Sunday, 31 August 2008

Hnnnerrrr Huerrrrr naahhhhhhh burrrrrrrrrr (hear that.... that's your blog that is)

Sorry private joke that only four people will appreciate :¬)

well we are back from our jollies from darkest north Wales, I have to say it was a lovely time up there, the weather was not the best it could have been, the first night Shell Island was full to bursting so we had to con our way into another camp site which was also full but by thrusting a 10 month old baby at the camp-site owner he let us on, and can I just say it was THE most uncomfortable night I have spent in a long time, Freya was in one compartment of our four man tent, the girls in another and Andrea and I and the shadow boy slept on the hard floor, the weather was terrible it rained constantly and spirits were none too high by the next morning as I drove off to Shell island to wait with all the other hopefuls to get on the camp-site.

Well after a 6am start I got there by 7:00pm ish, and was greeted by the biggest bunch of chavs you have ever met (sorry no other word describes them) they were even drinking vodka and red bull at 7:00am in the morning !!!...

One particular Chav made me turn my head to look at her, because she had practically the identical accent and vocal characteristics and laugh of my ex wife, I actually dismissed it was her even before I clapped eyes on her, she wouldn't be seen dead anywhere you could be seen having fun (especially with the lower classes) .....;¬) anyway it didn't bother me that much because I knew we would be camping way way way out from Chav central on the dunes.... I got back to our bolt hole and we started to pack everything up and drove onto the island, we eventually found a lovely pitch not very far from where we camped two years ago, and I was pleased the sun had come out it was quite hot that day I even burnt my skin a little ....(yes we forgot to pack the sun screen)

Chris and Donna turned up later that day, and I was immediately offered a bowl of terrier dog sick through the open car window...... poor Holly she doesn't do car travel... anyway after us spending three hours setting up our tents Chris and Donna arrived with their whole camping experience tucked away in the boot of their car, Chris took great delight in throwing two pop up tents out which self erected in less than a couple of seconds, I on the other hand had been expecting them to bring their conventional tent, I would have enjoyed quaffing a beer quietly watching their marriage disintegrate before my very eyes as they argued about which bit went where ;¬) but alas that simple pleasure was taken from me.... :(

but then it happened, within less than an hour Chris had started rearranging the furniture or in this case the wind breaks, and he was pulling out a wind break when it suddenly came out and jabbed him in the chest, by the looks of it he had tried to stake himself through the heart Van Helsing style but with the blunt end of the stake (anything but camping please!!!) ... but in true Chris form he only managed to break a rib !!! he didn't find that bit out till he got home....(oh how I laughed and laughed.... ;¬) ) we had a good night in the Chav central pub, Andrea sang and was surprisingly good and there were also quite a few others who were unsurprisingly bad.....there was even a Queen song which was so badly murdered it prompted the title of this blog entry.....One thing about Chris he always makes me laugh even in the most ridiculous situations, that's probably why he is such a good friend..... anyway Chris and Donna only stayed a couple of days and they left the hardcore camping to Mr and Mrs Die Harder, I have to say the weather improved markedly after they left, the dark clouds followed them back to Greenfields.....thankfully ;¬)

Seriously though it was great seeing them all (yes even Holly (the puke) terrier) but shadow boy sank into a deep depression after Oscar, Terion (sp) and Finlay (the dark destroyer) left, he was left with no choice but to follow us around again like a shadow which he is so good at.....

I finally managed to get Andrea to Portmerion for the day, shadow boy was none too impressed, but Andrea loved it, it is a very quirky place if a bit expensive to get into, it was topped off by Shadow boy losing his £10 pocket money moments after being given it, I went back and retraced our steps but I was pretty resigned to the fact that it had gone... probably before it even hit the floor .... I miraculously found another (planted) £10 note in the bag, Andrea thought she had pulled the wool over my eyes.... but I wasn't born yesterday.

