Well, that really was most bizarre

Went in for my last day at work, mostly just to hand back my laptop and phone and stuff and it was very strange.  I had nothing to do, being my last day, so I just read the news and whathaveyou, chatted to a few people, went out for coffee, surfed so more.  And that took me to 10am.

I called my boss – that was fine, he’s a nice guy and I really like working with him.  I called a few other folks, most of them were out.

I got more of a farewell from the receptionist (who is lovely and like a lot of girls in that kind of role, really undervalued) than from my actual colleagues.

So in the end, it was just a couple of the guys for a pint at lunch and that was it.

As I said, bizarre.

Anyway, Monday, new job, I already feel welcome.  Can’t wait.

Tonight – awesome sunset.  But I didn’t have faith that it was going to real shine and stayed at home.  Bugger.  It would have been awesome down at Point Peron, on the beach with the rockpools.  Ah well – live and learn.

I did take a pic from the front garden tho

And now, I’m about to go get a bottle of wine to celebrate the end of one job and the start of the next.

Onwards and upwards, to insanity and beyooooonnnnnd.


So, its been the few days I said I needed to wait – well, the thing I needed to wait for never came to pass, so I can spill.

I have a new job.

I know, its very cool.  I’ve been working for the same company for 2 1/2 years – they were the first place to give me a job when I moved to Australia from England – but what the company does and what I’m good at and what I want from my career differ and have been continuing to diverge over the course of last year.  So it was time to move.

I’m very picky about who I work for and I had several opportunities to choose from – I ended up picking a job with one of the big mining companies here in Perth, where I’ll be responsible for the technical part of a massive business process improvement project.  Exciting.

I start in less than 2 weeks – from comfort and working from home (like I am now and have been for most of the last 12 months) to working in the city every day on a massive project full of unknowns.  I can’t wait 🙂

It means I’ll be reading lots on the train too, so I’ll need some recommendations for books once my current 2 or 3 novels on the go are exhausted.  Feel free to chip in at anytime on that one.

So, I’m just winding down my old job at the moment, waiting for the final pay packet before I embark on the big new adventure – wish me luck 🙂

epic pee fail.

So, I had the mother of all opportunities land on my lap last week and I thought it was too good to pass up without a good look.

You’re wondering what the hell this has to do with pee?

I’ll get to that. It’s not weird or creepy.  Oh, well, a little, but not because of anything I did, I hasten to add.

I got wind of an awesome job opportunity, one that is just an order of magnitude more cool then where I work at the moment.  I should add, if you’re reading this, dear employer, that I’m not actually unhappy working for you at all, it’s just this other thing is cool.  Super cool.

Anyway, I haven’t actually got the job yet, so I’ll probably be back here in a few days blubbing and complaining.

You’re still wondering how the hell pee comes into this.

The first interview went very well, so well that that asked me back for the second and what should be final meeting.  I really want this job and I can do it too.  It’s going to be mind bendingly hard, but thats the point, my brain needs this.

As part of the pre-employment checks, I have to do a medical.  It’s company policy that everyone has a drug and alcohol test.

Hence the pee.

So I had to go this clinic (yeah, sounds well dodgy, and once the itch has gone, I’ll feel much better…) to give a witnessed sample.


I’m notoriously pee shy – yeah, I’m sure the world needs to know all this about me, but fuck it, I’ve come this far and gone through this trauma, so I’m doing to damn well spill, so to speak – I can never pee in front of anyone else, ever, it’s just one of those things.  And worse still, I really didn’t need to pee when I got there.  Could be the pressure, could be the thought that someone would be watching me. Could be a total lack of pee.

Anyway, the worst possible scenario – I have a nurse supervising me.


She’s initially not that friendly either – maybe if you worked all day long supervising men peeing into pots, you’d be a little jaded and sour – who knows.

Ok, I’m exaggerating, she wasn’t Nurse Ratched, but she may as well have been.

I can’t pee.  Nothing.

So I go back and sit down and have a glass or 10 of water and wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.  It’s closing time, I’m beckoned over for another go.

Nothing.  I can feel like I could maybe go a little, but it’s not coming out.  Not ever, not even if Nurse Ratched had the lobotomy order right there in her hands.  She asks me if it’s her that’s making me uncomfortable – er, yeah, of course it is.  I let her down gently though.  I’m not sure she can take it.

So they offer me a gown and tell me I can pee unsupervised but I have to be only in my undercrackers and they have to check I’m not carrying anything.  Well, nothing that isn’t already attached, anyways.

