Category Archives: Work

I went to Germany again!

Still living the “jetset” lifestyle! International travelling consultant extraordinaire! Or some such bollocks. I hate travelling for work. Staying in cheap places, flying on cheap planes, operating to cheap per diems. It’s all a bit shit really. Where’s my fucking champagne?!

Had a super early flight out to Nuremberg on Monday so I had a hotel booked at Stansted airport. Radisson. Not too shabby. The missus drove me there and stayed over so we had dinner. Good choice of restaurants and good food. Up at 3am. Bloody freezing outside. Hot as balls inside. Ryanair were not observing the Priority Q on the baggage check in but it wasn’t too busy. Bag scanning was quick too but inside the departures lounge was heaving. Got breakfast and then it was time to head over to my gate.

Arrived in Nuremberg 1h20m later. Super convenient. Very efficient German airport! Out with my bag in about 10 minutes then straight into a cab (Herzogenaurauch bitte? Danke!) and off to the client HQ. Met everyone, was told I had lost weight and not in a good way, had meetings for 3 days, came home. They observed the priority Q and I was first on the plane!! Customs on the way back was quicker but only because it was a small flight and the only one going through. Any more than one flight and the idiots on the desk have a meltdown and take forever. Then the inevitable delay on the train to get home before a final taxi taking its time through the crappy roads of Cambridge.

Yup, work travel is awesome!

On the plus side, it was a very light hearted trip. There was lots of time for recreation. Monday night we went to a Mexican restaurant were my cohorts played my dick is bigger than yours with the hot sauce, proving they both had tiny dicks! Crying is not a good look boys!

Tuesday night we went to Nuremberg to a festival (Volksfest) and a World Cup Hockey friendly between Germany and USA. USA won. The game was awesome. Incredible atmosphere and so noisy!

Prior to the game, we were shown around the exhibition centre area. This is the place that Hitler used for all his rallys. Here is a collosseum he built:

Here is where he stood to give all his speeches:

I found it a little too creepy and couldn’t even stand on it. Back then it would’ve looked over 200,00 angry soldiers. Now it looks over playing fields:

Apparently the modern day government had to decide whether this area should go to ruin and risk being used by far right groups to hold their own rallys or if they should take ownership and turn it into something nice to be used for recreation and as a memorial. I’m glad they chose the latter.

Here is his meeting room:

This is how big he wanted it to become but never got that far:

We walked around the lake at the bottom. Took about 20 mins at a good brisk pace to get around. Massive!

Here is the Congress Hall:

They are currently finalising the Documentation Centre which I will try and go to next time I’m there:

What I did find interesting was the way the Germans get taught about the war these days. Far less jingoistic than the crap we force down our kids throats!

Over at the Volksfest we had dinner in the beer garden. I had two massive steaks with onions and chips. Very nice they were too. Then we had a wander round and I wish I’d had a bag for all the sweets and chocolates!! Saw a couple of minions lying around:

Then we saw the game:

At half time, children from each side played each other in replica uniforms which was brilliant:

On Wednesday we had pizza at the place I went to last time where the pizzas are absolutely massive! Almost inedible in one sitting. Almost.

So that’s it for Germany for a while. Next up is a business trip to Denver in the Summer. Let’s see how shit that turns out!

Fings I Like Friday (22)

1) PSN games. I love them because they are only £8. I love them because they are simple but addictive. I love them because they are digital and there is no packaging.

2) The PlayStaion Move. Well, it arrived. I have two controllers due to some terrible communication from Amazon mixed with my own impatience! It is awesome! It is better than the Wii. It is very accurate and a whole load of fun. The EyePet works better, Planet Minigolf works better, the sports games are great. I had a bitchin’ round of badminton the other day. Lots of demos last week have been keeping me occupied. Fab!

