Just stuff…

Very interesting day today in Westminster, with the London office of the people I’m currently working for.

Learned loads, and made progress on a big technical project.

Looks like I have to go down to the Cheltenham HQ for a few days, which would be a pain in the backside, and would mean having to stay down there, because commuting isn’t going to happen.

The trouble is, when one is dealing with complex information systems, there are a lot of pre-requisites that need to get lined up before the actual project delivery can commence.

And oh boy, am I dealing with a lot of pre-requisites.

On a broadly similar topic, I’ve been continuing to look at IP-related activity. I’ve switched from port-monitoring to IP-monitoring.

Speaking of travel, I have a potential short, sharp visit to make down south, which, despite the distance and the dodgy weather, I’m actually looking forward to. Maybe this weekend, if things pan out.

Anyway.

I got outbid on a bike on eBay last night. I am more disappointed than I thought.

But there’s another one…

And I’m viewing two houses tomorrow evening.

It’s all go, eh?

Keeping busy

Things are work are mentile. So, to balance my life out, I’m keeping very busy at home too. I suppose the ‘things at home’ divide up in to subheadings:

Car:
The car hasn’t had much use since I got it. It’s been in to the centre of Rugby for wheel-balancing and tracking alignment. And that’s about the sum of its journeys.

Yesterday I took it in to Kwikfit to have the brakes checked. They said the pads were fine but the disks needed replacing. And then they quoted me £500 for doing the job. FIVE HUNDRED POUNDS? I told them not to bother.

A little investigation reveals that I can get four new disks and four new sets of pads for £100, so what the hell is the hourly rate Kwikfit charge? And their mechanics must all be as rich as fuck. Except they’re not, obv.

I’d like to do the job myself – fitting new disks and pads – but I’ve never done it before. And mucking about with the braking system of a car doesn’t seem to be the smartest place to start learning car mechanics.

So I’m going to call a couple of local garages, to see how much they’d charge for the job, if I supplied the parts.

Bike:
The VFR continues to be my daily commuter, as well as my weekend runabout. It is, obviously, much cheaper per mile than the car, but whereas the car drips comfort and luxury, the bike drips fun, smiles, and racy excitement.

I am keeping the bike scrupulously clean. I tend to wash the VFR down every evening when I get home. At weekends I take the seat off and give the frame a very thorough clean, and then lube the chain.

I took a gentle trip down to Daventry today to buy a pair of winter gloves. Ended up travelling 150 miles, familiarising myself with the environment.

I have a hankering for a Triumph Daytona 955i. In bright yellow. I’d keep the VFR, as the every-day form of transport, have the 955i as the scary-but-fun weekend bike, and the car would be my bad weather transport.

Don’t look at me like that, it’s perfectly logical!

House:
I’m almost unpacked. Erm. Almost. Except for the bits that aren’t unpacked. Ahem.

I have received an estimated electricity bill from nPower. £80. I can’t help wondering what the former occupants of this house did with their electricity, if their typical monthly bill was eighty-fucking-quid!

Oh yes, and I’ve been broadband-upgraded. But the speeds are mediocre at best, and unimpressive at worse.

TV:
I am still struggling on with The World’s Dodgiest Freeview Signal. And when I say ‘struggling on’, I mean ‘largely not watching’. The bad quality comes and goes. Some days every channel is unwatchable. Some days only the majority of channels are unwatchable.

To compensate for this I’m watching The West Wing on DVD, broken up by occasional episodes of Breaking Bad on DVD. The jury is still out on Breaking Bad, but I’m only on episode five of the first series.

I might open up the boxed set of Buffy The Vampire Slayer sometime.

I may also go out and buy a Freesat box, as we’ve discussed here before.

Geekage:
The great geekage continues too.

So yeah, all in all I’m keeping pretty busy at home and at work.

My next project, now that I’m (almost) unpacked, is to build the studio, and get the podcast back on track.

I have music for the next ten shows playlisted, and there are also many tracks that I have been sent, by bands, artists, and labels, that I haven’t yet been able to listen to.

