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Friday, March 30, 2007

Searching 

I often have a sense that I am looking for something but I never know what it is.

I hope that one day I will both find it and realise that I have found it so that I can stop looking.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Camping in Canada 

David and I have been adding some of our holiday videos to YouTube. We often do joke documentaries about waterfalls and other local attractions.

I did one about Niagara Falls when I was there in 2005 on the way back from my nephew's wedding.

Am I really that camp?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

YMCA 

Yesterday, I decided to bite the bullet and, after five months away from it, went back to the gym to rejoin.

They gave me forms to fill in. Name, address, credit card number, bank account, sort code. All the usual.

As on most gym application forms, there was a series of boxes to indicate my general state of health and to reassure YMCA Central that if I died or was otherwise taken ill, that they would not have the pants sued off them.

Stupidly, I confessed to a joint problem. Just recently I have had a problem with my knee which makes it difficult for me to get up stairs. It's not a major problem and it is being dealt with.

"You've ticked this box. We can't process your application until you have seen your doctor."

Normally, ticked boxes would mean a quick explanation of the problem followed by an "oh, that's all right". Not this time. Obviously a change in policy.

The girl gave me a form to take to my doctor and explained to me v - e - r - y - - s - l - o - w - l - y what I would have to do with it. I held back from saying it was a knee injury and not brain damage. I have spoken with these people before. They can't deal with higher language functions like conversations.

Then she asked me when I wanted my membership to start.

Has she ever been to a doctor? Does she think that I will be able to just drop in to my surgery and get my doctor to sign it in five minutes? I have to waste a morning doing this. I have got to arrange my day so I can work at home or take a day off or go in to work very late. I might even have to wait until I am sick.

I somehow doubt I will do any of that. They can go whistle. I'll just have to get fitter some other way.

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

What's the time? 

This blog entry has been through a series of titles in my head before settling on classic simplicity:

Time, Gentlemen, Please!
It's about time
Daylight Spending
The Reluctant Time-traveller
What's the time, Mr Wolf?


My beef is about daylight saving time. Or rather not about that per se but daylight saving time combined with travel to other time zones. In short, I feel like Sam Beckett on elastic.

Incidentally, I would have said Dr Who on elastic there but, feeling pedantic this morning, I thought that should really be The Doctor on elastic and that didn't scan. So I used an example of another time traveller. Did I ever mention my penchant for over-analysis?

As detailed in my over-abundance of blog entries, I have been to Barcelona in the last week. This meant I leapt forward an hour into another time zone last Tuesday but forgot and went to bed at the normal time meaning I was knackered on Wednesday. I did a similar thing on Thursday after the group dinner when I completely lost track of time and went to bed at 1.30 thinking it was 12.30. In my defense, I was a little drunk, and had been fending off hordes of prostitutes. Hmm, hordes of whores? No, perhaps not.

I came home and for a day the clocks were the way they were before I went away but this morning the clocks slipped forward an hour again.

So, what's the time? Don't ask me.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Barcelona part 7 

The sea of cloud under the plane and the setting sun on the opposite side of the plane to me, offered up a treat as we were making our descent towards Gatwick. Slowly becoming clearer, we had a perfectly circular rainbow off to our right. As we got nearer to the flat cloud tops, the colours in the rainbow deepened and became more defined.

Then, just before we dived into the mass of cloud and swapped the sunlit world of the sky for the gloom of England, there in the heart of the circle was the shadow of the plane.

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Barcelona part 6 

I am sitting on a plane waiting for it to take off as I write this. I am using pen and paper. I will shortly be going home.

The captain has announced that we are being delayed because a man has been delayed at the gate and he will not be boarding. The captain didn’t say why but he added that the delay was due to the man’s bag being removed from the hold.

It is good to see that security is being taken seriously, even if it is at the expense of personal convenience.

I had a bottle of water in my bag when I went through security. It was a free one I picked up from the meeting just before I left, intending to drink it before I reached security but I had forgotten all about it until it was picked up on the X-ray. I didn’t mind that so much. They were actually quite apologetic.

