Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Caledonia

The journey to Edinburgh was relatively trouble free. Gorse Fox sat in a window seat but the plan was full so he had a chap sitting next him. From the moment he sat down Gorse Fox knew it was not going to be a pleasant flight. He started by opening his paper and trying to push Gorse Fox off of the arm rest. Gorse Fox put up with this for a while, then turned and confronted him explaining that he was already pressed against window and could move no further. The chap had the effrontery to say Gorse Fox was overlapping his seat. Patently stupid, Gorse Fox ignored him and sat his ground.

In the office Gorse Fox had several good meetings and is destined to attend a tense workshop in the morning.

Good restaurant this evening. Called the Living Room it was really good value for money and the food was delightful.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

All change

Well the day started well and eventually morphed when talking to our friends in the north. Gorse Fox has had to change his plans and now has to head to Edinburgh tomorrow.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Moving Pictures

Those who know the Gorse Fox will realise that he is not particularly impressed by hype. In general the more something is hyped and advertised, the less likely he is to be interested or impressed.

Yesterday, he took a day off and with the Silver Vixen went along to Chichester to the moving picture house. Here, through the miracle of science, pictures were displayed on a screen at such a rate that they seemed to blur into a life-like movement. The chap with the organ that used to play along as the sub-titles went by seems to have been replaced with real sound and dialogue timed perfectly with the moving images. Very clever.

The object of this visit was the latest offering from the series of stories about an agent known as James Bond. This being 50 years since the first such story was shown there were a few moments of nostalgia. (Gorse Fox remembers seeing Dr No at the Regal Cinema in New Barnet with a friend called Adrian Bonner and a girl called Carol Welch).

Skyfall is superb. The hype is well-deserved. It is by far the best Bond film and we thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. A bit darker, gritttier, and whilst still having some of the big set-pieces, somehow more believable.

Out shopping

Was amused to see a cat waiting outside a pet supplies store in Goring before it opened. Obviously it was waiting to do its shopping.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Expertise

The Gorse Fox, Pistol Pete, and Jake headed along the south coast to Southampton to watch the local team plays Spurs.

We parked in their traditional spot, we waited until the traditional time then walked the traditional route to the ground. Once there we walked to the the traditional stall where Pistol Pete and Jake had their traditional burgers, and Gorse Fox started a new tradition with a foot long sausage! We then returned to the entrance where we bought a Programme from the traditional seller and then approached the traditional turnstile.

Pistol Pete and Jake went through with no problem. Gorse Fox however was stopped and questioned over his camera. Apparently professional SLR cameras are not allowed. Gorse Fox explained his was not SLR and after a bit of consultation they let him in and told him not to take pictures during the game.

The game went well for Spurs but Gorse Fox had to bite his tongue as he was completely surrounded by the Soton fans (sitting in the Home end).

He was particularly amused by the expertise shown by the 30,000 fan-managers as they provided a running commentary on what the players should be doing and what tactics should be deployed. How the team can be struggling when the manager has so much expertise at his finger-tips is baffling.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

The Game

The Gorse Fox is about to head out with Pistol Pete to see the game. The game in question is Southampton paying host to Spurs... should be fun (though GF will have to hide his allegiance as he will be sitting in the Saints' part of the ground).

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Re-Church le music

In 1969 the Gorse Fox returned from a year in America. He had been training to become one of a teaching order of monks. Eventually deciding this was not his destined path, he returned to the UK bringing a great deal of modern liturgical songs.

This was a time when "Folk Masses" were just being introduced in UK and the music GF brought was a bit avant garde and far mor "rock and pop" orientated. The church we used was always on the lkeading edge and GF sat with one of the Oblates to re-transcribe the music for the songs (GF ciouldn't write music, but was able to remember the tunes).
Eventually all of this came to fruition and the initial "Folk Mass" morphed into what became known as the "Group Mass" - this in turn spawned various charity events, a couple of religiously themed rock musicals, and eventually (though GF was long gone by then) the ChickenShed.

