Thursday, April 30, 2009

What's in a name

The Gorse Fox is finally back on the coast. He likes Worcester, but it's not Sussex (which is why they gave it a different name).

It has been another day buried in spreadsheets. In fact he stopped to check on its progress at one point. 401,585 cells in this mathematical monster... but the mechanics are moderately easy. 

Hopefully, GF will feel a little more inspired tomorrow.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Phew

It has been a long, hard day. Only a small portion o which has
involved Chineses food and beer.

The GF finds it interesting when people try to explain to him how to
change an Excel model to show something different.... when GF
actually devised the model originally, and probably has more than the
smallest inkling as to how it works.

He also finds it enthralling that a mathematical model produced to
support a particular exercise has grown wings and people have chosen
to put significant faith in it beyong it's original purpose without
remembering the daily admonitions that it could only be verified by
developing detailed plans and feeding the information back (providing
a feedback loop).

There are times when a Gregorian Chant starts to play in the back of
the GF brain... and he can only be grateful that it does.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pizza

It had been a long and complex day at work after an early start. As the GF's tweet said he had spent so long in front of Excel that he was seeing Matrix-like cascades of numbers.

When it was all over for the day GF finally got a chance to talk with home. It seems that GF had been the cause of a major security alert. It sort of started like this...

GF needed to order some drawer runners for the Urban-cub. After taking some time to wonder through Screwfix's catalogue the drawer runners were in the shopping basket. But where should it be delivered? GF would be out, SV would be out... ah GF could speak to U-c and have it delivered to her work.

That's all very fine but GF then realised that the P&P was a little extravagent for the goods, so thought he'd order some drill bits and some spade bits that he had been wanting to make the P&P worthwhile.

Oh! did he mention that U-c works in a PRISON!!!

Oh! did he mention they had an AUDIT going on this week!!!

Oooops

Monday, April 27, 2009

Connections

Why does the Gorse Fox have trouble re-connecting to his WiFi and drilling through to the internet on his netbook. Shutdown and restart in Linux and it's fine. Restart back into XP and it's fine. But hibernate for a long time and start up and though it connects to the hub, it won't actually drill through to the web.

All change

The Gorse Fox has rearranged the week. Course cancelled, accommodation cancelled, meetings cancelled, Worcester hotel booked. The week will be spend in Worcester as usual (even though that had not been the plan).

The day was spent buried in Excel, its formulae, and some numbers. Not thrilling for some - but GF does enjoy it. 

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Delight

It has been a delight. Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen headed across to Hampshire to see Betty and Barney Rubble. It was a slow drive as the roads were clogged with cyclists trying to prevent motorists from getting anywhere quickly. After catching up on all the gossip we headed out to The Crown in Old Basing for a very pleasant lunch served by a charming waitress. (Note: she is obviously new to this job - she was charming, funny, helpful and polite).

A quite afternoon in the garden chatting about all and sundry, examining the flora, and discussing the results of Barney's woodwork whilst drink tea and eating cake. If we had resorted to croquet it might have been a scene from a period drama.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Just pondering

The Gorse Fox has had a day with his brain-gears just spinning in neutral. Random synapses have fired causing a wide variety of strange thoughts to travel through the GF cortex.

Why does our dreadful government spurn the Ghurkas? Brave soldiers who dedicate many years of the lives to serving our Queen and  Country... but our Government don't think they are worthy to live here. Recent legal rulings say they should, but our shameless Government don't. The Gorse Fox finds this a deep embarrassment.

What is it about violence in the City? GF hears that the half-brother of footballer Jermaine Defoe had been attacked and killed. Why have things sunk to such a level that violence seems to be the answer to everything.

Why do some contestants on Britains Got Talent never listen to themselves on tape before applying to go on the programme
Sorry - all a bit random, can't concentrate today

Friday, April 24, 2009

Well it has been a long day. GF had an early telecon followed by a presentation, then it back down into the spreadsheets, another telecon and a "difficult" meeting.

Eventually he headed to the car park, fired up the Aga and headed for the South Coast. Podcasts from the Naked Scientists, the Onion News, Buzz Out Loud, Skeptoid, Skeptics Guide to the Universe, and several other kept him informed and amused during the tedium of the drive.

