Thursday, October 31, 2013

Goodbyes

Today we say goodbye to the Silver Vixen's mother. It will be a difficult day, but a necessary time for people to try and reach closure. 

By coming up to Winslow last night we are already local and can concentrate on the day, not worry about traffic and deadlines

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Good day

The Gorse Fox worked from home. With a plan to head to Buckinghamshire in the early evening it made no sense to go to London and not get home until eight-ish, then have a two and a half hour drive. Working from home, he could still do a full day and then get away in the early evening. 

The journey was not too bad, despite a slow trek around the the south-west segment of the M25. Ignoring the SatNav, the Gorse Fox stayed with it until he got to the A41 - this worked well and the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen were checking in to the hotel soon after nine.

The hotel, in Winslow, is an old coaching inn and the Gorse Fox had booked their best room. It's a lovely quaint, timbered room with an half-tester bed and huge jacuzzi. Sitting here now, it is clear that it is not a quiet retreat as people move about downstairs and doors thump closed. Oh well, I guess such issues were less concern back when the place was built.

Signal

Barely any signal here in deepest, darkest Buckinghamshire. Posts may have to be stored and retro-blogged.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Not bad

The early train to London was very quiet, but on arrival the tube was rammed. The Gorse Fox let one go, deeming it unseemly to force his way in the personal space of other people at that time of the morning. Securing a spot on the next tube he set off towards the stomping ground of the Ripper and along the route was joined by a colleague. This gave us a chance to compare notes and catch up on gossip en route.

Remarkably good day in the office - no significant interruptions and a lot was achieved.

Heading home now; no plans to return to London this week.

Town bound

The Gorse Fox is bound for Town today. Hopefully all the trains are running normally again and it will be a fairly straightforward journey (particularly as it's half-term, so lots of people are off).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Storm

Well the storm wasn't as noisy as expected. We have woken up to no power, no trains, and no broadband.

Should be a quiet morning!

Anniversary

Well the Gorse Fox is rather amazed to report that this is the start of another blogging year. He has been spreading whimsy, travels, and most of all boredom for 9 straight years as of today. Over that time he has posted nearly 6,900 times, without missing a day.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Grip

The Gorse Fox has woken up with his foot giving trouble again. Very difficult to put any weight on it at all today.

Much of the day has been spent on the genealogical data again. Great fun, and always interesting but actually not very exciting to report on. Battening down the hatches ready for tonight's storm... apparently the trains will not be running tomorrow until the network is declared safe so the Gorse Fox will be working from home.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Data

There is a great pleasure in having data under control. It sounds geeky, but it is so. The Gorse Fox has spent a lot of time, over the years, gathering genealogical data about the family. Recent events and the availability of new information online (the 1911 Census) mean that it is time for a bit of an update.

Now, the problem that many genealogists will face is their dependence on a particular database, file format, or authoring tool. Over time the digitised information may not decay, but the tools used to save such information may be replaced as they age and are forgotten. So it is that the Gorse Fox finds himself refreshing old data - and reviewing whether it is stored in a manner with appropriate longevity.

Much of yesterday was spent extracting ancillary data from a series of old Lotus Approach databases and converting them into a flatform Excel workbook. This, in turn, may well be re-cast as a flat file in the future. For now, the Gorse Fox assumes Excel will provide sufficient longevity and so it was that once generated, he got the chance to bring it up to date with various recent events.

Most satisfying.

But since you ask, the main family database is still stored in Family Tree for Windows on the old PC (and backed up in numerous places).

So what is the ancillary data? Well, the Gorse Fox has stored many hundreds of physical documents, certificates, letters, and so forth. This ancillary data lists:

  • what documents I have
  • who is mentioned in each
  • which addresses are mentioned in each

This allows him to quickly summarise

  • what documents he has that mention great aunt Sophia
  • who lived at a particular address at a particular time
  • what birth certificates, marriage certificates, or so forth are filed
  • all of the people featured and the role they performed as shown in a specific document.

The importance of this is that this all substantiated information with documented proof.

