Another day in the office.


So today I am on shift and so far I have spent the entire day at home.

I am on call.

In fifteen minutes time my shift will end and I’ll clock off meaning that the past twelve hours have seen me do sod all.

Okay that’s not strictly accurate. I have tackled the immense pile of washing up in the kitchen, rendering it down to nothing but a stubborn stain on a pan. Said pan is now soaking and will be dealt with once I have finished with this post. I have also completed the majority of this month’s Open University assignment, watched three episodes of ‘Luther’ and racked up a few more wins for my team on Fifa 13.

I’ll be on shift again tomorrow, and although that will be a Saturday shift and guaranteed to be, ahem, busier, I’m hoping to be home for at least a few hours. The wife’s planned our annual ‘family scoff’ tomorrow whereby we all gather at my mother-in-laws to ‘scoff’ as much food as possible before playing cards or board games.

It’ll be fun, it always is but I can’t deny that I wouldn’t mind be called out at least once. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a call, I get paid either way, but if I am called then I can claim for fuel used. My current car can do approx 700 miles to a full tank which costs me about seventy English pounds. Now, I claim about £15 for a 60 mile round trip. I only need five call outs, or 300 miles to make my money back for fuel. Not bad eh?

Yes I know the cars taking a hammering on mileage but when you consider that to most people money spent on fuel is dead money – they’ll never see it again, then it’s not that bad. I put that money that I claim back for mileage into a separate account which I save specifically for car repairs/servicing etc.
I’m lucky. I know that. I’ve fallen on my feet in a job that is for the most part pretty straight forward. It has its moments of course, and a fuck up in this line of work could see me imprisoned but if I keep a clear head and follow the rules then hopefully that will never happen.

Having spent the last few years in a job where I was returning home tired, angry and generally despondent, it was right to jump ship and search for something new. It was entirely possible of course that leaving everything I had come to know and depend upon could of backfired, but like I said, I’ve been lucky.

Even if I hadn’t fallen on my feet, I still think it was the right thing to do in jumping ship. I couldn’t bare the thought of working the same job for another ten years, then looking back and wondering what happened to those years.

I’d advise anyone who is waking up in the morning and thinking about ways to avoid going in for the day to have a long hard think about how they want to spend the next ten years.

I did.

The Ambo Big Shave 2013


I found this to be very touching and worthy of five minutes of your time. These are some of my work colleagues paying tribute in their own way to two friends.

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So yesterday myself and a load of work colleagues took part in a sponsored Head Shave (legs, back, chest waxes and even eyebrows!! There is still time to donate if you haven;t already –
http://www.justgiving.com/AmboShave to donate online via Emma’s page to Woolverstone Wish Fund to refurbish the outpatient cancer ward at Ipswich hospital.

or via Jo’s page to cancer research
http://www.justgiving.com/TheAmboBigShave

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The last bastion of youth.


I’ve just had some rather upsetting news. A friend of mine has just put his motorbike up for sale on eBay. He tells me he’s going to use the money to buy a people carrier or some other shed on wheels. I can’t think of anything else more tragic. But then this is life isn’t it? He has two very young children now and can’t see any opportunity in the future to be able to make the most of a bike. Its just going to sit there getting dusty for next three or four years which is such a shame and so it has to go. When he told me I had to sit down, genuinely upset both for him and myself. I’d hoped to get out and go for a blast together somewhere this summer but that will never happen now. He’s made the sensible decision to do what’s right for his family and sacrificed his pride and joy. I do admire him for that, but it’s so sad.

This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this issue. About a year ago I was on shift with a colleague who had been through the same thing. I found him late in the night browsing a website of classic cars. He told me all about the car he used to own, going into immense detail and becoming very briefly animated as his excitement grew. But that excitement died visibly as he relived the day it was sold and it’s new owner drove off in it. With the money he bought a people carrier. So sad.

I hope I never have to make a decision like this. I don’t want to look as forlorn as my friend did earlier. I think something has changed within him and it’s probably the realisation that one for the last bastions of his youth has finally fallen, soon to be replaced with a shed on wheels.

Tragic.

Work work busy busy chop chop


Unusual title for a post isn’t it? That’s something my Dad has been saying for as long as I can remember. Even now, whenever I’ve got a lot of work to do I think of those words and hear them play in my mind as though they are a recording. It’s never my voice either, but my Dad’s. This is a good feeling because many moons from now when he’s gone the way of the Dodo, I  won’t just have a memory, I’ll have his voice. Its just a shame my mind couldn’t have recorded something more poignant or philosophical. Still, there are worse things it could have remembered. Imagine for example if it had been ‘Mark, you’re an idiot.’ I don’t think those words would get me through a hard time when no one else can, rather they’d probably finish me off.

So, work work busy busy chop chop. These words ring in my mind and spur me to get up and get on with the job in hand, and I believe they always will.

The current big job I have on at the moment is supplying electric to my garage. I’ve never done anything like this in my entire life but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

My garage is about sixty feet from my house, across a road. Getting electric out there has been an absolute bastard of a job but this week has seen some real progress. As it happens, my neighbour already has an electric supply in his garage which is next to mine. How he got a supply out there and under the road between our houses and garages is a mystery that will probably die with him but hey, I’m not complaining. I had a chat with him last month and he agreed to let me use his supply in return for a small payment towards his electric bill now and again.

