Monday, October 31, 2011
At work we greeted some new colleagues and had the usual weekly review. Then it was back to the documents and attempting to clear the last review comments and get a few more approved.
A quick trip to Nandos for some chicken and salad preceded the hotel check-in and chat with the Silver Vixen who has been at a workshop today, learning some new techniques with her sewing machine.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
GF has enjoyed the day. He helped the Silver Vixen turn yesterday's diagrams and plans into reality. Well, he helped with the measurements and the angles! This was followed by a most satisfactory couple of hours with Harry and the boys at White Hart Lane (on TV).
Tomorrow reality returns with a bump.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Today saw the Gorse Fox trying to act as the helping hand. The exhibition at the local community centre has come to an end and it was time to help take down all the quilts and other projects that had been exciting public for the last month. It didn’t take too long, but did feature several anxious moments as GF tried to find dropped pins.
Back home, the Silver Vixen is in the final stages of a particular quilt. This involves using a particular technique to pick out some shapes around its border. This is where the Gorse Fox came in useful. He created a scaled version of the quilt and then tried to illustrate the various options that SV was considering so that she could see the effect and also get the basic measurements.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Though the first meeting of the morning over-ran, the rest of the day went pretty smoothly. At lunchtime GF ran a team meeting for his techies and took the opportunity to impress on them the fact that the client is actually document-driven more than anything else, and that for the remainder of the programme the production of documents will be a key focus as that is the only way we will get their approval to proceed through each stage.
GF got away from Bristol slightly earlier than expected, but the traffic dictated that those extra minutes were eaten up. By the time GF was on the motorway he was running later than usual, and worse still – he was feeling drowsy. A ten-minute power-nap at Membury Services sorted that out.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A couple of late afternoon conference calls capped the day, and the Gorse Fox pottered through the traffic, listening to his book as he found his way back to the hotel.
Dinner was meant to be at Nandos, but they were busy, and so were several other restaurants, so GF ended up at Giraffe.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Got a message for nano-sister after her trip to the consultant. Scans are looking promising. Further check in February.
GF has a different day tomorrow. Off site planning meeting. Should be interesting.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Once at work, he managed to stay off-grid for a while and got stuck into another of the missing documents. A meeting interrupted progress, but GF managed to excuse himself from the follow-on meeting. Progress continued well until project managers got involved. At that point a couple of hours was lost, but GF was on a roll. Once troll-free he managed to confirm another document was ready to release, and finished another of his own. GF has been asked to show a series of authors for the documents, even though most were written by him.
Back at the hotel, GF phoned the Silver Vixen then popped out for dinner at Piccolinos.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The Gorse Fox is also troubled by the shenanigans going on in Westminster.
It is becoming clear that open democracy is a myth, and that intervention by the electorate can only be tolerated when its suits the incumbents. We have a request from 100,000+ members of the electorate for a referendum on the subject of our place in the EU. (This, you will remember, was promised by NuLabour in the run up to the Lisbon Treaty, and reneged upon; and again it was promised by the Tories).
Now we find that individual MPs are being “encouraged” to toe the Party Line and vote against giving the electorate a voice. This is troubling, because the Party senses that the electorate may actually dare to come up with an answer that Mandarins and MPs don’t like.
I hope that the Gorse Fox’s MP has the guts and moral fibre to vote with his conscience and represent his constituents. Party politics have a place in our system, but NOT when the electorate is clamouring to be heard. Then it should representation of the people.
Gorse Fox suspects this is effectively a self-destruct button for the Government. Those disenfranchised by the “whip” will flock to the UK Independence Party and the core Tory support will whither.
Now the Gorse Fox should point out, that he has no particular axe to grind regarding the UK position in the EU. Indeed, he is not sure how he would vote in a referendum on the UK’s continued membership. What he really objects to is the arrogance of Westminster dictating what we the electorate should have a say in, and the presumption that they know best.
The anti-Christian establishment continues to persecute people for their beliefs and the “though-police” have stepped in.
We see reports of a Christian making comments on his Facebook page, expressing an opinion regarding gay-marriage in Church. It was not anti-gay marriage, it was questioning the appropriateness of such an event in Church. This was not a public pronouncement, but one only visible to his circle of “friends”. One of the “friends” reported his innocuous (but not politically correct) comment to the Housing Trust where they work. As a result he has been demoted and lost nearly a third of his salary.
Martyrdom in the UK is not as violent as it used to be, but
God, Supreme Being, Heaven, someone help you if you if you should should have an opinion that may not match that of the PC brigade.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The real challenge of the day came in trying to fix the coffee maker. Reading the instructions GF suspects he needs to clean the infuser. The instructions say that two red buttons had to be pressed to release the infuser. The diagrams show the locations of the buttons on either side of said infuser. Problem is, they also show the infuser as being vertically mounted, with access to both sides. In practice, on our model, the infuser is mounted diagonally and one of the buttons is completely inaccessible. GF ended up writing to the manufacturer. Let's see what comes back.