This evening was a reunion and for the first time since about 1972 GF was able to meet up and with some of those old friends and to enjoy (a much more professional) "Group Mass". What was interesting was that in these times of sneering intellectuals, and disrespect for relgion, the Church was full to the rafters and there was a genuine feeling of community and joy.

There are still some lovely people in the world.
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Scraping by

The Gorse Fox notes that Conrad Black is quoted as saying he could live on £80M. The Gorse Fox would like to point out, that he suspects he and the Silver Vixen could also scrape by.

In a Flap

The Gorse Fox wishes that he could convince the cat, Jasper, to use the cat-flap.

Friday, October 26, 2012

All Thai'd Up

An excellent day overall. Various work item came together nicely - though one went awry. GF was called by a colleague to complain that a huge amount of Starfleet's "intellectual property" had been divulged to a client by a naive programme manager. There wasn't really anything GF could do about it, other than listen to the rant and say "there, there" before referring him onwards to his divisional CTO.

Best part of the day was the brief interlude where GF managed to have an online chat with Cousteau-cub. This is probably the only practical way of communication with her as her jaw is wired shut and speaking takes a great deal of effort. She is still in a lot of pain, but trying to stay positive. She should return to the hospital at regular intervals, but with such a long drive (some 140km, with two ferry crossings) she will keep that to a minimum.

Gorse Fox is taking a day off on Monday - tickets are booked for a visit to the cinema to see the new Bond film "Skyfall".

Thursday, October 25, 2012

More learning

The day has been strange. Several items needed attention for the work being prepared for an insurance company and this took much of the day. A "Lunch and Learn" video-cast proved a welcome distraction. During this, some side comment or even visual cue triggered a wave of "what-ifs" in the mind of the Gorse Fox. This distraction meant that a chunk of the afternoon was spent research some of the subtleties of "big data" and the various filesystems and databases that support it.

Disappointing performance from Spurs in Europe tonight's 1-1 draw. Lot's of possession, but little ownership; lots of effort, but little end product; and a lot of defensive naivety.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

And breathe

Last day of the course today. Most of the morning was taken up with role-play activities where we were placed in a particularly tricky simulated position and had to deal with the fall-out. The team in which the Gorse Fox played seemed to benefit from a particularly adept member who took the lead in the simulation and did a superb job. GF was very impressed.

The class finished mid-afternoon and GF was able to get home at a sensible time and then connect up to catch up with emails and so forth. Strange how opportunity seem to be cyclic. At one stage, every opportunity GF was presented with was in Public Sector, then the focus became Media, now it would seem that every opportunity is in Financial Services. As if to reinforce this, GF has just got off the phone with one of Commodores in Starfleet who was trying to get the GF to help with an opportunity at a large multi-national investment bank. GF has offered help where he can, but explained that he is already juggling two major clients.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good one

It has been another good day. The course was really quite informative and triggered a lot of thoughts not directly related to the syllabus.

Great to see that Cousteau-cub is back on Koh Lanta, even if she is wired up. Hopefully she is on the mend now.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Course

The Gorse Fox is on a course. The 60 mile journey to the wilds of the Thames Valley took two and half hours which is frustrating given that a colleague from Cardiff made the journey in less than two hours.

The course has been pretty good so far, and the fellow attendees are really quite nice.

Had a difficult call from the Admiral mid afternoon, but managed to sort things out fairly quickly.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Quiet, it's the weekend

Waking up late the Gorse Fox started a lazy day. Not much to report.

Glad to hear that the inestimable Mr Vobes has managed to get his Bald Explorable video blogs onto TV

Even more glad to hear that Cousteau-cub is on the mend. Her jaw is all wired up and she'll be in hospital for another four days.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Impact

An early morning phone call is rarely good news. So it was this morning

Cousteau-cub called and asked the Gorse Fox to call back. She sounded a bit slurred. Gorse Fox was concerned and called back immediately.

Cousteau-cub was in a taxi on her way to the international hospital in Trang. It would appear that a puncture caused her to part company with her motorbike last night. The twin realities of momentum and gravity conspired to propel her into something unyielding. In so doing friction from the road surface gave her road rash and the impact broke and dislocated her jaw (for the third time).

