bookzombie: (chris)
So who has two thumbs and a new job? That would be me!

I've had an offer from Oxfam, which I've decided to accept. The salary is a bit of a compromise: not as good as I was pushing for, but there is good mitigation for that.

The feedback was that they really liked me: they thought I would be a good personality fit for the team, they liked my attitude and approach and my interest in non-profit organisations. They were also impressed by my presentation.

The downside - and why the compromise over salary - is that they had other candidates who had better technical knowledge. This is totally fair. I always knew that my rather aging technical knowledge - due to working at one company for a long time where they have a fairly stagnant technical stack - would be my weakest part. But it seems that it was more important to find someone who fits the team than to tick all the boxes technically.

I'm quite ridiculously pleased with this result. I'm not telling everyone yet (so I'm talking about it here on LJ, but not on Facebook) until I've got the official offer and sorted out the admin. We're also working out a start date - as next week is a bank holiday week, I've put in a bid for earliest starting date of 6th June.

So there will probably be an epilogue at some point, but in the meantime I am a very happy bunny!
bookzombie: (chris)
Yep, it's another large round of redundancies at work - 70 across the company this time, with 9 in technology. Yet again, I am - for the moment at least - safe. I ended up working from home today so I don't know yet who is affected.

I honestly don't know how I keep dodging the bullet; that's about seven rounds of redundancies since 2008! Moving into the architecture team certainly seems to have done it this time - I very much doubt I would be safe if I was still in my previous role.

The rhetoric for this round of redundancies is a little different from previously; it isn't being presented as a cull ('we have to reduce costs so lets get rid of 20% of the workforce'). Instead our CEO is talking about wanting to focus on particular areas so they are closing down some positions so that they can afford to recruit for others.

It's enough people once again to have the whole 45 day consultation period, but that seems to be perfectly timed to have all the decisions made - and probably implemented - by the end of the financial year.

Obviously I'm relieved for myself, but sorry for any colleagues who might be affected.
bookzombie: (Default)
 It suddenly struck me this evening that the next couple of months is going to be a bit frantic:

1. Rehearsals for the concert restart in a couple of weeks and there's a number of songs still to set, including a couple that I am either the lead or dueting with someone.
2. Carl Brandon Award submissions have started flooding in.
3. Work is looking to get super busy for the rest of the year.

We do, at least, have a week in Italy in a couple of weeks time :-)

On the subject of work, it looks like we are going to be moving a lot of data onto the US systems and I seem to have become a key player in that process. Which is good. Still no guarantees about how long the job is going to last. The new department head came along to our team meeting today to meet everyone. In the Q&A someone did ask a slightly-disguised version of the 'are we going to have a job in 9 months time' question, to which he gave the only answer he could: If you have useful talents that the company continues to have need of then, sure. Which is really all you can say - and it's all that you can say in any job these days. As predominantly an analyst I'm as safe as anyone - I have fairly transferable skills so as the need for SAP-specific skills reduces I should be able to pick up other systems. But if next year they say that they don't need me? Well, right now I'm okay with that.


Mar. 14th, 2011 09:05 pm
bookzombie: (Default)
So I was fairly incommunicado last week due to splitting the day between work and show - hence no new reviews in the last week or so. I knew it was fairly unlikely this week, but should be back on schedule again soon. I really do want to make this something I do regularly.

On which subject, I've actually registered the bookzombieblog domain, so will go straight to my wordpress blog (it's a bit annoying that someone else grabbed 'bookzombie' first and has updated their blog exactly once since about 2007...)

 The show went very well in the end. Given the obscurity of the The Likes of Us (and the fact that, frankly it's not exactly LLoyd Webber and Rice's best score) I wasn't sure what the reception would be. As it was the audience really liked it, so it shows what I know!

There were a few problems (yes, I'm looking at you. Yes you: the person who had one solo verse in the entire show and managed to forget your words almost completely in the three of the five performances!) and a few people could have been a little less bossy, but it was also great to see some of the younger members of the cast coming out of their shells much more.

