Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or treat...

Well I've certainly been tricked alright.

While Little Sis was here to stay over the weekend, she mentioned how much she liked my digital bathroom scales. Not that they are particularly stylish or crammed with special features, but the fact that they stated that her diet was going significantly better than she thought (and to be fair, she's doing very well).

The comment didn't really register at the time, but since then it dawned on me that my own weight had been somewhat erratic of late, but the general trend was in the right direction and I'd come out of last weekend weighing the least I can remember for about a year or so. However, it also occurred to me that I've never changed the battery since I bought the scales which could be resulting in inaccurate readings.

Thanks to the newly installed battery, I now appear to have gained 7lbs over night, which given that I've been full of cold and not feeling like eating much at all seems pretty unlikely. I can only conclude that the new weight is the correct one, so my scales have tricked me all this time.

As for the treat?

Well I was two hours late leaving the office tonight which meant that by the time I got home, the trick or treaters had long since been and gone so I now have a bag full of fun-size goodies and no little urchins to give them to.

I guess we know which way the bathroom scales will be moving over the next few days...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Over too soon...

We've just had an excellent weekend as Little Sis and family finished their Autumn half term at my place. If I'm going to be honest, everything didn't go entirely to plan but we proved that it is still possible to have some family fun at a cost of not much more than a little time and effort. What's more, if they can travel 250 miles to come and visit, then I've nothing so important that won't wait for a couple of days.

Friday, we headed out to Woodthorpe Garden Centre where they already have an extensive Christmas display open, but all year round they have a free play area with trampolines and an impressive maze.

After a quick bite of lunch prepared in their camper van, we went on to Woodthorpe Aquatics where they have such a huge range of pond and aquarium fish available that it's worth going just for a look around even if you are not buying. I'm sure they will thank me for that.

From there, our plans took a bit of a nose dive as we went in search of a working water mill to find that one had closed for the season and the other had been converted to a private house and closed to the public completely.

Undeterred, we took comfort in the wonderful selection of ice cream at Applebys at Conisholme then headed home where I rustled up a Chinese meal for the six of us.

I'd been hoping to fire up the barbie for tea on Saturday but by lunchtime the weather was already looking questionable. We took a drive out to Waltham Windmill where once again the tourist industry had conspired against us and almost everything had closed, but we amused ourselves for a while between the play area and the traditional sweet shop on site.

Cleethorpes seemed surprisingly quiet given that it was half term and the rain had held off so we stopped off at the Jungle Zoo. It achieved the objective of delighting the youngest two of us, but I'm afraid I have to agree with these guys (in this case) that the birds and animals on display didn't appear to be particularly happy and would certainly benefit from bigger enclosures.

As predicted, the weather dictated that the "barbie" was prepared between the oven, the grill and the trusty George Foreman, but everyone had their fill (and still more in my case) and we toasted Little Sis' recent job sucess with a glass of bubbly. As an added bonus, what left-overs there were have now been re-jigged to furbish me with packed lunch for this week.

Before we knew where we were, it was Sunday morning and and despite having been given an additional hour, I was stood in the drive waving them all on their way again. Still, it's only eight weeks until we all meet up again for Christmas.

*Gulp* it's only eight weeks to Christmas...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm so happy...

Although I don't mark these events so frequently any more, I'm all the same delighted to see that my blog counter has hit the 20,000 mark. So, as a token of my genuine gratitude for your continued interest in my ramblings on here, I've prepared little something bit special (and of course, a bit silly too).

It runs on Windows Media Player (which you can download here if required) and for best effect you should have your sound turned up. So with all that in place, click the picture below for a "Thank You" with a difference...

Monday, October 22, 2007

Lux like he's ranting again...

I'm sorry, but it gets me rattled around this time every year and with the clocks going back at the weekend, it's going to be a while before it gets any better. How can there possibly be so many people out there who don't know how to use their lights when driving at night?

