Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflecting

As the sun sets on the last day of another year the Gorse Fox was in a reflective mood and was thinking how much he would like to be in Thailand with the whole family together to see in the New Year and then perhaps to go diving in the morning to start the year with a controlled stream of bubbles.

Mmm. Whilst being reflective he notes that, including today (with allowances made for vacation time and public holidays), there are 916 working days until retirement! Not that he's counting.

BSOD

A Blue Screen of Death is not a good way for the work laptop to start the day. Gorse Fox will treat this is a one-off anomaly, and having restarted the system continue as if nothing had happened – though will be pressing the SAVE key far more frequently than usual!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bring to work

There is a strange tradition of “Bring your family to work” days or “Bring your daughter to work” days. The Gorse Fox has had to modify this time-honoured tradition and held a “work at home whilst parts of your family come to you” day.

The Gorse Fox’s miniature sister, her husband, the Mask and his girlfriend all arrived to celebrate the season… but GF was still working so had to multi-task between pure work and being a distracted host. It was nice to see them all, though it is important not to step on her by accident whilst moving round the kitchen.

After lunch, the miniature sister (nano-sis) and her husband headed off to see the Bishop in hospital,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ssshh… it’s so quiet

The Gorse Fox is back at work – at least in body and spirit, though practically he was working from home and seemed to be one of the few people at Starfleet today. This meant that he could get on with a number of things in peace and did not have to worry about interruptions, silly deadlines, or teleconferences.

Almost enjoyable!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

No iPad

The Gorse Fox spent some time with the Silver Vixen in the Apple Store at Covent Garden and again at Westfield. The objective was really to look at the iPad and determine if it was a usable alternative to a netbook when travelling. The conclusion was “not yet”.

It seemed to do many things quite adequately – and in some cases very well. Browsing the web, showing photos, showing glossy magazines and newspapers… all excellent. No video-Skype, however. This means that one of the great tools for the traveller – video-phoning home is not available. Also, the only way to get photos directly from a camera to the iPad is via an extra adapter that has to be purchased and connected to the docking bay.

In contrast a 10 minute play with the Samsung Galaxy Tablet showed that it was able to achieve all of the missing functions.

GF will be postponing any tablet-gadget for now.

Monday, December 27, 2010

All about town

2010-12-27

The Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen climbed into the car and headed up towards London. The SatNav directed us along a very direct route to Shepherds Bush and we arrived at our destination well inside two hours.

We parked up the car and headed for Covent Garden for a wander about and an opportunity to drink in the atmosphere. We watched the street performers as we munched on our pasties and drank fresh coffee.

2010-12-271

From Covent Garden we made our way across to Hyde Park and visited the Winter Wonderland Christmas Fair.

This was an excellent event set up along the lines of German Christmas Fair. There were stalls selling all sorts of crafts, beers, mulled wines, sausages, candies and so forth. In addition there was a fairground with rides and a huge ferris wheel. It was quite magical as the light faded and the dark provided the perfect backdrop to the thousands of lights. Well worth the visit – a magical and perfect afternoon.

Early evening saw us enjoying a fine Thai meal at one of GF’s favourite restaurants. What a good day.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Boxing day

And so it came to pass that another Christmas ran the gauntlet of time. It was a lovely day for the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen. We had a leisurely start and got the oven on ready for the ritual incineration of a a turkey.

Urban-cub arrived to finish her wrapping and then took over the cooking duties and just before we managed to chat with Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit on Skype. Lunch was delicious without being over-indulgent and we soon had everything cleared away.

Urban-cub’s partner and his children turned up late afternoon and we had a fun time opening up presents and then playing Wii games whilst grazing on the amazing buffet laid on by the Silver Vixen.

The day whistled past, and looking back, GF admits that it was fun. As he dropped into bed he muttered God Bless you all, and peace to all men.

This morning was, again, very relaxed. GF spent some time on the inter-web-net thing booking a short stay in a London hotel for GF & SV to have a quiet wander around without having to rush back for the trains. All his recent time away has provided him with lots of loyalty points that will pay for the stay.

He’s also spent some time research Android tablets. Urban-cub received one for Christmas, but some of its features did not seem to be very stable so remedies were sought… rather unsuccessfully.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Festive cheer

IMG_5029

Awaiting distribution.

Ham and Turkey

The ham cooked yesterday and the turkey was cooked this morning. Gorse Fox acted as commis chef to Urban-cub and everything was done in record time.

Managed to get a connection with Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit on Skype – though the connection was a little flakey. They were on Phi Phi visiting friends and though it was mid evening, still waiting for their promised Christmas lunch. There is slight chance that  the odd drop of alcohol may have passed their lips whilst they waited. It was certainly clear that they were having a good time.

Greetings

The Gorse Fox would like to wish everyone a happy, Holy, peaceful, and Blessed Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Regret

The Gorse Fox was sorry to hear of the coach crash in Norfolk near the airport. Fortunately, the local police said that there were only 9 injuries – they counted them on the fingers of one hand.

Ignition

Urban-cub is busy in the living room preparing one of her gifts. GF was summoned. “I’m cold, can we light the fire?” she asked.

Now the use of the first-person plural personal pronoun “we” is misleading in this case. “We” implies a joint effort by both parties to ignite the neatly cut remains of a tree in the log burner. What was actually meant was the second person singular personal pronoun “you”… and to be pedantic “will you” would have been more appropriate than “can we/you”.

Sequestered carbon is now being released up the chimney as the flames radiate warmth into the room, and reduce the once proud tree to a fine ash.

Winding down

The Gorse Fox has caught up with his work admin and cleared his emails. He can start afresh with an empty email system after Christmas.

The sun is shining on the south coast and though the temperature is still barely above zero, the sun makes everything seem better.

Old Father Time popped up on Skype during the morning. It was the first time his choir-boy-like visage had been seen for many years. Not pretty… but GF would guess that’s what happens when you live in Wales – though it was interesting to see that they did have electricity and, indeed, the internet. GF suspects the locals think he is some kind of magician, conjuring up light at the flick of a switch, or faces and voices on his “electric book thing” by pointing at their names.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tradition

The traditional seasonal failure of a major household appliance has come slightly earliy this Christmas. The advantage of this was that GF had time to call Mr Fixit. The failure of the dishwasher was almost as critical as the failure of the heating last year.

Mr Fixit arrived this morning and after a while all was done.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Not riveting

The Gorse Fox has not had a riveting day. In the post-loss hiatus he has found motivation to be a little scarce. What he has managed to do, however, is start to look at converting his gargantuan spreadsheet into a database design and framework for future projects.

Caught up on expenses.

Weather is still cool, but the snow that hit the Midlands left us well alone.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cheery

On a cheery note, the Skype alert flashed up. Beloved Aunt was online. GF hit the video-call button and a couple of seconds later was chatting face to face with the family in Toronto. The connection wasn’t very good, but at least it was possible to chat and see each other.

Infamy

The main project that has kept the Gorse Fox busy since May has just come to a sudden and unexpected conclusion. GF’s gut reaction of not trusting said client proved to be perspicacious. One expects a certain degree of ruthlessness in business – but GF doesn’t expect  dissembling and dishonesty.

Gorse Fox would love to say more, but discretion forbids. Maybe this is one for the memoirs, once he retires.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shopping

Doing the food shopping in preparation for Christmas is not one of the normal chores that the Gorse Fox looks forward to. The weather has, however, frightened off many of the normal denizens of the local supermarket. The shuffling corpses who park their trolleys in the middle of aisles whilst they talk to neighbours or try to remember where they are or who they are had obviously stayed home.

Those who were at the shop were there to shop! The result was that the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen wandered round the store in almost total isolation. This became an (almost) pleasurable experience... topped out only by our arrival at the checkouts and discovering no queues ahead of us. The whole adventure took less than an hour.

Result.

Thaw

The rest of the country may be snowed or iced in, but here on the coast the temperature has soared to a balmy 4C. We have had heavy rain during the afternoon, so that put a stop to any thoughts of breaking out the SPF 15 and basking in the garden.

GF found a small vial on the desk. Had a vague recollection of the Urban-cub leaving it – he started to examine it and managed to squirt himself in the face with some perfume or other. Good job he had his glasses on to keep the noxious liquid away from his eyes.

Excitement mounts as GF prepares to head out for the Christmas food shopping… assuming, of course, that the local supermarket has had anything delivered.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Of Saints and Sinners

The Gorse Fox had a strange up-bringing. This evening GF was reminded of this. He and the Silver Vixen watched a recent film…

It was back in the1960s. The Gorse Fox was away at school and the half term approached. The abbot asked for ideas for the holiday. GF suggested one of the St Trinians films – the Abbot, not knowing any better, quiesced. We all drove down to London and attended the moving picture show. It was not deemed suitable and the Gorse Fox was in trouble for weeks. That’s the problem when living in a monastery – one interpretation is that that film is about the life of a little known saint and nobody bothered to ask GF whether that is true.

