gothams3rdrobin: (me)
So! As you guys are aware, back in May we got flooded out of our flat for the second time in five years. We lost every scrap of furniture save for two desks, and even the white goods got written off this time out. In keeping with post-flood tradition, here's a picspam of the chaos, as captured by my phone.
Picspammage ahoy! )

On the upside, the council did agree to find us somewhere else to live - initially as a temporary measure, but by July we were offered the chance to stay permanently. You can bet we accepted! While the new flat's not much different in layout, and possibly even a little smaller since I can't fit a double bed in my room, it certainly feels less oppressive than the old place. The living room has a heck more light, being up on the top floor, and the ceilings are incredibly high - such a difference from being in a basement, let me tell you!

I took a whole load of photos of the flat when I first got shown around, mostly for reference purposes when planning my replacement furniture, but those aren't worth sharing. I'm one more IKEA trip away from being ready to take shareable pictures, since I need a few more bookcases! *laughs* We still have lots of boxes hanging around, and I've yet to purchase rugs (not bothering with carpets this time), but otherwise we're pretty settled now. The only headache is that when my new team manager came by for her first 1-2-1 meeting with me, she was concerned with the fact I had my workstation set up in the living room; this, she felt, was a security concern - despite the fact I don't take any calls, and keep an almost paperless workstation. In order to resolve this, I ended up having to move my system off the big desk I have set up in a really nice, well lit area of living room, and reassemble the little desk work provided in a corner of my bedroom! Where there's about as much light as the living room of my basement flat! *sigh* So I am now spending pretty much my entire day in my bedroom. You can imagine my joy...

On top of that, she also triggered a review of the policy with regards dependants being present during working hours - with the final decision that it's absolutely unacceptable without another adult to take responsibility for them. So, after a year and a half of being able to work even if Rowan's on school holidays, or sick, or there's a teacher training day, I now have to look into childcare options again! Or take unpaid leave if he's too sick to go to school *quitely fumes* It's not like I don't understand where they're coming from, I'm just so frustrated 'cause it was working so well for me! I was hoping to up my hours soon, now that I don't have to do the school run anymore, but at this rate I'll be working those extra hours just to pay for the sodding holiday camps! *sigh* I was allowed to have him home with me this summer, since the situation was under review, but not from here on out. Plus the poor sod was lonely, since he's used to having me in the living room with him, even if he has to let me to get on with my work undisturbed.

Still planning to get someplace else to live, if only to be closer to town, and hopefully have a separate room in which to work, but it's not as desperately urgent as it was in the spring. It's been lovely this last week, actually, being able to pop down to the district's shopping centre before Rowan arrives home, whenever I've needed a few bits and peices. I used to have to do that on the way home from school, which wasn't a problem as we had to get the bus from Albany Rd anyway - and I do miss having daily access to the shops there, which are so much better than around here - but it wouldn't be anywhere near as convenient from the old flat. So, y'know, every cloud and all that...
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I think I've known all of you long enough now that you may all remember this incident in September 2008, where my flat got flooded out after heavy rainfall.

Yeah. Guess what.... )
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Work finally arranged for a computer to be installed here today, ready for when I start working from home. Still don't know when that's going to be, though they reckon it should be by the end of the month. *sigh* I know they need to get as many possible issues resolved before we 'go live' as they can, but honestly, the phrase 'couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery' springs to mind...

I still don't know exactly how my shifts are going to be organised, or where exactly I'm going to get my work from. I could probably talk to the Operations Manager who put me through for the trial, but I don't know if he knows any more than I do. The woman co-ordinating us certainly doesn't! I'm really hoping I can shuffle my hours a little so I can get Thursday off as well as Friday, as this will help me with my studies - if I can manage to hold down two courses this year and next, I'll be graduating by the end of next year. Plus if I can sufficiently increase my hours, there's a good chance I'll be able to move. Need to be closer to wherever the hell it is I'm going to be sending Rowan to high school anyway - I've only got a year and nine months, and I have to start the application process in nine months time.

Those of you who also have experience with working from home for long periods of time; do you have any suggestions for what works best at lunchtimes? If I stay home to study or clean I have a bad habit of not bothering to eat, or maybe snacking on something unhealthy. I'm also trying to lose some weight through calorie counting - started off quite well, but I do tend to go on a bit of a binge over Christmas. I've been cutting bread and dairy out of my diet as best I can, as I've noticed it makes me somewhat congested and sluggish. My nose is a lot less blocked these days, and any time I eat a sandwich or some toast I feel a bit rubbish. It's quite wierd, actually; one time I ended up eating a breakfast bap, followed by a sandwich for lunch, then some toast for tea, and my sinuses went nuts! I had a headache for days afterwards.

I won't be able to walk as much as I do at the moment, as my current routine has me attempt to walk between the office and Rowan's school at least once a day, if not twice. Can't do that between school and home due to very steep hills - I used to walk home from this district when I was at my first high school, when I was living down where Rowan's school is, as it was mostly downhill. But in order to get to that long downhill part, you had to walk halfway across this estate (which took me half an hour on a good day last year when it snowed) then up a long hill to the top of the downhill leg of the journey.... I did it sometimes in the summer when I wanted to spend my bus fare on a Mr Freeze ice pop - but as you can imagine it wasn't a habit!

