Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Someone popped up in a chat window this morning and they were using the meebo widget I embed in my blog on Blogger. This meant I knew they were viewing this blog. I'll be meeting them for the first time tomorrow. I'll have nothing to say because everything has been said, here on these screens.
I'm not claiming that I ever possessed any social skills, but perhaps blogging is just helping to erode any social skills I might have had. All of those conversation snippets that I used to save for later are now used for the blog.
And am I that dull that all I have to say for myself has already been said on screen?
Maybe I should say nothing.
Monday, 30 July 2007
I've mentioned Dave is flying to Germany tomorrow. This means an 8:15 outbound flight which means getting out of bed at about 5:30am.
Today he's been working on the 'big' presentation to a couple of Vice Presidents. A review at 3:00 has meant that he has been working on refining the presentation for most of this evening.
At about 10:30 he opened his e-mail to see a message sent at 7 o'clock this evening. The e-mail requested that he take colour prints of the presentation with him tomorrow.
That would take forever on our little inkjet printer at home, the quality would be poor and it would cost us a fortune in ink. So guess where Dave has driven at 10:45 in the evening. He's driven to work to collect printouts for a meeting tomorrow, for which he'll have to get out of bed at 5:30am.
Dumb, dumb, dumb. Requirements beyond reason or dedication beyond duty?
This made me smile. I'm not a girlfriend, I'm a wife and Dave isn't at risk of losing me - don't tell him this though as I like to keep him on his toes. I'm not going on a career-building business trip but I am going on a business trip this week.
Dave has never reacted like this but I know some men do.
Dave is travelling to Germany and back tomorrow and I'm travelling to Spain and back on Wednesday.
Both of us prefer not to travel but when we have to, we just get on with it and cope, in the other's absence. How different and difficult our lives would be if we were the couple in the cartoon.
Sunday, 29 July 2007
There are people reading this making a mental note not to ask for ketchup at our house.
There are numerous products that my mum never stored in the fridge which, these days, demand refrigeration; Mayonnaise, jam, marmalade, mustard and tomato puree are a few that spring to mind.
I'm sure you can think of a few too, but who is right? I confess my mayo and tom puree is refrigerated but is that the way it should be? Was my mum right to put these things in a cupboard and am I risking my family's health by not placing these items in a fridge?
Saturday, 28 July 2007
I called the private healthcare provider and the consultant. I had policy numbers and all of the other information necessary to sort everything without having to bother my husband for any details.
I'm covered on my husband's health insurance, so I don't need to have my own policy.
Today a form requiring patient's consent was sent to our address but for my husband's attention. The letter started "Thank you for contacting us regarding your wife's referral to see Mr B."
Dave didn't contact them, and what's more, surely my medical treatment is my business, not his. They needed my consent, so why write to him?
Imagine I suspected cancer; I don't, but imagine I did. I might not want Dave to know I have a referral because I might not want to worry him.
Surely they must be breaching privacy law. I know I'm married to Dave but I'm not happy that they consider it acceptable to to share confidential information with him.
Dave's answer to all of this is that it's his policy and that's why they're contacting him. I think it's wrong but perhaps I'm over-sensitive.
Friday, 27 July 2007
I understand that these days the working day is flexible, but Dave tries to get home every night for six o'clock. Once Dave's helped out with the kids bathtime, maybe gone to the gym, then eaten, it could be half past nine before he's free to finish off any work. Without a trip to the gym it's about eight o'clock before he starts work.
Now were he to work for just 30 minutes or so I wouldn't be concerned, but there have a couple of nights this week when Dave's worked until about one o'clock in the morning.
Dave isn't paid overtime; hardly anyone in our company is. Is it right that he feels he should work these hours.
Is it the company demanding this dedication or is it an inbuilt need to deliver on time? Should he be able to say no or should the company wind back on the workload? Or is this kind of excess reasonable?
What is too much?
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Hannah is five and still wears a nappy at night. This isn't laziness, it's insecurity. It's the equivalent of a comforter.
For those who are unfamilar with nappy brands, allow me to introduce Huggies Pull-Ups.
Huggies Pull-Ups are available in either Disney Princess pink or Disney Cars blue. They are designed with a pattern that disappears when the nappy is wet and the clear benefit is that the child can see their own potty training report card right on the nappy; instant feedback.
One might imagine that Hannah would want to wear the Disney Princess pink version, and Ethan would want to wear the Disney Cars blue version.
Well yes and no. Over the last week or so Ethan has increasingly asked for a 'Princess nappy', 'girl nappy' or 'pink nappy'.