There's something cathartic about the first sight of the sea, the smell of beach, and the peace of this little corner of Sussex. All the stresses of the week just seem to drop away. It's nice to be home.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St Georges' Day

It is St George's Day... popular Patron Saint of England (though GF believes that formal Patron Saint is St Peter). So in an effort to maintain a patriotic stance the Gorse Fox has missed a farewell lunch for a South African colleague, worked most of the day with a Scot, had a difficult discussion with a Welshman, gone back to the hotel and then visited an Austrian bar for some beer and Vietnamese & Chinese Restaurant for some East Asian food.

How much more patriotic can a day get.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pie eyed

It has been a challenging day. A certain amount waste matter appears to have struck an air movement device. This has meant GF getting involved again in something he thought he had handed over.  There will need to be a great deal of the thought to find the best way forward.

When the day was done GF headed back to the hotel via Tesco. Not the typical route to the hotel, but it was announced that "Tonight is Pie Night"... which meant all involved had to provide pies to the huddled masses, and in turn the huddled masses would share the pies provided. As usual this was a great success... and we were somewhat over-catered for. GF thoroughly enjoyed the evening but left whilst it was in full swing (as he needs all the beauty sleep he can get).

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Not much

Gorse Fox doesn't have a great deal that he can talk about today. He
is preparing a number of presentations and other materials for later
in the week. As an aid to this he has been using a mind papping tool.
He has used such tools since since the early 90s but the old licensed
version of Mindmap didn't get transferred to his new laptop - and at
the current price there was no way he was updating the license.

He tried Freemind, but has always found it a bit clunky so resorted to
some Googling and found Xmind. This seems to do the trick nicely, and
is free. So far so good.

After work we met up at a fine establishment that purveys meals based
on recipes from the Indian sub-continent. A most pleasant meal.

--
Sent from my mobile device

Monday, April 20, 2009

Feline foibles

New chair arrived from Ikea first thing. The Gorse Fox hasn't unpacked it yet as it has been a busy day... interrupted somewhat by concern over the location of Urban-cub's cat. The Gorse Fox should explain. 

The cat is a house cat. It does not venture outside. 

By mid-morning it became clear to the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox that said animal had not been seen or heard from since first thing. The SV started to search. 
Every nook, every cranny, and every cupboard was examined. No sight of the cat. 
Worried that it had got out, the Silver Vixen went for a stroll around the block. No sight of the cat. 
Even more worried, SV examined the garden. No sight of the cat.

Eventually SV called U-c to ask where she had last seen the cat. Normal panic ensued. She came home and the search continued. Then she had a "Eureka!" moment... remembering something from first thing.

She opened her wardrobe, pulled out the drawers and there, in the gap behind the drawers, was the cat - fast asleep and completely oblivious to the concern he had caused.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Refund

The Gorse Fox notices that a German football team have decided to refund their fans after they were beaten 4-0.

This got the Gorse Fox thinking. Wouldn't this be a good approach for Gordon Brown? He could recover some of his popularity by saying
  • I'm sorry about the new 3609 new laws we have passed to restrict your freedom
  • I'm sorry about lying regarding a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
  • I'm sorry about the sleaze and spin
  • I'm sorry that you are watched by CCTV wherever you go
  • I'm sorry that we demand that your ISP retains all your email and phone contacts 
  • I'm sorry about Ed Balls and Lord Mandelson (but at least Prescot has retired)
  • I'm sorry about the economy
and to show how sorry I am about the catalogue of incompetence my Party has foist upon the voters... here, have all you tax back.

The Gorse Fox commends this to the House.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

On and on

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen went to bed at a perfectly reasonable hour. The light was switched off and sleep soon overwhelmed them. This peaceful corner of the country wrapped them like a warm blanket. All was well.

Then the rude cacaphony of a alarm shredded the still of the night. 

In his usual reaction to menace, the Gorse Fox leapt from bed, stubbed his toe on the bedside table, grappled for his glasses and walked into the door. Was it one of our cars? Was it a threat?

He quickly determined it was not one of the cars, but was unably to determine the source. He stumbled down stairs, grabbed his keys and wandered out into the damp, cool, drizzle. Dressed for action (slippers and pyjamas) he wandered to the end of the drive to determine where the threat lay. It was a neighbour's house opposite. He checked for obvious signs of trouble and having determined there was none, and not knowing who the key-holder was. returned to bed... and spent a pleasant few hours listening to alarm switch on an off for 20 minutes at a time.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Headline

The BBC website has a headline "G20 Officer quizzed after death". Not meaning to trivialise events, the Gorse Fox believes that this is bordering on the occult and they should let the Officer rest in peace. 