Anyway the latest St Trinian’s film was a fun and silly romp. But it did remind GF of old times.

Decor

Very cold over night, but the snow that blighted the rest of the country ignored us… except for some slight dusting of icing sugar.

The day has come. Decorations exploded from their boxes and threw themselves all over the house. The fibre-optic Christmas tree was a bonus in that the usual hassle of sorting out the lights was unnecessary.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Recovering

It was well after nine before GF got home last night. By the time he had eaten he was too late to go to the Parish Christmas drinks. So the one thing he had nailed in the calendar got wiped out by Starfleet.

Hey, guess what! The client failed to make a decision again. Now it’s scheduled for Monday. GF thinks it’ll be delayed to the New Year as he doesn’t trust a word they say.

Saturday was leisurely – though time was spent moving the logs that had been delivered yesterday and stacking them in the greenhouse to keep them dry. Fortunately, Mellors had made a start on this when he was here yesterday so GF didn’t have too much to do,

A recent switch of the TV package meant that GF had lost several days of Silver Vixen’s recordings. Time had to be spent recovering the situation and fortunately all were still available on iPlayer and a download to her laptop allowed them to be played through the big TV…. phew!

The fire is now alight, the TV is on, the weather outside is “inclement”… time settle down for a quiet evening.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Moderation Day

No. This is not a day on which everything is eaten or drunk in moderation (that, of course, is every day for a clean living soul such as the Gorse Fox).

No. This is the day upon which Starfleet managers collaborate on staff appraisals to ensure that treatment is fair and equitable for all of their people. So, GF will have to discuss and defend the overall appraisal he has completed for each of his 10 staff. Given the total number of people in his division, this is likely to be a very long day. At least GF only has to attend the afternoon as all his people are very senior.

What that did mean, though, was the he could spend the morning reviewing each of the cases and ensuring he is armed and ready to go in to bat.

On an entirely orthogonal point - it's snowing.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Random Observation

There seems to be an ever increasing number of Welsh people on TV. Is it time to re-open the mines?

Cusp

It seems we are on the cusp. The cusp of another change in the weather and the cusp of a decision from our client. The Gorse Fox has slightly more faith in one than the other.

The day started with a pleasant breakfast at the hotel and then a stroll in to work to prepare for the late-morning workshop session. It was positively balmy compared to recent weather with temperature soaring to 7C. Snow was forecast for later followed by a drop in temperature. Sure enough, it was snowing when GF left the office, but it still seemed relatively mild so he went for a walk. He ended up by finding an oriental restaurant that had a buffet. This seemed like an attractive proposition.

How wrong can  you be. It was dreadful - and certainly an establishment that will be given a wide berth in the future. The food selection was adequate, rather than large, but it was (at best) lukewarm and frankly, not very good.

The client, we believe, has made a decision and is likely to bless us with the black or white smoke tomorrow. The Gorse Fox senses a wave of foreboding among the team as things come to a head. One suspects that a stitch up may be in play, but time will tell. Gorse Fox won't be at the client office to hear the news. He has been summoned to Starfleet offices to help moderate staff appraisals. An important job, but conveniently not due to finish until 1830 - so GF is likely to miss the one Xmas "do" that he has had in his calendar for a couple of months. He is not amused.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

More Gold

GF got his upgrade at the hotel as a result of his loyalty points. Very satisfactory. Room is nice (though no larger than before) and GF also gets access to the Executive Lounge and its complimentary drinks and breakfasts.

Ghosts

The Gorse Fox did a double-take. He was walking into the client's office in West London. The door open in front of him and a ghost of times past wandered through. This was not a pleasant moment - this man had fought us at every stage when the Gorse Fox had worked with the client once before. He turned a two year programme into nearly four years. He lost a fortune for his employer by not understanding that his beloved contract was a mechanism to enable function to be created for them - not and end in its own right. "are you enjoying retirement?" Gorse Fox asked. "I'm not retired yet" came the reply. "Shame" said the Gorse Fox and walked on.

Meetings with the client went well... but still they seem no closer to a decision.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Crescendo

The day started quietly, but gradually built up. By late afternoon GF was reviewing CVs, checking project assumptions, and booking an hotel ready for the next couple of days.

Tomorrow he is back up in West London hoping to cajole the client into making some decisions.

Monday, December 13, 2010

All Gold

The Gorse Fox was lucky. The continuing prevarication of the client meant that it made little sense for GF to head up to West London so spent the day working from home. This gave him the opportunity to catch up on some admin for his team’s appraisals.

GF has been away often enough now that he has ascended to the gold tier of the hotel’s loyalty card – hopefully this will mean red carpets, champagne and caviar in the room, and a butler. Then, on the other hand…

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Tuition Fees

The Gorse Fox has avoided comment on the row over tuition fees. This is not because he is apathetic, but more a victim of time pressure. So what is to be done?

The problem sits at the nexus of several malignant factors: 1) the last Government left us with debts of 1Trillion; 2) the ridiculous assumption that tertiary education is a right for everyone; 3) the devaluing of tertiary education with the introduction of meaningless and valueless degrees; and 4) the idea that University education should be paid for by everyone else – not the recipient.

Let us examine these one by one.

Firstly the profligate Labour Government spent thirteen years or so  breaking its own rules of prudence, lecturing us on the economy and reacting to the world wide financial crisis by incurring further debt. Just as a reminder, they had sold off the UK gold reserves at the bottom of the market, they had raided pension funds, and were still 650 Billion in debt before the financial crisis. According the Office of National Statistics, the Banking crisis cost the Exchequer 50 Billion, but the Government continued to spend like there was no tomorrow – and for them, there was. The Gorse Fox would also point out that they have admitted that if they had won the election, they too would have cut spending – but only by three-quarters what the current Government have decided upon.

Secondly, there is the ridiculous assumption that tertiary education is a right for everyone. The average IQ in the UK is probably about 110, and this means that whilst there may be many people with high IQs, there are similarly many who are not so blessed. It is neither sensible nor reasonable to assume that it is the right of all people, whatever their ability, to have a University education. The Gorse Fox does believe there is a universal human right to education, but this is provide people with the tools for living – reading, writing, basic mathematics, social awareness, some history, and some geography – maybe even a foreign language. This should all be provided in primary and secondary education.

There is a great value in University education, where it provides relevance and value to the community. Sciences secure our continued progress as a race, history understands how we have come to be who we are, geography (a degree in colouring in maps) helps understand the nature of our planet, its riches, and its peoples. These all contribute to the wealth of human knowledge – even Political Science (a degree in arguing, some would say) has some value. There are, however, many many degrees that have no value to society and have been developed purely to provide simple subjects for the intellectually challenged to pass a couple of years and to gain funds for the University.

Finally, there is the idea that we, the tax payer, should fund University education for everyone that wants it – and that they can pay it back (eventually). Again, there are several converging problems here. Firstly, value for money. If the Gorse Fox is going to invest in something he wishes to know that it is value for money. By this, he means that a) it has value to society – like the sciences, medicine, law etc. and b) it is delivered in a valuable way. Recent discussions with University student have made it clear that their 3-year courses are so spread out, and punctuated with so much holiday that they could very easily be reduced to two years, if not one. A by-product of this would be a saving in the overall cost of the University education.

In the USA and Canada, University is far more expensive – typically 50-100 thousand dollars. This is paid for by the student, the family, a philanthropic grant, the military, or some enlightened employer. This has a number of positive outcomes. The student needs to work to pay for the tuition, and this provides a steady stream of staff to allow Malls to remain open late into the evening, which in turn increases the circulation of money from people shopping after work, and the students themselves. They requirement to earn the money to pay for the education give the student a stake in their own success.

We have lived too long in a society that thinks everything should be theirs by right. Success should be an aspiration that is fulfilled by hard work, not by hand outs from those that do work hard.

As for the student protests of the past few week. The Gorse Fox supports the students who marched peacefully to make a democratic point – even though he disagrees with that point. He utterly denounce all who resorted to violence and intimidation. He hopes they are found, prosecuted and imprisoned for a long time.

In case anyone looks on this stance as hypocritical – the Gorse Fox is fortunate enough to have an exceptionally high IQ, he did NOT go to University, and he is fortunate enough to be paid very well for the hard work he has done for the last 38 years and will continue to do for the next 947 working days!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Family

The Gorse Fox’s tiny sister and her husband came to visit. Lunch was planned at a local restaurant and then a trip to Worthing to visit the Bishop in hospital.

Polish

A little bit of polish removed the white scuff marks from the black paintwork of the car. That was a relief!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quote…

Katya “Count, Gavin.”
Gavin: “What, that one, two, three thing?”

Nice to see our sportsmen are one top of things.