The next show is a concert in October, featuring music from shows mainly written since 1970. I've got my eye on 'Razzle, Dazzle' from Chicago - if I don't get that I will be most disappointed!

No further news on what is happening at work. From everything I've seen so far I don't think my job is under any immediate threat. I've also had a very strange day - someone from the legal department called me to do some investigations about something. It's all highly confidential so I can't really say anything more about it, but it was all a bit scary!

In exciting news, I've had my year off after the Clarke Awards and I'm going to be a judge for the 2010 Carl Brandon awards. I'm very excited and proud to be asked!
bookzombie: (Default)
I've just realised that apart from the ocassional comment on other people's LJs I've not posted anything for a month - possibly a record!

The main reason is that I've been ill quite a lot over the last few weeks. I was off work for a couple of days three weeks ago and really went back too soon. It didn't help that it was one of those 'feeling ill, slight temperature, sore throat, bit tired and spaced out but nothing you can actually easily put on a sick form' sort of illnesses. Although I had more or less got over it I was still losing my voice quite a lot but functioning okay. And then this morning I woke up with a full-on cold, of which there was little sign 24 hours ago. Sigh. I can't tell you how irritated this is starting to make me!

In between I spent a week commuting to London for a SAP training course (Cost Centre account this time) and just about back in the swing of rehearsals for Scrooge again, although due to persistent Director grumpyness this has not been as much fun as it ought to be.

We also went out on Friday for a meal to celebrate my dad's 65th birthday. He is official retired now, lucky old sod!

Anyway, thought I'd just check in to reassure everyone that I'm still alive!
bookzombie: (Default)
In an unpresedented move, previously unknown to your correspondent, yesterday I won a Gold Award!

Quick context: the Gold Awards are our annual awards given for various categories of work. You get a plaque and a certificate, and in previous years an all-expenses paid weekend in La Manga, Spain. Now this year, due to the economic stuff, the La Manga trip is not happening but they decided to present the awards anyway.

I've been nominated on a few previous occasions, but never won. Yesterday they decided to give one of the two 'team' awards to the Call Counter Geo team, which was the large and bothersome project that took up much of my time last year.

I have to say I was dead chuffed - for the team as a whole as well as for myself. It was nice to see acknowledged that although the project didn't always go terribly well, a lot of people put a lot of work into making it stable.

And to add to it I had the best Quarterly Review today that I've had for years - some of the comments and feedback were almost embarrisingly positive. It's funny, I didn't think things had gone that well, but the Powers that Be disagreed!

So yay me!
bookzombie: (Default)

I finally seem to have almost got over my cough - just a bit of a sore throat left. I also had a sore shoulder and upper back for a few days (felt like a trapped nerve) but that seems to be more or less better this morning. All that's left now is the lovely cut above my eye that I gave myself on Saturday by bending down in the bathroom and colliding with the metal key in the door lock. Have I mentioned that I'm a bit clumsy sometimes?!

Alas,[info]pennski is now the unwell one. On Sunday Naamen, a friend from the US (from the WisCon posse) stopped off for a few hours, which was fantastic. But we went out to the local (usually very good) indian restaurant at the bottom of the hill for lunch - they didn't seem to be terribly geared up for people actually coming in - and later in the afternoon p. started to show the unmistakable signs of food poisoning. The poor thing had a very uncomfortable evening and is spending the day today in bed.

Positive stuff: those in the UK around my age may remember a children's fantasy series from the seventies called Sky. Network DVD have now finally released this on DVD so I finally have the chance to watch the whole thing (I'm certain I didn't catch all of them.) At the same time I also picked up King of the Castle (another series of around the same vintage also written by Bob Baker and Dave Martin) and the complete Ghosts of Motley Hall.

There are also less than two weeks until the auditions for Scrooge, so I've got some stuff to learn!