We also went to Pete's eats in Llanberis (I recommend that place) and treated ourselves to one of their monster meals, shadow boy reckoned he could eat it all, he didn't, in fact he failed miserably, Andrea however managed to put away a bacon baguette which probably had half a pig farm sliced up in it, we left and then booked ourselves into "Electric Mountain" and had a really interesting underground tour of the Hydro Power station there hidden in the mountain, Freya meanwhile tired herself out in a massive ball pool at the place, we had no trouble getting her to sleep that night.... not that we ever do ;¬)

Nothing much else happened really on our holiday it all went very nicely, we had a bit of rain, but it was mostly warm, my stepdaughter spent most of her time with her friend Kizzie hanging around the games rooms they had there, neither of them caused any trouble, nothing was burned to the ground, and the only real time any bother happened is when my stepdaughter had to be woken up for her EARLY morning train back (I say early it was 10:28am..... but that's practically before dawn for my stepdaughter), I ended up threatening to take the tent down around her unless she got out of her sleeping bag, I wasn't actually threatening..... I mean't it ;¬)

They eventually made it to the train station and on time and I waved them off, I got back to the campsite and we packed everything up in the Terrano, it's amazing it all fitted to be honest, but Andrea could fit a square peg in a round hole she simply doesn't give up :) I on the other hand was waiting for the Terrano windows to blow out under pressure......but anyway I digress, in true Brabrook style the Terrano blew it's exhaust on the way back so we sounded like an advancing Russian tank division as we roared our way through the various small towns and villages on the way, I got it fixed at the beginning of the week..... another £134 thrown at it !!! :(

happy holidays :)

Monday, 18 August 2008

Day One (said in a Geordie accent) of my holiday

And the rain is relentless, in the brief periods we have between rainfall, we have wind, and yesterday we had a whole 10 minutes of bright sunshine... ahhh well that's summer over then for another year !! Thanks Mr Brockway !! .....

We are off to the swimming pool today in Carmarthen, well why not it's wet outside may as well get wet inside as well !!! we are taking Freya into the pool for the first time, hopefully she will enjoy it otherwise it will be the shortest dip in the pool ever, her elder brother is manically excited about going to the pool, but fair do's he hasn't really done much so far this school holiday except shadow us and generally go wherever we go.....he's driving us nuts but he does have his redeeming features like he helps around the house, which is more than can be said of his elder sister or brother..... so I guess we have to let him off ;¬)

I've just had the doctor ring and confirm that I have a rotor cuff injury in my right shoulder, the prognosis is ok-ish.... it's not marvellous, I will probably have trouble with it for many months to come, basically the tendons which attach to my shoulder are inflamed through injury (Aikido) and won't slide through the rotor cuff smoothly causing pain (quite considerable at times) but I guess with getting older you have to expect that your body just simply doesn't do what it used to without complaining at you ....ho hum :( I guess the important thing is I have have to keep it moving and take Ibuprofen when it flares up.... pass me my pipe and zimmer frame and slippers .... my life is over ....again....

I'm not missing work in the slightest, it's quite a relief not having to decipher various Indians talking to me in various accents.....asking me about my job, they can figure it out for themselves whilst I'm away, it will give them a taste of things to come.... it will end in tears, there are too many things they simply cannot know about, all the chewing gum and string and scripts keeping things running smoothly, it's a bit like an old engine the Corus network it needs constant care and attention or it stalls and refuses to start again, unless you know where to kick it and more importantly how to kick it, but that's experience not knowledge and you can't learn experience, you have to do it....

..... a few hours later :)

Well Freya absolutely loved the pool, she was a bit "OMG what are you putting me through" initially but that only lasted a few seconds then she simply couldn't be stopped, she was staring at all the people jumping around and splashing and even cracked a smile in between being mesmerised by all the activity..... she even enjoyed being sat on the edge of the pool and jumping into our arms !!! it was a fantastic time, we got home and both Andrea and Freya dropped off to sleep, whilst I watched "The Nuremberg trials" on UK TV History, nothing like topping off your day with a good documentary about the Nazi's eh ? especially in this lovely weather ;¬)

Friday, 15 August 2008

More Cheese Gromit ?

