Annoying Mailshots


One of the things I find a little difficult on occasions, is finding a title for my post. As I don’t have a particular theme for my blog (yet!) it can be hard to give a post a title that refers to anything within that post. So this time, I’m titling this post with the first main topic, and I will see how that develops over time.

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Today is ‘Shredding Day’. The recycling bin was emptied during the week and I can now have a go at shredding all the junk that we have received. I’m not allowed to simply put shredded paper directly into the bin (it causes the sorting machine at the waste depot to jam) so I shred and dump into a bin liner. Some of it can go into the hot composter but most will have to go int the bin.

Now the thing that really annoys me, is the amount of documents that have personal details on them. I’m not talking about documents that I have requested such as bank statements and receipts and the like. no i mean the unsolicitated junk mail that drops through the letter box on a regular basis. For example, one of the pieces of junk was a six sided, a4 document from a bank that I am not a customer of , or in fact want to be a customer of. This document was inviting me to apply for a loan, to ‘see me over the festive period‘ as the accompanying letter (another a4 page) explained. The big issue with the application form was that my personal details ie name and postal address, had been completed for me … on every page! In fact on two of the pages, the details were recorded twice. So that means four pages to shred. Do they really think that I am so stupid, that I cannot fill my own name and address or do they actually think it is helpful? How many people respond to this type of unsolicited mail? If I was considering applying for a loan, I certainly would not wait for some junk mail to arrive to save me time completing the form.

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The hoped for job interview did not materialise. I really though I was in with a chance of getting the job, but I did not even get an interview! I was more than a bit disappointed, but I am only allowing myself to think that either the other applicants were more qualified for the position or that I completely messed up my application form. I think it was probably both. I don’t want to get into the senario that the someone was lined up for the job, even if that were the case. So I’m sticking to my original theory.

This leads me on to a decision I need to make. Last week, I saw G*****, the head of our service team for a chat about the new rules for Local Government pensions. It was a very informative meeting, but I think he really wanted to know my feelings on taking early retirement. The Council that I work for has this programme that they call ‘ELI’ or Early Leavers Initiative. It gives staff who are within a certain age band the opportunity to retire from Local Government early without a loss of pension. I applied before, some four/five years ago and was turned down . I told him that I wasn’t interested, citing financial reasons. My main reason was that I though I was in with a chance of the above  mention job.

Anyway, I have to the end of January to let him know in writing, my final decision. I now feel, that I should take a fresh look at the whole ‘ELI’ issue again. So I am now composing (in my head at the moment) an email to him advising of my change of heart. I’m not sure if I should mention all my reasons for this change, or simply wait for him to ask why. I think I will mention the disappointing job application, but I will probably leave it at that.

Start as I mean to go on


Work tomorrow. First day back after our enforced  Christmas break. Well, official first day back. This ‘enforced’ break has come about by the need for Local Government to save money. What happens is that non-critical services are shut-down between Christmas Eve and the first working day after New Years day. Staff take either time out of their annual leave or apply for  unpaid leave. It is an attempt to save on heating and lighting costs, and apparently it is working. However the nameless internet trolls that frequent the comment pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post have a different take on it. A couple of ‘people’ seem to think that if some services can be shut for ten days, then why do we need them at all. But when you look at what leave people are actually taking, it is only really shutting down for three days. It just means that the offices will not be lit-up and heated for ten days.

Whilst I have not actually done any work since Christmas Eve, I have logged on the work network and checked emails and the like. I always have done. It means I can get rid of the rubbish before I start work. I have seen people spend the first few hours of the day, after a break ‘dealing with emails’, most of which can be dumped as they are no longer valid. A colleague once told me to just “delete any email that are more than two days old. If it (the email) is important, then they will email again.” To be honest, I have never had the courage to do it, but it does kind of make sense.

Also tomorrow is the start of wondering if I will get an interview for the job I applied for. I think I should hear within a couple of weeks, then the worrying about the interview should start. Although I’m quite determined not to let it worry me, it probably will.

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This is the first of my intended weekly posting. I’m still trying to find some kind of ‘theme’ to post about, but until  then, it is just going to be the usual ramblings and occasional rants that I usually post.

So until then …….

Away day … not as bad as expected


In fact, I would go as far as saying, it was quite enjoyable. Today Friday was a team building day. It was a day when the new team (those who were not off work) got together and began to learn a bit about each other. The day when the restructure of the team started to take shape. That was the aim.

We were supposed to start the day with a two hour slot of ‘bonding and building’, followed by four presentations with Q & A’s and feedback and ending with brief quiz as a ‘bit of fun’.

Two days ago, the new team manager (we shall call her KB) gave us all a person we had to ‘buddy’ and a list of questions that we had answer about ourselves and our buddy. This was the preparation work that we had to complete before the day. It was designed to identify where we lacked self-confidence and to give each of us an idea of what the rest of the team thought of each other. It was only looking at the positives and not the negatives. We were then required, to read out what we had written about ourselves and get feedback from our buddy and the rest of the team.

However, before we started, ‘KB’ had a little ‘exercise’ that she wanted us to do. Basically is was to test of our listening skills, but was more a test of our memory capabilities. In our pairings, one had to talk about something, anything that was of interest or importance to us. This had to last for two minutes and person two was not allowed to make notes or ask questions. Then person two had to relay back to person one, what they had said without being prompted. Then (not much longer now) person one had to feedback how well person two had done. The roles were then reversed and the process repeated. For me it proved to be very difficult, as I am having a few memory issues which I’ve put down to my days in hospital. My buddy, who is actually my new line manager (and we shall call him NM), was almost word perfect with his memory and at the risk of embarrassing the lad, I ensured everyone knew that.

Then we go to the ‘nitty-gritty’ and started the part that I was dreading. The metaphorical exposing of each other. To make matters worse, ‘NM’ and me** were the first to go. To my surprise, I found it quite informative and not as difficult as I feared and I think I got a lot out of it.

Now this part was supposed to take an hour and a half for all twelve of us, and then we would have one of the presentations. This was to be followed by a two ‘bonding’ lunch at a local pub and a further three presentations in the afternoon. What happened was that the ‘bonding and building’ sessions went on longer than ‘KB’ anticipated, and at 16:30 she decided that the four presentations would now happen on a later day. I don’t think anyone expected or intended it to go on for so long.

All in all, it was a quite informative (if a bit tiring) day and at the end, I think we were all glad it was over. But maybe next time, I won’t be as apprehensive. Who knows?

**  for all you grammar types, should this be “NB and I” or am I correct with “NB and me”??

All going rather well …..


