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Monday, June 30, 2003

Hurrah! The deskb e-mail addresses are all up and running again. Now I've got to go back and sort out where I've changed links and change them back again.

Rather like the analogy of a cork popping out of a bottle, all the quotes we seem to have been working on for the last few weeks have all come to fruition, (bar the very very big one), today. (Is the above a mixed metaphor?).

If for any reason you are convinced you have seen a headless chicken running about do not be alarmed. It's only me!

Well, the best news of the week was that, following a slight amount of jiggery-pokery and pretidigitation involving a bogus order via a good friend, my 3verest bonus has been paid.

In the words of Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner Iam not a number - I am a free man! Well nearly. They want me to hang on a bit longer so I will, but on the understanding that I will now only do very minimal and selected work.

I thought I might feel a bit sad at going but I've discovered I actually just feel relieved and excited.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

I've mentioned before and will no doubt mention again, that I need to lose weight. You'll notice there's a lot of mentioning and not a lot of doing! Linda noticed in Sainsburys that there was a 3 for the price of 2 promotion on Slimfast milkshakes.

I've often wondered what they were like but as I've tried plenty of the ones you make up yourself and all have them seem to have the consistency, and often the taste, of Kaolin & Morphine medicine, but without the painkilling advantages, I wasn't holdng out much hope for the pre-made version. On top of that I have some sort of lactose intolerance and whilst I don't seem to have too much trouble with McDonalds milkshakes normal milky sorts tend to cause problems.

This lunchtime I was trapped in the showroom with nothing to eat and there was a slimfast in the fridge which I'd brought to try, so desperate means call for desperate measures and I plucked up the courage to have a try.

It was quite nice. In my understated way thats the equivalent of a 50 page eulogy. I'm not certain having two cans a day, or however many, would last long before I got bored, but I might replace the odd meal with one.

One hour later and it hasn't bounced, which is a good sign, but the trousers don't feel any looser yet. Perhaps you need to have more than one can?

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Ealing, the borough of London in which I live, has a large Polish population. I think it's meant to be the biggest Polish community outside of Poland itself, although I'm not sure that's true. There were a number of Polish boys in my year, Molecki, Gasiorek, Golincki and probably others that I've forgotten over the years. Not far from home, perhaps 5 miles, to the South East corner of Northolt Airport is The Polish War Memorial.

It commemorates the 2165 Polish airmen who were killed in World War 2 supporting the Allied Forces. Their numbers were made up by those who had escaped from countries then occupied by the Germans and by airmen released by the Russian force to shore up this side of the attack on Germany. The majority of the fighter squadrons were named after Polish cities, the bomber sqadrons after districts.

I had to meet someone this evening and they said to meet them at the memorial. I've driven past it many times, I've seen the monument hundreds of times but tonight was the first time I've ever stopped and looked at it. It's much as you would expect. A monument, an inscription, and the names, all 2165 of them.

Graveyards are often fascinating places but there is something different about war graves and memorials. Maybe it's the waste of life that they represent, knowing that most of those named would have been barely in their 20s if not still in their teens.

Perhaps one of the things war monuments and graves do is to make you reflect on whether you would have the mettle to give your life for what you felt was right. Luckily, most of us will never have to know. And for that we should be thankful.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

I have always managed to be slightly psychic with those close about me. I can normally tell if someone is going to contact me, whether something is wrong, stuff like that. When I was younger I could always tell when my mum was upset no matter where I was. I knew when my mums mum died even though I was at school, and years later when my dads mum died I knew that as well, both to the minute. Once I was married I could feel the mood of my wife, then Linda until recent times and, somewhat worryingly, now it's Kev. That probably shows who I'm closest to at the moment!

As I've become tireder over the last couple of weeks I am able to predict his phone calls to me. To the point where I go and just pick up my mobile and within 30 seconds he rings me. Today I did it with Karen. I remembered I needed to phone her about something and picked up the phone. She then immediately rang me.

