Losing track of time?

I’m three weeks into WFH; it is proving an interesting experience.

Bits of my routine are the same, bits of it are very different.

As far as hours go, before the C-19 virus I was, averaging a spread of 95% to 105% of my working week.

But now I’m working on C-19 projects and my average spread of working hours/week is 125% to 140%.

I spend on average 40% of my day on Teams VCs/calls.

I haven’t committed any major visual errors yet, but did inadvertently give a few people a brief flash of my bathrobe this afternoon.

The dogs come and go, crashing through the dog flap at huge speed, so I tend to spend much of the day upstairs.

My reflexes get tested when one of the dogs jumps onto the bed and tries to walk across the keyboard, especially if I’m on a call.

Today is a Bank Holiday in India; yet I’ve been on calls with a number of offshore colleagues.

This week and next are supposed to be four-day weeks; Good Friday followed by Easter Monday; there is a possibility I might put in a couple of hours on both Bank Holidays.

What will be interesting, in the longer term, is whether employers embrace a post-virus shift away from working in those big, expensive offices, and allow a distributed workforce to carry on working from home.

It will also be worth keeping an eye on employers who recognise that if their staff can work from home, then those jobs could be done in India.

I’m looking at almost all of the Head Office functions of my former employer.

There’s nothing common about common sense

At the time of writing we are in the relatively early stages of a global pandemic.

I use the phrase ‘relatively early stages’ because globally, what we are experiencing is going to take *at least* an entire year (if not considerably longer) to run its course across the world.

Even our lacklustre Government, who are so far behind the intellectual curve that this country has become even more of an international laughing stock than it was during all that Brexit stuff, has been telling people *for weeks* that the country needs to change its way of life, and needs to stop congregating, and needs to adopt social distancing.

So, needless to say, over the past week, as this national crisis has begun to show an indication of just how severe things are going to get, and the UK death toll has begun to dramatically rise, and front-line NHS staff have, in many cases, run out of PPE, many people – bereft of common sense – have, unbelievably, been going on holiday.

Let’s look at that.

International boundaries around the globe are closing down. Neighbouring countries are, in some cases, restricting the flow of people across borders. And other countries are actually stopping the flow of people into and out of their states.

So while that’s going on, Mr and Mrs Average feel that it’s perfectly reasonable to go on holiday to Cornwall, or to Scotland, or to Wales.

How?

How do these people function?

How do they (I don’t want to put too fine a point on it) manage to operate as human beings?

These people, who decide that it’s perfectly OK to pack up their family and trog off on holiday (to one of these places, for sure, but anywhere is as bad) for however long it is (but let’s say three days, though it is undoubtedly longer) are allowed to vote?

Allowed out alone?

These people are weaponised virus-carrying morons.

How do we educate the hard of learning?

Cornwall has one major general hospital. One.

Wales has the lowest general healthcare capability in the UK.

Scotland’s dispersed general healthcare struggles to meet its own geographical challenges.

But people think that it’s OK to leave their towns, their cities, their counties, and interact with strangers in these other places?

Really?

How incredibly stupid.

Here are two pieces of information from Wales:

The one thing we can guarantee about common sense is, it appears, that it isn’t very common at all.

Four wheels bad, erm, six wheels good?

The year before last, in the early spring, the two of us went to Vietnam.

And later that year, for our summer family holiday, we (two adults, those two girls), went to a resort a little way outside Marrakesh and had, frankly, a terrific bloody time.

That was the year before last.

Last year was different because and then there were five, when we two adults, those two girls, were joined by that there girl sprocker.

We discussed the options, but it was a unanimous decision to keep the family of five together for our family holiday.

So we all, yes, all five of us, went camping in Cornwall.

We crammed ourselves in to an eight-man tent and, being entirely truthful with you, we had a great time (despite the hyper-energetic sprocker putting a claw-hole in the adults airbed on the penultimate night).

But this year our family has expanded again, and the annual holiday has to accommodate two adults, those two girls and not one, but two hyper-energetic sprockers.

Blimey!

So throughout the winter there has been much thinking and saving: thinking about ‘how the heck are we going to do this?’, and saving for ‘whatever the heck it is we decide to do what will enable us to do this’.

Well, on Saturday it all happened.

