Category: Work (page 1 of 3)

Not going up in the world

I had a meeting today, up at Emley Moor mast, which – as you can see in the photo – is a bloody great big tower (tallest structure in the UK) that transmits TV and radio signals to large swathes of Yorkshire. Annoyingly, the tower is currently closed for maintenance, so I couldn’t go up it. But I will… one day. I’m determined that I will.

I stayed in a hotel in Barnsley with a small group from work and we were wined and dined, by the company we’d gone up to visit, courtesy of their expense account. It was a great evening.

And then, after our meeting this morning, we were given a tour of the place and I found myself feeling very ‘at home’ in their operations centre, where all the TV and radio signals are monitored.  Ahh, happy days.

Talking of TV signals, this advert managed to worm it’s way past my ad-blocker:

 

 

Intrigued, I clicked on it and was taken to this web page, where it claims that a small antenna that it supplies, will pick up your cable TV signals for free.

Utter bollocks!

Just about every technical fact it quotes, is rubbish and the comments at the bottom are all manufactured.  And all wrong.
Julie from London has one and now no longer needs to pay $65 a month to Comcast.
Apparently.
Bollocks!

Please, if you see this, steer well clear, it is quite obviously a scam.

What the fax?

One of the young millennials at work approached me yesterday and asked “What’s a fax?”

I was somewhat surprised that she didn’t know, but then realised that this was such an old, outdated technology, that it was very likely she would never have seen one before, never mind actually used one.  I explained what it was/is and she went away… probably not much the wiser.

But it got me to thinking about methods of communication.

In the early eighties, I spent a month travelling in California and I wanted to let my parents know that all was well. It was expensive to make international calls back then and sending a letter could take several weeks. So, I sent a Telegram.

Yes: a telegram. Remember them? I think I still have it, somewhere.

But, of course, telegrams were phased out a few years back and can no longer be sent.

STOP

And what about the humble letter? No-one sits down and writes actual letters anymore, do they?   The speed and convenience of email saw to that.

But even email is being pushed out of favour, as the immediate accessibility of today’s Twitters and  Instafaces persuades people to communicate so much more with each other.

But also actually saying so much less.

Curry Night

I was out on the slosh, last night, so my head is a little woozy this morning.

It was the regular monthly get-together of the BT (Class of the Eighties) Curry Night, at our local Weatherspoons.

Always a good night, but I never make it every month. By the time I get home from work, I usually just can’t be bothered to go out again. But, as I have a couple of days off this week – just using up my annual leave allocation – I had no excuses.

And last night, in addition to the regulars, we had a couple of new faces… well, new old faces.

Firstly, there was Wobber. I don’t know why we call him that, as his name is Roger, but he’s been called Wobber for as long as I can remember (most of the engineers at BT answered to a nickname – including myself, which is where the moniker for this website comes from). This was the first time I’d seen Wobber since 1994 and – unusually for me – I recognised him straight away… despite him having lost all of his hair and now bearing a remarkable resemblance to Wilson Fisk.

And then there was Ralph. Again, first time I’d seen him since I left in ’94. I never used to mix it with Ralph as he was a bit older than me and was always one of the cool kids. But I’ve always held him in high regard, not least because I fell off my motorbike on the way to Bletchley Park for a training course, early one cold and slippery November morning, and I met Ralph (a fellow – and far more experienced – motorcyclist) in the motorcycle parking bay. My bike was pretty bent up, but during his lunch-break, he straightened it out for me, enough that I could ride it home. I’ve always been grateful for that.

There were about a dozen of us there last night, but only four still worked for BT.

The fact that we still get together so regularly, amazes me, but also pleases me greatly.

Happy Friday

Well, my journey to Dartford yesterday was OK: I made the meeting with ten minutes to spare.

The drive home wasn’t so good, though. As soon as I approached the the M25, I realised that going through the hole wasn’t an option and so instead, I navigated my way to the clockwise carriageway and went the long way round, thereby completing a complete circumnavigation of the London Orbital Motorway.

