Saturday, January 31, 2009

Half-light

The Gorse Fox has had to change a light bulb. 

Not a task that requires untoward exertion. However, it is clear that we are running low on "real light bulbs" and GF has had to resort to one of the new low-energy bulbs. He has picked a comparable bulb to that being replaced and is now sitting, squinting in the eerie half-light of planet-saving technology. 

His office has all of the welcome brightness of a candle-lit cave - but hey who needs to be able to see anyway.


Wisdom

A few words of wisdom from Clarkson:
At present most governments in the world seem to agree that the only way out of the financial hole is to print money and throw this at various state projects. Unfortunately, because we in Britain are governed by fools and madmen, the projects they have in mind are street football outreach co-co-ordinators and ethnic watchdogs who will ensure the dole queues accurately reflect the nation’s ethnic diversity.

You can see this is idiotic. We all can. So why not give the money instead to British engineering firms, which would use it, under close supervision to make sure they didn’t employ any health-and-safety people or ethnicity czars, to get the hydrogen fuel cell working on a practical everyday level?

Steppes

A bitter wind blew in from the northeast and whilst the temperature was a palatable 5C the wind that drove in from the Steppes made it seem much cooler.

The Silver Vixen and Urban-cub were pre-occupied with domestic tasks requiring the occasional assistence of the Gorse Fox who spent much of the day bringing Urban-cub's laptop up to date. He tried to call Cousteau-cub in Thailand a couple of times but was getting no reply so will leave it until tomorrow.

Dust.

Strange thing dust. GF took his computer apart with a view to checking on the memory type. The tower was caked in dust, but a a stern talking-to with the Dyson soon had it cleared out and humming again. Having checked the memory, GF has less than he thought (but isn't that the way with memory and increasing age). A minor purchase may be called for.


Friday, January 30, 2009

On planning

The Gorse Fox was forced to reflect on the nature of planning. A simplistic view is that planning is the process by which future activities are identified, sequenced, resourced, timed, and costed. This is a role normally performed by esteemed project managers. 

It would appear, however, that a gravitational anomaly can interfere with this process and long planned and agreed absence can suddenly come as a surprise as if emerging from a black hole.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sweet or Sour

The Gorse Fox called home from his hotel room. All was well as it should be. He sat back to relax after a hard day. His mind wandered as some talking-head spouted the day's news. In the distance the Gorse Fox could hear voices. Bit by bit the voices became clearer... one was a the clarion call of a fine Austrian beer calling his name. It would have been churlish to ignore the call. The Gorse Fox headed off to The Cardinal's Hat.

A pleasant evening ensued that involved a number of colleagues, the Mexican and his wife, and a Chinese meal.

Very pleasant.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Drips

A strange day started with a degree of imbalance as GF struggled to
gain full consciousness in the early hours. For a while he was
concerned that he would not be able to make it, but he settled after a
while and got back into the normal swing of things.

Work was not worthy of mention... busy, but nothing special.

A quiet evening ensued.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Monday, January 26, 2009

Plus ca change

The Gorse Fox finds himself deep in the heart of Starfleet today. This meant catching the first train from the village up to the Capital. It now being over 4 years since he did this on a regualr basis he had forgotten what a zoo that early train becomes as it makes its way north. It was good to see some of the old regulars still waiting in the same places on the platform and still rushing for their favoured seats on the train.

Agenda for the day:
Assessments,
Meetings about favourite client.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Plastered

The Gorse Fox has commented before that he lacks any skill in the art of plastering. Back at Urban-cubs flat there was a need to cover a "distressed" ceiling and after some thought it was decided that Artex was the best solution. So whilst the Silver Vixen and Urban-cub painted skirting boards and walls in the bedroom and living room, the GF was at the top of a ladder smearing Artex onto the ceiling like icing on a cake (well a cake that is suspended upside-down above your head).

It became clear that the the work was making a huge improvements to the ceiling, GF evidently has no talent for Artex either.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shod

Gorse Fox had a a strange day. He had things to do (shopping, plumbing, fitting a catflap)... places to go (Worthing)... people to see (well he had to go to the optician so that he could see people).

