January 27, 2006

Tax is very taxing…

…and don't believe it if anyone tells you otherwise. Almost lost will to live but have finished tax return. Happiest I have been in weeks. Can go to bed now. Zzzzz.

January 17, 2006

Six Sigma

The past two days have been spent learning about the human aspects of six sigma. After spending a few days thinking about it, it is clear that people are the most important part of any improvement initiative. How else will the improvements happen? Sounds like common sense to me.

Dealing with people is much harder than dealing with technical problems but one cannot be taken without the other in any six sigma improvement programme. I decided to check out what others thought about human aspects of 6S…

I was warned about the level of the isixsigma forums but wasn't really prepared for this (the first forum post I read)

"Are you, as you have frequently appeared to be, merely a disgruntled employee? Your railing has all the earmarks of a cubical farm dweller frequently passed over or not otherwise qualified to be a manger. Or are you as the cell phone commercial goes, a manager sticking it to the man yourself? Or is it just that your experience is limited?"

Oh, the temptation to get stuck in but a flame war would take up too much of my time right now. I've seen some trolls in my time but this guy is unreal. So, naturally, I reported it. If this is how some managers think of their employees then there is a long way to go. Unbelievable.


January 09, 2006

2006

The only really good thing that i'm feeling about the new year is that damned FACS assignment is finished. But some people love accounting. I'm freakish in that I love sitting with a load of numbers in a spreadsheet and doing some lovely number-crunching. Hugely satisfying. But there are people who would rather eat glass. I like things that can be proved. But in EEE there are very few things that one can say, in the mathematical sense of the word, are true.

Just because one knows something to be true, doesn't mean that it has been proved, or even that it can be proved. Often one can prove that something can't be proved, which leaves a big hole for me at the moment in the context of my research project.

When thinking about how CSR activities affect the success of businesses, we may have good reasons to think that something may be true, but that doesn't mean that we can ever prove it. Just because things 'ought' doesn't mean things 'are' or 'will'. And can we ever know? Empirical studies on the topic differ in result with many methodological flaws. But one can always pick a hole in the method or argument. I'm exploring this 'hole' of what it means to be true and following on from this, the dissertation.

I suppose it is naive to think that the project can ever be totally watertight; to have a flawless methodology and argument. I understand that this project is about the process as well as the result, but the ambiguity of the result and its validity bothers me still.


January 04, 2006

Accounting

I am constantly reminded, when trudging through my FACS assignment what a good decision is was NOT to become an accountant like my sister. Whilst I feel a deep satisfaction at a good decision made, I feel cheated, because here I am analysing sets of accounts for 40 hours. What happened?

It's one of those tasks in which there is no joy. I am not, and nor will I ever be, interested in accounting. Accounting is dull. I have to exert some serious will power to sit myself down and do this assignment. No course is perfect, and I suppose that this is the most boring module, so I will be happy when its done. But until then, back to the grind.


January 03, 2006

Blue Screen of Death

After innocently repairing a driver for my DVD writer, my computer won't boot. It's a big frickin problem. It's irritating and frustrating. Reinstalling Windows would work but i'd lose everything. The system restore doesn't cover the file that is corrupted (I made a restore point yesterday). All I wanted was my damned DVD writer to work properly. Shit.

December 19, 2005

Undermining Marriage

Follow-up to Civil Partnership Act from Jane's Blog

What the Government should do in terms of public policy is support marriage rather than undermine it…to put beside marriage an alternative or what appears to be a perfectly approved legal alternative lifestyle I think does not help the institution of marriage at all – Most Rev Peter Smith (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff)

Why do civil partnerships undermine marriage? Why does the institution of marriage need 'helping'? How can the government 'help' the institution of marriage through public policy? What is 'helping' marriage anyway? Are civil partnerships really an alternative to marriage as there is no choice between the two?

I'm really not getting it…


December 05, 2005

Civil Partnership Act

It's about time. The Civil Partnership Act came into force about thirty minutes ago. This act gives the same rights and responsibilities to homosexual couples as straight couples. I am not sure why it doesn't extend to straight couples wanting an alternative to marriage (and all that it stands for) but who am I to challenge the wisdom of our MPs?!?

One of the opponents of the Civil Partnership Act is Patrick Cormack and my parents are in his constituency. He votes against all motions that seek to promote homosexual practise as a valid lifestyle. This includes motions that permit or encourage such teaching in schools, reduce the age of consent, give additional rights to homosexual couples, allow homosexuals to adopt or create state recognised unions between same-sex couples. I asked them not to vote for him, but they probably did. Does this mean that they agree with him on these issues, or didn't consider it important enough to base their choice of party on? I don't know what to feel about this but I don't think that it is good to dwell on it for too long.

But I am happy today, as the UK has come another step closer to equality for all of its citizens. It's good to know that no one can challenge Ms right to be with me when I have to have another operation or that if anything happens to either of us, there are inheritance tax rights the same as any other married couple.

But what to call M? I wouldn't say 'wife' because that suggests marriage which I don't want to be associated with. I wouldn't say 'girlfriend' either because it sounds too temporary. 'Partner' is out of the question as it sounds like you're in a gym lesson. 'Hi, this is my spouse' is just plain silly. Also, civil partners won't get divorced, we will get dissolved. Just pop us in some water and we disappear, just like that! Magic.