3) Windows 7 and Office 2010. This week I got my new PC from work. It’s just a Dell but it’s 4Gb RAM and 500Gb HDD with a massive 21.5″ screen. My old PC was falling apart. Literally. It kept overheating so the case was off, the extra drives had been ripped out, it was awful! This freed up my old monitor which is now connected to my netbook which runs my Skype and Outlook now so I got rid of my old laptop. Also a piece of shit! It just feels so good having new, fast hardware and up to date working software. I feel more productive. My desk is a lot tidier. I have more room. It’s just a nicer environment to work in.

4) My new photography course. One of my goals this year was to sign up. I did so and it started this week. Not quite what I was expecting, more artsy/wanky but it’ll get me through and give me projects. This week it’s vantage points. I will post the results next Wednesday. We’re expected to use Mac’s in lessons. I will be taking in my laptop. I hate Mac’s.

5) The missus. Just for being!

Fings I Like Friday (21)

w00t! On time this week!

1) The missus – I totally left her off the list last week by mistake and my oh my have I heard about it!! So this week she is first. She has now finished work and is working from home completely self employed. This is good because I get cups of tea brought to me, Time Outs and other choc goodies, decent lunches and most importantly random cuddles!

2) The Windows command prompt. Whilst not a pretty face, very useful. Sometimes it’s just easier to go old skool. At some point I’ll write up an article on how to connect to and send files via FTP using the command prompt. Exciting stuff. When you cross this line, there is no going back!

3) SQL coding. I love SQL. I love SQL scripts. Again, sometimes it’s just easier to get right in there, skip the crappy wizards and friendly UI’s and just write the damn script yourself. Once you’ve sussed it, go back and finish up quickly in your application.

4) Neighbours. Paul Robinson is God! Have you been watching it this week? With Steph and Toadie and Libby? I don’t know who to support. I despise them all equally.

5) The PlayStation Move. Launched this week. Demos downloaded. Just waiting for my controller to arrive. Will go to the shop tomorrow to buy an additional one.

Fings I Like Friday (18)

1) Joe Danger, obviously! See yesterday’s post.

2) Tumble dried towels. Oh they’re so soft and squishy and lovely! I’m enjoying the softer clothes. I have yet to see my electric bill…

3) Successful project go lives. Only a few days late but for once, I’m not to blame! It’s been a tough project. Sometimes fun, sometimes not. I’m glad it’s over though. On to the next!

4) Promotions and payrises. I have apparently proved myself. Apparently a lot of things have improved since I started working from home. Whilst a compliment, it’s a bit back handed. I thought things were good already. I guess not. Anyway, as of Wednesday I’ll be a Senior Consultant. You must bow in my presence.

5) The missus. Yeah, she’s still awesome. She has bounced back from the blip and already has a million and one entrepreneurial ideas that she’s putting into motion. I don’t know how she does it. I could never be self employed!

Fings I Do Not Like Friday (1)

The UK tax system. I mentioned this earlier on Facebook. My base pay is good. Any commission I earn will be hit by the 40% tax rate. 40% can you believe that? In Australia it’s only 30% upto $180k and the VAT is only 3%. I am most definitely in the wrong country! However, as I mentioned on Facebook earlier, I never thought that I, a Northern boy from a council estate would ever be in a position to piss and moan about the 40% tax rate! Amen!

Fings I Like Friday (17)

1) Taking a daily photo of myself. It forces me to smile which puts me in good stead for the rest of the day.
2) The tumble dryer. I haven’t used one in years. Like about five years. Out of choice too. But I figure I need to make a balance. I can either hang stuff up on the radiators over the winter and make the central heating completely inefficient and waste a load of gas or I can use the leccy and hope wind farms become a reality. It’s a tough call. I’m going to roll with this for a bit to see if it makes a difference.
3) Not being in the firing line on a delayed project. Usually it’s me. On this one, I’ve done all my bits and everything is (currently) working fine. The other guys are getting the shit. That’s a nice feeling.
4) Electronics. I did GCSE Electronics. I made an RC monster truck. It was ace. I got offered an apprenticeship as an electronics engineer. I turned it down and after a while pretty much forgot all about electronics. I’m currently working on a high speed photography project. I’m building my own sound flash trigger. I hope to extend it to a motion sensor and get some fruit in milk splashes. I found a schematic and I’ve figured most of it out and bought most of the parts on ebay. Looking forward to this. There’ll be a blog and maybe my first YouTube vlog too!!!
5) The missus. So, I totally cursed it all last week. The new project fell through and now she is almost sans employment. Luckily I got a payrise this month (and a promotion) so we’ll be ok on that front but it’s quite a hit to a persons self esteem, on top of the aforementioned psycho hosebeast boss, so I hope all is ok under the surface. Chin up!

