Saturday, 28 August 2004

the linnaen classification of ex boyfriends

For some reason, all my ex's seem to end up with handy tags which sum up some item of note in their character:



Peter the transvestite

Nice David who I still get on with

Rob with the active fantasy life in the SAS

Crazy Tom



This makes it easy to refer to them in conversation and seems a marginally more memnonic approach than starting comedy stories with "you remember me mentioning my ex, Rob, the tall, thin one with the dandruff problem and that *horrible* grey suit? Well ...".



I have been doing this for so long now though, that I am finding myself using the same device to describe friends and relatives, which can be less than tactful. People's most memorable traits are often the ones that they would like NOT to be known for. For example, "Neil with the fear of emotional attachment", "passive-aggressive Nick" or "Rachel who never stops talking" would all be mortified and/or pretty pissed off if they knew that I was having to make a mental effort to prevent myself categorising them thus.



Possibly I would be known as "Ally who continually rants on about the comedy traits of her exes", or maybe simply "that bitch, Ally". So not a road I want to go down, really. B is already ever-so-slightly miffed (and pretending not to be) that I've evolved the term "B-world" to describe his, let me think how to phrase this, more 'thoughtful moments'. Other people have taken this up and run with it - someone said to me yesterday - "B-world, lovely to visit. But you wouldn't want to live there. Lots of postcards - but no stamps to send them with".




the linnaen classification of ex boyfriends

For some reason, all my ex's seem to end up with handy tags which sum up some item of note in their character:



Peter the transvestite

Nice David who I still get on with

Rob with the active fantasy life in the SAS

Crazy Tom



This makes it easy to refer to them in conversation and seems a marginally more memnonic approach than starting comedy stories with "you remember me mentioning my ex, Rob, the tall, thin one with the dandruff problem and that *horrible* grey suit? Well ...".



I have been doing this for so long now though, that I am finding myself using the same device to describe friends and relatives, which can be less than tactful. People's most memorable traits are often the ones that they would like NOT to be known for. For example, "Neil with the fear of emotional attachment", "passive-aggressive Nick" or "Rachel who never stops talking" would all be mortified and/or pretty pissed off if they knew that I was having to make a mental effort to prevent myself categorising them thus.



Possibly I would be known as "Ally who continually rants on about the comedy traits of her exes", or maybe simply "that bitch, Ally". So not a road I want to go down, really. B is already ever-so-slightly miffed (and pretending not to be) that I've evolved the term "B-world" to describe his, let me think how to phrase this, more 'thoughtful moments'. Other people have taken this up and run with it - someone said to me yesterday - "B-world, lovely to visit. But you wouldn't want to live there. Lots of postcards - but no stamps to send them with".




Thursday, 26 August 2004

ten(ish) historical(ish) facts

  1. I grew up in Somerset, on a seven acre smallholding where my parents and sister still live.
  2. I went to a boy's boarding school, but not, for obvious reasons, as a boarder.
  3. No-one told me about computers at school, or any other interesting alternatives to (the current) mainstream academic courses or careers. I still have a deep and abiding resentment about this.
  4. Until I left school, I made my pocket money by selling eggs and cakes at the local market.
  5. Since then, I have worked for roughly twenty different companies in various roles, including:
    • Project co-ordinator for the network testing department of a large mobile phone company, on the edge of London
    • Secretary to the MD of a cider-makers, in Taunton
    • GIS analyst-programmer to a national telecoms company, in Cardiff
    • Adult education tutor, teaching IT at various community education centres, in South Wales
    • Admin assistant at various companies too mean to employ enough staff on a permanent basis, all over the country
    • Tutor of IT and Jobsearch skills to the long term unemployed, for a breathtakingly incompetent training company locally
  6. I got interested in 'the paranormal' in my teens and let it drop when I went to college. Then about five years later a variety of wierd things happened which meant I had to make a choice about whether I was sensitive to that kind of thing, or just hearing voices in my head. I find 'psychic' a much more comfortable label than 'schizophrenic'.
  7. I once lived with someone for almost twelve months before I realised that he was lying about almost every aspect of his life before he met me.
  8. B proposed to me in torrential rain on New-Year's Eve under a lamp-post with a 'no dogs fouling' notice fixed to it.
  9. Becoming self-employed is the best decision I ever made, despite the sick feeling I get when I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about money.
  10. I used to do triathlon for the pony-club and loathed every single minute.
  11. I would like to keep ducks.

