Sunday, February 28, 2010

It’s Alive I Tell You

The Gorse Fox has just received an email confirming that an application has gone into production over the weekend. This was an application we conceived at various meetings and workshops in Warwick some 18 months back. It was a difficult gestation as many people needed to accept a change in mindset in order to allow things to move forward. Many aspects of the concept were quite innovative (or revolutionary). Along the way there were a number of organisational and cultural problems to address – but the team succeeded and now it is “all systems go”.

Gorse Fox may have left the honoured client last May, but he is still keenly interested in their progress and delighted by this milestone.

Con-Air

The Gorse Fox has, over the years, managed to accumulate what was once a significant number or BA Airmiles. Chunks of these were commuted into flights for Cousteau-cub in the past, but there was still a residual balance. BA threatened that if they were not used in some way they would be lost – today.

Now over the years GF has on numerous occasions tried to spend these pseudo-Airmiles but never been able to get flights that came close to his requirements. He could fly out when he wanted but not return for 3 weeks (or whatever).

Today he decided that he would find something. Anything. As a result he and the Silver Vixen now have tickets for a trip to Pisa in September. Needless to say the whole process is a bit of a con. Having told you that the journey will cost 15,000 airmiles (an actual journey of 992 miles each way)… they then manage to charge you a further £75+ each for surcharges, taxes etc. (Why the hell don’t they get absorbed by the airmiles).

We now have to consider where to stay whilst there, but that can wait for another day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Pleasant Evening

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed north to the heathen wastes of Surrey. There just across the county border from Blessed Sussex nestled the village of Chiddingfold where we had arranged to meet with the Gorse Fox’s sister and her husband.
26022010415 Our last such meeting was at The Swan, but this has now gone into administration. Shame as the food was excellent the night we went there (even if the proprietor was a little bizarre).

With the Swan no longer available, this time we met at The Crown. It is a 17th Century Inn and meets every pre-conception of such an establishment – wonky timbers, friendly atmosphere, panelled rooms and generally a welcoming atmosphere. The service was excellent but not intrusive and food was exceptional.
We had a lovely evening and resolved to return.
Gorse Fox noticed as he drove back home that down near the sea we have some daffodils in bloom. Spring can’t be far away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Vroom with a View

With a view to starting the selection of a new car the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen went along to a local purveyor of fine vehicles in order to take a test drive. We made ourselves comfortable and started on a pleasant drive through the nearby countryside. There was no doubt that the car was a superb item of teutonic engineering, but whether it was worth the money being asked is another question.

We then stopped off at the dealer where the Gorse Fox has bought his last three cars. We examined (though did not drive) the model that appeals most GF. Again, clearly a fine example of teutonic engineering, appealing to the eye and quite tempting. A test drive will be arranged and we shall see how things progress.

The Gorse Fox can feel a spreadsheet coming on!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tour

IMG_5892
After our free breakfast (courtesy of last night’s result and the pledge of the fine young manager at the Palm Hotel) we headed back to White Hart Lane for the scheduled tour.
It was good to be greeted by a couple of youngsters who would be our guides but who were so evidently completely consumed by their love of The Club and its history.

IMG_5914
The Gorse Fox was caught on camera with this bust of the great Bill Nicholson. Bill was famous as one of the greatest managers in the game and introduced the mode of pass and play that makes the current game.
The tour was excellent. It took us through Press Area, the Sponsorship areas, the private boxes, and the Directors’ area.

IMG_5907
We then moved on into the changing rooms where GF managed to get caught on camera again sitting where his heroes prepare for the game.
The tour lasted for about two hours and was a superb end to a terrific 24 hours.

Result

We made our way from the hotel to the tube station and from there down to Euston where we had a bite to eat.

The Victoria line then took us to Seven Sisters and we walked along the High Road towards White Hart Lane Stadium. It was already getting busy and we had to queue for a while to pick up the tickets. Making our way into the stands we checked out the allocated seat and realised that we had chosen well, with seats in line with the half way line and an excellent view across all of the pitch.