Strange, but there you are. It would be much better if I could predict the lottery numbers though!

Kev has gone to Cornwall and I appear to have moved house to Stresston, Stresshire, Stressland. With tremendous timing virtually every outstanding customer we have bar one has rung in the last 24 hours asking for more info or further quotes. Isn't that always the way.

I shall have to have a holiday later on so I can get my own back!

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Things go from bad to worse when I touch my template. If nothing else, it cheers me up when I make a complete dogs breakfast of things. Much better than getting wound up by it.

For those who have visited in the last few hours you will know what a complete mess I made of putting the referrer line in. It is now in a better position and at some time I'll get it positioned where I want.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Graybo has discovered my e-mail address isn't working. That's going to need sorting Monday, probably when Karen gets back to the office.

Talking of Graybo, after visiting one of Kevs clients today in Midhurst we decided we should head to the nearest Wetherspoons that we hadn't previously visited. On checking the directory we realised it was The Dolphin and Anchor in Chichester. I can see why he decides to live there if the beauty of the young ladies of that particular hostelry are anything to go by. It got us quite in the mood for this years Blackpool trip!

The arrival of my new laptop is going to have to be delayed. Well, not just the arrival but also the purchase. Firstly, the bonus hasn't been paid. Without going in to reams of boring details as to why, I have taken some steps to get it released for Friday of next week. I'll believe I've got it when the moneys in the account and not a moment before. There are, hoever, too many other demands on that money which, despite wanting to bury my head and hope they all go away, will need some sort of payments to take the heat off. It is however only a delay and I shall be getting it as soon as possible.

In the meantime I spent yesterday desperately removing programs that I don't really use to recover some hard disk space. It was down to 85mb but it's back up to 132mb. When I finally leave 3verest they will remove all their programs and that will give me back about 1gb, so other than it running slow at least I will have plenty of disk space.

Thursday, June 19, 2003

Back to the post before last. Maybe it isn't totally a man vs woman thing but a same man with the same woman problem.

When the conversation finally runs out, perhaps all that is left are questions and silences.

Hooray for The Archers. A character in it has disclosed he is gay. What is so good about it is;

1) He doesn't sound camp.
2) He hasn't felt a need to find out when Gay Pride is on.
3) He hasn't propositioned every man in Borsetshire.

In fact, up until tonight he has been perfectly "normal", just like any other man in the series, just like the many gay men that I have known who have just decided to get on with life without needing to shout out their gayness from the rooftops.

I've known some very camp gay men through friends and they can be a real laugh to be with if you don't get strung up on your own sexualtiy when you are in their world. I guess I treat homophobic tendencies like I treat racism. I can't stand any form of discrimination be it based on race, creed or sexual persuasion, but it works both ways, and I don't expect to be treated as though I am homophobic or racist just because I am a white heterosexual male.

Racism and homophobia cuts both ways.

When I was young, say half the age I am now, I'd look at two blokes who'd got into their fifties, (a few year to go yet), and shared a house and think how sad that they aren't with a female. The older I get, the more I can see the attraction of that lifestyle.

The luxury of being able to do something without being questioned to the Nth degree. I know it is the old Mars and Venus scenario, I know that women tend to converse in questions rather than mens tendency to converse in statements. I relaise it must be irritating for women to drag information out of men but the idea of being able to do even one thing without a torrent of questions and cross-examination seems like an absolute luxury.

I'd think that maybe it was just me if it wasn't for the fact that all the blokes I know in the real world feel exactly the same.

Monday, June 16, 2003

We did the decent thing a number of years ago. Linda being environmentally conscious and myself being in the insulating industry, how could we not put loft insulation in. I did it myself. And to say it went well would be an understatement. Unbelievably for me I failed to put my foot through the ceiling, or fall through the loft hatch, or step on any water pipes, and every winter we are as snug as a bug in a rug.