Well, when I say “All going rather well…” I’m referring to my return to work and I mean the physical side to the return. I working on a phased return over four weeks.  As I say, I mean the physical side is going well. The actual work side is a little different. Although I was assured that I would not be disadvantaged during my absence, I feel I am little bit left out of things. My ‘team’ colleagues (if you can call them that) have integrated into the wider team a great deal more than I have, and I’m beginning to feel a bit like an outsider. Even more of an outsider than I felt before. I just don’t know what my role is any more. My line manager is back next week (at least I think she is still my line manager) and I’ll try and broach the issue with her. Although that may not be as easy as I would hope. She has a few problems in her personal life, and I may get the sharp end of that when she gets back.

I’m now working in the city centre, and as such I have to use a mutli-storey car park. It’s an expense that I wish I did not have, but it is not the expense that is the real problem. The car park get really full and there are very few spaces left by 9am. Normally this would not be an issue, but on the days when I have to have my blood test (currently every two weeks) I end up going in late. The thing that really annoys me is when people reverse park their cars into the parking bay. Because of the limited driving space, reverse parking holds everyone else up. I have no idea why they do it! It is just as easy to reverse out of the parking bay as it is to drive out forwards. I think they are just showing off.

The problems I’ve had with my memory, seems to gradually improving. I was trying to update a report yesterday, and was not having much luck with it at all. Then this morning I tried again and it suddenly came to me what I needed to do. Another report I’ve been working on is starting to look like it should, although I’m not getting the results I should, my line manager will know where I’m going wrong.

Almost time …


The title of this post refers to the fact that it is ‘almost time’ for me to return to work. The past three months recovery time are now at an end. As I mentioned before, I will be back at work from the 1st October. It is a phased return over four weeks loosely based on 50% of my normal hours over a four week period. The suggestion was that I should build up my time as one day week one, then two days week two etc etc until I was back to a full week on week five. I was not two happy with that so am going for a two, a three, a three then a four day week. I will have to monitor how I am feeling of course, but I suspect that I should be okay.

I’m tempted to make week four a three day week. It depends on both how I’m feeling and the way the work is going. A lot is happening behind the scenes with this new restructure and I may have to rethink how I’m going to change with it. There seems to be some jockeying for position within certain parts of the team, and I feel I may be missing out a bit. I was assured that I would not be ‘disadvantaged’ by the restructure, but the person who gave that assurance is not as influential as they used to be, in my opinion.

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Doing a little bit of ‘touch-up’ decorating today. What do I mean by that? Well a few weeks ago, we had new windows and external doors fitted doors. The fitters (as they called themselves, no fancy names here) were very good and the damage to the decorating was very very minimal. But of course there are some parts of the walls need a little maintenance, and that is what I am finishing today. It’s not a big job, just part of one of the walls in the kitchen needs a bit of paint to cover up the repair work. However, Mrs H has decided that ‘we’ need to put some edging down where the floor meets the units, to finish off the effect. So I looking to do some of that work today also. Another little job! They all mount up.

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** In my previous post, I made a suggestion that if anyone had any ideas how to improve this blog, they would be most welcome! To the commentor that suggested that “stopping writing would be a great start”, I have to say “Thanks but that is not the type of suggestion I was looking for!!! ” **

It’s been a while


It’s been a month or so since my last post, and a few things have happened since then. The video change that I mentioned last time worked, thankfully. Which was more than we hoped for. Both K*** and I had this fear that it might cause a problem for the driver on his way in the morning. Fortunately that issue did not arise. We now think that so long as R*** knows what is happening and so long as it happens, he is more or less fine with it.

Two weeks ago, I had to go into work to have a chat with my line manager. Because I have had more than four week continuous sick leave, I have hit a ‘trigger’ in our attendance management policy that requires me to be interviewed about how they can support my return to work. My line manager was furious about this and I understand that she had a few choice words with our HR department. Now I understand the need for the policy, however there needs to be some form of flexibility built in that allows for the fact that some people are not at work for a damn good reason. In my case, recovering from heart surgery and being told by the surgeon that I would not be able to work for three months after to operation. It does not matter that some system in HR has hit a flag, it’s down to the medical staff when I’m fit to return, not some piece of computer software. Rant over!!!

The new work structure has been issued, and it does nothing to suppress any worries I have. We’ve been told that there are enough jobs to go around, with some spare, but are those positions at the same grade that staff are at now? Will there be enough grades at my level for all those at the same grade? Without knowing what grades we currently have, it’s impossible to know what the changes might be. The meeting was only held on Friday, so those questions may have been answered. I will wait until the minutes come out, before I start asking any questions.

Talking about work, K*** and I are in the process of changing S****s old room into more of an office, than a bedroom. We had decided that it would be a good idea, when I work from home, for me to utilise this now spare room, to work from. But we have taken it a step further, and although the bed is still in there, my work computer is all set up.

On Tuesday, I am going for my 1st Out Patients appointment since being discharged from the hospital. This is where I find out that I can drive again and can remove these ‘anti-embolism’ stockings for good. It is also the date when I should be told when I can go back to work. I’ve started making some plans, but cannot be more definite until after this appointment. I fear driving will be a bit of an issue. I have to inform the insurance company about my operation and I think it will mean a large hike in the premiums. I don’t see why it should be a problem, but we shall see. You know what insurance companies are like.

And now me! I feel a thousand time better than I did this time in June. It is hard to believe that such a small piece of hardware can make such a difference, but I can assure you it does! I still have a chest that aches like I have run into a brick wall, but there has never been the pain that others appear to have had. My problem seems to be one of backache. It comes on around half four in the morning and makes sleeping very uncomfortable. I’ve been told that backache is one of the side effects of the operation and that it does go away in time. Hopefully that is true. The valve seems to be working fine and as expected, it can be heard. It sounds different and different time, but mainly seems to be a clicking noise on the left hand side of the scar. Most people can hear it, and S**** seems to think it is quite cool!! I found a picture of the thing they used and I was very surprised how simple it looked. I don’t know what I was expecting though.

I think that is about all, except that K*** has decided that we need new PVC windows and doors. Groan!! That is happening in just under a fortnight, and we have been told that it will all be done in a day!! Will let you know on that one after the event!

Back to sort of normal ….


For the past few posts, I have been concentrating on my “Life changer” thread. That thread is now being wound down and I’ll continue with my normal postings.

So where are we now? Well because of the operation, I’m currently on sick leave whilst I build up my strength again. As I mentioned before, I should be off work for about 3 months or so. Given the job I do, it may be a little shorter than that, I don’t know yet and I’m not going to push for an early return to work! It’s been 4 weeks to the date, since I had my operation and apart from a response to an email I sent, nobody from my team has been in touch at all! I’m not surprised by that, but more than a little disappointed that I’ve not even had a ‘Get Well soon’ card. I did not expect anything from my previous team, but I thought there may be something from the new team.

