From then to now … a huge change


It was expected that future ‘outsourcing’ of services (the Council did not like the word ‘Privatisation’) would result in a Steam Boilernumber of job losses. This was especially true for the catering services providing mass produced meals. The same number of people can produce 50 meals or 500 meals. It is just a matter of scale, and the large industrial caterers were more than used to this.

In an attempt to minimise job losses, Leeds City Council came up with a plan to try and train staff in threatened roles, to work as office staff. It was quite a big undertaking, but it was surprising how few ‘manual’ workers took up the option. It was posted in the monthly staff Word Processornewsletter, but the program only lasted 1 year before it was closed down, apparently due to lack of support. The way it worked was this: one day a week for 15 weeks, a trainee would attend a variety of courses. These were, touch typing, business letter construction, Council finances, office etiquette and, although computers were few and far between, word processing. The problem where I worked was the availability of the newsletter. It first went around the 4 Care Officers (managers in a word) who usually had it for a week or so, before it was passed to the Care Assistants. There were 20 of those, so it was often out of date before the kitchen staff got their hands on it. However the newsletter in question that had the advertisement for the course, was left in the kitchen by one of the officers, so it was only by chance that I saw the advert. I applied and much to everyone surprise, I got on the course.

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The courses went really well and I passed them all without much trouble. I did struggle with the touch-typing, but I had the speed and got away with it. Each course came with a certificate. They wouldn’t be much use to anyone outside the Council as they were not recognisable awards, but it was till nice to get something for the achievement.

Another aspect of the course was interview skills. We all were given a mock 10 minute interview and then we were given an CVassessment on where we went right or wrong. That proved really useful. One of the trainers was in constant touch with various personnel departments and they got the first notification of any suitable jobs coming up. Towards the middle of July, about 4 weeks before the courses were due to finish, a job came up that I was told that I would be suitable for. They arranged an interview and on the 26th July I found myself sat in the Parking Managers office explaining about my computer skills. I have to mention here that I had a personaTexas Instruments TI99 4al computer at the time and was very proud that I had written a game, that had been published in a leading computer magazine. I explained about the need for accuracy whilst at the same time being prepared for boring repetition. I waffled on about being able to work in a team (catering) and being able to work alone (computer). Interview over, I went back to work. I was due to finish at 5pm that day but had been asked to stay until 6:30 to help with some entertainment that was happening that night.

When I finally got home, K**h told me that Car Park Section had rung and could I ring them at around 9am the next morning. I fully believed that I must have failed the interview and that they wanted to give me the feedback I had asked for. So feeling a little dejected, I rang from the phone in the APH kitchen. I’m told, that I changed colour during that call from my Doubtfulnormal flesh colour through white to red. I had got the job, and after discussing the minimum period of notice (only a week surprisingly) I rang back to say I could start the second week of August.

This did not go down too well with the staff at the home. All wished me luck, but I could tell that they thought I was making a mistake. “You’re a cook not a typist” was one of the more often used phrases, along with “You won’t last five minutes sitting at a desk”. All this could have  been true, but I knew that I was going nowhere in the current job, so really had nothing to lose.

So on Tuesday the 6th August 1990, with my expensive scientific calculator, fountain penBriefcase, pocket dictionary and lunchbox packed neatly into my new briefcase, I found myself back in the Parking Managers office having the office rules explained to me.

A new challenge had begun.

It comes in three’s …


Luck, that is. Or so people say. Well If it’s right, then I’ve just had my ‘three’ with eBay. The first one, with the mouses (mice … meece…?) was resolved, but since then another two issues have occurred. Both of them are leading up to a successful conclusion, but it’s the time and the trouble to sort out the problem that’s the real issue.

When I bought my new laptop, I did not realise that most do not come with a CD/DVD reader anymore. So it came as a bit of a shock when I found out. ‘No worries’ I thought, they DVD Writerare as cheap as chips on the internet, I’ll just buy a USB  one. The one I found wasn’t the cheapest, but it was a UK seller that appeared to have a good reputation, well from most of the reviews at least. It arrived and it was about a week before I had the chance to try it out. Guess what? It didn’t work. I tried various combinations of connecting, but nothing seemed to have any effect. What was happening was quite strange. I have two stand alone USB hard drives (labelled D: and E:), and when the DVD drive was connected, the E: drive disappeared from the device list. After a few message between me and the seller, we both came to the conclusion that the drive must faulty. It is now just waiting for me to go to the post office and then I can get a refund.

Now comes the third issue. I have an old laptop, which plods along as a spare. It has it’s own printer, which I tend to use for printing text documents. It is not good enough for photos, but it is otherwise Ink Cartridgeokay. Because of this, I usually buy compatible ink cartridges to save cost. The only problem is that the printer does not show the correct ink level, but I can live with that. So when the colour ink ran out, I sought to buy another one. Of course, it had to be eBay again. The company I used was based on the Channel Islands (they all seem to be) and it arrived four days after buying. It came with the usual fitting instructions and a brief trouble shooting guide. Back to the guessing game … it did not work. The printer software was telling me that the cartridge was faulty. I used the trouble shooting guide and tried again. Still no luck. ‘Here we go again!’ I thought. A message to the seller brought a quick response, and after a few more messages back and forth, a replacement is on it’s way. So that’s the three bits of ‘bad luck’ with eBay (hopefully).