The upside is that it will make my online shopping a lot easier, even if work are somewhat disapproving of that idea. I should therefore be able to keep ingredients to hand much, much easier.

Right now, however, Matilda is snoring as she snoozes across my arms, and I almost fell asleep watching Transformers with Rowan. Looking forward to a lie-in tomorrow!

So...

Aug. 28th, 2011 12:53 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (eddy writing)
The summer hols are almost over once more - thank god. It's been trying, as always, and I'll be glad when I no longer need to arrange childcare for Rowan while I'm at work.

He spent the first week camping at Chepstow Racecourse with the St John Ambulance, and he seems to have hated every minute of it. I missed him while he was away, and didn't get anything done that I had planned - I mostly came home from work and crashed out for the evening. I did take the opportunity to go see 'Captain America', though I would have preferred not to go alone. Such is my life, however.

Since he got back, he's spent the first three days of each week at his usual holiday club in a nearby leisure centre, then Thursdays with his grandmother. On Fridays I've been taking him with me to the rehearsals I've been running for the alto section of my choir - though only one or two ever turn up, and they're usually the ones that make the effort to attend the regular rehearsals every week and only need a little bit extra practise. The whole point was for the people who've missed several weeks, or are new, to get the chance to catch up! *sigh* I realise it's not easy for everyone to make it - I get excuses about meetings and team lunches and all sorts - so I try not to let it get to me. It can be hard to reign in my inner Rachel Berry though, when I hear people in my section bemoaning how they 'don't know this one' - they're not even practising at home! *grrr*

Anyway. After the rehearsal is done, Rowan and I go get a bite to eat and spend the afternoon doing something fun. Usually it's the cinema; we've seen 'Harry Potter', 'The Smurfs' (though in 2D - I recommend the 3D as I think we missed out in certain places. Didn't expect to, as most of the 3D in the films I've seen have been shoehorned in) and yesterday we went to see 'Glee In Concert'.

Best. Use. Of. 3D. Ever!

I don't care if anyone's sneering at the screen now, 'cause we went to see that. I loved it, and so did Rowan.

Last Friday I took Rowan swimming - something I haven't done since he was a baby, though he's spent time in the pool over the last couple of years through school. We were in the water for about two and a half hours, and loved every minute of it. He can't actually swim yet, but his confidence in the water is wonderful; we messed around with the floats a lot, pulling each other through the water, and he would cling to my back while I jumped around, both of us laughing like idiots. The last hour or so, we were deep in the middle of the pool - one of the advantages of me being short and him being tall is that we can currently mess around at more or less the same depth - and he was launching himself off my thighs into the water, trying to do somersaults. The only sad thing about it was that they never put the wave machine on the whole time we were there *pout*

The next day, we were joined by Rowan's classmate Lewis, and Lewis's little sister Eryn. Their parents were having to move house - all the way to the other side of the city too, so they've had to change schools.... *sulks* - so we kept Lewis and Eryn entertained for the day. They have four kids in total, the eldest being old enough to help out with the move, but I wouldn't have been able to cope with the toddler as well. Rowan's excitable enough when he has friends around, but when Eryn's around it's like they're a pair of Tazmanian Devils! *laughs* Neither of them were truly naughty, though I had to tell Eryn off more times than I'm used to 'cause she kept running off, and Lewis is always well behaved. We took them bowling down the Bay, which went well, then they cleaned me out on the amusement arcade *sigh* But I think they all had fun, and their Dad came to collect them just as I was dishing up some pasta for their tea. Going to miss having them all around, but hopefully the 'net will help with keeping in touch.

Work's been as dull as ever, and there's less work to go around at the moment too. We get our work allocated to us through an Excel spreadsheet - and hasn't that been a nightmare, having up to thirty people trying to work off the same file simultaneously! - and they've recently started training up previously 'phones-only teams to do some of our work. Which, of course, means there's less for the rest of us... *eyeroll* I really hate coming in of a morning to find maybe an hour and a half's work for me, then have to spend the rest of my - admittedly short - shift trying to locate more. My productivity always seems to suffer when I have to go looking.

There has been a new development, however. They're looking into testing how feasible it would be to have staff working from home. I think the main focus is on 'phones staff, as IT will have to install a system and phone into the work area of whoever tests it, but I emailed the Ops Manager asking whether this would also apply to someone like me since it would be very, very easy to arrange. All I would need would be access to the database software that hold's the policy files, the excel files we work off, and my work email account. I didn't hear back from Wayne, but a couple of days later I'm included in an email to those who have been selected to do the trial! I honestly don't know how well it would work out for me - I don't have a room I can use as an 'office', just a small desk over to the side of the living room where the home PC is. But depending on how they would expect me to organise my work hours, it could make things a lot easier for me regarding childcare - or I could find being at home extremely distracting. I honestly don't know, but it might be fun to find out. Plus attending choir might be a bit of a challenge, since it's a thirty minute bus ride each way. The trial's supposed to be for between four and six months - we'll just have to wait and see.