Wednesday, 25 August 2004

compromise disagreements

The sheer incompetence of The Company That Cannot Be Named still baffles and angers me. I finally contacted the (very efficient) solicitor this week, to see what had happened to the cheque that was TCTCBN's sealer for the compromise agreement that we have been thrashing around since April. Apparently it was posted on 23rd July. To my old address. That I left eighteen months ago. And informed them about at the time. My infrequent post from TCTCBN has been coming to this address, all my correspondence with the personnel office, the union and the solicitor has been sent from this address ... . If I was less tired of the whole thing I would be bashing them out a stiff email.

The solicitor reported back that the head of personnel had asked if I still had access to the address, and if so, couldn't I just pop round and get the cheque. To which I replied in the negative, in what I though was quite a controlled fashion, given it was rented from an agency, we left it so long ago and it's been sold since. And it's been a month since they posted the thing anyway. Didn't they wonder why I hadn't cashed it?

Over the course of last year, TCTCBN consistently asked me to perform tasks well outside my job role (how many part-time CLAIT tutors do you know who are also asked to perform major sys admin tasks on a daily basis, to the detriment of lesson delivery?), failed to give me any support getting my extremely challenging client group in to the classroom ("Oh, Ally, you won't have anyone in your class today, they're all weeding the garden, because the board of directors are coming to visit tomorrow"), sexually discriminated against me ("You're only worried about people looking at porn and snuff sites and bullying each other because you're a girly. Much worse things happened when I was in the RAF.") ... and then tried to blame the fact that they were failing to meet their pass rates for drawing down funding on me.

Never mind that some of the students couldn't actually read and often this didn't come to light until they started IT sessions. And of those that could read, about half of them already had the CLAIT qualification upon which the funding depended so couldn't be included in the statistics. And that a lot of students didn't turn up for work on a regular basis anyway. And the ones that could read, didn't already have the qualification and did turn up for work (still with me?) were pretty disenchanted about any sort of classes. And were being told by management that they'd have a job at TCTCBN after their twelve month training period was up so didn't see why they needed to look for a job in my sessions every week. And so on and so on until boredom did us part.

I ended up going off on long-term sick with panic attacks, persistent migraine, blindness in one eye and parathesia in one arm, all down to stress.

Hence the compromise agreement.

Tuesday, 24 August 2004

ethical eating

In our continuing quest to start to try to live by our principles, we got our first organic vegetable box delivered on Friday. I am not sure what I feel about it. I'm not too fussed about organics per se - however, I do want to support local growers and this seems like a good way to do it. For our ten quid we got:

1 cabbage

1 cauliflower

a bunch of carrots

a bunch of spring onions

a bag of potatoes

4 bananas

2 oranges

We have still had to buy (from our local co-op):

apples

onions

garlic

So quite a big part of our £30 a week housekeeping budget is going on fruit and veg.

We have managed to use all of the box this week and make some pretty interesting meals. My doubts about it include:

  1. Wondering about what variety we are going to get. I like cabbage curry, but not necessarily every week.

  2. I am not very happy about having stuff that has been flown in from abroad. Poor use of resources, global warming, fair trade implications etc. etc..


We have got another three weeks of our trial period left and then we're going to make a decision. We may ask them not to include imported stuff in the box. The farm say that they grow 83% of the stuff they sell, so that should still leave us a wide variety. I like the 'Ready, Steady, Cook!' aspects of the box ... it does make planning meals more fun.

Our next aim is to find a local source of meat. I suspect that if we want to stay within our budget we will be eating less of it. Someone like my esteemed Ma would be great - it is coming up to lamb slaughtering season again for her, so we will be putting our order in.

Some stuff on this in The Guardian.

Today's tasks ... more pop-up window twiddling. And a bicycle-driven cake-visit to see D this afternoon if she is in.



ethical eating

In our continuing quest to start to try to live by our principles, we got our first organic vegetable box delivered on Friday. I am not sure what I feel about it. I'm not too fussed about organics per se - however, I do want to support local growers and this seems like a good way to do it. For our ten quid we got:

1 cabbage

1 cauliflower

a bunch of carrots

a bunch of spring onions

a bag of potatoes

4 bananas

2 oranges

We have still had to buy (from our local co-op):

apples

onions

garlic

So quite a big part of our £30 a week housekeeping budget is going on fruit and veg.

