Thursday, June 30, 2011

Back home

Gorse Fox is back in West Sussex after a busy day in the office. The journey was fairly trouble free, but slow due to sheer weight of traffic and the backup near Arundel caused GF to nip round the back way.

It's nice to be home.



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Warning

Another headline today warns "21 dementia victims given lethal jabs..." Gorse Fox though it might be worth pointing this out to Bob Crowe, Mark Serwotka, and the other Trade Union barons who are driving the strike action tomorrow. Asking for more, when the cupboard is bare - a clearer diagnosis of dementia probably cannot be found.



Bacon

There was a headline in today's Mail "Mystery buyer forks out £18m for a Bacon"

Now, the Gorse Fox likes a bacon sandwich as much as the next man, but is not sure he'd fork out 18M for one.


Change

A change, they say, is as good as a rest. With this epithet ringing in his ears, the Gorse Fox left the hotel and went in search of dinner. When staying in the centre, here, GF often ends up at Picolino for a pizza, but it was clear that some other cuisine was to be flavour of the day.

GF strolled through the streets looking for something that caught his fancy. Ironically, he ended up at Pizza Express. So all in all, it was not the change that was planned.

Clusters of teenagers dressed to the nines are gathering outside the hotel. Obviously their "prom" is being held here tonight. GF is glad he's on the top floor, on the back of the building. He suspects that he is in the quietest spot, all things being considered.



Happy Birthday

Many, many years ago, when life was lived in black and white and nutrition was such that little girls grew to their full height equivalent to a Barbie doll and were towered over by Borrowers, the Gorse Fox was blessed with a tiny sister. Today is the anniversary of her birth.

Happy birthday sis!

(This was probably the trigger that caused the Gorse Fox to become interested first in miniatures, and later in nano-technology).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bristol - days rays


Bristol
Originally uploaded by Gorse Fox.
The last few rays of the day light up eastern Bristol.

Arthurian


The day is drawing to an end. At the end of the normal working day there was and Executive Round Table - the bribe that convinced us to attend was the promise of dinner at the end. An excellent Asian feast at Tompopo fitted the bill well.


Monday, June 27, 2011

Wimbledon




They have put up a big screen in Bristol city centre for die hard tennis fans to keep in touch with the latest from Wimbledon. Huge rain drops were peppering the ground but a few fanatics were not budging as long as the game was still going on.

Can't count, won't count

The Gorse Fox is back in Bristol. This hotel has several lifts. One, as usual, is broken. The others can't count. As the lift stops at the third floor a disembodied voice says "second floor" on the fourth floor it says nothing at all and moving on up it is consistently wrong on every floor. This always amuses the Gorse Fox and is a cause for discussion among the travellers - though this would probably be less amusing if one was partially sighted.



Sunday, June 26, 2011

Splash

IMG_0258

The Urban-cub took to the water with Pete… and it goes without saying that not all of the water remained where it was meant to be.

Drifting away

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The last of the sea mist drifts away.

The mist drifted away bit by bit and then, all of a sudden, there was no hint that it had ever been there at all.

Ethereal

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It was threatening to be a lovely day. However, a sea mist hung along the coast leaving the beach like the set of a horror film… with the mist drifting by and revealing the odd walker, or the sail boat.

Only a hundred yards inland the sun was beating down on the Gorse, but the beach remained stubbornly shrouded.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Disappointment

The Urban-cub has suffered a disappointment. The tenants, who had occupied her apartment in Worthing, have moved out during the week. New tenants are due to take up residence today. The only problem is that the old tenants have left the place in a dreadful state and U-c, starting at six o'clock this morning, has had to go through and clean the place from top to bottom. She is dreadfully upset to be let-down so badly by people that had seemed such good occupants.

At least she has their deposit to hang on to!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Slides

After dropping the car at the garage for it's first service, Gorse Fox got stuck in to a varied day of work. First on the agenda was to prepare some slides for a presentation to troops in one of Starfleet's other departments. Having finished that GF is quite chuffed with the completed article.

Then it was back to day job, and catching up on the progress made by some of the trolls that GF referenced in yesterday's post. By late afternoon it was time to manage the weekly call for the preselection of candidates for Starfleet's inner circle of technical specialists. Hopefully we will put forward 7 or 8 candidates for election this year, if they make they mark.

Silver Vixen was outfit the day with the Gorse Fox's sister. They met up in Chichester to drink tea, eat paninis, and cause fear and confusion in the clothes, shoe, and bag shops of this genteel town.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

Splendid

Some days are good, and some a just splendid (GF does not tolerate anything less than good). Today was splendid. Starting just after seven, the Gorse Fox had a concerted run at several intractable problems to ensure he was ready for the day's meeting. Whilst solutions are still elusive, the meetings were remarkably smooth as GF was able to provide so much collateral to support his assertions.