My view of this is that 'it's a nappy, the only difference is the colour, what's the problem? If he wants pink, let him have pink'.
Dave's view is that 'he's a boy and should not be seen dead in pink'. Dave has tried everything to get him back into blue. ("Ethan - are you a girl?")
I wonder who has the greater problem? Ethan and his penchant for pink or Dave and his pink issues....
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
It was a "Would you be going private?" conversation, and I would be.
We discussed who'd be the best specialist and I recognised the name of one of the contenders; Mr B who has already operated on me, probably about 10 years ago.
Now the operation that Mr B did had to be repeated a few years later but with Mr S. The scar left by Mr B was OK, but visible. The scar left by Mr S was invisible - it was perfect. Consequently I had concluded that Mr S was the better surgeon.
My doctor and I discussed my previous experiences and I was shocked to learn that my deductions about expertise were misguided in the extreme.
Apparently Mr S has a series of outstanding negligence cases and has appeared in front of the General Medical Council. His surgery and bedside manner have both been the subject of criticism. I can understand the bedside manner allegations as he does lack appropriate interpersonal skills, but the allegations of surgery malpractice were a surprise.
On this occasion my doctor didn't even suggest Mr S, and we settled on Mr B.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Our office building is 40 years old and that seemed like a good excuse to plant a tree or two. HRH plonked some soil around the base of a pre-planted specimen, one of 40 trees to be planted to celebrate the 40 year anniversary of concrete and a test track.
I'm sure the great and the good told the story of how the 275 acres of Essex countryside comprising of natural grasslands, shrubs, trees and ponds was enhanced through the planting of 22,000 trees and 17,000 wildflowers.
I'm sure he was told about the 300 plus fish that live in the pond that we lovingly call 'the lake'.
I'm positive that he will have been advised about the Wildlife Habitat Council award that was made in 2000. This award programme recognises outstanding wildlife habitat management and environmental education efforts at corporate sites.
I wonder how they explained the mess of construction at the gateway to the site. The new location of a massive car dealership eating into a portion of that 275 acres.
I wonder if they even mentioned the 133 acres of land currently identified for 450 residential dwellings.
But then Prince Charles would understand this selling of land for development. He's just stumped up £20million to buy Dumfries House in Scotland. Part of his plans include the development of 66 acres acquired through this deal to create another Poundbury.
Monday, 23 July 2007
This morning I parked my car at the station car park and queued to buy my train ticket and car park ticket. It's a great system that allows me to buy my car park ticket at the rail ticket counter. I write my registration number on the car park ticket and it's stored in the ticket office. I get a receipt there and then and am saved from having the task of saving the £5.50 in loose change for ticket machine in the car park.
This morning the cheery man behind the counter advised me that this was the last day that I'll be able to buy my ticket at the station ticket counter. The car park will be managed by NCP and payment will have to be made either at the ticket machine that takes loose change or by text, and he handed me a leaflet explaining how text payment worked.
I had noted that payment by text was available for a while and thought it might be useful when I chose to leave my car in the car park for more than one day.
I read about the text process.
To set it up the customer has to send a 35 digit alphanumeric text containing credit card number, expiry date and security code. I thought texts could be intercepted so I wasn't sure how secure this was.
The cost of the parking ticket remains the same at £5.50 but there's an additional charge for the text of £0.20 which is in addition to the network text charge. There's also a charge of £0.10 for a reminder text which is sent when the purchased parking expires, which for me would be at midnight. Now the nominal rate for sending a text with my mobile provider is £0.10. Add this all up and the cost for me to pay for parking has just risen by 7.2% and this follows the increase in basic parking charges just before Christmas of 10%.
I phoned NCP and asked for the old system to be reinstated. They told me that it is the railway that determines the method of payment.
I phoned One Railway and waited on hold for 40 minutes. When finally connected I asked for the old system to be reinstated. I was told that it's the car park company that determines payment method.
When I refused to be the ping pong ball batted between NCP and One Railway she advised me she merely worked in admin and I should e-mail. I asked how long I could expect to wait for a reply. They aim to respond within six days. I clarified - six working days. I e-mailed.
I e-mailed the company that administers the text payment process to ask about receipts. It's possible to log on to the web and print receipts but the receipts are just for the £5.50, not the text charges. Text charges will show up on my mobile phone bill.
I had always liked the method of paying and getting a VAT receipt because it enabled the company to claim back the VAT. I know the ticket machine in the car park doesn't print a receipt.
