26.3.04

Thank f*ck for that

Listening to: whirring fan noises
Most played: c++ programming


Finally cracked a problem that's been bugging me for a couple of nights now. Working my way through Acclerated C++ still. Good book, hard going at times. Glad I'm doing the exercises though, as it's really helping me learn. Got majorly stuck on an exercise in Chapter 3. Finally spotted the solution (relatively easy when you've got it - natch). Now feeling suitably satisfied. Think I'm still on target to complete the book by April 16th. I want to be finished by then, for my meeting with J about Symbionics.


Work OK today. Glad that I have a project board for my project now. It makes me feel a lot better as it does actually feel like there are other people who are helping to run the project. Had my annual review today which went really well. Haven't been performing to my best recently and it shows. But think that I'm getting the thing back on track now. Got to keep it going though.


Liverpool lost in the UEFA cup tonight. Gutted. Played really well for 25 minutes, then it all went pear-shaped when Igor Biscan got sent off. What he was doing in the side rather than Henchoz I'll never know. Arse.


Oh yes, and I have now officially been offered my new flat. Yay! Somewhere to live when my contract runs out here. Phew. Now only got to sort out the million and one domestics. I think I'll be using the Royal Mail forwarding service!


Right, it's late. I'd better hit the hay.

23.3.04

Quickies

Listening to: Underworld
Most played: c++ programming


Just a quickie tonight. Perhaps I need to get into the habit of shorter diary entries more frequently than longer one sporadically. Tough day at work today and, indeed, yesterday. Project has now reached enough of a political state for some commercial wrangling to kick-in. Upshot: my company won't make any money on this project (or very little). For me, that means managing a project to minimise the cost to my company. If the project makes any money at all, it will be a success and a feather in my cap. Still, I'm finding it quite stressful, because the numbers for the fixed price agreement, upon which my project is now based, were mine and not based on the ideal amount of work. Oh well, it should be interesting from here on in!


Managed to complete the exercises for chapeter 2 of Accelerated C++ today. I'm a couple of chapters behind where I want to be, but pleased to find that I'm prioritising getting on top of that above genearlly loafing around. I am going to complete this book by April 17th. That is my mission which I have chosen to accept.


A couple of fantastic days with H yesterday and Sunday. Things really do just get better and better with her. After my tough day yesterday I was just really pleased to see H and was like a hyperactive kid. It was great; I haven't had that energy or passion for life in ages. It was just such a laugh to cook for H and get drunk etc.


Knee still improving only very slowly. No ibuprofen tonight as I'm seeing the physio after work tomorrow. I wonder when / if I'll be able to start exercising again. Maybe I'll be able to do some cycling - not that my bike is in any fit state. A WD40 and old toothbrush mission I think.


Right, I'm off to phone H before bed.

17.3.04

Stick in the muddle

Listening to: Nightmares on Wax
Most played: House Hunting


It's been one of those funny weeks where not a lot really feels like it's happened. Maybe I lead a life that's too dull to report. Since my last post, work has centred almost exclusively on solving my issues with my current project. It has been productive. Although the project control is still very weak, I feel that I can still see a way forward. I think that I'm doing the right things to make sure that the project gets delivered successfully in the long-run. It will just be a painful few weeks whilst we get there.

Events at work do nothing to convince me that I'm in the right job. I need to look for a change of scenery and role.


My old dream of developing games as a hobby / sideline came back into the front of my mind recently. I realise that I can work with friends to create a successful enterprise and that I don't necessarily have to be a coding guru in order to achieve it. I have other skills that could be useful and there are many other ways that I could get involved.


Oooh - quick phone call from H. Well, it's nearly bed-time now, so I'll have to try to find another time to fill in the blanks from the last couple of weeks.

3.3.04

Painting lipstick on the pig

Listening to: Achtung Baby
Most played: Work (RL)


This evening I jumped off the cliff. Metaphorically speaking of course. I have a disgustingly difficult project at work, which I am not managing terribly well. It is now going to be 3 months later than first expected. Ouch. I am not to blame for the delay, which is, at least, a relief. However, I am responsible for my customers' expectations and they are not being managed terribly well. I spent an hour composing an e-mail to them. It is quite possibly the most contrite missive I have ever seen. I still fully expect tomorrow to be a nightmare.


