What a Year!

Tonight is the last night of being a certain age and moving swiftly into my next year. If you are like me you don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year, it is usually thinking about how old I am getting. I decided that this year I would not move forward until I recognised and appreciated the year that was about to finish. So much has happened in the last 12 months it hardly seems possible it all took place in such a short period of time. Let’s see…four weddings, one wedding announcement, one baby announced and newly arrived, a visit from my Mom and Dad, an incredible trip back to San Diego to see all of our friends, the trip continued to Georgia for one of the aforementioned weddings and a wonderful visit with the happy couple,  4 trips back and forth to Pune India and a whole new world of first time experiences, one high school graduation, the trip of a lifetime, to South Africa, planned and paid for…those were some of the good things but like every year it has had its sad times as well; the loss of my much loved Mother-in-Law, the loss of a friend (way before her time) and the loss of my little Westie (Maggie). Alongside these major life events ran the little things in life; meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones.

It has been a full on 365 days and I didn’t want it to pass by without recognising, appreciating and learning from it before moving on to the next chapter of my journey through life. I hope before your next birthday you can do the same.

1st Class Surprise

I am travelling to India tonight for work, upon arriving to the airport I find out that I had been upgraded to First Class. In all of my years of traveling I have only flown First Class once and it was a short domestic flight which just meant bigger seats. Never have I enjoyed First Class on a long haul flight so after what can only be described as a tremulous few weeks I welcomed the the upgrade with all of the joy of a kid at Christmas who just got the one gift they were sure Santa would say was one step too far. 
I was checked in at the extra special secluded check in desks which led on to the new extra special Security checkpoint. I was then advised by a hush toned lady that I could proceed to the First Class lounge and yet another surprise, my upgrade included a lounge upgrade to the distinguished Concorde Room (which I never knew existed). It was a lovely, dimly lit area with fireplaces and cosy sitting areas. After a light dinner I boarded the plane. For the first time I got to turn left instead of right at the cabin door. I was escorted to my seat in “row 2” which was actually totally on its own with the nearest neighbours shielded from direct sight lines. 
I was handed over from my seat escort to Paul the Cabin Manager who informed me I could have whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. It was lovely to hear but at that very moment the one thing I wanted more than anything else Paul could not provide, that was my lovely wife to share this experience with. 
The Business Class services I have been fortunate enough to experience have very good so I could not imagine how much more could be done to enhance the journey. My area could only be d scribed as a mini room instead of the Business Class pod I had in the past. There was seating for two, in case I was expecting a visitor to drop by. I had my own wardrobe, was given pyjamas, a wash bag and noise cancelling headphones. Wow, I was impressed!
It is now time to take off so I will finish my 18 year old whisky and enjoy my flight to the fullest because once I’m off the airplane I will be in the land of over stimulation. Never ending throngs of people,traffic, car horns, vibrant colours, incredible food and light very people. See you on the other side!

Lab Rat

Today I felt as if I was part of a lab experiment conducted to test the human threshold for the number of meetings sustainable in one day, without totally losing one’s mind. We have all had days with marathon meetings or even back to back meetings that test the capacity and robustness of your bladder. Today took things to an all new, almost unnatural, level. My day started at 07:00 and my first meeting at 08:00 just like every day however today once finished with the normal 3 meetings on the trot routine there was no break, then before I knew it 1:00 came and went with me still in meetings. By this time I was beginning to wonder if going to the loo while on mute was even remotely acceptable or professional. By 1:20 with an afternoon of more meetings ahead a miracle happened and my meeting ended 10 minutes early. My bladder was overjoyed! I even had time to get to the canteen for coffee before the afternoon barrage started. Mercifully my last meeting ended at 6:30. I’m not sure if I passed the endurance tests because by this stage I was babbling incoherently!

One has to ask the question why

This week I have had a new experience and one I do not wish to ever repeat. As humans we have evolved over millennia yet we still have a couple anatomical oddities, one the appendix, two the gallbladder. It is the latter that I had an unwelcome experience with. One has to ask why do we still have this organ that we can function normally without. Yes, it has a job to do but the liver is pretty good at holding its own, in the bile production stakes, considering we no longer have a need to digest such things as roots and bark. Yet the gallbladder remains and for many of us becomes an evil enemy causing literal gut wrenching agony. It is mostly due to these little stones made up of cholesterol and other biological goodies, that decide they fancy a vacation to another part of the body. So they pack their bags are hit the road. Their first stop is the bile duct and for some of our bulkier tourists this is a very tight squeeze. So tight in fact that it creates, for the owner of the gallbladder, excruciating pain that lasts over several days. Finally, when the human owner is ready to perform self surgery, using a steak knife and a hand held mini vac, the little bastards squeeze through and are gone on their merry way. The relief is tremendous, you come out of this pain filled fog back into the sunlight. Then it hits you, what if the remaining gallstone population decide to move on. The thought sends tendrils of dread through me. I can honestly say that never before have I wanted someone to cut me open and rummage around in my abdomen but the thought of those little bastards coming back makes it sound like a reasonable idea.