TGIF

Day Three is over - the Starfleet course is finished and Gorse Fox has arrived back home. The "Technical Masterclass" was excellent, and taught through a series of example exercises based on real-life incidents when beaming down to specific planets. GF is not a great fan of such exercises, but sees their value and thoroughly enjoyed the course.

Plans were to dine at the Mulberry this evening with the Gorse Fox's sister and brother-in law, but events have conspired in such a way as to cause us to cancel the booking. This is not an issue as long as everyone is ok.

GF thinks a starter of paracetemol is called for - his head hurts!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Day Two

The Gorse Fox has completed day two of the Master Class that he is attending. It has been fun playing the game, but GF is not enamoured with the process of role-playing these exercises (but understands why that is the way the course is structured).

GF is now back in his room after the Course Dinner - which was very good and good fun (if you like geek-speeak for several hours).

Everything is set for the first presentation tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On course

The Gorse Fox is enjoying the change that arises from being on a
course. It's certainly interesting, though GF really dislikes the
role-playing that is involved. What is strange is that the case study
is familiar to the GF as he was involved in periphery of the original
exercise on which it is based.

Does seem strange being on a Starfleet course but having such limited
network access - almost no mobile phone signal, limited GPRS or 3G but
some WiFi which gives a sporadic access.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

WWW

This week is brought to you courtesy of the letter W. Whimsically, GF is spending the week in places beginning with W. Worthing, Worcester and Warbrook.

Monday, April 13, 2009

And relax...

What a splendidly lazy Easter Monday that was. Some pottering on the computer to update various family websites, some delving further into Twitter, some reading, a chat with Cousteau-cub, some cooking... just perfect.

The reality check comes at 0430 tomorrow morning when GF has to head up to Worcester for the day.

BBC NEWS | Education | Teachers demand 10% pay increase

In a move that helps to convince us that today's teachers are really in touch with what is going on around them, we learn from the BBC that Teachers demand 10% pay increase.

The Gorse Fox is not arguing whether they get paid enough, or not. He is, however, spluttering at the affrontery of the request from the public purse at a time like this. It reminds him of the '70s and the self-destruction of the car industry as Unions made claims for more and more whilst the companies could afford less and less.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Roots

Gorse Fox enjoyed a peaceful day. The Silver Vixen was still buried in her quilting in her study, and the Gorse Fox spent the day going through old emails to update the various family websites that he manages.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Education, Science, Politics and Celebrity

The Gorse Fox continues to ponder the state of our politicians, the cult of celebrity, and the way celebrity pronouncements trump scientific method in the eyes of the stupid. The Gorse Fox recalled the great Carl Sagan:
If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us. In every country, we should be teaching our children the scientific method and the reasons for a Bill of Rights. With it comes a certain decency, humility and community spirit. In the demon-haunted world that we inhabit by virtue of being human, this may be all that stands between us and the enveloping darkness.

DIY

Touching up the plasterwork beneath the Urban-cub's window wa sthe first job of the day. Then it was a matter of looking at the hole above the window. This proved to be a larger task than expected. The hole was the full thickness and width of the lintel... and in places the Gorse Fox could see through to the outside. This is a testament to the accuracy and workmanship of the crew that fitted the replacement windows.

Plaster was not the answer... GF had to resort to expanding foam. It took a complete can of the stuff, but eventually it was done.  GF then went on to the task of boxing in some pipes, but due to a moratorium on noise at the wekends he couldn't complete this... so it was back to painting walls. One of U-c's friends had come round to do some work on the electrics and when that was done we concluded it was a good day.

Silver Vixen stayed at home trying to catch up on some quilting she had been working on.

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Rise and Rise of the Political Classes

