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21 October 2014 @ 12:25 am
Went for my checkup this morning.  Although my left eye is far stronger than my right, with the lenses in, my left vision is a total blur.  It's all down to the lack of choice of axis settings at the distance correction I should have.  So this morning's guy decided that he is going to reduce the distance adjustment and get a closer fit for the astigmatism and see if that improves things.

Even though the last person said that I am above the legal requirement for driving, I really wouldn't want to wear the current selection for anything other than walking to the leisure/community centre and wearing them in a controlled environment.  I certainly wouldn't want to drive in anything other than daylight.  It makes me appreciate just how good these varifocal lenses are.  Considering how long it took me to get used to them, that's a definite plus.  It also makes me think that however bad I am without glasses there must be a heck of a lot of people out there whose eyesight is much worse than mine in glasses.
21 October 2014 @ 12:05 am
Another of my flist has left LJ and deleted their account :-(

There has been a little more life here of late, but I guess it's only the death throes and everyone has moved to different platforms.  I don't find either FB or twitter to have the same depth or range as LJ and certainly don't have the same options for a decent discussion.

But then, I still have my vinyl and VHS collections.  And the equipment to enjoy them.
17 October 2014 @ 08:10 pm
I rang Ma earlier and she spent 20 minutes bending my ear about 3 different things that she's annoyed about, where other people don't do what she wants them to, whether it's possible or not.  Each of these is a matter which she is invested in and there are potential solutions for - although whether or not the NHS is going to bend to her will is another matter - but unless the solution is one the one that she wants, it won't make any difference to her level of annoyance or complaining.

Then she asked if I'd had an email from Bro earlier today giving his new email address.  I said I had, but I was less than impressed that he'd sent it out to his entire contact list without blind copying everyone, so all our email addresses were visibile and therefore potentially open to virus attacks from anyone who doesn't understand basic computer hygiene.  "Oh, well", said Ma, "I suppose these things happen."

If I'd said that about any of the things she'd just blown up about, she'd have been even more miffed.  But then, I guess the pitfalls of non-allocated parking spaces is more important.
14 October 2014 @ 08:42 pm
The local McDeadthings drive-thru is closed for refurbishment at the moment.  Not only that, but most of what remains of the car park is full of builders.  So my morning coffee comes back to getting up in time to make it before I go out.  On top of that, the slowness of the service in the canteen, coupled with the over priced and not particularly interesting food, has persuaded me that I should take my own lunch as well as breakfast.

Having stumbled across a quick and easy soda bread recipe the other week, I seem to have got into the habit of baking bread a couple of times a week and making yoghurt as needed, then preparing breakfast and lunch in the evenings and making coffee in the mornings.

The net savings are probably in the region of £18-20 per week, which is a useful contribution to the cost of swimming lessons, Jado classes and being mauled by the osteopath.  I did fork out for 5 new insulated mugs, to save having to wash up more often!
07 October 2014 @ 12:50 am
It was more than a tad parky in the bathroom this morning, so I've set the heating to come on tomorrow morning.  I think I can hold off in the evenings for another week or so, especially as I seem to be out working up a sweat at least 3 nights a week.

Winter is coming.
07 October 2014 @ 12:46 am
I have a group of telecoms apprentices who work for a large UK telecoms company.  As the lads work all over the country, they come into college on block release.  Last year, they stayed in our halls of residence and complained that they were treated like children - even though none of the other block release apprentices have any problems with the way things work.

After lots of emails and not many replies, we managed to arrange a meeting with their HR manager.  At the meeting last March, the HR manager said categorically that they did not want their apprentices to stay in hall this year and they would arrange hotel accommodation for them.

We wanted to have regular meetings, after each block, but had no reply to any of our emails about meetings in April and June.

In July, I put together the timetables for the second year of the programme.  It was tricky.  This year I have a second company with block release apprentices and had to sort out dates to optimise use of contract staff, whilst making sure the day release group is also covered.  I sent the draft timetable to the companies and said that due to the ongoing building work at Leamington, it would be more than likely we would be allocated a room at Rugby for this year.  I got a reply at the beginning of September asking if the timetable had been finalised yet.  I said yes, it was now firm and that the teaching would definitely be in Rugby.

Last Thursday, we got an email complaining we hadn't told them about the move to Rugby and this would cost them an extra £350 per block.  No idea where they got this figure from, but we pointed out the 2 emails where we had already alerted them to the move to Rugby.