As retirement beckons, the Gorse Fox can see this escalating further as he begins to process all the digital images of documents that he has in addition to the physical images processed above. The current count os 273 images to process - each of which may generate up to about 10 entries.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jumping ship

The Gorse Fox has heard of yet another colleague jumping ship. Not from Starfleet, from the Gorse Fox's division to another. He has also heard rumours of several further colleagues seeking alternative postings within the corps. This is worrying as it confirms to the Gorse Fox that his current posting is sub-optimal and that technical skills and design skills are not appreciated there. It's a bit like Scotty on the Enterprise being given a new engineering room staffed by accountants and cooks... he becomes the odd one out and when engineering is required he gets asked questions about switching on calculators or making a light batter!

Had a good telecon with the Human Exploitation department regarding this year's appraisal programme and how we might improve it over last year. Have high hopes for a less painful process this year, but only time will tell. Personally, the Gorse Fox is in under no illusions. He will be strung out this year... after all, why waste a good grade on someone who is retiring. Cynical, moi?

Cousteau-cub phoned the Silver Vixen late afternoon. They had a long chat and C-c was debating a return home for the funeral next week. Silver Vixen tried to convince her this was not necessary - and it was a long journey for just a few days. As it is, her email - which touched everyone's heartstrings - will be read out as part of the service. So she will be there in spirit.

Pleasure

Ah ha. Friday. The pleasure of working from home.
No early train.
No fighting to get onto the tube.
No nose stuffed in a stranger's armpit.
No searching for a desk in the office.
No background noise from hundreds of conversations.
No taking a lift down 6 floors to find a toilet that works and is accessible with GF's badge.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Surprise

It was a pretty good day in the office - all things being considered. The first call of the day related to a scope register, held in a spreadsheet. This gave the Gorse Fox the excuse to spend much of the rest of the day working on said spreadsheet. This is always a pleasure as it is really the closest the Gorse Fox gets to programming now days.

The other pleasant surprise was a five p.m. telecon which, instead of running on and on, finished early. This allowed the Gorse Fox to get his preferred train.

Early

Woke a lot earlier than planned - which is so often the way after some time at home and a planned trip. Snuck out of bed and spent 45 minutes reading the papers online.

Nearly time to leave for the train to Ripper-ville.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

In the saddle

The Gorse Fox is back in the saddle today - though to be clear, he didn't go up to town. As expected he had many hundreds of emails that had built up and it was easier to save the travel time and get on with dealing with things in the comfort of the study at home.

It looks like there may be some light at the end of the tunnel regarding this project - but more about that soon.

GF has contacted the Starfleet Pensions Office to get some illustrations for various retirement dates.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Run North

It was another run north to the wild lands of Buckingham. A run that despite rain, was almost trouble-free. The only blemish on the journey being a detour around Bicester because of roadworks in the middle of town.

Back with the family we discussed and agreed  minutiae of mail redirection, probate management, Order of Service, readings, hymns, and other music. A visit from the chaplain then helped put some shape onto things and struck a well-needed note of reality.

Eventually we left to come home - significantly later than planned. As we headed south we hit heavy rain and the most spectacular and unusual lightning storm the Gorse Fox has witnessed here in the UK. The lightning seemed to be dancing across the sky, between the clouds - rather than striking the ground. It lasted for at least a couple of hours and was, at times, quite blinding.

Despite nature's wrath, we got home safely.

Accustomed

The Gorse Fox is becoming accustomed to this time at home. Retirement looks as if it should be a pleasure.

Now... when?

Monday, October 21, 2013

More of the same

More of the same today. Confirming details with the Solicitor, writing to distant relatives, dealing with the florists and so on. A lot was achieved.

Back up to Buckingham tomorrow.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Settling

Sunday has been about settling, searching and informing.

Ww have been searching for suitable photos to include in the materials being prepared for the service. Despite have many hundreds of photos, we have narrowed this down to about 8 from our collection.

We have also made contact with relatives and friends who were yet to hear the news, and with a cousin who we hope will act as a Solicitor (well actually we hope it will be more than just an act).