I did get a bit annoyed at their insistence that we take off belts and watches before walking through the metal detector. Not so much that even but the way we were not given time to put them back on afterwards. We had to pick up our boxes and scurry away to some tiny tables at the side. That part of the process lacked a little organisation.

On balance, however, I would prefer to be annoyed than in little pieces in the air above Europe.

Incidentally, my window overlooked the baggage hatch and I could see them unloading the man’s bag. By the way they threw it about, I don’t think they were that worried about it containing explosives.

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Introspection 

There are points in your life when decisions have to be made and actions that follow on from those decisions set in motion. It is not always possible, however, or desirable, to have one immediately follow the other.

I have reached a decision about one major area of my life. It is an area in which I have experienced a certain degree of dissatisfaction. One of several, if I am honest with myself. It means a new direction and some effort on my part. Until, however, the time is right to act, I can say nothing more about it.

The mere thought of taking this decision has given me hope and confidence. A brighter, better future beckons.

More on this later.

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Barcelona part 5 

Barcelona is a very difficult word to type.

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Barcelona part 4 

There’s nothing like a business trip to a foreign country where it is difficult to hear a friendly voice or even a friendly accent, to make you realise what you miss most and especially who you miss most.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Speaking 

Why is it that I have such hopeless social skills? Why, when faced with a group of people, I choose to move away? Why do I have to wait for someone to approach me?

The meeting has broken for lunch. Groups have formed and people are talking. I came back in to write this rather than try to insert myself into a group.

I have talked with some of these people on a one-to-one basis. I am on nodding terms with many of them but I cannot bring myself to dive into a chat with them. Perhaps it is because they are talking about aneurisms or the way the review is going. Both are of interest to me but I'd rather talk about something else.

It's not just these situations. In social groups I always let other people talk and I just listen. Sometimes I think I am getting better at this but then I get days like this.

We have a dinner tonight. Oh dear.

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Barcelona part 3 

One of the nasty things about visiting somewhere nice on business is that you’re not really in the right mood for being a tourist. For a start, you’re here in work-mode and, worse, you’re on your own.

I hate going into a restaurant full of busy jolly holiday-makers and having a table for one. Billy No-mates is the name that springs to mind. I’d much prefer to be here with someone else.

Still, at least with modern technology (when it works) it is much easier to stay in contact with the ones you love even if every web site is helpfully displayed in Spanish.

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Barcelona part 2 

You know I said I was OK with flying? I was wrong.

I don’t like roller-coaster rides. Why on earth would I like flying?

It was a bit windy when we were landing at Barcelona and the approach was rough. I was gripping my armrests to keep stable. Some poor people were sick. I think also that one of the cabin crew was ill, behind their curtain.

There goes my career ambition to be an astronaut.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Barcelona! 

Today I fly to Barcelona.

I didn't sleep very well. There were a few things on my mind that meant I didn't get to sleep early enough and woke up too soon, unable to sleep again. I may go back to bed for a nap. I don't fly until 6pm but there are things to get ready and it's easier to get to the airport from home than it is from work. And I should be able to fit some work in as well.

I'm not afraid of flying. In fact, I rather enjoy it. No, the things that keep me awake are the little things that I need to remember. "I must remember to pack this" or "I have to send that email before I go". That kind of thing.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Shameless plug for charity 

St Christopher's Hospice organises a Fun Walk every two years. I have taken part in all but one of the walks since my Mother's stay in St Christopher's in 1991. I usually do the longest of the routes around Keston and, by the end, I can assure you that it isn't as much fun as it was at the beginning. I think it is 11 miles this year!

More information about the walk and the hospice itself can be found at the St Christopher's Hospice website.

Alternatively, I would be more than happy to receive sponsors on-line via JustGiving.com: http://www.justgiving.com/StChhersRobWilliams.

Thank you!