So back in I go and..


dammmmmmmit!  I close my eyes, jiggle, stare at the small fleck of peeling paint on the wall, all the time not thinking about anything.

And finally, I peed

Wooo!   It only took 90 minutes and abject humiliation and even after emptying the water cooler down my neck, I could only manage the bare minimum.

Anyways, they have to make a note of the fact that it was unsupervised and that could flag a warning to my potential new employers, but I’m hopeful that it wont as a) I won’t be operating heavy machinery and b) I’m so obviously not a drunk or a stoner that I hope this isn’t lost on them.   I don’t want to do that again.

Blood test next time please – thats easy, I don’t have shy veins, just the main one, which apparently, likes it’s privacy.

slackest blogger award goes to..

er, me.  bugger

so, whats new in my world?

1.  Its got cold.

A feet numbing kind of cold.  Infact it’s almost record breakingly cold in Perth.  We’ve had a couple of frosts this week and night time temps have generally been around 1 or 2 degrees all week.  I know, I know, its not exactly cold compared to Europe or the US this winter, but remember that our houses aren’t really insulated, we don’t have central heating or double glazing, as normally, the temperature is in the teens or higher.

We do have ducted gas heating, but it’s way too expensive to run – last year, winter cost us $1500 in gas, so that got switched off and out came the blankets until it got so cold that we gave in and bought a wood-fired heater.

A big pot belly stove now sits, roaring in the corner of the open plan, kicking out no heat whatsoever until I get up and light it.  So I still have cold feet, but later in the day, the house is well toasty.  And it chews through wood like it’s going out of fashion.  2 trailer loads and 3 20kg bags and it’s only been a few weeks – it might not be cheaper to run than the gas at this rate, but I do get to play with matches, so that makes it worth it.

2.  Work.

I’ve actually had some.  Quite a lot and multiple projects too, which I must confess (to any potential employers) I find kinda challenging.  Not the work bit, it’s the multi-tasking context switching bit.  My job is normally quite involved and detailed and requires a lot of analytical thinking – I find I need time to settle my brain into the zone and then I can do what I need.  If I have to keep jumping in and out of different trains of thought, everything takes 4 times longer.  Well, not 4 times, but you get the idea.  I have a 10 minute window where my concentration ebbs away, so if I can get back to my zone within that window, then we’re all good, but if not, I have to come back up for air, change the air in the tanks and begin the long journey back into the depths of the ‘zone’

3.  Busy.

Although I cannot for the life of me remember doing what.  So here’s a photo of a kid with a mullet that I saw wandering around the DIY store.  His Dad had one too. And the smaller son had twin plaited rats tails.  Classy.  I am in Australia, not West Virginia or someplace aren’t I?  People of Walmart, eat your heart out!

Oh yeah, just remembered whats been taking the time every weekend so that I haven’t been anywhere – gardening – had to rip out a load of stuff from next to the fence cos its broken.  Fences here are stupid – they’re big sheets of fibreboardy stuff that are actually dug into the ground then joined together at the top with a metal bracket.  When they break (as they do), they have to be dug out with a special machine and new ones put in place.  So all the plants (massive honeysuckle and a big creepery thing) along a 20 metre section have had to come out.  I now have a pile of cuttings 3 metres tall and 5 meters around to be fed into a chipper that I don’t have the funds to buy just yet.

Plus I’m painting the girl’s bedrooms at the moment – a nice shade of lilac with a deeper colour accent wall (their choice, I blame their mother and her arty ways).  That was pretty much the whole of this Sunday and last night (and I foresee every night this week) taken up

So that’s taken up lots of time.  No slacking for me after all then 😉

4.  Photos.

Precious little of that recently due to the mysterious loss of time due to the above point 3.  However, I do have a few pics to show and tell.



So there you go 🙂

Next post – my lovely new camera!  Oh yes.

advanced mathematics

Maybe not advanced, but to my brain, any kind of math is pretty advanced.

I had a big proposal to do last week and all over the weekend (as I might have mentioned once or twice in order to woo the sympathy vote, a tactic that appears to have been largely unsuccessful thus far) and a lot of it has been working out resourcing for the project and how much I think it might take to deliver.

Normally, this isn’t too difficult – it always involves a bit of guesswork and assumptions, but I’ve been doing this for long enough to have a fair idea of how much effort it takes to do something.

This project was a little different as it was a consortium bid – I wont mention names or projects.  BTW, if you happen to have stumbled here from my LinkedIn profile via Flickr (well done, by the way :)) I hope what I have to say is appealing to colleagues and potential future employers alike.