I phoned HM Revenue and Customs and navigated the phone menu. I spoke to a very nice lady who explained that private car parking is subject to VAT. The only car parking not subject to VAT is that operated by local authorities.
So for the company to be able to claim for the VAT paid on the text charges they'd have to have sight of my personal mobile phone bill. Isn't that an infringement of my privacy for them to have sight of who I'm phoning and texting and when?
My point is I want the old system back! I'm not a technophobe, I just struggle to see how this is an improvement.
Sunday, 22 July 2007
Saturday, 21 July 2007
- Dinosaur egg treasure hunt - finding the baby dinosaurs
- Pin the tail on the donkey
- Dinosaur egg treasure hunt - finding food for the baby dinosaurs
- Crazy frog race (optional)
- Musical hedgehogs
- Egg and spoon races
- Dinosaur egg treasure hunt - finding sweets for the baby dinosaur
- Pass the parcel
Games to be followed by party tea and obligatory candle blowing, a chorus of Happy Birthday and cake eating.
A lot of work and preparation for two short hours. I hope he appreciates the effort.
Friday, 20 July 2007
"If you've been affected by any of the issues in tonight's episode then call the BBC Action Line on 08000 688 456."
I pondered this.
What issues? The poor script, the ridiculous storyline, the ham acting. They all have an adverse impact on my life.
So I called....
I won't be calling again.
*I didn't really call but I really wanted to.
Thursday, 19 July 2007
"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."
"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. " A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup."
"No." said the Director, " A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"
Wednesday, 18 July 2007
See what you think about their decision.
The barn doors were welded together, but look what they found when they gained access. Click here.
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Anyway there was a Volvo on the drive with it's lights on.
I had this force pulling me towards the front door. I felt the need to get out of the car and knock on the front door just to say "Hi. The Volvo's got it's lights on."
But I was so close to home I thought I'd go home and then nip round. But there was still a pull encouraging me to pull over and go in quickly. I fought it.
And then I fought the idea of going round at all.
I am always the person that tells people that their label is showing or they have a t-shirt on inside out. I'm always the one to tell someone they've dropped something or left something behind. I'm always telling people their window has been left open just before it rains or... that they've left their lights on.
And people aren't grateful. Most of the time I'm greeted by the feeling that I've invaded their space and their lives. Most of the time any gratitude seems forced and unnatural.
There was a tiny voice in my head tonight saying that the reaction I'd get would probably "Yes, we know. It's my friend's car - she's just popped round for five minutes. Is there anything else?"
And if that happened I'd resent my time and effort spent on a non issue.
I know this seems selfish and, I agree, it is. But I am so fed up of being the unappreciated 'good guy'.
I still feel guilty. They might have a flat battery in the morning. In my head that'll be my fault even though I didn't leave the lights on.
Monday, 16 July 2007
Walking as I read I was surprised to read that "Thierry Henry has spit from his wife."
I'd heard of egg and sperm donation, kidney and bone marrow donation, blood and blood plasma donation but never spit.
I wondered what the benefit would be to Henry of having some of his wife's spit. Was it a medical thing or did he have a fetish for collecting spit? Alternatively, perhaps they'd argued and she'd decided to spit at him and he'd kept it as evidence because he was pressing charges.
The next screen mentioned it might cost him £25m which I thought was a bit much regardless of why he had the saliva.
Sunday, 15 July 2007
I wasn't frightened or freaked out. I didn't think yuk, or dirty, or disease. It just looked cute.
And then years of conditioning desperately tried to overcome me. There were voices in my head saying things like "plague" and "death." I resisted and tried to hold on to ideas like cute and cuddly.
About a minute later I saw a rabbit. I didn't have any little voices saying "myxomatosis."
And I wondered why rats were singularly demonised? We don't squeal with horror when we see squirrels or rabbits. Even the mouse is only reviled by the woman in Tom and Jerry cartoons and my friend Sandra.
Do rats have exclusivity on the ability to carry disease? I know they can harbour weil’s disease, salmonella, tuberculosis, cryptosporidiosis, e.coli and foot and mouth disease but I don't think they are the only mammals with this ability.
Squirrels can carry lyme disease which has so many symptoms I lost interest reading them, plague and mad squirrel disease which is likened to mad cow disease.
Rabbits are primary carriers of tick fever which can be a serious illness, tularemia which produces ulcers and a fever that lasts a month, powassan virus which can cause severe encephalitis and rabies.
Saturday, 14 July 2007
So we're sat watching telly...well Dave's watching, I'm blogging.
