All entries for October 2006

October 31, 2006

small things make the day

Work welcomed me today with a thickening carpet of leaves, it looks like Autumn is finally here.

The ‘VC’ must be reading my blog ‘cos he’s started getting in even earlier to avoid me, just saw him sliding into the back of University House as I passed a moment before 8.

I couldn’t concentrate today, I don’t know why but my thoughts wouldn’t come together. I did various bits and pieces but nothing that was very satisfying. I did some literature searching on a new subject for me: did you know that there are 3 basic types of traffic modelling: Macroscopic, Mesoscopic and Microscopic. Apparently my interests are in the microscopic domain…

... no, not very intersesting.

Rant of the day, a recuring theme this, is to rail against the waste involved in funded research, so little of your and my money that is headlined going into this or that research actually ends up in the hands of those who could make a difference – its all used to grease the wheels of the REMFs. Rather than this I thnk we’d all be far better off if we said:


”...Lets accept that 20 or 30 percent of all funding will be embezzled, wasted, spent on junkets or whatever; that will still leave 70 to 80 percent of the original funding to be used to add value and we dont need to spend any on administratium.”

Later on I made real progress, I got the SmartBoard working and went home happy, small things make the day.

October 30, 2006

Polished off one of the bottles of Billi Billi, Mmmm.

Well, the mood did last I’m glad to say.

Spent the last part of the day at the best pub in this part of the Midlands – the Griffin at Church End. Only problem, as always, is that I’m the driver – but thats probably for the best, I’m a binge drinker given half a chance. Discussed the weather and how my friends cows were still grazing on grass – happy cows. Got the offer of a ticket to see Arsenal vs. Villa in February but I’ll probably forget by then.

Spent much of Saturday cleaning the house and such, waiting for MDW to return from Poland, which she did – complete with bags. Nothing much to report really, no rants and raves.

Sunday was another glorious day, so much so that after getting the paper I decided to go shooting, Standing out on the field in the Sun it felt like Spring not 3 days from November; shot at 70m and by the end was getting some good groups (for me). Ian, you should’ve come – it was better than sausages, trust me.

God! can’t people be childish, why do so many people choose to make mountains out of mole hills? And why do adults get so upset over the acquisition of badges! Finally I had to buy some more from a supplier on the net – typical, I get all the way through to the final part of the purchase and then find I have to create an account, and then can’t get back to the Checkout page!

I think I’m getting back in to MDW’s good books – was it the flowers at the airport, or the cooking? the clean bathroom or the fact I spent some time talking? I don’t know, I just hope I keep it up… but I know I won’t. I must buy one of those SAD-busting natural daylight alarm clocks. I’ve been promising for years but never seem to get round to the final purchase – Its because I want to get one that also has sounds of the dawn chorus, someone must do one somewhere.

Polished off one of the bottles of Billi Billi, Mmmm.

October 27, 2006

I hope this mood lasts

It may seem strange to enjoy the journey into work with what it suggests but today was glorious – what a sunrise! I must remember to pack my camera for events like this, then I can post an image here – so sorry to whet your appetite perhaps and then disappoint you. There were just so many colours and the cloud bases were rippled with hues of yellow, orange and scarlet. Mornings like this make one joyful.

I played through a repeated childhood memory of a sunrise like this in Suffolk whilst on a family holiday – getting whistful, must stop.

Still in a good mood, I walked in from the car park – its getting cold now, what only last week was a pleasant fresh feeling is now clawing through my jacket and reaching icing fingers (oops! I mean icy fingers – still thinking of raisin whirls) up between my shoulder baldes – guess I should start wearing a coat.

I think I had a breakthrough yesterday in planning my Lean lectures next week, think I’ve got the right hooks to get the points I need to make across, I’m eager to get them down so I’ll have to leave this now.

I hope this mood lasts.

October 24, 2006

and the bag made it!

I had to be strict with myself, the sofa lost, I’m now sitting in front of the computer flexing my fingers and racking my brains to remember whats gone on since my last posting.

I did get to drive and use the digger but its true what they say, its fiendishly tricky. Next time you see someone using a JCB pay them homage. In the end rather than use the digger I dug the ditch by hand (well… spade, mattock, pick and spit).