Aside from the pain of sending bad news to people that won't like it, this evening was also notable for the moment of clarity I experienced. As I sat at my desk re-reading and tweaking my e-mail, I considered waiting until tomorrow to send it. That way, I would be able to get it reviewed by somebody else. Then I realised, no amount of reviewing would change the fact that it contained bad news and that irrespective of my flowery and grovelling prose, the news was still bad. Shit with a ribbon on top is still shit. So I jumped.


At least I have the support of my senior managers. I rather naughtily looped my line manager and went straight to the next level before getting my bad messages out. No bad thing - all my line manager can do is say "yup - that's a nasty one." Except he wouldn't. I don't feel terribly well supported there, so that also explains why he has been looped.


I wouldn't mind if I had all of my project governance sorted out. Sadly, I can't think of one governance element that is in sparkling form. I'm over budget, working at risk, I don't have effective risk and issue management processes, I don't have a project board, I don't have signed-off requirements (I don't even have requirements yet). What a mess. In this case, identifying the problem is much less than half the solution. It will be weeks' worth of work to get all of this stuff in place. And I need to do it in less than a week. Part-time. With another project clammering for my attention in the background. Time to get on first name terms with the cleaners I think.

The patron saint of single men

Listening to: Achtung Baby
Most played: Work (RL)


No matter that I have a girlfriend whom I adore, tonight I am single. I am composing this entry as I eat marmite toast washed down with a stubby of beer. I arrived at work at 0745 and left at 2130 today. With an hour and a half for lunch (physio appointment) that makes a 12.25 hour day. Sweet.

2.3.04

All work and no play ...

Listening to: Siamese Dream
Most played: 
 
I think today's empty "Most Played" is an eloquent summary of where I'm at. All work and no play makes BB a dull boy.

My dictionary, poor excuse for a lexicon that it is, defines "stress" as:
1. emphasis
2. strain
3. impelling force
4. effort
5. tension
6. emphasize
7. accent
8. put mechanical stress on
There isn't much in my dictionary's definition that hints at the modern disease of psychological stress. I think the best definition of this that I can bring to mind is that stress is caused when a person's perceived workload exceeds the person's perceived capability / capacity to do that work. Now, based on that description, I can't be stressed, because I know that I can do the work ... assuming that I don't need to sleep, eat or generally have a life for the next fortnight.


So work is set to dominate another week. I really should have tackled two pressing emails and my to-do list tonight, but I couldn't really bring myself to do that. No matter, there is plenty of other stuff that is going to slip along the way. This time, however, I am determined to make it only be a week. If I can break the back of what is outstanding and get in control of my project, then I might stand a chance of returning my working life to something approaching normality. The weekend with H refocussed me and made me realise that a career of achieving in a large organisation isn't the ambition that floats my boat right now. I really want the personal accountability of working for myself or for a small company. So it's time to reinvest the time in looking at what options I have for setting up my own business. In order to achieve this, I will need to hold myself accountable for some personal goals. But I think the time to plan how I achieve that is another time. I have a 7:45am meeting tomorrow. Grrrr....

1.3.04

Don't say that I'm moping

Listening to: Groove Armada
Most played: Being grown-up on "mini-break" with beautiful girlfriend
 
So my problem is that I don't quite know what to type right now. I'm in the post-marvellous-weekend stage of moping and sitting in a room that is approximately a million times too hot for this time of year, but I know that if I turn the heating off, I'll freeze in the rest of the house.


Went away with H for the weekend and had an absolutely brilliant time. We went up the Lake District. It's amazing really that there are things in life that from the ages of 10 to 21 you would rather knaw your own arm off than participate in. And yet, you get to the age of 22 and beyond and they start to make sense. I've lived in England for so long and only barely scratched the surface of what this amazing country contains. Fuck travelling the globe walking the now well-trodden back-tracking routes to touristy temples and over-crowded "peaceful paradises" - there's a million and one things to learn about home and about myself in the process.