I say "Do you fancy some more of that chocolate cake?"
Dave says "You see that's your problem. I mean the booze isn't your problem, it's the chocolate cake that's your problem."
I'm thinking "What problem?"
Friday, 13 July 2007
Well when I say normal, he can't walk at all easily, he's a bit confused and he has attitude.
He wants to go home, and I don't blame him. Even though he's in a modern hospital in a two bed room with his own en suite, it's not the same as home. It's probably cleaner than home and the food and company are probably better. But it's not within Dad's comfort zone so I understand.
I also understand the position of the Physiotherapist, Occupational therapist, nurses and doctors who don't think Dad is ready to go home. They want him to be mobile, compos mentis and safe at home if discharged.
And in the middle, there's me. I'm explaining to the nurses that Dad is sane, mobile with a frame and desperate to get home. I'm explaining to Dad that the staff are doing all they can to help and they'll only release him when they're happy he'll be OK.
I don't play piggy in the middle very well. In my last conversation with Dad I told him to discharge himself.
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Now ordinarily I don't drive the MG. It scares me. It has no power steering, no servo assisted brakes, no alarm when you've left your lights on, no radio, no CD player, no fifth or sixth gear, no wing or door mirrors, no central power locking, no air conditioning, no heated windscreen or rear screen, no seat height adjust, no parking distance sensors, no satellite navigation, no ambient temperature guage, no clock... you get the picture.
But today for the first time in years, I got behind the wheel and I loved it.
I drove with top down (car top not my top), and as a result looked more scarecrowy than normal for the day.
I fought the steering wheel and I got a workout from the brake pedal. I got cold hands and toes and my eyes were watering even though I was wearing sunglasses. I wasn't listening to the Today programme on Radio 4, I was concentrating on the sound of the engine to help me know when to change gear. I felt more generous to other traffic and was less stressed than normal. I arrived at work much more alert and awake than normal.
New isn't necessarily better.
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
I know I'm noisy. Today Michelle told me it's noticeably quieter when I'm not in, and I know I annoy Tracey when she's having an important call with the Greeks and I'm being too noisy about four foot from her phone.
I know I joke too much and don't take myself too seriously, which is just as well because colleagues don't take me too seriously either.
But then someone will say something and I think "where did that come from?"
Today as I left the office I walked past Frank. He said, in a Scottish accent that I won't try and replicate, "Hey Ann, you've made me smile today." And I thought "That's nice. I'm glad I brightened someone's day." And then he finished by saying "You're as daft as a brush."
Now I didn't do anything out of the ordinary today. I was just me. I did lots of chatting, joking, laughing, oh, and some work. So what I want to know is what makes me as daft as a brush? What did I do that made him smile more than I normally do?
A girl could become paranoid.
Monday, 9 July 2007
Sunday, 8 July 2007
Saturday, 7 July 2007
I have to say that the Le Tour has lost its magic for me since the departure of the magnificant Lance Armstrong. So I didn't really know the names of any of the riders, except one. Yesterday on the way back from school I got chatting with a Dad and he mentioned Bradley as being 'our boy'. So I knew I needed to cheer for a Bradley, turns out that's Bradley Wiggins. Apparently he won an Olympic medal and has an OBE. Sorry but he didn't survive testicular cancer and win the Tour seven times so he just doesn't measure up to Lance.
Weather was kind to Ken Livinstone and the organisers and the sun shone all afternoon. In fact, in contrast to the last few weeks, it was very hot mid afternoon, which was when we decided we needed an ice cream.
So we wandered over to the 'People's Village'. Now I expected the place to be heaving with catering establishments operating out of the traditional trailer with generator. Well there were a few: italian coffee shop, homemade pie shop, organic burger bar, exclusive ice cream parlour and posh sweet shop. Now I know that someone had clearly decided that this would be an upmarket event but that someone should have done their research.
We, the consumer might like the sustenance available in these places but we don't like having to queue for half an hour to get it. And there's nothing wrong with posh, fancy, organic, free range food, but, equally, there's nothing wrong with a bit of choice and few more establishments to help cater for all budgets and queueing tolerance.
Friday, 6 July 2007
So first things first - clothes off (except knickers).
Then, as the beauty therapist holds a towel discretely to preserve my modesty, I make myself comfortable on the couch bed thing. But that's the problem. It's never comfortable. I hate putting my head through that hole thing that's designed into those massage tables. And the alternative is to lie on your front with your head skewed round to left or right.