We await further news!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Several shades of grey

The Gorse Fox was working at home. It was dull and grey outside and the rain beat down across the south coast. It was so dull that Gorse Fox had to leave his study lights on all day. This must be what it's like living up north ( like Hertfordshire).

Good day with the spreadsheets today though the Gorse Fox was nearly tricked by his own witchery. In the end it turned out that his was correct and the original master was wrong (containing a duplicate entry).

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Coincidence

It is rare that you see an old friend in an unexpected place. The Gorse Fox, on leaving Gatwick, saw his old Golf driving down the M23. No mistake - it had a very memorable registration late.

Nice to see it is still in good condition 5 years after he sold it.

Travelling

Gorse Fox is scheduled for an early flight, this is good. It means he is back at the airport in wait mode.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Workshop

And so it came to pass that the Gorse Fox ran a workshop in response to queries from two of our esteemed project managers.

Fortunately they both accepted the invitation to attend so everything was set for a good day. Unfortunately neither of them actually could be bothered to attend so we made significant progress that they will probably ignore and the train they are metaphorically riding will continue hurtling out of control to project Armageddon. Gorse Fox will say one thing for it. It will have more reports and management information purporting to to explain its progress than a space mission.

The Gorse Fox fully expects the report he will write tomorrow to be discarded.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Strip

Nice to see the Scots wearing what looks like an old Spurs strip.

Mixed

The day was originally destined to be a workshop. Various diary clashes intervened and the Gorse Fox had to postpone until Wednesday. As it turns out this was not a bad thing, it did give him a chance to set some ground rules with the programme manager and smooth some ruffled feathers amongst the techies.

Back in the hotel, expecting the England game, Gorse Fox finds that there is a problem with the weather in Poland and the game may be delayed or even postponed. This means he will probably have to watch the Scots play Belgium.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Hurricane +25

It is the 25th anniversary of the hurricane/great storm that blasted across southern Britain. How clearly the Gorse Fox remembers that night.

The wind picked up in ferocity throughout the evening/early hours. The house vibrated as the gusts blasted against the brickwork... and GF became aware of the gate banging. He stumbled from bed and in PJs and slippers wandered round the side of the house only to see that not only was the gate banging, but the dustbin had gone.

The Gorse Fox, set out into the road - first wandering down the road where he found the bin. He returned it to the house and set off in search of the lid. It was at that point that the power went out. He was totally disorientated for a few moments - but there was enough ambient light that he managed to complete the search, retrieve the bin-lid, secure everything and return to bed... commenting that it was "breezy out there".

The following morning it became clear that the "breeze" had wrought devastation across the country and though the Gorse Fox was due to visit a client in Bristol he wasn't able to get out of the village. This was one of only two occasions in his career that he has missed an appointment. (The other was due to an 18 mile tail-back on the M6 where GF actually ended up attending the meeting by mobile phone from the motorway).

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Domestic science

The Gorse Fox hand Silver Vixen have been concentrating on domestic science today. Despite the fabulous (if chilly) weather - there were chores that needed attention.

The Silver Vixen has spent much of the day on the floor switching the summer wardrobe to a winter wardrobe. Vacuum sealed bags are scattered all over the bedroom as choices are made, de-cluttering is achieved, and a new selection is prepared.

Meanwhile, with the Gorse Fox heading back up to Edinburgh tomorrow, there was a pressing need for some ironing (get it?) and other preparations to be made. Now, he's just ticking off a few last minutes before starting on supper which will comprise a leg of lamb, some cous cous, and probably some roasted vegetables.

Start

What a gorgeous start to an autumnal morning. Just the slightest of frosts bejewelled the car as the sun cast a spotlight across the West Sussex coast and a few streaks of cotton wool cloud slashed the almost perfect blue sky.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ruling

It would appear that the Courts have ruled against some of the changes imposed by Starfleet on the pension scheme of its employees. This is good news at it means that, being over 60, the Gorse Fox can now retire at any time he chooses, without any "actuarial penalty" being applied to his pension.

The 526 working day countdown clock needs to be changed to "526 days or less!"

