Archive for February, 2007

Busy Busy Busy

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

Today’s been a bit busy, to say the least.

Washing Grunty inside and out, followed by scrubbing the driveway, took most of the morning. Then the latest Health and Safety magazine arrived, so I scanned through it and marked a few jobs, then followed it up with writing and emailing them. Oh, and I had a nibble from one of the on-spec CVs I sent off, so I did some online research about the company.

Then this afternoon was mostly spent in the gym. With the combination of extra gym sessions and the lack of bacon sarnies, I MUST be losing weight :-D .

If the weather’s nice (or maybe even if it isn’t), I’m planning some gentle geocaching tomorrow. Well it’s about time, isn’t it?

Bloggiversary

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

According to the calendar on SimonG’s blog -which is always right – today is my bloggiversary!

On the 27th February 2004, GottleBlog first hit the interweb, although in those days it was called “A Short Fat Bald Bloke Writes…”. I wasn’t bearded in them days, and I wasn’t diabetic, or at least I hadn’t been diagnosed. In that first entry, I mentioned that my car (predecessor of Grunty) was in the garage and not at all well: it eventually took over a week for the garage to diagnose an electrical problem, while in the meantime I drove round in the world’s biggest roller skate, a Daewoo Matiz. I aso mentioned that my chum John had had a stroke while in hospital – he died a few weeks later – and that a friend of mine had met a new chap and things were looking good for them. Well, they got married and that’s the last I heard, so I assume things are still OK.

I’d also just passed my part one diploma with a distinction, which I thought was pretty good, and still do :-) . Now of course, I have my level six diploma, which is even better :-D

The other thing that happened, that first weekend of blogginess, was that I went caching with my chums the Tates: We came last in the team challenge, but had a good time anyway: I found my 100th cache part way round, we found some other caches, and then we went to the pub.

Happy bloggiversary to me :-)

Unemployment – Day One

Monday, February 26th, 2007

Today I have:-

  1. Got up at the same time as when I had a job to go to (because of item number 2)
  2. Taken Grunty Gruntmobile for her MOT
  3. Been to the gym
  4. Dismantled a computer, ready for the new computer desk which should be arriving tomorrow
  5. Collected Grunty after her MOT (which she passed with no problem – so yah boo sucks to Chris B :-) )
  6. Bought diesel
  7. Done some more tidying in the back bedroom – resulting in half-filling the recycling bin
  8. Blogged

As is always the way, all this industry has raised a new question: I found the box that I thought the old print server was in – but no server. So where is it? Not that I need it any more, and I don’t suppose I’d sell it for very much, but I think Sarah might have a use for it, and if she doesn’t then Jenny might, once she gets her lappy. Oh well, I’m sure it’ll turn up – there’re loads of places left to tidy yet :-(

A Successful Day

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

A day of two halves, today was.

Part one involved being an important Raynet person on a road race north of Basingstoke. Not much to say about this really – some runners went past my checkpoint, then it went quiet for a bit, and then the runners went past again.

Then I was joined by Rockin’ Rob for some caching, and we both had landmark numbers to hit! First was Noah’s Ark

We then drove off to the recommended parking for what was due to be our landmark cache, and walked through mud, puddles and bogs to Sunday Afternoon Stroll. Nice one and a really clever hiding place. On the way to this we’d picked up the information we needed to find The Faraway Tree – my 600th and Rob’s 300th :-)

And then we went to a pub for ‘us tea, and I had the salad. And then went home.

Money Money Money

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

Today has mostly been about money.

I started the day at the building society, paying in my redundancy cheque. For that much money, I rather expected a bottle of champagne from the manager – or at least to be offered my pick of the counter laydeez. Sadly, they’ve seen it all before and they’ve probably seen bigger redundo cheques than mine – although I did get a “Is there anything else we can do for you today?”. If I’d read the leaflet a bit more carefully before I got home, I’d have said “Yeah, sort your interest rates out you tightwads”.

Ahem

Anyway, next on the agenda was taking my Luvvly Mum to lunch at our favourite eatery, and then to Marks and Sparks.

I have a very nice suit – it fits really well. Unfortunately it now fits someone four stone heavier than me, so with interviews – and possibly a job in an office – in the future, it was time to splash some cash. I found a nice one, and got a free suit carrier with it, so that was OK – the only trouble is that having stupid short legs, I’m having to have the trousers altered – so until a week Tuesday, I’ve really only got half a suit :-(

Hope I don’t get an interview before then, I’ll look silly turning up in a posh jacket and no trousers.

Oh, and Jenny at least will laugh at this – the alterations lady was about to measure my leg, when she spotted my lovely comfy suede shoes and asked “Would the gentleman like to borrow some – sniff – PROPER shoes for the fitting?”.