Work has picked up a bit so I've got some stuff to do, hoorah!

bookzombie: (Default)
Which, frankly, seems to be the story of my life at the moment, what with the redundancy stuff and all.

So yesterday my car went in for its first service and not only did the person taking it out of the car park manage to scrape the driver's side wing (they will be fixing it) but he also managed to lose my car park entry pass. There have been words...

Now, today I am supposed we have another code release and I have about an hour's worth of manual configuration to do. The system was supposed to be ready for me to do this at 10am this morning. It's now tweny past five and guess what? You're way ahead of me here I can tell!

It is now supposed to be within the hour so fingers crossed. Just as well I am doing the work from home, and hadn't come into the office (as was originally planned) so at least I've got some gaming (just started Blue Dragon JRPG on the XBox which is fun so far) and some reading (Clarke award books still).

bookzombie: (Default)
I haven't been posting much again recently, it seems.[ profile] pennski  kept everyone up to date with our drainage issues (all the 'making good' has now happened so we are just waiting for the vestigial smell to go away).

Other than that life has been pretty much occupied with work, rehearsals and Clarke Award reading.

It's amazing to think that we are only just over a week away from another show; it only seems like five minutes since the last one. It's going okay, rehearsals have mainly been enjoyable despite not being a great fan of the show. Claire, our director, pointed out last week that by the time of the show we will only have had 26 rehearsals, rather than the 60 that we had for Millie. People have reacted to this in different ways: I (being oddly more upbeat than I expect sometimes) took away from this that it was going very well given how quickly we've had to put it together. On the other hand James, our leading man, took it as 'how can we possibly put on a good show with only 26 rehearsals?!" He worries, bless him...

bookzombie: (Default)
I know I've been a bit quiet the last week or so. This can partly be blamed on last week's illness which left me unable to face sitting up at the computer for any length of time (just a fever/cold/cough thing that has more or less gone away now), spending a lot of time on the surprisingly large pile of Clarke Award books which have already arrived (15 so far, 4 read, 1 in progress), long rehearsals, Oxford visits and work being well, let's just not talk about it shall we (I've had a particularly crappy day today).

Other than that, there has been gaming, of which more when I have a brain. We also watched the 2006 production of Jane Eyre which I much enjoyed. I read the book a few years ago and while it was okay I found Jane rather a prig and Rochester a monster. The tv version managed to get away from that without substantially changing the characters, and there was real chemistry between the two main actors.

I'm also watching the first season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles while I do my cycling and mainly enjoying it, though please I hope there isn't too much of the 'Cameron learning to act human' stuff that was boring when it was Data in ST:TNG. Is it me though or does Summer Glau look no older now than she did five years ago when she was in that episode of Angel? She's got a horrible picture in the attic, that's all I can say...

Good Days

Aug. 7th, 2008 08:00 pm
bookzombie: (Default)
Today has been that rare thing: a thoroughly good day.

To start with I managed to get business sign-off for my current project functional design.

Then this afternoon we reviewed the technical design and agreed sign-off (with a few small tweaks) so the build can start on schedule on Monday.

After work I went for a run and ran for a few seconds short of 30 minutes: probably the longest I have ever run without stopping in my life. And I wasn't exhausted (I stopped because I'd got back home). I've gone from only being able to run for 4 minutes to being able to run for 30 in less than four weeks. I'm beginning to wonder if there might be at least a half-marathon in my future (in a couple of years perhaps!)

And finally I've got tomorrow off work so it's a Virtual Friday. Hoorah!

Meep meep

Jul. 31st, 2008 07:08 pm
bookzombie: (Default)
After work today I beat my previous best running record: 21 minutes running, 3 minutes walking then another 11 minutes running. The 21 minutes beats my previous best by 2 minutes. Not exciting for the marathon runners amongst you, but very good for me, especially at the end of the day!

