Friday, May 30, 2008

New car? New legs!

Well, I can't remember what I wrote in my last blog, so I'm going to read it now to find out where in my oh-so-exciting life I got up to... Ah yes, bitching about work.

Well I'm gonna leave that out - obviously I have more to bitch about now than I did before, but who cares. Work is crap, there's a support group for it, it's called "life" and they meet in the pub.

So, my sister's passed her test and got a car, yay. What's to sy, it's a big thing to have happen to you, your first car, but I have to admit I can't think of much to say on the subject, she's picking it up fast, and the other day she picked me up from work and we had a nice razz round.

I'm pleased to say that I've started running again AGAIN, after yet another hiatus to give me time to be lazy. This time I'm running two miles a day instead of 1.1, and if I stick to grass and suchlike I should be just fine, which is cool, as I am really really really getting sick of civilian life.

Other than that, nothing has happened, so to be honest I don't even know why I wrote a blog, it's certainly taken up 10 minutes of my time that I didn't have to waste. But hey, life is like that, it's not all action and excitement I spose.

Take care, I'm off for a shower and an early night :).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Ball's Rolling Again...

You may have ntoiced that both my motivation and the momentum behind my Army application has been pretty non existent of late. With the weather improving there are so many cool things I could do like go places and take photos of stuff, and go to other places and take photos of stuff, and suchlike. It's great in the short term, but thinking about it, I don't want to be a call centre monkey for the rest of my life, and when winter draws in again I don't want to be stuck inside at home, or inside at work, and have nowhere but those two places to go.

So we're back on. I've got my motivation back, and I'm once again training towards my application. Especially now that my ex flatmate Sean has gone in as a communications engineer, I can't let that little sod have all the fun now can I ;).

I've still got a job to go to at the moment, which is a surprise considering the fact that not only have the company been handing discipliniaries around like sweets, just to make sure all the managers are kept in practice at management things. Not only this, but the company have ever so kindly decided to "restructure", putting 140 mid-level managers, most of whom have been there 7, 8, 9 years, out of a job. In a couple of cases, families where the husband and wife work at the same company are now in real real real financial trouble, that would make my latest episode of skint-ness look like a kid losing his pocket money, so that's really sucky for them.
Fortunately for me, I only know three managers that are affected by this, and two of them are absolute dickheads. So while I'm not exactly gonna say "woo", it's slightly slightly slightly less sucky that those two are going.

So what else have I been up to?
Well I traded a laptop for a motorcycle. By this what I actually mean is that my laptop computer spontaneously failed, never to be coaxed into life again (needs a new hard disk, even recovery software can't touch it, grr I want my money back etc :P), but after sticking a thread up on a bike forum, I have finally managed to get my bike working after many many months of being off the road.
The problem was water in the fuel. Half a litre of the stuff swirling around at the bottom of the tank, clogging the fuel filters and wetting the plugs. No wonder the damn thing wouldn't work, so yay, go me, my bike now works again!

We come now though, to an altogether more disturbing subject of discussion:

Fashion, the contrived artificual demand for certain types of clothes, has turned again, it seems, and to use Eddie Izzard's explaination of fashion (2:40 onwards), most of the people around work are so Cool, Cool, Hip and Groovy that they're within nanometers of crossing that line into full-blown Looking Like A Dickhead.

There are two specific things that jump out at me. First of all, there's an almost exponential proliferation of these studded belts. You have two kinds of these, the first ones which have usually been the preserve of alternative, emo, mosher, whatever you want to call them, groups of people, which is fair enough, but now those are beginning to spread everywhere.
These, I can live with.

The ones that get on my nerves, are these ones with slogans "studded" into them. The majority of them seem to be along religious lines, "Jesus saves", "Jesus Loves", "I love Jesus" etc.
Now there are two reasons that these annoy me. First of all, people are wearing them because it's fashionable, not because they believe in Jesus (I'm an agnostic/athiest fundamentalist apparently, according to some christian dude - I'm not religious in the least), so people are kinda getting preached at, by people that don't even follow the values of Jesus (happens all the time, just go to any church), So not only does this annoy me, but the second one, is that some of them are just ambiguously funny.
Seriously, I see the slogan "Jesus saves" and my mind fills in the blanks, "Jesus Saves, Score still 5-2". Yep indeedy.

Now we come to the other thing.
Smurf Hats.
No. Really, I'm not kidding.

I don't know whether some simian gangster in the town center of Nottingham or Medway or whatever decided it was cool to get a beanie hat and have it perching on the top of your head with the top traling down behind you like a wooly pony tail, and the companies just cottoned onto it, or whether the companies just screwed up the measurements on their latest product design and released a load of beanie hats that are 30cm long.