Some days

There are some days when it may be safer to stay in bed. The Gorse Fox was up early and logged on to Starfleet. It was to be a busy day. Well, that was the plan. The first teleconference started and the WiFi link dropped. It came back. It dropped again, and so it went on. The Belkin router was not going to play ball.

GF finished the call and looked for a suitable replacement device. Fortunately there was a suitable Netgear device at Currys in Littlehampton. GF headed out, but Mellors had blocked the exit, he swung round to go out the other route, but that was blocked too. He reversed, careful not to catch the new car on the roses… and promptly caught the planters at the front of the house and managed to break the drain pipe from the kitchen as well as a wooden planter – which left white paint marks on the black paintwork.

This was not turning out to be a productive morning.

Duct Tape was pressed into use to sort out the drain pipe and then GF headed off to get the router. The “reserve and collect” didn’t work. Curry had not reserved it, but fortunately there was one left and GF returned home.

The new router then had to be configured and all of the various systems and devices configured. All but one is now done and working… only the mobile phone booster (Vodafone Sure Signal) is still playing up.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Geography

Last night the Gorse Fox was sitting next to a couple discussing the relevant locations of UK airports.  The GF was intrigued to see the arm waving and the stabbing of points to represent Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead (which made sense) and the Luton (described as being up north) and indicated as up near Birmingham!

Today GF wandered past a desk where the professional was explaining "I don't think Lincolnshire is north of Newcastle".

GF's geography teachers must bust spinning in their graves.

Bzzz

Busier than expected today.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Quote of the day


Politics is civilisation's dark art.

(Ancient World, BBC2).

No net

Strange how difficult it is to work without access to the internet. The client's service providers had reset a router overnight and everything fell over... it was mid-afternoon before normality was restored and emails started pouring back through the wires.

Good job

that Gorse Fox had not held his breath.

A degree of clarity is emerging in that it appears that there has been a down-selection, and Strafleet is still in the game. Christmas parties, breweries, and the inability to combine the two seems an appropriate train of thought.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Decisions

The client is due to make a decision today. (Well they were due to make the decision in May, September, and last Friday, but who is counting?). GF's breath is not bated.

He has a meeting at Starfleet late afternoon, so will disappear towards central London in the next hour.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Best laid...

No that is not the mémoire of a famous footballer. The Gorse Fox got up early to complete some work - the particular Starfleet system was not working, and GF's WiFi at home kept dropping. This did not bode well for the day ahead. Fortunately, the early start did not mean an early train in this case.

After hacking several feet of permafrost from the Silver Vixen's car, GF was chauffeured to the station for a mid-morning train. In retrospect he prefers the rush hour. By the time this train was up near London it was packed - and having stopped at Gatwick the aisles were full of suitcases, and having stopped at East Croydon was topped up with Chavs with their mobile phones, pushchairs and screaming children.

Once at Starfleet the preparation time for the afternoon's review was gobbled up by questions regarding the bid to the current client and as usual there were numerous interpretations of what they were asking. No doubt this will cause additional confusion.

The afternoon's review went well, and GF had it all written up and tucked away by late afternoon.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Freeze

The freeze continues - tonight we have freezing fog. Wonder what the prognosis is for the trains tomorrow.

Sunday – Random stuff

News from the hospital sounds promising. The Bishop is out of ITU and in HDU. The family visited yesterday and are going again today. The Silver Vixen is taking Blodwyn in to visit tomorrow.

Had a long online chat with Cousteau-cub. She had seen the news about the Bishop and was worried and wanted to send her wishes. She’s been a bit under the weather, herself, but is working hard – though not diving at present. She’s being managerial and having to make-do with a Mac at present because her beloved Samsung is being fixed after a screen failure.

Back home, there was a backlog of photos on the Silver Vixen’s iPhone. GF said he’d help download them. This, he suspected, would just be a standard iTunes feature – but when he tried it he realised this was not the case. More prosaic applications would be required. In the end the classic Picasa3 provided the answer and all photos have been duly captured.

The iPhone also was in receipt of an update – 630MB worth of download that failed twice before it finally worked.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thaw for the day

Temperature climbed over night. Rain hammered down and the six inches of snow that had enveloped the Gorse disappeared. Forecast is for a return to the chill next week… but for now it misty and a balmy 7C.

Success

It would appear that the operation was a success. The Bishop is now in intensive care. Immediate family will be visiting today.

We stand ready to help, visit, or assist as necessary.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Best laid plans

The work was going well but an early evening phone call meant dropping everything to collect an aunt and take her to the hospital. The Bishop had been taken in to A&E during the day, and the prognosis seemed poor.

At times like this, work becomes an irrelevance.

We collected our charge and met up with the Gorse Fox’s cousins at the hospital. An operation was planned and we could only go home and wait for news.

5:40

It was a long run, as forecast. Five hours forty minutes to get home. Now a day's work to fit in!

Wonderland

Watching the Winter wonderland from the train.
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Going home... slowly


Gorse Fox left the hotel at seven and headed for the station and the run south. Three and a half hours later he has just passed Gatwick. Could be a long morning!

Sunrise

The Silver Vixen was not troubled by the tubes or the trains. She was able to capture this fabulous sunrise over the Gorse whilst GF fought his way home.
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Snow trouble

Back home on Kingston Gorse, the snow takes hold.
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What?

The client came to the office requesting a meeting at 17:00. We asked the agenda and it was explained. Who should attend? The client pointed at the Gorse Fox and said "him, he's cuddly."

Well, really!

Give up

Ok - the Gorse Fox has given up. He's staying put in London for another night.

Not looking good

News from the railways is still not good. Looks like GF will not be getting home tonight. He did look at an alternative of using the National Express coach, but that  (and there is only one) is leaving town a bit too early to fit.

Be-decked

Somewhere under here is the deck and the east patio.
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Snow

The Gorse Fox may have been in West London, but the Silver Vixen was busy with her phone taking photos of the snow as it blanketted the Gorse.
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Disruption

According to the news, heavy snow fell in the south of England - even here in West London we got a few centimetres. Current word from Southern Railways is:
Services between London and Brighton are suspended until further notice. East and West Coastway services are suspended until further notice. Arun Valley services are suspended until further notice.
Gorse Fox has taken the precaution of booking an extra night in the hotel in case things don't improve during the day.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cold


Silver Vixen reports that there is snow back home, and weather warnings for tomorrow.

GF hopes he manages to get home tomorrow.

Heat


The client meeting was delayed, but at least it was fairly short. By 19:15 GF was heading out into the cold for the walk back to the hotel. The question that was running through what passes for consciousness was "what should be done about dinner?"

Most of the restaurants were busy. Many had queues. Gorse Fox marched on. Opposite the hotel is an Indian restaurant. He peered through the window. It was empty. He entered and apologized that he hadn't booked.  A table was provided and the meal ordered. A wheelbarrow full of chilies was tipped into the dish. Even for GF, it was hot.

As he left 30 minutes later the ice started to melt within a radius of about 7.5 metres. GF suspects this may be a dish that keeps on giving.

Next meeting

Gorse Fox's next meeting with the client doesn't start until 18:00. This may seem strange, but at least it means that the team has time to prepare.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stand-in, stand-down

The Gorse Fox is back with his usual client. This has meant that he could touch base with his stand-in who had been holding the fort during last week's vacation. Worryingly, all of the feedback was exceptionally positive (though, to be fair, that's what GF expected), and he did a sterling job. He's now handed the reins (and more importantly, the spreadsheet) back to the Gorse Fox and has stood-down.

Drinks are planned for the team this evening. GF will join them briefly, but probably not for the whole evening

Boots

Looking out the hotel room window, there seemed to be a light rain falling. Gorse Fox used this early view to decide on footwear - normal shoes, and trousers - business casual. The alternative would have been waterprrof walking boots and lined, water repellent trousers... but these would have been overkill, considering the view from the hotel.
This is where GF should trust his gut rather than his eyes. By the time he was dressed and leaving for work, the rain was snow and it was beginning to settle. Doh!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Stuff them


It was cold and the Gorse Fox was less than thrilled to be returning to the metaphorical coal face after last week's holiday.

The skivers who work the tubes were on strike and it was threatening to be a naff day. Despite the efforts of the tube strikers, GF managed to get to work on time. Unfortunately several colleagues were delayed so the review he was planning to conduct had to be delayed by an hour.

In the end the review took about four and a half hours and went well.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Incandescence

When the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen arrived home they found that a number of lights around the the house had popped. This meant that a trip was scheduled to the local DIY emporium and a number of new bulbs and lights acquired.

Once fitted, it was time to check that last week’s emails. That was important as there had been a chance that tomorrows review might have been cancelled. But it wasn’t.