My new course for the Open University begins in about six weeks! *bites nails* It's a music course, and I've been going through their preparatory programme to revise the music theory I was supposed to have been taught during my GCSEs. As I'm sure you can imagine, the music department in my school wasn't that well funded and it was considered a 'bird course' by five out of the nine pupils in my class. I've been learning how the Sibelius software we've been provided works, mostly by painstakingly typing in scores out of my collection of song books - that is the best fun ever! And it helps cement some of the mechanics of music into my head as I go so it's not a waste of time. I'm really looking forward to the course itself, and once Rowan's back in school I'll have the majority of my Fridays back to get stuck in before it actually starts in October.

We have lots happening in the choir too; Mardis Gras next Saturday, which should be a blast, then we have a gig in London a couple of weeks later!! Just a small one in a hotel in Picadilly, but it has some sort of link to the BAFTAs? *hands* Then at the end of September we're throwing a party at the Tiger Tiger nightclub as a fund-raiser for our album, before we get stuck in to actually making it at the end of October! \O/ I honestly can't wait! We should have the actual discs in our grubby little paws by Christmas!
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
LJ appears to be having some major downtime this evening, so it's very likely I'll be posting this the day after I write it ;-P But still...

Stuff and things happen, of course. Hard to say how interesting they are to the observer, since they're rarely very interesting to me...

In which I babble about Myfi, sucky stuff at home and work, and the choir! )
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Okay, so I was sorta told off this week for not updating this thing properly recently. I guess this means I bore you for a bit about what's not been going on around here...

Cut to save the flists )
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Today was my annual appraisal - been with the company seven years now! o.O I always dread these things, as I'm not comfortable talking about myself and never know what they actually want of me - management-ese sucks! Last year I actually burst into tears, even though my manager at the time wasn't being nasty with me. I just get that defensive and wound up.

This year was a completely different story. I was given a ten page document to go through before the meeting; ten lists, printed landscape rather than portrait so not as much as it sounds, where I had to rank myself on a scale of one to five. Things like how well I relate to my colleagues, whether I am confident of my procedural knowledge, things like that. My manager and I were to then go through the lists, discuss my responses, and he would give his own responses.

I have something of a mental block on giving myself top marks in anything, so I mostly gave myself fours, along with a few threes - mostly my attitude to my workload, procedural changes etc. I explained to my manager and senior that, while I do what is expected of me, I'm not above having a brief gripe about it. They were pleased with my honesty, and my manager either went along with me or gave me a four instead. When he wasn't going along with my choices, he usually marked me a five or a four, which was astonishingly awesome. Not once did he give me a lower score than I myself had.

As a result, I left the two hour meeting in an extremely good mood. The relaxed chat and free breakfast didn't hurt either! ;-)

I then had a choir rehearsal straight afterwards; we practised a Glee-type rendition of 'Lean On Me', and began learning our parts for 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' (six-part harmony, guys!! o.O) Very cool.

Rowan's not been very well this week, bless him. He had a bit of a cold on the weekend, and Sunday was a special activity day in West Wales with the St John Ambulance. It was wet and absolutely freezing that day, unfortunately, so when he came home that night the cold had fully taken hold. He was poorly all through Bank Holiday Monday, sleeping most of the afternoon, and hadn't gotten over it by Tuesday so we had to stay home. He was well enough to go back to school on Wednesday, which was ironically the first day this week my mother would have been able to look after him for me. She got made redundant from the office, and finished there last Friday, but she volunteered to work a little overtime at the supermarket on Tuesday to help with the inevitable post-Bank Holiday chaos.

My last assignment for my current OU course is due on Wednesday. Guess what I'm going to be doing during my day off tomorrow? Also, when is the weather gonna make its mind up? I turned the central heating off last week 'cause the flat was boiling, and we've had rubbish weather last couple of days - I am freezing!
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
My birthday yesterday. Predictably quiet, uneventful day, though the guys at work did decorate my desk for the first time in the seven years I've worked there!

Thank you to everyone who wished me happy birthday, either on LJ or Facebook :-)

Rowan gave me a very cute necklace and earring set, as well as a small cuddly giraffe. :-) Mam took him to ASDA on Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago to pick them out. I had a HMV gift voucher from the guys at work, and some money off my Nan and my Bampy (my brother and sister's grandfather) - I'm thinking of putting that towards getting Band Hero *grins*. Mam and Dad are holding on to a portion of Mam's redundancy payout to cover the deposit for when I find a new place.

Rowan was the one getting all excited about my birthday, as he kept checking how many days there were left and saying how I'd look so beautiful in my pressie *affectionate eyeroll* He's not the best at keeping secrets, not unless it's really important.

Rowan's got himself a project on Berlin to complete in the next three weeks. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what he's supposed to hand in; it can either be a scrapbook, a Word document or a Powerpoint presentation - Rowan wants to do it on Powerpoint, but apparently he's not supposed to stand in front of the class and give a talk :-p I'm trying to help him as best I can without taking over completely, but it's hard to know if I'm pushing too hard and making him do too much... *sigh* I have an assignment of my own due in a couple of weeks too, which doesn't help.
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Rowan has a project for school, where he has to give a presentation to his class about Berlin. They all had to choose a city on Monday, and for some reason that's the city he decided on despite having no clue where it was or anything else about it. When he told me about it on Tuesday morning, I asked why he hadn't chosen Seattle instead, since I know tons about that place and could help him with it. But apparently it was too late to change his mind :-/

I took him to the library yesterday afternoon to find some books about the place so that we could make a start. I have my final assignment deadline just a week or two after this report is due, so I need him to be as far ahead as possible before I have to start focusing on my own work. We found a couple of good books on Germany in the children's level, then grabbed some tourist guides from the main library before finding a table to sit down at and work through the list of questions we'd made up Thursday night.