As hard as I try, I can't get to grips with the counter argument to rights for homosexual people. The argument invariably includes the following: "It's a choice", "It says that it's wrong in the bible", "It's not normal", "It undermines family values". The argument grinds to a halt after a few minutes and there is very little chance in changing anyones mind about the above. It is an eternal stalemate. I find that it is the religious argument that I really struggle with. It has become clear to me that it is acceptable to use religion as an excuse to hate by taking a one sided interpretation of a book (the translation of which is debatable) as an absolute truth. My God loves you, but hates what you do. Or just, my God hates you. You are wrong…but you can be saved! Hurrah! I will pray for you. Stop the damned praying. Where is that damned asbestos blanket?


November 24, 2005

Random Blurting

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

I must spend more time thinking about my Blog before I write it. That's why they are so long and rambling.

Long and rambling blogs are ok. It's ok to develop an idea on screen, which is maybe what you're doing. You're reflecting on what you've learned and coming to your own conclusions. Who said that the blog post should be the end result and not part of the process? Maybe you shouldn't spend more time thinking about your blog before you write it. Maybe you would lose something by doing that? I find writing is a good way of exploring something. I have lots of draft posts which I come back to after a day and realise that I've answered my own question, so I don't post them, but I wouldn't have been able to get to that point without sitting and trying to type them out.

I suppose it comes down to this: What do you want to use your blog for? I felt that I had to have something worthwhile to say and the pressure about writing a blog post meant that I wasn't doing it very regularly at all. So, I have decided to sit down and just write. If it's work related or about something else that's on my mind then thats fine. The blogging, for me, is about practicing expressing thoughts in a coherent manner (and lord knows I need the practice). Also, it's a good way of emptying my brain so your mind doesn't get clogged up with random thoughts….maybe thats just me? And ranting, oh how I love the ranting!


What is leadership?

Over the past few days we have been thinking about leadership and coming up with our own definitions. Initially, I came up with: "the process of influence" because it makes sense to me that every time someone tries to influence, they try to lead. But it doesn't quite cover it. Through our group analysis of other definitions we identified three common themes: Influence, relationships and goals. Relationships must exist as to lead, there has to be someone to follow, and a realtionship must exist. Also, to lead implies a direction i.e. the achievement of some purpose of goal. Our analysis was corroborated by other authors on the subject (which was pleasing). The definition that our group came up with was: Leadership is the process of influence between the leader and followers to achieve goals.

Paul's definition was similar to ours but he specifies 'shared goals' in his definition: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers toward achievement of shared goals. This definition doesn't work for me. It implies that these shared goals have to exist for leadership to take place. I suggest that leadership encompasses the creation of these shared goals. I think that the creation of shared values is something more than selling an idea.

To create shared values, there has to be some influence. This could be an event or equally a person using their influence over others to bring them round to a single point of view. So, I would refine this definition to the following: Leadership is the process of influencing the thoughts and activities of followers to create and achieve shared goals. For the moment i'm happy with this but I know that I will refine this again and again.

I've also found myself interested in entrepreneurship and leadership. Entrepreneurs display a large amount of personal leadership, but are entrepreneurs always effective leaders? Do entrepreneurs have to have leadership qualities to be successful?


November 23, 2005

I can't believe it…

Music front cover
Title:
Prom [Us Import]
Artist:
Amy Ray
ASIN:
B0007TV5ZS
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

…but I have purchased a CD. I don't usually buy, I borrow. I don't listen to female artists (weird huh), I don't listen to anything with a heavy social agenda, or anything remotely dyke-ish (if that's a proper word). Picky, much? After picking my way carefully through M's CD collection (Im sure she's going to have something to say about it soon) for something to liven me up whilst doing the washing up, I happened across a few CDs that shall not be named to minimise embarrassment and to cut a long story short, I have been listening whenever I have the chance. Some of you who know me will have noticed that I have been tied up in electric wire this week and now you know why.

I was sceptical initially. The website says that the album occupies the ground between "rock, old-school punk, and folk" and goes on with the following…

'Prom' roams over the vast territory of love and gender as contained in the physicality of nature. The subject matter spans a delicate landscape (suicide, racism, gender identification, political idealism, homophobia) but because she sees this awkward journey as both a struggle and a celebration, Ray comes across as curious and unafraid.

That alone would make me not buy it and relegate it to the pile of 'lefty dyke music'. But wow. A fantastic CD. Great voice, but haunting almost – easy on the ears and not too harsh or piercing but powerful. That, I suppose is why I don't like listening to female voices. It's like: Yes, I hear you. Yes, you sing well. Make me feel something.

You can download the first two tracks for free from Daemon Records and then turn the volume up. I'm listening to it with a grin on my face. It calms me. The lyrics inspire and intrigue. There's a punk feel, in a nice way. There's nothing like a bit of anger and passion, especially in "Put It Out".

Budgeting over the Christmas period can be hard but forget the rent; this should be top of your list.


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