Friday, March 27, 2009

Gone Fishing

We went put for dinner last night. I booked it via Toptable, my first ever booking via them (we normally use G’s account). We arrived to discover that Toptable hadn’t actually told the restaurant. They were very nice about it and we had dinner etc, but I was decidedly unimpressed and will speak to Toptable about it at some point. I’d better get my points. Grr…

Anyway, we’re off to Madrid tomorrow. We have started to sort some stuff out, which has highlighted that G’s travel insurance documents have gone astray and the lack of an EHIC card (the way we get reciprocal health cover in other EU countries). I may have to sort G out a new policy today… Well, hopefully we’re off to some decent sunshine and will be back in a week.

Have a good week and don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Directions

On the way to work this morning I was standing up for part of the journey and a seat became available. I went to sit down and then saw a man get on with crutches, so I indicated the seat to him but he said he was fine and I sat down instead. I think he was actually just carrying the crutches (for what reason I have no idea) and didn’t actually need them himself. This makes me think that it is a) a whole new dilemma that is the equivalent of “is that woman pregnant or just a bit overweight” and b) a potentially excellent way to try and get a seat in future.

I was somewhat perplexed by the story about the man who followed his Sat Nav so intently that he only finally stopped as he was about to go over a cliff edge… At what point do you begin to think that maybe there could be something wrong? When you go off-road? When you end up on a track? When you end up on a footpath? When you end up hanging off the edge of a cliff?? When are thinking that the view no longer seems familiar and you realise you have reached the gates of heaven (or hell)??? Perhaps he could use it to go to a petrol station and buy a map.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Checks

The news on TV last night was so depressing. Dead police officers, pirates killing people and people dying under the care of the NHS. I really must give up watching the news. Fortunately next week I will be in Madrid and so won’t be able to understand a word of the news, so this may mean that I can exist in a bubble safe from any bad news stories.

I ordered some Euros via the internet on Sunday and need to go and pick it up from a Post Office. They phoned and wanted to speak to me and when I called them back. They asked for my postcode and first line of my address, my date of birth and then we discussed the branch from which I was going to collect the money. All of this information was what I had given them so I wasn’t really sure how this was a security procedure. I couldn’t work out how any of this showed that I hadn’t made it up or was any more legit – and in fact I had used my parents address because I have never got round to changing my bank account details. Maybe I have missed the point somehow...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dark and light

So... G’s niece, N, did not go missing again. However, at the end of last week she threatened one of her foster carers with a knife and smashed up their car. She was moved to a children’s home about 50 miles away. On Saturday she went out in the little town she was now based in and got drunk, got caught shoplifting alcohol and then kicked a heavily pregnant care worker at the children’s home. Yesterday she was moved to secure accommodation. She didn’t get there until quite late yesterday so we don’t know how she is settling in. Maybe living in a more controlled regime will have a positive effect...

On a lighter note, I was doing some colouring in with my nephew on Sunday and we were talking about when he normally colours in e.g. at nursery and that I don’t really get to colour in any more. He started to question me about this (he is in the “why” phase) and I said I didn’t really know but would ask my boss. Yesterday morning I asked my boss and he didn’t really have a good answer to this question. I may ask for “colouring in” to be one of my objectives in the next reporting year.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Would not like to meet

I have come to the conclusion that I just do not like people. Not people in particular, but people in the general sense of *all* people. I was driving home from my parents’ house yesterday morning and someone pulled out in front of me on a roundabout. I pressed my horn and the children in the back of the car just started using various aggressive and rude gestures and I was now driving along behind them they continued to do this for several minutes until I turned off at another roundabout. The adults in the front of the car did precisely nothing to stop them and there is no way that they did not know what the children were doing. Sometimes I really dislike people. All people.

Last weekend I was in a library in the centre of London and I wanted to look up a book on the database, but someone was using it. I stayed out of the way and looked at other books until he went up to the counter to speak to one of the staff and then I went over and started to search for a few things. He then came back over and was standing very close to me and obviously wanted to use the database again. I turned to him and said I felt uncomfortable with how close he was standing to me and him watching what I was doing. He said that he just wanted to look up a book as well, which rather showed he had been looking at what I was doing as there are lots of things I could have been doing on that computer. He declined to step further away and so I finished what I was doing and walked off. Sometimes I really dislike people. All people.