The Pug is running sweeeeeeet now :)

My previous estimate of how long the old bearings would last was way out in fact a few days later they gave up the ghost and I was forced to rip them out and put the new ones in, I became suspicious of them whilst driving home and this really nasty burning smell invaded the car, I pulled over on the lay-by near Cross Hands and sure enough the drivers side front wheel was very nearly glowing and gently smoking, confirmed by me stupidly touching the drive shaft followed by the sizzle of human flesh..... so I limped home at 30mph, which seemed to upset quite a few road users, it's amazing how many people point out there is something wrong with your car whilst driving at 30mph, the amount of people that madly gestured that something was wrong with the front drivers side wheel as they pointed downwards at my wheel like demented chimpanzee's.... do you know I hadn't noticed .... idiot !!! I usually drive at 30 mph on a dual carriageway dontchaknow ????

Anyway the job was done quick smart it took just over an hour to take both hubs off I whisked them down to my friendly garage near St Clears and pressed out the knackered bearings then pressed the new ones in, all told from removing the hubs to pressing in the new ones about 2 hours work ish.

the difference was noticeable immediately, plus I found out that the probable reason for the bearing failure was my inability to tighten the hub nuts up to the required 280 Newtons on a torque wrench, for a start the torque wrench I had didn't go up that far it only went up to 150 Newtons, The guy in the garage told me that to tighten up a hub nut to 280 Newtons would require a 6 foot scaffolding tube attaching to the wrench to exert that kind of pressure.... but I'm dubious that was the reason, after looking on various forums I found quite a few disgruntled Pug 205 owners who had used GSF Motor Factors for the very same bearings and they too had experienced failures in them in some cases as low as 2000 miles after fitting them !! so who knows eh ? Ohhh I also replaced the front brake pads @ £14.99 one of them was worn down to the metal, so I had to take the Bendix calliper off and free the sliding tubes, they've been put back in now with a mixture of Copper grease and PTFE hopefully that will be the end of it....famous last words I think. The main benefit is you can actually hear the radio/CD player even at low volumes now so all is right with my world :) .... oh and the quickest way to get ingrained oil out from under your finger nails is to soak them in washing powder solution for about 5 minutes then use an old head on your electric toothbrush.... brilliant and job done in less than 2 minutes :) (must remember to change it back ;¬) )

I'm on holiday as of tonight for two weeks, I'm really looking forward to it to be honest, work has been an utter drag of late we have had a contingent of Indians across from Mumbai and some guys from Rotherham and I have been teaching them my job, it's a bit of a slap in the face to be honest it's bad enough being told that your job has gone to India but then to actually have to train the people who are going to be doing your job in the near future is a bit off if you ask me....

Ffion is coming across tonight with her current boyfriend who happens to be an International DJ who has played in Russia and various other places such as Ibiza at most of the top spots and has quite a following apparently, it wouldn't be fair to say who he is, but suffice to say it's not Tiesto or Fat boy slim, or sadly Sister Bliss... but one of the less well known ones, it will be nice to get to know him and find out a bit more about him, Ffion is going to dye Andrea's hair and we are going to have a few drinks to boot, and generally iron out the plans for her coming camping with us to North Wales, which she is stupidly excited about.... it "should" be a blast as my mate Chris and Donna and their kids are coming too !!!

I'm getting quite excited about it to be honest, it may of course end up a complete disaster due to weather and the fact that Freya is coming with us (of course) I should imagine it will be really tiring trying to stop Freya putting anything and everything in her mouth that she might find on the floor including rabbit poo, which there was a lot of the last time we went, and no doubt she will taste the sand (once) and possibly the sea (once) ...... basically she is crawling like a beetle at the moment nothing stops her except lifting her off the ground to turn her around and even then her legs and arms still flail about, she is such a lovely girl though, no real trouble, very placid and smiley and screeches with delight when amused which is most of the time, although she can't be trusted with FiFi the kitten yet, the last time she got hold of her she tried to wave the kitten above her head by the scruff of it's neck, so the Kitten is just a tad wary of old Freya at the moment..... the only other development besides wanting to walk everywhere aided or unaided, the latter of which she usually falls flat on her back, is that she is currently being called "Wallace" because she pulls the strangest face when she is annoyed... quite funny really.... a practically square shaped mouth and a wrinkled brow (see picture above) that's about the same face but with less teeth, she usually smiles afterwards once she realises we are looking at her and usually laughing.... :)

anyway nothing more to report really, I'll come back to this blog probably after the holidays or maybe before that if anything really exciting happens :)

Sunday, 10 August 2008

We are back in Dresden.....again.....