Last Thursday, the college switched mobile phone providers and most of the company mobiles are not yet working again, due to them being locked to the original network and we can't get unlock codes in bulk.  So we have been without mobile access since Thursday morning.  Also, the college email network was down for most of the morning.

The lads came in for their first block this morning.  The ones who needed accommodation arrived at our halls last night expecting rooms.  Our accommodation manager managed to find them hotel rooms for the night.  Today there have been all kinds of emails stuck in the ether and not many phone calls.  Fortunately, we keep minutes of meetings, so were able to tell the complaining managers that their HR manager had told us to shove our halls of residence where the sun doesn't shine, so if there were problems in finding accommodation, we could point them at a couple of local places, but it was their issue to sort out.

Meanwhile, the apprentices are all cheesed off at the way they are being treated and want to leave as soon as possible, regardless of whether they finish their apprenticeships.

Clearly, it's good to talk!
28 September 2014 @ 03:42 pm
I spent an hour yesterday morning re-learning how to poke myself in the eyes.  The modern soft lenses are so different from the hard ones I used to have 30 years ago.  But it seems sticking your finger in your eye is just like riding a bike.  I had problems getting the lenses out again to start with, as I was just pushing them around my eyeball.  But once I got the hang of it, it went OK.

They didn't really order enough pairs for me to practise much with.  I've only got 3 pairs for now, but they will order more.  I'll try them on Wednesday for swimming and Thursday for Jado, then hope they get some more in.
26 September 2014 @ 12:01 am
For the next few months, red is the colour.  Next up, green in Jan/Feb.  Both this year and last, I didn't grade in May because of my back.  If I manage to avoid a relapse, it should be blue in May and working towards purple next September.  But if I have to take it slower, I will.  I'd rather take longer than risk not being able to carry on.

A lot of sweat and a lot of support from my Jado family went into this belt!

Red Belt
Sifu with her "Grading Smile" on!
21 September 2014 @ 10:43 pm
Red belt grading this afternoon.  There weren't as many people as usual grading today, so I was on my own at my level.  My back has been playing up on and off for the last couple of weeks and Friday was a particularly bad day.  At least it seemed to settle down today after a good hot bath this morning.

The grading team always ask if anyone has any injuries they need to take into account, so I explained and said I have trouble with the spinning back kick.  Overall I did OK, but did miss a couple of moves the first time round.

When it came to partner work, I joined in with the orange belt candidates. The grader insisted I took my glasses off for H&S reasons.  Is it worse to be wearing something on your face or have no idea who's attacking you?  At least I should have contact lenses by the next grading.

And after the grading, the waiting.  That really is the worst bit.
17 September 2014 @ 11:06 pm
I went for a second attempt at having contact lenses fitted today.  The first set they ordered weren't a close enough match for the astigmatism in my left eye, so they had to try a different combination.

I was late for my appointment due to parking problems, so the next person had gone in and they rescheduled me for later in the day.  When I came back, they couldn't find my lenses, so it took a while to get going.  Then the optician had trouble getting the lenses in to start with.

I think we tried two different options in each eye.  It's much harder to tell the difference between different lenses when it's not just a bit of glass on a stick being flipped back and forth "First or second?", "this one or that one?".  Even though I was still getting significant double vision with just my left eye, with both eyes, things weren't too bad and I managed to work out that the first combinatin was the best overall.  As I'm only going to be wearing them for sporting activities, I don't think I'm likely to be spending too much time looking out of one eye at a time.

Due to the delays, I've got to go back a week on Saturday to be shown how to put them in and take them out.  Lenses have changed so much in the last 30 years that these are nothing like the last set I had. 
15 September 2014 @ 09:31 pm
I love my yoghurt maker.  For something that is essentially a big flask and a plastic jar, it works remarkably well and was £12 or so well spent.  I'm currently making 2 batches a week, which gives me enough for breakfasts every day.  Add in dried mango, dried cranberries and chopped nuts (all much cheaper in Aldi than at other emporia) and it's good and filling.

Just signed up for the new term of swimming lessons.  I was complimented on my breast stroke last week.  If I can just get the timing of the breathing right, I might be quite good at it.  I still need to sort out the breathing on my front crawl.

I'm grading for my red belt on Sunday, having had to pull out of the grading in June.  After several weeks of improvement, my back is having a bit of a strop at the moment,  but I don't want to miss grading again this time.

I've seen assorted films in the last few weeks.  I think the one that has stood out most for me was Pride, about how the gay and lesbian groups supported the miners during the strike in 1984 and the miners returned the favour in supporting gay rights.  Quite apart from the awesome cast and fantastic sound track, it's another of those films about a key moment in British history that formed part of my yoof.  Even the staunchest Thatcherite Conservative would love Dominic West's dance routine.

