Archive for August, 2007

Friday Night Geek Fest

I’m going for the saddest way to spend an evening here. Friday evening to boot.

I know they’re not environmentally friendly beasts, but I am afraid in the last couple of years (when I managed to get over my extreme fear of them and go to the US) I have developed a fascination of sorts for planes.

I haven’t got a clue how they get off the ground, stay off the ground then return to the ground without turning upside down or breaking into little pieces. I fear that will always remain a marvel and mystery to me but, since I’ve been transported more or less half-way around the globe and back again safely three times now, it’s nutured a respectful fascination in me.

The first time I went I think it is fair to say I was kind of hyperventilating in the departure lounge. I was determined to go, but wasn’t really quite sure how I was going to persuade my legs to get me on the plane. It didn’t help that we were delayed for four hours because of a mechanical fault. Mechanical faults are not what you want to hear about when you’re busy breathing in and out of a brown paper bag*. Especially when it’s YOUR plane they’re talking about. Super-especially when you know you’re going to be above an ocean and therefore presumably not particularly close to any airports for several hours should an emergency landing be required.

I was still hyperventilating quietly as we finally started taxi-ing (or is it taxiing) towards the runway. The pilot came over the intercom and cheerfully announced that the delay had been due to some hydraulics not working. I didn’t like the sound of that. Hydraulics sounded fairly important (when compared to the recline feature on my airline seat for example) so I was hoping like billy-o they’d fixed them properly.

Anyway, we thundered down the runway and then with only a mild shudder we were in the air and magically I was more or less instantly transformed into a creature who said “Oh….” – thoughtful pause – “this is alright actually.” So I was fine. I even managed to get out of my seat and ‘use the facilities’. I had convinced myself that if I did this, the motion of me moving around the cabin would undoubtedly cause the plane to unbalance thus plunging us into a inescapable downward spiral towards our watery graves. (I’m a whisker over 5 foot, and I weigh about 7 stone, so you can see that would be likely.)

Thus began my fascination. I subequently noticed I seem to live under a fairly busy flightpath and I now often waste valuable gardening time standing looking skywards, squinting and counting the metal tubes making their way across the sky. (My “record” is 9 all at the same time. They’re all way up high still which is why I hadn’t really particularly noticed before.) The ones going south tend to fly over to the east of me and the ones going north are over to the west.  It’s frustrating when it’s cloudy (as it often is here) and I can vaguely hear them but not see.

Then I discovered www.airliners.net where you can view plane pictures galore. That marked the first stage of my descent into sadness. Most of them are fairly bog-standard boring ‘plane-on-the-ground’ snaps, but in my defence they do have some quite arty-farty shots of planes flying into beautiful sunsets, awe-inpsiring clouds and things, and pictures of the ground from the sky and such like.

Not long after that I stumbled upon http://www.flightview.com/ where you can find a plane and track its progress across the skies. At work I regularly started following ‘my flight’ from Birmingham (BHX) to Newark (EWR) on a daily basis. It worked out a quite nice indicator of the day’s progression because it departed at around 9am (when I’m just booting up the work computer) and arrived about 4.30pm (UK time) so, by the time you saw the plane had landed, you knew it was getting on for ‘home time’.

Then I discovered that Newark Airport’s website had a Flightview feed of all its current arriving and departing traffic.  http://tracker.flightview.com/htNYNJPA/CurrentTrafficMap.asp?ap=EWR This was super fascinating to me. Especially when I further discovered that so do JFK (http://tracker.flightview.com/htNYNJPA/CurrentTrafficMap.asp?ap=jfk) and LaGuardia (http://tracker.flightview.com/htNYNJPA/CurrentTrafficMap.asp?ap=lga).

Joy of joys!! I could have three Explorer windows open and watch all three together and marvel at just how crowded the skies over New York are and how come these things don’t bump into each other more often?

Well…not long after that I discovered the website to top them all. The “piece de la resistance”. The cherry on the icing. La creme de la creme. This place: http://www.liveatc.net/feedmap/feedmap.html. Oh rapturous bliss!! You can LISTEN IN to the ATC. (That’s Air Traffic Control to the non-geeks.) It’s like listening to a foreign language and I only understand brief snatches of it, (things gabbled at high speed that sound roughly like they might be “continental seven ninety-one heavy proceed right zero zero tango whiskey foxtrot poppa wind two four niner clear for take-off” etc) but it’s bloody hypnotic.

So…on those Friday evenings where all the dishes have been washed, the laundry is ironed and airing, I’ve solved at least 4 sudoku puzzles, and all other normal websites are too quiet (because it’s Friday and the other people who go there are out having a life) I can sometimes be found perched on the corner of the sofa surgically attached to the laptop and engrossed in watching the ‘traffic’ approaching Newark airport and listening to the tin pushers giving out instructions. 

Right then….anyone care to admit they spend their Friday evening in a sadder way than me?

* It’s okay – I’m exaggerating. It was only a rhetorical paper bag.

Hmmmm…..