Unfortunately, Rowan just wouldn't get his head in the game and make notes on the answers we found. While I know I'm going to end up doing all the work on this assignment - which is to be on Powerpoint - I'm trying to encourage him to find, and note down, the information himself so that he knows what he'll be talking about. I don't know if there's going to be any form of Q&A afterwards - I very much doubt it - but I'm sure his teacher will know if he's just reciting what I've told him to say... :-p

I had to drag him out of the library after about half an hour, 'cause our whispered exchanges were getting a little too heated and there were people there genuinely trying to study for exams. We ended up sitting in a stupid, overpriced café in St David's new 'Eastside' food section till closing time while we battled to get some notes down.

I said many, many times that I'd had enough and was about ready to take him home, but he really wanted to go see the Kenyan Boy's Choir perform in St David's Hall that night. They'd come into the office Friday afternoon for a press thingy with our choir (we pretended to have a 'sing off', it was awesome! *grins*), and I'd told him all about them. I was reluctant, cause it was quite a late show and even the cheap seats were a tad on the expensive side, but we'd had to actually ask the box office staff how much they were *grumble grumble* and that only served to make him even more determined to go.

We did eventually get some work done, despite many tears and harsh words, and went to see the show. We both thought they were very good, though Rowan fell asleep towards the end and missed an opportunity to get up and dance on stage with them! *laughs* We were in the third row, despite having gotten the cheap seats, so we had a pretty good view. I'm not sure if it was just because I'd seen them in a meeting room at work the day before, but I thought the acoustics were terrible - there wasn't much in the way of a microphone setup, so the general sound was somewhat uneven and the soloists were very quiet. I know from experience how bloody hard it is to hear yourself on that stage, but I'd thought that was because the acoustics were set up to the audience's benefit rather than the performer's. :-/ Ah well - it was still a good night.

Today we're going to be searching the web for pictures to use in the powerpoint presentation. Should be far less stressful than yesterday....
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
I have been up since 5am, and was at work by 7 in order to catch a coach to Swansea. Today was the annual Staff General Meeting, and since we have now opened a new office in Newport it was being held in three venues; the Swansea Grand Theatre for the Swansea staff, St Davids Hall in Cardiff for my lot, and the Newport Hilton for the Newport people.

So we had to get to the Grand stupid-early in the morning for our soundcheck, then hang around till our spot about an hour into the programme before jumping on the coach back to Cardiff. While waiting, Bridget called the Altos into one of the dressing rooms for one more little rehearsal - which made one of the Sopranos joke that we're like a little club! *laughs* Since the soloist for the first part of the Michael Jackson medley was a Sop - and not in the room at the time - I quickly busked her part so the others could practise properly.

We then drove direct to St Davids Hall (using the rear stage door - which was novel as I've never been up on the roof of the St David's Centre before!) for another soundcheck, followed by more waiting. Suzi, Jo and I went to grab a coffee as a form of 'lunch break', before returning through the stage door that I remember using when I performed there as part of the South Glamorgan County Choir. It was funny heading for the coffee shop, though, as we had to pass all the people lining up to get into the Hall through the regular entrance - those of them who recognised us were all "Where are you going????" *laughs* I think we worried quite a few people!

There was a bit of a problem with the scheduling (these things never run correctly to time - I think the co-ordinator needed lessons off Ianto on how to use his stopwatch! *grin*) so we went on later than we'd expected. Then there was a problem with the coach so we hung around in the roof carpark for quite a while just chilling while we waited for the coach to come back for us.

Then we went to the Hilton outside Newport - which is not somewhere I'd ever been before. It's a bit of a departure singing on a stage in a meeting hall, but it wasn't a large crowd - probably didn't warrant booking The Waterfront just yet. As a result, we had nowhere to wait 'backstage' so we sat around in the lobby chatting. They were running even later than before this time, for some reason, so we had ages to wait. We spent the last half hour in the bar area just outside the conference room, which meant we had to keep very quiet...which is never easy when there's over forty of you! We didn't get out of there till gone 5, which had me worried as I was expecting Rowan back at home anytime after six... He spent the night at his friend's house, and they also collected him from school for me this afternoon.

We got back to the Cardiff office by quarter to six, and Suzi gave me a lift home so I was back in plenty of time for Rowan to get back home. Another friend in the Alto section, Zoe, had already offered me a lift home, but she lives all the way in Cwmbran and Suzi lives just ten minutes from me, so I thanked Zoe for being kind enough to put herself out for me but it made more sense for everyone if I accepted Suzi's offer instead.

On the whole, all three gigs went really well. There was a timing issue with the 'Man In The Mirror' section of the MJ Medley, but there was also a problem with the backing track at the first two gigs. This was fixed by Newport, but we still rushed a little. Had to keep an incredibly close eye on Andrea in order to bring ourselves back from that.