I have the dubious pleasure of travelling around 70 miles a day, most of it in partial darkness already and despite it being a mixture of motorway, dual carriageway and winding country lanes, both lit and unlit, I almost never need to switch my headlights from dipped to main beam. Even when weather conditions dictate otherwise, I'm blessed with the common sense to know that as soon as anyone's rear lights come into view ahead of me, or I can see the oncoming glow of headlights from the opposite direction, it's time to dip them again.

As I wear glasses, I'm hardly gifted with bionic vision or super heroic talents to see through buildings or around corners, but I am blessed with a sense of common decency for the people I have to share the roads with. Unlike the countless number of thoughtless twats I seem to encounter most days.

So on the off chance that even one of these brain donors may be Googling for advice on the subject, I thought I'd leave a few random suggestions to attract the search engines:

"When should I dip my headlights"
"How do the lights work on my car"
"Can I drive with my lights on full beam all of the time?"
"Does it matter as long as I can see where I am going?"
"Help! I have more points on my license than brain cells"
"Dear Noel, I want to swap my sports car for a space hopper"
"Mummy, it's dark out there. Can you leave the big light on?"

OK, I doubt it's contributed much to road safety but at least I've got the matter off my chest for another year...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sign of the times...

First the serious bit:

I received an e-mail this evening from Richard, one of my fellow Tap regulars that contained the following:

The world-famous Red Arrows have been banned from appearing at the 2012 London Olympics because they are deemed "too British". Organisers of the event say that the Arrows military background might be "offensive" to other countries taking part in the Games. The display team have performed at more than 4000 events worldwide, but the Department of Culture, Media and Sport have deemed the display team "too militaristically British".

Red Arrows pilots were said to be "outraged", as they had hoped to put on a truly world class display for the Games, something which had never been seen before. Being axed from a British-based event for being "too British" is an insult - the Arrows are a symbol of Britain.

The Red Arrows have been excellent ambassadors for British overseas trade, as they display their British-built Hawk aircraft all over the world.

The Arrows performed a short flypast in 2005 when the winning bid was announced, but their flypast at the Games was to have been truly spectacular.

It is to be hoped that common sense prevails

If you disagree with this decision, sign the petition on the link

There is already a reply on there stating that the decision is out of the PM's hands, but it's probably worth adding your name just to labour the point (no pun intended)

Now for the silly bit:

Have a look at some of the [inevitable] rejected petitions on the same site - it's the best laugh I've had for ages. One of my favourites was to make August 1st David Hasselhoff Day. I'd have been up for it - we could all go out, get pissed up, then stagger home and spill supper all over the carpet. In fact we could have one every Friday...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ahead of my time...

Thankfully, it doesn't happen often but I really fancied a cigarette as I left the office tonight. I was imagining myself tearing out of the car park, just so that I could spark up the minute I was officially off site. The clearly ridiculous idea passed as quickly as it had popped into my head, but it shows that you always need to be on your guard and you should certainly never be tempted to carry any with you "just in case".

That said, the news this morning reported that obesity is more likely to kill you than smoking related diseases; a little unfair I thought considering I put most of my weight on after I'd stopped smoking. Although admittedly I've made little effort to try and lose much since either.

Anyway back to this mornings report, failure to take drastic action now will result in the majority of us being obese by 2050. Even in my genuinely lean days I've always exceeded my apparently recommended weight and I doubt that when I'm 85 they will have re-stacked the stats any more to my liking...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Full of surprises...

Not much of a surprise that it's been nearly a week since my last post, but there have been plenty in the meantime:

Friday night was traditional tea in the Tap, which was excellent as usual but I surprisingly had the sense to leave early as there was a long day to follow pending Dom's arrival from Middlesborough the next morning.

Saturday? Well I guess we expected a decent result against Estonia at football and our victory over the French in the rugby was well received, although the latter was somewhat of a surprise given my initial expectations. And although I should know better, I was surprised we managed to see the rugby match in the pub at all given our early start and mid-evening flit across town.