IMG_5889 This was the view as the teams prepared for kick-off.

All in all it was a really good game with a Spurs win of 4-0.

After the game we returned to the tube and made our way back to Golders Green where we managed to pick up a taxi back to the hotel.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shame

The Gorse Fox’s comments about the weather obviously shamed it into moving to where it belongs. The clouds broke and the sun came out – all was as it should be.

Now having made our way to North London, we have travelled through several downpours (in the lesser counties) and whilst it is dry at present, it is looking a bit threatening.

Manager at the hotel turns out to be a Spurs fan and promised us free breakfast if Spurs win tonight! That’s service.

Ark

Rain fell through the night. It fell in prodigious quantities. A neighbour, who keeps a boat in her front garden, was concerned by the pairs of animals that seemed to be sheltering by her wall. Now, rain is not unheard of in these parts, but the Gorse Fox would like to remind you that this is Sussex, and rain is meant to be a refreshing shower – a mere spritz – not a Biblical downpour. If you want Biblical downpours then Manchester or Wales should be the destination of choice.

Now, off to the garage to see if the Gorse Fox can find a tape measure that is marked in cubits.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Video killed the radio star

The Gorse Fox gave up with Windows Live Movie Maker. He concluded that you can only delete a scene so many times before it becomes evident the software is poking fun at you. He looked around for alternatives. He tried Corel (who now own Ulead – whose Video software he used to like) but whatever they have done to the software makes it almost unusable because it is so slow. In the end the Gorse Fox plumped for Cyberlink’s PowerDirector.

This has proved to be most successful – it is easy to use, fast, and has a pleasingly intuitive interface. So far it has allowed the Gorse Fox to edit and render 19 videos of about 30 minutes a piece.

His dear friend Mr Amazon has also contributed to the week with an Audio-USB cable that will allow him to capture old cassette tapes into a digital format. Most cassettes were ditched many years back, but there are several audio-books on cassette that it would be more convenient to have in a format that could be enjoyed on the iPod.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eh?

Northern Burmese province of Kachin(g)

(Probably where the cash registers are made)

Solidarity

The Gorse Fox learns from the BBC that the Chie Execs of Lloyds Bank has decided not to take his £2m+ bonus this year. This follows yesterday’s similar announcement by the Chief Exec of Royal Bank of Scotland and a couple of execs from Barclays.

The Gorse Fox has decided that in a show of solidarity he will not take a £2m bonus either.

Oi

That is not the sort of weather that was ordered. The rain seemed incessant, was blowing in huge gusts, and was cold. In the end the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed out into the elements (in the car) and wandered around the shops and then moved on to look around the vehicles at the local car dealerships. GF was disappointed by the Lexus – good looking car, lots of gadgets, but no boot to speak of. Certainly we would have significant problems getting luggage to the airport if we planned to travel with more than an envelope each.

Smiles

The Gorse Fox is very happy this morning. He has tickets for the football on Wednesday, a booked tour of White Hart Lane on Thursday and tickets for the Gadget Show Live for April. What a start to the day!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Porridge

The pitch at Wigan looked like p0rridge… but Spurs did the business and ended up 0-3 winners (even though the first goal was offside). Good workmanlike performance from both sides.

Live Movie Maker

The Gorse Fox started off being quite impressed with WLMM… but the more he has used it the more it has started to irritate. The biggest problem seems to be the edit function which seems to display one set of results (as you want them) but when the final movie is compiled the results seems different and sequences that you thought you had removed turn up again as if by magic. One particular sequence has been removed 4 times now and each time it seems to reappear in the final version.

Cousteau-cub

Cousteau-cub phoned this morning. Tomorrow is the Gorse Fox’s birthday and she was keen to make contact before he got too involved in ticker-tape parades, civic receptions and so forth. She was in Phuket with a friend who was about to give birth… and had taken a few minutes out to call.

