Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rubbling

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen plan to head out west to Hampshire where we will meet up with Betty and Barney Rubble to see in the New Year... however this not before seeing out the old year at the cinema seeing "Australia".

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

X-drive

The Gorse Fox has been looking for a service that will provide him with several GB or disk space on te web that he can use as a network drive. Idea is that the resource is visible to all of his computers and appears as a "drive"... then files that need to be shared can be copied into the space and accessed form any of the other computers. He's found several (free) services that go some of the way but it looks like he would have to part with coins of the realm to do exactly what he wants.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wii

The Gorse Fox's (little) sister and her family came to visit. This is always bodes well for a good day.

Today was no different. They had bought a Wii for Christmas as a "family" gift. (Blade works in a Gaming store so has access to such things). Once lunch was out of the way the cables, the remote, the nunchuks, the steering wheels and goodness knows what else came out.


We started with a simple 10-pin bowling game (Urban-cub got several strikes and was seen to celebrate accordingly).

The Silver Vixen had a go and soon got the knack (in danger of becoming a future Wii-whiz).

We moved on from bowling to Tennis, Baseball, Boxing, some driving games and goodness knows what else.
It is easy to see why these consoles sell so well and how people get drawn in to play together as a family.
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Thaw for the Day

And then a hero comes along...

Super Keith, the plumber, swept in chanted some magic incantations over the recalcitrant boiler; there was a whoosh and there was heat. Radiators burst into life, the sun came out, birds sang in trees, butterflies flitted by the windows, lambs gambolled in the fields, there was peace on Earth.

Ok that may be a slight exaggeration, but you get the point - GF and the Silver Vixen are pleased to have the heating working again.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Ashes

Considering how many logs we have been burning over the past month (and particularly this week with the heating broken) the Gorse Fox is always amazed at how little remains, and therefore what an efficient fuel wood is. Clearing out the grate this morning for the first time this season, he removed a tray of fine ash... but left sufficient to cover the base of the fire for later (wood always seems to burn best on a bed of ash).

Gorse Fox should make mention of a by-product of Urban-cub's return. She has brought with her the Gorse Puma... a feline-noir that roams the house hunting shadows and reflections. With U-c away overnight the Gorse Puma was not confined to her room but followed us to bed... snuggling down under our bed overnight... or at least until the Gorse Fox's phone started to wail at 04:00 this morning. This "feature" is the calendar reminder function which kindly decided to remind us that Deep Blue is on vacation today!!! The Gorse Fox has had stern words with Mr Nokia and erased all calendar events from the phone.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Just chillin'

It's been a lazy day for the Gorse Fox.  Phone messages left for plumbers... but no real progess on the heating front. 

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Chill continues

Obviously the central heating has not spontaneously fixed itself so the house is chilly this morning. The log fire kept us cozy yesterday evening and some electric oil-filled radiators kept things on a cool but even-keel elsewhere. Fortunately, we have a separate immersion heater so at least we have hot water. 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Not watching

In years gone by Christmas was often the highlight of the TV calendar. 

Not any more.

This past weekend we were swamped with Strictly Come Dancing and Casualty... and now Christmas Day has another Strictly Come Dancing and two Eastenders episodes of misery followed by the Royle Family. 

GF will obviously retire to his study

Skype

Christmas lunch was taken at Brighton Marina. We have never managed to go out for Christmas lunch before, but this year everything came together and we had a super lunch with Urban-cub and here friend Looby-Lou.

We called Cousteau-cub on the way back. She had been at "Orphan's Lunch" at her friend's bar - open to all the folk away from home at Christmas. It was lovely to speak to her - but a shame she wasn't here with us.

Once back home the presents were opened and Agenet Mulder phoned in. This led us to Skype and a video call between the families. It was good to catch up and see that everyone was well.


Fanzine


Lifeblog post
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
Cardinal Sin and the Bum Note fans reach out at Brighton Marina on Christmas Day

The Chill

Either Santa has been mucking about or the Gorse Fox has upset the Russians. He has come down to cool house this morning and fears the central heating has packed up. This does not bode well, fortunately we still have the wood fire.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Faster

Everyone must be at the shops. GF's email inbox for work has been almost silent. His phone is collecting dust, and he's finally managing to get through the work that he had planned for the week. All seems quiet.

GF had to pop out to shops himself - it was late afternoon. He reasoned that everyone would have finished by now and be home avoiding the last minute chaos. 