Power turned out to be the answer. He helped Urban-cub remove a door - it was stuck but more power applied with a boot made the difference. Later the catflap meant that the jigsaw needed some exercise, but it became evident that in such a big door, some puny jigsaw was not up to the job. This meant digging out the reciprocating saw with an 8 inch blade. The power allowed the saw to cut through the thick door like a hot knife through butter.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Fun

The Gorse Fox is not a frequent user of YouTube. He has, however, found found a useful set of videos giving some helpful tips on using Excel. Now this may not seem riveting to the average reader, but it has been quite useful for the Gorse Fox today.

To get started click here!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A day buried in financial modelling spreadsheets seems like a bizarre pleasure, but the Gorse Fox enjoys making spreadsheets sing and dance. He has learnt, however, not to release them to other people without due care.

With agreement approaching, and input awaited from other sources the Gorse Fox set out for the South Coast.  The chaos that had been caused by an earlier accident and subsequent closure of the M5 was over, and though busy, the traffic flowed freely. A surprisingly quick run saw the Gorse Fox climb out of his car just before 8pm, take a deep breath of sea air and smile at the thought of being back home.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Anachronism

Why is it that an Australian running a Tapas Bar doesn't seem too
strange, but when run by a Russian it seems a bit of an anachronism?

--
Sent from my mobile device

Momentous week

What a momentous week:
  • Ceasefire in Gaza
  • Inauguration of Barack Obama
  • Government backs down over attempt to prevent publication of their expenses
  • Starfleet announces record results
  • The Stig revealed
  • Spurs off the botom of the league
Can it get much more exciting?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

One and one

The Gorse Fox is troubled on two fronts... mental, and pedestrian.

One the mental front he has just been to Pizza Express and for the second week running has had to explain some basic mental arithmetic to the waitress to help her with the bill. What worries him is that usually he is tended by a Portugese or Czech waitress and everything goes without commenty. For the last two weeks he has been served by English waitresses who clearly cannot do the most basic arithmetic processes even when supplied with a calculator. But hey... we are told that education is not declining so it must be GF's imagination.

One the pedestrian front GF suffers, like his Grandfather before him, with his feet. As a result, he finds it hard to find comfortable shoes - but once found he wears them into the ground (which, thinking about it, is what shoes are for). He has noticed that he might have overdone it this time. On investigation earlier this evening he realised that the stitiching on the leather uppers had disintegrated and his shoes were (quite literally) falling apart.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cells

The Gorse Fox is back up to his neck in the cells and formulae of the pre-Christmas spreadsheet. This is beginning to take on a life of its own and instead being a means to an end it is almost becoming an end in itself.

Oh well, back up to Worcester tomorrow.

Splinters

A year to the day since the Ice Prince deposited its cargo of timber on our beaches a Russian vessel has lost 1500 tonnes of timber in the Channel just east of here. Apparently the flotsam is drifting towards the Dover straights so it is unlikely that we will see much of it this time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yo-yo

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen went to help Urban-cub with more clearing-out at her flat (or should he say Tardis). It is clear that this apartment, large as it looks, was actually able to contain far more than meets the eye.

Urban-cub has already spent several weekends clearing and cleaning, and in fact spent about 12 hours on Saturday doing more... but there was yet more to do. GF now understands what a Yo-yo feels like as he reeled down the stairs and back up time and time again with back and box.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trough

The Gorse Fox mentioned it a couple of days back, but it seems to have reached the news media, finally. The Telegraph observes 
MPs' expenses will be made exempt from Freedom of Information laws, prompting claims that Commons' authorities are trying to keep secret the full scale of their claims
and claim that that the announcement was an attempt to bury the news on the day that Heathrow's 3rd runaway was announced. It went on: 
"Chief constables, local authority chief executives, senior BBC executives and others have to release their individual expenses claims, and that should be the case for MPs too."


The Times also picks up the cudgel and observes:
MPs threw out tougher rules in July last year when the vast majority of Members – 146 of the 172 – who voted to keep the allowance, described as the “John Lewis list”, were Labour, including 33 ministers.
Mmmm, the Gorse Fox wonders what that tells you about our egalitarian, socialist overlords.