I have for many years (at least 40 if I’m counting) had a small health insurance plan that I pay into for K*** and me. This plan pays for dental and optician treatment and also pays a daily fixed amount for hospital inpatients. I have claimed for K*** before, but this was the first time for myself. It’s not a massive amount considering what has been paid in, but it’s a nice little some as bonus.

So with some of the money, I bought myself a new camera. I have wanted an SLR (Single Lens Reflex) type camera for a long time, but I did not want one of those huge things that need multiple lenses, that I used to have before. So I settled on what they call a ‘Bridge Camera‘, a camera that is between an ‘SLR’ and a ‘Point-and-Shoot’. It appears to work very well, but I need to get some kind of bag, and possibly a better neck strap. A trip to Amazon or eBay is required now.

One of the downsides to having this new valve (or maybe an upside depending on your point of view) is that I am now limited on the amount of alcohol I can take. I’m supposed to stop all together or have a maximum of 3 units per day. Very slightly went over that limit yesterday, and I’ll explain why. You may recall, that our youngest son is Autistic. One of his obsessions is to have the VHS video player playing a video all night long. We think that it might be some kind of ‘security blanket’ for him, and to be honest, we have now got used to it. Last night there was a problem! One of the tapes he has been watching seemed to get jammed. I thought that the tape had stretched and that the player could not read it. Now for most people/kids that would not be a big problem, but for R*** it was a major disaster. As usual, this caused him a great deal of stress and this started to come out as violence. That is when the limit was breached! It was only a very small whiskey, but still it was a breach of the limits I was working to.

We gave the medication he has, to calm him down and he seemed to accept that I would sort out the problem the next day. However, the medication had the effect of giving him a new lease of life and he was up and down until around 3am. This meant that both K*** and me only really dozed during that time. I tried the tape in another machine and it seemed to work okay, so I’m thinking that it may be the machine that is at fault rather than the tape. So I have now managed to swap out his VHS machine for the one we had downstairs. We never really watch VHS videos anymore, so it will not be too much of a problem.

Fingers crossed for a better night tonight.

A pleasant day all told …..


Today was the second ‘whole team’ meeting of our new team. In my opinion, in spite of, or maybe because of the little ‘let’s get to know each other’ game that M*** had us play the afternoon went very well. Everyone seemed to be a lot come comfortable with each other. Of course there are those that appear to be comfortable in any situation, but those like me seemed to be more relaxed.

There were a lot of comments about the new office. Interestingly, at the start there were no positive comments at all, but within an hour the complaints had narrowed down to one single complaint. I don’t think they are going to do anything about the complaint, as it would be too expensive to implement, but it was interesting to hear the majority of complaints disappear during the discussion.

The networking drinks went down well, and at the end of the day, I’m glad I stayed for a while, and I even managed to mingle a little.

Brief update to “Double disappointment”…


You know how I said I was going to keep my old laptop? Well after keeping the new one and playing around with it for a week, I have decided that the old one will go, and I’ll keep the EliteBook. It is just as good as the other, and whilst it is a little smaller I feel I can work with it quite well.

As for the weight factor …. it’s not that much lighter. Maybe 10/12 ounces. So wish me luck with it.

Work can be a shit ….


It’s not so much the work, more some of the people I have to work with. There’s a lot of stressful things going on in my life at the moment. What with the “Life changer”, the ‘restructure’ and the new service, things are quite worrying. The whole of the public sector is going through a really bad time as we pay for the mistakes of the past years. So it becomes very hard to be understanding of the microcosm attitude of some of my colleagues. I’ll not call them friends, because despite their ‘crocodile tears’ and concerns, I still feel I’m an outsider and that they don’t really care as much as they try to make out. Saying that, there are some who I genuinely believe do care. I will only identify them by their initials (not that they are likely to read this, but you never know) and they are SB, MS, JB and DC. If they do read this, then they will know who they are.

I’m sick of the little ‘chats’ the others have between themselves, when I seem to be out of the office. The sudden ‘quite’ when I come back into the office after the private phone call with my manager. Do they really need to make it so obvious? Today was a great example. I went to have a chat with someone, about a work issue, and when I got back, three of my colleagues were sat together talking about something. I don’t know for sure what it was, but am convinced it was about the new changes. There was no attempt to either include me or bring me up to speed with what was happening. And this kind of thing seems to be happening more and more. I am now watching my back a lot more closely than ever before. I’ve identified my friends and am just watching the battle lines being drawn. This could be a rough few weeks, but I know which side my bread is buttered. Interesting times ahead.

Now here’s where I apologise for the number of clichés used in this post.

Workplace review .. moving on


The new workplace review is starting to pick up speed now. I had, what they call a “Work Style Assessment” on Friday. That, basically was to a document that formally set out how each one of us will contribute to making the best use of the available desk space. It seems that at any one time, at least 28% of the office desks are not in use; people at meetings, training, sick etc etc. we have a program called “Changing the Workplace” which is trying to maximise the available office space to save money. Mine worked out very well for me. It means that one day a week, I’ll work from a satellite office, one day a week from home, leaving three days a week working from my base office. This, of course is to be more flexible than rigid. It might mean that sometimes, I do two days in the main office and two days in another office, it depends on what work I’m covering. It was what I was looking for and it seem to fit in with what the service requires. However, formalising the “Working from Home” part, means that I need to have either an office or a proper work station. When I have randomly worked from home, I’ve sat at the dining room table. 020214_1241_Workplacere1.jpgThat is not going to be allowed, which I kind of expected. So yesterday, I set about tidying up my computer desk, clearing out some of the rubbish and making it more of a computer work station than it was. So it should be okay now. All I need to do, when I’m working is to move my personal laptop and slot in the works one.

Of course, the ‘moaners’ are still finding things to moan about: the expense; the inconvenience; the increased travel; earlier rising; getting home later; unsettling, there seems to be no end to the excuses why this is not a good thing. Those people should take a good long look at their conditions of service. It is all explained there, and before they go running off to their respected Trades Union, they should be aware, that the Unions signed up to this from the very start! We have an ‘Away Day’ on the 7th, where we should learn a lot more about what is happening. Well it started off as a day when we get to meet our new colleagues and get to know a bit about them. However it seems that it is going to be a ‘bonding session’ and a ‘workshop’. Neither of which, is what I was expecting. I have also heard that our team will be “absorbed” into the service the following week, but that’s only a rumour, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. Still I accept that it is a worrying time for some people, who have never been outside their comfort zone. Me, I’m just going to get on with it. As I mentioned before, we have no choice, and at the end of the day we still have a job. The bigger worry will be when the new structure is formalised and we have to start applying for our jobs.