The downside is that in the summer we cant get rid of the ruddy heat. It is still 30 degrees in my office and it won't be any different in the bedroom.

Those who think Tony Blair is getting a bit too presidential might be interested to see there are those who think he should be the next President of the USA.

Blogger's playing up again. Ho hum.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

As I sit here writing I've just heard the merry sound of screeching car tyres followed by the kiss of two cars entwining themselves.

So that'll be yet enough person going too fast down our road. He was braking with locked wheels for about 4 seconds. Anyone any idea what speed you need to start at to manage that length of breaking? I'm sure I'm supposed to remember it from my driving test.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Yestreday, in order to take advantage of the good weather and the fact that Kev dissappeared to Cornwall for the weekend, I decided to put in a bit of geocaching.

Some people would describe themselves as "sons of the soil", if I was female I'd have to be a "tart of the tarmac". Once I can't see a nice tarmacadamed road I start to panic. I ended up in a forest. A proper one. With trees. Hundreds and thousands of the buggers.

And one ankle deep mudpool in thousands of acres of dry land.

The big family news of the day is that my brother-in-law has been awarded the MBE in the Queens Birthday Honours List. He's the one who has just been out in Iraq although the award isn't for that campaign. As he is in Military Intelligence we aren't allowed to know exactly what it is for but we know when and where he was carrying out the work for which it has been awarded.

To our knowledge this is the first time we have received an honour in our family. Whilst many disagree with the honours system it is a nice thankyou over and above the normal rewards he gets for doing his job exceptionally well. The prpmotion he has been given, no doubt prompted by the same work, is also welcome.

I can't ever see an award being made for services to double-glazing so I'll just enjoy him getting his for the time being.

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Much is still happeneing and when I get the chance to update properly I hate to think how long the post will be. I must make sure I put my best editing head on!

A brief summary seems to be that the person who was being given enough rope to hang himself with now seems to have enough to tie up the entire Pacific Fleet, a supplier of those windows I asked you all about a few days ago wants us to be the first of the retail agents as they have only experience of selling commercially, and someone who asked us for advice a few weeks back on a possible project is steering a contract to us for just over half a million providing we can prove financial backing from our bankers and that he is awarded the primary contract which he tells us is 90% certain.

If only I had enough time to stop for 5 minutes I could enjoy any one of the three events above, let alone all of them together.

On personal news, my Dad is quite ill at the moment. He has been suffering for quite a time from leg ulcers and cellulitis. It is perhaps an indication of how close I am to him that I have no idea what it is and am unlikely to bother looking it up. That being said, I don't want him to be in pain and I know it is extremely painful, so hopefully with the treatment he is getting he'll make the hoped for recovery in the next couple of weeks.

Oh, and I want to go to the seaside.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Sorry to be so quiet, but work has become manic in the last few days. If you've sent me an e-mail recently I will reply soon, promise.

Monday, June 09, 2003

I met the aunt of one of my customers yesterday. They are an Iraqi family and the aunt and her husband have been in Baghdad, both through this gulf war and the first. It was interesting to hear what it was like from someone with first hand experience both about the wars, the liberation and what was day-to-day life under Saddam Hussein. Much of the story was what we have been told over the last few weeks and months. They wish we had got rid of him after the first war as they regret having had to suffer a further 12 years, yet they don't blame UK/US for the fact they didn't get rid last time. After war 1 they had no phones for 1 year, no electricity for 6 months and no fresh water for 3 months. They managed to get their 2 sons into boarding schools in England and when they graduated they told them not to go back, so her arrival in the UK in the last few weeks is the first time she has seen them in 8 years. She said the hardest thing of living under the regime was that when you went to bed at night you didn't know what new laws there would be in the morning and just doing the same thing as the day before could mean your arrest and imprisonment. The first thing you did each day was to watch television or listen to the radio just so you could hear about overnight introductions. They have, like many others, lost family members through disappearance, but they are thankful that it hasn't been anyone from their very immediate family.