Rewatching Angel on Amazon Prime.  This is revision for my grading!

Work is fairly crap at the moment.

Winter is coming.
09 September 2014 @ 09:14 pm
I seem to have developed a cold in the last 24 hours and am just entering the "feeling slightly worse than death warmed up" stage.

However, in other news, I have finally managed to find rooms for my first block of apprentices, who start on Monday for 3 weeks.  That takes the pressure off for now, but I still have to get things sorted for the remaining 21 weeks of block release over the rest of the year.  What the college management fails to notice when they tell us that apprenticeships are the way forward is that companies need to plan in advance when their cherubs are going to be back in class for 3 weeks at a time.  So, having submitted my timetables for approval in early July, all I can do when told I can't have a room until all the full time timetables are finalised, is tell companies that all plans are subject to change at the last minute and if they have a problem with that, they can go to another training provider who might give a crap need to write to the Head of Department.

Staff to teach the cherubs is a whole other kettle of worms.  If anyone knows anyone who is able and available to teach Telephony Principles or Electrical and Electronic Principles, please let me know!

I'm also hacked off at the bank.  I've been using online banking for years.  But in the last 12 months, my little number generator duberry, as required for setting up new payments, keeps not working.  I was trying to set up a payment this evening, but kept getting errors.  In the end, I rang the helpdesk and finally gave up after 8 minutes of tinny hold music.  The whole point of banking online is that I can do it when I want and it's quick.  In the end, I used the other account, where they just send a text message with a one time use code.  I shall be putting in a formal complaint.

On a more positive note, I have finalised all my Fantasy Football teams for the season.  I'm now looking at the Fantasy Golf competition.

I think I need a holiday.
27 August 2014 @ 11:09 pm
Swimming lessons continue to be fun, but incredibly tiring.  I think we probably did 8 - 10 lengths today of assorted drills, still working on proper breathing techniques.  Sometimes I feel as though I've got it and everything goes right.  Other times, I inhale half the pool and cough my guts up.  And after 2 lengths of only using one arm, my legs are completely shot.  I didn't even stay in for a few extra lengths this evening, I was far too knackered.  It was a good thing that due to being very late home from work, I had to drive down to the pool to avoid being late for my lesson, which meant I didn't have to walk back up the hill.
15 August 2014 @ 12:17 am
The Adorable Nieces (tm) both had results today.  Younger got some decent grades in her AS subjects and is happy.  Elder got the A* and B she needed (to add to the A* she got last year and distinction in her Music Tech), but didn't get the required grades in her Maths STEP papers, so hasn't got in to Cambridge.  Second choice I think was Warwick and she didn't get the grade 2 needed for there, either.  She is reported to be not at all happy, but looking at other options.

It doesn't help when I hear on the news that a pupil from Sheffield High School got "another" 5 A*s to add to the 3 A*s she already has.  And that universities are taking in a record number of students and can take as many as they like who got ABB, or some are offering extras to entice people to join their courses.

I'm sure Elder will find a place on a perfectly acceptable course at a perfectly acceptable university, it just won't be the perfect course at the perfect university.
07 August 2014 @ 11:49 pm
My back has been improving of late.  There have been days when my back itself hasn't actually hurt, although the problems with my sacro-iliac joint still mean random pains in all the diodes down my left side my right leg and foot a lot of the time and a general feeling that I'm wearing someone else's leg.  So I decided it was time I did something about it.

Last week, I joined the local leisure centre (online!) and on Monday I went in and parted with actual cash for a course of swimming lessons.  I'm in the Adult Improvers class on a Wednesday evening.  This is just like being at school, when the swimming club was on Wednesdays after school and we had to get the bus to King Ted's to use their pool.  Except I drive home from work, scarf my tea down and walk down to the leisure centre instead.

I've joined after the start of the class.  There are 3 other women, all of whom originally signed up for the Beginners and immediately got moved up to the Improvers.  Our instructor is a South African woman, who is definitely in charge!  She's very funny and knows how to get the best out of everyone.  The reason I'm doing these classes is that when we were taught to swim, there was no mention of breathing at any point and stoke technique wasn't a big deal.  As long as you could get from one end of the pool to the other without disappearing for too long, they were happy.  Doing it faster and more often was good too.

