Wednesday 20 July 2011

Wet and Squishy

Yep - it must be the middle of the summer, because it's grey and yucky and cold. We have had, it seems, an endless parade of rainy shitty days lately. A few days it has rained all day, and lately, it's been alternating between clear and absolutely pissing it down with giant buckets of rain. On the plus side, it's very green out - all the nasty crunchy deadness of spring seems to have washed away. It does kind of make cycling a bit difficult though. I was supposed to gym today after work, but got caught in an enormous downpour. I was so wet I actually had to dump out my shoes. Not surprisingly, I went home so I could take a hot shower - nothing like shivering in the middle of July. Oh well - better than drought.

Speaking of bike, I recently bought two new "puncture resistant" tires (tyres). Yeah right. The first one blew out the sidewall when I got it to about 60 psi. The second one lasted a bit longer. I decided to suffer through having two different tires on my bike until I could decide what to do. Fortunately, I didn't have to suffer long. The second one (on the back) hit some invisible object in the middle of a very busy intersection and deflated over the course of about two secondds, leaving me with the great pleasure of walking home, through a bad neigbhborhood, in the increasing dark. I did try returning the first one to the bike store. I still had the label but not the receipt. The nice older guy who first helped me was going to do the return, but the pimple faced jackass store manager wouldn't allow it, because there was no receipt. So, I just dropped the tire on the floor and walked out. Little pimply faced shit. Hmph!

Oh, in a sure indication that David and I are becoming way too domesticated, we went to the Hampton Court Flower Show. Talk about middle class Middle England! We played a fun game of "spot the ethnic minority" and had a lovely time ooing and ahhing over the show gardens and displays of flowers. Now, if we could only get our tiny garden to look like that.

Hmm- I'm sure there is something else exciting going on, but my brain seems to be tapioca at the moment and I can't think of what it is.

I suppose, in other world shattering news, we are going to actually get a dining table tomorrow, and maybe even some chairs to go with it! We still don't have any curtains on the downstairs front window, and God only knows when we'll actually get anything painted. Manana manana...

Oh, I know - vaguely amusing to me... Last weekend Robin's friend Mike was over here from Munich. Mike is an absolute sweety who owns a sex store. Last weekend was Fetish Weekend in London (I'm sure it made all the newspapers). I thought about going out - getting all dressed up in tiny little rubber shorts and big black boots (I am either proud or embarrassed to admit that I own a tiny little pair of rubber shorts, but that's another story). ANYWAY, it was Fetish Weekend, with a number of clubs and bars having big events (lots of men and some women, mostly in leather or rubber, some uniforms... Many of them take it just a little too seriously, but really - it's all grownups playing dressup - I think it's fun). So, Robin and Mike went out, but I was feeling boring, so I did not. I'm sure our street was amused at Mike's hairy ass peeking out of his leather chaps as they walked down the road, but then, this is a pretty gay neighborhood - I'm sure they have seen worse. What a fun little weird gay household I live in... :-)

Not much else - I've got some recent pics, including flower show (not Fetish Weekend), but I'm too lazy to upload them at the moment.

Oh oh oh, I know the other thing... We all went to listen to Gillian Weir play the organ at St Paul's Cathedral. There were also several choirs and the Birmingham Symphony (I think it was the Birmingham Symphony - there were a lot of people playing a lot of instruments and it sounded vaguely classical... ;-) They packed St Paul's (and that's a lot of people), and we got to sit up under the dome, which was pretty fantastic. The audience - old people and gay men. It's funny how often those two groups will be together. And we just paid a shitload of money to go see Dolly Parton in September. Apparently it's her last concert, and it is selling very quickly. I absolutely can't wait - I've never seen Dolly in concert, though I have been to Dollywood... I can't even begin to imagine what that audience will be like, but it will also, most likely, be absolutely crammed to the rafters with gay men. We're everywhere.

How fabulous.

Thursday 7 July 2011

Passport from the Planet Purple

Woohoo, I got my British passport today! It's got a purple cover and a micrcochip in it, which means that I can go through the automated gate at immigration. It also means that I don't have to wait in the goats and chickens line behind the flight from Mumbai. Wee, I can't wait to use it at the first time! (Have to remember though to use the USA passport going back to the USA because they get their knickers in a twist if you use a foreign passport and you are still a US citizen...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

An Interesting Few Weeks...