By accident or design (and bearing in mind that this isn't one of those villages conveniently and cleverly built half a day's walk from the nearest water supply, so if we don't like what we have we CAN just throw it away and replace it, or even send it to one of those villages) a whole bunch of people seem to have bought these things and are now putting them on their heads, with the result that the top half of these hats is dangling down the back of their heads making even the coolest and hippest studded-belt-clad youngster look like a bloody smurf.

The first one was an eyebrow raiser, the second one was a double take, now I'm entering rolling-eyes territory when I see these things, because they're spreading like the waistlines of the latest entrants to this lazy-ass job, of which there seem to be a fair few, despite the rolling programs of restructuring and redundancies and general "the-industry-is-in-decline-but-we're-still-on-top-but-let's-pretend-we're-not" crap. Apparently some of our managers went to other companies to look how they do things - yes, read it again, some of the managers from our company, the most successful in the industry, went to less successful less skilled companies, to learn how to do things.
This explains why every day, that place becomes a little bit more like a Dilbert strip I spose.

This is the company that two weeks before the first of two bank holidays in the same month, announced it was slashing overtime (the rate for working bank holidays) from 300% to 150%.
while simultaneously bringing an end to the £150 bi-annual attendance bonus.
Can you guess what happened?

Yep, that's right, on bank holiday monday we had about 8 staff in. The rest were quite sick with inconveniently sudden and acute ailments. And you know what? They got away with it, and I'm glad they got away with it too. Because frankly, [company] moves its employees around like chess pieces, and f**ks its employees around like AT&T is alleged to f**k their customers around. Our company really is one of those where the customer is always right. And now, that's becoming a problem, because now the customer is so right that we drop our underwear and bend over while simultaneously pleading "What is thy bidding, my master?" every time one of the suit-jacketed arseholes walks into the room.

The customer is so right in fact that senior management are running around like headless chickens trying to keep the customer happy, middle management are running around like headless chickens trying to keep senior management happy while looking for another job at the same time, and the junior managers are trying to stomp out bushfires and put down riots from the staff, while trying to show loyalty and concern for both the managers above them and the staff below them.

The staff themselves, the customer service battery chickens, have had enough, and the planning department are literally reorganising certain staff member's lunch breaks, because they're worried that if enough disgruntled and angry "customer service" agents get together in the same room, some kind of critical mass will be reached that can only result in a situation in which the fire brigade is called, the ambulances are called, and something horrible gets left on the customer liason manager's desk. The whole reason we stopped having our annual get-together with the client is literally because after a few beers, the client staff and our staff, were ready for and in some cases resorting to, punchups in the street.

And all the while, the calls keep coming, made by happy cheery clueless muppets, ignorant not only of the trouble they are directly causing, but the suffering and anger and hatred they are indirectly causing simply by existing as a source of income to the much vaunted (and much hated) customer.

We are not a happy business, but still we try. Feck knows why.People keep leaving, I suppose eventually there'll not be much of a business left.
But who cares, by the time the business goes down the pan, I'll be sitting inside 60+ tons of air conditioned tank, laughing my arse off at the entire industry and the idiots, the unmotivated bored angry idiots like myself, who are mostly too apathetic to leave it all behind.

Oh well, I've got things to do, like sit about and be bored, so now I'll go and get on with that :).
Have fun :).

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weight off my shoulders...

Okay, so after a couple of weeks of very frugal living, my ebay escapades are beginning to provide me with much much needed mon-aay. Admittedly I've made a loss on everything I've sold, because the odd quirk of ebay is that when you buy, you pay more than it's worth, when you sell, they pay less than it's worth.
I'd suck as a stock market trader.
But who cares. I shifted some crap I wasn't gonna use, and it made me enough cash to not have to hold up pizza delivery guys in the street or whatever. "Stand and deliver, your pizza or your life" doesn't have the same ring to it, especially since when I worked pizza delivery, I used to give that stuff away for free anyway.
But yes, my money woes are not exactly over, but they are fading, and with more money on the way I should be good to go right up until payday, at which point I'm not going to blast all my money away at stuff this time.

Well work's been its usual mediocre stuff. I've had my usual arguments with the managers, they've been handing round discipliniaries like sweets as usual (not me this time), and I actually followed my manager's advice and decided to be more objective about my job. I wrote a list of fors and againsts to decide whether this place is right for me. You can view it here if you've got the time to waste. Me? Well being my non-motivated self, I just kept putting the more annoying callers on hold and writing a little bit each time until I'd got it finished.

It's not all been bad though. I've decided to get another bike. And after the disastrously high figures quoted by my ex-current insurer for anything larger than a pushbike, I've gone to one of those price comparison places, which gave me a quote some 75% cheaper. Which means something like this, or if I'm lucky, something like this, are actually in reach, moneywise. I'd rather have the VFR (second bike), because at the weekend you can take the panniers off and go out to play. But it is more expensive, to buy, run, repair and insure.