So we spent half an hour humming under water and adding in arms and legs until we got to the other end and came back and I only inhaled half the volume of the pool two or three times.  Coughing it all up again was enough to make my back twinge.  By the time I got out, I could barely stand up to shower and then get changed again.  Walking home uphill was an additional workout.  Today it took a lot of effort to drag myself out of the bath and into the shower and my back hurts.  Not improved by a gentle session of "front roundhouse, jab, cross, rear roundhouse" and spinning back kicks.  I am taking my muscle relaxant with tonic and ice.

So, I'm now doing 3 different exercise activities in a week, plus the 10 minutes of vigourous walking each way every time.  I know I have abs of steel somewhere under my t-shirt. This must be true, as muscle is denser than fat and I've not lost any weight at all.  I'm also drinking more water - including a pint in the morning before I get out of bed to improve my hydration for the day.  Given how much I sweated this evening at Jado, I could do with adding another pint!

I've also made an appointment for a trial of contact lenses.  I'll need them for the increased level of sparring when I pass my next belt and although I can swim in my old glasses, lenses would probably be better.
19 July 2014 @ 11:47 pm

I went to Oslo for a few days to avoid working on my birthday.  I love Norway and have only ever spent an afternoon in Oslo 26 years ago.  It's a beautiful place and definitely worth a visit, even though it can be expensive.  I got a 3 day Oslo Pass, which gives free entry to a bunch of museums and other places of interest, plus free travel on the public transport system.  As this includes the ferries on the fjord, I got plenty of boat trips in.

I was probably about 8 or 9 when I first read Winter Holiday and learned about the Fram.  I don't remember if I actually knew that the Fram was in Oslo last time I was there, but there wasn't time to visit any of the museums.  I definitely made up for it this time round and saw not only the Fram, but the Ra and Kon-Tiki and some old Viking burial ships.

Click for embiggenmentCollapse )
15 July 2014 @ 09:58 pm
I ended up 781/6173 in the main league and 55/347 in the mini league.  It would have been nice to finish in the top 750 or 50, but I didn't do enough in the early rounds to get the extra half a dozen points needed.  It was fun while it lasted.  I may do the Red Spotted Hanky Fantasy Football once the season starts again.  But that would mean having to take an interest in the Premier League!
10 July 2014 @ 02:59 pm
With just 2 games to go in the Fantasy World Cup, I'm 60/347 in the mini-league and 876/6162 overall.  Muller was a star the other night, scoring me 18 points in one game, due to his goal and an assist.  I'm disappointed Van Persie and his chums couldn't have managed to get anything in the net during normal play.  Just a single goal would have hoisted me up several places.

Oh, well.  Off to Oslo for a few days.  I'll watch the remaining games while drinking expensive booze.
04 July 2014 @ 08:59 pm
I bought a new battery for my phone the other day. I've had the phone for more than 3 years, but even though I don't use it much and tend to leave most of the services switched off, it will run down in a couple of days.  If I do use it for data or use the camera while I'm out, it will drain much more quickly.

When the new battery came, it was well over half charged.  I turned on the wifi, GPS and bluetooth and left it to run down completely before recharging it.  It was fully charged last night, so I turned it on and left it with all the services running.  I've just checked it and it's still at 78%.  I know that it's not actually using the GPS or bluetooth, but I would have thought that they would have kept sending out signals during the day. 
04 July 2014 @ 12:02 am
While we're waiting for the belts to be awarded after the Jado gradings, we do a lot more "fun" things.  Tonight we were doing touch sparring - two people against each other, first person to touch the other's gloves stays in for the next bout. The whole thing looks like a bout of what Kitten Cam viewers call "Whappy Paws".   As the age range of the class is 13 upwards, there can be some hilarious matches.  One of the blokes in the first pairing is 6ft and experienced.  He stayed in for the first 7 or 8 bouts, then I managed a lucky shot and just caught him.  But watching a lad of less than 5ft trying to hit gloves being held above his head height was hilarious. Or two equally sized small lads fronting up, chests out, hands held away at their sides and dancing around each other, each trying not to make an obvious move that the other can anticipate is very entertaining.  One girl held her hands up either side of her head - which, as Sifu said, was likely to lead to being hit in the face!

After that, an excellent session of dodge ball.  It came down to one on one and I was the last in for our team.  Up against a lad in the England Jado squad, I was happy to come in second.

Three of the lads in our class are in the England junior squad.  They all had their first competitive fights last weekend at the England open trials, where all the various kick boxing disciplines were competing for places at the World Championship.  One lad won his weight class and is off to Toronto next year.  One came third and the other won his first 2 bouts, but didn't end up with a place in the lightest weight class.