Filthy, I drove home at the end of a very tiring day via Majestic Wine. I had to apologise to the guy behind the counter for my appearance but I appeased him by buying an expensive bottle of vintage Veuve Clicquot (see next) plus the obligatory 12 bottles. Here’s my list:
  • Yering Frog Chardonnay (2 off)
  • Marco De Pegoes – new Portuguese red (2 off)
  • Regnie (2 off) – What can I say, I like Gammay.
  • Crozes Hermitage (2 off)
  • Ravenswood Zinf. (1 off) – for an alcoholic buzz
  • Ironstone Shiraz Grenache (1 off)
  • Mt. Lang Billi Shiraz (2 off)

My sister got married! Drove down to London on Sunday lunchtime for the wedding which was held at the Savoy – okay ya. Although I consider myself a Londoner (born in Hammersmith, family Eastenders since the mid 19C), I couldn’t live there – the bloody traffic! Half an hour to get from Earls Court to the Chelsea embankment – on a Sunday!!!!

Anyway, the wedding, all went well. Isn’t it strange how after 6 hours or so of meeting complete strangers you are saying goodbye to them as members of the family (sort of). Had some excellent vension and my brother-in-law’s dad supplied our table with a 30 year old bottle of Cristal champagne – wow! It had a much more complex taste than the cheaper NV stuff that I’m ‘used’ to.

Monday is a complete blank. I know that I taught 3 hours of lecture and filled the rest of the day with stuff that needed to be done but for the life of me can’t remember what that was – I hadn’t had much sleep the night before, didn’t get back from London until 11pm and then stayed up to watch the last GP of the season, then up after only 4 hours to drive in to work and get parked. Was a time when that wouldn’t have been a problem but age is taking its toll.

Got completely taken by suprise at the airport this morning. Having travelled with my plastic bag at the height of this Summer’s security alert, then again on hols, we got completely caught out by the secirity regs that are still in place. Customs people at BHX don’t know how close they came to being fragged by MDW when she had to – eventually – check in one of her small shoulder bags into the hold luggage. KLM Check-In girl didn’t mention anything about the regs earlier when we could’ve done something about repacking – only the old “Did you pack your own bags…”, ” Did anyone else …” – BHX had no obvious signs informing passengers of rules (later saw some very tired looking bits of laminated A4 pinned to a post that we had no reason to walk past).

NOTE: Later on, checking flight status, noticed that as of the 6th November, UK style security restrictions will be in place throughout Europe – BEWARE!

MDW was resigned, I think, to never see her bag with make-up and gifts for family again: small bag, with no lock and a one hour transfer window at Schiphol – not promising. However, phoned her this evening and the bag made it.

October 20, 2006

Books I read this Summer(06)

3 out of 5 stars

I hadn’t read The Joy Luck Club so didn’t really know what to expect when MDW passed me this after I’d finished the books I’d taken on Holiday (see Places I’d Rather Be). Well, I enjoyed it mostly. I thought the main story was a bit predictable but the humour level was kept up throughout; the cave episode was hilarious. Although the end dragged on a little it wasn’t enough to ruin the experience.

Still haven't reduced my handicap

A re-run of yesterday in the morning but with no bin-men problem. Late to bed, early to rise, makes a man … knackered.

There were a reasonable number of colleagues ‘up the road’ this lunchtime, though I was a little late. Second time this week the ladies in SC weren’t concentrating when I ordered my baguette, still I forgive them – I liked their selection anyway.

Got back to the office to find that the really frustrating issue from two days ago seems to have been sorted – though I have to sign my life away… the things I do for our students.

Digger! Digger! went down to the club this afternoon and had a man drop off a little mechanical digger – you know the sort: the one with the small rubber tracks, might get to drive it tomorrow. Anyway, then got on with shooting a round in between showers, a Windsor. Shot a really good end of 52 but a load of other ends in the mid 40s.

Did the shopping. Sainsbury’s insulted me again – no reduced raisin whirls but more annoyingly – as is their wont – they reduced the rice shelf by a half to fit in space for rubbishy Christmas stuff and didn’t have any Arborio or Carnaoli (sp) or thingy Nuevo (sp). How am I going to make a decent Rissoto on Monday?