Good comeback from Spurs again as the beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Lane.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Whither the weather, and whether

The temperatures plummeted overnight. The apartment was warm and toasty, but outside it is white and the roads look treacherous. Being risk-averse we have decided to take our time, pack up, check out a day early and head home. We can take our time over the journey and reduce the chance of being trapped in the south-west.

Some retro-blog entries should be posted later - discussing the exploits of the past few days.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Flakes

The morning has started brightly, but the forecast was a bit “iffy”. Snow had fallen in various parts of the country and the south-west was no immune.
We set off south towards Holsworthy, where we stopped to meander round and look at the quaint little market town. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t allocate too much time for this, as the town was really quite small and 10 minutes or so was adequate to get a feel for the place.
Leaving Holsworthy we headed west towards Bude where we picked up the aptly named Atlantic Highway. This, GF should explain is because it runs alongside the Cornish coast, not because it crosses the Atlantic. Anyway, the plan was to stop off at a number of the villages along the coast. and to grab some lunch in one of them.
As we reached Delabole the snow set in and for several miles GF drove into significant snow flurries – he was beginning to wonder about the sagacity of a journey such as this when he popped out the other side and everything calmed down.
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Parking at the top of the hill, GF and the Silver Vixen strolled down into Port Isaac, which even on a grey day such as this was very picturesque. Because it was such a grey day, it was also bereft of visitors.
We wandered around looking at the nooks and crannies and the pathways and alleyways that made up this fishing village, made famous most recently by the Doc Martin TV series. It was very different at this time of year, with hardly a soul about – except for a couple of fisher-types at the bar of the local pub (one sporting a mullet rarely worn in public since the 1980s).
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Talking of the local pub, we stopped off for a coffee and baguette for the Silver Vixen, and a crab chowder for the Gorse Fox.
Leaving, after lunch, we headed back up the hill and got caught in quite a downpour before getting back to the car. Good jobs we were dressed for almost any weather eventuality.
The drive back was meant to take in Tintagel and Hartland Point, but the snow started falling more heavily and it was beginning to settle even on the main roads. Gorse Fox, believing that discretion is sensible in such conditions. stuck with the main roads and headed back up towards Bideford and then looped back down to the resort and the apartment.
(Have managed over 50mpg for the last few days – GF is very pleased).

Access

Late last night the phone signal and 3G signal seemed to come back. GF left it until the morning to exercise it. It seems stable but very very slow. Some posts that he has prepared just won’t get through and will have to wait until he gets back home.

Another bright, but cold start here in Devon. No firm plans for the day yet.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gorge

From the manicured order of Rosemoor we headed northwards, gross the River at Barnstaple and winding our way towards the north coast.

IMG_7098Our target was Lynmouth – a picturesque village once devastated by floods when an August downpour on Exmoor (in 1952) brought a cascade of water and heavy boulders down into the village.

We parked up and strolled into the village. The temperature had dropped and a vicious wind made it seem colder still. Wrapped up warm we continued down towards the village.

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As villages go, Lynmouth is not big. In fact it only took ten minutes to see most of it. It is very picturesque and dwarfed by the cliffs under which it nestles. At the top of the cliff (up a funicular railway) there is the main town of Lynton.

The weather encouraged a brief stop for some tea and cake at one of the small tea houses before we returned to the car and headed back south to the apartment.

Touring

The sun was bright, but the wind was cold and the temperature stayed around 3-4C all day. As planned we headed for Rosemoor.

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Rosemoor was only some 20 minutes away from the apartment so we were soon in the car park where GF tested his 3G dongle. Satisfactorily it connected immediately, but unfortunately the signal was so weak that he couldn’t really make use of it!!!

Once in the grounds we started to wander around. They were evidently very proud of the squashes they had grown and had them laid out on a table for all to admire.

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Well, when GF says “all” he means the two or three people hardy enough to be out admiring the gardens at this time of year.

When the sun hid behind the clouds that were scudding across the sky it was quite chilly, but whilst the sun was out the gardens looked bright and inviting, even though it was approaching winter. Gorse Fox’s camera was playing up (probably because of the cold) and was taking ages to switch on and even longer to power off – despite a new set of batteries,

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Perseverance paid off and GF was pleased with many of the shots he did manage to get.

Many would argue that the gardens were not at their best, but the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen enjoyed having them to ourselves and got to admire the form, the structure, and the underlying texture and colour of so many of the exhibits.

Tour done, a coffee was the next priority and this was followed by a visit to the photography exhibition that was on in the lecture hall. GF was a little surprised by how few exhibits were being shown, but was blown away with the quality of the displays.

Rosemoor



Artificial bees, more able to withstand the weather. A devil if it lands on your sandwich!

Hope (fading)

This is a post that betrays GF's continued optimism. This was written with Live Writer to see if the content lock has now been cleared as a result of GF's phone call to the t-Mobile help desk.

In fact the saga continued. Whatever they did to lift the content lock seemed to lose the use of the phone  signal strength indicator dropped from 5 bars to zero, no calls, no internet, nothing. Expensive land-line call tried to deal with problem and GF continues to wait for a signal and promised call-back. He wonders, in passing, whether their attempted fix/reset cleared his account roaming settings and consequently can't pick up the Orange signal he had been using! He called the man from t-Mobile to explain his theory, but this was discounted and GF was told the problem was a fault in their network and that there had been no service in this post code area for 3 days. GF tried to explain that there had up until 1700 the previous evening, but the it was evident that facts were not in line with the script he was following. GF gave up for now and resigned himself to remaining off-grid for a while.

Meanwhile, steady rain has hammered to the apartment throughout the night and continues to fall this morning. Tentative plans of yesterday have been ditched and a new plan developed which should keep us essentially undercover.

The new plan was to head for Exeter and wander round the shops and town, generally. The journey was not to troublesome, but the first stage did involve many miles of single track roads some in terrible states of disrepair. Never mind, we got there and parked without incident. We started to wander around and GF saw a t-Mobile shop. He headed for door his phone was now working properly, but the dongle was still apparently dead. The nice man took the dongle and tested the SIM only to find it was dead but in exchange for just a few our fine English pounds to top up the credit, he exchanged the SIM free of charge. GF should now be fully back on the grid. A couple of quick posts from central Exeter showed this to be true so the tour of Britain's retail outlets continued.

We took lunch in a tapas restaurant near the Apple store iTortillas, iGambas, iChorizo, iPaella and some coffee; then we continued round the Guildhall Centre and so forth. When we had seen all we had set out to see we headed back north to Bideford for a quick stop for supplies before returning to the apartment.

Back at the apartment GF's phone dropped to zero service again, and the refreshed dongle remained stubbornly inoperative. Given that it had been functioning in Exeter, it was clear that problem was localised after all. GF is grid-ready, but his sector of the grid is dead. Meanwhile, GF should point out that Silver Vixen抯 phone gets only an occasional signal, so we are pretty much out of range. This makes GF realise that he was right to try and complete the staff evaluations last weekend, before we travelled, because it would have been a complete non-started from here as much of the input data is stored in Starfleet's cloud.

Pushing through

So Spurs and Man Utd got through last night’s Champion’s League games and both qualify for the last 16. A most successful night for the teams.

It is evident that it has been less successful for the t-Mobile engineers as there is still no signal of any description here in the valley.

The overnight rain/sleet/snow did not settle here, though it was still snowing when we got up. The sun is up and it looks like a lovely (though chilly) day. We have decided that we’ll make the most of the bright weather to visit the RHS Garden at Rosemoor. GF will take the laptop on the off chance that he can push this bog entry through the ether.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Exeter



Enjoying a few pleasant hours in Exeter.

Back


After several hours offline,  (story to follow) GF is back on the grid.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Picture from deepest Devon

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Due to the bizarre nature of t-mobile's content protection, GF is
finding it impossible to blog photos using any usual mechanism. This
is an experimental attempt via gmail.

Oh yes, and if the picture is visible, this is the stream outside our apartment.

Old Friends

It was mid-morning when Badger and Mrs Tiggywinkle turned up. They had driven through central Devon to join us for a coffee and chat before going out to lunch. Though the Silver Vixen had seen them relatively recently, GF had seen them for several years.

Greetings over and coffee poured we started to catch up on life, on tablets, on diagnoses, on travels, on planned trips, and on Starfleet (as all present had, at some time or other, worked for Starfleet).

Time wore on and we had to head out for lunch. We disappeared down the narrow country lanes, so narrow that grass was growing down the centre of the lane because cars couldn't wear it out. At Buckland Brewer we stopped at The Coach and Horses and settled down to examine and challenge the menu,

A few pork tenderloins and steak & kidney pies(*) later we were still putting the world to rights as we enjoyed the local produce and moved on to the subject of genealogy (a common interest) and where Mrs Tiggywinkle's research has been leading her and how she had discovered some obtuse and distant relations.

All too soon it was over. All too soon we had to head back so that they could get across to home as they expected a visitor who would be staying overnight tonight. All too soon we had say our good-byes.