Well the Pug passed it's MOT as you know, but since then the front wheel bearings have upped the anti and are starting to sound like the distant approach of the RAF in 1942, it's been getting louder and even I am getting a little worried driving it now, I should imagine they will last for at least another month but I'm not taking any chances. So yesterday I went to Val's Motor factors in Carmarthen and picked up a new set of bearings for the old girl @ £20 EACH !! these do look a bit more substantial than the £8.50 Ryobi ones from GSF in Swansea and they don't have a bit of nylon or plastic on them, plus they weigh in at nearly twice the weight so I suspect they have used metal ball bearings in them instead of the chalk ones in it now :) .... hopefully they will last one hell of a lot longer, you only have to look down my blog to find out when I replaced the other ones for the frankly disappointing bearings made by Tonka Toys, I'm not looking forward to doing it, it's not that it's technically hard or anything it's just a royal pain in the backside doing it again.... so bloody soon !!!

I did laugh at Val's though he is a bit condescending the guy who serves you and grates on you a bit offering his sage advice, he did ask me

"How did you put the old ones in ? with a hammer or with a hydraulic press, funny they failed so quick.... izzenit ?" ...

I couldn't resist and said "Well it was a 5lb lump hammer actually...." ....

"OH my GAWD you didn't put them in with a lump hammer did you mun ?" ......

"No I was joking they were put in with a 50 ton hydraulic press....properly"....

"ahhhh but did you use some oil to lubricate the outside surfaces before pressing them in, only on the outside ring though mun ?"

"Damn .....that's where I went wrong I rubbed them in the dirt outside first, of course I used some oil"

"you jokin innit mun, aiiii, hmmmmm strange that then innit they have gone so quickly usually they last fo'ever init though mun...."

"Not really they cost £8.50 each and were made by Ryobi and were basically crap !!"

"ahhh see now we don't do Ryobi bearings, shoulda said mun, they're crap VECO and Koyo we do init mun ..... brilliant !! " .....

"how much would you charge to use your hydraulic press ?"

"Ahhh see now mun, health and safety and insurance don't cover it, but £30 and we'll do it properly for"

"No you're ok I'll go to where I got them pressed in before..... cheaper !!"

I paid my money and left.... I only have a week left in work before my summer (pah that's a laugh) jollies start, so no doubt next weekend I will be black as the ace of spades and cursing the b'jesus out of the Pug, mind you the front hubs have been taken off so many times since we bought it they probably respond to voice command by now, oh that reminds me I have to change the brake pads as well one of them is down to the metal or very nearly.....oh joy is me

ps/ weather is bloody awful .....August my ar......mpit !!!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Redundancy and the Holidays loom closer

I've got very little time to find another job so the pressure is on, I've had a few sparks of interest but there is very little in this area for somebody with my experience, I may have to drop working with computers and find something else to pay the bills, although having done this line of work since I left the army practically it's very alien to imagine doing anything else to be honest ....

we shall see what providence and a blitzkrieg approach to finding another job returns, my job has gone to India or will very shortly and some other guy will be doing it for 1/10th of what I am paid presently, but business is business and I can't really blame them for getting it done more cheaply abroad, I'm not entitled to any redundancy because I haven't been here for two years yet, actually it's not even one year, but it matters not even if I were it wouldn't amount to much anyway.

I'm not overly worried at the moment as I am sure I will find something but it's something we didn't need right now...

On a lighter note the Pug passed it's MOT for another year with flying colours, well almost, it failed on emissions but that was rectified by the tester by making the mixture leaner so it fell below the 3% Carbon Monoxide level, he then went into a spiel about you can't do that with the cars of today it's all computerised !!! I feigned interest, and stifled the impending yawn when he carried on...... I think I was marginally convincing, but either way it didn't have any advisories and he couldn't find fault with it, so I guess my car maintenance must be up to scratch considering the work it has had done on it...

