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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:44pm on 27/03/2010 under , ,
Twitter's had all my updates lately. Anything more than 140 characters is too much to think about.

The big news: Jane and I are moving. We've been looking around for ages for somewhere to move to and we spotted a house that looked good on paper - off the beaten track (I am SO fed up of our house vibrating with the lorries that go past), proper off-road parking, nice and ticked all the right boxes. We went to view it and I think we both felt the same - it's perfect.

This is the house on the agency website.

Rent is significantly cheaper than our current place, council tax is significantly cheaper too! The only downside from my point of view is that it is about 20 minutes further away from my current employer. However I don't mind this - the savings we are making will pay for the extra petrol, I am certain.

We move on the weekend of the 10th April. We have a van hired and will be doing it ourselves. I looked into the cost of someone doing it for us and was horrified! If we were going a long distance I might not mind paying £600+, but we're going about 20 miles! We don't have any majorly huge furniture, I estimate that we can do the job in 2 runs if the van's big enough (it should be a long wheel-base sprinter or equivalent), 3 if not.

The hardest thing is going to be getting stuff in at the other end! Going in the back, there is a set of 7-8 fairly steep steps, and the front you can see in the picture here:
- http://www.northwooduk.com/property_images/images/nwwrexl_114r_img_00.jpg

It's going to be a hell of a week - because the week we move is also show week. The timing of this move is both perfect and awful. I had the week of the show and the week before booked off work anyhow, the current tenancy runs out on the 13th April, and the current landlord wanted to increase our rent. Everything just seemed to happen at the right time. Sunday will be the worst because we have a technical rehearsal on Sunday afternoon, which screws up one of our biggest opportunities.

Our house is currently resembling a minor disaster area. The small bedroom has been emptied and turned into a box room, containing nothing but boxes of books and a bed! The living room contains several bin-bags full of either recycling, charity shop donations or rubbish, an old ironing board and the components of some self-assembly furniture that we're disposing of. The kitchen contains boxes. So many boxes!

I think we're where we need to be with packing. The books are packed, and they're often the worst thing, second perhaps to the kitchen, or maybe clothes.

I have been doing some work around the house - stuff like replacing the sealant in the bathroom, touching up some paintwork where it has been knocked or scuffed. I don't know if the landlord expects that but I'd rather do it, when it costs pennies and a little time, rather than not do it and have them try to charge us for it.

In non-house moving news, the show (Annie Get Your Gun) proceeds apace, and I think again we're where we need to be. There's 2 weeks (3/4 rehearsals) now before the show starts and things are relatively smooth. I need to do some work on not losing my damned voice yet again, I've now lost it twice in a month - though I suspect the reason for it this time is that I never quite recovered from the first problem.

Work is work, is work. I've been getting involved recently with some stuff that's involved some direct contact with the directors, which is both good and bad. Good because it may once and for all make someone realise that I can do more than I am most of the time, and bad because the kinds of things that tend to come from the directors are frequently pains in the asses and involve lots of time spent listening to people whinge. Not something I'm good at or something I want to waste my time with. You got a problem you want fixing? Let me fix it instead of complaining at me about the fact it's not fixed yet.

And as a parting comment: Toblerone Cookies are both delicious and addictive.
location: CH3
Music:: Hannibal on Five USA
Mood:: 'tired' tired
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:03pm on 24/02/2010 under ,
So in a shocker, I'm here sat at home with a cold. I was in bed last night at half past eight, which is so unlike me. Half past midnight is more my style. And I've been feeling rough all day - not badbadbadhorriblenastygoingtodie bad, just ugh. Thinking is a challenge. I've taken advantage of the time I took off work to catalogue our DVD collection (again).

This time I've been using a tool called "My Movies". This is quite incredibly handy. It's using a sledgehammer to crack a very small nut, as the tool has an MS SQL Server backend, however it's brilliant for my purposes. You stick in the barcode (or allegedly scan it with your webcam) and it comes back with all the relevant details. They appear to have their own database of these things which is huge - out of 205 DVDs I catalogued today only two weren't in there.

This way of doing things also allows them to easily put a catalogue of your DVDs online. Because they have a web catalogue of everything, they only need the list of your DVDs, all the details (cast, crew, pictures) are stored online! See http://c.mymovies.dk/pmsumner for ours.