It was lovely to see them again after so long.

(*) between us, not each!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quiet day

There are certain advantages to having a vacation at this time of year in a location that you have visited before. The advantages include no crowds, and no need to seek out sights and locations to visit. The disadvantages include the grey Atlantic autumn weather, and short hours of daylight.

After a slow start we headed out in the car and looked at Bideford for the first time for about 30 years. First glimpses looked familiar, but then the view opened up and the new bridge came into view. This linked East-the-Water and the outskirts of town. On the outside of town was an outlet mall and a large Asda.

This seemed like a good place to stop. We headed out of the cold into the covered area. The selection of stores was impressive and several hours later we were laden with plastic bags. Next stop was Asda for several items for the holiday apartment.Back in the apartment, Silver Vixen got down to her sewing - and GF plugged his iPod into his head and continued listening to his latest book.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Journeyman

Today is the Silver Vixen's birthday – so much of the morning was spent dealing with the hundreds of thousands of cards that had had been piling up over the past few days – you know it is getting bad whenthe post office lay on a specific delivery van for you and it runs out of diesel on the 20 return trip of the day.

Urban-cub turned up with presents and Cousteau-cub managed to make contact via Skype… a most successful start to the day.

After that we loaded up the car and headed off to the west… a few days in Devon had long been booked and it was a chance to try out the new car. The journey was trouble-free and immensely comfortable – SV has already decided that this is quieter and more comfortable that the past car, and better than the Jaguar we hired when we went to Scotland.

The gadgets gave us plenty to amuse ourselves on the route down – with the various functions all deserving a test and a fiddle. SOme four and a half hours later we pulled into the hotel. It has changed somewhat since our last visit – but still has very modern and well appointed apartments hidden behind an olde worlde coaching inn.

Like so many places there is WiFi available, but only if you mortgage your soul for the pleasure of its use. Fortunately GF's phone is abale to act as a portable WiFi hotspot… et voila we have access and it has not cost £27 for the week!!!

(GF must check his "dongle", however as this does not seem to be working as expected… it could be that it's so long since last used that the SIM has been re-used).

(Post script - the mobile WiFi provided from the phone works - sort of. T-mobile have a content lock on their service and this prevents under-age users from access dubious web sites. Unfortunately, blogger is deemed dangerous enough to fall within the locked-content and so GF is having probloems updating his blog directly. He is having to rely on gmail to submit this entry).

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Good and Evil

The forces of good put on a fight to overcome the force of darkness. Arsenal Satan’s spawn crumble to Spurs at the Emirates.

In with the New

IMG_7065

And welcome this new replacement model.

Transfer went very smoothly and \G|F was delighted to find this new model has a number of features over and above those he originally ordered. Now it’s just a matter of reading all the various handbooks and manuals to try and discover how it all works!

Out with the Old

IMG_7064

It’s time to say farewell to this old friend

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ah ha!

You can’t fool the Gorse Fox! Further reading reveals that the Tommy footage was from 1989!

A Haze of Delirium

Sky Arts TV channel is featuring Tommy and Quadraphenia – That’s TV!

Haircuts point to the 80’s – it was certainly post-Moon, but film quality implies much much more recent … though John Entwhistle is still there so it can’t be too modern. A quick Google says 2005.

Down shift

It’s been busy but not frantic. Most of GF’s reportees had finished their annual self-appraisals – but some still needed chasing.

GF’s stand-in at the client seems to be doing well and he only needed to provide a couple of low level interventions during the day. He is an interesting study as he obviously not only understands the technology but he evidently thinks much the same way as GF as he was quick to draw the correct conclusions from some of the data that he had been left without adequate explanation. That helps a great deal as GF can switch off knowing things are in safe hands.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

White Charger

As Gorse Fox approached his holiday, it was clear that some cover would be needed at work. The client would release the latest request, and someone needs to take up the work GF has been doing in order to respond. And so it was that today, GF’s stand-in arrived on his white charger to rescue the situation.

It was good to see him – he was recruited into Starfleet by GF some 10-12 years ago and has consistently done a good job ever since. GF felt he was passing the work on to a safe pair of hands… and someone who actually understood how everything would fit together.

Was a little later leaving than planned – as a result GF had to stand all the way home… that was an uncomfortable 3 hours but at least he’s home now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Beer

A week or two back the Gorse Fox bumped into an old working colleague. We agreed to partake of a refreshing ale at some point in the future. That point has arrived and the Gorse Fox should be heading to Central London to sample foaming ales and talk of times gone by in Worcester.

Meanwhile, with luck, the Silver Vixen's new chair should have arrived. Urban-cub helped her move the furniture last night in order to make room... now it is up to Mr Shifter and his lorry.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ooops

The Gorse Fox ordered a tea. The lady at the counter passed the cup across the granite surface as GF went to hand her the money. Hands clashed. Tea stayed put, but coins flew into the air... and dropped, one by one into the tea.

Coins were retrieved, and fresh cup provided.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another week

The Gorse Fox finds himself back in West London. Tension is building as the client moves towards asking us for something... as promised (or at least anticipated) since May. As we inch forward, inexorably, GF's work seems to be the fulcrum... and he is about to go on vacation!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

At it … again

Gorse Fox powered up the work laptop again and spent the afternoon doing more admin. At this time of year Starfleet expects everyone to be be working their socks off, writing their input to their own annual appraisals, ensuring project reports and appraisals are complete, and if you are a manager – preparing appraisals and evaluations for all of your reportees.

This must be achieved without impact on running projects, nor (of course) on the fictitious but much vaunted work-life balance.

Into bits

Urban-cub turned up at the door clutching an old computer. It was destined for the dump – but she wanted to ensure the hard drive had been removed. She had made a valiant attempt, but bad design had overcome her enthusiasm.

The case for this “own brand” computer was not held together with screws so that components could be replaced or upgraded or, in this case, removed. No, with the exception of one side panel – all the rest was held together with rivets!

After rooting about for a while GF concluded that the only solution was to drill the rivets out – and set about it with his trusty De Walt. 10 minutes and tens of rivet shards later the PC lay in pieces and the hard drive was extracted. Examination showed GF was right, there was no subtle third way that he had missed – it was, indeed, all held together with rivets.

Lesson to be learned here – Don’t buy an Advent PC if you think you might ever want to upgrade, augment, fix, or dispose of it!

Remembering

It has been a quiet day – as is appropriate for Remembrance Sunday. A day when we remember those who sacrificed so much that we could remain free, young men and women who lost their lives that goodness, honour, fairness, and freedom should remain at the heart of our nation.

It is time to say Thank You.

It is also a time to wonder what these heroes would think of us now, what they would make of our society, whether they would feel the sacrifice is worth it.

It is time to say Thank You.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Working

Despite the diversionary trip to Bognor, GF has spent the rest of the day (so far) working. Expenses needed to be claimed, and a plan B developed for the current client activity.

Bognor

The Gorse Fox took the Silver Vixen to Bognor. Living life to the full, eh?

It it her her birthday in the near future and it was a matter of finding the right present. Why Bognor? Well, it happened to be the nearest town that has a distributor for a certain make of furniture and SV’s present was to be a new armchair / recliner.

Bognor was not at its best. The weather was grey and dull and and it did nothing to enhance the town better features. As we wandered the shopping centre we couldn’t help but comment on the amount of foul language that seemed to emanate from all quarters. Most unpleasant. Evidently the charm bypass had been completed some time back.

We found the shop that we were seeking and after a good nose around we found a chair that was perfect for our needs. In here the staff were charming and polite and somehow you couldn’t help but think of the way stores used to be run.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pulling together

It’s always good when a team pulls together. Well it would be. Gorse Fox sent a request for help to some technical colleagues. Their responses was to leave it until the end of the day then send the Gorse Fox an email claiming more information was necessary and to look at various Starfleet websites. Really helpful… a day wasted and no real progress.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ahhhh

It’s nice to get home. Silver Vixen collected the Gorse Fox from the station and Urban-cub had a Thai curry ready for his arrival. The perfect arrival home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Anticipation

The Gorse Fox doesn't mind, unduly, the few nights he spends in West London each week, but he must admit that he is looking forward to getting home tomorrow, chatting with the Silver Vixen, sitting in his own chair, and sleeping in his own bed.

Nothing special, again

Well the Gorse Fox has little to report. It's been busy as you would expect, but in the wider scheme of things it has been of little interest to the general public.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Grindstone

Gorse Fox is still busy at the grind stone. His nose is feeling sore from the sparks! There is a palpable excitement in the air as we get closer to some form of activity from the client. All in all, however, there has been little of note during the day that is worthy of comment.

Last night's culinary excellence was such that GF can feel another Thai selection on the cards for tonight when he gets away from the office.