Now - this doesn't mean that he will retire any earlier; just that he now has the choice and will not be penalised for electing to go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

First half

At the end of the first half, the Gorse Fox has to conclude that he would certainly have made the San Marino team, but actually would have had more verve and ambition than the England team.

Team

Ok, so the Gorse Fox didn't make the England team tonight. He was so engrossed in his spreadsheets that he left it too late to get to Wembley.

Big Day for U-c

It's a big day today for Urban-cub. She has her big interview board. She's well-prepared and well-supported - but she still has to do the business in front of the panel.

There's no public vote - just the judges.

Good luck.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Appearances

So what have we learned this week?

A great eccentric philanthropist - Jimmy Savile - turns out to have been and evil paedophile; and a great sportsman - Lance Armstrong - turns out to be a drugs cheat.

What next? The Kray twins turn out to have been set-up, were pillars of the community, gave everything to the poor, were friends of Mother Theresa and are actually in line for beatification?

It's a funny old world.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Scam again

They do try don't they!

Another outfit has been in touch to try and "sell" the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen's timeshare. This one sounded so much more legitimate than the previous one and offered to send explanatory emails and give the Gorse Fox time to do his "due diligence".

Time and effort had been put into the preparation of the emails and the supporting web sites... but it only took about 10 minutes to trace them all back to a known scam outfit that seems to keep resurrecting itself with new names.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

One Rule

And so it came to pass that on Friday the client to who Starfleet had been bidding asked for a re-pricing and promised an updated file of requirements on Monday morning. On Monday morning, it became lunchtime. By the end of the day the promise was Tuesday lunchtime.

It has not arrived... but the deadlines for re-pricing remain the same. It is evidently one rule for them, and another for Starfleet.

Talking of Starfleet, GF had a long online conversation with an Extinguished Engineer (a retired Distinguished Engineer). It was good to hear from him and get news of how his first year has gone, living in Devon. His only complaint seem to be the incessant rain... but GF would guess that is the same for many people this year. Having said that, he and the Silver Vixen have always noticed how much wetter it is in Devon and Cornwall than it is here in Sussex. Once tempted to move down that way, we tend to watch the weather reports for the West Country and observe the significant difference from home.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Failure to Learn

It is deeply frustrating, the Gorse Fox has concluded.

The project with which he is working has been running for over a year, and GF was involved when it was first being set up. At that time he worked with a colleague to define the basic process and information flow that would see the project from conception to completion. Part of this was a definition of the various documents that would be needed along the way - documents that described what was in place, was to be built, how things would be built, how things would be tested, how data would be moved, and so forth. The outcome of this work was that another colleague created a checklist of all of these documents and which parts of the project were responsible for each.

Starting his review, GF returned to this list. It soon became clear that it has essentially been ignored. Few, if any, of the documents have been written - and the project has forged its own path. This is a path that appears to be littered with management information, run rates, and statistics - and almost no design artefacts.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Do not disturb

A quiet day was planned and for a change the plans came to fruition. A few minor chores interrupted the morning, but nothing that took any significant time.

By afternoon, the the watery sun was out and it was warm enough to sit out in the garden and enjoy the peace - only broken by the gentle lap of waves against the pebble-beach.

The Spurs game was not being televised so the temptation to watch was not there, though we did watch "El Classico" later.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Shavings

The new door in the new porch had to come down. The recent wet weather has caused it to swell and it wasn't closing properly.

This is a heavy door, so the Gorse Fox spent quite a while trying to find things to wedge under it and take the weight once the hinges had been removed. Eventually some left over kitchen work top, a ceramic tile, two pieces of plaster board and an off-cut of 2x1 provided the stability required and the door was duly removed and carried to the garage wher it was placed on a workbench and a roller stand.

The power planer and belt sander were broken out, and soon wood shavings were flying.  A test fit showed that there was still some further work to do, but after attacking the door with the power tools once more, everything fitted.

The door now rests in the garage whilst the primer/undercoat dries on the freshly planed wood.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Stormy

It was stormy night last night. A significant gale blew through, but it seemed to have passed by morning. It didn't have too much effect on GF's travel as the route from the kitchen to the study had remained clear.

