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Friday, May 31, 2002

Kennamatics weeKend Kwiz

As there is no Friday Five being run this week I thought I'd just fill in with some questions of my own. Leave answer in comments or on your own site with a message to link in the comments section. My apologies to any non-British readers for excluding you but read the answers and realise how unpatriotic the Brits probably are.

1) What means more to you this weekend, The Queens Golden Jubilee, The World Cup starting or that Big Brother 3 is running?

I can't say I'm particularly bothered about any of them. Normally it'd be the Jubilee as I'm a monarchist but it has failed to grab my attention yet. I'll probably dip in and out of the World Cup and might watch England if I've nothing better to do and I'll avoid BB3 like the plague.

2) Without looking, do you know the words to the second verse of the National Anthem? Did you even know there was more than one verse?

Many years in the Scouts prepared me to burst into all the verses of the National Anthem at a moments notice. Even now I can recall them and I don't suppose it's less than 30 years since I last sang them.

3) Are you attending any Jubilee related events this weekend?


4) Monarchist or Republican?

Monarchist. Even when I was young and more "subversive" in my beliefs I never thought overthrowing the Royal Family would be a good idea. We can't even elect a decent government what makes anyone think we could elect a decent President, although I'm sure Tony Blair would like to find out the answer.

5) If you were woken up by one of these on the radio this weekend which would you choose?
a) The National Anthem by The Band of The Royal Marines
b) God Save The Queen by Brian May (Queen)
c) God Save the Queen by The Sex Pistols

I'd probably choose c, although I'm not sure having John Lydons voice screaming down my ear as I woke up would be the perfect start to the day, but I've always liked The Pistols from day one, not just when it became fashionable second time round.

What with this post and the previous one I'm obviously regressing.

Yesterday I spotted a young boy of 3, maybe 4 years old, walking along with his mummy and carrying a teddy bear. I though what I always think on seeing the sight, "You're going to grow up o.k.".

For me the idea that the child has a teddy as oppose to a marketing lead toy just pleases me. I know he probably hasn't made the choice, though maybe he has, but I'm so tired of children being used as sales targets. I also tend to think playing with a teddy needs imagination, playing with marketing toys requires copying what was on telly.

For me growing up, I listened to childrens radio and watched childrens t.v., probably until I was 10 or 11. Only then did I start listening to "grown-up" music with any interest. I once saw a toddler in a pushchair trying to sing a chart song, it might have been a Eurythmics song, but it just looked and felt completely wrong.

I know kids "grow up so much faster" these days and there is the argument that they have to be much more street-wise earlier in their lives but surely they can have some chilhood first. Whatever happened to Sparkys Magic Piano, Tubby the Tuba, Big Rock Candy Mountain and other favourites on Junior Choice.

Is it age setting in yet again? Am I suffering from nostalgia? I don't know, but perhaps just seeing a young boy with a teddy triggers memories of a time in my life when the hardest decision of the day was which toy to play with next.

For the record, my favourite stuffed animals were: Pandalino, my panda who lives upstairs and is now 45 years old, my one eared knitted rabbit who sits next to Pandalino and is only a matter of a few months younger, and a Popeye doll which is long gone and I guess proves that there was marketing of toys even in the late Fifties.

What stuffed toys did you grow up with and have you still got them?

Thursday, May 30, 2002

I was driving through Richmond Park this morning and saw a young deer bent down nuzzling a rabbit. Please don't dissolusion me, I'm prepared to think it was Bambi & Thumper.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Ah, Blogger pro v1.1 is launched and with it a whole new set of problems. Prepare for mayhem in the next few days.

The problem with starting up your own company is it takes quite a bit of money.
The problem with it taking quite a bit of money is you soon run out of what you have.
The problem with running out of the money you have is....

you can't afford to buy a Mars Bar on the way home!

Monday, May 27, 2002


which children's storybook character are you?

this quiz was made by colleen

Well, Bianca my niece will be most happy as Curious George was her favourite character when she was growing up. Personally I'd have rather been Paddington Bear, but there you are, it could certainly have been worse.

I have a theory, or at least would like to test it, I think I may even have mentioned it before, but I'm interested to find out if your ability to turn up on time for things correlates with your early or late arrival for your expected birth date.

I was born early and I do like to be everywhere in good time. Linda however, was born late and tends to be late for anything. My brother's as bad, and Kev's even worse. If my theory was right his poor mum would have had an extra couple of months of pregnancy!

I certainly know of people where this doesn't work out but it does work for the majority. I'd be grateful if you could answer the following question and leave the answers in the comments section.

