abendgules: (tea in winter)
Jesus, can't these people stay home with their freaking infections?? of course not. Bloody martyrs.

I'm prone to respiratory infections as is Robert. Really, really not impressed.
abendgules: (self-portrait)
I came back from the colonies with a lot on my mind.

Summary:

Ageing sucks. Avoid at all costs.

If you cannot avoid, start now to strengthen your body so you're not as vulnerable to falls, fragile bones, collapsing vertebra, and loss of muscle tone. Just keep at it.

Nurses (and other medic types) remain the worst patients. They know it all and are lousy at taking advice from their own GPs.

If you insist on getting old, start downsizing now. Do not leave emotional cluster-bomb crap for your relatives to deal with.

My mum's house is thick with photographs and it feels physically oppressive to me, this celebration of the past; no photos less than 10 years old, most of them much older. Cannot imagine inheriting a stately home, if just a bunch of pictures make me feel loaded down with expectation.

Do it now, whatever it is.

I attended the funeral of a man 2 years younger than me: son to my parents' longtime friends K&A. I grew up w/ Tom and his brothers, though as a teen you stop going to dinner at your parents' friends' homes, so I'd not seen him since late teens.

Tom lost control of his motorbike on a dry straight road on Father's Day. Of the 4 brothers he was the only one with a wife and 2 small kids of his own.

The funeral service was packed with people who, I suspect, were not used to mourning; adults who have not yet seen elderly parents and ageing friends die, who had little experience with death.

I'm not an expert, but it felt to me like there were a lot of people not certain how to mourn; men, in particular, used to being happy, angry, outgoing, but not grieving. It was really breaking them.

Once again I had a chance to observe a good 'court herald' in the funeral home staff - setting the tone and pace, directing people and providing cues without appearing to push - and an experienced minister who was excellent at keeping it brief, and focusing on the joyful life rather than the sudden death.

There's real skill in making people welcome when they're not at their best, when emotions run high, and to make them as comfortable as possible. I was impressed by the funeral home's professionalism.

One slightly eerie aspect: Tom had recently started playing guitar again, after giving up his teen dreams of stardom. Just this week he'd recorded himself playing and singing one song, about 3 minutes, on his phone. His wife found it after he'd died, and she played the clip at the funeral. It was peculiar, but very apt, for Tom to sing a song at his own funeral.

The takeaway message though was - live today like it's your last. Don't put off plans, dreams, goals. Do them now.

My extended family remain a pretty remarkable and cool bunch of people. I caught up with several cousins and 2nd cousins, and am grateful that they are still really awesome folks.

I was deeply, profoundly grateful for old friends in Canada who were untroubled by my phoning them out of the blue, to ask for help. My friend Julia and her household made me welcome and I stayed more than a week, mostly just overnights, as a place to unwind, close to Mum's house.

I didn't manage to reach everyone I wanted to, which was disappointing. Will have to follow up online.

Am finishing this post and going to bed. Hoping to get to sleep sometime before 3.30am this time...
abendgules: (knitting)
Last weekend, I dropped a wad of money on yarn for a long-term knitting project.

I've ordered 4kg of Shetland yarn; it will require hours of processing even before knitting.

It's 'yarn in oil' so you *can* knit it as-is, and wash it after knitting, but honestly it's not very nice to knit with as is, and much nicer after washing the skeins.

Said yarn is probably going to sit at Robert's office, while I'm in the colonies, yarnless and unable to reach it.

I can take another project, but with all the glitter of the new, it was the *new* project I wanted to take with me to the colonies.

First world problems.
abendgules: (womaninmotion)
I've held off running while The Stupid Cough(tm) was lingering.

Today I walked, and ran veeeeeeerrrrry sloooooowly, round the park at lunchtime.

Somehow, somehow, I have to remember how much better I feel after even a very few minutes of running.

I feel cheerier within a very short time (which leads to rather unrealistic goals of running for miles and miles, that somehow haven't yet come about) but it's a noticeable effect.

It doesn't matter to me if it's adrenalin or dopamine or any of the simplistic body-chemistry reasons people throw around (not convinced these explanations hold up under scrutiny).

I just feel better; I care less about worrying things; the afternoon that follows feels manageable.

I spent much of Sunday wearing clothes for running (thinking it would motivate me) without succeeding in actually getting out the door.

On Sunday, my clothes lost out against inertia and sloth. To get through I need to get out the door even for just a few minutes.

One book on running I have suggested (paraphrased):

If you're feeling tired and unmotivated, tell yourself you'll just go out for 10 minutes.

If, in 10 minutes, you still feel tired and unmotivated, then turn round and go home.

...for me, it's the getting out the door to the first 10 minutes that is really, really hard.
abendgules: (hunh?)
Last week I bought 2 blouses that, I discovered at home, gape at the bust (I know, you're surprised...). They fit well aside from that.