Consortium are always interesting – each party has its own role to play and the prime contractor, in this case my company, has to assemble the team, the skills and technology and present the overall solution.  Which is good, although a challenge when there are overlaps in ability and expectations – not so here though – well, ability, yes, but expectations, not so much

The problem I had, and this comes back to the original headline is the math.

The resource effort has to be worked out as number of days to deliver the project by phase and by task and by role.  Makes sense – you would want to see where the effort and cost was going and what to expect.

Trouble is, I had one set of numbers for the project in man days.  One set in $ and the other split between 2 roles and companies as a % of $

So, company A says to deliver task y, it costs say $50,000.  That is performed by role 1 at $xx a day. However, to deliver task y as a whole, we know takes 3 companies, 4 different roles, one of which is expressed as a % of effort for role 1

It gets harder when task z is made of up of 2x $20,000 and 2x $10,000 blocks, plus $20,000 of role3

It took a whole week to unpick the numbers and work out how many days by whom were spent on which tasks and what that added up to in terms of day rates per task and per phase.

Then I discovered the customer wanted it per hour and I’d averaged out the 1/2 days and 2 hour fractions here and there to make the numbers easier but keep the cost the same.

Unpick the unpicking..

Red wine, however, and Excel spreadsheets on 4 hours sleep under pressure really does help.  You know that good feeling that you have after the first drink?  Be it a pint or a large glass of red wine – its the same – there’s a kind of energisation and focus of the senses.  Its the very same thing that makes drinking so damn dangerous when it comes to driving, cos with the very next drink, that all does horribly wrong and that misplaces sense of power goes tits up big time.

Anyway, back to the topic – I wasnt driving and only had one glass of wine, but it really works!  I managed to sort all the numbers out, balancing overall hours spent back to the original estimates and costs for 4 companies in the consorium and had the whole thing ready on time.

Happy bunny.

The next bit and resulting proposal assembly scramble wasnt so pretty and ended up with me working through the night for the whole weekend, and we submitted the bid with about 5 minutes to go before the deadline, but hey, in is in, right?  LOL!

So yeah, if you’re like me and a bit number blind – have a glass of red, get Excel out and boom, job done in a couple of hours where days of effort before had gotten nowhere.

To current employer – it was tiring, but fun and I hope we win.

To future potential employer – you’re getting someone who knows his stuff really gets the job done, even if he needs a glass or two of red to help 😉

be right back..

I’m flat out busy trying to complete a rather large proposal at the moment – this has meant working every waking hour all week and now all weekend.

Sucks to be me, huh?

It’s due Monday 11:30am Perth time, so if its not totally done by Sunday night (24 hours to go) then we’re in for an all nighter too.  Not done one of those in a while.

I’m going to see Lord Christopher Monckton, Global Warming sceptic extraordinaire, on Monday night – after that, I’ll be back in form with:

1.  Lomo Diana Mini, you blow goats
2.  Red wine and spreadsheets, you know it makes sense
3.  Saddle chairs, why they aren’t all that for a bloke
4.  Simple Minds, where are you know?

and, finally,  Florence and the Machine, I think I’m in fan-love.

Stay tuned.

As Jerry Springer would say..

Take care of yourself, and each other


Its damn hot again today, not the best for walking 20 mins in a suit 😦

Of course, a year ago, it wasn’t like this in the mornings..it was a lot cooler..

I’ve written about this before, but I think its timely to remind you all..

So a big thank-you to all the morons who voted for daylight savings time to end permanently in Perth.  You bunch of geniuses really didn’t think it through at all, letting your blinkered opinions of how you think things are get in the way of some good solid facts about how and more importantly, when it gets hot in the summer.

The argument for the ending of daylight savings went something like this

  1. Its too hot in the summer and we want the sun to go down quicker to give us rest from the heat
  2. The poor little children are coming home in the hottest part of the day, spare them the misery..
  3. If we shift the time, we can use the super cool mornings to do all things like exercise we couldn’t do after work as it was too hot
  4. The cows get confused (no, really, this was one of the main arguments..) and the milk spoils..
  5. Perth doesn’t need it, change bad

Well, geniuses, heres the rub.