He was wrong. 

They were out contributing to it. Police were overseeing things in Rustington town centre as people jockeyed for the best parking spots outside the shops. GF chuckled and parked away from the worst of the crowds and walked. He bought the intended item and then headed back to his car observing the same people circling round looking for parking spots that were there when he arrived.

He's about finished for the day now, though does have a few more assessments to write up over the holiday period.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Draining away

The day started with the Gorse Fox up to his armpits in the drains again. Whoever said we don't know how to have fun on Kingston Gorse has obviously no idea! Some progress was made as the backlog of undrained water dropped another 300cm. An hour later it had not moved another millimetre.

In the background the Stitch Witch's Admiral had phoned. He has a set of rods that could be just what was required. Silver Vixen was off out and resolved to collect the rods on her way through. She returned mid-afternoon. GF lifted the inspection cover and started again. 
  • He started jiggling and rotating the rods...
  • It didn't work.
  • He then tried the rods in the drain itself.
  • It didn't work.
  • He went back to the inspection cover and jiggled again.
  • It didn't work.
  • He returned to the drain and tried plunging it, scraping it and generally fiddling.
  • There was a huge belch and the water disappeared.
The drain was clear. he got the pressure washer to clean it off a bit more and to clean the rods. That was when the Gorse Fox had a good idea.

Well maybe it wasn't such a good idea.

The rods included a half-moon shaped blade. If he could just push that up from the inspection hatch it would clear any remaining debris.

Well that was the theory.

In practice the half moon was hinged (like a grapple) and once in the pipe it had no intention of coming back out. GF pulled and yanked. Nothing. He dropped down into the inspection hatch and pulled and yanked, using his foot as a lever. Nothing.

He sat there giggling. He could see that he had replace a simple blockage with a solid piece of brass. He could foresee a jackhammer being needed to drill through the driveway to retrieve it. It was time to call the Admiral and ask for advice. "Turn it to the right and jiggle it" came the considered response.

Returning to the hatch, and dropping to the bottom he again grabbed the rods. He turned them to right and jiggled them. It took a while. It took a lot of jiggling. It also took a lot of twisting... but voila the rods came free and all was well with the world.

And to think some folk in the City will have wasted an afternoon at a Christmas Party when they could have been having fun like the Gorse Fox!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Drains

There are some things that you really don't want to hear when you are working away at your keyboard. One is "I think we have a blocked sink"  (Another is "There appears to be piranhas in the bath", but this latter was not a problem faced today!). On further investigation you realise it is actually a blocked drain, outside, it's just started to drizzle and it'll be dark in 20 minutes. 

Prepare tools:
  • Long stick (for rootling about)
  • Big screwdriver (to undo manhole cover)
  • Trowel (to lift debris)
  • Bucket (to receive debris)
  • Power washer (to cover the surrounding area in debris)
  • and so on
GF got stuck in - not literally - but despite his best efforts the problem persists. He did observe, however, the huge colony of snails that seemed to have taken up residence. It needs to be addressed in proper daylight so will have to wait until the morning.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Deck the Halls

It was necessary to replenish supplies ready for the festivities. This meant the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen descending on Sainsbury and spending 90 minutes avoiding collisions with people who had overdosed on their stupid pills. It was not as bad, according to Urban-cub, as Tesco where customers were arguing in the aisles and staff were moaning about how rude the customers were , as part of the traditional build up to Christmas.

On returning to the Gorse (and unloading the shopping) it was time to start on the Christmas decoration... not the GFs favourite escapade of the year.  It's done, however, and we can relax.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gone in 60 seconds

Urban-cub had put her old car up for sale on eBay. The 7-day listing came to an end today and though bidding was initially slow, she ended up with a winning bid of nearly twice what she expected... and only £10 less than she paid for the car two years ago. Not a bad result.

The purchaser turned up at the allotted time, handed over the crisp bank notes and signed the registration documents and disappeared with the car. Job done. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Biorythms

Some days you just know you should have stayed in bed.

In fact that was the start of the problem. Gorse Fox peered myopically at his watch and misread it. This meant that he leapt from bed, heart pounding (which, he supposes, is a good thing), and shot downstairs to get ready for today's trip to London. It was at that point he realised it was 0600 not 0700.

It wasn't worth going back to bed so he pottered around, drank some coffee and made start on today's emails.