1) Were you born earlier or later than expected.
2) Do you mirror that result in your timekeeping now.
3) If not, were you "forced" into the opposite way of life by parents.
4) If you are opposite to your birth arrival are you happy with the outcome or not, for example, if you are always late does it bother or stress you or do you not care.

Feel free to boost the data by including others you know, if only for questions 1 & 2.

E-mail me if you prefer.

I'll collate the data and let you know the result in due course although I'm not expecting to get a big enough sample to really be accurate. Anyway, it will still be of interest if only to me.

Saturday, May 25, 2002

I can't make up my mind whether this is complete madness or something wonderful to give the world of piggery.

Went out for a meal with Linda this lunchtime down to her favourite restaurant. The only problem is a fifty mile trip there and the same distance back. I don't mind the driving, 50 miles is as nothing to what I'm often doing but after a particularly good three course meal, even without alcohol, really I just want to curl up and sleep. Hell, I must be getting old!

Todays menu was Pea and Mint Soup for myself, Red Pepper Hummous on garlic bread for her, followed by both of us having Mushroom, Leek and Tarragon En Croute with a Yellow Pepper Sauce and freshly steamed organic vegetables. We finished off with Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble with Home-made Ice Cream. Mmmmmm.

As a carnivore I often have problems with vegetarian food which is commercially prepared, although I can't tell you exactly why I'm never happy with it, but Clements are really good, they manage to make everything taste home-made whilst still presenting it as a nice meal out. Also, on Saturday lunchtimes we have been the only ones there which makes it rather like having our own dining club where we are waited on hand and foot. It's in a village called Plaistow between Guildford and Horsham, and should you be looking for somewhere of that type within a reasonable distance I can thoroughly recommend it.

Thursday, May 23, 2002

If you are a blogger user our glorious leader, Evan Williams, has given this interview to Internet Magazine.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

When is convenience food not convenient? When it's a Quorn vegetable chilli with rice.

Linda spotted a new Quorn frozen chilli and was going to get it until we looked at the cooking instructions. From memory they were something like this.

Pierce film lid. Place in oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven. Peel back film and stir sachet of sauce into chilli. Put two tbsp of water into rice. Recover. Place back in oven for 25 minutes. Stir well before serving.

I'm sorry, but wouldn't it be easier to take a packet of quorn and tins of kidney beans, tomatoes, and a couple of teaspoons of relevant spices, bung them in a pan until they have cooked through and cook some rice seperately.

That has to be more convenient than messing about with plastic containers and film. It may even be slightly healthier as well, plus cheaper for the portion size too.

Time to name and shame.

Two major things we are trying to put into place are being screwed up by the supplying companies.

B.T. and Lloyds TSB.

Good old B.T. We've had two lines installed and one of them they almost got installed on time and correctly, the other has been a complete balls up. it's meant to be our adsl line but they installed the wrong stuff, something about dax units. One half of the company thinks it's been sorted, the other half doesn't. So here we are 1 month later, no adsl connection, every department passing the buck, and today we received red reminders for the two line installations. Well, actually three reminders because they issued one line twice with differing amounts on it. Funnily enough, I'll be having words with them tomorrow about the concept of paying them in advance of actually getting the system set up.

The other problem will actually be paying them in as much as Lloyds TSB have completely screwed up our bank account. So far they've managed to issue the account at the wrong branch, lost the deposit cheque, forgotten to add Karen as a signatory, (bit of a problem as she is the one who issues the cheques), subsequently lost the application form with all Karens details and signatures on, sent the debit cards to the wrong branch for collection minus Karens, and I think that just about covers it!

So, if you want to use the T-Mobile network tomorrow be prepared for all the antennae to have melted under the barrage of abuse I will be sending over it's airwaves towards BT( Bloody Terrible) and Lloyds TSB, the bank who like to say "we've f*cked up again".


Tuesday, May 21, 2002

First you see it, then you don't, then you do again. The wonderful magic tricks of Pro Blogger!

I've been meaning to make a post about this for some time. I'm rather putting my head above the parapet by talking about the bringing up of children when I don't have any, but I was one once so I do have some experience.

The NSPCC are running their "Hitting Children Must Stop" campaign at the moment. I agree entirely, hitting children, adults, animals, each other should be stopped, violence, in general, does not solve anything.You already know where I'm going with this, but hitting children is not the same as smacking children. I was smacked as a child when I wouldn't do what I was told, I don't ever remember being hurt by it, Linda on the other hand was once hit by her mother, across the face, when she was wearing a ring. That was wrong.