Following on from my last post about "Sushi for Valentines", the Sushi Bar in Chester is back open again, hurrah! We should go along - love it. Jane had a good birthday and we still haven't received one of her presents, almost 2 weeks after the event.

My work is carrying on apace, though I have had a few interesting tidbits recently. I was tasked with the unenviable task of reinstalling Windows Server 2003 on a Dell Poweredge server.

This worked fine up until the point I realised it had installed onto a drive it identified as E: rather than C: - probably not a problem but this being one of HBOS' servers (they don't like us at the moment), I'm sure they'd rather not have that to deal with. In the end I tried a registry hackdoobrything to change drives which broke it again, so needed installing yet again. I'm glad it was a fast machine I was doing it on ;)

Interestingly, I have since found that the whole problem I was reinstalling this all for has been caused because someone's not used standard Java libraries in their code, and changing the region (specifically date format) from US->UK breaks it completely. FFS. We've spent HOURS trying to sort this out.

Also been dealing (on the side) with some stuff coming from the Middle East region. They have a bank customer who is trying to get us to "lend" them 100 320GB hard drives for an unspecified period because (as far as we can tell) they've ballsed something up. Spoke briefly to the director dealing with it the other day who said (and I quote) "they can sod off!".

I really should go to bed soon, my head has given up on me and is in total fail mode. It's going to explode... I do have more to say but this has taken me 20 minutes to write already :)
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:55pm on 21/12/2009 under , , , , , , ,
My life seems to have become very busy all of a sudden. OK not so much now, with everyone stopping over Christmas, but my "normal" weeknights are now all taken. I've got 2 rehearsals a week, singing lessons once a week (though I may try to switch to doing one longer lesson every 2 months), a defined "shopping" night (we're trying to be sensible, though I'm not sure it's working) and then the night reserved exclusively for WINE.

Singing lessons I have been looking at doing for a while and a month or so back I finally made some more phone calls after my initial attempts in summer ended up being fruitless. The lady I'm doing them with (Jo Cleeton) has been good - I kinda just turned up and went "Teach me to sing better", and she's done a good job at finding things I'm good at, and things I'm bad at very quickly. She's helped with some techniques to work on and I am sure that I will see some definite benefits in the not too-distant future.

Related to the singing, we have recently obtained a half-decent (musical) keyboard. We got rid of the organ, at last! I'm starting to play a bit again (I did piano for a few years at school) and am struggling to cope with 2 hands, though definitely improving with practise. My music reading does suck, though it always has.

I've started using Last.FM "properly" today. For months/years I've been scrobbling through iTunes (recording all the tracks I play on my iPod) but never really used the radio/recommendations/artists similar to functionality. Only when I found and tried out the official application for my phone did I see just how cool it is ;) So right now I'm listening to "If I Can't Love Her" from the Beauty and the Beast cast recording. Lovely.

Christmas is coming. I've been concerned lately about my mum, who has been unwell, so Jane and I spent the last weekend down at theirs and I had some time to talk. She seems to be happier than I expected, so am slightly less concerned but still worried. I'd love to get them to commit to saying that they'll be doing something over Christmas - I appreciate that it's difficult when you're starting new drugs that you never know how things will be the next day, but I don't care. I'd be happier to know that they're with people than being miserable and alone.

So my Christmas plans are somewhat meh. I've got some stuff for Jane, I guess at the moment I'm going with the default option which is Jane's parents and friends. Not sure what I want.

I recently flogged a whole load of CDs/DVDs on eBay. Didn't make much money overall, to be honest I only would have made just over what I spent if I hadn't acquired some jiffy bags from work and had someone not vastly overbid on my box set of Cube/Cube 2/Cube Zero. I am happier for having done so, and making money was not the object of the exercise. I got rid of some stuff I have had hanging round for years for no good reason. CDs I haven't looked at for 5yrs, stuff I bought because I thought I'd watch it again or because I thought it would be cool to have. Anything I looked at and decided I wanted to keep, I did, but that still left about 30 CDs and 20 DVDs to sell.