Sunday was someone elses turn as we went to a surprise party for John Boy's 50th birthday. Another great night and fine excuse for much quaffing of ale by all, despite my early departure - quite a surprise there given the Hobgoblin was on sale a reduced price for the night.

I'd already booked a days holiday for recovery purposes yesterday which, to my surprise, was completely unnecessary but I took advantage of the day by getting ahead of the weeks chores about the house. I also sent an e-card to my most recently acquired wife which hopefully will have been a nice surprise for her birthday.

Today was back to work and back to normal, until a discussion with someone in the office late this afternoon indicated that in "reward" for my efforts on our main project this year, I could be spending some time working in Germany early in 2008. Well I certainly didn't see that one coming.

So, it fair to say that I'd be surprised if there were any more surprises tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Missed opportunity...

I've frequently admitted on here that I'm far from any kind of authority on art, although there has been the odd once or twice when temptation got the better of me after reading about some ridiculous exhibit or escapade.

I was quite proud that I'd let the whole crack in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall floor pass without mention, until I heard on the news tonight that they've had to administer first aid to their first three casualties today. Personally, I would have recommended some "look where you're bleeding going" therapy.

All the same, I was disappointed the nobody took the golden opportunity to report that the incidents of people falling into the crack have been reported to the HSE and one of their officials is now looking into it...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

As if nothing had happened...

We got home late Sunday night after a fantastic weekend away with the family.

Then I woke up yesterday morning to discover I'd brought home a cold as a souvenir and spent one of my last remaining days off work sniffling over the ironing and coughing and sneezing all over Tescos. I think I've said before that the man-flu thing doesn't really work as well when you live on your own - stuff still has to get done.

It seems to have been slinging down with rain from the moment I got home.

I returned to the office this morning to see work had piled up as if I'd been away for a week or more.

Looks like everything's back to normal. On the plus side, I guess that means I'll be doing "the usual thing" in the pub this weekend then...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Out for a spin...

We're setting off tomorrow to surprise my [increasingly not so] little niece for her 8th birthday this weekend. It's always good to find an excuse to visit the family, and I'm ashamed to admit that I think this is probably our first trip this year (although they have been to stay at my place).

Until recently, the only bit I never really looked forward to was the trip itself. With the best will in the world (and a generous backwind), you're looking at a four hour drive and although I quite enjoy driving, I'm running out of alternative routes to keep my interest. Until I looked into air fares which suddenly re-focussed my attention.

Despite which, this is a drop in the ocean anyway compared to the mileage we were clocking up a couple of weeks ago. Well, when I say drop in ocean, I'm kind of hoping to stop before we reach the coast.

Oh, and I won't have a laptop with me on this more modest journey, so I'll catch up with the blog next week. Although you probably wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't said...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

OK, they got me...

It turned out to be a good presentation this morning after all, despite the content being generally quite familiar territory.

I behaved well and played along, but as I left the building tonight with my new t-shirt (emblazoned with the project name) tucked under my arm, I caught the tag line on the poster by the clock machine which I admit made me leave with a grin across my face for a change.

Aimed specifically at cynics like me, it said:
Been there? Done that? Well now you've got the t-shirt...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

You have to laugh...

Like most reasonably sized companies, ours likes to jump on and off bandwagons in line with the latest trends, albeit Quality Assurance, Continuous Improvement, Six Sigma, you name it, we've probably tried most of them with varying degrees of success in the last 12 years or so that I've worked there.

The latest excuse for welcoming another set of consultants through our doors a few months ago was on another process improvement project. Probably costing several gazillions of Euros which, we mustn't forget, is an investment in our future. People have been buzzing around for months now, putting up posters, recruiting teams, re-decorating offices, posting progress charts all over the place and even holding briefings occasionally to tell us in person what they are planning to do.

Tomorrow is "Communication Event" day; an entire day dedicated to communicating to the masses as to how successful the project has been. The first we heard about it was at a quarter to four this evening when a large proportion of our employees weren't there to read it...