His biggest concern at present is a subset of the the project that seems intent on working separately from the rest and have approached their work by throwing a batch of project managers at the problem - but no solutioners, architects, techies or whatever. As a result we are seeing plenty of plans but no actual progress. The Gorse Fox is puzzled at how a troll can produce a project plan, when no techie has actually designed a solution or explained the approach, first. This will be GF's next crusade.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solutions

The Gorse Fox has been considering one of the assumed solutions we were to implement here in the West Country. The more he considered it, the more that doubts began to invade his consciousness, and in turn this triggered a day full of research.

The conclusion, so far, is that we have to find an alternative. This alternative will challenge the assumptions and expectations of the contract... And at this point the alternative has not been identified. This is a problem that will simmer away in the back of the head until a solution is found or invented. This is the part of the job that Gorse Fox likes most.



Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back in the saddle

After a pleasant day off with the Silver Vixen the Gorse Fox was up early this morning to head back to work. The journey was a bit quicker than the usual Monday drive, but part of it was made more fun by a mid-year review conducted over the (hands free) mobile phone. The review seemed to go well, though apparently GF doesn't get cross enough and bang the table often enough. Guess what? That's never been his style. And GF suspects that being and old dog, this is a new trick he will not manage to learn.


Paper, pens

The Gorse Fox has a vice. It doesn't vary. It doesn't move about. It is Stationery... and there is something deeply satisfying about working in a building that has its own stationery shop.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Trust

As the Gorse Fox checked out of his hotel last week he asked the receptionist to amend his booking. This week he would not arrive until Tuesday. She seemed distracted, but GF was assured she would see to it.

This morning, a day's vacation at his disposal, GF phoned to check. He evidently has trust issues. Having negotiated the irritating push button menus he  ended up in a US call Centre. They were very polite, but unable to do anything - the Gorse Fox would have to call the local bookings department... he started to respond that that had been his intention all along but the line went dead.

He phoned back. Again he arrived at the US Call Centre - he asked to be transferred to the local Bristol bookings department. The agent thanked him for his custom and assured him that he was being put through. Again the line went dead.

He phoned back and negotiated his way to the switchboard operator. Explaining his dilemma she put him through to the local booking clerk. Sure enough his change to the booking had NOT been applied and he was still expected tonight. Helpfully, she made the required changes and even gave the number for her direct line.

Everything sorted - GF is pleased that his trust issues forced him to check - he would have been significantly annoyed if they had charged him for not turning up today.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Honour

One of the greatest honours that can befall a man is that of fathering a child. The Gorse Fox was doubly honoured with the gift of Cousteau-cub and Urban-cub, and today, Fathers' day GF has had the chance to see both of them. Urban-cub popped round this morning with two thirds of her ready-made family.

This afternoon, Cousteau-cub popped up on Skype and we were able to chat with her online for nearly and hour.

Between the two of them it has made a perfect day.


Dishonesty

It's strange how some companies, like Starfleet, have a culture and ethos that fills you with pride. The Gorse Fox remembers, when he was a young cadet, that he had to read and sign up to a set of business conduct guidelines. These were ultimately a moral code by which he agreed to conduct his business life - and was happy to do so, because they were essentially a codex of good practice, honesty, and respect.

Similarly, Google have their Mantra "Do no evil".

Then on the other side of the coin there are several large Corporations and companies that, over the years, have exhibited to the Gorse Fox a culture of endemic dishonesty and aggression. One, that will remain nameless - but hit the news again this weekend will always trigger the memory of Gorse Fox sitting out the Chief Financial Officer's office for a major retail giant - along with a technical salesman from said company. We were collaborating on the provision of some leading edge solutions at the time - GF was designing and providing the basic hardware platform - and Sam's company was providing some critical software.

We had been summoned, because the project was slipping. I asked Sam while we were waiting - when are you going to deliver the required release of code. He said it was at least 6 months away - 4 if we were really lucky. We were then ushered into the CFO's office. He immediately rounded on Sam - When will he deliver the required software release? Without batting an eyelid he responded "Early next week".

Such mendacity has been a feature of almost every interaction I have had with that company... yet they still make vast sums of money and lock their victims into exorbitantly priced license deals - one feature of which is that they cannot discuss the performance of the system.

And don't get me started on another well known and amazingly well trusted Corporation. Those stories will have to wait until after retirement!