I am loving my mobile phone more and more all the time. Android is a powerhouse, an up-and-coming star in the mobile device world. The app store/market may not yet be as enormous as the iPhone one, but 12,000 apps is still a lot! If I could say that I use my phone for 3 primary things, I think these would be:
  1. Twitter
    I use (at the moment) Swift as my Twitter client. Twitter on the move is one of the most insanely useful/useless things in the world
  2. Google products of ALL descriptions.
    Android being a Google product it's obvious that the integration between Google products and this phone will be tight, and it really is. Calendar, Contacts and Email sync without any effort. Google Reader works really well, Picasa looks good on the small screen, and the newly installed (for me) voice search is remarkably accurate. Google Goggles is not so much "useful" yet, but very clever.
  3. Navigation
    I bought ALK CoPilot 8 for Android, and for under £25 it is an amazing price - turns the phone into a fully featured and actually very good SatNav. Free speed camera updates are a nice bonus. If you don't want that, Google Maps is useful, but turn-by-turn navigation is not yet available in the UK. It's still usable as a navigation aid, but it's not as nifty as fully-fledged navigation software. It also fails spectacularly when you go out of mobile/data coverage, as Google Maps loads everything on the fly and doesn't appear to cache anything.
Speaking of technology, I have an urge to do some proper geekery again but I really need another PC to do it on. I got tired very quickly of breaking my one and only PC, where fixing it became a necessity rather than a thing to do because I wanted to. Heck, I haven't compiled a kernel in a long time, it just seems like too much effort on my day-to-day PC. One day I'll get round to finding a second-hand PC and rolling my own server for DNS, web, MTA, etc. Having a domain completely within my own control and providing all services for it was a real learning experience.

Work - I'm liking my job at the moment. I have almost pushed myself out of direct customer contact. There's still the occasional period where I have to do the calls but I guess it's a necessary evil for now, and there's nothing to keep you on your toes like having to figure out what a customer means versus what they are actually saying. I am almost exclusively "3rd line" now. I spent nearly 3 weeks exclusively looking into one problem that affected one customer - or at least at that time we thought it affected one customer. Seems to be many more. Anyhow, it turns out that we were breaking a message up and sending "\r\n" and "HELO" in two separate TCP packets for some reason. This was causing chaos between our kit and some mail servers. Tracking that down from the original "The email stops working after a while" report took several iterations and many dead ends.

I am quite pleased though, however also slightly disappointed. The job I went for a while back, that they went external for in the end? The manager for them told me the other day that based on the work he'd seen me doing in the past few months, he'd take me on without bothering to do the interview if he had the budget. I'm pleased because it's SO nice to know someone is noticing that I do try hard, but also miffed because I either didn't sell myself strongly enough at the previous opportunity, or he's admitting he was short sighted :)

Oh, tonight's tea:
  • Parsnips roast with crab-apple jelly
  • Sweet potato roast with chorizo and paprika
  • Boiled Anya potatoes
  • Steamed carrots with caraway
Nom

I think that'll do.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: CH3
Music:: Stephen Schwartz – Recurring Dream from Uncharted Territory
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:07pm on 11/10/2009 under , , , ,
Yesterday it was my birthday. I am now the ripe old age of 30, and let's be fair, it's no different to being 29, 28, 27 or even 26. Life goes on the same!

I took full advantage of this offer of free food from Nando's on one's birthday, and was treated to a film (Gamer) and several nice presents - my favourite is the GorillaPod (from http://joby.com) - it's a light-weight, flexible tripod for small cameras - very nifty.

Unfortunately, since Thursday I have been feeling a bit on the rotten side, with a head full of expanding foam and cotton wool, a nose that leaks, and eardrums that only work half the time. It's made the weekend a bit of a washout for "things to do" but it's been a nice one. I suspect I shall be off work tomorrow because I cannot foresee my voice recovering before then, and frankly I will be amused to see how they cope.

Speaking of work, since my last post (which I think went to LJ only... a rant about colleagues taking the piss with a new call logging system), nothing's really changed. I had a word at our Monday morning meeting and suggested that we do things a particular way. This suggestion appears to have been ignored. I should have expected as much. I don't think it's that the boss doesn't want to do x, y or z but I think he doesn't know how bad it is - because he doesn't sit with us.