The Gorse Fox has been considering the recent publicity surrounding the sub-species who occupy the positions of power. His considerations took the form of a comparison.
MeAn MP
When I claim expenses I must submit receipts for the expenditure.When I claim expenses I am trusted because I am a Gentleman
When my expenses are submitted they are verified and exceptions have to be explained and signed off by a manager.When my expenses are submitted I hope that nobody checks them
If I submit an expenses claim fraudulently I will lose my jobIf I claim expenses fraudulently I will take some stick from the media (if they find out) but my colleagues will rally round and explain that it was a simple mistake or it is a “right”.
When I go to work I have to pay for any meals or drinks that I may consumeWhen I go to work I get a subsidised bar and restaurants.
When I travel to my normal place of work I have to pay my travel costsWhen I travel to work I am provided with first class rail travel, a car, or mileage expenses.
I would love to be able to afford a little pied a terre to reduce my commute timeThe British Taxpayer provides me with a an allowance for a pied a terre so that I can attend Parliament (even though the place that I have bought is barely closer than my own home, and it only takes 25 minutes to commute).
It is my “right”.
When I retire I will exist on a pension that I have spent my whole career accumulatingWhen I retire I will get a cracking pension, but we don't want to focus on that at this time of “credit crunch”.
When I get my pension I will pay a substantial amount of tax to help pay for the pensions of MPs, Civil Servants and to pay of the debts that these MPs have created.When I retire I will get a cushy job as a “consultant” on a Quango or Government inquiry and get supplementary payments.
When I get my Council Tax bill over 20% of the value will go towards pension funds of local authorities – but my pension will not rise to accommodate this. So I will be paying out of my pension to pay for theirs.Those greedy Local Authorities are milking us through Council Taxes (thank goodness I get a reduction on my second home).
When I retire I will get poorer year on year because of the continued increases in Council Tax and inflationMy pension is Index-linked. (Isn't everybody's?)
When I retire I will be eligible for a Bus pass – this will help me reduce my dependence on cars. However, there are no buses in my rural community; and I won't be allowed to use the pass for long distance travelIn order to optimise the transport network we have reduced the subsidy for rural buses.
If I want a new dining room table I must save up and buy itI put it on expenses
If I want a new cooker, I must save up and buy itI put it on expenses
If I want a tumble dryerI put it on expenses
If I want a new entertainment system with two widescreen TVs, set-top boxes, and DVD players, I must save up and buy themI put it on expenses
When my company has a bad year I do not get a pay rise.When the economy is crashing I will award myself an inflation-busting payrise – and ensure that people in public services get their independently assessed payrises cut so that we are seen to be managing the economy and controlling public expenditure.
When I buy a house (remember when you could afford to buy houses) that exceeds the tax threshold I have to pay Stamp DutyWhen I buy a house (or the taxpayer buys one for me) I put the Stamp Duty through on expenses

A Tangled Rope: New Government Guidelines Announced

A Tangled Rope: New Government Guidelines Announced It would be funny if it wasn't quite so close to the truth.

Dualism

Four days back at work... and now a day off. GF certainly had this worked out!

The weather is somewhat inclement so Silver Vixen is busy with her quilting and GF has been sorting out the netbook so that it will boot either Windows or Linux and doing some Parish Council work. Urban-cub has gone to Brighton for the day, so it is very quiet.

All-in-all a Good Friday

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fanbase

Yesterday evening was interesting. After a beer, we ordered a Chinese and the owner kindly brought it over to the pub where we sat round a couple of tables and enjoyed the feast. Afterwards, Deepblu took on a couple of challengers at chess - playing both of them simultaneously, blindfolded. He won, needless to say.

Today was a busy day in the office, and for one colleague - his last, but finally GF was able to get in the car and head home. Despite warnings of bad traffic, the journey was easy and quick and he was home in plenty of time for his council meeting.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Counting

Gorse Fox is amazed that he has a follower on Twitter. This poor deluded soul from the US midwest is going to be very disappointed he fears.


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Mela

A fine curry with the Abbot was a pleasant end to a long day. (0430 did seem a ridiculous time to hop out of bed this morning)

Wrap up

Gorse Fox has noticed a large number of barely dressed young girls wandering thje streets of Worcester and heading to a club named "Sin". GF would observe that they are likely to catch their death of cold and he is sure their parents would be horrified to see them looking so cold!

Twit

Well to respond to Bill's comment GF is @GorseFox on Twitter.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Catching up

The Gorse Fox is back in the harness... and has spent the day catching up on nearly 400 emails that had turned up whilst his back was turned. As usual, many were significant but others could be ditched, or ingested and filed away.

He managed to chat with the Abbot for a while and its clear that, as usual, nothing is clear. 

GF has also succumbed to the Twitter hype and over the last couple of days has been trying to see if it is worth investing more time in it. In doing so he has bumped into an old colleague who retired several years back.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

DIY

Urban-cub's flat is nearly done. The plasterers did a superb job yesterday snd today Silver Vixen, U-c and the Gorse Fox returned to touch up paint, re-fit doors, sort out door handles and so forth. Young Simon also turned up and tiled the ceiling... and all in all it was a successful day.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Plastered

Meanwhile, Urban-cub is at her flat whilst the plasterer finishes off the ceiling in the bedroom. Everything is beginning to look very good.