Less than a week has passed …..


    So it has only been six days since post ‘500‘ and quite a bit has happened. One of my colleagues worked out the extra cost, for changing offices to £720.00 per year. In his email to the manager, he stated that this was the extra cost ‘….for each of us…‘ which is not quite accurate. For me, even if I worked at the City office every day my driving would be shortened by 70 miles a week. Working from home one day, would reduce it by another 30 miles per week. Taking it all into consideration, including a £15.00 per week parking cost, by extra cost would be £132.00 pa or £3.30 pw. I think I can manage that.

    What annoys me a lot, is the assumption that we all ‘have a problem’ with this new working practice. There are at least two of us that just seem to want to get on with it. It’s not as if we have any choice! We just have to make the best of it. Change affects people differently. At the end of the day, we will still have a job. We may be put out a little, but in the current economic climate in Britain, having a paid job is something to be thankful for. Of course, the Trades Union is involved at a high level, but we also have a local convenor in our office and his views (right or wrong) seem to be getting some attention. I tend not to take any notice of this person, as I think that his attitude sometimes shows that he is still living in the 1970’s.

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    Another problem cropped up with R*** on Friday. We live on the outskirts of Leeds. Our doctors, however is in Tadcaster. This means we receive our health care from North Yorkshire, and although it calls itself the National Health Service, effectively it is a localised service. So the problem is that R*** needs specialist dental care, because of his condition. Many dentists are very wary of treating people with special needs and Autism can be very scary if you are not fully aware of the issues autistic people face. He had to visit the Community Dental Practice on Friday. They examined him, and found his teeth to be doing okay, but then they dropped the bombshell. They told us, that because of recent changes by Government, they were no longer ‘allowed’ to treat him in Leeds as it was out of the catchment area. We would have to find another specialised dentist in North Yorkshire. It seems that there is one in Selby or York. This will have a serious effect with transport on his days at college and will mean whenever he has a dental appointment he would have to miss a day. We are not happy to say the least.

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    On a lighter note, the mini keyboard for tablet came. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, and I’m yet to get it to actually work. The accompanying manual seems to have been converted/translated from the original Japanese and some of the words and phrases do not make much sense. Still I suppose you get what you pay for, as I found out with the cheap 32gb SD memory card, I bought. That does not work at all with the tablet. So ‘cheap and cheerful’ does not always pay off in the long run.

Not as bad as feared


    Now, this post refers to two issues. One that I’ve mentioned and one which I may have spoken about, but I cannot remember. So, I shall begin with the first issue:

Blogging with word 2013

    It worked! Not a lot more I can say really. However, that would be a bit of a waste of time my mentioning, if I don’t expand a little. This post is also using the ubiquitous Word 2013, so you could say that ‘the jury is still out’ to quote a much maligned phrase. It is definitely not Windows Live Writer (WLW) but I am beginning to warm to it a little more than before. I thought that I would miss the ‘generate tag’ plugin that WLW has, but you know what, I was never that good in the first place. With Word, I just have to post as draft and amend it. Also, unless I’m mistaken, there is no way to preview the post in Word, but I’m just nit picking I think.

    Now, what I would like is a cheap way of writing my blog on my ‘hudl’ tablet. Okay, I realise I can use the WordPress website, but that would be too easy. Well it will when my mini Bluetooth keyboard is delivered.

    The second issue is work related.

Workplace Review

    Looking back I have had a little rant about this, is to do with the next work review. Things change every day. Before this morning, we were under the impression that we may end up in one of the offices on the outskirts of the City centre around mid June. That is what I was hoping for. However, the word out today, is that we are to move to the City centre, literally, and it is going to happen in March. The office that has been mentioned, is one of three on the same street, each with a different name. Over the years, I have worked in both of the two other offices. Since 2005, I’ve worked in offices that are away from the centre, but quite easy to drive to. The new office is what we call a ‘Changing the Workplace’ office. All that means, is that we will not have our own desk, and we will hot-desk. My manager has done it for a while now, and she has started to get used to it. I do not think the majority of our team share the same feeling.

    One of the big issues, will be parking. At the current office, and since 2005, the parking has been on site and free. There is no such thing in the City centre offices. Nearest car park will cost £5.00 a day, which will be a big chunk of money that I’m not used to spending. Saying that, the new idea will be to be more ‘agile’ and as such, I will be able to work in other offices and I should be okay to work one day from home. So not all doom and gloom!

    On a lighter note, this post is number 500. Yes I’ve actually made 500 postings on this blog. Feel like I should sing something …….. “Happy Birthday to My Blog”

    

Getting back to normal (or as normal as it gets)


     After surviving Christmas, the next task was to get through New Years Eve. We did!! R*** was on respite, as he struggles with the NYE fireworks. It’s not the fireworks themselves that are the problem, it’s the randomness of the explosions coupled with the unexpectedness, if that’s the word I’m looking for. So he was away for two nights and came back on Thursday evening. Sounds like he had a successful time, there were no reported issues. S**** and his girlfriend A**** and another friend from his university days, went to a party. They were all staying over, so that left me and K*** ‘home alone’ as they say. So what did we do… go to the pub? go to a party? go into town??? Nope, we watched the television. Well that sounds a bit simplistic, but it was a nice evening. We had a nice meal, some nice wine and spent the evening relaxing.

     Then it was back to work on the 2nd. That was a more stressful day than the whole of Christmas and New Year together. It appears now, that the work review that we are going through is changing somewhat. We were originally told, that our service would be “picked up and dropped into the new service” and that “new opportunities would present themselves.” We are now told that we will be “slotted in” but will have to push ourselves forward and sort of make a case for our existence. So that sounds interesting! We have also been told, that we need to make a brief ‘pitch’ to promote each one of us. My direct manager, S**** was pushing the idea, that this was going to be some sort of ‘presentation’ and that I should use Microsoft PowerPoint to do it. Ten minutes each was the suggested time frame for each one of us. The fact that this meeting was only booked for an hour with eight people to speak did not seem to matter. It is now down to a two minute talk about who we are, what we do, where we come from and where do we want to go. I am not looking forward to it at all. I’m not one of those people that enjoys self promotion. I’m a background person that just want to get on with the job in hand. I’ve been told that I should always be looking for better opportunities. Sorry, that’s not for me. So we will see what happens at this meeting on Friday.