I am now extremely tired, thanks in part to what is for me a very, very early start, and partly from the sheer effort involved in those performances. We have to move a lot during the songs, and the adrenaline rush leaves you absolutely drained afterwards. I loved it though :-)
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
One of the guys on the next-door team is also an MLB fan - we struck up a conversation a couple of years back 'cause he was wandering around the office in a Mariners shirt (he also has a Seahawks shirt, and various other teams) - and today he brought me a gift; an actual MLB baseball that he caught at a game the other year! He and his wife were having a clearout and they have a spare, so he asked me if I wanted it! \O/ Going right onto a shelf in the glass cabinet thankyouverymuch! And no, the boy will not be permitted to play with it, no matter how much he complains!

I had an interesting start to my working day besides that; we were late getting Rowan to the sports camp, so I had to get a later bus into town but still had enough time to pop to Greggs for some breakfast - breakfast roll and a cup of tea! Nice way to start the morning. As I was walking up the steps to the building, I passed one of the Trainers for my department on her way out. She told me not to go into the building, as they were about to run a fire drill and Security would refuse to let me up anyway.

So I sat on a wall alongside the building, eating my breakfast roll while waiting for the alarm to sound. Sure enough, just as my shift should have started, off it went. I headed across the road to the assembly point and waited for some familiar faces - we take up around half the twenty-three floors in the building, so you can imagine there's quite a lot of people to evacuate. Plus, as assembled groups are wont to do, once they got across the road, most were unwilling to move much further than the curb despite the size of the 'Square' - which was, after all, the entire reason why it was chosen as our assembly point! :-p I felt so sorry for the bus drivers trying to get passed these hordes of people practically standing in the street!

I was quite content while waiting for the fire marshals to call my floor back into the building; I had a cup of tea (albeit one that could have done with a bit more sugar....) and was chatting with a colleague I get on well with, and is also in the choir with me. It didn't take long to get back to my desk, surprisingly -it usually takes quite a while queuing for the lifts back upstairs - and I was there before the rest of my team. I explained to my supervisor how I'd actually arrived on time and everything, but she was fine about it. Typical though! I could have been running late and I'd have gotten away with it! *laughs*

Not sure if Rowan's going to be going back to the camp in the summer, though *sigh* I think he's struggling to adjust to being in the 'Over Eights' group this year, with all the older kids and more physical activities. He's been very tired and grumpy most evenings, and always seems to have some complaint about how the other kids or the coaches have behaved towards him. Likely he just needs to mature a bit - the kids his age are starting to play that bit more roughly, but there are even bigger kids at the camp, and kids never seem to know how to adjust their play to accommodate the younger ones.

I imagine he'll be fine in a couple of years, when he's no longer one of the littlest. But for right now, this presents a slight childcare problem for me in the summer.

Oh, and as for this week's NCIS? Well, if Tony doesn't want to give his Timmy those Nutter Butters I know a good home for them... ;-)
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
It's been very busy lately; had an assignment due yesterday for my OU course, and also a gig last night at the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans.

I think I royally screwed up the assignment - plus I uploaded it to the server at one minute past midnight. Which is one minute after the twelve hour grace period ends... *sigh* Ah well.

The gig at St Fagans was actually work-related; all the heads of Personnel from all our international ventures had come in to Cardiff for a meet-and-greet type conference, and they'd put on a meal at the Workingmans Club transplanted from its original location in Oakdale to the museum.

So there was I, singing on the stage in the very room where they held that Ball in the Doctor Who two-parter "Human Nature/The Family of Blood" *geeks out*

The gig went well, despite some pretty ropey rehearsals. I think we actually nailed 'Somebody To Love' for the first time in over a year! :-p I could actually hear the harmonies us Altos usually mess up, and we hit the crescendo at the right point - which is almost unprecedented. The audience were whooping and cheering, which was great, and they also started clapping along during the final song (The 'Born Free' medley we took to the Albert Hall) at Andrea's encouragement. This did make things difficult, however, as they were not clapping along with the beat so we had to forcibly tune them out so as to not lose our rhythm.

The real fun came afterwards, when we left the Hall to make our way home. It was around eight thirty by this time, and black as pitch out there. St Fagans is a mostly open-air museum, and we'd made our way to the Hall through a quite well lit, but lengthy path, and we all wanted to take the shorter route back to the main complex. This, however, was not so well lit and they've closed down one of the old houses for renovations, so the regular route was not available - and we couldn't see that in the dark! *laughs* So we ended up heading towards the storage sheds, and had to backtrack to find the temporary path that goes alongside the house. Suzi was, of course, in ridiculously high heels, and Jo and I had to hold her steady as we went over the cobbled path in the dark *giggles*

Then we had to find out how to get back to the carpark. I was somewhere in the middle of the group, so I followed along when they didn't take the normal turning towards to the exit (I've spent many a Saturday at St Fagans with Rowan and Mam - it's free). Of course there was no-one to let us out through the complex, but one of the staff did turn up and point us to the proper exit. I then got myself a little confused and was insisting we were supposed to take the normal exit on the left, past the rest rooms. But in my defence, I couldn't see that the service gate was unlocked! ;-)

Tomorrow, we're attending the funeral of a long-standing member of staff who passed away last week after a battle with cancer. I didn't know her personally, though several people I work or sing with did, and she came to see us when we sang for Tenovus at Llandaff Cathedral. Her family asked if we would attend the funeral in order to boost the sound of the congregation during the hymns, so they wouldn't sound as weak and lacklusture as normal. I feel rather uneasy about attending, as I never met the woman, but I feel like I should anyway as part of the choir. God knows enough of them are going to be bawling their eyes out rather than singing - including George and Andrea. George used to work for the company so she knew the woman, and has taken it quite badly. I don't know if Andrea knew her, but by her own admission she's one of those people who will well up during such an emotional scenario - they had moments just today when we were going over the hymn list to ensure we had some familiarity with them.