Photography wise, I've had a busy week. Went back up to Manchester Airport with a mate, and set all my stuff and gubbins up. Yes, that is the camera connected to the laptop. The software I have means that the camera dumps the images straight to the hard drive, which gives me up to 20 gig of storage space before I need to start shooting to the CF card inside the camera. I've got 2 CF cards just to be on the safe side.

Pretty Woman (G-VROY - Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400) made a return to the airport, not only giving me some shots of her landing, but taxiing right past us some hours later before heading off into the sky again. It seems she visits manchester at least twice a week, so I should see more of her in the future. She's a magnificent aircraft, huge too, like an office building on wheels!

It was a very very productive day with me shooting over 750 photos! It took 5 hours to shoot them and another 8 hours to develop them. Meh. Still, I got some great pictures, so there you go :).

And now I'm off to sit about and do nothing for a bit. I like doing nothing, it doesn't require energy, or qualifications or thoughts.

Still, my nephew's coming round shortly so I suspect that period of idleness will be shortlived.
Have fun!

(Here's some pics from monday for ya)

Friday, May 09, 2008

Summer Partay!

Well, after eating a fantastically awesome meal of mum's best pasta cooking, I had a little nap.
I woke up bout 8:30 to the regular thump thump thump of someone having a party. Lots of happy excited voices etc, someone was having a fun time nearby.
After a little bit I decided I fancied a little wander about, and it'd be interesting enough to see where the party was. So sure enough after a little wander about, I find a garden full of happy cheery people, plenty of flowing beer about, happy kids and loud music. Cool, so people are getting into the swing of things.

Including me it seems, summer looks like it's gonna be a nice one. Having been conscripted to do the front garden, I spent all day yesterday out in the fantastically fantastic sunshine while listening to the radio - was a nice day's work actually. The fact that I got rather badly sunburned doesn't detract from it at all, maybe it's a sign of the weather to come :).

Other than this, I have been mostly broke, I spent the available money, right enough, I'm usually pretty good with budgeting.
What I didn't budget for though, was an unexpected import duty bill for £45. Basically that has really messed my finances up, and now I'm living on literally £3.50 a day. Oh well, when I get paid I should be okay :).

And now I'm off to enjoy the summer :).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Tripods and Tepees

This was written on the 3rd of May roundabout 2pm. I'm kinda falling behind in my blogging for a couple of reasons, hope to be on track soon.

Right now, I am sat in probably the most uncomfortable typing position in the world, inside a 3x6’ tent. I’ve got carpet burn on both elbows and I’m sweating like I’m in an oven. The temperature in here must be 30c. My nephew’s here accompanying me.

We’re sat inside a little makeshift tent, made out of one camera tripod, and about 8 or 9 sheets, quilt covers, quilts and towels, and I’ve got to admit I’m pretty happy with it. Sure we don’t actually need protection from the elements because we’ve set it up in the back bedroom (which is why it’s so damn hot!) but my nephew loves playing dens, so here we are, surrounded by little battery powered LED lamps, children’s storybooks, star-shaped pillows, little flags, and of course, camera equipment.

It’s a nice little setup.

This is the second day in a row that the den’s been put up to keep the little guy happy and while I’ve got to admit that if I hear “twit-twoo-thatmeansitsbedtime!” (usually at the rate of once every thirty seconds) one more time I’m gonna scream, he seems to be having a good ol’ time of keeping himself amused with his nice den.

Yesterday we went to the park to feed the ducks. Looks like we caught them a little late, that evening though, as they were all down the far end of the lake/pond/whatever, and were completely disinterested in both my camera, and the bread which my nephew threw at them in almost full slices.

It was a nice walk in the park though, the sun was shining, the birds were singing etc, and after last year’s floods and this year’s mediocre weather, it’s really, really nice to walk in your stereotypical green meadow type area.

So what have I been up to other than being dragged around by my nephew for the last two days (He’s fantastic in small doses, but constant exposure quickly leads to high stress etc etc.)? Well, I’ve been mostly receiving things from ebay, including my new flash unit for my camera.

And a very sparkly thing it is as well, the manual’s some 120+ pages long, so I went online and looked for a tutorial to learn how to do the things I wanna do. Looks like I’m probably gonna end up getting another flash unit sometime soon.

I shipped my old lens, and my new 50mm lens arrived, so I’ve been itching to go out and get some use out of it, but we’ve not really had the weather for it.

One other thing I would like to add.

You may remember from my previous blogs, my mentioning of an artist called “Phil” who I used to see regularly up at the pub.

Well a couple of weeks ago, he was taken into hospital for some kind of operation or something, and he didn’t come out again. Thursday was the day of his funeral, and it was very well attended by dozens of bikers. The world has lost a very talented artist, and a genuine guy.

Well, time to go; we’ll prolly take my nephew out round the park again or something. That’ll be cool.