Finally, Peter Oborne in the Mail has his say in a paragraph headed ".... and talking of people feathering their nests", but before dealing with the FOI controversy he adds:
On Monday, we learned that - at a time when most people's pension funds are collapsing and government ministers refuse to compensate the victims of the Equitable Life scandal - MPs have poured in a further £2.2 million of taxpayers' money to shore up their pension scheme.
And people wonder why some politicians are held in such low esteem

Beam me up

The Gorse Fox notices from a number of sources that at least one member of Starfleet was on the A320 that landed in the Hudson River. The Gorse Fox has never met the person, nor even heard of her, but somehow it made the whole event seem more poignant and personal. (She'll need a new laptop!)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Plane -vs- Water

What an incredible news story boke over the past 24 hours. The landing(?) of the Airbus in the Hudson River and the safe evacuation of all on board. Now, the Gorse Fox has flown many hundreds of times and watched the safety briefing time ad time again, but deep down he never really believed that there could be a successful water landing. He is delighted to be proven wrong.

Now with the UK Government announcing the go-ahead for Heathrow's third runway it makes you wonder if they could have used Staines Reservoir instead of Sipson and Harmondsworth.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Move along the trough

It looks like the MPs are up to their tricks. According to Boing Boing 
"Harriet Harman MP plans to use a special parliamentary order that can become law within 24 hours after being debated by MPs and peers next week. It will exempt details of all MPs' and peers' expenses from being disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, and nullify all past requests by journalists and campaigners to get them published".
So this looks like it will be rushed through to prevent too much furore as the bill gets signed. Can this Government actually get any more seedy?

Early doors

Whilst having a lot to do GF had stalled. He was waiting for input from colleagues. In the end he decided to head back down south and catch up once home. This was good as he walked in the door at a sensible time, but once looged on it was clear that he was still waiting... the data had not arrived.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It has been a good day for the Gorse Fox. Meetings ran more or less to
time, progress was good on various work items and it was generally
satisfactory.

GF is about to meet up with colleagues to check on the quality of some
Austrian beer. Apparently it is "Art Night" later... though GF tends
not to indulge in these late night ventures.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Refurb

The Gorse Fox checked-in to the hotel. Last week he was given a different room because his usual room was being refurbished. Today he was back in his usual room... freshly refurbished. He could hardly wait!

He opened the door and switched on the light and started to examine all of the changes. After a few minutes examination it became clear that "refurbishment" means replacement of the hair-dryer as it is the only visible sign of change.

Aaaah

The Gorse Fox  had a pleasant evening. 

One of Starfleet's Admiral's took him and few colleagues to dinner at the Oxo Tower. The restaurant is very relaxed with a subtle blue lighting that allows you to see out across the Thames to spectacle that is London by night. The food was superb and the ambience was ideal for a small celebration such as this. It semed appropriate that such an event was to celebrate the recent promotions "bisto'd" upon the Gorse Fox and his colleages and to welcome them to the gravy train! (He wishes).

Monday, January 12, 2009

Diversion

The Gorse Fox had to get to London. Not an uncommon requirement, but that's the way it is. The journey was not without its frustrations. 

The train left Angmering on time and pottered along the south coast as far as Hove. It then stopped. Rumour spread that there was jumper on the line. It seemed incredible that people would shed articles of clothing in such damp weather. It soon became clear that this was not the correct interpretation and that there had been a fatality and the line north was shut for the "foreseeable future."

GF left the train and headed into Brighton then changed onto a train that headed out via Lewes and looped back round to join the north-bound track north of the incident. The journey spread to over three hours, but eventually the gorse Fox arrived and was only a few minutes late for his meeting.

It is such a shame when people feel that the only way forward is to end it all and that perhaps the only attention they get is because of the disruption the cause.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Gorse Fox has a quiet day. Well he does now.

The Silver Vixen had planned a trip to Farnham with members of her coven to attend a fabric sale (how many black cloaks and pointed hats can one person want?) This meant an early start so the alarm was set for 0700. However,m Urban-cub (who was out overnight) had left her alarm set and so Sunday morning started ot 0630. GF exploded out of bed confused by the unfamiliar alarm, stumbled myopically down the stairs, frightened the cat, and finally found the cancel button on the offending appliance.