I was particularly pleased as it had been a rather 'cludgy' day. I woke up feeling tired and felt like my head was packed in cotton wool pretty much all morning. It's been a typical post-implementation week, with lots of unexpected faults (which is to be expected if that's not too confusing!) needing lots of running around to fix, plus trying to finish of my design for the next release. I'm on top of things (just about) but so looking forward to the weekend.

Other than that , rehearsals are going well, though I continue to be worried about the time schedule. We've got a week break now, though I must make sure that I spend some time practicing.

Rogue Galaxy on the PS2 is still a major time sink; but I'm using the excuse that once Clarke & Carl Brandon award stuff starts coming in I'm not going to have much time for playing computer games!

Sleep now...
bookzombie: (Default)
Right at this very moment I'm feeling a little cross. We've got a 'go live' at work this weekend and I'm supposed to be doing some system configuration Any Moment Now. It was scheduled for 9pm originally, we were told it would likely to be much earlier than that (but 5pm at the earliest). 1 hour and 55 minutes ago I got a call to tell me it would be in 1 to 1 and a half hours. Still waiting. How much do you want to bet that the phone will go just as start eating tea?

I've also got to go in the office tomorrow for a couple of hours, which is not to bad for a go-live weekend. Mind you, have I mentioned how much I resent going into the office on the weekend...?

Onto other things. We say Mamma Mia on Thursday. In the main I enjoyed it and left the cinema with a big grin on my face and love for all humankind in my heart. There were a few issues though, behind cut for spoilerness.

Anyway, mainly I really enjoyed myself so carping a bit here!

Also Dr Horrible's Sing-along-blog. Mainly enjoyed - particularly impressed with Neil Patrick Harris: a pleasant voice, good comic timing and treads that border between likeable and pathetic well. But I'm afraid (whisper who dares)

Twenty minutes later - no telephone call...
bookzombie: (Default)
There is no doubt this week has been a tough one. We are only a week now away from implementation of my latest project and several fairly major issues came out of the woodwork. Luckily one of them was for someone else to deal with and the other wasn't my doing but I managed to solve (yes, I can do a robust design for a new approach in 20 minutes thank you very much!)

This is pretty much business as usual. What has made it tough is that I've got deadlines coming up for my design for the next phase of the project which I've been getting stressed with the process of finding the time to write it. I got where I wanted to in the end but it was hard work. By the end of play yesterday I was feeling pretty much like I'd had several rounds in the ring with someone much bigger than me...

Having finished Season 2 of Battlestar Galactica, last night we watched The Golden Compass (on BluRay no less!). It zipped along nicely, in the main looked great (the polar bears were fine in close up but weren't always composited onto backgrounds very well). Dakota Blue Richards may an effective (if not tom-boyish enough) Lyra, Sam Elliott was smashing as Lee Scorsby and, unlike others, I liked Daniel Craig as Asriel. The weakest piece of casting was Nicole Kidman who was frankly just not charismatic enough for Mrs Coulter (as [personal profile] pennski put it at one point - apart from because it's Nicole Kidman, why is everyone doing what she says?) The chopped off ending was hugely obvious - leaving the story without an effective climax. But the main problem was that it was so compressed that it felt like a 'greatest hits' of the book. This served the character relationships particularly badly, but worse removed much of Lyra's agency - people kept on telling her what she needed to do next instead of her working it out. Any watcher who hadn't read the book was going to be fairly confused. So an interesting failure, I guess, but certainly had some moments that had me grinning like a loon.

Today I went out on a run with pennski (after her triumphant 35m time in the Race for Life last week) and I ran for 19 minutes without stopping, then after a little walking ran for another 11 minutes and shortly afterwards another 8 minutes. That's 38 minutes out of around 55 - probably more than I have run since I last had to do a cross-country at school. And most of the time I managed to find a comfortable rhythm so it didn't feel too difficult. My chest was fairly sore by the end but I didn't cough at all. So I am feeling very pleased with myself. Not that I'm going to be running any marathons any time soon...!