Missing square

Remember thise littles toys with sliding squares and one vacant square. The objective was to manipulate the squares into a specific sequence by sliding the squares into the vacant space. The Gorse Fox has been playing a 21st Centuryt version of this as he tries to maniplute the various partitions and drives on his PC to make more space. In essence this should not be difficult, but GF's backup regime is such that he needs to make similar modifications to his backup partitions also.

When all is done and holiday photos are duly stored where they should be... he will retro-blog some pictures from the holiday.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Travel

The journey home was much like the start of the vacation - trouble-free. Check-in was quick, security was a breeze, and the gate for the flight opened early. The plane left on time, arrived on time, and within 40 minutes of touch-down we were outside waiting for Urban-cub.

We were home in no time, unpacked and settled. There is no place like home.

Ribs

Determined not to be be fooled by the perfect start to the the day the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen decided to head round to the west coast - see the lie of the land and then determine what to do.

Stopping between El Duque and La Caleta we headed down to the coast for a walk. This took us along some well known paths and routes we have used many times. Stopping at Playa Fanabe for some fine Weissbier and then stopping at Tony Roma's for some more of his fine ribs.

Eventually we made our way back to the car and then on to the villa. It was the last day - no sense in overdoing it!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

La Gomera

The view across the straits from La Caleta to La Gomera
Posted by Picasa

Fooled

A cloudless sky fooled The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen as they made plans for the day. The comely weather invited sloth and a quiet day in the garden. However, the foreces of nature were massing behind the mountain and by lunch time a finger of dark cloud spread south from the mountain blocking out the sun from the southern part of the Island.

Not wishing to take the car out, we decided on going for a walk and headed down through the commercial centre of San Blas and down across the new residencial centre towards Los Abrigos.

The quaint little fishing village of Los Abrigos hasn't really changed over the last two years - the hartbourside still being lined (essentially) the same collection of restaurants. One or two have changed hands and had a bit of a facelift, but little changes.

Retracing our steps we returned to the villa. The six miles we had covered was sufficient exercise for the day... and we had to prepare for the evening's football.

A dinner of chicken and prawn fajitas was cleared away, the wine was opened and getting a chance to breathe as we settled down for the grandstand view afforded by the widescreen TV. The Gorse Fox notes that there was very little chanting or violence at this venue - and in general the Silver Vixen was well behaved.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Los Abrigos

Fishing boats in the harbour of Los Abrigos
Posted by Picasa

What

So the G20 is underway and demonstrations are planned. What makes the Gorse Fox say "Que?" is the fact that the BBC had been reporting how the anarchists have been organising themselves on Facebook and Twitter. Isn't that ironic?

Remedial

The cloud that blanketted the Island was so thick it obviously never completed cloud school. It evidently needed remedial studies to progress at all. This did not bode well for a sunny day.

After some deliberation it was decided that the car was the best escape - The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen could head along the coast and stop wherever we wanted - if and when the weather broke. Seemed like a good strategy - and as we turned north up the west coast it seemed liklely to pay-off as the n-w corner of the Island seemed clear.

We dropped down onto the coast raod, for a change, and zigged and zagged toward Los Gigantes, then started to climb towards Santiago del Teide. From there, the plan was to cross the mountain pass and drop down to Masca, then continue through the mountains to Buenavista and along to the lighthouse Faro de Teno. However, the cloud had closed in once more and the attractions of Masca nd Teno are pretty irrelevant if you can't see them!!!

We reconsidered. We turned around and headed up the west side of El Teide. Visibility dropped as we penetrated the cloud and the temperature plummeted to 6C. We carried on and finally as we climbed through the 1900 metre mark we popped out of the top of the clouds into bright blue sun-drenched skies. The temperature shot back up and we decided to linger.

Making our way to the Parador for a comfort break and some sandwiches we marvelled at what a contrast there was between the clear blue of the mountain and the miserable grey of its cloud covered ramparts. The Parador was busy with cyclists, walkers and tours. In fact GF would say it was the most cyclists and walkers he had ever seen up there. (The Parador is at one end of the 16km Siete Canadas (seven ravines) trail, and there was a constant trickle of hikers arriving at the end of their trek).

Eventually we moved on. Stopping for the odd photos and then at Boca Tauce choosing the route down the southern flanks of the mountain. We immediately dropped back into cloud and saw very little of the scenery down as far as Villaflor, but as we left there and continued to San Miguel the cloud started to clear and by the time we were back down near the villa - the sun was out.

It had turned out to be really good day - though completely unexpected.