     I now have a Tesco ‘hudl’. th I mentioned it to K*** just after Christmas, that I was going to see if they were reduced in the sales. I’m not a fan of Apple products, so the Ipad or Ipad Mini were not something I could ever see me using, but thought it might be useful to have some form of tablet computer.She got a bit annoyed with me as she did not know that I wanted one. We looked on the Tesco website, and she bought me a red one. We shall see how useful it proves to be. With it being an Android device, I am quite used to the operating system, which is the same as my smartphone. I just need to be careful that it does not turn into a smartphone without the telephone part.

     My attempt at writing a story based on letters from the main character is coming along, albeit slowly. I have a good idea where I am taking it, but I’m just not sure whether it is moving along to fast or even too slow. I decided to write this back in October 2013 and had the idea that each of the letters is a chapter of the story. I’m now up to chapter six, and this is where my doubts seem to be creeping in. I will finish it though, but not sure when.

A little bit more ranting …


     I’ve just spent the past half hour posting replies to comments on our local online newspaper. I use the term ‘newspaper’ lightly in this case. I have stopped buying and even reading, physical editions of the press. To me it seems a little one way. With a hard copy, or paper copy if you prefer, the only way to have your voice heard is to write to the editor. He or she, then may or may not publish your letter/email when ever they see fit. With the online version, I can post or reply to a comment and it appears almost instantaneously. That is providing it complies within the terms and conditions. This to me, seems to be a far more interactive way of expressing ones feelings. I have to admit though, it can lead to my comments being ridiculed and attacked by some of the other people that contribute to the site. Like many online newspapers, there are a large number of people with right-wing tendencies, that seem to take delight in posting negative political and almost racist comments. I occasionally try and redress the balance.

     Work took an interesting turn on Friday. Our service manager called in at the end of the day, and asked to have a private word with me. The way things are going in the Council at the moment, it made me a little apprehensive. However, and I’m not supposed to say anything yet, she explained that that there might be an opportunity coming up in the next couple of weeks and that she wanted me to consider it carefully. Without going into any detail, it is an area that I did not think I have any experience in. I downloaded lots of information, and I may be doing myself down too much. I may just have enough limited knowledge to pass this off. If I get my head down and start reading all this information, who knows what may happen. Just hope I don’t tread on anybody’s toes!!

     The new car is living up to expectations. Now I’ve had it a couple of months, it’s getting more and more difficult to remember the old one. The mileage is better, although I’m not getting the 60mpg that i was led to believe. It’s more 48mpg, which is better than the 42mpg I was getting with the Ford, so it is an improvement, and with the low tax band, I will be saving. It still looks strange to see my car and S****’s car side by side in the car park. Especially as they have consecutive number plates!

     On a completely different track, I’m starting an online course on Monday 25th. I saw an article in the Guardian online, that explained a little about these ‘free’ courses. It is an organisation called Futurelearn and the quote from it’s website says:

“At FutureLearn, we want to inspire learning for life. We offer a diverse selection of free, high quality online courses from some of the world’s leading universities and other outstanding cultural institutions.”

     I’ve signed up for a course about King Richard III. It is not something I know much about, but the discovery of his remains and the recent television drama about The White Queen, stirred my interest somewhat. It is free, so I have nothing to lose, and it may just benefit me should I attempt to go on Mastermind !!!! I’ve also signed up for a course in programming apps for smart phones, but that does not start until February 2014.

     A couple of post’s back, I mentioned a story idea that I had been planning. Well it is now into it’s fourth chapter, and the story will start to take a different direction. I will not say any more, but I may put an excerpt on here sometime. In fact, I have considered posting the whole story as weekly chapters, but I’ve not decided yet.

Letter to my head


If you are wondering about the title of this post, I shall explain all at the end.

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        You know K*** had those problems last year with those Melanomas, well we thought everything was now okay. However, a couple of weeks ago, she felt something under her arm, where she had had the biopsy, that did not feel quite right. She spoke to the consultant at the hospital, who told to see her GP, who would refer her. This was done, and at the end of this week, she had both a consultation at the clinic on Thursday and a scan on Friday. You have to congratulate to hospital on the speed their action. But, after the scan, she was told that there was nothing to see, and that it may just be a rib!! I think she is now waiting for the consultant to get back to her officially. she is still very worried though.

        Work!!!! Someone who I knew a few years ago,in my previous job, asked me if I’m happy in this new job, and my immediate replay was along the lines ‘…same old story, back stabbing and bitching with a smaller team…’ It made me reflect a little on where I am now. Do I actually like what I am doing? Do I like the people I work with? The ‘team’ as they like to call us. Things are beginning to come to a head I think. It has a lot to do with this new restructure that we are going through, and everyone is quite worried. In my opinion, the problem is exasperated because for two members of the ‘team’, there is no position at their current grade. Now our Manager, M*** was told us that this represents a huge opportunity to get those jobs that we deserve. This is a nod to one of the ‘team’ members, E***** who missed out on a promotion in the last restructure. I’m convinced, that this is why I still don’t feel like I’m accepted as a full member of the ‘team’. She missed out last time and I think she believes that she may miss out this time. This is probably fuelled by her partner B****, who conveniently works in the same ‘team’, in the same office. I feel that it is never a good idea for people in a relationship to work together, unless it is their own business. It just does not work in a large organisation such as ours.

        Just to change the subject ….. I have had a cold virus this week. Not such a big deal you say. Well usually that is the case. I get three to four colds a year, and they are typical colds that last three days. Occasionally, and it happened in July last year, I get a cold that completely floors me, so to speak. I started late Saturday, with the usual symptoms: the slight headache; the tingle at the top of my nose etc. By Sunday, the cold had started to kick in properly. I had a fitful nights sleep, tossing and turning, not able to get comfy and with the now ever present ‘nasal attack’. I spent the next two and a half days in bed, with the usual handkerchiefs, paracetamol, buckets of water and a pained look on my face. I went back to work on Thursday, but at a push, could have held out to the end of the week. It is still there, and of course, I now have to live with the aftermath of all those handkerchiefs, the sore nose!!

        Now, the reason for the unusual post title. I intended to start writing posts as if I was actually writing a letter to myself …. to my head in fact. After the first paragraph, I thought, this is not going to work on this blog, and i would have to start a new one. But it also gave me an idea for a story. A story built along the lines of letters from someone to friend, and what happens when those letters and everything else changes. The story is only in it’s planning stage at the moment, but I thought I would keep the post title as a reminder.