Grr

Unemployed

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

So – my last day at the jelly factory. I did a bit of work, went to a meeting, and then there was a buffet and presentation for the three of us who were leaving today.

Everyone who gets made redundant or retires, and who has more than ten years service, gets a baker figurine from the company…

…and from my chums who had a whip-round, I had a very nice Argos gift voucher…

…and from my chum Margaret in HR I had a nice pen…

.

And of course I got a LUVVLY big cheque!

It took the whole afternoon to go round and say goodbye to everyone, and to finish getting stuff out to the car – although I did leave a box of herbal tea bags behind, and the remains of a jar of low sugar jam :-) .

And then I went to the hot-tub shop (I got your chemicals, Sarah :-) ), the gym, and the wine shop. Hic!

Smudge

Thursday, February 22nd, 2007

I’ve got a new printer!

The old one – which I’ve had for about five years, and was only a Lexmark in the first place – expired a while ago. I’ve been abusing the facilities of the colour laser at work, but from tomorrow that’s a no-no, so I decided to spend some money. I asked my technical adviser for some recommendations, and research on eBuyer led me to the HP 6940. It plugs straight into the network, making it easy to use from whichever computer I’m at at the time, and I can plug my camera directly into it, to print photos without turning a computer on.

The old computer didn’t have a network name, because it wasn’t attached directly to the network, but this one does: Continuing the tradition of naming network-attached devices after cats, I’ve called it “Smudge”. For some reason “Smudge the Printer” appealed to my sense of humour :-D

Bookings

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I’m continuing to recover stuff from work back to home.

Today’s box was mainly stuffed with books from my desk drawer: Every so often I buy mind-improving books and take them to work with the intention of reading them in my breaks. I found two of Lynne Truss’s – “Eats Shoots and Leaves” (recommended), and “Talk to the Hand” (Don’t bother – worth reading once, but get it from the library or something). At least I read them: “Great Expectations” and “An Outcast of the Islands” have been in there for years, and both have bookmarks less than halfway in.

Perhaps one day I’ll get them finished.

Worrying

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

I had two rather odd e-mails last night.

They both came from 34sp, the hosting company where Gottleblog and Jenny’s blog both live. I’ve since discovered that several other people with 34sp sites had them too. Apparently they’ve been hacked big style, although by the time they sent out the e-mails 34sp had corrected the problem – but they recommended we all changed our passwords.

Of course I immediately changed them both to something rather more secure, but if the problem is a wide-ranging 34sp one, I’m not sure what the point is, unless the miscreants got in and were able to read the password file so they could come back – but if 34sp’s storage of passwords is that insecure, we’re all in trouble: As Stu has said before, passwords can be kept in a database in a totally unreadable format, and I can’t believe that 34sp aren’t using that format.

Still, I guess as long as the loopholes are now plugged, it’s all OK :-)

Nicked from Miss Sixty

Monday, February 19th, 2007

A cheesy cheating pre-written one today, I’m afraid – I’ll try to do better tomorrow!


Your Brain is Yellow


Of all the brain types, yours is the most intellectual.
You crave mental stimulation, and your thoughts tend to very complex.
Your thoughts tend to be innovative and cutting edge, though many people don’t understand them.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about science, architecture, and communication.

What Color Is Your Brain?

Dream a Little Dream

Sunday, February 18th, 2007

I had an odd dream yesterday.

I was in a health and safety meeting – bad enough when you have to do it for real, dreaming about it is beyond the pale. The meeting was being chaired by John Humphries, who was hectoring the meeting and not letting anyone else get a word in. I can at least explain that – while I was having this dream, my clock radio had come on, and Humphries was grilling some hapless interviewee on today.

Sadly I can’t remember any of the rest of it, but that’s weird enough. Not as weird as some of Stu’s dreams, but then I’m not as weird as he is ;-) – happy birthday Stu, by the way!

In today’s news, there’s a bit of news on the employment front that may be exciting – I’ll let you know when I know a bit more detail.

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud…

Saturday, February 17th, 2007

Another get together with the geocaching chums today. As you can see, as per usual it included a meal in a pub, and this was a well fabby one – the Kings Head at Wickham. Food is good, AND they sell real ale!

The main reason for the meet was for a crowd of us to do the cache Not As It Seems Part 2, which many of us had previously failed on. Luckily once you’ve got an agile chum with a head for heights – and a hint from the cache owner1 – it’s pretty achieveable.

Once we’d all signed the log, a few of us headed up the old railway line, first to Meon Valley Mud Bath – which some of us had found and some hadn’t – and then on to Herne2’s Little Thing (6) – which again, some of us had found then some hadn’t.

I’ve already mentioned how great the pub was, so I’ll just add that there was enough for everyone to eat (except Rob, who hadn’t ordered anything!), and even the dogs got a treat. Then it was off for the final activity of the day, a chocolate hunt where much competition was evident as the adults – and I use the term loosely – fought to find the four boxes of various kinds of chocolate before the kids.