Tickets for the November international between England and Spain have been ordered. Should be a good night out.
Friday, October 21, 2011
It may not be original, but Thank God it’s Friday. This week seems to have been a one long relentless round of smoothing things over, being reasonable, and writing documents to patch up holes. Each day has stretched to eleven or more hours, and the Gorse Fox is going boss-eyed. The document that is open in front of him, is not progressing. The creative juices have stopped flowing. Nevertheless, GF has managed to complete and publish 3 of the nine required documents today.
Laptop is now closed, and the Gorse Fox can hear the plaintiff cry of fine bottle of Merlot begging for his attention.
The real crisis of the day, however, was not the state of the documents, but rather the fact that the coffee maker seems to have failed. Loud rasping sounds seem to emit from its workings, and no water traverses the tubes. This will need some attention tomorrow.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
It seems that this week is being retained as some form of punishment for having taken time off. A number of design documents are outstanding and at the moment the Gorse Fox has no access to resources who can write them. This is being used as a cudgel, and GF has to smile keep calm and carry on.
At least he finally escaped and headed home to Sussex. The audio book “Sanctus” playing in the car kept the journey interesting and came to a satisfying conclusion. It had been a good book.
Once home he settled down with the Silver Vixen and saw the last half hour of the Spurs game (an edgy 30 minutes, but 1-0 win) over the Russian team Rubin Kazam.
Oh well, tomorrow is another day.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Talking of work, the day has not been significantly better than yesterday. The Gorse Fox has spent much of the day resisting the temptation of ripping off someone's leg and beating him over the head with it until he steps up to the responsibilities that has been avoiding. This has meant that GF is again doing several day jobs at a time.
Back in the hotel, GF phone the Silver Vixen - she was having dinner with Rick Wakeman and the headmistress and it sounded as if they were having a riot. The headmistress has a broken shoulder at present. The result of a Strictly Come Breaking competition. Surgical intervention is scheduled for next week, so hopefully all will be well.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
GF had his work cut out remaining calm. However, he has now spent several hours trying to grab the problem (if not the project manager) by the neck. He's chatted with the client and they have reset and agreed several sets of expectations. He's not saying that things are under control, but they are less out of control.
Chiquito was chosen for dinner, but was extraordinarily slow. Back at the hotel, GF found that his room key had deactivated and had to return to reception to get it recoded. A final slap from fate.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Eventually all was clear (6 hours later) and the Gorse Fox hit the road. This, it turned out was a good decision. The journey was only two and half hours, whereas a colleague had taken three and half hours earlier in the morning.
Once in the office it was clear that the important changes that GF had been working on had been approved. Other areas had not moved on as much as hoped and GF will have to get more involved than he wanted.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
During the afternoon, GF watched the Spurs game with Newcastle. (Wasn't impressed that Jasper, the cat, was watching all decked out in black and white). The draw was probably a fair result, but then again, GF would have taken a win in place of fairness!
GF managed to chat online with Cousteau-cub. She hasn't been affected by the flooding in Thailand. That seems to have been concentrated on the central plain and the Gulf of Thailand. Indeed, she said that the winds had changed and that the weather was now getting really hot again. Diving has been good, and she and the Coventry Hobbit have been very busy.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
The Gorse Fox was mistaken for scam bait. A phone call came through and an Indian gentleman tried to convince the Gorse Fox that he worked for Microsoft’s technical team. To prove his credentials he quoted the license number of the PC and said they were receiving an inordinate number of error messages from that machine.
GF’s antenna started to detect a rodent.
He then carefully instructed GF how to view the various events that the PC was recording and declared what a calamitous state it was in. The Gorse Fox played along. This was elaborate!
As long as he was suggesting the execution of benign commands, GF continued to ramp up his phone bill. Then came the denouement. He requested that the Gorse Fox access the internal technical support system at Microsoft. (err, if it is the Internal support system, why would GF be able to access it?).
The address of the system was given as a web address with AMMYY as part of the URL (GF won’t enter the whole thing to prevent anyone accidentally clicking on it). Why would an internal Microsoft web site not have some symbolic acronym for Microsoft somewhere in the URL?
Gorse Fox thanked the gentleman for his attention and told him that he would not be accessing the aforementioned address. It is, after all, a well known tool for taking over access to the PC and giving access to the hard drive.
The Gorse Fox is getting old, but he’s not senile yet!
Friday, October 14, 2011
The seat of wisdom.
No, not THAT one.
The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had to hang around a bit to await the local Estate Agent. New to the area, he wanted to come and see the house and familiarise himself with the property.