It was lovely to talk to her and she sounds well and thrilled about our planned trip.

DVD

The Gorse Fox has continued the experimental mood of yesterday. The Silver Vixen has recorded several thousand “Quilting” programmes on Sky+ and using the copy feature and the new gizmo (technical term) he has started to rip them into computer files.

In turn he has used Windows Live Movie Maker to edit the trash off the front and back – and remove the ads from the middle. Now a DVD is being encoded, and soon we will give it a try to see if it has worked.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Floods

What dreadful scenes of the floods and mudslides in Funchal, Madeira.

Experimenting

The Gorse Fox has had a very successful day of experimenting. If this entry shows up it has continued as “Windows Live Writer” ha correctly connected to the blog.

Other experiments have involved view some new cars and installing an Hauppauge TV control for Silver Vixen’s laptop. This in turn has allowed him to extract programmes off his Sky+ box and copy them to and view them from the computer.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Full

Another full, fruitful and satisfying day spent working from home. In the run-up to a week's vacation Gorse Fox had plenty to do and had trouble squeezing it in to the allotted time. The usual calls, messages and email interrupted the general progress and in some cases diverted the effort. All was done, eventually.

The Silver Vixen was  eager to get some sewing done, but her day was also interrupted by various calls and distractions. (The most important of these was the on-line booking of tickets to see Spurs replay against Bolton in the FA Cup next Wednesday... seem to have selected good tickets and the Gorse Fox is very excited). It was late afternoon before she finally managed to sit down at the sewing machine.

Today would have been the 108th Birthday of the Gorse Fox's grandfather. A great man, still sorely missed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It has been quiet. The Gorse Fox was working from home - that meant that he could get under way soon after seven this morning and he had a most productive time. There was a (virtual) pile of documents to read and absorb, teleconferences to attend, and design decisions to be discussed. In the meantime, gently music wafted from the computer to smooth the alpha waves (or whatever).

A small cloud crossed the horizon at one point as a colleague announced that he had sent the slides to the client. "What, you mean a PDF?" checked the Gorse Fox. There was long pause. "Ooops" came the response "I sent the Powerpoint. Have I done any damage?" The Gorse Fox racked his brains and then read quickly through the notes behind the slide concluding that no real damage was done, but a few minor indiscretions - perhaps.

The afternoon settled back into document reading and document creation. Progress is being made - though GF needs to spend some time on analysing the workload for the next few weeks. That can wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Strange

A busy day in the office which was rounded off nicely with a a sociable pint of foaming ale in a nearby hostelry.

Quote of the day (which was actually from last night at the restaurant)...
Two elderly gentlemen talking about their lives and how it was over 40 years since they'd met. The started to talk about acquaintances: "I don't want this to sound malicious, but you know that he's paedophile?"
Brain went into meltdown at that point.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ahhhh

It was a very successful day in Birmingham and the last minute refinements (over breakfast) went well and we were generally very satisfied as we left the offices and strolled back through the streets and made our way to the station for the journey south.

The Gorse Fox is becoming accustomed to the business of the trains but was lucky enough to find a seat. The traveller next to him was in a chatty mood and spent the whole journey talking about his Cash Converters franchise, Leeds United, cricket and goodness knows what else. It certainly made the journey whizz by.

It was thrashing down with rain as GF left Euston and headed to his hotel in Tottenham Court Road. At first things did not bode well as they were clearly struggling to find a room. After a few minutes, however, the duty manager managed to find a very nice room up near the top of the old building. Once GF had touched base with the Silver Vixen he headed back out into the rain to try and find a restaurant that specialised in fine Indian dining. After a bit of hunting about and walking some 30 minutes or so he found a nice restaurant behind the hotel. The food was excellent and it would certainly be worth a further visit in the future

Back in the hotel GF tried to use the free WiFi, but found it terribly slow - hence this blog entry being sent via Gmail rather than entered directly.