Back to bed for 30 minutes.

Five minutes later the Silver Vixen's alarm went off - it had been set at the wrong time.

She got up at 0700 and went downstairs... GF dozed off but was awakened by the cat leaping on him. He growled. The cat scarpered. 

He dozed back off. 

The phone rang... he gave up and got up. Plans had changed and the Silver Vixen was adjusting the logistics. About an hour later than planned she headed off. The papers arrived and Gorse Fox settled down with a fine cup of coffee.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas lunch (?)



It was a gorgeous but cold morning on the coast. The sun was shining and the frost glistened against the trees and hedgerows.

The Gorse Fox, Silver Vixen and Urban-cub headed up to Windsor. 

It was Christmas again. We had arranged to meet up with family at a midpoint which turned out to be a restaurant near Windsor. It was great fun and caused a degree of confusion to fellow diners as we exchanged Christmas presents.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Winter's Afternoon


Winter's Afternoon
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
A cold winter's afternoon crossing Hungerford Bridge and looking down river towards St Paul's. 

You just can't tire of London.

Town

The Gorse Fox finds himself in London Town (this should not come as a surprise to him as he boarded a train to to the capital at 0741 this morning). 

The morning has been spent delivering the first of his batch of annual staff assessments. Now complete he needs to return to the day job... but will do that from home!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Miscellany

Gorse Fox had to escort the Silver Vixen to C2BAX for the results of the tests. Fortunately his analysis was positive and no major intervention is required.

My colleague's rumoured blog has now been tracked down and is linked as Poshbloke in the panel on the left. How the other half live, eh? 

Council meeting this evening promises a few fireworks. GF is donning asbestos gloves.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Farewell

Dreams. Strange coves, dreams.

The Gorse Fox became aware of his dream. It was bizarre. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were waiting in a car park with his grandfather (long deceased !).  A signal was received and we left the car park, crossed the road and headed for the crossroads where we turned left and  and entered a building. Bill Clinton (yes, that one) greeted us and thanked us for coming.

We waited.

Another signal was received and six burly chaps went out and marched back in with a coffin on their shoulders. (GF had offered to help but was much shorter that the rest so did not qualify). Once the coffin was in, the bearers carried it to the end of a trestle table with a cloth draped over it. The front of the the coffin was lowered and dropped, flipping the whole coffin end-over-end onto the table. We all giggled, think how appropriate as it contained (recently deceased) George Bush. 

Candles were placed on the (now upside down) coffin.

Places were laid and we all sat down to dinner with the coffin as the central table decoration. A fine meal it was too, and Bill Clinton was a most gracious host.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Watching the Defectives

The Gorse Fox headed out to get something to eat. It was about 1900
and -2C. On the corner was a Rover Series 400 with a chap sitting in
the driving seat with sheaf of papers. The engine was not running. GF
thought nothing of it.

Two hours later GF headed back to the hotel. The Rover was still
there. The occupant was still there. The windows were a bit steamed
up and he was wrapped up like Michelin Man

GF guesses he may have just returned to the car... but it is far more
intriguing to guess he is a PI watching someone in The Conservatory (a
nearby pub).

Chilled

GF went to bed in expectation of his early start. This meant that he started to wake soon after 0200 and kept checking his watch until it was time to get up at 0430... (he'll suffer for this as the day draws on). It was -3.5C when GF left home. Crisp and dry - but very cold. The roads, despite this, were trouble-free and GF made good time on his journey watching the the temperature fluctuate up to -3C and down as low as -6.5C (near Newbury). 

It's morning like this that you are grateful for car heating, heated seats,  heated front and rear windows and heated rear-view mirrors.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Breaking in

GF was greeted by the sight of a fine dusting of snow when he emerged first thing... it wasn't much, looking a bit like someone had gone berserk with a sieve and some caster sugar. It was all gone soon after the sun was up.