We drove up to Swinderby (RAF Swinderby was my first ever posting) and picked up the means by which we are going to do this.

Yes, middle age has hit hard, but unexpectedly it is combined with a smug feeling of practicality.

Cornwall will be seeing all six of us this year.

Next year, maybe France.

If the EU will have us.

New hobby (obsession?)

I do appreciate Wikipedia.

I make a small annual contribution to the service, and I regularly use it as a source of information (let’s face it, any website that no longer accepts links/references to/from the Daily Mail because – and I quote – ‘the Daily Mail is not a trusted source’ can’t be all bad).

Largely run/populated by volunteers, Wikipedia is not without its flaws, but overall it’s a Very Good Thing.

Anyway.

I have discovered this page in Wikipedia.

Well, although it’s a page it is actually a dynamic list.

When I first stumbled on this dynamic list I realised that it had a very North American bias.

So now I’m chipping away at it, adding more global information to make this a less American list.

At the moment I’m focused on this sub-list.

Great fun!

What do you mean, get a life?

Where there’s a Will

I’ve made a Will.

I know!

This is possibly the most adult thing I’ve done, and therefore is it even me?

But the one lesson that making a Will has taught me is that I have a lot of strands that need to be knitted together, and bringing all of those strands into one document is a lot harder than I had thought.

I’m not even sure how I’m going to keep my Will updated, because C21st life is fast-moving, and keeping my Will current seems like a monthly task.

I need to think about how I do that – all advice gratefully received.

Away from Will-making…

I may have mentioned that in the last few years I have been to two funerals of motorbiking friends?

The first had me in stitches and later in tears of laughter – and then just tears of sadness.

The most recent was a most tearful celebration of the life and times of a high-energy character; full of life and love and humour, and one of the biggest fun individuals that I’ve ever met.

Young Masher recently blogged about how he’s managing his demise in a more immediate/short-term kind of way.

I think there’s some logic to this.

I like having a list of people (and organisations) to tell; there are some folk in ex-service groups on FB who might like to know (for various reasons) when I eventually check out.

And I have some thoughts on the intimate gathering at the crem.

Though I wouldn’t have Test Match Special as the walk-in music, which Grant did.

The unexpected (but instantly recognisable) TMS theme filled everyone in with mirth, which was a typical Grant kind of thing to do.

So maybe I should compile a list of my send-off music? And blog it? Or would that be too ghoulish to make it so public?

Hmm…

It’s only money, honey

It’s been an expensive year so far, and we’re only just three months in.

The emergency replacement of the new boiler was a bit of a shock; that’s a couple of thousand I had other plans for.

Robyn’s little operation cost £380.

I’ve just had £600 of special work done on the car.

£200 for insurance on the Ninja.

And we’re spending several thousands of £s on something, this weekend.

Still, you have to look on the bright side:

  • We’ve got a new boiler
  • Robyn won’t have to go through another painful ‘season’
  • The car and this weekend’s thing will benefit us all (and that includes the two doggy types), and
  • The Ninja and I will continue to harass and scare other road users for the next 12 months

There’s a lot to like there.

Motor insurance

Although this is about motorbike insurance companies, the general gist of what I’m saying applies to car insurance companies.

Because they all operate on the same basic set of principles.

My insurance for the Ninja expires at the end of this month.

I’ve been with the same company for two years, so when I got the ‘we’re going to rollover your insurance’ email I almost didn’t check the market.

Yes, there was an increase on my annual premium, but it wasn’t an astronomical increase.

And then one of those annoying little meerkats popped in to my head, or maybe it was the fat Welsh opera singer.

Whatever.

I checked. And instead of £320 from my insurance company of the last two years I was given a quote of £180 from Kawasaki Insurance.

That’s some difference, I thought.

So I did the deal.

Rang Kawasaki Insurance, answered all their questions, put on an extra which increased the annual premium by just £17, and then I paid for the lot.

The next call was to my insurance company of two years.

I told them I wasn’t going to rollover; they asked why, so I told them.

Then they started to haggle with me and that’s when I started to get angry. I’ve done the deal. You lost. Get over it.

I explained I’d done the deal, paid the money.

They kept on trying to haggle with me.

Then the person I was talking to revealed she could see what I had agreed to with Kawasaki Insurance.

