Saturday, December 14, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Wednesday? What the hell (you might ask) am I doing writing a blog entry - which of late have become the exclusive domain of the train - on a Wednesday ?
It's pretty simple really. As planned the heavy lifting was to be completed by Tuesday (mostly) and Wednesday would be kind of ticking boxes, crossing T's and dotting I's - or at least for me. Of course I could have sat around and waited for something to happen - but then I can do that at home - which lets be honest - is emminently more sensible than being in the office for the sake of being in the office.
Monday's hurdle was a pretty easy hop in the end. It lasted the full length of allotted time, but ultimately, those who had to say "Oh, go on then" said "Oh, go on then" and all was mostly well with the world. There were a couple of things that needed nailing, but the big issues are completely and utterly nothing to do with us - and are down to a different team who are also in the process of juggling cats... You get the picture I'm sure.
Anyway, Monday night still wound up being a late one, with the only food being some takeaway from Leon (which is always good) all in the name of preparation for Tuesdays hurdle. The long journey to Kensington High Street found me hoping off at Olympia for a change, with a short walk around the corner to the Hilton.
Tuesday's hurdle wasn't really one that needed me - of course I had an interest, but it was really for the hardcore mathematicians and pushers of pencils. It is still a valuable and important step, without which we could never get to our destination, but when all is said and done, it is pretty boring too. I got on with some of the "doing" that needed, well... err... Doing. With the formalities of the hurdle out of the way - and in the wrong order there really wasn't a great deal more to be done. I mean, there's the work of the pricers - which is a mysterious black art - and an opportunity for them to moan about the made up numbers. Some of them actually think they're real numbers that are a true and accurate representation of the cost of things - as opposed to being a reasonably well educated guess.
I rallied the troops for a slap up Mexican in "Cafe Pacifico" on Langley street round the corner from Covent Garden tube and it was Jolly nice. Even Mad H was on top form. Clearly a sense of relief at getting to this point was in the air.
In the morning, a fog had descended. Nothing to do with the work, or mexican food, but just the usual fog as caused by the weather. And it made the city an amazing place to see. No doubt this is what a pea-souper used to look like back in the 20's and 30's.... A fantastical place...
The obvious next step was to not be here. Combining that obvious step with a travel ban for most people, and going home was exactly what both the doctor, and my boss was ordering. Naturally if there was an actual need for me to be there, then I would have stayed - but there was just as much of a pressing need for me not to be there - not least the needs of both Mrs G and I to have some time together for a change.
And so, here I am - on the train home with a view to an evening with Mrs G and beers with the lads tomorrow.
Happy days - mostly.
Monday, December 09, 2013
You've got to laugh... Otherwise you'd go mad. My hopefully-quiet working-from-home and easing-off-a-bit Friday was actually a 14 hour day of hard work. Bugger.... Worse yet, Saturday was another 8 and Sunday a further 6. This is unsustainable.
The only relief in the weekend was a blissful couple of hours on Saturday afternoon trying to get the Christmas shopping started with Mrs G and a couple of beers on Saturday night, followed by another couple of hours on Sunday nipping to the post office and picking up train tickets for today.
Friday was just hellish. I spent the entire day trying to yet again unpick someone else's logic and understand how they'd arrived where they had, only to find that they'd started off from the wrong place originally. This meant going right back to the beginning and working out every change they'd made over the last two months. (Sarcasm on) Nice. (Sarcasm off) This continued late into the night.
Saturday afternoon - after a couple of calls and more maths work on Saturday morning, we had some time with Son via the wonders of Skype live and sleepy from Australia. He's moved on from Hong Kong and is now staying with some good friends of ours, an hour outside of Sydney. I can sense the relief in Mrs G who is clearly glad that her first born has made it to a known location with known people. He's clearly having a great time and is planning to hangout in Oz until the new year. Currently looking for bar work in the Sydney area to top up his coffers. Great to catch up with him. After this, Mrs G and I got on the old bikes for the only exercise I'm getting at the moment - although the distant hotel helps with a bit of walking obv.
This week, they've opened the new cinema in the Quays and those of you that know me will be aware that I'm a bit of a movie buff and so this has been eagerly awaited. Not so much by Mrs G who is less of a fan, but on this occasion actually suggested going to see something. We wandered into the brand spanking new 10 screen thing and tried to peruse the wares that would be available for our viewing pleasure... But not a bit of it. How is it, that in the foyer of a cinema there is nowhere to see what the hell is being shown. No list, no show times, no idea if it's full .. Nothing... What the hell? There's a girl with a desk and some machines to collect prepaid tickets and an escalator upstairs. Must all be happening up there thinks I. Up we go. A place to buy popcorn, a place to be ripped off with expensive sweet treats and buckets of coca cola... And yet still no sign of what's on... What is this madness? It makes no sense. Back down stairs and a word with the girl with the desk....