But today, I have none of those commuting worries, as it is Friday. Yay!

And on a Friday, I usually work from home.

This isn’t something that is built-in to my contract, but rather an unspoken agreement. Should I be required to go in, then I will. No problem.

But Friday’s tend to be quieter days anyway, with fewer meetings, so it’s an ideal day to work from home and catch up with stuff, without too many interruptions.

An additional benefit, is that over the course of a year, that will be about 3000 fewer miles that I will have put on my car. That’s a fair bit of wear and tear saved, over the lifetime of the car. And the resulting fuel savings are an added bonus, of course!

On top of that, I will spend less time behind the wheel, getting frustrated. Roughly 120 hours less.

That’s nearly five days!

That’s gotta be good.

But, there is a perception that working from home can be less productive, and I’ll admit that I often take the opportunity to get other non-work related stuff done during the day – I mean what’s the point of having this perk if you don’t take advantage of it?

But, it IS a perk, and perks can be taken away if they are abused.

So whilst I may take advantage of my ‘working from home’ day, by also doing some housework; sorting out some personal paperwork; updating this blog; having a twiddle round the radio dial and drinking more tea than should be humanly possible, I will also make sure that I get some actual, proper work done. And, sometimes, I’ll even find that I actually get a bit more done at home than I possibly would have done at work.

So, it benefits me financially by paying less for running the car, and it benefits me mentally, by spending less time on our horrendous motorway network.

And the company still gets the work done.

That’s a win-win situation, in my book.

A lorra lorra lorries

As our Cilla used to paraphrase.

Well, I made it to the conference yesterday.

I left even earlier, just to be on the safe side. However, when I reached the slip road for the M1, there was a big tailback, thanks to four vehicles having a shunt, right at the top of the slip road.

“I don’t belieeeeve it!”, I shouted, turning into Richard Wilson from One Foot In The Grave.

But, once I’d got past it, my journey was OK… I just didn’t arrive quite as early as I’d hoped.

And getting out of Newbury Racecourse was horrendous! Imagine trying to get out of Wembley Arena after a Take That concert, and you won’t be far wrong.

And then the M4 did what the M4 does best – it snarled up.

It was nearly eight pm when I got home.

And today, I have to be in Dartford, bright and early for an 8am meeting.

With the luck I’ve been having on the motorways this week, I really haven’t got a chance!

Jam

Yesterday, I was supposed to be at Newbury Racecourse for a conference.  (as I’ve said before, we do love a conference, at the Water Board).

As it was further to go than my usual journey, I left earlier to allow a little extra time… just in case.

Of course, I never made it.

My sat-nav estimated that I would arrive at about 8:30. “Yeah right”, I thought, “we’ll see.” And then my rubbish superpower kicked into action and just ten minutes into my journey up the M1, we ground to a halt.

Then the overhead gantry signs came on to say that there was a 90 minute delay on the M25.

The M25? Gimme a break, I haven’t even got there yet. Can’t blame that one on me!

I turned the radio on and the travel announcer cheerily told me that the jam I was sitting in, was caused by two vans coming together and closing the motorway at Hemel Hempstead.

The jam on the M25 was caused by four lorries and had closed three lanes between junctions 17 and 16.

My overly optimistic sat-nav  changed it’s earlier estimate from 8:30 to 12:30.

The M1 blockage was eventually cleared, but as the M25 one was still in place, I decided to abort and when I got the opportunity, I came off at Hemel, turned round and went home.

Luckily (!), I get another chance as the conference is also on today, so I’m going to have a second attempt.

I’m just hoping I can hold my superpower in.

You’ll like this…

I met up with some people from work yesterday, in Reading, and we went on a bit of a pub crawl.

For charity.

I’m not sure how many pubs we visited (I think it was six, maybe), but by the end of the night, it’s safe to say that I was pretty well pissed.

To be honest, I can’t really remember how I found my way back to my hotel room.

But I did.

And I stopped off on the way, to get a burger and chips… by the looks of the detritus in my room this morning.

But one thing I do remember from last night, is magic.