So on the weekend I diligently stitched a snap between buttons on both blouses, carefully lining it up w/ the grain of the fabric and the existing buttons.

I was really smug: small fixes tend to get neglected for ages before actually happening, so here I was ahead of the curve for once.

Today I put on blouse 2 and discover I've meticulously stitched the snap in the wrong place.

I now have a blouse with a very modest neckline, that still gapes.

And if I did it wrong on one, I've done it wrong on both.

Blouse 1 (my means of discovering the gape) was laundered and pressed...and now proves to be about 3/4 " shorter than blouse 2 (not yet washed), because I didn't read the washing instructions.

There are other signs of my complete gormlessness today, but they're not fit for company. Sigh.
abendgules: (knitting)
This week has been pretty rubbish, with a lot of worry about Mum burbling in the background of my self, prime example being the Friday night phonecalls and emails as Mum went to ER for the 3rd time in 2 weeks.

I'm not thrilled about finding out that I had a new manager the day she started work; my existing mgr had said nothing about it during our last round of objective setting and annual appraisal bumf.

I'm still waiting for my stupid cough to pack it in. I blame Nordmark and its determinedly egalitarian and democratic approach to life; everyone can share the misery.

Trying to exert control over what tiny areas I can, I cleaned out my clothing drawers and put 2 bags in the clothing and fabric charity box.

This tidying was to make room for some recent semi-impulse purchases - where you go in for 1 thing (running shoes on sale) and find yourself buying 2 shirts off the 'reduced' rack and 3 sets of socks at 3 for 2.

I now have more shortsleeve running shirts than there are days in the week, and either shorts or leggings to go with them.

I cannot justify any more running or fitness clothes til something hops out of the drawer and goes to the gym without me.

Yesterday I spent a chunk of money on yarn - lots of it - for a longterm knitting project. I'll have to hit [livejournal.com profile] zmiya_san up for use of her yarn swift, or else I'll get RSI skeining all this yarn.

Today I spent on household linens; it's been long enough since my last purchase that the linens shop has changed name and I couldn't find it online at first.

I don't tend to use retail therapy, not really. I think about buying something for a long time before actually finding the time or inclination to shell out.

When I do buy, I tend to buy lots, and then I'm done, finished.

I've been planning these purchases for ages. However, this weekend I think online shopping gave me something to do that was in my control.

Sometimes I do buy myself treats after a long day, or if I'm out of my usual routine.

Last week I was on training for work that brought me into the City. There are no longer any bookstores on Fleet Street; the Waterstones packed it in, and the legal publisher is gone too. So I had to trek to Waterloo station (a roundabout way home) to find the Foyles that is now there, and treat myself to some paperbacks, as well as Rev Richard Coles autobiography.

Control efforts have not reached my fabric stash, however, or my fencing bag.
abendgules: (ohnoes_omg)
Trotted down to S. London this weekend to look at a place. Wasn't a fraction the size suggested by the external photo, and interior was cramped and dingy.

Robert poked his head into the loft and *could see daylight through the slates*.   This gives you an idea of the calibre of rental house available to two professionals in London.

It's like living in the 19th century. Might as well burn money to heat the house. You'd think it was Grade II listed or something but no. It's just lazy.

Agent was desperate to get a deal, though, and offered to negotiate changes like insulating the roof, installing shelves, buying an outdoor shed. This would be thousands of pounds of work, and if the landlady can't be bothered to insulate it on principle, because that's what civilised people do, catch up FFS, why the heck would she agree to do it for us?

We thought about it, briefly, because we're feeling pressed too, but said no.

Walked to another house which looks very promising, but is just about as far from work as I dare consider commuting. If we take this, I either have to work from a different office, or really and truly find another job. Unfortunately even though it's on several agencies' listings we couldn't find anyone to show it to us. We retreated to a pub to regroup; the nearest one was very hospitable.

Because we've been in one place for several years, through several other peoples' moves, we've inherited A Lot of Stuff(tm) and frankly don't want to move it if we don't have to.  On Sunday we opened the house to guests to paw through our collection of fabric, leather, armour bits, scribal supplies, books, and yarn, in an effort to downsize. The actual haul leaving the house was small but I felt better for having tried to share our resources with the shire.

I'm really, *really* hoping Robert can redistribute his spare armour collection before moving day. We haven't seen the floor of one closet full of armour, shields and weapons, in a year.

Today I'm working from home. I woke up with my shins on fire, like I'd run a marathon uphill - I blame South London, which is clearly risky to my physical health. The length of Tooting high street is on a slope, and we went up and down it 4 times before walking to the second place, then trotting up and down Brixton Hill (clue is in the name) to the Tube.

Now scoping the options on today's search, and further confirming my view the estate agents are minions of evil...misleading descriptions, fisheye lens photos, no floorplans...and they charge you for the privilege of dealing with them. Unbelieveable.
abendgules: (15thc_worker)
Knackered.
Worried about housing.
Don't know what will happen after end of March. See 'housing'.
Our favourite neighbours are moving - catsitting services lost. This neighbourhood is going to the dogs. Gotta move. See 'housing'.