More Funny Workplace Behaviours

As our project team continues to grow we are getting introduced to an even more diverse group of people and with that some new behaviours. As I promised you I would do I’m keeping you informed of the very best of them. One of my current favourites, which I have yet to personally experience, but have had been fully briefed on by someone who has, is the low volume murmur. My colleague/informant started hearing this quite yet persistent noise. At first she thought it was some background noise from the office equipment. Then realised no one was using the printer or other devices. She looked around to see if anyone else was reacting as if they too heard something. Nope, everyone was head done, hard at work. Soon after it dawned on her that one difference was that she had a new desk neighbour. By this time the noise was starting to burrow its way into her brain. So, she slyly watched the new arrival and saw her lips moving and could hear the “h
Now at least she had confirmation that she was not losing her mind, she felt marginally better. This lasted for a total of 2 minutes because now that she knew what is was and where it was coming from it was no longer possible to tune out. The questions started to bubble to the surface of her mind in rhythm to the “hmmmmmumm” “Is this noise because she is reading and thinks she is doing it silently?” Could she be humming the most tuneless song known to man?” “Or is she on a mission to drive me insane before the end of her first day?” At this point my informant could no longer suffer alone so she quietly started asking others sitting in the general vicinity if they too had noticed the additional undertone that had emerged. Of course she had to do this using messaging technology so as not to make the new person uncomfortable. It was soon confirmed that several other people were on the brink of migraines from trying to first figure out what the noise was and second trying to block it out. All had been extremely unsuccessful in the latter!
For clarification this started on Monday of this week, we are now at Wednesday and no one has broached the subject with the murmurer. The British politeness gene is still in clear evidence in our office. If this was happening near me I would have had to take swift action. Newbie or not something would have been said or duct tape may have been deployed as a solution!

Why does the Yang have to follow the Ying so quickly?

I know the title of this post is a bit befuddling but I hope it will all become clear. This past weekend is a great case for my question. I attended a family wedding on Saturday and it was fantastic. Everyone did something to make the day a success. Whether it was preparing food, decorating the village hall (which was the venue), creating flower arrangements etc. it all came off without a hitch even the weather did its part to make the day perfect.
It was back to work this morning so that meant an early night last night to be ready to tackle the week ahead which I knew would have its own set of challenges.

I had a feeling when I woke up this morning and found a cold sore that had developed overnight, that it might not be a great day. My taxi was booked for 7:00 a.m. and it arrived promptly giving me hope that maybe I was wrong and cold sore was not an omen for the remainder of my day. I ensured that the driver knew the route I wanted to take and mentioned that I might close my eyes for awhile (hoping this would say) “I’m too tired to chat”. However that message did not get across on the first attempt. An hour later as we approached a queue of traffic I took my opportunity to shut my eyes for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes and looked around I got the distinct feeling we were not where we were supposed to be. I caught sight of a mile marker post just as it flashed by and I thought for sure it said M40 (we were meant to be on the M42. ) Even if you don’t know specifically where I’m talking about I’m sure you get the point I was not on the correct motorway! I waited for the next junction sign to make certain I was right before speaking. Sure enough the next sign comes up and I now know I’m in the wrong place.
I said to the driver “we are on the M40 not the M42″ he said ” are we?” Which worried me even more. I wondered if he too closed his eyes for a while! He apologised profusely but the damage was done. That error added another hour and a half to my journey getting me to work at 10:45 instead of 9:00’ish.
Finally I arrive at work and there are 3 people waiting to speak to me. This was another bad sign. After these 3 impromptu meetings one of which contained more bad news I returned to my new desk (yes yet another seating change on Friday) to find out they did not set up my equipment properly and my laptop refused to play nice with my mouse or my monitors. Getting itself in such a tizzy that it eventually “blue screened” technical term for “going belly up!” I had to raise a HelpDesk call then wait for IT to arrive. In the end it was 12:05 when I was finally able to log in and start to work.

So back to my question “why does Yang have to follow Ying so quickly?” I had a beautiful weekend (the Ying) then the Yang (my rubbish day today) could not wait to balance the scales.
The good news is I will always remember the wedding and will completely forget the rubbish day.