Oh, and I took a ‘which side of the brain do you use most’ test on FB. It’s completely accurate and designed by brain scientists and that.

Anyway, I’m a balanced genius.

Apparently.

Ahem.

Brain

But can you take the geek out of the boy?

I’m gearing up to rolling out a significant upgrade of the cookery website that I built for a friend, to version 2.

The upgrade won’t be design, it will be a number of functional (technical) enhancements.

Or, in the words of the website owner, the upgrade will be all about geeky, databasey stuff.

The upgrade will only be noticeable in one tiny corner (not literally, obv) of the website, but the database upgrade will be pretty substantial.

I was planning on spending five or six hours this Saturday, building this database upgrade.

But I seem to have spent six hours building it this evening.

I’m thrilled with the database enhancements that I’ve just rolled out.

It’s such a shame that there are just two people who will notice what I’ve done.

But I’m skipping about the house with a big smirk on my face.

Because I’m slightly geeky.

Slightly.

Another change

I am considering moving from operating under my own Ltd company to using an Umbrella.

There are a number of more obvious reasons (entitlement to such things as holiday pay and sick pay – even though I think I’ve had one day sick in the last three years).

But amongst the less obvious benefits are that an Umbrella would bring me back in to the status of being an employed person (and that would bring me back in to the PAYE scheme).

There are a lot of layers to this decisions; many things to unpick and mull over.

But I’m mulling.

In other, totally unrelated news: with the release of last month’s ‘Magnetic’ album on vinyl, I have rediscovered the Goo Goo Dolls.

I’m not going to write a big review here (you can go to NME for that), but I would like to thank the music PR who sent me a copy, and for putting an extra inch of musical spring in my step.

Out of puff

Hello!

What you been doin’?

I’ve been dancin’!

*proud face*

I have been locked in at home today, trying to finish four tasks which, frankly, I have been trying to knock off for the last couple of working days.

Failing.

I needed to get away from the distractions of the office.

Which I did, obv.

And yes, all sorted.

But that’s the price we pay for our modern on-demand communications.

Instant access is a synonym for instant attention loss.

And I receive emails at a scary, scary pace.

So anyway, to celebrate today’s breakthroughs I have been dancing.

I have danced all the way back to 1995.

Because this:

It’s a mini adventure!

One of these weeks I’m going to get a weekend that is peaceful, relaxing and, you know, involves doing absolutely nothing…

I’m working. I’ve been awake since 4.30am and up since 4.45am.

It’s a Very Big Weekend workwise, with stuff going on 24/7 from Friday evening up until Sunday afternoon.

Stress and sleep don’t fit together too well.

Anyway enough about that.

This evening I’m going to the premiere of ‘Shift’, a film made by the uber-talented Ash. Yes, I have work-related reporting milestones this evening too, but I’m confident I can juggle.

But, due to a couple of factors (1. the fantastic weather forecast for the weekend and 2. the film premiere being in that London), I have, at this late stage, decided to turn the weekend in to a mini-adventure.

Later today I shall pack my rucksack, jump on the Bandit and wend my way to London – on the backroads, not on the motorway.

After a couple of hours, I shall pitch up in the general area where the film is being shown.

I’ve booked a room at a nearby hostelry, so I may have a glass or two of lemonade this evening.

And tomorrow morning, head clear and fresh, I shall potter my way back to last Sunday morning’s venue – the Ace Cafe in north London – for another gargantuan All Day Breakfast.

Then get back home to crack on with the work stuff.

This is my plan.

I shall try to make it so.

Days like these

My weekend hasn’t really happened; there has been much work-related stuff but, as ever, I’ll not go in to detail about that here

I did snatch a few hours off, today, and managed to put that time to Great Use!

I washed a Barbour and a Drizabone riding coat.

And also washed last week’s work-shirts and various socks and underwear.

Soz, bordering on the TMI there.