I could have spent a lot more time talking to her and hopefully I will get to see her again sometime but it is hearing tales like hers that make me so angry about various groups in the UK who scream about the erosion of our civil liberties when there are people from other countires who can only dream about even the most basic of them. And I'll not be convinced by the argument that if we don't uphold ours we'll end up in the same situation.

Friday, June 06, 2003

Now and again I like dipping into Alan Bennetts "Writing Home". He grew up in the bit of Leeds I still remember well, Armley. Although there is 22 years age difference between us things were much the same for both of us, and a number of pictures show views of Armley School, Branch Library, and Armley Lodge Road that look exactly as I rememebr them, except in the latter shot it's a tram going past where by the early 60's it was trolley buses.

Last year I had occasion to drive down Carr Crofts and Armley Town Street. There is little there now, what shops haven't closed seem to be mainly burger and kebab outlets. The library is covered in graffiti. Maybe it was never a great shopping street, I only remember it as a child. At age 10 I decided that the one clothing accessory I should not be without was a cravat. I would wear one of a number, bought at a shop on Town Street, in the most gaudy of colours as befits the mid sixties. I think I got away with it as all the local kids knew I was from the south as my accent was diluted enough for them only to hear that bit. Conversely, when in London, they could only hear the Yorkshire twang. I can't imagine there were many 10 year old cravat wearing "southerners" in the area at the time.

I have happy memories there, but it's a place where now the flesh has gone, and the bones that remain don't make a pleasant sight. I think it would perhaps have been better not to have seen it.

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Moi has posted on the subject of her kids pocket money and starting to learn the lessons of life. Following my post a couple of days ago about "our" chidhood, a friend has sent me the following reply. Feel free to bring it to your kids attention! Rules 6 & 7 may feel very pertinent for those of you with tweenagers/teenagers.

Rules of Life According to Bill Gates

Here's some advice Bill Gates recently gave at a high school speech. It is the 11 things children will not learn in school. He talks about how "feel-good, politically correct teaching" has created a full generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this concept sets them up for failure in the real world.

Whether you like him or not, you gotta agree with most of these.

RULE 1 Life is not fair -- get used to it.

RULE 2 The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

RULE 3 You will NOT make 40 thousand dollars a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice president with a car phone, until you earn both.

RULE 4 If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.

RULE 5 Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity.

RULE 6 If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

RULE 7 Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are.

RULE 8 Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

RULE 9 Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.

RULE 10 Television is NOT real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

THE GOLDEN RULE Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Time for a worklife clearout. Next Friday we will be knocking Window 3xchange on the head, assuming things don't deteriorate further before then, and they well might. On the following Monday my notice will definitely be going in to 3verest. And then when I wake up on Tuesday morning it will hit me that I am totally and utterly dependent on myself for obtaining work. No nice company supplying me the odd lead. No cushion of blaming others if things don't turn out right. D3sk B will be it.

Main thing I have to get right is my time management. And Kev for that matter. We compliment each other in so many different departments but we are both bad at t.m. The good news however is that there are a number of contracts starting to roll in. Good "bread and butter" stuff we need to be continually obtaining so that when we get the occasional big deal it's the icing on the cake.Time is already being blocked in for the last two weeks of the month to see yet another supplier, a 3 day trade exhibition, and a trip down to Eastbourne to sort printing out and make sure Karen who runs our office is set up right. If I've got the laptop by them we'll also be transferring files between my old one, her desktop and my new laptop. I can already see it being a 2 day trip!

It would also be rather nice if I could catch up with a little bit of sleep so that come the 16th I can hit the ground running.

Bit of instant market research for you to take part in.