This confusion had not ended there. He caught the train and met up with an old friend, spending the journey in conversation. He was heading to another Government office near GF's destination so the conversations continued onto the tube and back onto Embankment. It was there that Jerry gave GF a strange look as they parted company and GF crossed the road and headed down a side street. Some hundred yards further on GF thought to himself "I've never noticed that building before".

In his confused state he had turned off the intended route and ended up walking round the block to get back to the building he had been standing next to as Jerry said goodbye. That was, after all, where GF was headed!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chaos

It has been a long day again. The various estimating activity has come to a head and the Dark Lord seems to have been overcome by the opportunity to add elements to the model. The Gorse Fox is am sure a logical analysis page by page would reveal more than a hapahazard scattergun approach, but then, what does he know.

The drive back to the South Coast was very slow. The whole world seemed to be on the move and the A34 and M3 were particularly slow and congested. Eventually, GF staggered in through the door to be greeted by chaos.

Urban-cub was trying to put her wardrobes together in the hall. Like most modern furniture it had been designed to be put to together once and never touched. This was the second time (at least) that these had been dissassembled and on each occasion more damage was done to the various fixings and the cheap chipboard. As we trid to lift the unit on its side it collapsed. GF had to resort to double-threaded screws strategically placed to maintain the unit's integrity.

Next it had to be moved into the bedroom.

This is when it became clear that the bed had to be dismantled to make way for it. And this is when the Urban-cub managed to kick the footrail of the bed into GF's shin.

Eventually everything was in place. Enough was enough. Day was done,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Done

The early start was as stimulating as usual - Not.

The day at Worcester was spent esconced with a confusion of project
managers in a conference room with a couple of Smart Boards.

Meanwhile back on the south coast, Urban-cub is continuing her move...
piecemeal. Bit by bit her belongings are creeping into our house. The
big bits are being moved this evening, so she'll probably move in by
the weekend.

Tonight promises another concert by Cardinal Sin and the Bum Notes.
The last of their Stadium(*) gigs before Christmas.

(*)OK it's not a Stadium, it's a pub. (A very small pub)

--
Sent from my mobile device

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tests

The Gorse Fox was on duty today. The Silver Vixen had to have some tests, so GF spent the day with her. As usual the attention received was excellent and they shuffled the test sequence around to accommodate us and let us get back on the road home by mid afternoon. We now have to wait for C2BAX to call and arrange a time to discuss the results.

GF is less than pleased that he has got to head back up to Worcester in the morning. This will mean that this week he will have covered some 800 miles (ignoring the train journey to London on Friday).

Was also apalled to see that our neighbour may have been the target of some vandalism - with one of their garden ornaments broken and a "For Sale" notice thrown into their garden. This may seem petty to the reader, but the Gorse Fox is sure it is most upsetting for his neighbour.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Long and Winding

It was a long day.

The Gorse Fox was up and on the road soon after 5 heading across country to Worcester. The roads were quiet and the journey trouble-free.

Once in Worcester the day started with the normal daily review and then the Gorse Fox spent most of the rest of the day driving the now infamous spreadsheet whilst gaggle of project managers offered advice as to what numbers should be entered.

Day done, and PMs trying to enter the findings into a project plan, GF hopped back into his car and headed back to the South Coast.

That was a tiring day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Envelopes

The Gorse Fox has been pre-occupied with both the spreeadsheet that has filled the last week or two and domestic duties. On the latter subject the first task was to get the envelopes for the Christmas cards all printed. This was pretty uneventful except for the occasional paper jam... as a mail merge extracted all of the correct addresses from the relevant database.

Skype allowed us to chat with Cousteau-cub until the line dropped after abot 45 minutes. Here it was grey and dull, cold and damp. There she was barbecueing outside their house at 11 pm. It was 37C and too hot still to go indoors. The tourists have dropped off a bit, probably due to a combination of the credit crunch and the recent protests at Bangkok airport. She's still managing to dive just as much but is often teaching one on one instead of groups.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Laundering

The Gorse Fox has been fighting with the forces of international drug cartels, terrorism and the banks. You see in an effort to protect against money laundering the banks have made it ever more difficult to do anything with your money. The Gorse Fox wanted to transfer some money to Cousteau-cub... something he has done many many times before - though not recently.