Stress Factor – Not X Factor


This of course relates to work. Not exclusively, but in the main, it’s all work related. The latest restructure is beginning to have it’s effect on the team (and I use the term loosely.) Tempers are getting a little frayed and certain people are beginning to jockey for position. For me, it seems that I’m being, shall we say ‘realigned’  workwise. When I was interviewed for the job, there was no mention of it being a supervisory role. However, about four months ago, my line manager advised me that our service manager wanted me to supervise, the two staff below me. It was a bit of a shock, and to be honest, it’s not what I wanted from the job.

Last week, in our so called ‘one-to-one’ meeting I explained to my line manager about my understanding of the job, and not knowing that I was expected to be a supervisor. I was then told that I was being manoeuvred for a higher position in the the new structure. Now considering that the new structure seems to be very fluid, I have no idea what that position could be.

I don’t like supervising people. I’ve done allsorts of training and I still don’t like it. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I appear to have two supervisory methods. My catering method and my office method. The catering method, and it is used extensively in the trade, is to shout and swear very loudly until the job is done. My office method is more of a sweet talking method. The ‘can you do me a favour’ method. Unfortunately, these are not interchangeable.

It is the thought of being a supervisor, that is causing some of the stress. That and having some people having a higher expectation of me than I think I can deliver.

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     You’ve heard of the famous ‘mid life crisis’? Well I always understood that to be around the 45 to 55  years of age. If that’s correct, then I am just beyond the tail end of of that condition. But here is the worrying thing. I have started listening to Radio 1 on the way to work. In the old car, I always listened to Radio Leeds, mainly for the traffic news. In the new car, the radio is completely different, and I’ve not worked out why local radio stations don’t pick up so well. So after a couple of mornings, I pressed the button for the said Radio 1, and I quite enjoyed the music and the banter of the current breakfast show.

     Now you may not think of this as such an issue, and neither did I, until I started purchasing some of the music I heard. This car plays MP3 tracks and has a USB port. All this leads to me buying a 32gb memory stick and copying lots of this newly discovered music. I know listen to Radio 1 in the morning, and the rest of the time, I am belting out tracks from the likes of ‘Example’, ‘Professor Green’, ‘Labyrinth’ and even ‘Jessie J’, When I mention this to people, they just raise their eyes, shake their heads and laugh to themselves. It is a new beginning. I am saved from from the perpetual boredom of local radio. God bless Tinie Tempah. Now,  if you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to a couple of tracks from Wretch32 before bed.

One week later (or maybe a bit longer……..)


Well I’ve had the new car for just over a week, and it seems to be fine. Acceleration is not as good as the Ford, and handling at 70 mph needs full attention, but I’m quickly getting used to that. What will take a time is what I’ve been told is my ‘heavy clutch foot’. Occasionally, I will come off the clutch too quickly and stall. It has been a small problem, since I learned drive. I even managed to do it on my driving test. I thought i had failed, but I “…responded to the problem, quickly and correctly, so it’s just a minor fault…” or so the tester explained. The comments I have got from people range from “dinky” and “nippy” to “smart” and “economical” and I prefer the latter two. The audio/entertainment system is great. Great as in 500% better that the radio cassette player I had in the other car. It has a USB port, and can play MP3 tracks. So haring along the country lanes, with the window down and Bruno Mars belting out, is quite a new experience.

Long, hard day yesterday. I was decorating the bathroom. Now when I say ‘decorating’ I really mean refreshing the current decoration, as we’ve kept it the same colour scheme. I bought, what I thought was a decent paint-pad tray, but it turned out to be so bad, that I binned it rather than try and clean it (note to self … the stuff from the £ shop works just as well.) Ended up using an old pad for the ceiling, and a largish brush for the walls, so it took a bit longer than expected, but it’s all done now. Saying that, I need to do the ceiling and door frame in the en-suite, when the lighting has been sorted out. Deep joy!

Work continues as only work can continue! The bitching, the back-biting and the internal politics are as ripe as ever. I try not to get embroiled in it all, as I’m not sure who’s side I need to be on yet! And of course, there has to be sides so people have someone to blame when things don’t go right for them! I thought the last review was tough, but this one has yet to get going properly and it ready shows signs of it being a bad experience. At the last team meeting, the Service Manager could give us no “ ……new information on where things stand at the moment…… ” and promised to tell us as soon as she know anything. I took that to mean, tells us “ .. what we need to know, when they think we need to know it …… “. Politics !!!

So what’s new …..


      Well, after a lot of persuasion from Mrs H, I’m getting a new car. Yes my trusty and slightly rusty old Ford Ka is being consigned to the “part-exchangesphere”. On Wednesday I will take ownership of a brand spanking new Hyundai i10. To be more accurate, both S**** and I are getting new cars. Both getting the same model just different colours.

      My Ford has done a great job over the past eight years, but with S**** needing transport on a regular basis, it has had an effect on my work time. I’ve not had a flexi day for over a year. I just seem to get a little time built up and then S**** has a 9:00 start and the time is used up. It has also had an effect on the mileage. I had been thinking about a new car for a couple of month and what finally convinced me was what is happening at work.

      One of the things that has happened over the past couple of years is a move to asking staff to take early retirement, or ‘Early Leavers Initiative (ELI)’ as it had been called. I had looked into this and was working on the notion that I could retire at 60, with not too much of a loss of pension. I had put the application in and received my quote and we were coming around to the idea, and of course I would not need a car then. I just needed to wait for confirmation from the service head. But…… a couple of weeks ago, my manager dropped a bombshell! It appears that certain staff would are classed as essential, and are not eligible for early ELI and this includes ICT staff which is the area I now work. Hence I would have to work until 65 or 66, (I’m not sure what the government has decided) and hence I would still need a car.

      So Mrs H had been looking for a small car for me (I don’t anything large, it’s just to get me to and from work) with the view to giving S**** my old one. But things are starting to go wrong and we both thought that if we could get a good deal, then he should have a new car also. We got a reasonable deal, and so I’m getting a Red one and his is Black.

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      So what else? Work is still a bit of a worry. Although I won’t get to retire early, it still concerns me as to where I will fit, in the new structure. My manager tells me I have nothing to worry about, and her manager says more or less the same, but with more enthusiasm, but I just don’t know. There are people a lot more qualified than me, and that is the big worry.

      R*** continues to do well at his college. Of course there are good days, okay days and bad days. This weekend has been ‘good days’, but who knows what will happen tomorrow. It can feel like you’re living on a knife edge.

      Because of the success he has had with the local drama group, S**** has been approached, to work with a group that take drama into schools. They quite keen on having him on board, and he is equally as keen about the idea. His worry, I think is the financial aspect. It is not a full time job, and he would be self-employed. We are under the impression, that he wants to move out of the family home and into his own place, with his girlfriend. He does not know how he can do this, without a full time job. We’ve told him we would support him if needed, but he is still in two minds about it. He has another workshop style interview to do at the beginning of October, so we will see what happens then.