So when the therapist says, or whispers, "Is that comfortable?", what I want to say is "NO!!!!" but what I actually say, or whisper, is "Yes, fine thanks."
Why? Why do I do that? I'm sure other people say "Well no actually."
And on the subject of what's wrong with this setup, the other thing is preserving my modesty. I've got two children. That whole process means there is no modesty remaining. Maybe there should be two ways to treat a client. Modesty preserving for those spared the joys of motherhood, and the 'get your kit off and lie on the couch thing' for those who had the pleasure...
Thursday, 5 July 2007
Meena is a wonderful person who has a remarkable skill with a single piece of cotton. She can shape eyebrows with an unerring accuracy and speed.
Anyway, before meeting Meena I was a bit slapdash with eyebrow maintenance. To be honest if there's too much time in between appointments now I revert to my slapdash ways.
Anyway I couldn't believe the difference a bit of quality eyebrow shaping makes to my appearance and I did wonder how I'd coped before. £3 and five minutes - a very worthwhile investment.
However. Tracey was joking with Meena that I was a bit of a Dennis Healey before I joined the Meena gang. I hoped she was joking.
Then, after Meena finished my eyebrows (ouch!) she asked, which she always does, "upper lip?" by which she means moustache. I said "No, I'm fine thanks." To which she said "OK, really?" and laughed.
Now I've never been self conscious about having a moustache. I've never even bloody well thought I had one. But now I find myself checking my reflection trying to see whether I have a facial hair problem.
I didn't have a problem until Wednesday and now I'm paranoid.
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Oh, and if ever you are in the position of having that same prescription in your hand, then don't be scared. Think carefully about whether you want to go down the drugs route but if you decide there isn't another option don't be frightened.
Prozac isn't great in the first couple of weeks. It can make you feel sick, but if you're depressed, feeling sick is actually not that important.
It takes a couple of weeks before Prozac actually has an effect, and don't expect a dramatic change. Just gradually, over time, you will become a nicer person, without really being aware that it's happening.
For those who are wondering - no, I'm not on the happy pills anymore. Haven't been for a while. And that's the other thing I don't think you need to worry about. I didn't find Prozac addictive at all. I just stopped taking them when I felt better.
But anyway, when I have a bad day, like yesterday, I worry. I think it's that slippery slope. I know what it's like and I don't want to go back there.
Anyway, I'm fine. Honest. :)
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
I've been told my children are wonderful.
There are people that want my job.
There are people that covet my house.
I don't want for anything.
So why the hell did I spend today in a foul mood either crying, screaming, yelling, or on the verge of tears? I just don't get it. My life is perfect. Everybody tells me my life is perfect. Even I believe my life is perfect (ish).
Please tell me what's wrong, because I haven't a clue.
Monday, 2 July 2007
Now the day would have been great if I'd just done that but the day continued to be great.
We drove to Champneys.
Jo had a full day of treatments booked by her lovely adorable husband (note to all husbands - you will become lovely and adorable if you buy us a posh spa day). I bought my own day to match Jo's and we called ahead to make sure our treatments would happen concurrently.
We didn't really do much but we did have a very relaxing massage, a facial that involved putting about 20 different products on our faces and then taking them off (I have a theory that the older and wrinklier you are the more products they use), a pedicure and manicure in a colour I'm not sure I like (on me - Jo, the purple looks good honest).
We did steam room, relaxation room, outdoor jacuzzi, aqua aerobics class, laconium, terrace bar and restaurant. And we chatted, and chatted, and chatted.
And we just had to stop by the Champneys shop to buy some of the products that had been slapped on during the day.
And I now have Champneys slippers and flip flops.
And I'm actually very tired. I've spent the day chillaxing.
Sunday, 1 July 2007
The house and garden looked clean and tidy. Party bags had been sewn. Packed lunch boxes were prepared. Gazebos were erected. Every last chair from every corner of the house was found and placed conveniently for a parental bottom.
We were ready.
We had a colouring in competition, several installments of a treasure hunt, and egg and spoon race, a make an outfit out of newspaper and sellotape competition and associated catwalk show, a snowball fight (ripped off newspaper outfits screwed up into balls and then hurled mostly at the grown ups), pin the tail on the donkey, pass the parcel (x 3), party tea and cake candle blowing and singing 'Happy Birthday'.
All activities earned some or all party goers money that they could then spend in the party shop, buying party loot for the party bag.
Once I have the video of the catwalk newspaper fashion show, I will post on YouTube and share the link with you.
But for now I have a reputation. The party went well and people will expect repeat performances. Oh, the pressure.