After I left the library I went and had some lunch. I went to Eat and got some soup and sat in to eat it. Then the shop filled up lots and all the empty seats were filled except the one next to me and a single chair somewhere else. So someone sat in the chair next to me and her boyfriend positioned his chaired directly behind mine, blocking me in and proceeded to reach past me every time he wanted to pick up an item of his lunch. I just wanted a bit of peace and quiet, which I know is not always easy to achieve in the centre of London and twice in the space of about 30 minutes people were invading my personal space. Sometimes I really dislike people. All people.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Normal

I thought the news of Natasha Richardson’s death was very sad. Not because she was famous but because something so simple, like falling over could end someone’s life and that despite being medically checked and everything seeming fine, she still died. It made me remember one of my uncle’s who as a teenager was struck on the head by a hurling stick (he was Irish) and I think briefly lost consciousness. For whatever reason he didn’t seek medical help – and nor did the teachers – and he bled into his brain and ended up with brain damage and severe epilepsy and had to live in a home for the rest of his life. That was home was actually in the UK not far from where we lived, so I did seem him a reasonable amount. He died when I was about 17 because he got pneumonia. A sad life caused by a simple blow to the head.

Anyway, on a somewhat lighter note. There seem to be a lot of government related adverts on the TV at the moment, which I wonder if it is because of the economic downturn – companies are advertising less, so the government is doing it instead because it is cheaper but also is helping the TV stations. I have no idea if that is true, but there do seem to be a lot of official adverts. One I saw a couple of days ago was to do with the Countryside Code and I was struck by the sheep in the background of the advert. If G were a sheep then the sheep putting on a bit of a performance is the one that G would be. I have actually shown the ad to G who could see what I mean...

video

You can also see the video here.

*Is it normal to see sheep like attributes to your partner? Probably best that I don't know the answer to that one...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Errors

I was on a very packed tube train last night and it was a bit difficult to read a book, so I just stood there staring into space and occasionally glancing at the tube ads. I was reading one for a Nivea for Men product and noticed a glaring error in it. This is not the identical ad, the one I saw was a shorter version, rather than full size poster, but this one has exactly the same error:




“Who would of thought”????

"Who would OF thought”??????

What is the world coming to????

It is “Who would have thought”.

That is such a basic error. Nivea needs to have a serious word with their proof-readers - or start to employ some.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mis-advised

I got a letter from the freeholder yesterday. She wants to carry out lots of maintenance to the property, which is fine, but she seems to want to charge us for various things that to my mind are for each individual owner to pay for rather than us all contribute. So things like the painting of people’s back doors or window frame. We are responsible for sorting out and paying for double glazing etc for ourselves, but people who haven’t done this and have let their windows deteriorate appear only to have to pay a sixth of the charge of maintaining their own windows, as we then seem to all be required to pay for their laxness. This doesn’t make sense to me...

I read this story on the BBC. Basically there is a woman who knits jackets for battery hens. I actually know someone who does that. The woman I know takes in battery hens that would be destroyed and she makes little fleecy jackets for them because they don’t have many feathers and to help them build up their calcium levels she feeds them freshly prepared porridge each morning and puts raisins in it as well for a bit of extra sustenance. She also has two ancient tortoises and lots of guinea pigs – the latter being due to the guinea pigs sharing a cage for a while because she had been assured that they were both male. It seems she was mis-advised.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Heat

Tonight G and I are going for dinner at some friends’ house and we are meeting their new dog. Their new not necessarily very house trained dog. This could be challenging. But if it comes to a fight between me and the dog to get to the food first, I reckon I’d win.

Yesterday at work it was so hot sitting at my desk. It was a pleasantly sunny day but the heat seemed to get magnified as it reflected off the glass behind where I sit and it just got hotter and hotter. I think it reached something like 17 degrees (outside) so I dread to think what it will be like in the summer when temperatures get higher. I may have to start wearing a bikini to work. This is not because it would make me cooler, but because it would make my colleagues run away screaming and I could then sit at one of their desks instead.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Returns

G’s niece turned up yesterday. She phoned her foster carer and asked her to come and pick her up, which the foster carer did. Apparently she was rather filthy and she had a bath and something to eat and then a couple of hours later went out again and disappeared again. There was always the risk of that, but the foster carer can do nothing to restrain her and she can’t lock the doors etc so she has no choice but to let her go off if she wants to do that. I think if this carries on then G’s niece will end up in secure accommodation.