I just found two comments awaiting moderation from someone who seems to be under the impression that I must be getting money from crocus.co.uk because I have them as a link. He also thought my whole writing ‘effort’ was extremely rubbish. (He must really think it was dire – he couldn’t bring himself to use an actual word, just dots.) I reserved my right to make swift use of the delete option.

He’s obviously entitled to his opinion, and I am well aware of the fact that this is no literary masterpiece (although I have never claimed it to be). It’s a pile of boring rubbish to be perfectly honest, but I don’t think I’m hurting anyone.

However, I would like to make it very clear that I definitely do not, am not, have never (etc) got any sort of remuneration from crocus. I’ve never actually even bought anything from them. I just find it a useful reference tool.

I don’t think it’s against WordPress rules to have a link to a commercial site on a blog, but if my understanding is incorrect, please let me know and I will remove it. 

Thanks.

Acheivement of the day

It was hot and sunny today. Actually, it was probably cool by LA standards (for example), but it was roasting by British standards. Especially since the weather is so up and down here this year that there is no time for acclimatisation. (Last week I regularly had the heating on.) So…in a nutshell it felt hot.

As an indication of how hot I thought it was, I can confirm mid-afternoon I had an ice-cream.

After the ice-cream (and much tinkering with my new digital freeview TV receiver slash digital recorder gadget that I’ve got for downstairs – it can record from VCR tapes as well so I can get a DVD backup which I think is quite cool since my VCR which is already 13 years old is not going to last forever) I decided to start pottering in the garden.

I started off with some light weeding, and moved on to some silghtly heavier crawling around on the patio. The crawling involved gently pulling baby cotoneasters out of the cracks in the paving in the hope that I can persuade some of them to grow in pots and then perhaps actually in the garden. The rest of the patio then got a liberal sprinkling with weedkiller.

After that I felt just about ready to tackle a spot of really big weeding by the green-house. I may have risked life and limb removing a really big and very prickly thistle thing (okay, slight exaggeration) and nearly vomited at the point I had to remove three very, very, very large slugs by hand (don’t panic people – I was wearing gloves) but all in all it went okay. It still needs more digging over to get rid of the infernal large stones I seem to be infested with, and I’m not sure I got all the horrible ‘come again in five minutes’ weeds out, so I need to keep an eye on that.

I’ve decided I want to put some trellis up to mask the greenhouse and grow something pretty up it. Could be interesting since I can’t quite see me managing that one by myself….!

Oh, and the achievement of the title? I’m getting better at taking my contact lenses out while under alcoholic influences. (It’s important to me okay?!) 🙂

(Amusing aside. I have a LOVELY tan mark on my back in a very interesting shape at the point of the gap between the end of my jeans and the bottom of my T-shirt. I wish I could show you…!)

Little bit drunken

Another word of thanks again for people being nice. (I’m a bit under the affluence of incohol at the moment. Apologies for spellin errors.)

We had a drama meeting tonight*. We went over to the place where we’re going to be doing our next production which is in a hall (with a stage!) that is attached to a church. The people there could not be nicer to us and their facilities are lovely. (We’ve become used to rather crap facilities and not so nice people – it’s a little hard to get used to without being suspicious.)

The ‘head honcho’ there is actually a Bishop – you wouldn’t think he was a bishop to look at him in his scruffy jeans and top. He’s been doing our lighting for us for the last couple of years and we had no idea at first that he was a Bishop. LOL.

Anyway, the Bishop guy must have asked me three or four times if I was alright. “You’re looking very tired Nerys.” “Why are you tired Nerys?” Bless him. So all this work rubbish must be showing a little. (My real name is Nerys – it’s a welsh name. My dad was Welsh. For those of you that have never heard of it I say it to rhyme with ‘Ferris’ ( as in wheel) but if you say it with a real welsh accent it’s slightly different. I however cannot do a welsh accent to save my life (which is embarrassin when you have a welsh name.) I either sound Jamacian or Pakistani if I try.)

Anyway (for the second time) the drama ladies came back to my house (as they are prone to) for a drinkie or two (hence slight drunkeness) and my little work story came out and they also think I haven’t been treated very nicely. They are suggesting I try speaking to the CAB (citizen’s advice bureau) and are also going to speak to their respective husbands who both have recruitment and managerial  experience. People can being really kind sometimes. It warms your cockles.

I really have no idea what’s best at the moment. I’m all confuzzled. All I know for sure is that I’m unhappy and I can’t believe my boss has done this to me.

* I help at a kids drama group. www.stagekids.btinternet.co.uk

Just a little thank you

Firstly to anyone who’s offered me kind words over the job situation (which includes half the office where I work who can’t understand the point of it all – even though they won’t ever read it here!) please accept my gratitude for your thoughts. I’ve been feeling a bit of a waste of space since the bombshell was dropped, so trust me, it’s well received and means a lot. *offers you a bunch of flowers*

The one thing I can’t understand is how on earth I’m not meant to feel ‘forced’ into it when I’ve told them I don’t want to do it, and when there’s no other option. I’m going to have to raise it a bit higher unfortunately. I have no idea how to go about it and I’m kind of ‘scared’ to do it in case it ends up even worse. 😦 Anyway, enough of that because thinking about it either makes me angry or miserable. Miserable at the moment because I’m tired and angry is for when I have energy.