OMG

You have heard of that sinking feeling? That moment of panic, that visceral lurch that turns your stomach to a heaving mess?

It was a few minutes before nine as we arrived at Euston. We were aiming for the 21:03 train to Birmingham but had to buy our tickets. We headed for the ticket machines and started the transactions. GF was impressed that for less than 42 of Her Britannic Majesty's finest pounds he could pick up a return. As he squirreled the tickets away he and his colleagues headed across the concourse to where we had spied an ATM. Queuing in an orderly fashion we watched as the seconds ticked by and the queue moved inexorably onwards. GF glanced down. There was his roller-bag, but where was his laptop in its new super-secure case?

It was at this point he realised that a) he had left it by the ticket machines; b) what that sinking feeling really feels like; c) blind panic.

He charged back across the concourse but of course the bag had gone. He asked a nearby staff member and he said it had been collected and taken to left-luggage... so GF charged on round the corner. He ran into the office only to be told it was the wrong office and to continue round the corner. On he went. Rounding the corner he entered left luggage and saw the chap just about to sign his bag into oblivion. A few pleasanteries and copious thanks were bestowed on all and GF was re-united with his bag. By now
things were pretty tight so he ran like a madman back to his colleagues, retrieved his roller-bag and they headed for the train.

The ATM could wait.

By 2300 GF was tucked up in the Holiday Inn at Bhm... reflecting on what a lucky escape he had.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Change of Plan

It is funny how the best laid plans change. Gorse Fox had, well in advance, booked an hotel in London for tonight. This to allow him an early start on the train to Birmingham.

Oh no, no, no.

Plans have changed, hotel rooms have now been block booked in Birmingham and we are heading up there by train later this evening if we ever stop changing the slide deck and ever get it printed. One suspect that food and sleep may not be on the agenda the way things are going.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pad Thai Wii

Betty and Barney Rubble knocked at the door when GF was in the middle of exploring some pipelines technology - not that he has a particular reason to use it at present... but often finds reasons why it is the perfect solution to a niggling problem on the PC.

Now GF should explain that Betty and Barney's arrival was expected... we had arranged to spend the day together and enjoy a lunch at our favourite local Thai restaurant. After gorging on noodles and chillies, basil and prawns we finally left (before being thrown out for overstaying our welcome). Back at home the Wii was fired up and the rest of the afternoon was spent showing just how stupid adults can look once engrossed in silly games.

Now to get ready and pack bags for the upcoming working week,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gum - Plan B

The chewing gum stuck to the sleeve of GF's jacket has not disappeared spontaneously. Wisdom of the ancients tells us that putting it in the freezer will allow it to be chipped off. This, however, assumes there is sufficient room in the freezer for said jacket.

Plan B was called for. This involved a visit to the the local of emporium of Messrs Marks and his partner Spencer. Whilst the choice was not extensive, it was sufficient for GF's humble needs.

Back home the Urban-cub was having trouble with her laptop - it won't switch on. GF fiddled and it flashed briefly into life before collapsing again. This looks terminal... so he spent some time looking for suitable alternatives (which have to wait until she can afford the replacement). The disk will have to be retrieved from the laptop-corpse as she had not been backing up her photos (despite everything her father has taught her).

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thrashing

Urban-cub given a sound thrashing at Wii Frisbee Golf. (Revenge for last week)

Regeneration

Mmm. The Register is reporting that Starfleet may be vaporising some more staff... yet there doesn't seem to be whisper of it internally. Apparently the consultation period is about to start, so it sounds true. GF is just surprised that he hadn't heard anything - maybe it's not relevant to his division!