The house dates back to 1229 when the Priory was founded and was lived in by Augustinian canons until the Dissolution in 1537. We had picked a fantastic day to visit, the sun was bright and there was not a cloud to be seen; and this, in case you have forgotten, is mid October.
The Church of the Holy Trinity was destroyed and the house underwent various transformations including the addition of an extensive Tudor wing. What we now see is charming structure cared for by the Sussex Archaeological Society.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Alongside all of that excitement the Gorse Fox decided it was time to sort out his smartphone. It is a great phone, but it keeps running out of space. A factory reset cleared the phone and the bit by bit the apps were re-installed. All in all, this seems to have freed up about 60MB of space and that should allow quite some leeway.
Finally the Gorse Fox has updated the iPad to iOS5. Seems ok so far.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Starting just as rush hour finished, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed across the county to meet up with Betty and Barney Rubble at Sheffield Park Garden.
Whilst we had been before, it was the first visit for our elderly friends. It was immediately clear that they were impressed. No untoward comments were made regarding Barney leaving his camera at home (after all, after the mishaps of last year’s trip to Florence, GF could hardly cast the first stone).
We followed a broadly clockwise route around the lake, making a few detours here and there. The advantage that we had for this visit was that, being mid week, the gardens were very quiet.
Whilst the sky was overcast, there were occasional breaks in the cloud, and it was quite warm. As we progressed, however, there was a brief ten minutes of drizzle but we were pretty well sheltered by the trees, so it was no hardship.
At lunch we returned to the tea rooms, but seeing the queue, retreated to the car and drove to The Bull at Newick where we had a splendid lunch. Returning to the Gardens, we set out to explore some of the paths we had missed in the morning. By now the sky was clearing and it was really quite cheery.
Finishing off the tour, we returned to the tea rooms before picking up the road home.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The nice thing (ok, one of the nice things) about being on holiday is the ability to please yourself and choose to do something at a moment’s notice.
The weather was warm, but a bit overcast. Not too far from here is High Beeches, one of a trio of gardens that were created and nurtured by the same extended family. The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had never visited it before, and today seemed like just the opportunity.
We arrived early enough to pop into the tea rooms for a cup of the eponymous brew and a snack. Then as the clock struck one, we headed for the entry to the gardens. Being early, as we were, we had the place virtually to ourselves.
As the sun broke through, the leaves exploded into their autumnal hues and whether close up, or landscape views, the place was enchanting.
It was a charming way to spend an hour or so.
Monday, October 10, 2011
The problem with this is that we had forgotten the secret hiding place. After some thought we resorted to Mobile.me to switch on the audible beacon that would reveal where the iPad was hidden. A few moments later an anonymous box started to beep and the lost gadget revealed itself.
Sunday, October 09, 2011
As usual, the third world airport facilities meant that we had thirty minutes to wait before we we directed to the baggage carousel. (At Bangkok, you know the carousel before you even disembark).
Quiet afternoon uploading photos.
Saturday, October 08, 2011
Then the Gorse Fox noticed a small stage in the corner. On it was a drum kit and double bass. It could well be the harbinger of an excellent evening. Three musicians headed for the stage. A drummer dressed in the mandatory black, the bassist in a white shirt and black slacks, and a hobbit dressed in black who spirited an electric accordion from nowhere.
Now, noise can be evocative. The sound of waves on the shore, or leaves rustling in the trees can make the heart soar. Similarly, the sound of fingernails on a blackboard, Ed Miliband, or a Stuka dive-bomber can have you clawing at your bleeding ears to make it stop. The accordion is orders of magnitude worse. It is Satan's own instrument wheezing and whinging like an asthmatic without his inhaler. It is enough to turn the sweet-natured Gorse Fox into a psychotic axeman charging across the restaurant with a cleaver in one hand and a cast iron pan in the other (to adjust the hobbit's irritating goatee-framed smirk).
It was about as bad as it could get as they worked through every accordion "classic". One (and only one) diner clapped as they finished each number. The rest, like the Gorse Fox, glowered at the moan of the tortured cats (or whatever actually makes the noise) from inside the instrument.
If the EU wants to do something really useful, it should outlaw accordions.
Rant over. (oh yes, the food was excellent).
It didn't take long before we were rubbing shoulders with the general tourists and wandering the streets of the town. We stopped for a coffee and watched the world go by. It was clear that the real throng clustered round the squares by the Co-cathedral, the Library, and the Palace. Being different, we headed off down the side streets.
This gave us the chance to poke our noses into some of the less well known churches, and to see the warren of streets that make up the town. We headed down to the fortifications that protected the harbour entrance and looked across at the ancient fortresses that once guarded against the Turks.
It was time to grab a drink, and so we headed back up towards the main square foe some ice cream and refreshments whilst waiting for St Johns to reopen. There was a flaw in our logic, however. On Saturdays it closes at 12:30, and stays closed!