Urban-cub popped round for a couple of hours. It is nice to see that she seems to be coming to terms with the news.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Hiatus

After a couple of very intense days, there is little that can be done today. As a result we have all dispersed to our homes and will have some domestic time to catch our thoughts.

The family visited the Chapel of Rest, we have heard the results of the post mortem, and the interim death certificates are on their way. We have selected the coffin, and even selected a venue for the tea and cakes that will follow the service.

Next we will meet the chaplain...

But today is a quiet day.

The Gorse Fox thinks the highlight of yesterday was contact with Cousteau-cub. Because she is so far away, and contact is sporadic, it is always a nice surprise. She has always had a way with words and managed to write an email to the SIlver Vixen that was so touching that it reduced everyone to a blubbering mess. I was quickly agreed that this should be used or read as part of the service - but the problem was that none of us thought we could actually get through it. This may have to be read by the chaplain.

An hour or so later C-c managed to phone and had a long chat with the Silver Vixen. It was good to hear from her in person.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Family

It was clear, yesterday, how important it is for families to come  together at times of difficulty. There were many tears and and my hugs - both real and virtual, but there was a great release of emotions and that seemed to ease things for all involved.

Today will be another difficult day as we head to the Chapel of Rest.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In Memoriam

It is a difficult day.

The Gorse Fox was meant to be attending the funeral of Julian, an old school friend. A man of boundless energy and fun with whom GF shared five years of his youth. He was a great friend (but always seemed to pip the Gorse Fox to top of the class).  His passing was sudden and unexpected and today we were to celebrate his life.

Last night we received news that the Silver Vixen's mother had passed away. Again it was sudden, and unexpected. The family is, of course in shock. Plans for the day have obviously been changed. This is a time for the family to come together.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Foul

As expected today was not good. In fact in the great panoply of days it was downright foul. Analysis of the last 10 days or so informs the Gorse Fox that most of his colleagues on the non-architecture side of the house are the single largest impediment to progress. They are so totally focussed on their statistics that they have lost sight of the fact that their incessant demands for data mean that there is no time left to do a job of work. The Gorse Fox hasn't really achieved a single useful bit of design or decision making, but has hopped up and down as he receives the next kicking for stuff that isn't even in his span of control.

It was late before he left the office but then got further calls and a further kicking. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Another surprising day

It was the early train this morning (as it is likely to be tomorrow). The Gorse Fox was expecting a day of interrupts and interventions. As it turned out it was busy and varied, but was not too troublesome. Somehow, he suspect tomorrow will not be as easy.

The day did drag on a bit and so the Gorse Fox has had to get a later train than usual. this is inconvenient on a night when England is playing Poland at Wembley. The Gorse Fox texted the FA and asked them to delay kick-off until he was home and contacted them... but so far they haven't agreed.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Unexpected

It was unexpected.

It was quite a good day. The journey to town was improved by new tube trains on the Circle Line - this made that phase very comfortable and involved no periods of time with nose stuck in neighbouring armpit.

Work itself was frantic and Gorse Fox was preparing for a kicking at an afternoon meeting. As it turned out, it was very amicable and Gorse Fox seemed to escape without a scratch. Leaving the office he dropped back into the tube and found another of the new rolling stock waiting for him.

Somehow one suspects tomorrow wont be so smooth!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Slides

Not a good Sunday, as Sundays go!

It started well enough with an online chat witch Cousteau-cub. It was good to hear that all was well and that they weren't even aware of Cyclone Phailan which had been rushing up the Indian Ocean to hit the north east coast of India. Evidently the satellite maps showing it cover most of the Ocean were deceptive.

Then the Gorse Fox had to knuckle down and prepare some slides for Monday. This, he thought would take about an hour. In reality it took abut five. It's a good job that the Silver Vixen wanted to spend time with her sewing projects!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Winner

Despite being married to the Gorse Fox, it is clear that the Silver Vixen is a winner. Having bought some Premium Bonds recently, she has won a small but perfectly formed prize every month so far - and this month seems to have won two.