I heard my slot on Radio 2's Elaine Paige show today, hurrah! It came in the last "Break a Leg" slot - around 1hr 52mins into the show. I didn't sound like a numpty or anything :) I'd been waiting ages for it and was getting worried. We've got another chance to do another recording, which I've asked our director to do instead.

I bought myself a 2nd hand copy of Super Paper Mario on the weekend - I had it from LoveFilm ages ago (must be years now), and have been watching the price ever since. It hasn't fallen at all. Wii games are annoyingly good at holding their retail prices. Some 3yr old games are the same price they were when they came out!

I tried making pumpkin fritters today, and they turned out remarkably "meh". I think I made two big mistakes - one was not letting the mashed pumpkin cool down before combining it with some flour and other ingredients. I don't know - but I suspect - because the pumpkin was still hot, it took a lot more flour to get it to a reasonable consistency, which diluted the pumpkin taste down to effectively nothing. The other was deciding to bread it instead of batter it. I have never deep-fried, and don't intend to make a start now, especially without some decent equipment - a thermometer would be a good start).

Jane's trying to persuade me to go for a facial at a spa that put a leaflet through the door today. Hmmm....
Mood:: 'exhausted' exhausted
Music:: Emma on BBC1
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 11:06pm on 06/09/2009 under ,
My job (our jobs) are at last safe. It's only taken 3+ months to find out...
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
Music:: Rich Man, Poor Man - Ben Dover Straightens
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:22pm on 18/08/2009 under ,
Today I have been on the phone with an agency, who have decided that I am worthy of being put forward for a position. Hurrah. I recognise that now I do not have the position, and I don't know how many other people are also being put forward for the position so shouldn't get too excited.

The position is for a CCTV manufacturer, based in Sunbury-on-Thames. I believe that there are very few staff at the moment, and as part of the position I'd be one of the early staff in in the UK branch of a rather large international company with a base in the far east (Israel, I think). The plan is to expand the UK base quickly.

The fact that it's in Middlesex is a gamble for me. I have said that I am willing to relocate, and Jane has also said that she is willing to come, dependant on her getting work nearby. I don't know anything about that part of the world so am feeling tentative, but I don't think staying where I am is wise in the long term.
Mood:: 'optimistic' optimistic
location: CH3
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:04pm on 09/08/2009 under , , , ,
There's not been a huge amount happening, except for the wedding of one of Jane's friends we attended in York last weekend. That was fun, set off at 10am and got back to the hotel at just gone 1am, having had a generally good day albeit with a fair whack of hanging around. I would have liked to have had some more time to potter around York, it's a lovely city, but we arrived at midday, had a taxi booked for half 12, and then were doing wedding things until 1am. The next day we spent AGES getting into town because of a marathony thing happening, then had lunch with the bride's mother. It was busy busy busy.

Work is still being crap with the potential redundancy thing. We still don't know what the outcome is, or what it's likely to be. We were given an extension of 30 days for our consultancy period, based on the fact that there's going to be a review of customer services and support being done by the VP of Customer Services from the US branch of our company, but that's not happening until the end of August. Our extension comes to an end in a week or so.

Not impressed, are we. We just don't know what's going on any more. There's no jobs in the area that I can afford to take, actually want to take, or who are offering interviews to me.

This weekend coming, Jane and I have a trip down to Bristol, staying in the Cadbury House Hotel for the weekend, with a wedding party on Saturday afternoon for one of my cousins in the middle of nowhere. I'm looking forward to it, as we haven't been away anywhere with any time to relax for ages. We're both off Friday and will be seeing the parents' new house in Chippenham in the evening, and have nothing else planned except Saturday afternoon in Somerton. Hopefully it will be good fun.

This weekend I have cooked lots, doing a barbecue last night in the glorious evening. Nothing too exciting but the pork steaks were lovely. Today I did a batch of Boston baked beans (essentially beans baked with bacon in molasses, sugar, Worcester sauce and other stuff for a long time), a curry and last night after several beers, we both got the munchies, and I made flapjacks. A little overdone, but nummy, sweet, gooey and incredibly unhealthy :)
Music:: Babylon 5 - Chrysalis
location: CH3
Mood:: 'accomplished' accomplished
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 12:25pm on 19/07/2009 under ,
We had our second consultation meeting on Thursday, and in this meeting we have been told that our consultation period is being extended. So we were due to find out this coming week whether we'd be getting made redundant or not, now we'll find out in another month or so.