I’ve decided I’d like to have a go at pursuing photography a little bit more. I’m currently leafing through a ‘teach yourself’ guide called ‘How to do everything with your digital camera’. I think I’ve picked up one or two tips although at the moment some of the techy stuff is making a great big whoosh sound as it flies over my head. I’ve certainly found out my camera does a little bit more than I thought anyway. The one drawback of this book is that the photos in it aren’t that great! (In the sense that they are all black and white and not reproduced with great quality – which is probably not the fault of the author.)

I’ve also enquired about going to a ten week digital photography evening class at a local college this autumn and am planning to go along and sign up at the beginning of September. I hope my little point and shoot camera will be sufficient for that…. I did pop into my local Jessops (UK camera shop here in the UK) yesterday as well and ‘held’ a Nikon D40 (I think that’s what it was), but I was too scared to ‘have a play’. I felt a bit silly, and didn’t really know any sensible questions to ask so I ended up putting it back down gently on the counter and retreating quietly from the shop. I fear I may have backed out bowing reverently or something.

I invested in a copy of ‘Photoshop Elements’ yesterday, but I haven’t installed it yet. (It appears you either have to sell your soul to the underworld or mortgage your house three times to be able to afford the full whack version.) I have a four day weekend coming up, so I’m going to install it then and have a play.

And finally, I’m going to have a go at entering this year’s BBC Countryfile photo competition. The theme is ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and the photo must be taken in the UK. I don’t suppose for one second I’ll come anywhere, but there’s no harm in trying. I’ll keep you posted. 😉 (I’m not going to say which photo I’m entering yet. I might accidentally jinx it!)

I can’t think of a title. LOL.

Had a busy weekend doing all sorts of errands and things I’d been meaning to do for a long time and even managed to have a bit of time left over on Sunday afternoon for some more plant shopping and digging.

I did do the before, during and after photo like last time, but I reckon you might not be that interested, so I’ll just stick the “after” one here:


Blog pic

L>R are: A Choisya, Nemesia, a clematis, verbena, three penstemans (sp?),  berberis and a geranium.

I did the digging and arranging on Sunday, but it was starting to get dark by the time I’d got that far, so I didn’t put the actual plants in until Monday. I think the plants were shoved into the ground with an extreme (for me) amount of violence because I wasn’t exactly in the best of moods on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or Wednesday. (See earlier entry.) So…..I hope they’ll be okay. Sorry plants. Please forgive me.

I think things look a bit ‘plonked’ at the moment (in the whole garden, not just this bit) so I hope the place will look better as things start to mature and fill out a little. Fingers crossed anyway.

On the work side of things, I’m seriously considering going to see a Careers Counsellor or something. I’m going to start keeping my eyes open for new jobs that are around anyway. I’m also considering putting a complaint in at work. Time to update the CV I think.

And finally, someone in the year below me at school has cropped up in a TV commercial. It always amuses me when she does that.  For those in the UK she’s the ‘mum’ in the new Toyota Auris advert. “I can’t believe he used that word in front of everyone.” LOL.

Slapped in the face

I hope I don’t regret writing this one, but I’m not a happy chappy these last couple of days and I wanted to get some stuff out of my system. I can always hit delete later I guess.

It’s work basically. They’re making me and someone else swap jobs. I think the other person is more or less happy about it. I, on the otherhand, am very angry and upset and do not want to move. They added an element to my job last year which I reluctantly accepted although I stated at the time I didn’t think I was suited for it, but after having raised my concerns again recently their solution is not for my job to go back to how it was, but to swap me with someone else. I’m probably very niave about these sorts of things, but I absolutely didn’t see it coming.

I can’t go into it in detail here, but it’s not healthy to bottle it up either and (being an orphaned only child currently without a significant other) I don’t really have a tremendous amount of people I can unbottle myself to in person. I don’t feel like going and snivelling in front of friends or my aunt and uncle.

The only decent thing work has  done is let me go home yesterday and today rather than sit at my desk and trying not to look upset while people wonder what the hell is going on. (It’s not common knowledge yet and I’m not allowed to tell anyone.) I’d rather be at home and upset in private while they’re all wondering what the hell is going on.

I keep telling myself “worse things happen at sea” and “at least you’re still employed” etc and I suppose I might eventually enjoy the change of role, but I want to do my current job. I’ve built up a lot of knowledge and skills over the last few years or so and it feels like they don’t care. There was the usual management talk of new challenges and not wanting key dependencies etc.

So…in a nutshell I’m just not happy right now. In fact I’d describe the current mood as venemously angry.

I seem to have started a bit of a cold yesterday too so I have been alternating between sobs and sneezes. LOL. (That’s a wry LOL btw.)