Rough

The Gorse Fox is still feeling rough, but feels as if a corner has been turned and he's on the up.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

They call me the hunter

Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen headed out to hunt down some possible properties. Several hours later we returned with brace of houses that met the basic requirements.



Deterioration

The incipient cold of yesterday has hit hard today. GF is dealing manfully with sneezing, coughing, and a sore throat. He is not amused.



Tally Ho

A mangy fox just wandered across the garden - not realising where it was, no doubt. The Gorse Fox opened the back door and asserted his ownership of the territory and the visitor scarpered.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Warrior

The Gorse Fox's warrior cells have taken exception to some alien bacterium, virus, or protein. They are steadfastly fighting a war in his throat and sinuses, and the casualties of this battle are flowing freely. GF wishes they would employ some 'shock and awe' and bring this skirmish to a rapid conclusion.

(Now, where are the tissues?)

Calls

Like most Fridays, Gorse Fox's afternoon was punctuated by a series of telephone calls and requests for authorisations and reviews. The rain (imported from northern parts) thrashed down outside.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Perquisites

The Gorse Fox remembers that the Abbott once walked into his hotel room in Worcester, only to find a you lady already in situ. Obviously an executive benefit!
At about 10 o’clock last night, there was a rattling of the door handle to the Gorse Fox’s luxurious suite at the Hilton. He ignored it.

The rattling continued and the sound of voices filtered into the room. It soon became clear that someone was trying to insert their access key into the door, and the door was standing firm. This continued for a few minutes.

Gorse Fox thought it was time to investigate and removed the chain, and the slipped the deadlock. He opened the door and poked his head out. An elderly French lady staggered back and cried “Mon Dieu”, then “Je suis desolee”… and wandered off.

The Gorse Fox closed the door, remembered the Abbott, and wondered what things had come to!

Home

Gorse Fox is home. Home despite the end of the A34 and the M3 being completely gridlocked and fortunately GF was given a warning and was able to divert and take an alternate route. As a result GF had a pleasant run through the country and still got home in about three hours.



Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strike

If 750,000 civil servants... Whose pensions are the envy of us all, and paid by us all, were go on strike for a day - would anyone notice? Those who aren't striking are probably more than capable of taking the strain.



Dignity... Dignities

The Gorse Fox was just thinking... In Brighton, on a corner, stands a restaurant called Days. It is a buffet style with a choice of hundreds of dishes from India, China, Japan, Italian, and so forth. It seems to be packed and the food is fresh, and generally superb.

And so the Gorse Fox went to Cribbs Causeway and found a restaurant called Preview Grill. It is a buffet style, with a choice of Indian, Chinese, Italian and so forth. The problem lay in the choice (very limited), freshness, and quality. Not a place that finds it way onto the "must return" list.

Now, the Gorse Fox is still dazzled by the sight of the Silver Vixen. Even the sound of her voice can scramble his neurones. So as he left the car, he phoned the Silver Vixen for a chat. The sound of her voice obviously started the scramble process, and the clustering of grey cells queuing up to visit Dignitas proved too much. When he left the (never to return to) restaurant, he couldn't find the car. The landmark that he had committed to memory turned out to be one of many... But which? And as he searched for said vehicle the rain started to fall.

Perfect.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Teachers

This is moral baseball bat time.

It seems that teachers, who's salaries are paid by the taxpayer wish to strike. The reason? Pension changes.

Well Gorse Fox has news. Most of us in the private sector have already had to sacrifice chunks of our pensions, and work longer, and contribute more towards what is left.

Teachers expect support from those who have already been clobbered. GF suspects not. Indeed as far as he is concerned they can go whistle.



Solutions

It has been a busy day with part of it in the Starfleet office in Bristol and the last part in the client offices on the Bristol outskirts. Firstly we were reviewing the details of that our solutions team had used as the basis for the contract... And we were pointing out where assumptions were proving wrong.

In the afternoon we were looking at a particular design to solve one of their problems. It is the only practical solution and they recognise that. Problem is that their security people will probably fight it tooth and nail for weeks until they are finally beaten into recognition of the reality.



Monday, June 13, 2011

House buying

The Gorse Fox notes that BBC TV Centre is up for sale. Plenty of room for a study for GF and a hobby room for Silver Vixen. Handy for the shops (Westfield Centre across the road). Small garden, plenty of parking, and room for guests. Handy for the tube...

Heating bill is probably quite high though.