All this has meant that we've needed extra rehearsals this week; three in all - one Altos-only practise and a regular rehearsal in preparation for the St Fagans gig, and one today ready for the funeral. So I've been having to work on for the last four days to try and make up for the three hours I've been away from my desk during work time. Wasn't easy, as we ran out of work half an hour before I'd planned to leave on Tuesday, and I left after just an extra half hour yesterday so I could get Rowan from school on time. Leaving an hour later than normal tends to make me just slightly late picking him up, since the whole stupid reshuffle of the bus system, and I was working to a deadline yesterday.

Ugh... I am tired now. Forgot to set the V+ to record last night's NCIS, so I watched them in bed at midnight since I was still awake after trying to finish my assignment. Means I didn't get to sleep till gone 2am - I know, stupid. Ah well...
gothams3rdrobin: (Default)
Despite only submitting my last assignment a week ago, I have less than a month in which to complete the next one! *brain frazzle*

The first part's easy enough; I have to do short descriptions of two linguistic terms. Not supposed to take too long, and I'm trying to resist getting complacent about it.

The second part is an essay regarding language in the workplace, specifically the way we talk to our colleagues compared to the way we talk to our customers, and the kind of terms we might use. For example, when a group of medical or legal professionals are discussing a case, there's all sorts of words being used that is specific to their line of work, and someone outside of their circle would need translated. This can and does occur in most - if not all - occupations, including mine.

Now, the assignment asks for examples relevant to our personal experiences. This is just a tad sticky for me because my line of work comes under the jurisdiction of the Data Protection Act, so I can't just blithely talk about when Joe Bloggs phoned up and bitched because we were demanding full payment of his premium as a result of his not keeping to his credit agreement. So, I had a word with my supervisor about whether I would be able to get hold of examples to use in the essay, before going to my Operations Manager to ask him the exact same question (Had Kelly told me from the start that it wasn't likely to be possible, there would have been no point bothering Andrew). Andrew and I discussed the assignment in some detail, and it was almost like discussing a thesis proposal with my tutor! (Not that I have any prior experience with that...) He understood exactly what the assignment was about, and was reeling off a whole list of examples relevant to our specific workplace - I joked he could have done the assignment for me! *grins*

So now I have to find some time outside of my regular shifts to listen to call records for some short routine calls which demonstrate how we use language to explain our procedures and underwriting criteria to customers (the 'laymen', if you will), talk to my colleagues about the way we discuss policies amongst ourselves (using codes and abbreviations, and being able to condense the information we provide due to shared knowledge) and the kind of abbreviations we use on the policy diaries in order to quickly note down what we did/talked about.

I may even speak nicely to my friends on the India Liaison team, for a few comparisons with our colleagues in Bangalore who cope with communicating with our customers through a second language. It goes a bit above the assignment brief, but every little helps!

Had a bit of a problem at work this morning too, as they've decided to change the company's domain name to something a bit more sensible and migrated everyone's accounts over the weekend. They swore that our previous email addresses would work just fine still, but at least three of us on my team weren't receiving any emails - though we could send them - and it seems this was true of many people across the company. I think the problem was one of laziness, 'cause the issue with my email account was the the username; when I first started at the company six years ago, it followed the format "firstname.lastname@brandname.co.uk". Then they decided to 'unify everyone in the company under the same banner' *yawn* and it became userid@companyname.uk.com. Following the migration, it evolved into "Firstname Middlename.SURNAME@newcompanydoman.co.uk".

The use of capitals and spacing is deliberate. See the problem? Yeah.

Wholly aside from the fact that I do not want my middle name in my corporate email address (It's bad enough that it's in my Identifier in the From header), you would think this would have called up a system flag, if not a complete error. But apparently not. The same was true of one of my team-mates, who's surname comprises of two words (not hyphenated). Why it also happened to my supervisor, who has a comparatively ordinary name, I couldn't say. It's fixed now, but I don't appear to have had any emails since half past two on Saturday afternoon, and I can only hope I haven't missed anything vital.
gothams3rdrobin: (Josh and blankie)
Today was the annual Staff General Meeting at work. As some of you may recall, I've been taking part in a singing group at work and our first goal (aside from the brief gig we did at the Winter Wonderland at Christmas) was to perform a few songs at the start of it, while people were finding their seats.
Cutting for length )

Snow day!

Feb. 3rd, 2009 08:20 am
gothams3rdrobin: (Joe Talbot in snow)
They just announced on the radio (I'm listening to local radio today, 'cause of the snow) that Rowan's school's closed. Rowan's beside himself with joy at this, naturally! ;-)

Mean's the loss of a day's pay for me, but meh. I'd quite like the day off actually.