  1. The sun has been up for hours before most of us go to work and the mornings are now quite a good bit hotter now than they were.  The heat climbs pretty quickly once the day is going and levels off around 12ish.  So thanks for making my mornings 5-10 degrees warmer.
  2. The poor little children now have to *go* to school in the heat as well as come back in it – well done for that.  As I just pointed out, the heat builds quickly, so what was cooler 8am, is now pretty warm.  The heat levels off and cools gently to the evening – the difference in the afternoon between 3 and 4 is pretty negligible.  Again, really nicely thought out, daylight savings haters.  You only have to look at a thermometer to know how the temperature profiles during the day.
  3. I’m not seeing a lot of people up at 4:30am jogging and stuff.  So we now have a load of wasted cool daylight until the autumn comes and brings us 6am sunrises again.  Oh, that was another thing, the “dark” mornings in the autumn before the clocks went back for winter were “deadly” apparently, causing accidents and rapes and murders.  Well, once again, idiots, the sunrise being 7am for those last few weeks of DLS  is replicated a month later and throughout the whole winter without DSL, only then its raining too.  Are there more accidents and general anarchy?  No.  Way to go, morons
  4. Dont even get me started..
  5. This sums it up.  The fact that the rest of the world seems to prosper with DLS, and is, on balance, a better use of cooler mornings, better use of evening light for those who actually have to work and commute and generally more conducive to an outdoor lifestyle is totally lost on the people of Perth.   They didn’t have DLS when they were kids, so why do they need it now.

Its all really a moot frigging point as its not overly hot for more than a handful of days a year anyway.  Its easy to focus on the stinking hot days and forget the other 360 days that are just fine, thank you very much.

So, as I was saying before the ranting started, it is hot today and my back is sweaty.  Nice, huh?

Better do some work, I suppose..

compare and contrast..

I just sat back on my home office chair and noticed something – the way I’d laid out my phone and laptop spoke volumes.. so I took a picture to show you…

My work laptop and phone



My personal laptop and phone



Interesting, huh?

My work, which is very important in the scheme of things to both me and my company – if I can’t work well, then it costs lots of $$ – gives me the most basic phone I’ve ever seen and a base spec business laptop. Actually, I’m not complaining about the laptop, it might be basic, but it works fine, I just need a bigger harddisk – 50G these days for demos and virtual machines is waaay too small. The phone on the other hand, is embarrassing.

My home setup technically isnt that important (as in I don’t need it to pay the mortgage etc) – however it does keep me in touch with my kids on skype which is pretty important, and I also use it for my photography obsession to process photos and more recently, for writing children’s books. So, this largely non-essential use and I manage to have a hugely better spec machine (and oh so shiny too) than work. My phone is also muuuch better than my work phone and more appropriate (calendar/3G/email sync etc).

I’ve never had particularly good work laptops and I’ve always had to compromise in what I want to do -surely thats an oxymoron!

jobs around the house

I sat down to think about this last night and its a bit of a long list

1. re-do family bathroom. remove the wall between the loo and the bathroom, block up old loo door, put in new windows (glass blocks I think, rather than window panes)


2. re-carpet, or more likely, wood floors down throughout the house. The slate floor is reasonably new but I don’t like it and the other carpets are old and need doing asap

3. re-lay the lawns. The grass is old and crap. need to fix the reticulation first – work in progress, only a few more poppers and pipes to dig up, then I’ll get to the bottom of the non-functioning ones.

4. painting. the rest of the house, particularly the glosswork needs to be repainted. meh.

5. flowerbeds and tidying up. probably do this in fits and starts – have cleared the front in preparation for this, just need to edge the new flowerbeds and plant some new flowers.

6. Front door. I’d like a new one.

7. outdoor shower. I’d like to build a small glass block enclosure to replace the crappy wicker one I tore down.

8. put pictures up. This needs doing yesterday. I have so many laying about the house and I still havent gotten around to putting them up. Mostly cos I need picture wire and I have no idea where to get it.

9. Redo the ensuite. really just needs a new suite and a retile, no layout or functional changes. Not a big job, but one that needs to be done to freshen the place up

10. lastly, the patio. Its old, uneven and a bit crap – I’d like to re-do it, perhaps with a nice deck and some tasty LED recessed lights and stuff.

So, thats the main list of jobs – all of which require time and most importantly, money, which I don’t really have *sigh* bathroom and lawns first.

what to do..

Work has slowed down a bit again, leaving me with time to do some self paced learning, demo creation, reading etc etc. But I’m at a loss as to *what* to focus on.

There are a million things on the go in IT that might be useful to me at any one time, so where do I start?

Google Wave, BPM, TOGAF, SOA, perhaps do some tinkering with .NET?

I don’t know!

On an unrelated note, Roll Up, Roll Up, we’re going to the circus on Saturday. I think the last time I went to a circus was when I was really small, like 5 or something, so that’ll be interesting. Shame I wont be able to take any photos 😦

I’ll take the 35mm films up with us though to get developed – we can do it whilst we have lunch, should get them back before the circus starts 🙂