Festivities over, and stopping only at the pub to pay our food bill, it was time to head for home. YAAAAAWWWWWWWN!

Ooh, and thanks to Sarah for driving, so I could get full enjoyment out of the real ale.

1 Thanks Steve!

The Final Countdown

Friday, February 16th, 2007

Not on this occasion the fabby song by Europe, but rather this, from the whiteboard that sits behind my desk. As you can see, I’m halfway down the count between formal notice and last day.

This morning was as loony as yesterday, with finishing off the award applications, a big meeting, and various other things: Luckily the afternoon was a bit calmer – one the award application had gone to the courier, I even had time to ring Sarah about tomorrow, ring the garage to book Grunty in for her MOT, and research some addresses of companies who are going to get unsolicited CVs.

I didn’t get time to ring Vodafone about my mobile: I’ve had it for three years, following on from this phone-losing episode, so I must be due a free upgrade by now. I’ve been putting it off, while I was trying to find out the company’s policy on personal use of mobile phones, but that’s a bit academic now, so I’m after an upgrade to a phone with bluetooth. I’d like one that I can connect to the lappytoppy to use as a modem, but bluetoothness is the priority.

Meanwhile, the clearing out of my personal property from cupboards and desk drawers continues apace. I have absolutely no idea where I’m going to store this lot when I get it home.

Hard Work

Thursday, February 15th, 2007

I never realised that becoming unemployed was so stressful.

Iíve been looking at the list of jobs I need to do over the next week-and-a-bit to ensure a smooth handover, and Iím starting to think thereís at least a yearís work there. Many of my responsibilities donít seem to be being picked up by anyone, but those that are, are being taken on by friends of mine, and while I feel little loyalty to the company under the circumstances, I donít want to land those friends in a bad situation Ė if only because theyíve all got my home phone number!

Today Iíve been putting together our entry for a national health and safety award Ė all good stuff, but Iíve also had to prepare the entry for a site Iíve never even visited :-( . This included Ė just after lunch Ė sending a 100-page fax, which was frustratingly slow. OK, whatever happens theyíve only got me for another six working days and if they want to pay me an obscene hourly rate to sit and watch a fax machine to make sure it doesnít jam, thatís up to them Ė but all the time Iím doing that, Iím not training people in what theyíll have to do when Iím gone.

I HAVE had time to do some more research on future options: Does anyone have any advice or experience, on being a self-employed health and safety trainer? Iíve thought about registration, tax, and liability insurance. Iíve also wondered how exactly to get business in the first place. Any hints and tips gratefully accepted.

Sailing

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

I had my last work-related trip to the Isle of Wight this morning.

There are parts of this job I’ll miss, and parts I won’t: the overseas travel is one part I’ve always enjoyed, and I’ve always got on well with the people over there, which I can’t say about every part or person! My first trip over there was when we had a full producing site there, and I was doing training sessions to all the staff including the night guys: Now it’s just a tiny distribution centre, with the stuff manufactured on the mainland and shipped across.

Today I was there for a very short meeting, and did a few other jobs while I was there. I’ve told them I expect to be available for high-priced consultancy work in the near future :-)

Lawdy Lawdy

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

In a comment on my post of yesterday, Lord Hutton of Tawkee said
“Amazing how much you accumulate at the office. I have a whole cabinet full of stuff. Also on the computer”

I’ve been trying not to think about the computer: I have not one, but two directories of personal stuff on the network – or the net-doesn’t-work as we call it1. I’m e-mailing it to myself at home, a few bits at a time, and once it’s all across I’ll burn it to a CD. Most of it probably isn’t worth keeping, but you can bet there’s something there somewhere that I’ll need, if I haven’t got it.

A bit less easy is all the stuff on the standalone computer that sits next to the network terminal. Not only does that machine only have a floppy drive for taking stuff away, but most of what I’ve got on there is in a format that won’t work with any of the software I’ve got, e.g. Visio. Anyone remember Visio? It’s a bit of graphics software that never did anything very well, but at the time the company gave it to me, it was the cheapest flowchart-creation software.

And speaking of computers, we had an e-mail round today from the head of the IT help desk2 – apparently the network is going to be down for an hour tomorrow morning. Thing is, this guy’s in the TA – we had this image of him sending an e-mail to the enemy: “Just to let you know our guns will be out of action for an hour tomorrow and we’ll be unable to shell you: We apologise for the break in service and hope you won’t be too inconvenienced”

1 I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that when I go for a job interview, and they ask if I’ve got any questions, I’m going to say “Never mind the salary or the holidays – does your computer network work?”. And if it does, I’ll say “Wow, it’s already better than my last job!”
2 Or as we call them, the no-bloody-help desk

Clear

Monday, February 12th, 2007

I’ve been clearing out cupboards at work.