MDW had made a lovely bake, watched some Johnny Kingdom – I used do some stalking myself up in the Cairngorms years ago – then entered my score for the afternoon -I still haven’t reduced my handicap!

Books I read this Summer – Smith

1 out of 5 stars

I didn’t manage to get past the first 30 pages before I got to the Lifes too Short stage. It just didn’t engage me in the slightest and the story just didn’t move on fast enough for my liking.

Of course, this could’ve been because I was sat on the tarmac at Athens airport with fuel gushing out of the aircraft’s wing, fire trucks zooming up and no air-con because all the engines were shut down as a precaution .. but I do feel that a good book should’ve been able to keep my attention through all of this.

October 19, 2006

I've got the Whirls all to myself

Nothing much to report, I managed somehow to avoid things that make my blood boil. Well almost, the bin men of course still manage to arrive before 6am on the morning after the night before when I forget to put the rubbish out. So, I can look forward to queuing at the local tip on Saturday morning.

Got to work early as usual and finished off the lecture prep for the afternoon’s 3rd years then spent most of the morning installing software on a number of workstations. I solved a problem with the BIOS that had been bothering me for a while so that made me feel good. The best thing though was that I got to use the Dymo machine – no traditional manual job like I remember from days of yore but a swanky terminal that was more like a fax machine – a real time saver.

Loads of colleagues were getting hot under the collar becasue a deadline for some admin was looming and the main photocopier spotted this and decided to jam, clear, jam, clear etc. Are electronic devices sentient?

The lecture this* evening!* – I’ve got lectures 2 days a week that finish at 6pm thats just not fair! – seemed to go well. The students caught me out, turning up in greater numbers than usual – am I engaging them? perhaps not: they had a project safety briefing at 6 so I’m guessing they just couldn’t be bothered to go home in the interim.

Stopped off at Sainsbury’s on the way home and got some cheap/reduced Raisin Whirls, chose carefully the ones with the most icing on them – Mmmm.

Got home in time to see MDW off for her Yoga class, now I’ve got the Whirls all to myself!

October 18, 2006

and so I started blogging

So, this is my first proper blog, where I actually put down some of the things that made me rant and rave today.

Usual journey to work, get there plenty early so I can get parked for free opposite University House. Weather still amazingly warm so I don’t get frozen or drenched getting to the office. Is that the VC I pass some days or just someone who looks a bit like him? anyway – he wasn’t there today.

Big gaggle of people in reception and its not yet 8am – is a free breakfast really worth it? ‘spose so but perhaps the timing was driven by the need to find car parking spaces for our esteemed guests.

Wrote a ranting e-mail about the increasing bureaucracy that has been seeping and now flooding into The System. The centre really doesn’t seem to want ‘us’ to make progress, sometimes think they would rather we didn’t get out of our beds. To me ‘they’ seem a bit like the NUS: playing at the real game but not really self-aware. Hoom Hum.

Did some lecture prep and then wanted to update one of my course websites and finally got round to properly investigating RSS Feeds – incorporated a NewsBuilder page – some people may moan about Sitebuilder but really I think for most people who are prepared to engage it really is a treat ( I remember Mosaic – hey that was only 12 years ago).

Insite popped up in my inbox – read the VCs interview – Car Parking , hmmmm.

Shared lunchtime up the road with a colleague and one of his tutees – what a civilised way to have a project meeting- strange thing though these students of today: only drank water, in my day not even the Libyans drank water in the bar!

Finished off my lecture prep (mostly) then off to a company in the Black Country for a meeting with a research associate. Business isn’t too great there which is a shame, opportunity for making a difference is now passing by, being frustrated by the short-term focus they understandably have. People often say that a down-turn is the time to invest in the future – good in theory but when you dont know where the next meal is coming from you don’t plant the nuts you have (Ooh er Missus!).

Back home fairly early, feed the cats and wait for MDW to return from work too - and so I started blogging.

Books I read this Summer(06) – Lewycka

3 out of 5 stars

Was this the Captain Corelli of 2006? – amongst my fellow engineers I know I wasn’t the only one to read this. Perhaps it had something to do with the title. Sorry, but there really aren’t (m)any tractors in the story but there is a heavily modified Roller – hey! that is the tractor!

Funny, but in a rather disquieting fashion, not quite sure what sense of humour The Times reviewer has.

October 2006

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