Fings I Like Friday (14)

Back to normal this week.

1) My new camera. It’s wonderful. Still haven’t figured out all the buttons yet but just working in auto/aperture/shutter modes is working out nicely so far. Scene modes are pretty good too.

2) Birthday celebrations that last all weekend. This year my birthday went from Friday to Sunday culminating in some home made courgette cakes. They sound icky but they’re actually really quite delicious.

3) My new office. I moved upstairs before the weekend and this week has been my first full week in my new space. It’s pretty cool actually. It allows me a degree of headspace once the computers are switched off and I’m out of my work environment. I’m planning on getting some spider plants in there and today I had some vanilla oil burning. The best part however, is “arriving” to work in the morning and being greeted by sunrise:

4) The cats. They’re so lovely and completely different. One is a photo whore who loves posing

and the other is not interested at all

5) The missus. Not a photo whore but loves her nibbles

Until next time…

Fings I Like Friday (12)

Let’s do this!

1) The missus. Yes, I’ve bumped her up to number 1 this week. She has been away all week (that’s not the reason I’ve bumped her up, like she’s become more favourable by not being here lol) and today she came back. I’ve really missed her. Like when you only notice how much someone does when they’re not there to do it. This morning I woke up and there were no supplies for breakfast so I put together a scone, a plum and a smoothie. It’s not great is it?

2) Baking. I love baking. The missus runs a website and she often discusses vegan baking. I figured I’d give it a go and I made some scones. I replaced the milk with soya milk, the butter with soya margarine and the egg with flax egg. That’s an egg made from flax seed.

3) Working from home. After travelling through London this week and facing bus delays, train delays and a horribly sweaty tube system it made me thankful for not having to do that crap everyday! And I get to sit around in shorts and T-shirt all day. Sometimes not even a shirt if it’s particularly hot.

4) Projects finally coming together. After months of hard work, delays, stress, working late and pissing everyone off, there’s finally light at the end of the tunnel. But you know what? It really doesn’t make up for it. There’s a sense of satisfaction when something gets done, but it’s never worth all the bitching and criticism that is apparently becoming common place these days. Whatever happened to professionalism and mutual respect?

5) The garden. We decided not to cut back most of the weeds and out of control flowers and as a result, it’s become really wild and quite a habitat for all manner of bugs and creatures. Check out these lovely findings:

While watering the garden this morning, I checked out my tomato plants. I’m having babies!!

That’s it for another week. I am still working on my Fings To Do Before I’m Firty list. It’s difficult. It really shouldn’t be…

Fings I Like Friday (7)

Here we go again!

1) The Archers. I’ve listened to this show pretty much daily since I met the missus. A memorable moment is when we were stuck in traffic going the wrong way through London and ending up in Wembley while listening to Ruth near orgasming with her illicit affair with the farm hand. Saucy! Now we listen to it via RSS on my phone which is pretty cool!

2) Finished tattoos. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally done. 9 hours in total and I love it!

3) Things going to plan. In the consultancy business, we spec and budget and then we cut it down because it’s all a bit costly. What I don’t appreciate is third parties dicking us around with incorrect specs, sloppy commitment and general unprofessionalism. I’ve been working on a project the past few months and the third party is the worst developer I’ve ever worked with. This Fing is dedicated to all those developers I’ve worked with who get it done on time, under budget and to a high standard thus making my life a whole lot easier!

4) The World Cup. Ever since Italia 90. I had the sticker book and traded in the playground with all my buddies. It was awesome! The World Cup will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s a fun event, it’s the best of the best, there’s always a few surprises but above all, it’s generally good, clean football. Everyone is on their best behaviour and today’s opener between South Africa and Mexico was no exception. Well played!