Back out west

So Monday dawned and GF leapt into action. Ablutions, coffee, case, laptop, car packed and onto the highways and byeways. The weather was settling but the traffic was slow. The latest audio book "The Seventh Sacrament" by David Hewson is proving so engrossing that the traffic became an excuse to hear more.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Foul

The weather was foul. Not just wet and windy, but totally foul - like living in the North. This is not how weather is meant to be in Sussex. Rain should be warm and gentle and only fall at night. Wind should be a gentle zephyr that caresses your skin as you bask in the sun.

Betty and Barney Rubble visited from the wilds of Hampshire which was nice. A fine lunch and lots of chat made it, as usual, great fun.



Saturday, June 11, 2011

Back to normal

After a frustrating morning trying to find a successful path to Skype Cousteau-cub, but with no success. By lunchtime it was clear that we would not be lucky today.

Packing the car was like doing a rubic cube in the dark, trying to find a way of getting mother-in-law's stuff into the car. What with walking frames and seating frames and a narrow boot opening, this was a an interesting challenge. After twenty minutes or so the puzzle was complete and our erstwhile guest was installed in the front seat and we delivered her to Silver Vixen's sister.

Returning home everything was soon back to normal.



Friday, June 10, 2011

Eugenics?

The Gorse Fox has received an email from a friend form way back when.

Citing the following list of complaints, apparently received by Thomas Cook Holidays, you have to sympathise with the worrying thought that “they walk among us, and are allowed to breed (and on the evidence of 1997 until 2010 were allowed to vote)”.

  1. 1. "I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."
  2. "It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be  banned
  3. "On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry.  I don't like spicy food at all."
  4. "We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels."
  5. A tourist at a top African game lodge overlooking a water hole, who spotted a visibly aroused elephant, complained that the sight of this rampant beast ruined his honeymoon by making him feel "inadequate".
  6. A woman threatened to call police after claiming that she'd been locked in by staff. When in fact, she had mistaken the "do not disturb" sign on the back of the door as a warning to remain in the room.
  7. "The beach was too sandy."
  8. "We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white."
  9. A guest at a Novotel in Australia complained his soup was too thick and strong. He was inadvertently slurping the gravy at the time.
  10. "Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women."
  11. "We bought' Ray-Ban' sunglasses for five dollars from a street trader, only to find out they were fake.
  12. "No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled."
  13. "There was no egg slicer in the apartment..."
  14. "We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish..."
  15. "The roads were uneven..
  16. "It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England it only took the Americans three hours to get home."
  17. "I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller."
  18. "The brochure stated:  'No hairdressers at the accommodation'. We're trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying here?"
  19. (After a Spanish Holiday) "There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish, the food is Spanish. Too many foreigners.."
  20. "We had to queue outside with no air conditioning."
  21. "It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."
  22. "I was bitten by a mosquito - no-one said they could bite."
  23. "My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."

The Gorse Fox happily acknowledges the original collator of this information, which has obviously been provided as a public service and needs to be considered when planning the future of education and democracy as a whole.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wheeze

Got all wheezy after Milton Jones' performance on Mock the Week. Couldn't catch a breath for laughing.


Home

More stuff like yesterday, but eventually GF got away and settled down with his audiobook in the car and whizzed back to Sussex.

Have interviewed a couple of colleagues about joining the team next week. Have to decide which one to pick and get him on board next Wednesday.



Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Just stuff

So far there has been little to report. Given that the Gorse Fox is back in his hotel room now, he hopes (and assumes) it will stay that way.

Work was fairly full of tasks that for some reason would not do themselves and so GF has attended meeting, written presentations, updated documents and spreadsheets, signed off expenses, rejected expenses, signed of a professional certification case, requested feedback on staff, reported his findings of a project review, and set up a series of teleconferences to select the right candidates for Starfleet's technical inner circle for the UK. Just stuff.

Was puzzled by the headline that the Lords had rejected a Government proposal to demand a referendum whenever there was a major transfer of responsibility ( read sovereignty) to Europe. Sorry my Lords... But your are wrong, out of touch, and do not represent the people.



Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Minor victories

The Gorse Fox is competitive by nature.

Tonight he walked out of the car park and up to the hotel as a coach load of tourists tumbled out of their luxury couch and poured into the hotel.

GF smirked. They would spend ages checking in.

The smirk was premature. They were already checked in and firing a huge queue for the lifts. GF is staying on the tenth floor. It could be a long wait.

Failing brain cells kicked into gear. There is a mezzanine floor a few steps up from the lobby. If he could catch an elevator there... And so he bounded like a mountain goat up the stairs, pressed the button and leapt into and empty lift.

One of life's little victories.