I never realised I’d accumulated so much stuff: I was saving my redundancy pay to live on until I find another job, but it looks like I’m going to have to buy a van to transport all this stuff home. I’m going to need a new bookcase at home, just for those books that are worth keeping.

Speaking of books, I’m also finding stuff that must have been in cupboards for years: There’s a “Baby’s First Reading Primer” which I’m pretty sure I bought for Beki’s first Christmas: Since she’s now 14, and in the top set for English at school, I don’t suppose she’d appreciate it that much :-( . I’m pretty sure the electric kettle out of my caravan is around somewhere, too.

Of greatest importance, of course, is the financial stuff I’ve been discussing with Trina and Margarargarargaret in the HR office: Yep, what’s going to happen to my share in the lottery syndicate. It seems there’s a whole £42 (between six of us) in the “winnings” envelope, and it’s important we invest it wisely ;-)

Mudd

Sunday, February 11th, 2007

Today I have mostly been working on the “Meon Valley Plod”, a 20-mile cross country run.

While the runners were getting muddy (and boy, did they get muddy!), I was charging around the course in Grunty, sorting out problems and helping the organisers. Needless to say I attempted some caching activity: Herne 2’s Little Thing part 5 is in the grounds of the building where the event finishes: I failed to find it last year when I ran out of time before the event started, so this time I was back for revenge. And I found it! The cache has two pieces of information in it, both of which you need to be able to claim the cache.

Shame really that I only wrote down one of them.

Still, the day wasn’t a total washout caching-wise: Since I was in the area, I dropped in and replaced the log book in my chums The Tates’ cache The Kench. So that was alright.

Water

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

We went looking for rivers this afternoon!

As you’ll probably be bored of reading, Sarah and I are looking for a suitable river to hold a duck race in a few weeks time. We had a few ideas of our own, and some suggestions from other people, to check out – so this afternoon we headed out in the Gruntmobile to see what was what.

Suggestion one is probably a really nice river – if it had been accessible without trespassing – and if there was anywhere close to park – we could have told you. There was another place to examine nearby, but that was a last resort as it would have been more of a duck float than a duck race.

After a stop in Lymington to go to a shop, and to make an unsuccessful search for a geocache I’ve already done anyway, we headed off to our next location. This time we couldn’t even get close – not only is the nearest car park closed until March, the road that leads to it is as well. It was worth going there, though, ‘cos it meant we got to drive through a deep ford twice, which at least washed Grunty’s windows. The first time, we were followed through by a Volvo estate, who hadn’t learned the key lesson of driving through deep fords: Don’t follow the car in front too closely, in case it stops before you’re clear of the water :-) . Because there’s a junction just after the water crossing, I had to stop and the Volvo was stuck in the middle of the river. Heh heh.

We never made it to the last place – on the way through (and after splashing through a disappointingly shallow puddle), Sarah spotted a car park with a river just the other side. Apart from the fact that my trainers leak, and I slipped over in the mud, it was perfect – wide, with a long straight bit, and with enough depth that duckies won’t run aground.

Sarah’s going to look at the last place in the week anyway, when she’s in the area: But we at least have a location which’ll work :-)

It’s Official

Friday, February 9th, 2007

If you look up the top there, you’ll guess that it’s been made official. My last day at Jellies R Us is two weeks today.

What’s great is that – as well as the redundo – they pay me until the beginning of May in lieu of notice as well :-) . There are three of us leaving that day, and luckily none of us are sorry about it. What’s also great is that they’re paying for me to do my first aid refresher, even though I’ll have left long before it’s due: There’s a clause in the redundancy scheme that they pay a certain amount towards training that’ll help with future employment, and within the permitted amount that’s about all there is – it certainly wouldn’t stretch anywhere near any of the sepcialist training I was talking about just a few weeks ago.

So there we are: I wonder what the future hold?

Snow Laughing Matter

Thursday, February 8th, 2007

“Heavy snow overnight” was the forecast.

Hmmph – by the time I got up all that was left was an inch or so on Grunty Gruntmobile’s roof. I saw a light dusting of snow in the fields I pass on my way to work, but I’d been looking forward to some heavy Gruntmobile action, with the lever all the way forward (four wheel drive, low ratio, diff locked) and only me able to get through, laughing as I left stranded Fiat Punto owners in my wake.

Ah well – Sarah and I are having another go at the New Forest on Saturday afternoon, and the forecast I’ve seen suggests that while the afternoon’ll be fine, we’ll have some good snow from the morning to trudge through.

Meanwhile, today hasn’t been that clear everywhere – apparently an articulated lorry belonging to my employers is stuck halfway up a hill in Bedfordshire. They reckon it’ll be shifted tomorrow morning…