We have managed to use all of the box this week and make some pretty interesting meals. My doubts about it include:

  1. Wondering about what variety we are going to get. I like cabbage curry, but not necessarily every week.

  2. I am not very happy about having stuff that has been flown in from abroad. Poor use of resources, global warming, fair trade implications etc. etc..


We have got another three weeks of our trial period left and then we're going to make a decision. We may ask them not to include imported stuff in the box. The farm say that they grow 83% of the stuff they sell, so that should still leave us a wide variety. I like the 'Ready, Steady, Cook!' aspects of the box ... it does make planning meals more fun.

Our next aim is to find a local source of meat. I suspect that if we want to stay within our budget we will be eating less of it. Someone like my esteemed Ma would be great - it is coming up to lamb slaughtering season again for her, so we will be putting our order in.

Some stuff on this in The Guardian.

Today's tasks ... more pop-up window twiddling. And a bicycle-driven cake-visit to see D this afternoon if she is in.



Friday, 20 August 2004

mystical dreams

I was visiting my father. I had travelled through the night to get there as I was on duty until the evening before. He was busy, but made some time to see me as he was looking at maps and organising troop movements. Their camp was primitive and dark, in a mountainous area.



He had no answers for me, urging me to continue with my duties. I left with my questions unanswered and started back down the forest paths to my station.




As I came up to a join in the paths, through the drizzle and the fog I saw another party, on foot and horseback, approaching along the other track. I stepped back in to the shadow of the trees so that they wouldn't see me. I did not wish to engage in any sort of conversation. However, I saw that the party had drawn to a halt, and someone was pointing towards me. Someone came over to me, and drew me out of the shadow.



I saw that there were other beings in the party as well as the human soldiers. There were two of them, on horseback, wearing long cloaks that came down to the horse's knees. They had sensed me in the shadows.



I joined their party. They were travelling along the path through the forest, with some soldiers carrying a litter with a strange object on it, that glowed dimly red in the darkness. We were on a pilgrimage of some kind.



We came to a bridge over a chasm. Beside the bridge, someone had pinned up notices about the other beings, denigrating them. The leader of the party was afraid that the beings with us would understand the notices and be angry. I heard my father's voice in my head, saying "Think on your duty, Tom". I tried not to think about the notices.



One of the beings got off his horse and sat crosslegged before the notices, obviously reading them. I felt a great sense of relief that I did not need to hide my thoughts. The being smiled at me.



And then I woke up ....



Wierd. All the time I was dreaming there was a very deep sense of mystery.



Then I went back to sleep and dreamt that B was riding around the house on a fake ostrich, a la Bernie Clifton, which certainly required a mental gear-change, if not a divorce.





mystical dreams

I was visiting my father. I had travelled through the night to get there as I was on duty until the evening before. He was busy, but made some time to see me as he was looking at maps and organising troop movements. Their camp was primitive and dark, in a mountainous area.



He had no answers for me, urging me to continue with my duties. I left with my questions unanswered and started back down the forest paths to my station.




As I came up to a join in the paths, through the drizzle and the fog I saw another party, on foot and horseback, approaching along the other track. I stepped back in to the shadow of the trees so that they wouldn't see me. I did not wish to engage in any sort of conversation. However, I saw that the party had drawn to a halt, and someone was pointing towards me. Someone came over to me, and drew me out of the shadow.



I saw that there were other beings in the party as well as the human soldiers. There were two of them, on horseback, wearing long cloaks that came down to the horse's knees. They had sensed me in the shadows.



I joined their party. They were travelling along the path through the forest, with some soldiers carrying a litter with a strange object on it, that glowed dimly red in the darkness. We were on a pilgrimage of some kind.



We came to a bridge over a chasm. Beside the bridge, someone had pinned up notices about the other beings, denigrating them. The leader of the party was afraid that the beings with us would understand the notices and be angry. I heard my father's voice in my head, saying "Think on your duty, Tom". I tried not to think about the notices.



One of the beings got off his horse and sat crosslegged before the notices, obviously reading them. I felt a great sense of relief that I did not need to hide my thoughts. The being smiled at me.



And then I woke up ....



Wierd. All the time I was dreaming there was a very deep sense of mystery.



Then I went back to sleep and dreamt that B was riding around the house on a fake ostrich, a la Bernie Clifton, which certainly required a mental gear-change, if not a divorce.