The saga then began:
  • He logged onto his Online banking account. The signal was poor in the hotel so he kept losing the connection.
  • He went down to reception where the signal was stronger, logged on again and went to the relevant section to set up the transfer only to be rejected as he needs a special card-reader to authorise the the transaction. (Cousteau-cub has changed banks so he could use the existing transfer he has used in the past). He doesn't have one. It takes about a week or so for one to be provided and set-up.
  • He phoned the bank. They couldn't help on the telephone banking desk but realising he was a Private Banking customer put him through to the Private Banking desk.
  • The Private Banking desk couldn't help because he needed to be authorised for level 2 services. Apparently he hadn't requested this. (Gorse Fox not only had requested these services he even knew hs password and pin and secret question.... but "Computer says No").
  • Only solution was a visit to the branch.
  • The Gorse Fox would head out at lunchtime to do do this.
  • The work on the spreadsheet model took over - Thursday was a 16 hour day - the bank would have to wait (for some reason they're not open at 11pm)
  • So the Gorse Fox headed out into Saturday's gale to the Bank.
  • The bank couldn't transfer the money because Cousteau-cub banks with a different organisation. (Gorse Fox thought that's what the clearing house was for). In the end he withdrew the cash (plus some extra because with all of the delays C-c has probably incurred some charges) and walked round the corner to her bank (praying it was open on a Saturday) to deposit the money.
Done.

Gorse Fox thought these online services were meant to make life easier... but because he may be laundering drug money or financing terrorism life has to be made intolerably frustrating.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Phew

Work on the model restarted soon after 0500 this morning. It was all beginning to come together at last so Gorse Fox hopped into the shower, grabbed breakfast, and headed up the hill to the office.

GF expected the review to be somewhat tense... but actually it was very positive and whilst there were some areas where some changes were needed, in general it seemed well received.

GF got on the road early in the afternoon and was relieved to be home soon after dark.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Nothing to see

It's 22:07 - GF is still buried in his spreadsheets. It has been a frustrating day as the model is immensely powerful, but is limited by the data availability and the time.

Big review tomorrow... so have to crack on.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weird

Some days are just weird.

Meetings started early again and then the rest of the day was spent
working on the Gorse Fox's estimating model (it makes climate models
seem trivial in comparison).

An exec turned up at the end of the day to pass on the latest
information from Starfleet (or at least our part, thereof).

Then it finally hit weird.

Online banking claimed that the Gorse Fox couldn't do what he wanted -
and the help phonelines claimed he could never have done it. Inb fact
he was trying to transfer some money to Cousteau-cub as he has done
many times before. There was no quick way round it... he'll have to go
into a branch.

Then he went to Spur 0... it was pie night. Everyone was expected to
bring and share a pie. GF, warned, had brought three pizzas. He was
abused - they're pizzas. So GF burst into song "When the moon hits
your eye like a big pizza pie; that's amoure" (ok he didn't sing -
that would be unfair on the gathered throng - he just quoted). With
this incontrovertable proof he was allowed in and pie night continued.
It was great fun.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Phew

A 4:30 start is rarely a pleasure.
Today was not an exception.

Armed with hot coffee GF was driving north by 0500. Podcasts kept him
occupied as he crossed the country and watched the temperature drop
bit by bit as he got closer to Worcester.

The morning was not one of life's pleasures... but as the meetings
finished and the work started the day improved immensely.

At the end of the day GF called the Silver Vixen to check on her day,
which was evidently equally stressful but for very different reasons -
it is always hard to say a final farewell to a loved one. Today was
Aunti P's final act.

Finally a pizza and some red wine called and GF and his colleagues
answered. It was only polite, so to do.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Monday, December 08, 2008

Town

The Gorse Fox has packed his spreadsheets and headed up to London
Town. It makes a change, but does mean a fairly late trip home. The
Silver Vixen has gone up to Buckingham so it is not too inconvenient.

He has been at an interesting meeting for Starfleet leaders who are
dealing with The Fedferation. GF had to present what has been going on
in Worcester - just to keep the city folk appraised.