I suppose in some ways the dilemma is that obviously we want to know she is ok, but we don’t want to give her lots of attention for doing something bad. She would be much better off with the foster carers who are very nice, tolerant and patient people and would give her much better life chances, but she would rather live in somewhat more precarious circumstances. But if people seem to take more of an interest in her when she is being bad then that might actually encourage her to be naughty, which doesn’t seem right. But then it also doesn’t seem right to ignore her when she is being bad, particularly if she might be in some form of danger. I’m not really sure what the best thing to do is, but we are just trying to be consistent and to be positive when we deal with her, rather than giving her a hard time for not going home etc. Does it help? I’m not really sure...

Anyway, it was my nephew’s birthday this weekend and so we went to his birthday party and ate lots of cake and had a nice time. My father was there, who drove me mad as ever. Now it seems that he is suddenly a life long Celtic support football, despite not actually liking football and also never having showed any interest in Celtic before. G is a big Celtic fan and so now my father talks about how “their” team has been doing recently, which I find odd (and so does G I think). I also spent about an hour and a half trying to fix my father’s new DVD player, which he bought this week to replace the broken one. Every single part of setting it up had been done wrong, including plugging the TV aerial directly into the TV (missing out the DVD player), which might explain why it wasn’t possible to get any form of picture through it. If I had set it up from scratch I think it would have taken me about 10 minutes, but I had to undo all the things that were wrong and then reset it all up and it took absolutely ages. It meant we didn’t get home until quite late last night and so that was not the best end to the weekend. Grr...

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cares

G’s niece is still missing. The police have been looking for her and have spoken to her as well (as G said she is never likely to be a master criminal if she makes such a schoolgirl error), but they haven’t located her as yet. G has spoken to her each day to try and persuade her to go home but she insists that she is “fine” and “sound”. Oh to be 14 years old and seemingly not have a care in the world...

Anyway... with thanks to the Vicious Chicken, here is a video in honour of Red Nose Day.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How to save a life

On Tuesday night I watched the Horizon programme on How to Survive a Disaster, which I thought was pretty interesting. I think I am unlikely to walk the emergency route out of a hotel whenever I stay in one, but the programme had some interesting points about human nature and are worth pondering.

- Some people died in a fire in Manchester in the 1970s because they were in the cafeteria at Woolworths and basically didn’t want to leave their uneaten food.
- When the World Trade Center was struck by the planes, some people sat at their desks and finished e-mails etc and waited 30 or 40 minutes before they considered evacuating.
- One firm, Morgan Stanley, lost very few employees on 11 September 2001 because they had practiced evacuating regularly so people know what to do and how to get out of the building.
- Peer pressure is a big factor. Even if people see smoke etc, if no-one else reacts people will often stay in dangerous situations because they might be embarrassed if they “make a fuss”.

Sometimes when the fire alarm goes off at work, I see my colleagues look about confused and I will just tell people to evacuate and as soon as someone had confirmed it is ok to go they get on with it and head for the fire exits, but they need that confirmation to go.

There is a summary of the key points here. It could save your life...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Care

I got home to a rather stressed G last night. G’s niece is in care and has been living with a foster family. Things were looking as though they were going ok, but G got a phone call yesterday to say that N had run away. G did manage to speak to N last night and she just kept saying she was “fine”, but did ask G to put credit on her mobile phone. G agreed to do this as long as N went home. We’ll find out today if she did.

G is really stressed about it all. N is in Scotland and so distance is a problem anyway, but G phones every week to keep up contact, but it can be quite difficult talking to a rather surly teenager. I won’t even go into how G’s family deals with it all, which is best described as somewhat unhelpful.

We were hoping to arrange for N to come down and stay at Easter and are actually in the middle of going though criminal record checks etc so that we could get permission for her to come and stay. But that is all looking very unlikely now and so we are going to have to work out what to say to N because we don’t want to let her down, but don’t think the social workers would give permission for her to come and visit regardless of anything else.

So we’ll see how it goes. Things had been looking more positive but now seem to have descended to a new low. Hopefully we’ll find out today that she at least went home last night because that would be progress. *sigh*

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Service

I had a busy evening yesterday sorting out various things. I needed to sort out my car insurance, as it is due for renewal soon. I had found a policy that was about £20 cheaper. So I phoned my insurance company and asked if they would match it. The woman said “I’ve put it into our database and we can’t match it”. She may as well have said “computer says ‘no’”. I queried that for the sake of £20 they weren’t interested in considering this and she said no. I took out a policy with another company instead. Annoyed customer.