So, I've been applying for jobs, including my manager's old job. It would have been managing the GIS team at Hackney, and would actually be quite a techie job. My colleague got it instead, and, to be honest, he really should have, as he's much more technically minded than I am. The process applying was the most difficult for any job to which I've applied so far. We had the usual interview, plus a 10 minute presentation, for which we were given our topic and given an hour to prepare. There was a technical test, and, more unusually, a half-day personalitiy and management styles assessment by an outside company. Turns out I'm a really good people manager, but I have suckass timekeeping (knew that) and I'm disorganized (knew that as well). Apparently, I am very analytical, but I do not have the type of mind to become a software developer. We all had to take this sort of test and I bombed the big one. So, the head of the department has pulled me aside and told me I really (really really) should apply for one of the business analyst/project manager jobs they have going. Say what? She (a former GIS person) told me that, essentially, my technical skills are not good enough, and will likely never be good enough to compete with people 10 years my junior (ah, feeling old - how nice), and that she really thinks I would be very good at this (basically studying processes within the organization) and that she has recommended to the head of IT that I apply. Uh, OK - I guess there is some similarity between processes of the world and processes of a governmental organization, and yes, I can see how it could be quite interesting. But, eh? Total career change! I guess, or not. I don't know, actually. Somehow I've gone from geology to geography to business processes. How utterly bizarre. Now I'd be the first to say that I don't really give a ratcrap about business processes, and my boss was gracious enough to point out to me that no, I don't really care about the business (I don't), but she thinks I would be good at it and that, for no other reason than experience and for major resume points, give it a try. OK - I suppose... It would mean going through another major application process (this being local government, nothing is ever just given away), but I'm willing to try something different. I very much like the other business analysts, so that's something - I think they are intelligent, interesting people. But me, a business analyst? I suppose though that when the head of your department, who used to do the same thing as you, pulls you aside and says stop doing what you are doing, it's a waste of time - try this - it's worth paying some attention. Anyway, will see where that goes - I'm applying for another management job as well, at another council - definitely time to move somewhere, though it would actually be nice to keep working at the same organization, as I generally like the people, and I've been there for three years!

What else...

We just passed the longest day of the year, which I always find slightly depressing. Back on the relentless march towards sunset at 3:45. Still though, June and July evenings are absolutely the best - the sunset lasts for a good hour and a half. Sunset itself is about 915, with the last remnants of light dying out of the northern sky around 11pm. It's back up just after 4. There is also a sort of blue quality to the late evening light that I've never seen further south. Robin just says that it's "twilight" and that I'm being silly, but I'm sure that I've never seen it in the US. Generally speaking, the quality of light in northern places (or, I suppose, to be fair, very southern places) is pretty amazing - much more interesting than the harsh light of, say, Florida. I particularly like the midwinter light - it's sort of perpetual evening, with long, dark shadows, and usually with low scudding clouds and hints of impending weather. I like England.

Speaking of, I applied for and got my passport, which will be delivered to me on Thursday. I had to go in for an interview, where they peppered me, at a very rapid clip, with question after question of things that only I should know - bank transactions, details about parents, my particular citizenship ceremony, etc. It was actually really stressful - I was afraid I'd get a wrong answer - get my name wrong or something. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, you caught me - I am a complete fraud and shouldn't get this passport!". I'm very much looking forward to getting to go through European customs in the cool line, rather than the goats and chickens line, behind the flight from Mali. Membership has its privileges.

Fourth of July. Not a big holiday here. I worked. But I felt patriotic. Or something. We had a few friends over on Sunday evening for a bbq in the back yard. It was actually nice and didn't rain, which is good, as we've had more than a few bbqs sitting under umbrellas. We have quite a number of fireworks left over from Guy Fawkes day, last November, but decided against setting them off in our very small back yard, as we thought it might be a little awkward explaining to the neighbs why we set their back yards on fire. Oh well.

OK - some pics.

This is the new, 1000 ft tall "Shard", being built behind City Hall (aka "The Bollock").

Thames at sundown, from Waterloo Bridge, looking towards The City.

David in the weed patch, which is now actually blooming, and which a friend referred to as our "cottage garden". How charitable! Will get flower pics soon...

A rainbow, looking out from the front door.

A face only a mother could love?

David and Robin would kill me about this pic - but this is them watching something on 3D-TV. It just gives me a headache...

Rob and Frank, sitting outside Costa Coffee on Old Compton Street, on their brief foray over from Berlin!

Robin giving death rays to someone's dog in a pub.

Sundown on Northway, just around the corner from our house.

Telephone wires coming from a rather ancient pole.

Oh, I almost forgot - I had a very strange dream last night - strange even for me. First off, and I think I've said this before, I get recurring dream themes. I get water dreams when I am feeling overwhelmed (not as overwhelmed as fire) and I've been having dreams of trying to take public transportation to absurd places lately, which I link to feeling like I'm stuck in my job (in the public sector). So, last night I had a dream that I was on a large ferry. Only on this ferry, we were all strapped in like in a roller coaster, and loaded onto these sort of ferris wheels - cars, people, etc (don't ask, it was my dream). Anyway, I thought this was a bit odd, but whatever. So, then it's time for the ferry to leave, only, instead of lumbering out of the dock as one might normally expect of a ferry, it catapulted out at hundreds of miles per hours, into the air (suppose this was why we were strapped in). As it flew out of the dock, out of nowhere started playing the theme tune - Copacabana (which, incidentally, I heard last night, so at least that made sense). And then David was shaking me awake, telling me to turn my stupid alarm off. To think I nearly made it across the great body of water in the supersonic ferry, only to be thwarted by my alarm.