Meanwhile, the Gorse Fox, who - being married to the Silver Vixen - you would assume to be a winner, has not managed to win anything. He consoles himself that he's keeping his powder dry, ready for the big one!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Home

The fact that the Gorse Fox is at home could be the day's only saving grace. The first few calls of the day were ok - they were focussed on design problems and their solution. Then the project management call came in and the Gorse Fox had to snarl "management by bullying doesn't work with me, nor do arbitrary deadlines. Shut up, and back off."

Some serious back-peddling took place and peace was restored. Much of the rest of the day was spent trying to reconcile data that should be in a database - but has to be managed by spreadsheet to keep the project managers happy.

The Gorse Fox will be very glad when Farmer Giles returns from holiday and takes back that side of GF's job.

Heating has now kicked in properly at home. Probably would have worked better and kicked in earlier if the Gorse Fox had read the instructions more carefully. Anyway, very cosy now - which is good as we are being pounded by heaving rain driven by northerly winds.

Yellow sticky on the side of the screen to remind GF of all the work he still has to complete over the weekend.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Friends

The one where...

The day started with the early train to town and conference calls and meetings filled the morning. By lunchtime, the Gorse Fox was delighted that he had booked the afternoon as vacation. He left the building and plunged into the tube.

Across London, Piccadilly was awash with humanity as tourists, shoppers, workers and travellers fought for space along the pavements. The Gorse Fox was heading for The Wolseley, where he had a lunch appointment in a private, upstairs room. It has now been several months since several friends retired, and this was the official farewell lunch for one of them.

There were about ten of us gathered in the suite that overlooked the main salon. It was a nice mix - all of those present would be classed, by the Gorse Fox, as the good guys and we had a lovely time. It is clear retirement has suited the Teddy Bear. He has been away several times, he goes swimming every morning, he has bought a bicycle, and he helps out at the local school. The other retired colleague has spent the las three months redecorating his mother's old house in Preston - ready to put on the market. Sounds idyllic really.

We had a wonderful meal, and several glasses of fine wine before the festivities eventually came to an end. A super afternoon... and a relatively early train home!


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Another one done

Well that was another unpleasant day finished.

The review went well, and indeed the Gorse Fox bit went through without touching the sides. Then, however the Gorse Fox had stand in at a weekly project call. This was a most unpleasant experience which ended up with the Gorse Fox having to set up several further calls and reviews.

Had a word with immediate boss regarding recent job opportunity - was pleased to find him supportive.

Reviews

Heading up to London again - this time for another programme review. We currently seem to have more reviews than an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Ordure meet Air Movement Device

Not a good day - lots of foul smelling substances flying about. The Gorse Fox seems to have the bucket and mop.

Monday, October 07, 2013

A good day

It's finished, but it was a good day. The Gorse Fox started in the Ripper's lair but by lunchtime he was heading south of the river for meetings in a Starfleet office.

Mid afternoon he got a spreadsheet from our partners. A little magic and use of pivot tables revealed that they seem to have ignored at east 20% of the programme scope in their contract. Gorse Fox suspects this may turn into an interesting debate.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Virtual carpentry

The Gorse Fox has had a day in front of the computer building virtial furniture. It has taken a while, but he has managed to build a 3d model of the console table (with wine rack), a three door wardrobe, and a two door wardrobe. The Gorse Fox is very pleased with the results - and we can now move them round the model of the new house to see where things will fit.

Back up to London tomorrow and return to the real world from the virtual one.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Joy

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed out. We thought we would eat early at The Spur, only to find it closed, so we quickly formulated a Plan B. Returning to The Old Stables we were shown to a table. It was five o'clock but the server asked that we vacate the table by eight o'clock (as it was reserved). The Gorse Fox can only think of one or two meals in his life that have taken three hours - and one of those involved a large number of French colleagues and several bottles of wine back in the 1970's.

After our meal we made our way to Noviomagus and parked near the Theatre, then with 90 minutes to spare before the performance, had a wander round the grounds. It was astonishingly mild for an October evening, but finding a bar, it was necessary for the Silver Vixen to test the quality of the tea on offer - and so we went inside. Well, I say inside. Actually this was a large, modern marquis with a robust frame and roll-down sides. This, like the whole area was built on acres of decking.
(The main theatre is being rebuilt - so they have constructed a series of temporary structures and marquis in the park).