The reasoning is that a "review" of customer services and support is being done by the VP of customer support from the US branch of our company, and as a part of this the company will be implementing new customer relationship management software which has been in use in the US for a while now. They obviously need to know before they do this, how it will affect the departments.

I don't know what to make of this. On the one hand it's really positive because I have a guaranteed job for another month, and it shows that they are at the very least considering all the options. On the other hand, I'm pissed off because once again my life is on hold until they make a decision at last - heck if they're extending it now, who's to say they won't extend it again and again.

I've been investigating the cost of holidays to a few different places (been looking at Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, New York, San Fransisco) and long haul flights are so damn cheap it's really tempting, but until I know what's going on with my work I don't think we can justify spending that money on a holiday - we need to save, save, save.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
Music:: Breaking Bad - ep 2
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Though I went back to work on Thursday and Friday, and refused to talk on the phone. I suspect it was a good thing and that if I'd have taken calls I'd have ended up even worse.

I think I might make a counter-proposal at work regarding redundancies, something along the lines of working part time or changing hours or something related. I've also got another option, which is making the EMEA support job permanent and changing job titles. I don't know how to work it best, though I've got some time to think about it.

This weekend the good lady and myself went to Tesco and traded in our Clubcard points for vouchers to spend on wine. £25 worth of clubcard vouchers equals £50 worth of wine tokens. Oh my did we go on a spree... :) We've now got enough wine for ohhhh, at least a week! I don't think 12 bottles for £50 is too bad, considering that we got 4 bottles of cheap-ass-but-decent-enough Cuvee Prestige.

Been enjoying what I've seen so far of "The Secret Life of the Airport". It's possibly sad and geeky, but I really enjoyed "The Secret Life of the Motorway". Also been watching "James May on the Moon" which was fascinating and awe-inspiring.

Read-through of act II of The Secret Garden was amusing on Thursday. I vocalzoned myself up and just went for it, those things are disgusting but work miracles. The kid playing Mary was in stitches - she'd obviously not read through the script before-hand and found out that she has some rather uhhm, unpleasant things to say to the school-teacher. "I hope you get hit by a lorry and your head falls off" had her nearly rolling on the floor!

I can't decide if I'm looking forward to this show or not! I've not got a huge amount to do, but have some key dialogue and take part in 2 important songs. I think it could be an impressive show, but I think we are going to struggle with some of the bloke's bits. The story of amateur dramatics nationwide, apparently.
Music:: American Dad - Bush Comes to Dinner
location: CH3
Mood:: 'okay' okay
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:50pm on 16/06/2009 under , , ,
Since Saturday evening I've been feeling a bit off, and come Monday I was whispering hoarsely instead of speaking. I thoroughly blame [profile] ginny4harry, who definitely sounded ill when she arrived :) Both her and [personal profile] buckbeakbabie arrived on Thursday and stayed until Monday.

Friday evening we went for late night bowling, and lo it was great fun. I sucked more than I am used to doing, I am trying to persuade myself that it's purely because I am so out of practice, or that it was really late for me (for the past few weeks I've been in bed for no later than half ten at night, and this session started at half ten!).

So since I can't speak I've been off work, though I've been trying to check emails and respond to things as best I can given the crappy remote access facilities we've got. I think I even managed to tell somebody something completely wrong, though it was picked up on quickly. I resorted to using LogMeIn (we have it on a PC at work for some reason) to try and get some information. See, nobody can say I've not been doing anything :)

I still haven't decided if I should go back in tomorrow. I do feel bad for being away, but that's kinda set off against the "I don't care" attitude and being able to at least prove I have been doing something while away.

There was a read/sing-through of The Secret Garden act I the other night at OMTC which went pretty well, as far as I can tell. Some people (some of who admittedly have a hell of a lot more to do than me) didn't seem to have even looked at the script/score but it's early enough, though makes one question why one bothered! :)

This week's going to be a bit mad, with Rehearsal Monday/Thursday, then it's OMTC committee meeting on Wednesday. This was silly of me.
Mood:: 'tired' tired
Music:: BBC News
location: CH3

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