Oops

So, as reported yesterday, the Gorse Fox found his way to Bristol. This should not be construed as a major success, however. After all, travel is fairly straightforward, and Gorse Fox was meant to be in Portsmouth. It would be satisfying to blame a faulty SatNav, or problem with the earth's magnetic field. Indeed it would be acceptable to blame a problem with his diary. In fact none of these was culpable. The diary was consistent on the Starfleet laptop, the both mobile phones, and the iPad. GF can only assume that huge numbers of grey cells have been leaping to their death recently.



Monday, June 06, 2011

Out west

The Gorse Fox is back in the West Country. It has been a good day, but GF is glad that it is over. The team has been moved again and now occupies a corner of a call centre. What fun! And surprisingly, it isn't as noisy as you might expect.

Staying in the City Centre this week, GF met up with a colleague and headed for an Asian restaurant that GF has tried before. Great food and good company.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Apps

Well apparently "There's and App for that"... and so there is! Silver Vixen wanted a Weather Report/Forecast on her iPad. A few minutes searching et voila new app is downloaded and performing the required service. Not sure we needed the weather report - after yesterday's heat, today is overcast with the occasional light shower and only hovering at about 15C. However, according to the app it will be sunny again by Wednesday, even if the temperatures don't improve too much.

This got the Gorse Fox thinking... the way in which photos are handled by the iPhone seems very clunky - as good as the photos are. Was there an app that would allow the simple transfer of photos from the iPhone to the iPad? Of course there was... et voila encore the app is downloaded to both and the photos whizz through the ether and find their way magically onto the iPad. Though having done that, it is amazing how many photos the Silver Vixen has got of the Gorse Puma.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Mobility

Watching the England international against Switzerland, the Gorse Fox is concerned that he is more animated and mobile than the England team.



Hot

Very hot outside. Even the breeze is warm. Absolutely super day, weatherwise.

The Puma escaped this morning. He was allowed out with Silver Vixen and her Mother, but he leapt onto the wall and down into a neighbour's garden. Said neighbour has a bull terrier of some sort - so GF was dispatched to retrieve the puma before it became breakfast. Needless to say, the puma heard GF approaching and leapt back over the wall. He's confined to barracks again at present.

Pollen

The Gorse Fox understands that in the great scheme of things pollen is an important substance - it allows trees, plants and crops to create new generations and even mutations of themselves and prolong their genetic presence on the planet. Unfortunately, it also gets up his nose and irritates the linings of his airways, triggering the body into a response. Yes, GF has woken up with hayfever, and is not amused. At this moment he just wishes that the particular pollen that is acting as an allergen would go away and that his eyes and nose would settle down.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Wildlife

Strange how things happen. Gorse Fox arrived home yesterday and whilst catching up on the news from Silver Vixen was surprised to see a small dog chasing a fox around and around the front garden. Things settled down and we sat down for supper, only to be distracted by a hedgehog wandering across the back lawn. All was well.

This morning Mellors spotted the hedgehog again. By now he was limping (the hedgehog, not Mellors) and it was clear that he had been injured. Silver Vixen leapt into action (leaping may conjure an exaggerated picture of activity, to be fair) and sought the nearest vet or animal hospital. By the time contact had been made and advice provided, the hedgehog had disappeared.

Eventually the spiky chap reappeared, was boxed up and carted off for treatment. Again, all is well.



WAH

WAH is the acronym used widely within Starfleet to mean Working at Home. It is Gorse Fox's objective to every Friday. Today, the stars are obviously in the right alignment as GF is ensconced in his own study ready to start spinning the grindstone.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Wide load

It was a really good day. Gorse Fox had a couple of workshops planned and both proved to be immensely useful and cleared up a significant number of previously intractable problems.

The journey back to sacred Sussex was somewhat delayed by a wide load, but the entertainment afforded by the latest audiobook kept GF amused.

Once home GF learned that the trip taken by the Silver Vixen along with Urban-cub over that last couple of days had been a complete waste of time and money because the planned physio appointment was missed because of crazy concept of punctuality and the illusion that you can get from Buckingham to Aylesbury and find a parking space in 15 minutes or less. Silver Vixen was less than amused when she found out.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Saffron

The day started with a puzzle. Gorse Fox was working through a number of pieces of a design jigsaw when he realised that really the jigsaw pieces were from different puzzles... And he didn't have the cover picture. An hour with a new mind map started to provide some clarity and allowed him to gather some colleagues and brain dump on them. After all, it was their jigsaw and they were not aware they were struggling. A workshop tomorrow morning should give shape to the puzzle once and for all.

After work GF headed straight for Saffron's, the local Indian restaurant, where, perversely, the waiters wear red waistcoats (why not saffron?).