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      I think that’s about it for now, although, as soon as this is posted, I’ll think of something I wanted to add.

Just a little pi**ed off … Geek speak time


    It has been a bit of a stressful week, computer wise. I’ve been trying for the past six weeks to get our ICT department to install Windows Mobile Device Centre (MDC). I used to use Active Synch to reinstall the handheld computers that some of the staff use. However, when we moved to Windows 7, that all went to pot. It seems that Active Synch does not work with Win 7 and MDC is the replacement. But in accordance with the ‘lock down’ that our ICT department operate MDC was not available.

    Then, miracle happen and I was ‘granted’ access to MDC. This meant that I could also connect my personal PDA and synchronise my office diary with my personal diary. You would think this would be a simple thing to do. Noooooo!! It seems that the diary Outlook 2010 uses does not like the diary on Outlook 2013, and when I tried synching the PDA with my personal diary, the damn think wiped both diaries clean. Not a problem (or so I thought) I’ll just re-synch my PDA with my works diary. Guess what??? Same thing happened. So now I’m sat there with three blank diaries. Now some people would think that is great, but I had lost everything. I managed to recreate my personal diary from a backup (all those experts were right about backups) but our fantastic ICT told me they could restore my emails (which had not been lost) but not the diary. Certain words of a blue nature issued forth when I heard this. After a few hours of manual entry, I managed to input most of the details that had been lost.

    Now, we come to the problems with my email account at home. For a number of days, my main email account has been getting very slow to upload the emails from Gmail into Outlook. Apparently, it is a known issue and accordingly, nothing can be done. It had got to the stage tonight whereby the main account refused to upload any emails since before 05:30 this morning. Many hours searching on Google came up with various options, none of which worked. I even took the drastic step of re-install Microsoft Office, which is not something to do lightly with Office 2013. This of course proved fruitless. I then had one of those ‘light bulb’ moments. If I removed my main account then reinstalled it that might work. A few minutes of breathe holding, and I had done the job. All the missing emails uploaded instantly, and I was one ‘happy bunny’, so to speak. That state of euphoria lasted about ten seconds, where upon I found that removing my account resulted in the eradication of both my diary (again) and all of my contacts. More bad language ensued and another backup restore was required. Everything is now more or less back to normal, but the whole episode reminds me of that famous saying:

“It is isn’t broken, the don’t fu*k with it”

Just another Sunday …


     Yesterday was different. It was an ‘open day’ at R***’s college and we had been invited, and of course Mrs H said we would. The problem we believed would present itself, would be that R*** would not want to go, and we would have major problems with him. In fact, I was quite prepared to say, if needed, that Mrs H should go, and I would stay behind with R***. Just to prove us both wrong, when Mrs H told him that we were going out, he of course said ‘No out!!’, which we have come to expect, but after that, nothing. He got into the car without any fuss, and only mentioned it again, when we got near the college and he recognised the area.

     One of the things he does at this college, is woodwork, and he has made a couple of bird houses and a bird feeder. I was determined to try and talk to the person he works with, and find out how he is doing. All the reports that have come back, tell us that he has found something that he is good at and enjoys, other than the computer. The trainer/tutor/carer (not really sure as to what we call them) explained that R*** seemed to have a talent for woodwork, and they are able to work together very well. He then called R*** over and got him to show us what he can do. It was quite amazing to watch him sawing away, without any prompting or any fuss or upset at all.

     We were there about two and a half hours (two hours more than I expected) and the only disappointment was that the staff that work with him every day were not there. We have met them before, but we both thought that they would have been there.

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On the work front, there is no more news on the forthcoming review. My line manager is pushing me to do thing that I’m not sure about, with the idea that, I’ll get the next available grade up from the one I’m at now. And it is that which I’m not too sure about! All I want is to ensure that I don’t lose out financially. If another grade comes with a huge amount of extra responsibility, then I have worries. My manager tells me it is a confidence rather than a skills issue and I do agree with her on that. I suppose the extra money would be useful, and so I will just have to wait and see what happens.

Just a quick update


     First thing to say, is “I have a new phone!!”  It’s not that I needed a new phone, but my contract had come to the end of the two year minimum, and my Sony-Xperia-Tprovider gives the chance of an upgrade. There was nothing wrong with the old one, but the new one has a more modern styling, more storage, better range of applications and the new contract, whilst costing a little more, is more suitable for my needs. It is not the latest model, by a long way, but it is still a good phone. To get the latest, would have cost me over £34.00 a month, with an upfront cost of £49.00. Not worth it.

     I didn’t mention previously, that we are having our ensuite updated, or more to the point, completely replaced. Mrs H was wanted it doing for a long time, and the breaking point came, when the shower packed in. Our usual ‘handy-man’ fitted a new one, but it never worked properly. According to the people fitting out the new room, it was totally the wrong type. It never occurred to me to do any before/after photos, so the only one I have is a ‘during’ picture. I will try and remember to do an ‘after’ picture when it is all done. As you can imagine, there are quite a few downsides to the whole project. The biggest two are, the dust, and Mrs H’s dread of taking a bath. In all the years we have been married, I can only think of a very few occasions that she has taken a bath. Always a shower. It has usually been, when we had showers installed/replaced or when we have been away. I prefer a bath to a shower. I love to just lie there and soak, with a nice drink and a good book (don’t try it with a Kindle though.)

     Latest news on the job front, is basically not much more than I knew last month. We’ve been assured, that there are more jobs to fill than staff to fill them, so it’s not a cost cutting exercise. We’ve also been told (not assured) that they are not looking to change grading system, so I suppose, that there is not too much to worry about. My main concern is where we will be based. Seven years ago, when our service moved out of the city centre to an industrial estate just off the M1 KAmotorway, I bought a small car. Using public transport would have meant two buses each way, with ten minutes waiting time between. Although a car is more expensive than public transport, it is far more reliable and convenient. One of the rumours is that we may move back to the city centre, to have a more central base. this would either mean, back to the bus, or pay out over £100.00 a month in car park fees. Now I know that does not sound a lot for city centre parking, but that is the charge in one of the council run multi-storey car parks. The charge has just been reduced from £9.00 to £5.00 all day to attract business. I’m worried, that once the business starts to pick up again, the the council will increase to price again!! We are having a team meeting on Thursday, so may hear a bit more then. It it quite typical of council managers to drip feed information, which has the effect of feeding the rumour mongers. I will update as and when.