Anyway, off to a party in a little while!
bookzombie: (Default)
So what's been happening besides the Clarke Award stuff mentioned a few days ago?

Work continues to be work; I had my QR yesterday and it went pretty well all told, certainly nothing to worry about. Today we had our annual business review in which I failed to win the Gold Award I was nominated for. No real surprise there; the person who did win in my category frankly deserved it far more than I did. But no free trip to La Manga this year...

Rehearsals are going about as well as can be expected - we are part way through setting the most complex dance routine, causing great hilarity at certain points!

Gaming time sinks have been Rogue Galaxy on the PS2 - an sf JRPG. It's much like other JRPGs, like the Final Fantasy games, but as I really like those that's not an issue!

But, given I got my annual bonus last week, and despite my annoyance at the prices expressed in these pages a few months ago, I have bought Rock Band! And it is great fun. I've not had much chance to delve into it yet but I've mainly been concentrating on having a go on the drum kit (I've always fancied myself as a drummer...) Looking forward to the weekend when I'm hoping to persuade [personal profile] pennskito join me in some multiplayer sessions!

So. just out of curiosity, a question for f-listers who have already been playing Rock Band: When you are playing, what is your (and your playing partners where appropriate) preferred choice of instrument?

ETA: For anyone who is interested my XBox Gamertag is bookzombie, predictibly enough!
bookzombie: (Default)
We saw comedian Simon Amstell at the Hexagon in Reading on Friday. He was funny in parts if not hysterical, although some jokes exceeded even my low standards of taste (Mr Amstell, where I come from we don't make jokes about rape). I love what he does on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, but I think being able to see his face close up that deceptive 'little boy' charm lets him get away with stuff that you can't at a distance.

This weekend was the first weekend we have had completely alone for some weeks. And that was wonderful! There was some gardening, reading, tv (end of season one of Battlestar Galactica), food, computer games, drafting a review. Pottering stuff.

The weekend was nicely rounded off by possibly Bob's most disgusting present yet. I think I've mentioned before his tendency to munch on rabbits? Well last night he came in just as we were about to go to bed, with a disembowled rabbit in his mouth; seriously the head was whole, but all of the fur of the body was left with no insides. It was really quite grotesque. Honestly, if he'd told us he wanted a glove puppet we would have got him a glove puppet...

Tonight we have watched the first two episodes of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya which is, even by anime standards, completely barking (even with the video release which puts the episodes in (sort of) chronological order, which is different from the original broadcast order). It's possibly brilliant, certainly mad and we're looking forward to more!

And as the company share price continues to edge its way down, work is a bit sucky, but it's been worse. At least I'm getting my bonus this year!


Jun. 12th, 2008 10:06 pm
bookzombie: (Phantom)
That's auditions over for another show! I think mine went pretty well, as did [personal profile] pennski's.

I must admit to feeling a bit odd about this one. It's The Pajama Game, I show I wasn't familiar with. The music is quite fun but the show itself is pretty rubbish. All 1950 sexism (patriarchal male lead pats the little woman on the head and single-handedly solves everyone's problems). Still, we've got a director who finds some of the show as problematical as we do, so is intending to send it up more than a little bit.
Anyway, I'll be happy if I get the part I auditioned for (Hines, the factory time study man, a fairly comic, song-and-dance character role, which is the sort of part I like) but I'll be entirely happy to be in the chorus if not.

Other than that the last couple of weeks has been spent working, watching tv and playing computer games (excellent parties aside!).

I've got two games on the go at the moment. I'm playing through Lego Indiana Jones which is fun (basically if you like Lego Star Wars you'll like this - it's pretty much more of the same) and giving the MMORPG Tabula Rasa a go. I'm still in two minds about this one. It's pretty much a 3rd person shooter and has fun stuff going on, but it's not very friendly to new players. Most missions so far seem to be non-instanced 'kill and fetch' types and it has a rather cluttered interface, is sometimes unclear about relative difficult of creatures and thus far seems to have absolutely no sense of humour whatsoever. I'm enjoying it enough to be going on with it, but I don't think it's going to be something that I'm going to come back to often.
bookzombie: (Default)
Well, a very busy one! Two long rehearsals plus the monthly trip to Oxford, plus some long working days on top of that. It's also been another one of those weeks when I've been very tired by the time I got home and so having some extra naps!