ME: "Umm, excuse me. Can you tell me what's on?".. GWTD: "Errm, well, um.. There's this screen" points to a big screen on the wall showing some trailers for films, and no indication of show times, or even if they're being shown in this cinema, or even released yet - some of which I know are not... GWTD: "..and I have a leaflet, and I can look it up on the internet using this tablet that they've given me"
The penny drops. They're not ready. They've opened before they've finished. Poor girl hasn't a clue what's going on and nor does anybody else. Clearly somebody at head office set a deadline for this place to be open, and as a result they're open... Just not ready to be open. Familiar story and one I'm getting sick of. (Old man rant on) What is wrong with people? Everything can be done properly if you plan it properly. FFS (Old man rant off)
We left none the wiser as to what's showing, and disappointed with a poor start to what will no doubt be a great venue - once it's finished. Cineworld management should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. :-)
Sunday had more maths, more phone calls and more maths. We did some more cycling - though not as much and stopped in Coffee#1 for a beverage, which while it's a chain, is a very nice chain compared to the limes of Starbucks and Costa - both of which are pretty terrible.
And so to Monday morning and back on the train as per...
While I'm in ranting mode, let's just consider the state of the so called "First Great Western" service. You may remember last year I had a bit of a moan about the lack of wifi service (to mention just one thing) on this busy commuter route. A service that every other train company can manage. You may also remember how I retracted my gripe somewhat on the basis that they had a press release stating that they would be rolling out a wifi service in the very near future. So where the feck is it? Yet again they fail to deliver. Their ticket prices continue to rise, while their service generally deteriorates. There's still no update on the "entertainment" system which has either been showing the same thing for a month or absolutely nothing at all because it only works half the time. And the power sockets sometimes work and sometimes don't. If you've got any sensitive electronics to charge, I'd give it a miss. Now I know these are first world problems, and there are more important issues to deal with in the world, but when you're paying more than the cost of a flight from Scotland to London to travel 120 miles in 2 hours (do the maths - that's 60mph - so no rush), you do expect the services that you're paying for to be working.. And possibly even enhanced given the exorbitant costs... I hate moaning and griping about every little service, but they drive you to it in the end. Still... You've got to laugh. :-(
And what of this weeks plan? Well with a major hurdle today, and another one tomorrow, the hardest of the heavy lifting should be done by Wednesday. I'm expecting two days of long hours and the going home early on Wednesday. This is my plan, and I am doing my best to stick to it. Of course there is no accounting for the sitters and talkers, but at least I have a target (which I suspect is more than they do).
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Beer with the lads on Thursday? - Pa'h! Clearly - as it's gone 9pm and I'm still on a ruddy train, that's not going to happen. FML.
This particular job is one of the toughest I've ever done. Not because it's particularly complex, or technically challenging, but more that the management of the client has been horrendous and those responsible for it should be thoroughly ashamed. I suspect that we will still hit our deadline because two or three people (one of whom will no doubt e nd up being me) will stick in a monumental effort at personal sacrifice to get the damn thing over the line. This is not something I enjoy. History tells me that after the event it is something that I'll look back on with a sense of achievement, but I wonder if that's achievement for completing it, or achievement for surviving it. Who knows? and frankly who cares?
The hurdle for Monday was stumbled over. Not least because some key items are still not resolved. Admittedly we are at the behest of some external 3rd parties for part of this, but the sitting-around-and-talking brigade are at it again and they really need to pack that in and make some damn decisions. Ownership is lacking I fear. The result is a ton of work still to do, and slowly but surely it's getting there. The Robot has come along to help us, and we're drawing up a bridge - which is an excellent idea and will no doubt be used as a form of defence in the near future. Shame it's not an actual drawbridge, with a moat and boiling hot tar - but you can't have everything. Once again I left the office much as I had arrived, knackered and in darkness and headed of to High Street Kensington to my hotel for the week.
The thing about this one, is it's a good old walk from the tube to the hotel and to be honest that's part of the reason I'm staying there. No one else from our team is - claiming it's too far - which it really isn't if you're from the countryshire - and this is another reason to enjoy the peace and quiet of it. It's not that I'm unsociable (far far from it) it's just that it's nice to have a little bit of space to oneself. I got my freebie upgrade and am residing in a mahoosive room (almost a suite) which isn't half bad as it turns out.