5) The missus. For the next few weeks I’m making her life all the more painful by watching the footie! Super special shout out to the missus this week!

Fings I Like Friday (5)

It’s been a stressful week this week. Big project deadline looming today.

1) Programming. I love how when something goes wrong I can quickly whip up a solution. VBA is a really useful tool to have and I’m glad I bothered to teach myself, it’s been super handy this week!

2) Gardening. As you can see from my last post, we did some gardening at the weekend. I love all the cool flowers and veg we’re growing. Despite working for a garden centre for two years, I never really became green fingered. I sat in the IT office most of the time. That said, some of it must’ve sunk in!

3) Noodles. I love noodles. They’re one of my favourite foods. I like plain noodles, sauced up noodles, fried noodles, all kinds of noodles man!

4) Breakfast. When the missus and I moved in together on March 1st 2007, we had this tiny kitchen but we managed to get a foldable table that we’d open up every morning and sit down for breakfast. It was a nice way to break up the madness of getting ready for work and just chill for 20 minutes. I’m pleased to say that three years on, we still have that table and we still sit down every morning for breakfast. It’s lovely.

5) Which brings me on to my regular feature. The missus and the cats. The cats less though this week as they keep chewing all my damn wires. I have an expensive electronics bill this month. The missus however, well she deserves a freaking medal! She puts up with so much of my stressy tantrums, smiles, brings me a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and takes time out to talk to me when she has a million and one other things to be getting on with. I love her so!

Enough sap, BACK TO WORK!

Wanted to belong here…

…but something felt so wrong here.

So, following on from my post on spiritual enlightenment I have come to a conclusion. Spending time alone in hotels will do that for you!

My quandry was deciding whether it’s possible to have a spiritual awakening when you haven’t really done anything bad in your life. I even compared myself to Slash! Well, basically I was just comparing myself to anyone who had previously been addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol etc. However, why are these things considered to be worse than just working hard and striving for perfection?

Society!

Society dictates that an addiction to these things is bad. Society dictates that living a wild lifestyle is bad. Right from school age we’re taught to work hard and strive for perfection. To beat everyone else whatever the expense.

Working hard and striving for perfection in everything you do no matter what the cost is not a good thing. It’s equally as harmful to us as taking drugs, getting drunk and sleeping around can be. Therefore, the spiritual awakening can be valid as long as you realise that something you’ve been doing has become harmful to yourself or others and the time has come to change.

It doesn’t matter what that “something” is and it will be probably be different for each of us. What might work for one person could well be harmful to another. All that matters is our own happiness and we have to ask ourselves if what we are doing and how we are living our lives is making us happy. If we cannot categorically say yes then something’s up and we need to stop and take stock.

I asked myself if my hard work and search for perfection was making me happy. I honestly and deep down knew it wasn’t.  And that was when I woke up and decided I have to change things. If something is harming you, no matter if it something that you have been told is “good” for you, then you have to let it go.

In the coming months I’ll be taking a step back and focusing on the elements of my job that I enjoy and make me feel rewarded. Outside of work I’ll be adding more balance. The meditation is going well, I’m going to go back to Ashtanga yoga classes and earlier today I had a personal trainer devise a workout plan to add some variety to my daily regime so I’m not just going through the motions. There’ll be more on this next week after my first session.

Fings I Love Friday (2)

It’s that time of week again and what a week I’ve had!

1) Coloured socks. A little over a year ago I upgraded my sock wardrobe. I was bored of plain black socks so I got some day of the week socks and a full set of these bad boys:

2) Not sleeping in hotels. I love sleeping in my own bed and having my own clean shower!

3) Cambridge in the sunshine. Coming back from London yesterday, the sun was out, the fields were in bloom, the roads were quiet and the sun was out. It was a fantastic welcome home. Like all the elements had specifically prepared for my return!

4) Beverly Hills Cop movies. Watched in my hotel. Hilarious and a kick ass soundtrack!

5) The missus and the cats. As always!