Slasher

The Gorse Fox received a new laptop bag today. Sounds a bit boring, but actually some of its features are quite good. It has wire mesh sandwiched in the fabric and carrying straps to stop it being slashed. It also has a high-tech padlock and zip cable to allow the zips to be secured in place and the bag secured to some fixed item (such as a radiator).

Now this may seem overkill - but GF has several colleagues that have had laptops stolen (in their bags) whilst in public places. For the sake of the £10 investment this seems like a fair preventative insurance.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Asking for It

Face it, the Gorse Fox was asking for it. He had commented to his colleagues that Friday tends to be the worst day on the trains and that was why he tries to avoid travelling on Fridays.

He packed up his work things and headed out. Residual light glowed in the sky as he strode along the Southbank and crossed the Thames. He was soon at Victoria. There were people everywhere. A sinking feeling grumbled at the pit of the stomach. No trains were at their platforms. People were milling about waiting for direction. It turned out that there had been a faulty train at Clapham and all of the inbound trains were stuck behind it.

Actually GF and his fellow travellers were lucky. The first train in was theirs, and with a quick turn-around they were only running 20 minutes late. It could have been worse... but then he did tempt fate!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Slides

The afternoon was beginning to look like death by slides. Two hours into the review on 16 slides had been discussed there were 50 or so more to come. The Gorse Fox saw a spider trying to slash its wrists as the review drew on.

Actually, things sped up and we only over-ran by 1 hour. Things are looking positive for the client session next week. There are still some changes to make, but not too many.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Chill

There was a chill in the air as Gorse Fox left for work. The snow flurries of yesterday seemed to have stopped but the day felt colder. The train arrived and Gorse Fox checked the seat carefully - a lesson was imparted yesterday when GF found that he had been leaning against discarded chewing gum during the journey and his jacket was ruined. Today's seat selection had no such problem... and GF settled down to the journey.

A quiet day day in the office. Busy, but quiet.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Getting it Straight

A phone rang. A small gnome-like man stretched into his pocket and put the phone to the side of his head. A big tapered woolly hat covered his head but a gap formed in his hirsute face as he answered. He seemed uneasy. He muttered into the phone: "No, the mortuary department" and hung up. Fellow travellers decided to ignore him.

Another phone rang. A small dumpy woman clutched the phone to her head, she listened for a moment and responded: "It's too late now, I'm nearly at Waterloo. I'm early 'cos I rushed out the house, but I've left the straighteners on". She hung up. Fellow travellers chose to ignore her.

All life is there... but will her house be on her return?

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pun relief

Those who know the Gorse Fox are well aware that he takes an unhealthy pleasure in the exercise of the pun. He has woken today with a positive tidal wave of puns rattling round the empty spaces between his ears. In order to clear the mind he has decided that these should be shared.
The underlying meme is music and musicians with a maritime bent:
Artists
Britney Spearfish
Delaney and Bonita
Cliff Pilchard
Bruce Whelk
Hank Marlin
Sardine Martin
Jefferson Starfish
Spencer Davis Grouper
Eel-o
Sole to Sole
Jerry and the Placemakers
Freddie and the Breamers
Barracuda Streisand
M.C. Hammerhead
Def Leopard Shark
Salmon Dave
Jimmy Dorsal Orchestra
Astrud Gillberto
Carpers Bizarre
Cuttlefish Crew
Robert Crayfish
Pike and the Mechanics
Shoala Ama
Jarvis Cockle 
Music
A Whitebait Shade of Pale
Soul Porpoise
Whale My Guitar Gently Weeps
Shark the Herald Angel Sing
When a Manta Loves a Woman
Mackerel the Knife
All Cried Trout
Another Brick in the Walrus
I Can Seal for Miles and Miles
You Kipper Me Hangin' On
Feel free to add comments with further examples... only rule is that you can't use something that already features the theme (e.g. the tunes Dolphin Dance, and Trout, or the performers Seal or Fish)

Thank you for letting the Gorse Fox get that off his chest

Diminuendo

The day started bright and sunny, but by mid-morning the initial promise was diminishing. We now sit under a grey canopy looking out to sea, where it still appears to be bright.