And so, we never got to see inside.
We wandered down to the ferry and got a water taxi back to Sliema where we waited for the bus to the hotel. Just as the bus came into sight, the rain started and as the bus pulled in a big German woman barged through to the front of the queue, beckoning her husband to follow. The Gorse Fox, in a move that would have earned him a yellow card at Wembley, stepped across the path of the advancing chap and blocked him off entirely. Satisfied GF ushered several people onto the bus in front of him, before clearing his lines.
Quite a satisfactory day.
Friday, October 07, 2011
The plan was to head for Mdina. The only part of the plan that was not set, however, was the transport. A taxi would cost 21E each way and take about 25 minutes. A tour bus would cost about 15E each and take a couple of hours. We decided to take public transport. This cost 2.60E each and took about an hour.
Great choice, as it turned out. It gave us a chance to have closer look at Malta as we made our way round. It reminded the Gorse Fox of the North African cities you see in the films. Narrow streets, an air of dilapidation on the outside, tall narrow buildings vying for space. The other impression it gives is that of one mugs metropolis, with no visible demarcation from one town to the next, until you get to middle of the island, where there is some precious open space.
In the middle of the Island rises a bluff. Perched on the bluff is the ancient walled city of Mdina. This is well worth the visit. From the walls you can peer down over the whole island, but within the walls is place of significant peace and tranquility (at least until the tour groups invade the Cathedral). Wonderful place, well worth the visit.
Back at the hotel we had some tea and made for the sun deck. The Silver Vixen wanted some rays and the Gorse Fox wanted a swim. Suffice it to say, Thailand is still preferred for swimming. The pool was very cold (compared to what GF was expecting).
Thursday, October 06, 2011
On the plane, the pilot announced that he had found a dent in the fuselage and the engineers needed to check it and measure it. This would, apparently, take 2 hours. We settled in for a long wait.
Some hour or so later we were informed that this problem had been reported before but that the paperwork had gone missing and until the pilot had seen it, we were going nowhere. Eventually, after two hours, we were cleared and heading for the Med.
The Gorse Fox's first impressions of Malta were of surprise. There is a lot of building going on, but somehow it seems far less "first world" than was expected. Many of the roads were in serious need of repair, and the buildings were in need of a lot TLC.
Arriving at the hotel in Portomaso, we entered palatial surrounding and were greeted with cold fruit juice and delightful staff. Our suite wasn't quite ready, so we were directed to the executive lounge while we waited. Things were looking up!
Once we had taken possession of our suite we headed out for a walk around the marina and the hotel grounds. It was as we reached the furthest point of the Marina that the heavens opened and we got dumped upon. Soaked, we headed back to the hotel and watched the thunder and lightning from our balcony. An hour later, the sun was out and everything was drying up. It was reminiscent of Florida - late afternoon deluge, otherwise warm and sunny.
We met up with the Gorse Fox's nano-sibling and brother-in-law and took a stroll down the hill into St Julian's for a meal. The restaurant had been highly recommended, and we had a very nice (though simple) meal and some local wine before heading out for a stroll by the bay.
A good day (eventually).
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Blogging may be a little sparse for a few days, but GF will retro-blog anything that gets missed.
The Gorse Fox has done it again. There’s something about travel that gets the juices flowing and during a perfectly innocent shopping trip, he ended up looking a roll-aboard bags. One caught his eye. It had the normal empty interior (well you don’t want other peoples’ clothes already filling the space), but in addition to the traditional front pockets, it had a fide flap which concealed a compartment for the laptop.
That was it! Given the existing bag is looking a bit battered and is 1cm too big for the EasyJet carry-on, this new masterpiece of convenient travel engineering had to join the stable of thoroughbred cases, bags, stuffers, and rucksacks that fills the attic.
Tuesday, October 04, 2011
The hype and expectation in the tech community is reaching fever pitch as Apple prepare to announce something phone-related.
Get a grip. It’s just another smartphone, and you are all being played by the PR machine.
Meanwhile, in the real world, the Gorse Fox has spent time today updating various devices, and wandering into town to drop off some dry-cleaning. Even there, he couldn’t get away from the hype. Walking past the greengrocer’s he noticed the window display was all apples!
Monday, October 03, 2011
The Silver Vixen has arranged an exhibition of some of the projects and practice pieces at the local community centre. Her fellow contributors turned up to help set up. Gorse Fox helped where he could and finished off by taking photos of the displays.
Sunday, October 02, 2011
He would have been pretty bored if he did get through. The blog contained mainly emails between the Gorse Fox and his family from business trips in the mid nineties.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
No doubt the terminally stupid will claim it is proof of Global Warming - as if it has never happened before... But forget that it happens frequently enough that we even have a name for it.