Tuesday was more of the same and hardly worth a mention. An early start, a late-ish finish but I did manage to persuade a few of the gang to visit Wahacca for dinner (the street Mexican food place) in Wardour Street rather than on the South Bank, and jolly good it was too. The only downside was the receipt of an email from some very senior figures near midnight explaining what we would be doing over the next week to get things done. Finally some decisive action.... and the start of the heavy lifting..
Wednesday yet more work on the bridge. It never ceases to amaze me just how badly wrong some people can get things. The simplest of instructions become the most convoluted mess you could imagine and I worry for these peoples futures and lives in general. Unpicking someone else idea of logic is painful. In the evening - and just for a change, the late evening - the RC, ST, and my boss stopped by in Vapiano - an Italian place for a bite to eat. Interesting idea, you have a card which you swipe and order directly from the chefs in an open kind of kitchen. Trying to do away with table staff I suppose. Doesn't really work though and must be chaos when (if) it's busy. Food was perfectly edible, but I'm almost to tired to care.
Thursday is going home day. I've planned it and that's what's happening. I've checked out and try as anyone might, that position is not changing. Having sid that, my early escape that was planned around our second hurdle - which was to have taken place Thursday morning - has gone to ruin. As a result of the Tuesday email / decisive plan, the hurdle has been moved to Monday next - which is all well and good, but the final hurdle is on Tuesday, so there's little space for error of fixing. Next week is gonna hurt. And probably more than this week....
So the best thing about today - besides the fact I'm going home, was the sunrise on the way into the office. What a cracker...
I've had a beer in the little pub on the platform in Paddington - and tomorrow is Friday and I am working from home, which means I get to spend some time with Mrs G. I'm missing her terribly, and daughter too... A bit of a break is what's really required - soon, very soon. So how bad can it really be? We'll find out.
Until next time...
Monday, December 02, 2013
Well who'd have thought it? I mean, you'll never guess, but I'm only sat on the ruddy train to London again... just for a change.
What with it being a Monday morning, why change the habit of fortnight or two? And so it is with heavy head, that I'm facing a four-dayer up that Laandan with a mahoosive bunch of hoops to jump through in a short space of time.
First one being today. Now while this isn't exactly a hoop, it's a point in the process where we have to unveil our workings out. Normally by now, most of the workings out would have been, well, worked out, but on this job we were still getting requirements on Friday, and try as I might to convince people these were unacceptable, we now find ourselves (to use the words of Mr Clooney - "O'Brother, Where art thou") "in a bit of a tight spot, yessir, a tight spot"
Who knows where this is going to lead - but I suspect some bloody hard work - not least when you take into account an actual serious hoop is waiting for us on Thursday. And experience tells me that this one is (to use the words of Mr Ball - "Merry Decemberment and all that...") "A Bit of a bugger"... Wish me luck.
On a lighter note, here's what happened at the weekend....
Yes - I know. Bloody rubbish isn't it. I did manage some very small victories against the never ending workload. Mrs G and I managed to cycle into town for an hour on Saturday, and grab a bite to eat and drink in the Portivo Lounge - which is always worth a visit.
I also purchased an iPhone 5S and hopped carrier from O2 to EE. Surprised myself there actually. I had no intention of doing this, but when I learned from daughter (who had just replaced her phone due to droppage, leading to brokenness) that 4G had arrived in Gloucester, I decided that was a good enough excuse for me. Plenty of haggling over numbers with a little boy (I must be getting old) in "Phones 4 You" and a satisfactory agreement was reached. I've worked hard for it, and it's Christmas - so that's my present to me. Happy Christmas me...
We got home and I did some more maths homework. Pah...
Sunday we had in-laws round for lunch with daughter and the little fella - no becoming a far more serious item as he's moving in with her. We tried to get in touch with son at a pre arranged time of 3pm - He's in Hong Kong now, but failed miserably. A couple of emails bounced about instead. Nipped over to daughters to put some shelves up for her - in need of additional storage now the little fella is moving in I guess. I finally sat down to yet more maths homework and some PC repair during strictly and giving me an opportunity to ignore x-factor and other such bunkum.
All this means that any quality time has been of limited availability. Happy I am not.
This week things will be different - I have to tell myself that. I'm coming home on Thursday and I'm going for a beer with the lads. More than long overdue.