Garage called to say the car has arrived in the UK.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Stormy Monday

Well they call it stormy Monday, let's hope Tuesday's not as bad. (with apologies to Isaac Hayes).

The overnight storm was still in full swing when SV took the Gorse Fox to the station. In fact, so much so that a tree had come down between us leaving the Gorse and SV returning.

The train was running late and GF missed his connection, but another train came along before too long and once in West London GF checked in to the hotel and grabbed a taxi across to the office.

We'll draw an immediate curtain over work and get on with a visit to the new Thai restaurant that has opened near Westfield.  This only opened at the weekend, but first impressions are brush positive... food great, service good, and decor very tasteful (if a little dark).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Just pottering

It has been a quiet Sunday. Small household tasks kept the day ticking over without being onerous. The first task, however, was not domestic – papers had arrived for the Parish Council and these needed to be reviewed then passed on to another Councillor. Whilst it took a while to read all the material, there was nothing too contentious.

Papers passed on, GF returned to look up the efficacy of paint treatments. He has to decide whether to invest in getting a special paint finish for the car. General consensus seems to be that if you you get it for free, its worth doing. Otherwise its a waste of money.

Nice to see such a tense football match this afternoon, though Cousteau-cub will be upset that Chelsea lost to Liverpool.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

No news

Still no news regarding the new car. Last GF heard, it was in transit from Germany… but it’s all gone quiet again.

Weekend – some chance

The Silver Vixen was up and out early to join her coven. Somehow, on dark autumnal days it seems so much more appropriate to imaging them huddled round a huge bubbling cauldron  as they embellish their quilts with fine stitching and newts’ eyes (instead of rhinestones).

In the way that always endears Starfleet to the Gorse Fox the end of year push has begun. This means that on top of the usual full day job we have to ensure all the projects we have worked on during the year have been documented and assessed, that all of the projects his reportees have worked on have been assessed, and he must take feedback from 2 or 3 colleagues regarding the performance of each of his 10 reportees. Having completed that he has to write up their appraisals. On top of all this we should all be trying to drum up every new business opportunity we can – and earn every crumb of revenue possible.

Oh yes, and he had mandatory training to complete – on how to review an Expense Claim Form.

There are times when the term “going Postal” somehow seems interesting.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pants on fire

So Phil Woolas, a minister in the the last utterly discredited government has been found guilty of misleading the electorate. He has come out with this classic response:

It is vital to our democracy that those who make statements about the political character and conduct of election candidates are not deterred from speaking freely for fear that they may be found in breach of election laws

Well…. the Gorse Fox has news for you, Mr Woolas. It is also vital in a democracy that the electorate can believe their candidates and are not be lied to and dissembled at every opportunity. The biggest victim of the last 13 years has been TRUTH and it has created distrust and cynicism in politics.

Pulled muscle

The Gorse Fox has had a very intense day. Several things arise from this:

  1. The certainty that by taking an instant dislike to someone you can save a lot of time
  2. The certainty that even when you explain to someone how and where to find an item of information they will still expect you to find it for them
  3. Handling a 39MB spreadsheet can be a bit of a handful.

GF thinks he’s pulled a muscle in his brain!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Reviewing the Situation

Today saw the Gorse Fox heading into central London from his stay out West. He had agreed to review another project and this meant wandering along to the offices by the Thames.

His email ping’d. One of his reportees was scheduled to go on a course – this, you will not be surprised to hear is a Catch-22 situation.

The course is by invite only. As the manager he has to authorise it. Because they (smersh central) had left it late, GF was told he had to authorize with 24 hours – in an email sent at 18:40 on Friday night. At 0830 on Monday said reportee was cancelled from the course.

Gorse Fox intervened on Monday. The request was reinstated. Gorse Fox authorised it

This morning, as described above, it was cancelled again. A second authorisation was required and this meant the reportee completing a form and sending it to smersh central – but as this was an invite only course, they do not intervene – just complete the authorisation.

Guess what?  Looks like the process didn’t work and GF’s team member will not be attending. Trolls at their best, eh?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Where

The phone keeps telling GF he is in El Paso. He checks the window, still no cactii in Holland Park Avenue. Toto would not recognise this as Kansas, and GF does not recognise this as Texas!

Frustration

It has been frustrating. The early start boded well for a good day. By mid morning the Gorse Fox was well in control. Decisions between iSCSI, SAS, and Fibre Channel had been made. New diagrams were drawn and the tick list was diminishing.

Then the phone started, this was followed by a meeting and during the meeting the phone and email systems continued to find new and inventive ways to set GF back several days in his work.

He headed back to the hotel. Starfleet systems failed to book him a room for next week. A little face to face charm sorted that out and GF is now booked.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Chaos reigns

Another busy day with another early start. Gorse Fox managed to arrive at the office soon after 0700 - again the door was locked, but this time he knew (or thought he knew the code). He typed in the magic numbers and turned the handle - nothing. He reset the handle and tried again. The door remained firmly closed.

The Gorse Fox settled down for a long wait for the arrival of a colleague. After about 10 minutes he was getting impatient. He returned to the door and tried the code again. It was at this point that it occurred to him that it was of limited use undoing the lock if he doesn't turn the other handle on the door. Doh! The door swung open and GF wandered in and settled down regretting his senior moment.

The meetings throughout the day have moved us forward several steps and moved us backwards several additional steps. GF is a little frustrated (to say the least).

Monday, November 01, 2010

Phone tapping

The Gorse Fox just can't be bothered to extract his laptop from the bag and fight with the hotel WiFi. This entry is being written and posted from the phone.

It's been a good, though busy day. West London has been warm and bright and the office has been quiet enough to get a lot done. At the end of the day GF was in need of sustenance and in need of a change tried the Malaysian cuisine on the South Terrace of Westfield. Ok, but not brilliant. Worth an occasional return visit.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Contact

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have managed to chat online with Cousteau-cub. She’s evidently keeping quite busy, but they are expecting some major storm activity over the next 48 hours – with 45 knot winds and 4m waves. Must say that it is good that her house is set well back from the shoreline.

Halloween

The Gorse Fox noticed that “the walking dead” is trending on Twitter. That reminds him that he hasn’t commented on Arsenal recently.

Best keep it that way.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Off the rails

Living life on the edge, as practised by the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen, can sometimes throw up some strange sights. Having visited Rustington for some shopping and a haircut - we headed on towards L.A. (as the locals refer to Little'Ampton).

All along the promenade at East Beach they were preparing for the big firework display and bonfire. We had to stroll along this route to get to the East Beach Cafe where we planned to check on their menu and their opening hours for future reference.

The various structures along the promenade all seem to have the theme of railtracks - coloured, twisted, inverted and generally bizarre. However, it is quirky and cheerful and on a bright and warm October afternoon was an interesting subject for a snap.
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Organisation and Methods

The Gorse Fox noticed an item in the daily paper:

“Booze puts one Briton in hospital every 7 minutes”

This seems staggeringly inefficient. If he is coming back every seven minutes, why release him to start with?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Truly Deeply

The Gorse Fox must have been tired. He slept deeply last night and, unusually, struggled to get out of bed. Nevertheless he was still at the home office by 0730 and first chore was to get some expense claims into the system.

The rest of the day was spent buried in the spreadsheet that describes the operational design of the project we are working on.

At lunch GF was graced with a call from the bank manager. She was doing her annual “how’s it going?” call. As usual it was thorough and friendly, and at the end GF was quite happy that he was getting a really good service from the bank. In fact, she may have come up with a good wheeze that may save GF some money. Just have to see how things work out.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Early Bird

The Gorse Fox rose early, went through his morning ablutions, packed and checked out. He strode out into the gloom of the West London dawn and headed for the offices where he has been working. There was a lot to do and he had a major meeting scheduled for most of the day – and early start would be good.

He strode into the building, went through the security point and headed for the office. This is where this well constructed plan fell apart. GF arrived at the office door to find it locked. Nobody else was around, and GF didn’t know the combination.

Some 20 minutes later a colleague arrived and punched the requisite numbers and the planned day could commence.

In the way that things do (or don’t) GF did not achieve as much as he had hoped by the time he headed off for the train and the journey back south. It had been a bit frustrating, but at least he was on his way home. Tomorrow will have to be a catch-up day.

Blogiversary

The Gorse Fox notes that it was six years ago this very day that he made his first blog post. Some 5,300+ posts later he’s still at it. Initially, it was an exercise to “see what it’s all about”, but morphed into a means of dumping random thoughts, observations, flights of whimsy and goodness knows what else. Who knows how much longer it will go on, but at the moment he admits that he is still hooked and has no intention of stopping soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Audio

Another busy day. The Gorse Fox had his alarm set for 0700, but was up by 0630 and by the time the alarm tinkled into life was sitting in the hotel room reading the paper and finishing his first cup of tea of the day. He set off for the office with iPod firmly screwed into his ears. Michael Connelly's "The Scarecrow" had him completely hooked and the journey just wasn't long enough. Audio books are certainly a boon, but they do tempt the listener to do an extra circuit or walk round the block a few times to ensure a sensible point to pause.