Snow !!! Working from home


     The weather was a bit bad first thing this morning. I got up at about 5:15 as I was taking S**** to work at 6:45. At that time, there was very little snow about. Just some sleet that wasn’t really doing much. But by the time we left home, it was settling fast. R*** had woke up early too, and was very unsettled for some reason, so I dropped S**** off and came back home. Didn’t want to leave K*** alone with him too long. It had been my intention, to work at a different office today. One that is nearer than my usual base. By the time R*** should have been getting up, we had a good 3 inches of snow on the ground, and there seemed to be no stopping it. So a decision had to be made. Do we send him off to college (we decided to call it college as opposed to anything else) or do we let him stop at home. He stopped at home. I had also decided to do as I knew certain others would do, and work from home.

     Work from home!!! Now this was a new idea for me. My boss has always said, that if I needed to I could work from home. It had been sanctioned from above, and it appears that for certain staff, this is the future for the council. I had already set up my works laptop when I got back, but for some reason, it is always very slow to get logged in. Connecting to the network is fine, but being able to start work always takes a long time. I eventually got started at around 7:40, some thirty minutes after setting up. Everything worked very well, all considering. The network performed as well if not better than I could have expected, and I was not too distracted when K*** put the TV on. Even R***, bouncing around his room singing did not seem to be too much of a problem.

     So now I have another option for work. I already had decided to work one day a week in a different office, and I’m also making plans to work in my old office, one day a week. That is just until I can get the supervisor fully trained up, which should not take much longer, and now I know I can work from home.

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     We also learned, this week, that our team, along with some of the other system support teams are under review again. There are not many details been issued yet, but the rumour mill is in full swing. It seems that we are to become part of a new divisional IT department. That is all I know, except that there could be another worrying few months ahead. I will keep you posted.

Goodbye to a long year


     By the time you read this, 2012 will nearly be over. It’s a year that has had it’s ups and downs and I’m probably glad to see the back of it. Some the downsides have been quite traumatic: finding out that the job you’ve been doing for the past seven years, will no longer exist; Mrs H finding out she had a Melanoma on her arm; coming home to find the Police in the house after R*** had had a melt down; discovering that there was a plan in place to section R*** if needed and that the ‘plan’ had nearly been invoked twice, must all rank at the top of the downers. Then of course there was the uppers: getting a new job; R*** settling in at his new place; R*** taking to his respite without a problem; S**** getting a great review for his part in the local panto; surviving Christmas (still have New Years Eve) are all up there with good times. I also got a new laptop, and I was not sure if it was an upper or a downer. It was struggle to get it to how i wanted it, but when it was all done, it was brilliant!
     My writing is coming along. It is a slow progress, because I think in my own mind, that I’m not good enough to do it. I will have days when I will just sit at the keyboard, and do not know what to write. Then on other days, I will hammer out a couple of hundred words. But then i read back what I’ve written, and realise that it is nonsense, and I have to start again. I’m currently writing a story that has a troll involved. I’ve got up to 4000 words, but I don’t know where I am going from here, or even if going to take it any further. I may just use this a practice piece whilst I figure out what I really want to write about. I did start writing a blog for a national magazine and wrote a few  posts, about the local area and what was happening, but the stats were very disappointing, with no comments neither good or bad. You do need people to comment. Even if they just tell how bad the piece is, it shows that they have interested enough to read it and offer advice. I gave up after four posts and have not written anything for it since December 2011.
     I have recently taken one of the pieces I have written and turned it into a sketch/play. It still needs some work, but with that one, I know what I need to do. I’ve been reading and bought a couple of books about Creative Writing, and am now beginning to understand where I have to start from, and how to develop ideas. It is going to a long process, but as I have indicated to HR at work, I am interested in taking voluntary early retirement in March 2015, I need to get my skates on, so to speak.
     I suppose, that the last sentence needs a little more explaining. I work for local government, and without going in to the politics of it (especially my views) a number of staff in the 55 – 65 age bracket, have been asked to consider either early retirement (VER) or voluntary severance (VS). As I fall in to that age category, I decided to apply for VER. I have sufficient service to give me that maximum payout, and although the pension will not be full amount, I would only be eligible for a further £2000.00 a year if a I stayed on until I was 66. It has yet to be passed by management, but at my level, I do not think there will be a problem. It will mean a massive change, and I will need to get some kind of part-time job, to help with the finance situation, but I think it will be okay. So you see, if I can get my head around writing and develop the skills I need to write creatively, the boredom factor that people get when they retire should not creep in. Who knows, I may even make a few pounds from the experience.

 

     Well, I think I have blathered on for long enough. All that is left now is to wish you all a  very prosperous and successful new year, and hope that 2013 brings you everything you wish for.

It’s been a while


I’m struggling to find anything to write about really. Work plods on as usual, with very little change. There are a couple of courses coming up, but nobody seems to be that excited about it. There are quite a lot of changes going on with some of the other teams. That is causing a lot of stress for some people. doesn’t really affect me directly, but it’s not a nice atmosphere at the moment. But, I went through it, and at least their managers won’t be blaming them for the changes, as happened in my case.

We have had a bit of a stressful time with R*** over the past few weeks. He seemed to have settled into his new placement, or college if you like, but there have been issues. There is a young man that R*** knows from his school, and R*** does not get on with him. We do not know why, but it seems to cause R*** a great deal of stress. We have spoken with the people at his college, and they say they understand, and are going to keep the two apart as far as possible, which may help. The transport has changed, because R*** grabbed the escort and bruised her. That caused more stress for my wife than for R***. Hopefully that is sorted now. To cap it all, his medical team, have decided to change some of his medication. Apparently, he can build up a tolerance to some of the drugs. That makes them less effective, so the dosage would have to increase, which is never good.

It is his birthday coming up soon. We never know what to get him, but his current obsession, is with Pingu. He has searched through Amazon and eBay, and found a Pingu toy that he wanted. This was the first time I had bid on anything (usually just buy the things) but it was the only option. The bid started at £3.99 plus £5.00 postage, which was not too bad. I ended up winning the bid, but it has cost me £30.00 all together. But if it is something he wants it will be worth it. I just hope he is not disappointed when it arrives. I know it is second-hand and there may be some damage, but fingers crossed.

We (or should I say K***, my wife) is having some work done at home. We have an fridge and freezer that sits under the work surface. Over past few years, the seal on the fridge has deteriorated, meaning that sometimes the fridge door is left slightly ajar. K*** has decided that she wants one of those American style fridge/freezers instead. So, that is what we are having installed. The usual handyman is going to remove the old one, build a new cupboard, where the freezer was and dismantle the tall store cupboard/pantry. That is when he finishes replacing the tiles. It will look good, but the house is in such a mess while the work is being done.