Dinner was interesting - it was too late to wait until he got home, it
was not feasible to go to dinner in town, so he stopped at Wasabi for
some Chicken Teryyaki and Udon Noodles. Excellent evening meal enyoyed
on the train as the Gorse Fox splattered it all over his fellow
travellers as the noodles flapped about between the container and his
mouth.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Shuffling

As days go Sunday was different. Urban-cub came round and spent the day with Silver Vixen clearing out the front bedroom ready for her impending move. We have a moderately large house but little storage space... and the room in question had been used to keep fabrics, cushions, a couple of spare beds, old electronic goods and so forth. What followed was a bit like that game where squares are moved around a small tray to form a specified sequence where only one blank space was available at any time.

The Gorse Fox helped out when a little muscle was needed but spent the second day of the weekend buried in spreadsheets to keep the esteemed client happy.

PM

It is what the Gorse Fox calls a Poughkeepsie morning. Crisp, cold, and cloudless. 

The GF has spent many a winter working in Kingston and Poughkeesie and looks back on those days and the cold cloudless skies with great affection. Morning such as this always bring those memories flooding back. (Including the less pleasant memory of being evacuated from the Edison Motor Inn into the car park in the middle of the night after their boiler broke - it was -23F at the time).

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Sew

Sew it is Saturday and the Silver Vixen went off to spend the day with her coven sticking needles into things and trying hang on to threads of conversation.

The Gorse Fox buried himself in admin - first expenses, then back to yesterday's spreadsheet. Not the ideal way to spend a December weekend but when you are getting "design by committee" progress is ephemeral. At least he is not expecting any further changes to pop up during the weekend.

Urban-cub spent the day setting up advertisements for her flat, taking photos of things she wanted to sell on eBay and and generally ticking off the items on her "action plan". Very organised!

The Gorse Fox thought he'd check on the progress of his aunt but phoned the wrong number and had a very pleasant chat with a complete stranger... it didn't help that when he said his name she obviously knew someone called the Gorse Fox and it was a little while before the penny dropped at each end of the phone line that neither end knew the other!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Spoiler

The Gorse Fox has started to receive spam comments so he has switched on comment moderation. He regrets the inconvenience

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Seismic

There has been a seismic shift in technology adoption. The Silver Vixen has entered the world of text-messaging... as a sender (not just receiver). This is a major step forward for mankind.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

INDIRECT(CONCATENATE("'",$B5,"'!",D$4))

Scraping the ice from the car this morning, the Gorse Fox realised what a boon the front and rear windscreen heaters were. heavy snow is forecast overnight and tomorrow, though it isn't clear whether it will reach this far south.

The day has been spent buried in spreadsheets - which means that it has been a day of little stress and great pleasure. The Gorse Fox likes developing complex spreadsheets riddled with mathematics and complex relationships.

Looks like Urban-cub may be moving back in with the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen for a while. This will be fun... and we look forward to it. (She will however have to find new homes for the cats as GF is so allergic to them).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Working through

The Gorse Fox managed to grab this photo of The Mexican working hard at his desk, last week. It was mid day which is why there is the blank patch at the bottome left !!!
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Chef

Poshbloke (The Abbot) and Welshbloke cdressed in their Chef's whites... though it looks more like welshbloke was preparing for a "how to be a Ninja class".
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Pizza

The Gorse Fox attended a dinner last night. A dinner with a difference. The Abbot was called upon to work the pizza ovens along with Welshbloke. The Gorse Fox and several othe luminaries were asked to wait on the tables.

The Abbot and the the Welshbloke were given chef's whites and set to work.

The Gorse Fox and the other victims were given T-shirts... largest one being 36in chest. Much huffing and puffing and several minutes of contortions made it clear that the Gorse Fox's athletic frame was not going to fit into the said T-shirt. So off he went to start taking orders for the starters and main courses. It was a a terrific evening with great fun had by all present.

There was a quiz - which the Gorse Fox's table won, and a "guess the baby" where photocopies of baby photos had to be identified. This was all very fine, but the Gorse Fox's picture was guessed to be the late Andrex!!! One of the other tables won that - but then three of the people featured were at that table.

There seemed to be a worrying decline in red wine stocks throughout the evening, but it was not immediately evident why. Various "thick heads" this morning may provide a clue.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Changes

Just for a change the Gorse Fox has to head for Worcester a day early. He has been invited to a dinner and feels is beholding on him to attend. It should be fun as I know that some "events" are planned - though have no idea what they are.

GF heads out soon after lunch for the cross-country drive.

Urban-cub was on the phone first thing and has invited herself round for dinner with the Siilver Vixen this evening so at least the void created by GF's early trip will be filled by U-c.