The day was busy and meetings with Starfleet colleagues proved irritating as new players on the project started asking daft questions as if we hadn't thought of them months ago. There are times when the urge to give someone a slap becomes almost overwhelming.

Back at the hotel GF phoned the Silver Vixen and then settled down for quiet evening in front of the TV or with the iPod.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meetings

The Gorse Fox has been in meetings since first think this morning. Each meeting overlapped the previous one, but to be fair each meeting was very useful in moving things forward.

After work, GF was invited to a drinks reception at the hotel - which was very pleasant. GF then strolled across the road to the Indian restaurant to finish the day with a flourish.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Western

The Gorse Fox has spent the day in West London. The hotel worked out well. It was near to the station and GF decided to try and check-in first thing to save lugging his suitcase up to the office and back. The room was available and the bag dropped off. This also gave an extra 15 minutes of listening to the latest audio book "The Library of the Dead" - this was convenient as the book moved towards its climax.

In the office a lot of of the day was preparation for tomorrow's meeting, but some was fresh research - which is always fun.

After work, GF stopped off at Wagamama for a bite to eat before heading back to his hotel and call home to the Silver Vixen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good day, what can we get you?

We turned up at the restaurant. Our table was set and the place was fairly quiet.

“There is a fixed menu today” we were told. “It has been busy during the week so we’ve decided on a set menu”.

Strange, we thought. The menu looked good anyway, so we stuck with it. Starters were ordered and the waitress assiduously wrote down the selection, followed by the main course. She disappeared into the back and we continued our conversation.

After a significant wait the first two starters arrived. Then…. nothing. We called the waitress.

“Err, are the other starters coming out soon? The two brioche?” we asked. “I shall check” she replied and headed back to the kitchens.

She returned and explained that our order had bee written at the very top of the slip and had been hidden such that the chef did not see it. He was now preparing our starters – but there would be a short delay.

Some time later Betty & Barney had finished their starters and ours had just arrived. Everything was back under control Starters were finished and the attentive waitress cleared the table.

Time passed. The seasons came and went.

Eventually the main courses arrived. “Who is having the plaice?” We pointed out Barney and the Silver Vixen. “The Cod?” The Gorse Fox thought that was an inappropriate way to address Betty, then realised she was referring to the other plate.

A moment later she returned, “Pork stew?” she asked. “No – I ordered the pork loin” replied the Gorse Fox. Flustered, she apologised and returned to the kitchen. Barney and Silver Vixen made a start – their plaice was dry and shrivelled. The waitress returned with the pork loin and we explained about the fish. More flustered, she took the plates back.

Fresh plaice was required – but there was only one left – Barney had to change his order.

And so the meal continued – a catalogue of disasters. They had run of crumble…. but made up some more – it was inedible.

When the bill came they had already taken the precaution of removing a quarter of the value – and were profuse in the apologies.

A restaurant that will probably not receive a return visit in the near future (current millennium).

Passports?

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen are heading across country to the heathen wastes of Hampshire to meet up with Betty and Barney Rubble for the first time since our Florence trip. Barney has also been suffering from shingles – but in his case they came out properly and he has been quite uncomfortable. Anyway, all is well now so we are collecting our passports and heading across the county line.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mesh

Microsoft have recently announced the end of Live Mesh Beta, and its replacement with Live Mesh – part of Live Essentials. The Gorse Fox has been a regular user of the Beta product and so had a migration to perform. This went pretty easily.

  • Stop sync’ing old folders
  • Install new code (which uninstalls the old code)
  • Log in to account (same credentials as before)
  • Add each folder that you want as part of the Mesh from its master copy.
  • Go to all other machines where you used to sync – delete the old sync folders and re-add them.
  • Voila – all necessary folders available on all participating machines and also in the cloud. Changes made on any machine are reflected to all.

Neat really. Particularly if you use a common folder structure and have a separate backup device on one machine that will pick up these changes from anywhere in the Mesh network and back them up to an external drive.

Belt, braces, staples and string.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Moses

Not sure if Moses ever had shingles, but he certainly became well known for his tablets – indeed after dropping one set he had to go back out and get some more.

Well the Gorse Fox has finished his course of tablets and concludes that they must have done their job – the shingles never really came to anything. No rash, no itching – just the initial hyper-sensitivity and pounding headache. All seems well again and he plans to mix with other (non-family) human beings again over the weekend.

They can scoff

Colleagues often scoff at GF’s magic spread-sheet for building operation models / system configurations. Well at lunchtime we received a request to adapt a recent bid. Fairly significant changes were required to the metrics and the basic requirements. The Gorse Fox modified 3 cells to reflect the change – less than 5 minutes and we had a new model.

Most satisfactory.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Telepresence

The Gorse Fox took place in a review this morning. This was conducted over Skype so that GF could see what was going on, and the team could see the Gorse Fox. It went quite well, though there are a number of learning points from the experience.

Updates

Microsoft have released a number of updates to several programs that the Gorse Fox uses. Unfortunately this means that he has a task ahead to configure these updates on several of the home PCs and laptops… but not the Starfleet laptop. Starfleet, in their wisdom, have stuck on Windows XP and these updates preclude use of XP.

To irritate the Gorse Fox, his ADL has been very flaky this afternoon. It won’t stay up for more than a few minutes at a time. GF isn’t sure if this is a BT problem or a Belkin router problem. Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just (another) number

Following up from his post on 10/10/10, the Gorse Fox notes that today's date offers another interesting number sequence. 20:10 on 20/10/2010.

Unconnected thoughts

In a break from spreadsheet meltdown GF has been letting his mind wander across the various news stories of the day.

Chancellor Osborne has revealed the swingeing cuts to the public purse presaged by days of media speculation. It will hurt, there is no doubt. But before the current government gets pilloried by the chattering classes, they should remember that the reason for this action is the economic ineptitude of the previous government and their reckless spending of funds they did not have.

Also in the news we discover that Mr W. Rooney Esq. wishes to leave the Association Football Club of Manchester United. There is great weeping and wailing, hand-wringing, and gnashing of teeth. The Blessed ‘arry Rednapp even joked about having a word with the chairman with a view to bring him to Spurs. The Gorse Fox acknowledges that Mr Rooney has displayed an occasional turn of skill over the previous years, but doesn’t believe that he should be considered for Spurs. He has not demonstrated the moral fibre, commitment, good sportsmanship, or joy of playing the game that Spurs players should display. His reported actions have shown a certain moral turpitude that would be more suited to the Chelsea team ethic and his reported wage demands probably more suited to the mercenaries of Manchester City.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Isolation

And so the Gorse Fox’s isolation continues. This meant that he had to be up early to complete some diagrams and a new draft of his magic spreadsheet so that colleagues would have access as they arrived at work. The rest of the day was spent answering questions from various Starfleet agencies and the afternoon was spent on the phone to the client.

Remote presentation is a skill and to do it properly it does demand some sensible network infrastructure – whilst the Gorse Fox was set up, the client was not. This meant that one of GF’s colleagues had to show the diagrams to client and GF had to talk them through the content. Whilst originally planning to also take them through the spreadsheet – the call timed out. This was probably just as well as remote presentation of a 24MB Excel file could prove to be challenging.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Contagion

Gorse Fox has been advised to work from home this week. Whilst contagion from shingles is limited to direct contact, people that have not had Chicken Pox may be susceptible. As he can work from home quite easily, it makes sense to do the responsible thing and stay put.

RIP

Benoit Mandelbrot died this weekend. He was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th Century and won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the mathematics of fractals. The Gorse Fox never met him, and frankly the maths were beyond GF’s understanding, but GF does remember that he sent him an email, many years back… and despite his fame and the demands of his job, he took the time to write back with an explanation of whatever the query had been. GF wonders if he can dig the email out of his various archives, but suspects not as it was probably the late 1980s or very early 90s and GF was using a different email system then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kick it, slap it, switch it off…

In the old days, intransigent animals were coaxed into obedience with a smart lash of a whip; children with a stroke of the cane; machines were coaxed into life with a kick; televisions with slap on the side; and computers were switched off and switched back on again.
It seems that the house subscribes to this vintage approach – possibly as a result of its age. Powering off the whole electricity supply to these hallowed halls allowed the circuit to be reset and then powering back on the circuit remained in place and all was well.

The Devils Juice

Electricity is nothing short of magic. At this particular moment it seems like black magic.

The Gorse Fox tripped a circuit breaker to allow safe working on a light switch. Examination of the switch showed it to be ok, so he tried to switch the circuit breaker back on – nada! So this malevolent magic has decided to play dirty and tease the Gorse Fox with its intransigence. Could well mean we have no lights in the kitchen until GF gets its sorted (or finds a man who can).