Day was spent providing a visual map of the dependencies between the various design artefacts that are needed to successfully complete a project such as the one GF has become embroiled within. He took the opportunity of sending it out for several peer reviews and has now refined it with the results of the feedback received. This should prove very useful next week.

Weather seems to have collapsed a bit as the afternoon has drawn on. Very dark and wet at present. GF and the Silver Vixen are off to meet with his nano-sister and brother-in-law at Chris Evans' restaurant near Ramsnest this evening. Should be a fun evening.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

1-1

Not happy with the 1-1 draw for Spurs in Athens. Should have put them to the sword.

Piecing together

Having spent a couple of days with the new client Gorse Fox has spent the day piecing together the various documents and bits of information that he has gathered so far. At this stage it looks as if this has been a project driven by managers with limited reference to the architects of of the solution.

Returning to basics Gorse Fox has started to map out the way in which the information should come together to ensure the project can be delivered with the least risk. It seems clear that with the client leading the programme there have been shortcuts. This needs to be rectified.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Return

It was a fairly good day in the office. Some of the major areas that need to be addressed became more evident and GF put steps in place to get them under control. During the day he also bumped in to a colleague that he had worked with during the summer, so it was nice sit down and have a coffee and catch up on what we had both been doing since.

GF shared a taxi to the airport, and after the familiar ritual humiliation of security screening was invited in to the BA lounge - a perk that GF had long relinquished as his once regular travel had dropped away. This proved useful as he could graze on the sandwiches - knowing he would be home too late to eat.

Back in Gatwick on time GF was soon storming through the terminal and out to the car. Being late evening, the roads were pretty clear, so he was soon home.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Good day

In the end the authorisation came through and Gorse Fox headed off to the client office.

It was interesting once there but only time will tell whether the Gorse Fox can make a difference.

Some old issues from a previous client came back to haunt the late afternoon but it seemed to get resolved adequately. Work finished, the Gorse Fox went out for a stroll and stopped off for a bite to eat before returning to his room to watch a downloaded TV programme made originally in Italy and now shown with sub-titles.

Authority

As the Gorse Fox sits here in Edinburgh he muses on the fact that his urgent request for authorisation to travel took even longer than the journey. Requesting authority through Starfleet's process last Wednesday or Thursday, Gorse Fox smirked when the email finally arrived this morning.

At this point he is still languishing in his hotel room waiting for the final security checks that will allow him on site.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Short haul

Now the Gorse Fox remembers why short haul travel is such a chore. Leaving home at 9:30 he buzzed across to Gatwick and slid into the pre-booked car park. So far so good. Then he wandered into the terminal and encountered the queue to get through border control and security. Only two gates were open and the staff seemed to be in no particular hurry. GF had left what he considered to be adequate time - but was not expecting the backlog. Whilst he is moderately patient in a queue, the stress levels do rise when stupidity takes over from common sense. Eventually he was through having bitten his tongue to avoid the chance of some sarcastic comment escaping, unbidden. He used the App on his phone to hold the boarding pass - this worked well. He ended up putting it on both phones because of the frustration of continually having to type in the long password for the Starfleet-connected phone. If ever a company can make a device unusable - it's Starfleet security.

The flight was delayed, but eventually we were called to gate where a load of Italians rushed to front and beckoned all of their companions. Being British, we smirked at their antics, and muttered about manners and class. The delays lengthened and eventually the Italians gave up and went and sat down. The feeling of superiority among those of us left in the queue was palpable. Indeed, it was at that moment that the Gorse Fox had "Margot" (Penelope Keith) as a travelling companion. It somehow seemed so appropriate... and whilst she and her husband did not chat a great deal they did seem absolutely charming.

Finally GF arrived in Edinburgh well over an hour late. He had a really chatty taxi driver as he made his way into the City and tried to recognise the Starfleet building among the debris being thrown up by the tram development. What a good thing he didn't have any specific appointment time and managed to meet up with his colleague who would perform the various security checks necessary before he went on the client site.

GF wonders if it would really take that much longer to get here by train.