That Annoying Voice…

Do you have “that person” in your office that whenever they speak, no matter where they are it feels as if they are standing right behind you?  That voice that carries from the most distant corner and the farthest cubicle. You know who I mean.  In my current situation I have two of “those” people. First, there is the woman with the high pitched voice and strong American accent. (I think she swallowed a microphone, with very bad feedback, as a child.)  The sound just comes slicing through the air and screeches into your eardrums.  Then there is “Radio Guy”.  This guy has a voice that truly should be on radio.  It is a deep booming voice even when he is trying to talk “quietly”. If he stood at the front of a huge room with the worst acoustics in the world, everyone would still be able to hear him clearly.  Of the two Radio Guy is the least annoying because he does have a nice voice. The problem is no matter how hard you try to ignore him when he is talking to others his voice draws your attention away from what you should be doing.  This is a negative in two ways.  One, you keep getting interrupted and lose your concentration for the task at hand.  Two, you are tempted to look at him every time he speaks, making you look like you are eavesdropping!

One Snowy January Day

There are certain events and special days that mark and shape our lives. Some of these are obvious and many of them are public knowledge such as birthdays, weddings anniversaries and so on. Most of the days in our lives when we wake up we have no clue how significant that day will turn out to be. Five years ago on the 13th of January was exactly one of these days for me. I was due to have lunch with someone I had been chatting to online. We had been in touch almost every day for about 2 months. I should have known, the minute I woke up and looked outside, that the day would be a good one because it was snowing. I love the snow and I still get as excited as a little kid when the white stuff comes down!
We had planned to meet at my local pub. This also turned out to be a bonus because I literally could not drive out of our neighbourhood, it was totally impassable. I got ready and walked down to the pub which is about 3/4 of a mile from my house. It was one of those perfect snowy days where there are only a few cars on the road and all sounds are muted by the blanket of snow. It was bitterly cold as well but that didn’t seem to bother me as I crunched my way down the path towards the pub. There was a sizzle of excitement running through me that I thought was a combination of the snow and the meeting now only minutes away. Like the weather outside I too had a flurry, this one of emotions buzzing around. Excitement yes but also hesitation, what if she shows up and has 3 heads? What if we find that after two months online there is nothing else to say or we don’t have things in common etc. I didn’t have to wait long to find out I had nothing to worry about. Once in the pub and the initial greeting hugs over we started to talk and did not stop. In one way It was like I had known this incredible person my whole life yet in other ways I couldn’t wait to get to know her better. I never wanted that lunch to end and in a way it didn’t. Five years have now passed and we still have not runout of things to talk about. We have been married for three years, have seen 4 grandchildren born and have a very busy and wonderful life. So, moral of the story, what appears to be a “normal” day can turn out to be one of the most important and special days of your life. I now try to wake up each day thinking “what incredible things are going to happen today?”

Things you Learn When Working in an Open Plan Office

Open plan offices are very common now but  you would be amazed by what you still see and hear going on in these shared spaces. Here are a few do’s and dont’s for working in an in this type of environment:


Gentlemen, when walking through the office Don’t adjust yourself first and then turn around to see if anyone can see you…they can!

Ladies, don’t hold conversations at your desk or other’s desks regarding the pros and cons of various feminine sanitary products.

Don’t perform personal business transactions on the phone while in the office because when you give out your bank details, date of birth, credit cards number etc. the person on the other end of the phone is not the only making notes!

Don’t argue with your kids on the phone because everyone will just think you are the meanie no matter what the child has done.

If you are the one person in the office with the piercing laugh please refrain because it makes others want to strangle you!

Hovering,…this spans both the do’s and don’ts.  If you are hovering because you do not want to be at your desk but you have nowhere else you need to be this is a don’t.

Hovering with Intent is slightly different and gives you leeway as you are simply trying to give someone else (who is currently engaged in something you consider to be not very important or you think will end very soon) a clue you need to speak to them and s acceptable.

Hovering because someone else is hovering near your desk is not acceptable.

Eating in an open plan office has its risks.  The rule of thumb should be just because you think the strong aroma of your lunch is nice does not mean others share your olfactory preferences.

Don’t eat a food that can be measured in decibels.

Don’t PICK anything!!


Be considerate of others but if someone else is annoying you with one of the don’ts plan to use a more offensive don’t back!

I hope you will find these tips useful in your day to day working life. 🙂

So Long 2014

I remember writing my blog at this same time in 2013, where I was more than happy to see that year come to a close. This year has been very different. The pain and loss of last year was replaced with a lot of joy, laughter and good times. We welcomed two new members to our clan and we have been watching them grow and flourish, with their respective big sisters watching out for them, while they too are changing every day.

We were able to visit family in the States and be visited by family and friends from abroad throughout the year. 2015 is looking like it will be a good one as well with more company coming with whom we can share all the delights of England.

Pam and I are truly blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives. We look forward to 2015 and everything it has in store for us this year. With the riches that our incredible family and awesome friends bring to us we hope your New Year brings you everything you wish for.