She said stuff like ‘Oh, you’ve put down that you work in a different industry. That would change your premium with us’, and ‘I see you have devalued your bike, that would make a difference with us too,’ and ‘I see you’ve reduced the amount of mileage you will do next year. We could get very competitive on that new information too.’

I then got really angry.

I changed my employer. I do the same job I just work in the pharmaceutical industry. In all honesty, how can that make a single bit of difference to my insurance premium?

And of course I devalued my bike. First of all if I was in an accident your loss adjuster is only going to offer me market value. And secondly the bike has depreciated in the last two years.

And the reason my mileage estimate for the next 12 months is lower is because I’m going to have less time for big trips this year.

But as I was saying these things I was getting more and more angry with the sheer brass neck of Hastings Premier as the person on the other end of the phone kept insisting they could match the quote I had agreed to from Kawasaki Insurance.

Really angry.

That Hastings Premier would even consider they could increase my premium to take my insurance over £300, and that they could even have the nerve to try to keep me as a loyal customer, when they *must have known* what I was likely to get offered if I shopped around.

Really angry.

There’s taking the mick, and there’s Hastings Premier.

Blogathon 29/20: Status update

It is the 29rd 29st 29th of February and that can only mean one thing…

It is a Leap Year – the one day that someone, somewhere, has decreed in a totes authoritarian manner that women can propose to men.

I mean, that’s bloody bonkers. Why the hell can’t a woman propose for the other 365 days of the Leap Year?

Or any of the other 365 days of any normal year?

Well of course she can.

It’s all a control thing; the patriarchy is controlling 50% of the population of the planet through it’s outdated quasi-religious doctrines.

Well blow that.

So women of the world (and women of any other worlds who happen to be looking in), you go girls, you get out there and if someone (animal, mineral, vegetable, human, whatever) takes your fancy, you just get on and propose to him/her/it.

But don’t propose to me, OK?

Because on 28th December last year (yes, alright, just a couple of months ago but anyway), I got married.

Blogathon 28/20: Shout it out!

This isn’t going to be either of the blog posts I was mulling over, during last night’s long but unremarkable network changes.

It was either going to be about weird pronunciations (absolutely *not* looking at any random Kiwis who might occasionally drop by), or about Sprocker the Elder and her remarkable gift of seeing things that aren’t quite there.

Instead I’ll tell you about something that happened this afternoon.

The dogs and I were hiding in the bedroom (not really hiding) because Mavis (the cleaner – not his real name) was wreaking all manner of cleaning havoc on the ground floor of the house.

The dogs were fast asleep on the bed.

I had just come off a remarkably brief Teams call and was looking forward to a spell of peace and quiet during which I could type up the call notes.

I eased the headphones off and instead of a large helping of P&Q I could hear what I can only describe as someone having a lot of fun.

In amongst the fun sounds I could distinguish a few words.

‘Yes! Oh! Oh! Like that! Yes, there! There! There!’

At first I thought Mavis was having too much fun with the vacuum cleaner, but then I realised the sounds were coming through the wall and originated in the adjoining house.

I can only assume that Mrs Next Door (for it was she) had adjusted her bedroom loudspeakers and finally achieved stereophonic nirvana, where the Left and Right balance had hit that elusive sweet spot that so many people find difficult to achieve.

It was such a shame her husband wasn’t home to share the good news.

Still, she and her friend probably demonstrated how they achieved audio perfection when he came home.

Probably.

Blogathon 27/20: Up in smoke

We have a log-burner.

It’s actually a dual-fuel fire.

When it’s in use, it kicks out a lovely bunch of heat that not only fills downstairs but also heats our room (the bedroom chimney-breast carries residual heat).

During the day we burn kiln-dried logs, which I buy in at half a ton at a time.

When we choose to keep it in through the night we put a load of coal on.

Our Government (bless) have decided they are going to make burning coal illegal.

They are also going to make burning wet wood illegal, but that’s OK because we don’t burn wet wood (by definition, kiln-dried logs can’t be wet).

Except, of course, a lot of people pick up firewood (especially during Storm Ciabatta – whatever).

So in the future, picking up wood and/or chopping up fallen trees or branches for firewood is going to be illegal and transgressors will be sent to the Tower of London to be beheaded.

Or something.