Now I just have to get hold of work in about an hour to let them know - calling in's getting tricky these days for some reason. I have a dickens of a job getting through.
gothams3rdrobin: (Rowan at the beach)
Your rainbow is shaded blue, white, and violet.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

What is says about you: You are a contemplative person. You appreciate beauty and craftsmanship. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it. You share hobbies with friends and like trying to fit into their routines.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.






Rowan finally succumbed to the family cold at school today - poor love is very pale, and completely not himself. He's barely moved from the sofa all evening, and that's totally not him.

This means it's very unlikely I'll be at work tomorrow, despite the fact it's Dad's day off work. In point of fact, that's going to make things even more unpleasant as Dad's going to be very disgruntled at having company for the second week in a row...*sigh*

He was bad enough on Sunday, when I could do little more than lie prone on the sofa myself.

I don't know how work's going to react, as I'm dealing with a replacement manager (Louise is on maternity leave) and I am supposed to be working all five days. However, they don't pay you when you take a 'Care of Dependant' day anyway.

I'm also a little frustrated as there's a project at work I'm taking part in, and we're supposed to be meeting tomorrow afternoon. I've worked an extra hour and a half this week 'cause it's not entirely work-related and will take up pretty much half my working day, and it didn't look like I was going to be allowed 'time out' to attend. Not that they have much work for me to do these days anyway...

On a positive note, my name got drawn in a competition to win two cinema tickets! You had to not take a single sick day during October to qualify, and the winners were announced during the 'Employee Of The Month' awards meeting this afternoon - I wasn't expecting to win anything, as they always schedule these for times when I'm not in the office anyway, so I had my back to the meeting helping clean up some spilled Sea Monkeys! You can imagine my surprise when my name was called out! Also came this close to winning £80 in the bingo game too! *makes "Rats!" fingersnap*
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
Some of you may recall my commenting on how nervous I get when we go through quiet spells on my department at work. The first time I experienced this was when they took all the email addresses off the correpondance, claiming our customers were prefering to call us instead of email.

'Meeting the needs of the business' is the corporate line on this one.

The result of this was that we found ourselves with not enough work to go around the three Customer Service teams, the Renewals team and the Reports team - who processed all the incoming documentation and chased for outstanding ones, etc. The Reports team were, at the time, considered the dregs of the E-Services department; those whose work did not meet the standard required to be on the email teams.

Management decided to condense the E-Services team into just two Customer Service teams, getting completely shot of the Renewals team I was working on, and the Reports guys became a phone team. Most of the Renewals team went onto phones teams too, and I had to move back to the Customer Service teams. This was very unpleasant and I have never felt like I fit in on the team anymore - especially since I went part-time.

I've seen E-Services slowly shrink over the past three years, with us going on the phones more and more. And I've seen the standard of the free-format (ie. those not pre-written on the system) completely plummet to a level that shames me.

Plus we're now being pressured to sell Breakdown cover and all sorts of other stupid little things that we get marked down for not doing - I get silently pissed off at the number of competitions they hold to encourage upselling that is completely phones based, when I cannot go on the telephone.

This morning, Ops Manager Andrew (he who made a fool of himself about my role-play activities) got us all together to let us know that they're gonna be making us into a telephone/reports team in the very near future - essentially making us a phones team who just happen to be answering the emails too.

Morale in E-Services essentially hit the floor. Andrew had no idea what to say to us once he'd gauged the reaction, and could only spout the corporate line as vaguely as he could. It amazes me that they ever think we buy that bullshit - they certainly wouldn't have when they were just lowly workers themselves. No-one wants to be on the phones half their shift, when they were employed to answer emails - regardless of the 'needs of the business'. We have quite a few part-timers on our department, and several of the full-timers work on a specialised report which leaves only a handful of others to go on the phones when required.

And the real kicker? At lunchtime I heard a couple of the women on my team talking about one guy who, after a long time off sick, only works till eleven thirty and doesn't go on the phones anymore. I think it's an issue with his ears. They were bitching that he should have to go on the phones just like everyone else.

So you can imagine how I felt, quietly working away in my corner. How long did it take them, I wonder, to start bitching about me once my shift finished?

I need to get out of there. A long time ago.

Seeing red

Jul. 2nd, 2008 08:08 pm
gothams3rdrobin: (eddy - wtf)
I was so mad at the end of work today I nearly cried.

About fifteen minutes before my shift ended, my manager handed me the final draft of my Appraisal form for this year. This not only has the comments made by the two of us, but also the department manager - the same guy who thought I was going to spend my M&S vouchers on outfits for my roleplaying :-p

When I read what he wrote, I was stunned. He pretty much stated that I need to buck my act up, not just in my productivity, but in the emails I write to customers and the quality of my work.

WHAT???

Now, my productivity has always been a problem, I won't deny it. But the reason I'm still with the company after five years is because of the high quality of my work. I never get less than ninety-five percent for each piece of work they assess, and I never get any errors registered against me. So how the hell can he say the quality of my work is poor?

I told my manager when I handed the form back that I needed to talk to her about his comments tomorrow. I knew damn well if I tried to address it right then I would end up crying - I may still do tomorrow, but I had to give myself the time to process it.