One of the most noticeable places I think the odd smack wouldn't go amiss is in supermarkets. I remember my mum telling me when we went shopping, (and no, we didn't have supermarkets in those days), if I was running about or playing with displays, that "this is a shop not a playground". Apparently this is no longer the case as the number of kids running around chasing each other in shops appears to be a national pastime. Eventually the kid bumps into someone, their parent immediately glares at the person who's been run into or grudgingly tells their kid to behave who immediately carries on as before. Then we get the, "they just seem to do what they want" excuse. All smacking is there for is to set boundaries, kids need them or they have no framework for acceptable/unacceptable behaviour.

The art of smacking seems perfectly simple to me, had I had kids this would have been the model, the same as my Mum used.
Kid does something it isn't meant to, "Don't do that"
Kid carries on doing it, "Stop doing that or you'll get a smack"
Kid carries on still, smack.
Not a hard smack, that is not the point, the idea is to either get the childs attention or to change their mindset. Yes, of course the kid will cry, that is the big weapon of children. If you tell them to stop or they'll get another one they'll tend to stop and then sulk.

Some parents have brought their kids up to be well behaved without needing to smack them, as far as I know Kev & Andie haven't smacked theirs and they are good kids and that's great, smacking isn't compulsory, but I'm tired of the argument that if you give parents permission to smack their kids it's an act of violence. The only people who are stopped from "hitting" their children are the ones who were never "hitting" them in the first place. The violent parent carries on, they don't change their ways by a campaign. Raising awareness so that violent parents can be reported is a different matter and a good thing but let's stop legislating again normal parents bringing their children up sensibly.

I've had this conversation with our friend Jacqui in the past and on the rare occasion when she has had to smack Amy or Laura, when they've been out in public she feels other mothers are looking at her as though she's beaten them to within an inch of their lives. Whether they are or whether she feels guilty is another matter.

I don't subscribe to the fact that kids are worse than they were "in my day" when it comes to general naughtiness, kids are kids, but the younger criminals are definitely on the increase and punishing them now, with custodial sentences, fines, whatever, is too late.

I shall now await the barrage of abuse for even suggesting that tapping a child to gain it's attention is the mark of a normal human being.

One evening last week Kev saw John (JWW). He now knows what we are up to. This is good because it means I get time off to do stuff without having to lie about it. At our weekly sales meeting this morning, well, Monday morning, I did however feel detached from the people there. Only a bit, but I'm definitely moving away from this phase of my life and into the new, at least work wise. There was also an imperceptable feeling of sadness to be leaving. Not from the job but from some of the guys I work with. Not that I'm likely to leave properly for at least 6 months but I dare say I'll feel more and more like this as the weeks go on.

Sunday, May 19, 2002

I've added a link to Mobys website over in the "regular reads" section. Well, not the site, but his journal. He's always struck me as being normal whenever I've seen him being interviewed and his journal reads the same way, it's just that the work world he inhabits is a little different.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

They talk about dumbing down of t.v. and can there be any better example than An audience with.... The latest incarnation is with Lulu. For those who have never seen one of these programmes they consist of a "star" who talks about their life and career by answering questions that are put by a celebrity-studded audience who laugh clap and give standing ovations whenever the floor manager tells them to and are no doubt told to attend by their publicists, record companies, management, etc. The questions, supposedly put to the star without any prior knowledge, tackle their lives in chronological order, answered with a witty reply, and in tonights case a request to sing their a) latest single, b) a duet with someone else who has a single out, or c) something from their greates hits album which will be in the shops in the next fortnight. It's not always a singer who is the star but it is always bollocks. (Linda tells me the one with Kylie Minogue was o.k.)

Tonights doesn't help because I can't stand Lulu. For whatever the reason it affected me, I haven't been able to stomach the woman since she split up with her then husband Maurice Gibb and announced it publicly by belittling him. He'd taken the split up badly and she just rubbed it in. I rememeber it happening and saw the interview she gave and I thought then what a horrible little cow she was. I know he is going to take part in the programme, so if he can go on stage with her I suppose I should cut her a bit of slack, but I can't see me doing that somehow.

There aren't many people I've ever taken a real dislike to but she is definitely one of them. And there concludes my rant about t.v. and her.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Thanks to Nick for pointing me in the direction of MooSoft. I've now rid my machine of the Klez trojan and it seems much happier and so am I.

Messing around with this page, as you'll no doubt be unfortunate enough to witness if you click on during today. Hopefully it will have settled down by this evening!

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Well, I'll give him his due, he does put on a mean concert. I thought it might be a bit too much "style over content" but he can sing, and he worked the audience really well. He performed for just over the hour on his main set and then about 20 minutes of encores.