Thursday, 19 August 2004

quality management and poultry keeping

My title is taken from a quote by Dorothy Parker, allegedly quipped at a halloween party where guests were 'ducking for apples'. "Change one letter" she said, "and it's the story of my life". An omnibus edition of her writing would probably accompany me to my desert island - if no omnibus was available at the time, I would settle for collected poems.



Today I am making marketing phone calls, to find out the name of the person responsible for Quality Assurance in companies before we send them a leaflet about our fantastic and necessary services. You would be surprised how many people have no idea either a) who the Quality Manager is for their training company, or, indeed, b) what Quality Assurance is.



Yesterday I became so frazzled by this that I phoned my mother instead. Oddly, she actually picked up the phone ... odd because at this time of year she is normally unavailable between the hours of sunrise and sunset, due to the whole 'wresting a living from the bones of the earth' thing. She is very happy because she went to an auction on Saturday and bought some more chickens. The chickens are fancy breeds, silkies, silver old dutch bantams, verevolts (I can't find out how to spell this, so this is phonetic) and salmon faverolles (which I initially thought were a kind of vol-au-vont). There are now quite large Chicken Integration Issues, which appear to be being resolved by shutting all the new birds in with the corresponding old birds and letting them sort it out for themselves. Kind of like primary school.



I am jealous. I earnt my pocket money in my teens by supplying the local area with eggs, and I kept a few fancy chickens as pets. We don't have room in our yard here for full-sized birds, although we may have room for something tiny, like the Old Dutch ... but since our neighbourhood is saturated with cats (of which, two are ours) I am not sure that it's a good idea.



quality management and poultry keeping

My title is taken from a quote by Dorothy Parker, allegedly quipped at a halloween party where guests were 'ducking for apples'. "Change one letter" she said, "and it's the story of my life". An omnibus edition of her writing would probably accompany me to my desert island - if no omnibus was available at the time, I would settle for collected poems.



Today I am making marketing phone calls, to find out the name of the person responsible for Quality Assurance in companies before we send them a leaflet about our fantastic and necessary services. You would be surprised how many people have no idea either a) who the Quality Manager is for their training company, or, indeed, b) what Quality Assurance is.



Yesterday I became so frazzled by this that I phoned my mother instead. Oddly, she actually picked up the phone ... odd because at this time of year she is normally unavailable between the hours of sunrise and sunset, due to the whole 'wresting a living from the bones of the earth' thing. She is very happy because she went to an auction on Saturday and bought some more chickens. The chickens are fancy breeds, silkies, silver old dutch bantams, verevolts (I can't find out how to spell this, so this is phonetic) and salmon faverolles (which I initially thought were a kind of vol-au-vont). There are now quite large Chicken Integration Issues, which appear to be being resolved by shutting all the new birds in with the corresponding old birds and letting them sort it out for themselves. Kind of like primary school.



I am jealous. I earnt my pocket money in my teens by supplying the local area with eggs, and I kept a few fancy chickens as pets. We don't have room in our yard here for full-sized birds, although we may have room for something tiny, like the Old Dutch ... but since our neighbourhood is saturated with cats (of which, two are ours) I am not sure that it's a good idea.



Thursday, 12 August 2004

tractors, windows xp and unadulterated fear

Last night I dreamt I went camping with some friends of friends that I have been hearing a lot about recently, and they drove to the campsite in their tractor. Everyone was worried that the tractor was going to break down, because it was running on Windows XP. It was very unnerving.



Today, I am

1 Making pop-up windows pop efficiently in my software for a client

2 Drinking tea and eating custard creams

and

3 Watching the son of the chap across the road decimate his garden with what appears to be a small chainsaw.



Working from home rocks.



I am having relatively frequent 'rabbit in the headlights' moments, workwise ... we are in the fantastic position of having too much work and have been debating whether or not to take someone else on for some time. Finally, we've made the jump and offered a job to a friend of ours, R. We have offered him a four month trial period - because that is the amount of time we can afford to pay him for if work doesn't pick up as we hope it will. He starts Monday. Our calendar for the autumn is filling up and our marketing campaign seems to be paying off ... fingers crossed. B keeps joking that instead of just the one wife, he now has two wives and two children to support. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes it makes me want to go and hide in the wardrobe.



tractors, windows xp and unadulterated fear

Last night I dreamt I went camping with some friends of friends that I have been hearing a lot about recently, and they drove to the campsite in their tractor. Everyone was worried that the tractor was going to break down, because it was running on Windows XP. It was very unnerving.