I also phoned my mobile phone company. For several years I have renewed my contract and they have given me a big reduction on my line rental as I haven’t had a phone upgrade (I just buy a new phone if I need one). The man sorted it out straight away and, without me even asking, said he’d credit back to my account the discount I could have had this month if I’d renewed the contract earlier. Happy customer.

Today I am off to the Midlands, so I have a nice leisurely start to the day, as my train isn’t for a while yet. I really like late mornings. I think I am a bit like a teenager who needs to sleep in. I wish I could have done that when I was at school…

Monday, March 09, 2009

Fixes

Another weekend over. We didn’t actually have much planned but when it came to it we seemed to do quite a lot. On Saturday we went for a walk. We were going to go to a park a few miles away but on the way there saw a sign for another park so went here instead. While we were walking we saw a bag thrown in the bushes and its contents scattered about so we picked it all up and then left it there until we were on our way back and then carried it back to my car. We then went to drop it off at a police station, but the one we went to was closed. So we spoke to a police operator, who was very nice and helpful, and ended up driving quite a long way to a police station that was open and dropped it off. They said they would try and find the owner and return it. I think there had been a lap top in it but there was no sign of that when we found it.

I then went over to my parents’ house yesterday morning and tried to fix my dad’s DVD player. I had no success at all and just ended up disconnecting it all so that mum wouldn’t have to sort it all out if it needed to be taken somewhere to be repaired. My dad, as ever, did nothing towards fixing it and just wanted me to tell him what to do (meaning what mum should do) to get someone to look at it. Anyway, mum gave me some home made cake (she seems to be in a baking phase at the moment) and so that was very nice. It was a Victoria sponge, which is probably my favourite cake (although I am not generally known to turn down any cake).

We also did a major tidy up and thought of lots of things that we need to buy and sort out over the next few weeks. Fortunately G is off over Eater for longer than I am so it should mean that there is time to get people out to do various things.

At least it’s only about three weeks until I go on holiday now.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Possibilities

G and I were having a conversation last night about what I guess you could describe as “life chances”. G dropped out of school at 15 with no qualifications and worked for a few years in very low grade, poor paying jobs and then realised that this was not going to present many opportunities. So G went to college and got some Scottish Highers and then decided to go to university and got an undergraduate degree and then moved to London and did a Masters and then went on to study for a PhD. This was despite such support from G’s family such as comments like “why would you want to go to university? Don’t you want to get a job?”. I find it quite remarkable that G through a series of small decisions made what ultimately turned out to be significant life changes – and which also ultimately culminated in meeting me, which surely in and of itself proves that it was all worthwhile. But does also show that it is all downhill from here on in, as the high point of G’s life has now been reached.

Anyway, I digress… that does often make me think that I need to make more choices about what I want to do and achieve with my life instead of letting it just drift along. We also do have the ability to change and to start afresh and to do things that we might never have thought possible. But we also can let inertia overtake us and do nothing.

Every so often I quiz G about what made the difference and how it was possible to make such different choices about your life without any support or anyone really helping you to find the way and not really knowing what it will involve.

I am a fairly risk averse person and so do tend to shy away from things that feel somewhat unknown or that might have a negative side – even if they also have a very positive side as well. As William Shakespeare once wrote:

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

I still need to take that to heart.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Criticism

I sent an e-mail to someone at work yesterday because I was trying to track down someone’s payslip. We have a new system by which we no longer get paper payslips and have to look them up online, but if you are on maternity leave, a secondment etc then you still get a paper one. So I was trying to find one for someone who used to work for me who is on a secondment. The people who deal with these things for where I work are not always the most receptive to requests and this was certainly no exception. Not only was I trying to track down this one payslip but also flag up that perhaps others needed to be accounted for as well. I was trying to be constructive, but after sending a couple of e-mails clarifying the situation I got one back telling me that I “was accusing them of failure” and that the reason this problem had arisen was because both me and my head of unit had failed in our line management responsibilities and they can’t account for people who fail to carry out their duties properly. I was so unimpressed, I hadn’t been accusing them of anything. All I wanted to know was whether they had the payslip and pointing out that given this problem had arisen, perhaps it was a problem for others too. Clearly raising potential problems is not welcome though and is taken as a personal criticism. I did say that I would pass on their concerns about line management skills to my head of unit…