Oh, and one of my objectives for the coming year is to 'raise my profile' within the team :-p Like hell...
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
I'm a naturally quiet person, unless I know you really well. Then, if our friendship allows it, I can get very affectionately cheeky and enjoy a spot of banter. Not saying I'm any good at it, but I try.

I try this once in a while at work, jumping into open conversations with the odd comment - be it an attempt at wit, a personal anecdote or the answer to some question or other. But pretty much all my life people have seemed to make assumptions about me, never taking the time to get to know me. I really don't know why that is.

In the last couple of months, not only have I been told I'm weird by someone who hasn't had much contact with me till recently, I've also had a lot of remarks regarding my eagerness to eat. So much so that I've chosen to stop eating entirely during working hours (but don't worry, I am making sure I eat before and after - I have no intention of developing an eating disorder, thanks)

A couple of weeks ago we had a buffet laid on for us, and the person who told me I was weird made a comment that she was surprised I wasn't the first in line. This hurt so much that I deliberately held back the following week when we had a pizza delivery as the winners of a team competition.

Yesterday I attended a presentation for those who have reached their five year anniversary in the company, where we were given a special glass paperweight (the VIP Exec who gave them out dropped mine! *shakes head* Good thing it didn't get damaged) and some Marks & Spencer vouchers, and tea and cakes were laid on for after. I decide to risk getting something from the refreshment table, but right behind me is my supervisor and our Operations manager, who start in on comments like "Oh here we go - remember, you can only have one cake!"

*sighs*

It's mostly meant in fun, but seriously, how the hell did I get such a reputation? I know I used to get pretty impatient for the trolley to turn up, but that was my breakfast most mornings. And my blood sugar levels were often dropping by mid-afternoon so a snack from the second run-through was always welcome. Plus, it's not like I was constantly raiding the snacks in the incentives cupboard.

And today the same Operations Manager managed to make a fool of himself when he came by to ask how I'd spent the M&S vouchers (he's friendly-nosy like that, not rude-nosy) and said he was surprised I hadn't used them to buy outfits for my online stuff. I questioned what he was on about, and he admitted that he thought my online role-playing was, essentially, CosPlay with webcams! I had to laugh as I explained it's basically creative writing, and he did seem suitably embarrassed, but honestly!

We're not supposed to keep our heads down and not interact with the rest of the team, but if they're gonna get such weird impressions of me? I think I will.
gothams3rdrobin: (me)
It's been a trying day so far...

Today was the official 'launch day' of the restructure at work, so there was a competition between the Cardiff and Swansea offices to see who could sell the most breakdown cover. As of about three this afternoon, we were winning.

There was also a buffet laid on, and we were allowed to go fetch some food at about quarter past one. I appear to have been the only one on the team not aware of our allotted time, despite it apparently being shouted across the floor most of the morning. When Suzi called over on her way downstairs to get hers, to see if I was coming too, one of the other girls made a quip about being shocked I wasn't the first one through the door!

WTF?

Yes, I enjoy food. My size is proof of that, though I'm hardly morbidly obese, thank you very much! And it may seem like I'm always eating at my desk, but it's harder to judge that when a person's only in for four hours a day. I often walk in with a few odds and ends; some pain au chocolat that are on a 2-for-80p offer in Sainsburys for my breakfast, a bottle (or two if there's a multiby on) of Lucozade and, sometimes whatever I picked up for my lunch. I usually have one pain while I'm waiting for my system to load up and, unless I'm extra hungry, save the second one when the others wander off for their morning break. Today, since my throat's been hurting me, I also picked up a gooseberry fool as I thought it might be a little soothing. As it happens, I'd also forgotten about the buffet, so I'd brought sandwiches and a packet of crisps in with me.

We do often have snack supplies bought with our team fun-money, but we haven't for a while now and I don't raid that very much anyway. One guy on our team was notorious for constantly raiding the cupboard, back when I was only in three days a week, and if anything I used to try and get my fair share! The best stuff was usually gone after a couple of days, anyway.

It just hurts, especially when the person making the remarks has only recently joined the team, having been a phones team supervisor before going on maternity leave. She's made comments about me before, and I'm always stunned because she really doesn't know me!

Gah!

So that had me in a bad mood at work, and then I had to hear all about Rowan acting up at school today and hitting some of his classmates! *scowls* That's not really normal behaviour for him, and his teacher hasn't needed to speak to me about him for months. He can't give me an explanation for his behaviour either. He missed out on going on a nature walk today, having to go sit with the nursery class instead.

We left the school yard on the understanding that he is on punishment this evening, but then he started on at me about going to the cafe for a snack. Even if he'd been an absolute angel today I would still have had to refuse him because I'm short on money right now as there's a bill due in a few days, but he just would not accept this! He created almost constantly, and was practically screaming at me to buy him a drink by the time we got to Tesco to get some supplies for tomorrow's lunches. Then he started claiming he wasn't nagging for a drink to have right then, but for drinks for his lunchbox! I demanded to know what the hell he thought we were in the supermarket for, if not to buy drinks for his lunchbox!

...sometimes, I just don't know.

He's been continuing to play me up since we got home as well, as he's supposed to be cleaning up the bombsite that's supposed to be his room. I think he's going to be cleaning his room every night this week...

Right. Gotta go put some soup on.

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December 2013

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