The work reorganisation has now taken place and I have a new line manager. He is someone I have worked with a lot over the last few years and I will be interested in seeing how he performs as a line manager. Watch this space. I also had my annual appraisal, which went about as well as could be expected (good at the things I'm good at, need to work at the things that don't come so naturally to me - all fairly obvious really).

For those who were puzzled by my slightly enigmatic Facebook status updates this week, I was supposed to get my new company car on Tuesday, but alas it arrived at the dealers with scratched paint work which they had to get repaired. This is fair enough: the annoying part was that it took two hours of telephone calls and waiting to find out that this is why it hadn't turned up. Communication is a lovely thing...

Other than that: we've had some updates from Matt and [profile] ddothill in Tokyo and they seem to have been enjoying themselves a lot (yes, I am rather envious!). [profile] ddothill starts on his way home during the next day and Matt goes on to Australia.

Doctor Who last night was an enjoyable romp, perfectly entertaining without being anything terribly special. Overall I thought Donna was fine, but then I never got why everyone hated her in the Christmas special so much anyway (and, just to make my biases clear, I really dislike Catherine Tate's comedy show stuff). Torchwood was generally a much-improved show over last year (but I wish the show runners could get this messianic streak out of their systems).

But yesterday's real highlight was the final episode of Cranford on DVD. I understand why this programme got such plaudits: beautifully filmed and acted, sometimes bordering on sentimental but also quite brutal in its portrayal of the risks of living in such a time. I spent a fair part of the episode with a lump in my throat...

So a reasonably good but busy week. More of the same in the next week I suspect...
bookzombie: (Phantom)
It's been one of those weeks this week. The draft design for my current project was up for review (as far as it goes - still not quite complete), plus the AMOS Concert. This week has pretty much been 'wake up, have breakfast, go to work, come home, have tea, go to rehearsal/performance, go to bed.'

Anyway, the good news is both items seem to have gone quite well. The internal QA of my document was relatively painless (content fine, structure needs some work which was pretty much what I expected).

The concert has gone really well so far, with one more night to go. The only downside is that last night the cut on the inside of my throat opened up again. I'm guessing that this is because I've been singing a lot as well as running half-day workshops, etc, but it's a bit worrying/annoying nevertheless. Anyway, it certainly isn't healing properly so back to the doctors' (it may even be that something is still stuck).

And, naturally, the first night for a week I can have a lie-in I don't sleep very well. Sigh.
bookzombie: (Default)
Just realised that I haven't done much updating in the last few weeks. No particular reason, no crises or anything, just not a lot to say! I have been keeping up with reading my friends list though.

Work is going okay at the moment; I'm actually being reminded of the things about the job that I like, for the first time in ages. Also my line manager is no longer my task manager, so we are getting on a bit better. Things are likely to be very busy in the next few weeks as we enter a very short, intense, design period for the next set of projects. But could be quite interesting.

Other than that, we are back in the throws of rehearsals for the concert at the end of October, which is going okay. Still a bit shaky on some of the music, but it's getting there.

I've also been spending way too much time playing Okami on the PS2, which is a Japanese-mythology based 3rd person action/RPG game which is beautifully put together and one of the most charming games I have played in some time.

We have booked the flights for New York. We're flying out on 11th November and flying back on the 20th, which means I'll be having my 41st birthday in New York. Still need to sort out hotels, though.

We've also been doing a bit of gardening and organising someone to come and sort out the exterior woodwork and guttering on the house.

Other than that, things are just pootling along quite pleasantly!


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