If you were changing your windows would you ever consider the following;

They are made of a glass fibre derivative. They are stronger, warmer but lighter than either PVCu or aluminium and consequently have thinner more elegant frames. They require no maintenance to keep them looking good. If they ever get damaged you can simply cut out the damage and "weld" in a new piece. They have a 20 year guarantee as oppose to the more common 10 year one for the other 2 materials. It can be created to match any colour you want or different colours inside to out. It is marginally (2% - 3%) more expensive than PVCu windows until the manufacturer has enough throughput and then they will be about 5% less. Because of the extra strength they can be made to larger sizes, even as opening windows, so you don't have to have as many crossmembers on very large windows.

So tell me, would you consider these windows, and if not is that because you don't fancy these or because you wouldn't have anything but wood?

I promise that this isn't a dreadful marketing ploy to lure you in to my wickedly wonderful world of windows! :)

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I'm as susceptable as anyone to ranting about how the youth of today is soft but I received an e-mail today that pretty much does sum up how I feel. It's doing the rounds so you might have already seen it, but if not, here it is for your consideration.

According to today's regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 50's, 60's, and 70's probably shouldn't have survived.

Our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans.
When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip flops and fluorescent 'clackers' on our wheels.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding in the passenger seat was a treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle - tasted the same.
We ate dripping sandwiches, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy pop with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside playing and we shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no one actually died from this.
We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes.
After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us all day and noone minded.
We did not have Playstations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet chat rooms. We had friends - we went outside and found them.
We played elastics and street rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt.
We fell out of trees, got cut and broke bones and teeth, and there were no lawsuits. They were accidents. We learnt not to do the same thing again. We had fights, punched each other hard and got black and blue - we learned to get over it.
We walked to friend's homes.
We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and ate live stuff, and although we were told it would happen, we did not have very many eyes out, nor did the live stuff live inside us forever.
We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood.
Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law. Imagine that!
Our generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal
with it all. And if you are one of them. Congratulations!

(If you aren't old enough to remember these days, thought you might like to read about us).

Forget everything I just said about staying sub £1000. this is number 1 on the list at the moment.

Monday, June 02, 2003

I have to start thinking about which laptop to buy in about a fortnights time, bonus permitting. I don't want to go over £1000 inc V.A.T. but then again I wouldn't want to miss the best bargain of all time because it was £1050! I've been thinking about one of the Acer range as I only hear good things about them. Ideally I'd like a 40gb hard disk, and a minimum 256MB DDR and 2.0GHz processor. Playing the latest games is not high on my list of needs and storage is probably most important.

Any suggestions or comments?

I've gone into positive mode today. The only thing that tempers it is that I'm so up I worry that I'm slightly manic. I suppose it shows the underlying worry I have that the anti-depressants I am on may be affecting me in other ways whilst I don't suppose they are. As I appear to be getting quite a lot done I guess I'd better ride the wave whilst I can and get ready for the lethargic slump that will follow.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Was working today, but that is hardly news is it? I did get a lot done so that is noteworthy for me. However, before starting I had a walk up on Barnes Common (many of you can guess why, and those who are wrong should not have such depraved thoughts! :p ), and went past a small tennis club. They had grass courts, and I think that might be the first time I've ever seen any. Weird looking surface, not like I expected at all.

There were doubles matches being played by middle aged men who spent as little time moving as possible and making loud exclamations of disappointment everytime the ball went into the net and looking to the heavens as though it was inconceivable that they could miss. Ladies doubles with women of the same age trundling around, missing the ball relatively frequently and high-fiving when they won a point. Some young kids, maybe 7 or 8, having a lesson. A couple in their early twenties having a game which appeared to be deteriorating into an argument followed by a sulking match as he appeared to be playing rather too well for the girl who resented the fact that she was doing all the fetching of the ball. And lots of members just sat around enjoying the sun.

Soon you won't be able to get on a tennis court anywhere as the Wimbledon roadshow moves into town and thousands of people who pick up a racquet for two weeks a year rush down to their local courts.

I'm sure when I started writing this there was going to be a point to it but I'm damned if I can remember what it is.