I've just checked his biog and it mentions he likes 80's bands. It doesn't surprise me as he covered, Only You - Yazoo : Just Can't Get Enough - Depeche Mode, (he obviously has a thing for Vince Clark), Purple Rain - Prince and I think a couple of others too. Plus quite a proportion of the pre-concert background music was from that era or by groups from then.

Marks out of 10? I'd say 7, and that's higher than I thought he'd manage beforehand.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Since Kev and I have been working all the hours God sends for the last two months we are taking Linda and Andie to see Enrique Iglesias at The Royal Albert Hall tonight. Hopefully it won't be too full of screaming, hormone laden, 13 year old girls being in the location it is but we will see.

Kev decided we should get a box but with only four of us we have to share. Hopefully the other four will be o.k., we don't want it to deteriorate into a fight, and that will just be Linda and Andie if their enjoyment is impaired!

You might get a review tomorrow or I might spare you.

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

I spotted something today that I've half kept an eye open for for ages. It was a parrot or parakeet or possibly a lovebird. Not just any old parrot/parakeet/lovebird but one of the colony that live wild between Kew Gardens and Hampton Court on the bank of the Thames. I've known they've been there for ages, and I used to know the story of how they got to be there, but today was the first time I've spotted one. It was green, bright green. If it was in it's natural habitat it would have blended in nicely, sat in a tree on a dull day in surburban Surrey it stood out like a sore thumb. Except of course, a sore thumb would be red.

Knowing that they exist in them there parts it didn't come as a shock, but if I was a stranger to the area it would probably have thrown me. So all we need now is for a herd of elephants to appear in the area, the sun to come out, and the relevant music on the car stereo and it will save thousands on a trip to Africa.

Do you have any exotic wild animals in your neck of the woods?

Monday, May 13, 2002

I've just got in and I'm really tired. There's been about two months of work condensed into a two hour meeting tonight and the after effect is a rather flat feeling. Tomorrow night the committee meet, the result of that meeting will tell us where we are with things. All the people there seemed appreciative of the work we'd done and in the end we can only do as well as we can and we both feel that that was what we did. Someone at the meeting has just bought another house and wants us to go do some work there so some good has come of it!

I think I might be coming across a bit negative but I don't mean to it is just the tiredness.

On a personal note, I stood up in front of about 30 people and talked for the best part of an hour off the cuff with very few nerves. We videotaped the entire meeting and over the next few days we'll look at it and de-brief what happened. I expected to be much more nervous and I'm proud of having that confidence. Kev also managed well and covered any points I couldn't. We definitely make a good team.

Thankyou for all the good wishes and I'll keep you up to date with progress but I'm hoping I'm about to get a life again and I'm sure that will be a benefit for both the writing and the reading of this journal!

Sunday, May 12, 2002

Well, that's it. We're ready for tomorrow evenings meeting. If that goes well we will proably meet up with the Committee on Tuesday evening and maybe even get the answer there and then. Just the last bits to do, a box of samples to arrive and then a day of mental preparation. I've been trying to work out if I'm nervous yet and I'm not, although I probably will be tomorrow, but I think I am excited by the possibilities. 10 minutes before I stand up and talk in front of 50 people I think excited may not be the word.

I was going to make some other posts but I can't. I'm too focused and I don't really want to lose that mindset. And now I'm starting to ramble!

I had to do a little bit of printing last night for monday evenings meeting. It took seven and a half hours!!!

Friday, May 10, 2002

Kev and I went down to Eastbourne today to work on some details for the big meeting on Monday but that was only a small event in the big scheme of things. Today was a very big day for us but particularly Kev. It was one year ago today that he had his breakdown. I've never talked a great deal about the events of the day because in the end it is his story to tell and one day he might but there are a couple of things I wanted to mention.

During the morning of May 10th 2001 Kev, myself, his brother Ken, Andie his wife and Roy, a trusted friend, met somewhere to try to sort out what was going on with him. His stress levels had been going off the scales for some weeks and had come to a head with blatant paranoia and a split into two personalities. Kev the Normal and Kev number 2. He would suddenly become Kev no. 2 and accuse all of us of plotting his death, being in league to cause him other personal injuries and many other strange things. I'd brought four cans of lager with me and subsequently found out that he believed they contained a bomb. When I left the house I firmly believed, due to certain things he said, even though it was Kev no 2 speaking, that I would probably never speak to him again. It probably sounds a bit immature put like that but you would understand if you had been there.