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Friday, March 16, 2007

The Weakness of Robert's Wallet 

I tried. I really did. I called BT and had them arrange to have a line reconnected. I spent ages on the phone talking to a man with a lovely Geordie accent arranging to have someone come along and tell me which of my BT sockets was the main one.

Then I called NTL to cancel. I was full of resolve. My resolve deepened for each of the 15 minutes I was on hold waiting to talk to the disconnection department.

"I wouldn't get this with BT," I said to myself, rather smugly.

When I got through to NTL I wasted no time.

"Ah, yes," I said. A Hugh Grant impersonation is always helpful. "I'd like to terminate my account please. I have already arranged to switch to BT."

"Can I ask why you want to leave us?" said the perfectly reasonable girl at the other end of the line. I was expecting a pushy sales person offering my fame and fortune. I was ready for that.

"Er ... well. I haven't had a good history with NTL. I'm not happy about this business with Sky. I mean, the only channel I ever watch is Sky One." Pause. "And your service is rather expensive."

That last is true. I usually pay around £60 a month with them.

"Perhaps I should mention that we're back in negotiations with Sky," she said, reasonably.

"Really?" That won't get anywhere, I thought, but said "yes" in a rather non-committed way.

"And we have some really good offers on at the moment," she continued.

I bet you do.

"We could give you your current package or TV, telephone and broadband for £24."

I doubt that very much, said the inner me.

"Really?" said my traitorous mouth. "That's interesting."

"And that's for life."

"Or until your company changes hands again," I said, trying to regain ground but failing, miserably.

I was lost, of course. Wave a special offer in my face and I am putty. Give me my phone, TV and broadband for nearly 60% off and I'll roll over and have my tummy tickled.

I doubt whether I will get the offer for that little. I doubt it will be for life.

But I still went for it.

What's wrong with me?

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Monday, March 12, 2007

Sky vs NTL 

I posted something similar to this on my NewsShopper blog recently. I thought it could do with an airing here as well...

Another thing on my mind is the stupid problems between Sky and Virgin Media (or whatever they are called this week).

They have thrown all of their toys out of the pram and are now not talking to each other. Anyone wanting to watch Sky channels through cable television now cannot do so.

This means no more Lost and, worse, no more Battlestar Galactica!

Yes, I am that shallow.

I rarely watch television in my own house and when I do I watch programmes broadcast on Sky One. I have been following the excellent Lost and the even more excellent Battlestar Galactica since they started. They are currently both in the middle of their third seasons with tense and gripping storylines.

I am disappointed but not surprised by this turn of events. I first took up cable television when the service was run by a company called Nynex. Soon after they were bought by Cable and Wireless and then NTL. They merged with Telewest and the other month, they became part of Sir Richard's little empire.

Whatever the name of the company, I have never been impressed by their standards of customer service. Take as an example, the time I moved house, about four years ago. Foolishly, I wanted to take my cable account with me and get broadband at the same time.

I gave them plenty of warning but the installation at the new house was a catalogue of disasters culminating in me waiting 10 weeks for the broadband service to work. I needed a CD and they could not manage to put one in the post for all that time.

The cowboys they had sent round for that installation were more interested in going out clubbing that evening than doing their job. Bits of my house were broken, sockets weren't properly attached to the walls. The installation had also been canceled by them by a letter which didn't arrive until the day the installation was supposed to happen. It only did happen because I called them and was very rude to the poor girl who happened to take my call.

So, to find that only a few short months after Virgin have taken over the service, that the few programs I watch on their television service are now unavailable, is not a surprise.

Now I face a dilemma. Should I cancel now or wait to see if the children will talk together again?

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Paving the road to Hell 

So much for good intentions. My pedometer packed up or started lying so that little measure of my activity was a bit of a waste of time.

I plan to rejoin a gym (probably the gym when I am back from Barcelona next week*. As that is going to take up most of next week, I've postponed rejoining the gym as I don't want to pay for a week at the gym when I am not there.

* Don't get excited - it's a horrible horrible business trip. Look, if you think that standing up in front of a bunch of reviewers for the European Commission is my idea of fun then you really don't know me at all.

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