Over the following few weeks I’ve slowly been gathering supplies (lights, sockets,  cable etc) in preparation for the big install and that time has finally arrived. Yesterday I got my trusty spade out and dug a trench ten inches deep for about sixty feet between my garage and the neighbours supply. I placed my armoured cable into conduit and then packed it sand within my trench before backfilling the whole shebang. Took most of the afternoon but it’s done! I can now look forward to wiring up my sockets and lights over the coming days. I predict I’ll have working lights by the end if this week.

There are times I’ve not wanted to even begin, the sheer amount of work in front has been simply mind boggling and deeply off putting. But then those words play in my head once more and I’m off, spade, hammer, screwdriver or whatever in hand and hard at work til the jobs done.

When the whole things finished I’m going to have a plaque made up and nailed to one of the garage walls with those words on. Then I’ll invite the old man round to admire my finished work over a can of beer or two.

Looking forward to it.

M.


An excellent insight.

Mechanical Hamster

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I love writing. I really do.

When I left Games Workshop a few years ago, I had a few sessions with an employment consultant. During one meeting early on she asked the question that so often pops up in interviews and appraisals – “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” It had always bamboozled me a little bit in the past because I was, frankly, doing what I wanted to be doing. On this particular occasion it struck me not to think of it as an abstract question but to actually visualise what I wanted to be doing.

And what I wanted to be doing, what I saw myself doing, was sitting in front of a keyboard. It was that moment, that clarity an oft-overused question brought, which settled me into the life of the freelancer.

I don’t have many memories from my childhood, so I can’t say…

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Failed again…


A strange week it has to be said. I began with the intent of completely changing my online existence but by the end of the week, well, I wonder how many of you who regularly view will even notice the changes I have painstakingly made. Oh, it’s not all about me. I do try and make things readable, enjoyable and pleasing to the eye so that the odd passer-by might stay longer then he or she perhaps intended. That’s the real battle these days as far as the Internet and social media is concerned. Speaking of which, I should probably change ‘these days’, to ‘these hours’ for the modern world does move at a frightening pace. I can remember web pages taking minutes to load. Now we get upset if the URL we click on doesn’t appear before between eyes in millisecond. Can you believe it? If there’s even a one second delay we think something is wrong. ‘Hmm, site must be down for maintenance… I’ll go somewhere else.’ It’s true, I’ve even caught myself doing it.

Okay, so I may have gone off on a tangent there but these are the kind of thoughts that led up to me wanting to change my online image. With tablets and smartphones being the average consumers medium of choice for viewing web content, web pages have had to become ‘responsive’.

That’s an actual term, would you believe? Basically, sites have to be able to ‘respond’ to the medium that calls them. They have to self adjust and arrange themselves nicely so that whether you are browsing on a phone or table sized tablet – the consumer gets a similar if not the same view and navigation experience on each device. You may think that this is all completely unnecessary but as I said above, people won’t hang about while your aging site struggles to squeeze itself onto Nokia’s latest handest or Apples newest iMustHave. (I’ve quite fallen out of love with Apple at the moment. The whole Apple maps fiasco has made me go almost entirely Android.)

So what did I do this week? Firstly, I moved from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. Eh? What’s the difference? Well, a lot. An awful lot actually. You should go and look it up if you want clarification on that. I’m not going to explain it here. The main reason was so that I could edit the CSS of my site and take complete control over how my site looks and most importantly, responds.

This transition meant I needed to get a web host to, well, host my new site. I chose bluehost.com basically because WordPress recommended them. They offered ‘one click’ set up of a new WordPress account with wordpress.org and surprisingly it was just one click. It also installed itself in about five seconds. Most impressive. Moving my old content was also a doddle. I simply exported from WordPress.com and imported to WordPress.org. Job done. All going well isn’t it?

Sadly, that’s about as far as the nice bits went. Shortly after signing up with bluehost I got an email through with the balance I had just paid. I nearly fell out of my chair. The offer had been something like $3.60 per month for 36 months. Sounds perfectly reasonable. What they don’t tell you until you’ve accepted is that they’ll be taking the entire balance up front. Bye bye $180 dollars, or about £111 in English money. Oh dear.

I hummed a bit and moaned a bit more for most of the morning before deciding, to hell with it, I’ll give it a go. I spent the next 24 hours trying to make my new web site look as snazzy and professional as all the other advertised sites and I’m not afraid to say that I failed miserably. I failed so badly that I actually went back to using my old WordPress.com account. I went back to bluehost and wait for it… they refunded every penny/cent. To say I was shocked by this does not do justice to the dance I did around the front room with a manic look upon my face. I was amazingly happy, and my dance looked something like this…

So, here is how it will happen in future if I do decide to go back down that road that leads to having my own website and domain name.