G was coming home a couple of nights ago and got on a train that was at the terminus and was going to be departing in about five minutes time. It was raining so G used the connecting doors between two carriages to avoid going out in the rain at which point this voice said “what do you think you are doing?”. It was the driver who was walking past and basically seemed to think that this was a big problem – walking between two carriages on a train through the connecting door, which didn’t even have a driver on it so was unlikely to be moving any time soon. Anyway, the driver made G read the notice stuck to the door. G read out the one that said “Do not use when the train is moving”. To which the driver said “no the one that says, only for use in an emergency. Two people were killed last year using the doors between carriages”. G replied “were they on trains that were sitting in the station and not even moving?”. The driver didn’t really reply but told G not to do it again. “You’re the boss” said G. “Yes I am” replied the driver and walked off. It has to be admitted that G had been on the cheeky water that evening, but the driver was still an idiot.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Priorities

I was talking to my friend whose wedding I went to a couple of weeks ago. They had just got back from their honeymoon in Scotland and he was telling me what a great time they’d had. They’d stayed in a cottage which sounded fantastic and I asked how they’d found the place they stayed and he said “well we basically did a search on the internet for ‘cottage’ ‘Scotland’ and ‘hot tub’”. I now understand their priorities. Although before they got married they did discuss what they were going to have to focus on once the wedding was over and his (now) wife assured him that she would have plenty to do, as she would have more time to work on the new vegetable patch. Romance is not dead.

I seem to have fixed my irritating internet problem and no longer have to switch off my virus checker in order to access the internet. I am now using “Super anti spyware” and it does indeed seem to be super – or at least better than the alternatives I had tried.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Tomorrow

Perhaps I should be following G’s lead and listening to the Paul McKenna CD, as I felt really tired yesterday. Perhaps it was just because it was a Monday, but in part I think it may have been that I seem to be worried about various things at the moment. Nothing big, not even anything important or imminent, just small and insignificant things that really aren’t worth worrying about. If you were to see me you wouldn’t think I was any different to normal, but somewhere below the surface things are whirring away.

I think it’s a family trait and, unconnected to my current frame of mind, my sister commented says that she sometimes worries about things and that she thinks she got that from dad. I just wonder how much you can do to unlearn certain types of behaviour. I do believe that people have the ability to change, but I’m not sure if that means that you learn to cope or you actually deal with the underlying issue. Perhaps it depends on what it is.

I think part of the problem is that I have let my world get smaller and smaller over the last few months. The less you have going on in your life, the more the things that you do have going on become the focus of your life. So I need to get some more interests and do things that are more outward looking. I have a few things in mind and am also trying to arrange to meet up with a couple of friends, but regardless I need to change my perspective a bit. As somebody wise once said “who of you can add an hour to his life by worrying about tomorrow”.

Or perhaps I just need to get more sleep.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Remarkable

I had quite a busy weekend. It was my sister’s birthday on Saturday so we went over their yesterday and had lunch and ate cake and so on. It was all very pleasant, apart from spending time with my father, who I managed to argue with. This time over the rather pathetic issue of whether some food should be covered up while it was cooling. He tried to get G involved to decide the issue and then I got annoyed about that because he always tries to make people take sides and also the argument was nothing to do with G and dragging other people in was not helpful. My sister, surprisingly, didn’t get annoyed with me for having an argument with dad, but instead in a constructive way just told me not to let him get to me because he isn’t worth it.

G has been sleeping so much better over the last week or so. I think the reason for this is… Paul McKenna. G has been feeling desperate about not sleeping properly because it has got so bad. I gave G a copy (by request) of Paul McKenna’s book “I can make you sleep” which also comes with a CD and within a day or so G’s sleep improved really noticeably. G now has much more energy and is feeling so much less tired. This is primarily due to listening to the CD rather then reading the book. I have no idea if it is the CD or just the psychological effect of thinking that this could make a difference, even if it is just a kind of placebo effect. The downside is that G has been a bit like Tigger in the morning, when I am not always at my most enthusiastic, and I have had to ask G to stop being quite to excited and enthusiastic a couple of times, but the difference is remarkable. I hope it is a long term change because sleep makes such a difference to quality of life. Anyway, if you have trouble with sleep, maybe it is worth a go…