Cosh

Gorgeous sunny start to the day, here on the coast.

The chemical cosh that is a mixture of paracetemol and ibuprofren seems to have got the Gorse Fox’s ear/head/face-ache under control. He feels a little fuzzy, but other than that seems ok. Hopefully the early diagnosis and the 5 times-a-day regime of anti-virals has stopped the shingles in their tracks. He has to phone the doctor in the morning to decide on next steps – a consequently whether he can go to work without risking infecting other people. (Seems to be a mixed view as whether shingles is contagious).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

But…

The Doctor spent some time with the Gorse Fox, listening to his symptoms and examining his ears. His conclusion was that GF may be coming down with shingles. Gorse Fox acknowledges that he lives near the beach, but never thought of this as a significant risk before.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pain

The Gorse Fox has been hammering away at the keys all day. Progress has been good despite the escalating ear-ache that he has been trying to ignore. Enough proved to be enough and he has resorted to making an appointment with the doctor.

Meanwhile he hears that his sister has succumbed to a cold and so the planned meet tonight has been postponed.

Probably just as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News

The Gorse Fox should not let today pass without commenting on the astonishing mine rescue in Chile. It is wonderful that this potential disaster has turned into such a triumph of the human spirit and resilience of both the trapped men, and the engineers fighting to free them. It was one of those moments when the world held its breath and maybe even wept a quiet tear of happiness at the release of emotions as each miner reached the surface.

These were brave men. Men of faith. The Gorse Fox wonders if men without faith could have sustained themselves throughout the ordeal the way these men did.

God Bless them all and their families and loved ones. It was a great day for human-kind.

More of the same

The Gorse Fox regrets that he has nothing new or startling to report. He has been neck deep in diagrams and spreadsheets and hardware specifications all day. Whilst some (including the Gorse Fox) may find this interesting – most would would find it uncomfortably tedious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Diagrams

The Gorse Fox was lucky enough to work from home today. It was just as well as he was seriously busy. The new information from teh client needed to be adapted into the GF’s spreadsheet and in turn the information into a diagram that illustrated the design. This is not complete as it is taking significantly longer than expected.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Again out West

The Gorse Fox was again out in West London today. As he wandered past one of the coffee stations he overheard one the the staff reading out a Union poster calling on them to strike. She made approving comments. Then in her next breath complained about the tube strikers. The degree of hypocrisy would have been  breathtaking if it had been anywhere else.

Good meeting during the afternoon and it looks like Starfleet has a significant opportunity. GF even managed to get away at a sensible time and got home in time for the football.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Out West

The Gorse Fox started the working week by heading out to one of his client’s sites in west London. This made a change as he hadn’t been there for several weeks. Since the last trip the Starfleet office has been moved – and very much for the better. The new office on the first floor has about five times the space of the old office. The only drawback is that the wireless network is very flaky up there.

At the same time as this was coming to the boil, the Gorse Fox was also being put forward for some further work in a completely different industry sector. Looks like it could be a busy few weeks coming up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Any old Port

The Gorse Fox managed to make contact with Cousteau-cub. At first things looked iffy as Skype kept rejecting the call on the GF’s computer. Then he got the Silver Vixen to fire up her machine and contact was duly made and we had a lovely chat. It would appear that the wind has changed direction as the monsoons come to an end, but that has left the sea very choppy and she is glad that she hasn’t been out for a few days.

Now GF just needs to sort out Skype again – this is, no doubt, a by-product of his moving the port selection to avoid a clash with his WAMP set-up and he guesses he’ll just have to to make do with the interference and change the settings back to the default.

Just a number

Today is, apparently, auspicious for those who believe in lucky numbers and assign credence to superstitious claptrap such as numerology, astrology, homeopathy and other ridiculous ideas. If all has gone well, this post will appear at 10:10 on 10/10/10… a nice binary timestamp equivalent to 682 (if the Gorse Fox’s maths is right).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chatting away


This is just an experimental post , I am trying the voice input from the phone . It seems to work well , though it is limited to short phrases.

Own Devices

The Gorse Fox has been left to his own devices whilst the Silver Vixen goes to a grand meeting of covens at the Ally Pally. She was up and out early this morning in order to catch the coach that would be saving on broomstick emissions by collecting a host of her patchworkers, embroiderers and necromancers from Broadwater.

GF is occupying his time with a bit of a tidy up in the study. Not the full-blown chaotic blitz that would have ensued if Urban-cub had been here – more a case of tactical management and strategic relocations.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Old Friends

The Gorse Fox had to visit a potential client in London. It meant that he could work at home during the morning and prepare then whizz up to London for the mid-afternoon meeting. It turned out to be interesting, particularly when the client informed the Gorse Fox that he had been recommended by an ex-Starfleet colleague now working with the client. Looks like an interesting project… but GF will have to see whether the contracts are affordable and profitable.

The Silver Vixen was out when he got home – the planned curry, a scotch bonnet, a naan and the microwave made short work of dinner. A Weissbier seemed an appropriate lubricant.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Reviewing

The Gorse Fox had to catch the early train – though not the one he expected. He had forgotten that they swapped the London Bridge and Victoria trains first thing. It doesn’t make a huge difference to GF – a slightly longer walk, but no change of trains. Arriving at the station he grabbed a bacon roll and munched away as he walked along the Thames (using the path, not the surface – just in case you were in any doubt about his powers).

GF arrived at Starfleet to review progress on a project he had been working on earlier in the year. The review was the first of a series of such exercises over the next few weeks. This first one enabled an overview of the programme as it is now planned. At this level, things are looking sensible, though there is clearly plenty to do.

The Gorse Fox headed back to the station and remembering from years gone by headed for platform 9. Memory being what it is, he was lucky and the right train turned up where it was meant to be. Unfortunately GF was at the end of the platform expecting it to be a 12 coach train like it used to be. Eight coaches pulled in and GF was standing alone by an empty track. Striding purposefully back he slipped onto the first carriage and settled down for the journey home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Little successes

It’s the little successes that make you realise that you are3 making progress. The Gorse Fox noted, mid day, that the Silver Vixen’s new phone had suddenly picked up the femtocell signal. She had 5-bars… a miracle here. Now that it’s clear that the magic box works he has spoken nicely to t-mobile to get his old phone unlocked so that he can switch it for his work phone. This will mean that he will be able to get a decent signal for work calls, at last.

GF has spent much of the day preparing and adapting and re-preparing and reformatting a couple of slides for the Abbot’s use next Monday.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New stuff

It has been a quiet day. The Gorse Fox has been reading and researching to provide input to another project that the client has dreamed up. This will again take many months to reach a point where some degree of agreement could be reached.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sure

The Gorse Fox has been looking at the Office for National Statistics. It’s not just because he’s a geek… it was triggered by a discussion with the Abbot and this demanded some research. As the research needed to cover England, Wa;es, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man the ONS was not sufficient. He also had to dig through the Scottish Assembly and Welsh Assembly sites, Google, Wolfram Alpha. The frustrating thing was that even though it was single set of figures that he was after – each different source seemed to hide them beneath different departments, different phrases and general obscurity. In the end he got the info required for all but the Channel Islands. In all, pretty successful.

As a side issue GF continued to troubleshoot the Vodafone Suresignal femtocell. The problem he had been experiencing was obviously widespread and not limited to home. Eventually, some degree of function has been achieved… though still not as strong as expected.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

On the Grid

The Silver Vixen has advanced on the grid. As off this afternoon she has become the proud owner of an iPhone. The usability and simplicity of the phone was the clincher when it became clear that the old phone was beginning to give trouble and clearly needed replacing.

GF also bought a Suresignal femtocell. This should significantly boost the phone signal at home, which up to the present has been almost non-existent. Time will tell if it does the job… but if it does we will be most satisfied.

...and relax!

Urban-cub just called. All is well and they are returning from the hospital.
These little family crises are there to keep you on your toes.

999

Early morning call from Urban-cub. Not well. Needed her mum. Fastest GF has seen the Silver Vixen move since someone threatened to take her tea bags.

On their way to A&E.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Living life on the edge

After a good night’s sleep and a leisurely look at the newspaper the Silver Vixen announced that we needed a new clothes airer. The Gorse Fox could hardly contain his ecitement as he poured through websites looking for suitable models that could replace the trusty clothes airer that we has given such sterling service for the last few year. Should we chose a tri-deck rack, a concertina rack, an over-bath, or what? Most importantly would it have a feature that permitted the outboard hanging of shirts on hangers? This was not going to be an easy decision.

Eventually, web-sites exhausetd we headed for traditional shops and compared the various offerings. A choice was made, and airer purchased. All was well once more. The excitement abated. We could relax.