So, anyway, the Lakes. A bloody marvellous weekend. Perhaps with the knee, a destination synonomous with walking was not a great idea. However, it was great (did I mention that?). The weather was marvellous. Clear, bright royal-blue skies, with the occasional fluffy cloud. Cold, especially at night, but beautiful. The kind of weather that makes me increasingly appreciate my home's temperate climate. Armed with a Good Pub Guide and a couple of maps, we toured the eastern side of the Lake District.
Based at Windermere, we drove around Ullswater on the Saturday. Leaving Winderemere, we went through Ambleside and up the Kirkstone Pass - a driving route that H really enjoyed! Ullswater is a truly tranquil lake with little in the way of human abuse on the countryside. Took a walk around the edge of the lake and felt the wind in our faces. Recovered by travelling to the first of several excellent pubs that we were to visit in the couple of days. Then we headed back down through Ambleside and on to Elterwater. There we visited the Brittania for a bite to eat and a beer. Driving back through the countryside we headed back to our B&B. For the night, we walked into Winderemere and found a nice pub, called the Lamplighters Bar, in which to eat. It was quite surprising - the clientele was almost exclusively "of a certain age". It didn't feel like a pub frequented by many walkers. In fact, Windermere in general didn't seem to be thronging with walkers out on the beers. Perhaps they stay in their chosen accommodation to rest for the day ahead. Perhaps they camp. Perhaps Windermere lacks the necessary rural charm. Who knows? However, this pub was fine. The food came in generous portions and was tasty. The service was friendly and welcoming (a classic pub reviewing cliche) and overall, I was glad we stayed there for several drinks.
On Sunday morning, H and I walked down to Bowness. That was a nice chilled way to ease into the day. Then we drove around to the western side of Lake Windermere. Parking the car, we followed a short trail. The nicest moment was reaching a clearing on a hillside. There we lay on our backs as the sun warmed us above the chilly air temperatures and we stared at the clouds. It could have been late May, rather than the last day of February. Then we walked down and picked up a bridleway to take us back to the lake shore. Settling back into the car, we drove through the countryside to get to The Drunken Duck Inn. Sadly, we missed the food-serving times by about 15 minutes, but it was actually nice to just sit and have a drink. To be honest, I don't think my appetite would have done the food justice - it really did look as enticing as the guides had promised. A drive back to and wander through Ambleside to gather food followed. And after eating, we set off for Nottingham again.

The weekend really was just filled with luck. Beautiful weather, good pubs and a nice B&B to stay in. All in - a brillaint weekend. And my time with H was fantastic - I really do adore her just a little bit more every time I meet her. I'm going to end up so sickeningly in love it's ridiculous!


So the obvious question following this weekend is what do I do with my relationship with H? It's fast approaching the point where the distance question will have to be at least properly discussed, rather than just joked about. I don't know how H feels, which is why I'm happy to roll with it for now. However, when faced with the prospect of not seeing her for 3 weekends in a row, my heart sank a little bit. I don't think I'd be able to manage that well at all. With H's shifts, at least we are able to see each other during the week. However, it is still a 2 hour drive for H to see me. I wish that popping around in the evening was an option. Actually, on re-reading this paragraph, it occurs to me that the question is not what I do with my relationship with H, because I'd be mad to do anything with it other than continue to enjoy it. The real question is what I'm going to do with my life. It's already acknowledged that I don't enjoy my job. And there really aren't any reasons that I should be tied to Nottingham - I'll make friends wherever I fall. Hmmmm - another time to consider this.


More immediately, I have several pressing issues to resolve in the next few weeks. Most pressing, is the issue of where I will live in the near future. I am moving out of my current (lovely) house at the end of March. I have 4 weeks to find somewhere else to live. The move is motivated solely by the fact that I want to spend less on rent. I currently pay £525, which isn't too bad for a 3 bedroom semi. But for a single person it's a little unnecessary. So I'm keen to find somewhere nearer £400. I will have to see what is out there.

Another issue that is important is to get my dreams of running my own company back on track. It's time to start learning to program so that I can contribute to the whole set-up. And if not through programming, I do need to find ways of helping to get the thing on the road. I need to get involved in running my own company - I really think it's a higher priority than my "day-job". And at the moment, I don't think I'm forcing myself to make that distinction clearly enough.


As always, much going on in my head. However it is reaching that time of the night when I need to start sorting myself out for the day ahead tomorrow. I need to get into work fairly early for a 9am meeting. I want to really hit work hard this week and make a signifcant difference to my to-do list. By the end of the week, I will be on top of my workload and able to spend less time reacting to the work that is coming up and more time looking for opportunities to actually add some value to my work. I'll even be able to look at ways that I can start getting some of my "personal governance" back on track: updating my CV, looking at my assignment objectives, searching out my next role, networking, building a bank of tools to help me work more effectively, developing new skills etc


I'm Swayze.
BB