And rode the Bandit in to Norf Landahn’s Ace Cafe where I met the redoubtable Mr Masher and his brother-in-law (Graham).

And we did partake of the All Day Breakfasts and Lo, we did Eat Heartily.

At Ace today was a meeting of the BSA Bantam Society (or similar).

The first motorbike I ever (knowingly) touched was a BSA Bantam.

It belonged to Forgotten Firstname Griffiths who lived a couple of miles down the lane at Llansabadd Farm.

We mucked about with that Bantam; it was the first time I learned to take things apart and put them back together again. Successfully.

We rode it around the fields, crashed it in to trees and ditches and – when that happened – we learned to rebuild it.

It was weird looking at the familiar-yet-alien-by-today’s-design-standards Bantams. They seemed very ‘other worldly’.

I also saw a Laverda Jota, the 1,000cc little brother to the 1,200cc Laverda Mirage I owned when I lived in Germany.

What a stunning bike that was.

It had superbike acceleration. And the brakes of a supertanker.

Ah, the many many scares I gave myself on that monster.

I changed my route home from Ace Cafe; instead of hoofing it up the A40/M40/A40, I went cross-country.

The cross-country route was much more fun than travelling at *cough* 70mph with all the nutters on the motorway. And much prettier too.

The ‘A’ and ‘B’ roads were such fun; I do love the way the Bandit throws itself around twisty-turny lanes.

I got back home about 2.15pm and tucked straight in to work stuff.

Between 5pm – 7pm I took a break, tidied, put a load of washing in, put the rubbish out, drank tea, had a brief visit from a friend.

The usual.

And now, at rapidly approaching 9pm I’ve just sent my last work email of the day, and I’m winding up on my last work phone call of the day.

So all things considered, even with the work distractions, it has been a pretty good day really.

Recruitment twats

I think we need to rename recruitment consultants.

Henceforth, they need to be called ‘recruitment twats’.

I just had this email from one such recruitment twat:

Hi Brennig
(they get 25 bonus points for getting my name right)

I came across an old copy of your CV on our database and wanted to
find out what your current situation is. I have a number of Developer
roles on my desk right now that I think might be of interest salary
ranging from £25k for a junior, £40k for a mid level developer and
£60k for a senior/lead developer.

If you’re available and interested in new opportunities, please get
back to me with an updated copy of your CV along with your salary
expectations as soon as possible.

Kind regards

I responded to the recruitment twat thus:

Thank you for emailing me.

I am surprised that you say you came across an old copy of my CV because you go on to talk about an entire range of jobs that I’m plainly unskilled for and unsuited to.

I attach my CV for real consideration, rather than surreal consideration.

I can’t figure out if recruitment twats are becoming more incompetent or becoming more lazy.

Guesses?

Sorry luv, Granada’s off

Because of tremendous pressures at work, nipping over to Spain this weekend isn’t going to happen. Work-based things need my attention over the weekend. That’s all I can say.

Anyway.

The forecast for Sunday, as pointed out by the redoubtable Sir Masher of Englandshire, is reasonable.

So I’m going to trip in to that London on Sunday morning, on the Bandit.

And in that London, on that Sunday morning, I shall be hitting that Ace Cafe for one of their gargantuan All Day Breakfasts, which shall be washed down by several gallons of Best Quality Builders Tea.

Sir Masher of Englandshire has strongly hinted that he will consider sitting astride his Mighty Triumph, and will point it at another gargantuan All Day Breakfast of the Ace Cafe.

So…

Do you fancy joining us?

Motorbikes optional, obv.

In other news…

I did ride the Bandit to work today, so in your face doubting Thomas and doubting Thomasina.

In. Your. Face!

I had a bucket of fun.

I wouldn’t like to ride the Bandit that distance – esp that route – every day.

Not every week.

Maybe once a month, and just for fun.

I am in bed.

It is 9.45pm.

I really need to switch my brain off, stop fretting about work-related things, and get a solid night’s sleep.

That’ll be tonight.

Hopefully.

So, what’s new with you?