Otherwise, some nice stuff happened in the past couple of weeks:

- 2 weekends ago: Dance workshop w/ Mary Collins: 16th c Italian. Hard work, totally awesome. Loved spending the weekend with HE Paul and Lady Anne.
- Last Friday: Afternoon lectures at MoL with curators about Cheapside Hoard. Very useful, very informative. Changed the way I saw the exhibit, literally. Have loads of notes and will try to post.
- Last Saturday: Taught calligraphy 'from scratch' for the first time, didn't fail completely, noone ran away. Still need to refine the teaching, but everyone successfully made letters. Very satisfying.

Sorely bummed I'm not attending Crown to see Margaret de May on vigil, at start of April. See 'housing'...
abendgules: (monsters)
The Tube has been on strike for the past 2 days.

Unlike strikes in Canada, though, they are short, timed events. They announce them well in advance, and both sides (unions and TfL) proclaim that they are actually the ones who have the best interests of London at heart, and pretend to apologise for the inconvenience to the public.

Fortunately I could dodge this, this time, working at home. It's not as efficient as being at work. Only one screen, relying on a virtual intra-net, the laptop has software setup glitches; it doesn't belong to any single person, so noone has taken the time to sort it, always handing it back in before getting them resolved. It's fiddly to keep phoning my coworkers instead of just turning around to talk to them. The chair and desk aren't comfortable for hours at a time.

But my god, waking up at 8.45 and being home for an extra few hours feels sooo different. It's the hours at the end of the day that feel so different to me. Home at 5pm, 5.30, 6pm, 6.30! Luxury.

Robert simply walked to his office - 45 mins, almost the same as being on the (regular) bus, definitely faster than waiting for buses this week.

Next strike is set for next week. Lather rinse repeat.

Broken

Jan. 29th, 2014 08:44 pm
abendgules: (Confesse)
I realised this week that GDS, the agency that runs GOV.UK, have broken me.

After a year of involvement with this group, I cannot see a way of keeping my job, and retaining an even keel. I'll have to leave my current work place at PHE - a place and role and job that I was so pleased to find, and so happy to hold, when I got it - and find something else. Because I can't work with GDS, and PHE's future lies with them.

I've been angry with GDS for awhile, and my anger has seemed out of proportion to the scale of their offense. They're arrogant, smug, cavalier about other people's work, utterly convinced that their way of developing a website is the One True Path. And they seem collectively oblivious to the effect they have on others - on other professionals, with their own experience and knowledge of the field, who might have something to contribute.

But I'm beginning to think that their approach has daily undermined my sense of self - my sense that I'm a capable professional with good skills.

And it's their choice of communication (or lack thereof) that I think is the breaking point. I, and PHE, are powerless in this project - GDS hold all the cards, and we have no means to resist the mandate of the Cabinet office. If they had been a traditional supplier, we'd have thrown them out a year ago and found someone capable to negotiate with - but that's not an option.

This week it's become clear that their intent to change the language of government and convert it to plain English is strategically unsound.

To get any major change in a large organisation, you need the cooperation and support of management from the top. But they haven't approached anyone in senior management that I know of; instead they've set out a style guide and told those who upload content to it that they have to adhere to it. That's the people like me.

This would be fine, if I was actually author to the works I publish. But I'm not, and there's many times that really quite tortured press statements have been through multiple rounds of approval, with the participation of many people. Having me rewrite it at the end so that GOV.UK are happy with it is a non-starter.

Instead, I find myself trying to sell plain English to people - busy people, who are not trained authors, who are struggling to understand why their writing isn't acceptable, after they've checked with all their superiors.

And I and my colleagues are the ones getting squashed: I can't please my scientist colleagues in the Agency who have important health messages to convey, and I can't please GDS because even if I change 4/5 of the dreadful style points, they'll still point out the one that was left as a peace offering.

GDS seem to have no grasp of how comms departments function. They want to train editors, but they don't seem to want to teach writing skills to the actual content authors.

GDS have neither the people skills, nor the communication skills, to work with other agencies - instead they spend their time testing google stats and slapping themselves on the back for their awesome work. It's an echo chamber of awesome for them.

So after a year of this...I can't wait for my job to improve anymore. We've had promise after promise of change, that there's new people coming, new positions to apply for, work that will advance the transition to GOV.UK, restructuring of the team...and none of it has happened. And I don't think I trust my own department's ability to hire, restructure and find the right people to make this happen. I've tried - it hasn't happened.

I'd hoped I'd be strong enough to see it through - to not let them get to me, and ruin a job I've loved. But I'm not. I'm out of energy, and they've driven off the person who is best suited to help them do their job for PHE.
abendgules: (catching snowflakes)
who is thinking about thinking positively.

Scientific American article about negative emotions

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