I shall miss next week, as I'll be on my way to Oslo for a few days of sun and boats. 
02 July 2014 @ 06:53 pm
Once I sussed out how to best use my substitutions, my team has picked up no end.  There are 6144 teams in the main game and I've gone from somewhere in the 4000s to 991 in the Round of 16.  A few of my star players under performed and my selection of Muller as captain for the German game didn't register properly, but I'm happy.  In the mini league I'm part of, I've gone from 244 to 64 of 346.  I shall have to spend the next couple of days mulling over my selections for the rest of the tournament.  We only have 10 more substitutions allowed now.
23 June 2014 @ 12:20 am
I'm currently in 2 Fantasy F1 competitions and one Fantasy World Cup game.  Strangely, as I have no interest in F1 at all, I'm currently placed 1274/10267 in one game and 7954/25002 in the other.  One of the F1 games and the WC game gets me points with Red Spotted Hanky, which I can convert to money off rail tickets.  My footy team isn't really performing that well, although I think I'm in the top third of the mini-league I'm involved in.  At least it keeps my mind off work and the introduction of allocated seating at all Cineworld cinemas.
20 June 2014 @ 11:37 pm
Work has been pretty frustrating and annoying for the last few months.  I was seriously hacked off before I went away and was all for jacking it in.  It doesn't help that our boss has been off sick since Easter and therefore not around to give a definitive answer. Fortunately, two weeks of not thinking about stuff and a conscious decision to not get so frustrated helped me to calm down.  Since I've been back, I've spent a lot of time over at Leamington and away from the biggest frustrations.

This week, I've had hefty issues crop up. Unlike some of the newer members of our department, those of us who have been around for a while try to work together to come up with solutions and between us, we've managed to sort things out, but I've still got several things I need to do on Monday.

But Young Mr EotB's news is helping me to focus a bit more on life outside the office and not let work wind me up too much.  My back still hasn't fully recovered from the problems in February and has been playing up on and off over the last few weeks.  I was supposed to be taking my red belt grading on Sunday, but my range of movement is sufficiently restricted that I'm not performing at the right level and some of the techniques we have to do could possibly cause more problems.  After several discussions with Sifu, I have decided not to grade this time, but hold off until September.  I'll see how things go and if I can train for the next level, I might be able to double grade for red and green.  It's a shame to fall behind the rest of the group, but there's another woman in the class who missed her grading in Feb, so we can work together again.

I've also booked a few days holiday in Oslo for my birthday.  I've not been to Norway since 1988 and only got to spend a day in Oslo then.  There are lots of things I want to see, including the Fram and Kon-Tiki museums.  Due to lack of flights on my original choice of date, I'm going out on the Thursday evening, coming back the following Tuesday.  So I'll be in Forrin for the Whirled Cup Final.  I shall have to pick up some booze at the airport on the way out, otherwise I won't be able to afford to drink while I'm there.
18 June 2014 @ 10:04 pm
Just sent another email to the council asking why I've not had any reply to my query about missing postal votes.  I sent the last email on 5 June.  If I don't get a reply this time, I shall have to go into the council and demand to speak to someone.

Young Mr End of the Block has been told that his condition is terminal and it's just a matter of time now.  Obv, the family are gutted. 
18 June 2014 @ 09:25 pm
Long, long ago, in the days I only dimly remember (no, not last week, before I started school), it is alleged that I ate boiled eggs.  I vaguely remember Granny cooking me a boiled egg for breakfast, but have no recollection of actually eating it.  Scrambled eggs was one of the very first things I cooked, standing on a chair by the cooker.  But for as long as I can remember clearly, I've not been a fan of eggs where the white and the yolk are separate and not overly keen on eggs at all.  I only really ate eggs when I cooked them myself and they were well and truly cooked to death.

Tomatoes were something that I always liked the flavour of, but didn't actually like in their native format.  I don't mind tinned tomatoes cooked into things, or even on their own with bacon, mushrooms and fried bread.  Even when I grew my own tomatoes, I mostly ate them cooked into things or made them into chutney.

How times change.  Tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes, are now a regular in my shopping basket and for the last few months I've been buying eggs on a semi regular basis.  This evening I had a mushroom omlette for tea.  Sunday was scrambled eggs with tomato, courgette, spinach and mushrooms.

Eggs still aren't something that I would class as a favourite and I still prefer to cook them myself, but I've gone from "I don't eat eggs" to "I eat eggs in certain forms".  I don't "like" them, but I no longer actively avoid them.  I still don't particularly like handling them, but that's a different matter.