I just need the the bits of good luck, and I banking on the National Lottery for that.

More on that to follow.

What, when and why blog ?


     And I think you can add “How” to that list too. I’ve been blogging for a couple of years now, well to be exact, I have had a blog for a couple of years. Over the past few weeks/months, I have been thinking about what it means to me. So I have decided to put down in writing “What, when and why I write a blog. Hopefully it might be generate some interest. I can but try.

What

     Well, I suppose what I write about is me. My opinions. My perspective on life, if you please. I sometimes write on topical subjects, but it is mainly about my life at home and work and family. A lot of the stuff I write is things that anger me. And there are a lot of things that anger me! It is a kind of release, when I can put down in words the frustration I sometimes feel. But then again, I often write, just about things that have happened. Everyday mundane things, and often when I read them back, I think ‘does anyone really read this rubbish’. I’ve often wondered if I would be better picking a subject, and writing about that. That is one of the main thoughts that passes through my head, when I sit down to write a blog post.

When

     I don’t have a fixed schedule for blogging. I just do it when  ever I fell like it. Or if there is something I want to get off my chest. When I first started, I wrote every day. Not large volumes, just a paragraph or two. I soon found that trying to keep that up was difficult. Quite often I write when something has happened that is out of the ordinary. I suppose most of the time, I write late at night, whilst waiting for the youngest to get off to sleep. Mrs H goes off to bed, then for then next half hour or so, we try and get R*** to settle. That 30 or 40 minutes is when I like to write. Very occasionally, I will write something at work, and email it to myself, to write up in the blog later.

Why

     Now that is the big question! Why? Why do I write a blog? In the beginning, I think it was because it appeared to be the thing to do. After all, everyone was blogging weren’t they ? Well I very soon realised that not everyone was doing it. In fact, out of a department of around 70 people, I was the only one blogging. As I was writing something every day, it became like a kind of diary. But that was not what I wanted. I did not want to bore anyone who read my stuff, with mundane day to day trivialities. Now, one of the reasons I blog, to keep up my interest in writing. I want to write more creatively, and have been advised, that I should ‘just write and write often’.

     I was asked recently, if I get lots of comments or hits on my blog. I of over egged and said yes. In reality, I don’t get many hits and I get very few comments, but it does not stop me. So I suppose, that one of the main reasons for writing a blog is to be read. To have something to say that might be of interest to someone else.

How

     My main blogging client, is Windows Live Writer. I have used Blogdesk, which was very good, but does not work with Windows 7. I also tried a strange program (or should I be very trendy and call it an ‘app’) called Raven, or Zoundry Raven. I did not have much luck with that one. I recently had a trial at using Word 2010. It was okay, there was a lot it could do, but as a fellow blogger said “….it was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut…..” and I think that just about sums it up. For the time being, Live Writer ticks all the boxes.

 

Stressful day


I think the interview went well. I did not get as tongue tied as I usually do. I don’t think they asked me any questions that I could not answer, but I didn’t seem to be talking a lot. I will find out on Friday. I got a bit of a surprise though. I thought I was applying for a specific job. However, it would seem that, I was applying for a position at the same grade, and only ‘preferencing’ (their term, not mine) the job I would like to do. If I do not fit their matrix, then I could end up doing something completely different. How do I feel about that? I don’t know really. I think, so long as it pays the same, and it is a job I can do, then what the hell, let’s go for it. I tell you something, it would be a right smack in the face to the smug bugger, who thinks I should be at his ‘beck and call’. Do you know, I have had more good wishes about this job from contacts on Twitter than I have from the people I work with!!!!! My service manager wished me good luck, but he has an ulterior motive, he does not want anyone else to do my job…I’m cheaper. My line manager, who has been my line manager for over 10 years, did not say good luck. At least he could have sent a txt. Nothing. What does that say to me? How valued do I feel, if my direct supervisor cannot bring himself to wish me luck? I am too annoyed to really vent my anger about this, so I will stop now.

On another note. I just bought a ‘caddy’ or enclosure for S****s old laptop hard drive. The motherboard gave in, and he was so pissed off about it that he paid about £160.0 to get the data off it and onto a USB portable drive. There was a lot of work he had done for his drama group, and he did not want to lose it again. So now he has three 500gb portable hard drives. Job done. I was quite amazed, at how cheap these hard drive caddies are. It cost me £7.49 inc, which I thought was very cheap. I remember looking at one a few years ago, when I changed computers, and I was looking at £50.00 at least. I have a couple of old hard drives in the loft (never throw them out, can’t be too careful), so I may have a look at getting a caddy for one of them.