A quiet day is planned in expectation of a busy week.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Checkout

The Silver Vixen's sister has checked out and headed home. Not before she had accompanied said vulpine beauty to Worthing and met with the coven, and strolled along the promenade. It was a shame to see her go. She has been great company and a its been a pleasure to have her around.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Not Covered

The Gorse Fox watched the local news.

The Silver Vixen and her sister had spent the day in Brighton. Brighton may be a famous party town, but GF was not sure it was quite ready for the two of them roaming the streets causing havoc and mayhem among the shop-keepers, pedestrians, visitors and other passers-by. There was no mention of their incursion on the local news. No news of the mobilisation of Police Community Support Reservists or the Territorial Care in the Community Regiment. GF can only assume that it was hushed up in order to prevent the spread of panic among the locals and of course to protect Brighton's reputation.

Not cynical

Interesting day today and the Gorse Fox started early with a drive up to the Heathrow area for a meeting. Roads were suitably quiet and the journey a pleasure. The subject of the day was professional people management and involved and interesting series of presentation, workshops and a motivational speaker.

It is easy for GF to be cynical about such sessions - but actually he quiet enjoyed it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Traveller's breakfast

A young lady sat next to the Gorse Fox. The train was filling rapidly, but she managed to bag the prime position. She then proceeded to unbutton her coat, which she removed, and started to unwind her scarf. Note that GF did not refer to this as "take-off" but deliberately chose unwind. This scarf must have been wrapped around her neck four or five hundred times (this may be a slight exaggeration)... and GF was worrying that the removal may cause her head to roll off.
Once settled she opened the bag that she had slung onto the table (oblivious to the papers and devices that were already there). Almost climbing in, she delved into the deepest recesses of this reticule and slowly extracted one plastic container after another. Each was laid out on the table as the bag was stuffed behind the seat. Each was ceremoniously opened and one item of fruit removed and ingested from each container. The slurping noises woke several of the fellow commuters, but she continues to spray fruit juices over all and sundry. Then, sated, she recovered the bag and buried each container back within its confines ready to be retrieved again at lunchtime.

Conversations

The Gorse Fox stood by the door of the train from Clapham to Waterloo. A phone rang. A young woman selected the device from her bag, glanced at the screen and started to speak rapidly in Italian to he "Mama".... judging by the only word that made sense to the Gorse Fox's untrained ear.
The conversation continued and got ever more animated and loud. Suddenly the fellow traveller interspersed the flow of Italian with pure "Estuary English" containing several choice expletives as she declared that she would be late... and then switched back into Italian.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Busy

Busy morning. Looks as if one of the previous pieces of work is coming to an end due to budget constraints. Shame really, it was very interesting.
Current piece of work is building up steam, but is dependent on several external factors beyond our control.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Fine, no it's ok, he's fine

It was another productive day in London. The afternoon in particular was interesting with a workshop conducted by the Giant. As usual it was interesting getting his view of things and helping shape things for the project.

Gorse Fox was later leaving the office than planned, and fortunately his dash across town to Victoria was trouble-free and he got to the usual train just in time. (More successful than yesterday when the Gorse Fox was attacked by gravity on the steps of Embankment tube station. This involved catching a heel on a step, starting to fall and being driven downwards by the laptop bag over his shoulder. Other travellers parted and looked on in amazement as knee crunched against platform and GF managed to spring cat-like to his feet. He did feel foolish - but at least he wasn't hurt.)

The Silver Vixen's sister has come down to stay for a few days, which is nice.

Monday, February 01, 2010

What?

The Gorse Fox woke up to snow again. Only about a centimetre, but as it wasn't expected it came as a surprise. The train turned up on time, and best still it was warm. Back up in town GF had a good day by the Thames. Not much to report... so pass along now please.