We are all looking forward to our holiday up in North Wales, although the Xbox 360 recluse isn't coming with us he is staying with his father down in darkest Dartmoor for the week we are on holiday, don't ask it's very complicated but it was his decision, well actually that's not entirely accurate, but he boxed himself into a corner because of outside pressure that he simply couldn't get out of..... it will be good for them to spend time with each other and his Dad has already told him to buy him his first pint seeing as he is a working lad now, and who knows maybe his dad will make him see the error of his ways, although knowing teenage lads (mainly because I used to be one many moons ago) he will think he knows best, so I won't be holding my breath.... I've told him to not bother with Women seriously until they are at least 25 - 30 and their biological clocks have seriously kicked in, up until that point they are heart breakers, but some things you have to experience by yourself to truly understand....

Freya is an urban terrorist she has progressed from very badly slumping on the floor as her arms gave out, and travelling like an aged break dancer doing the worm, to now being able to get to most things which are under two feet from the ground, so we have to Freya proof a room before letting her loose in it, she really is very adept at crawling and climbing now, and has picked up the skills required in very short order, she hasn't as of yet mastered the controlled fall from standing, and has fallen like a tree on quite a few occasions but with each bang of the head, afterwards she seems to carry out a risk assessment before committing to anything and I have seen her abort a few missions probably because she remembers the last body slam on the wood flooring, like all things it takes time I guess, I should imagine it won't be very long before she is running about the place denting the woodwork with her forehead.

My stepdaughter went to the Blue Rock Festival last weekend, and came back looking and smelling like a tramp, which didn't seem to bother her, but three days camping at a festival does that to you, but fair dos she does scrub up well when she makes an effort so the odd spell looking like a homeless person won't do her any harm, the only other thing of note is that Andrea has imposed a pocket money fining regime, or to put it very basically, if they don't clean their bedrooms every day they get one days pocket money deducted from them, I happen to agree with her because other than the youngest shadow boy neither my step daughter or the xbox recluse help around the house at all unless specifically asked to do something, the only other time we get to hear anything from them is "when can you take me into town ?" and "what time is dinner/tea ?" ohhhh and of course the 20 second reverse charge phone call costing nearly £4 a pop asking when they can be picked up from town...I've told them the only time they can use reverse charge calls is when they are lying in a gutter with most of their limbs torn from their bodies.....anyway I doing their bedrooms is the very least they can do to help.... so far their rooms are tidy but lets see how long it lasts before they start losing pocket money !!!

Friday, 1 August 2008

The Sword of Damoclese has fallen.....OUCH !!

Its been hanging by a horses hair thread since I started working here in Swansea over two years ago because the contract had been lost and I had been taken on as a stop gap for the transition from Novell to Microsoft.... well this morning HR called me and all the others in the team to tell us why the Lan Support team had been "rightshored" to Mumbai in India, so over the next sixteen weeks I will have my Indian counterpart sitting next to me and I will be explaining and teaching him my job before he jets off back to Mumbai to take over in or around September (ish)... for probably one quarter of the pay I'm currently on....

I knew it was coming so it's no big surprise to me, I will just have to knuckle down and find another position within the company but it's not looking rosy as the only positions available are in Rotherham or Bristol, both of which are too far to commute so it's looking like I have to kick start the business up again full time... or find another job within commutable distance.... :(

/set geek mode=on

However there is a huge fly in the ointment which the non technical big wigs in management haven't spotted yet.....we support Novell servers using IPX (a network protocol), IPX is not routable over the T'internet, it has to be encapsulated within IP for it to travel over the internet which means a VPN, it also needs to encapsulate SPX and RSPX so that is another three VPNS over to Mumbai to support NDS....and one of the huge bluebottles in the ointment is remoting onto one single Novell server will swamp the VPN with traffic as every broadcast and NLSP message is transmitted over the VPN, also ANY traffic or files that have to be copied from one volume to another either internally or externally to the target server will have to go via Mumbai over the VPN before being copied back over the VPN to a different volume on the same server !!! it will be unworkable basically, but they will only find that out after we have gone.... I would like to be a fly on the wall when the (mis) management rightshoring team find that little pearl out !!! ;¬)

/set geek mode=off

So.... Mr Digamy is looking for a job as of today to support four kids .....