Today, I am

1 Making pop-up windows pop efficiently in my software for a client

2 Drinking tea and eating custard creams

and

3 Watching the son of the chap across the road decimate his garden with what appears to be a small chainsaw.



Working from home rocks.



I am having relatively frequent 'rabbit in the headlights' moments, workwise ... we are in the fantastic position of having too much work and have been debating whether or not to take someone else on for some time. Finally, we've made the jump and offered a job to a friend of ours, R. We have offered him a four month trial period - because that is the amount of time we can afford to pay him for if work doesn't pick up as we hope it will. He starts Monday. Our calendar for the autumn is filling up and our marketing campaign seems to be paying off ... fingers crossed. B keeps joking that instead of just the one wife, he now has two wives and two children to support. Sometimes this is funny, sometimes it makes me want to go and hide in the wardrobe.



Tuesday, 10 August 2004

real-dreams

I had a 'real-dream' last night. I dreamt that I met P, who was one of the first people I got involved with when I first started to get interested in energy and healing. I went to a group run by her and her husband over a winter about ten years ago. We did meditation and 'psychic development' and talked a lot about what we felt was going on. In retrospect, I don't think they were an awful lot more experienced that I was, but P was very confident. She earnt her living as a complementary therapist, and I think was quite good at it. When I left the area I lost touch with them.



In my dream, she was sitting on a chair in a sunny lane that B and I were walking down. She asked me to give her reiki, as she had been working with someone who had cancer (ie, she'd been giving them healing) and it had made her ill. She could hardly stand up. It was a very 'real' dream and I woke up with the energy running through me really strongly. If I was an engine, the motor would have been going at full wack but the gears wouldn't have been engaged. It took me quite a while to centre myself and ground the energy and then put my protections up again. I also saw a bungalow on a cliff in the dream and had the name 'Northcliffe' in my mind very very strongly.



I frequently have very strange dreams - probably the product of an overactive imagination and too much cheese for tea - but 'real-dreams' like this one don't happen to me very often at all. It was unnerving and I felt that it wasn't very healthy.



Camping? Camping was fun. Hot. Wet. Thundery. Hot. But fun. Despite the fact that I had three panic attacks in three days, the most severe of which involved me extracting the house keys from B by threatening to create a scene in the street, and legging it in the middle of Keswick. It didn't last very long though, and it was reassuring to notice (by looking at parking ticket when I got back to the car) that B had estimated that the length of the attack would be no longer than two hours.



Other things we did ... walked (as fast as a three year old), ate, drank, paddled, swam, chilled out. We are going back later in the autumn for an adults-only walking weekend.

real-dreams

I had a 'real-dream' last night. I dreamt that I met P, who was one of the first people I got involved with when I first started to get interested in energy and healing. I went to a group run by her and her husband over a winter about ten years ago. We did meditation and 'psychic development' and talked a lot about what we felt was going on. In retrospect, I don't think they were an awful lot more experienced that I was, but P was very confident. She earnt her living as a complementary therapist, and I think was quite good at it. When I left the area I lost touch with them.



In my dream, she was sitting on a chair in a sunny lane that B and I were walking down. She asked me to give her reiki, as she had been working with someone who had cancer (ie, she'd been giving them healing) and it had made her ill. She could hardly stand up. It was a very 'real' dream and I woke up with the energy running through me really strongly. If I was an engine, the motor would have been going at full wack but the gears wouldn't have been engaged. It took me quite a while to centre myself and ground the energy and then put my protections up again. I also saw a bungalow on a cliff in the dream and had the name 'Northcliffe' in my mind very very strongly.



I frequently have very strange dreams - probably the product of an overactive imagination and too much cheese for tea - but 'real-dreams' like this one don't happen to me very often at all. It was unnerving and I felt that it wasn't very healthy.



Camping? Camping was fun. Hot. Wet. Thundery. Hot. But fun. Despite the fact that I had three panic attacks in three days, the most severe of which involved me extracting the house keys from B by threatening to create a scene in the street, and legging it in the middle of Keswick. It didn't last very long though, and it was reassuring to notice (by looking at parking ticket when I got back to the car) that B had estimated that the length of the attack would be no longer than two hours.



Other things we did ... walked (as fast as a three year old), ate, drank, paddled, swam, chilled out. We are going back later in the autumn for an adults-only walking weekend.