We made our way into the main tent and settled down. AT the appointed hour - to the strains of Ode to Joy, the diminutive and irrepressible Sandi Toksvig took the stage. There followed two hours of anecdotes, of stories, of history and even one or two jokes. She has mastered he art - engaging the whole audience from the very beginning, drawing them into her circle and chatting to us like and old friend. It was two hours of utter joy and thoroughly recommended to anyone with a modicum of intelligence and a funny bone.

Out

After a day of stuff - Silver Vixen out with the Coven, GF modelling furniture, and mowing the lawns - we are out. Out for an early dinner - then the theatre in Noviomagus to see Sandi Toksvig on the first leg of her tour (or is it Viking invasion).

Friday, October 04, 2013

A quiet day

Working at home always lifts the soul. No time is wasted travelling, phone calls can be taken without a struggle against background noise, and it's easy to find a desk!

The Gorse Fox has had a number of items to deal with throughout the day - but the one he most wanted to to get under his belt has remained elusive as it was dependent on input from others.

Managed to have a long chat this afternoon with a retired colleague. It was good to hear from him and get his perspective on life after Starfleet. Sounds ever more attractive.

The Silver Vixen had fun today. She spent several hours round the corner with the leader of a local coven. They are, without doubt, hatching something and the Gorse Fox expects huge bolts of black silk to start turning up as they prepare new cloaks for winter and decide how to accessorise their broomsticks. The Silver Vixen is threatening to run some introductory courses (what the Americans may consider Coven 101) for neophytes to bring them up to a standard where they can feel confident with the more adventurous patterns.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Luxury

Another day in London. This differed, however, in that the Gorse Fox had to split the day and go across to another of the client's buildings for a few hours. CHecking with Google it was clear that it was only a 15 minute walk, so the Gorse Fox headed off.

The meeting was scheduled to start at 1200, so as he headed up past Petticoat Lane he stopped at a street vendor for a burrito that he could eat on the hoof. Unfortunately, as he waited the rain started. This created a problem - as one hand would have to hold the umbrella whilst the other negotiated the burrito and its paper wrapping. Shirt now dripping with peri peri suace he arrived at the luxurious offices where the meeting was due to take place.

He slunk to the back of the room and kept his blazer on, and buttoned up.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Vendor selection

The Gorse Fox had another early start as he headed for London and found his way to the offices of a competitor. They were hosting a session for the client to explain why their product should be used in the programme. This was the first of five such sessions over the next couple of weeks.

The product, to be fair, was very impressive and their hospitality was faultless. They have set the bar very high for their competitors.

The GF seems to have developed a stinking cold during the afternoon. This did not stop him from calling an old colleague to get to the bottom of this job opportunity that has been dangled before him. Now that GF has the details he is quite eager to take it up - with one exception that he will try to negotiate out of the role.

Let's see what happens.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Sleepless in Fontwell

The Gorse Fox had a sleepless night. This is an extraordinary event. As a rule his head touches the pillow and thta's it, Morpheus holds sway. Last night Morpheus was evidently distracted. The Gorse Fox's little grey cells spun and whirred.

At the root of this is clearly his irritation with the current project. What were the options, however? Ask to move on was one - but if denied, should he just retire or put up with it? At the moment, putting up with it is not an option that he feels inclined to consider.

He got an early train and headed for London. It was actually a moderately good day  epecially as it looks as if, 3 months adter the fact, the new planning manager is looking at the end to end picture as mapped out by the Gorse Fox in June. Also, there is sudden interest in the design method and its artefacts (as laid out in May), and in quality gates (as laid out in May).

An email arrived from a Starfleet VP (and old acquaintance). He wanted to discuss an opportunity. The Gorse Fox expected another chunk of work arriving to run in parallel with the day job. But No. This was a job offer. Not just any job offer - but one that sounded very interesting at first blush. Talk about serendipity. The Gorse Fox still has to chat with the incumbent (another old friend) but based on what has been described so far, is quite keen.

Watch this space