Today found the Gorse Fox breaking in the New Year from a work perspective. This was not easy. It took a lot of effort to ramp up to his usual level of enthusiasm. As a rule, on return from a break, there is a mountain of email to handle... but of course most people were also on a break so it was all done by about 0715.

His twisted knee seems to have eased and he sees no impediment to his journey to Worcester tomorrow except the forecast sub-zero temperatures. Talking of impediments, GF hears that Welshbloke broke his leg just before Christmas. Seems a bit of an extreme way of taking a few extra days off, and avoiding the washing up.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Danger

As you get older there seem to be innate dangers in the most innocent of pursuits. Sleeping for example! 

Gorse Fox went to bed on Friday night - tired but essentially fully functioning. He woke up with a twisted knee that caused him to hobble around on Saturday. Another night's sleep has not helped and he is hobbling even more - with the FA Cup now in full swing he's worried that he might be on the bench for the rest of the season!

(More to the point he is meant to return to Worcester on Tuesday - and at this point does not see that as a viable plan).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Admin

The Gorse Fox is not good with paper-based admin. He has a habit of not opening mail in a timely fashion if he can guess what it is, who it's come from, and its level of significance. After a while this does become overwhelming, however.

Silver Vixen was out with her coven today so GF decided to continue with the analysis of finances he began yesterday. Analysis showed an apparent gap in the information so GF decided to open some mail...

This snowballed. Urban-cub brought in the wheelie bin and the shredder and we hit the mail. The oldest letter was pre-2004 (there's no sense in hurrying these things). 

It took all day and slowly MS-Money started to absorb the missing data and finally the job is all but done.

Friday, January 02, 2009

LSD

The Gorse Fox seems to have spent an inordinate amount of time buried in Microsoft Money, today. He used to use Quicken many years back - but even after a few years using MS-Money he still finds it vastly less intuitive and a distraction from the job in hand!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Reporting or Making the News

The Gorse Fox was reflecting on the events of last year and a discussion he had with Cousteau-cub over the phone from Thailand a week or so back.

The islands off Thailand are suffering a bit of a downturn in tourists and this is affecting the hotels and the activity centres such diving. Some is inveitably caused by caution arising from the downturn in the economy, but some they lay squarely at the door of the BBC's reporting of the recent demonstrations at Thai airports. This was totally over the top and whilst it did disrupt air traffic, the demonstrations were peaceful, good natured and like a big open air pop concert. The BBC scare-mongering however has frightened off tourists and many workers are being laid off in tourist centres.

Taking this thought further - the Gorse Fox has always been deeply unsettled by the BBC reporting of many events - he then started to think about the "credit crunch". He discussed it this week with his brother-in-law and with Barney Rubble. His conclusion (which appeared to get total agreement) is that whilst things are indeed in a parlous state, this is to a considerable degree caused by the BBC's extravagant reporting and the fear and uncertainty that they caused by this in the markets. Even in this last week we have heard of a further catastrophic fall of 2% in the FTSE index, but not the 3% rise the following day. All of their graphics still show a downwards arrow and this is subliminally giving a message of depression and despondancy. 
Would the credit crunch have happened anyway - possibly. 
Would it have happened quite so suddenly and alarmingly - not a chance. 

The BBC's reporting was like dousing a smouldering fire with petrol, and whilst we are busy painting the Bankers as pariahs we should not forget the damage that the BBC has done to the economy through sensationalist reportage. It is time they got back to reporting the news and left speculation and opinion to the printed media - particularly when their opinion can cause such collateral damage.

HNY

Happy  New Year!!!

We saw the New Year in with Betty and Barney. Meeting up we headed for the cinema where we watched "Australia". This could only be described as epic - and really had the feel of one of the Hollywood big screen epics of the 50's and 60's - even down to some of the cinematography and special effects. Good film, though.

Supper was followed by another night on the Wii. This time exercising the little grey cells with Brain Teaser and subsequently with a driving game of some sort. With just the four of us there we had time to be silly and enjoy a very pleasant evening before watching the fireworks from the BBC, and the Jools Holland Hootenany.

Today has been much more leisurely... and is likely to stay that way.

Happy New Year