  1. Wait until its financially beneficial to have your own web site. If I’m honest, mine would only have been for vanity. I have zero web presence and offer no services to any customers. In this sense, why do I need a lovely looking web site if I have no one to impress/gain business from?
  2. If I were to ever need a web site, I’m having someone write one for me. This experience has taught me that although I think I could do it, it would take me about a week to learn the coding languages and perhaps another whole week to write the page. I simply don’t have that amount of time right now.
  3. If I ever need a web hosting service, I’ll seriously consider using bluehost again. Their customer service was quite frankly astounding and I can’t sing their praises highly enough.

So there you have it, I’m back and you didn’t even know I’d been gone. Not to worry, but believe me when I say, it’s good to be back.

Later,

M.

Doing nothing with my day and feeling good about it.


Today I did absolutely fuck all. It’s not what I had planned to do but I’m not one to get all upset over what should have been. Not anymore anyway.

 

So what should I have been doing today? Well, since you asked, here is a list I wrote last night.

 

1) I should have got up and gone for a run at 7am.

 

2) Having got home I should have done my weights and press ups.

 

3) Shower.

 

4) Read my course material in preparation for my next assignment.

 

5) Weed the back garden.

 

6) Tinker with the motorbike project a little more.

 

7) Have dinner cooked and ready for when the Mrs gets home.

 

8) Do washing up.

 

Okay, so there is a fair bit one there but I could have got it all done. I was up at seven after all.

 

So what did I actually do if I didn’t do any of that?

 

I watched episodes of Game of Thrones back to back from about half seven this morning till eight at night. Some will argue I have wasted my day, and if I felt depressed because I have achieved fuck all then I might agree. I actually feel pretty good though and had a great day so I really can’t complain.

 

So, it probably will come as little surprise to you when I say that I have little else to report today.

 

Perhaps tomorrow will be more productive.

 

M.

Think…. think… oh sod it.


The title pretty much sums it up. I’m supposed to be studying and yet I keep getting sucked into bloody Facebook and various other forums,

Well, in an effort to do something constructive I thought, ‘Hey! Why don’t I write on my blog?’

I mean, its been fucking aeon’s since I even looked at this thing.

Damn this wine is good.

You see what happened there? I was telling you how long its been since I wrote something and then I go and get all involved with the wine again. I’ve been doing that all night. You don’t believe me? Ha, well I started that last sentence a half hour ago. I’ve been trawling through Facebook since. Oh, and Its my second glass since even starting this post.

Damn this wine is good.

Did I mention I like motorbikes? I do. I think they are gods own mode of transport, should he actually need anything. Anyway, this is just a random tangent I’m letting my fingers tread so bare with me a while longer. I’ll tell you about my latest project. Take a look at this…..

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I call this beast El’Rusto. Its a fucking heap…. for now.

This beast has been keeping me busy for a few weeks now. I bought as a project and possible business venture with the wife. The plan was to buy up mechanically sound but otherwise cosmetically challenged bikes and make them look all pretty again. Simple eh? I mean its bomb proof right? Eh-er!

Its been a bloody disaster. Okay disaster is a bit harsh. Its not worked out quite how I thought it would. To save time here, and because I am a super lazy fucker, I will now compile a list of things I have learned and that have most likely fucked me off over the past few weeks.

  • CBR 125’s are as plentiful as council estate chavs.
  • Many council estate chavs are highly likely to own a CBR 125 at some time or another.
  • Being a chav, they are also highly likely to neglect little things like, oh I don’t know, servicing, MOT, basic maintenance. That sort of thing. Anything important that would involve any degree of responsibility.
  • Its also highly probable our friendly chav does not own a garage or even a shed. El’Rusto will sit outside in the garden, alongside a fridge maybe, and possibly a sofa.
  • If, like me, you are super keen to get to work and hopefully turn a profit, you’ll discover that because of all of the above, you’re in for real treat.
  • On getting the bike home (and into some decent light that doesn’t involve Mr Chav showing you the bike via a zippo lighter) you discover that the bike is more rust than anything else.
  • All of the fairings are scratched, cracked or both.
  • Every single serviceable item i.e air filter, spark plugs, breather pipes etc. are all absolutely fucking knackered.
  • An oil change will have you tearing at your own eyes as you struggle to make sense of the black sludge that drains from the sump.
  • Inspection of coolant will reveal that there is none.
  • Same for break fluid.
  • The forks will be badly pitted with the fork seals resembling something like Mrs Chav’s knickers after a night on the town.
  • You’ll probably sigh with relief as your realise the tires appear to be in good order, only to realise that that the rims are banana shaped.
  • Every little task you set yourself will, upon further investigation, be hiding a fucking big problem requiring not the half hour you planned but a full day.
  • I could go on… but the wine is running low.

I’m so glad this is good wine.

So, not to worry. The bike project is finally starting to make some headway now. I have conquered most of the major problems and corrected them and I’m happy to say that I think I nearing the finishing line. No, don’t applause. I’ve been here before and I don’t want anyone fucking clapping until that thing passes its MOT. I’m not sure if I had a goal prior to starting this other than to make money but now I certainly have one. I’d like this thing to pass its MOT first time with no advisories. That would be bloody wonderful and a testament to my manly skills too.

Right, wine? Wine??? Where the fuck is my wine?