Those of you who read this drivel, will be well aware that I have been a follower of magic and illusions for many, many years. Since I was a teenager, really.

And when I say I follow magic, I don’t just mean that I watch it on the telly. I have learnt how to do several tricks; I have become adept at one or two sleights of hand and I have practiced and practiced until I have got it right.

For years, I have performed a few card tricks and the like, for family and close friends, but I’ve never had the bottle to perform in front of others… in case I make a mess of it or give the game away.

Last night, was a turning point.

At various points throughout the evening, I produced a deck of cards and a couple of other props and performed several tricks in front of about eight or nine people from work.

And I was a hit!

It all went very well.

Apart from the one I fucked up, right at the end.

Mental note to self: after your seventh pint, Masher, put the cards away!

Mindfulness

If you didn’t already know, yesterday was national Time To Talk day.

At work, cakes and doughnuts were supplied in the canteen and people were encouraged to come along and chat.

Of course, most people just came along for the confectionary, but several did take the time to discuss their problems with a Mental First Aider.

Me?

I just went for a doughnut and a cup of tea.

And then a slice of fruitcake – not very apt for a forum discussing mental issues, I thought.

But all in all, the event seemed well attended and my little counter box with the blue buttons was put into play for the first time and showed that 75% of those who attended, felt it was a worthwhile exercise.

The remaining 25% just wanted more cake.

Count your blessings

 A young chap at work has the enviable task of talking to members of the public about the Water Board’s plans for the area.

I say ‘enviable’, but he enjoys it. He’s that sort of chap. It doesn’t appeal to me at all. Horses for courses and all that.

But, he was telling me that when he goes along to an event and sets up his tent, he has no-way of keeping track of how many visitors he has had and whether the experience has benefited them at all.

So, I built him a counter. Just a simple thing, shown in the picture attached to this post.

It only took me a weekend to build the electronics and fine-tune the software that someone cleverer than me, put together.

However, it then took many weekends to design and build a wooden box to put it in.

Far too many weekends.

Because my woodworking skills suck. As you can see.

So, I was somewhat apprehensive when I presented it to him last week.

But, he was over the moon.

Genuinely.

Exactly what he needs, apparently.

Other ideas for its use, have been offered up from other parties who have seen it in the office and I feel that I might get commissioned to build another one.

I’m happy to.

Happy to do the electronics, but someone else can build the bloody box for it!

That’s two, three and four out of the way

As mentioned in my previous post, Wednesday saw me at a pub in Wooburn Green, out near High Wycombe, for the GB3AL User Group Christmas dinner. It was good to finally meet up with these guys and put faces to names and callsigns.

A good time was had by all and – for me – it was marred only by the food. Bearing in mind it’s the run up to Christmas, I was surprised to see no turkey dinners on the menu, so we ended up having burger and chips. “Gourmet” burger and chips. Don’t get me wrong, it was bloody delicious, but it was a Christmas function and, as such, I was expecting to eat a Christmas dinner.

Thursday was the second works’ Christmas do and about sixty of us descended on an Italian restaurant in Reading town centre. And this place  had a proper Christmas menu – ie, a menu especially for the season. However, once again, not a turkey dinner in sight! I had Crostata Del Giardino to start, followed by Chicken And Polpette Al Forno and finally Christmas Pudding for dessert – their one concession to a traditional Christmas menu.  The food was fantastic though and couldn’t be faulted.

Maybe expecting a traditional English Christmas dinner at an Italian restaurant was too much.

And last Friday’s do was an Indian all-you-can-eat buffet… again, very nice.

But…

That’s three Christmas functions I have been to so far, with not a slice of turkey or a Brussels sprout to be seen.

This can’t be right.

Surely.

But, I have high hopes of the fifth do next week, which is in a Beefeater pub.

Finally: the stag do we had on Friday was a boozy affair in a local establishment, which ended up with a fight at the end. Whilst I wasn’t a participant, I was one of the party involved and my face is now known, so I doubt I’ll be able to step foot in there again.

Oh well.

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