person to believe it's not unreasonable to perform temporary fixes on yourself with the tools available (I've used post-it notes and/or sellotape as bandages in the past..)?

And before anyone tells me off - I've booked a dentist appointment to get it fixed properly tomorrow.
And the dentist was surprised and amused by my quick-fix, but didn't tell me I was mad..

Current Mood: cranky
Wednesday, December 10th, 2008
12:18 pm
Ninja plumbers
So I called one of these 'umbrella' companies that provides a local plumber.
They asked me some questions about the problem,  such as 'is the pilot light on? does it flame when you turn on a hot tap? what make is it? how much clearance is there above the unit?' all to help issue a request to the plumber.
When I went to check if it flamed when the hot water was running, the answer was 'yes, and bloody hell its providing hot water!'. Oh. Don't need a plumber now. Sorry!

Had hot water this morning too, so its not as if it was a morning specific problem.
My only conclusion is that either - there is another factor which I have no visibility of, or (my favourite conclusion) a ninja plumber saw my post yesterday, identified me using their secret ninja plumber training, found and infiltrated my house (again with the secret ninja plumber training), and fixed my boiler (using standard plumber training), leaving no trace (standard ninja training). Because I did not specify what type of boiler it was they couldn't bring the spare part to fix the broken timer though.
And now I have hot water, they are no longer obliged by the secret ninja plumber code to come and fix the timer.

Oh and with reference to my recent flying analogy:

This morning I had a brief burst of the pilot walking past with a parachute on saying 'I'm sure there's a manual somewhere in the cockpit, good luck!'.

Current Mood: busy
Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
11:27 am

Damn that Murphy and his Law.

So on the day before I have my first ever guest to stay (family so I haven't been round polishing the light fittings or anything), my boiler decides that hot water is a privilege that only the central heating system should enjoy. About two weeks ago the timer mechanism fell off, so perhaps I should have realised it wasn't working at its best.
Fortunately I was awake enough to notice the lack of steam from the shower before I jumped in. However I can't get a plumber in to look at the boiler when I am not there..

Work is poised on a knife edge between terminal dullness and unbearable freneticism. That and the fact that half the management team is off ill, apparently means I have to be here.

Still trying to work out when I can fit in Yuletide commercialism. Let alone what the few people I will be buying for might want..

Current Mood: irritated
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
7:31 pm
Obfuscation brought to you by a rigorous Non-Disclosure Agreement

Imagine if you will (and if you read this you will..)

You are the navigator on a large and expensive aircraft.

There is an experimental new engine, which if successful will make your aircraft very popular.

You are told that the best way to test this engine is to go on a new route.

You are told that you should be able to get the new route worked out by looking at the old routes, but not provided with a map.

Just as you begin to explain that this isn’t a good idea, the plane takes off.

Ground control expresses great confidence, and then explains that they’ve also promised a VIP that they can have a lift to your destination.

Every once in a while the pilot pops off-duty, asking you to fill in (occasionally explaining the controls).

The VIP comes up and explains that if they don’t get there on time they will sue the airline. Then stands there and asks you a lot of questions about how the engine works.

Just as you get back to plotting the route, a mechanic pops in and tells you they need a hand fixing one of the new engines controls. You help as no-one else is available.

You get back to your station to find a message from ground control explaining that they’ve been in touch with your destination and they haven’t got a suitable runway. They ask you to come up with a solution. When you ask the pilot’s advice he explains he has to send off a full report on the engine’s performance to date, and he can’t help. Also, would you mind flying the plane for a bit.

The VIP pops in and explains they’re not in a hurry any more, apologises for their earlier rudeness and asks how long the journey will take. You can’t tell them as you still haven’t finalised the route, so you make non-committal noises. The pilot pops in, promises the VIP it won’t be more than an hour, and pops out again.

An hour passes.

Ground control calls and tells you to stop being so stressed, and that the pilot says you’re being negative.

The engine makes an odd noise.

You manage to get the route worked out, though you know its not the most direct route possible.

Another hour passes.

The destination comes into sight, and you realise that the approach to the runway is going to be complicated, but achievable with your pilot.

You get the pilot up to the cockpit and explain what they need to do.

They say they won’t do it, because they weren’t told at take-off that there would be a difficult landing.

The mechanic walks past, overhears the discussion, and lets you know that they’ve not actually tested this engine for landing at such a steep angle.

The VIP demands to know why the plane is running so late, as they had made plans.


That in extended analogy form has been my past two weeks.


Insomnia and other stress symptoms abound (all the way up to chest pains and breathing difficulties). Most of the hurry has turned out to be hurry up and wait.

I’m still being leaned on to make decisions I don’t have the information, background or authority to make. Some of the bits I have thought important enough to flag have been hand-waved away, until they pop up and bite us.

IF the changes work, they MAY make my life a bit simpler (lots to do, but most of it clearly defined – as opposed to my current ‘everything else’ brief).

On the plus side, everything I have done, including the stuff that was skin-of-the-teeth and seat-of-the-pants improvisation has been useful, accepted and (to the best of my knowledge) right. Even if some of it has been thrown out by ‘rapid changes of course’.


But if the current atmosphere continues for more than a week, I may have to seriously consider quitting for my own mental/physical health!

Current Mood: stressed
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