At around 6:00 that evening I had a call to say that Kev had been taken into custody by the police for his own safety. He had gone to pick a neighbour up at Gatwick airport and had ended up in a restricted zone convinced that passing motorists were trying to kill him and the children in his car. It was a complete and major breakdown. When the doctor arrived and tried to sedate him it was only when he spoke to his brother that he could be partially convinced that the injection they were giving him wasn't lethal.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then and we agreed that if anyone had told us that one year later we would be going to Eastbourne to meet a member of our staff, in our company car, with personalised plates, to prepare the quotation for a quarter million pound contract, we'd probably have thought it was them who'd lost their heads not him.

So Kev, welcome back. I've never had a best mate, always just good mates but you are special and I'm just so grateful you're about.

Happy Anniversary.

Thursday, May 09, 2002

Yesterday whilst I was driving about I got caught at a set of notoriously slow traffic lights. It gave me the chance to watch some roadworkers putting down new white road markings. I suspect there is more skill to it than meets the eye. The tools of the trade appear to be a jug of hot white paint and a small box on the end of a stick.

The white lines in the middle of the road are, I guess, the simplest things to do as the box is the width of the white lines and so it's just a case of pouring the paint in and pulling the box along for the required distance. Although, unless there is a way of stopping the paing coming through you would need to assess the amount of paint required per line quite accurately. They then started doing "direction" arrows which needs to have the box angled and turned at the same time. I pulled away just as they were starting to paint a bicycle in the bike lane. The high art of road marking?

Like many other jobs I dare say it's easy once you know how but as someone who has the manual dexterity of a frog wearing oven gloves I was quite impressed. They need to get it right first time as well as they can't just rub it out and start again.

Is there any unusual job that impresses you?

Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Once upon a time when I was run down and tired I used to get cold sores which I could have done without. Now I have an ear infection, a cyst on my back and IBS. That'll teach me to complain then!

Monday, May 06, 2002

Well, today was the nearest thing to a day off for me in ages. Had to do a bit of work this morning but nothing too taxing then decided to rush off and find this cache. That's the first bit of geocaching I've done in ages and it was great. It was in a very secluded spot, the sun was out, and I hadn't realised how much I needed to relax if only for an hour.

The weather might be sunny here but a friend in Canada has just e-mailed me to say they've had 10 inches of snow in Calgary in the last 24 hours with another 12 hours forecast. He's doing a very good job of changing my mind about ever emigrating to Canada, something I've occasionally thought about.

Which country, if any, would you emigrate to?

Sunday, May 05, 2002

Yep, that's done it, just had a google and it didn't come up here. Jolly good. And I've now realised I will refer to it as D3SK B which is the personalised plate we have for the company car. Sorted! Now I'll shut up about it.

For the time being I'm going to refer to the company name by spelling it backwards, i.e. B kseD or maybe just as Solutions. I realise this is annoying so I'll try not to do it too often but I've realised that if anyone does a search for us it will come to this blog and there is information contained that I would not want a prospective customer to see.

One thing that did happen today, (Saturday, or at least it's still Saturday for me), we stopped off for a drink at a local Out and Out bar. I'm well known for my love of quiz machines and this had a game I'd not seen before, Blackjack. It took one go to work out what to do and then the second go we got the £10 jackpot. The machine was playing up a bit and they needed to turn it off otherwise we'd have had more of the same. We'll be looking for that game elsewhere, it's a licence to print money as they say.

That machine is the best I've found for guaranteed wins since the old days of the "Give us a Break" machine. I was earning more money from those than I was earning doing my normal job. I can see that happening again now if we can find enough and we don't get banned for winning too much.

Sorry for the lack of posts but my head is just too full of B kseD work. The big meeting is Monday week. We have to be really prepared for it as if we pull this off it sets the company up for it's first year trading costs. If we don't get it, well, we'll bother about that if it happens. It wouldn't be a major disaster so much as an opportunity lost.

Friday, May 03, 2002

I'm definitely in the wrong business. Electrical cabling must be the boom business of this year. Looking from my desk I can see the following chargers and wiring bundles.

The main telephone plugged into the mains and to the B.T. socket.
Wiring from the phone to a caller displey module.
Cable from my laptop computer to its power source, from the laptop to the printer, from the printer to the mains.
Wiring to connect the laptop to a scanner and the power lead for the scanner.
The mouse cable.
Three charging units for my three mobile phones. (Don't ask, but yes I have three mobile phones).
Headset for one of the mobiles incorporating a radio.
Power and connection leads for my pda.
Power and connection leads for my gps machine.
Charger for my digital camera.

This would probably explain why there seems to be so little room for me in the office!