Work – a four letter word

So, this week I has mainly been in Italy – Lake Como πŸ™‚ for training on pressure transmitters.

There were about 30 of us – ABB sales team, 2 of us office bods, and the alliance partners had sent over some representatives so ~I got to meet people I deal wioth on a day to day basis too.

Hard life eh? in the office Monday, then picked up Tuesday at stupid o’clock and off to the airport, arriving at the ABB factory in Ossucio at about 13.30 in time for lunch and then a tour of the factory – very impressive. The drive from the airport took us to Como, then around the lake so we got to see various views of this beautiful area on the Switzerland/Italy border.

After a couple of presentations and some Q&A, it was back to Como to the hotel – it was decided we’d meet up at 19.00, have a beer, then go for dinner.

I got to my room, unpacked, had a shower, then headed down to the bar – my colleague Alan was there, but no sign of any bar staff, and the room was very stuffy – I told him I was heading outside to the square.

So I headed straight to the outside seating area of a bar and ordered a beer – round about 5 minutes later one of the alliance guys came over, we introduced ourselves to each other the civilised way (more beer), and sat in the sun chatting and watching the world go by. Withing 10 minutes, we had probably 90% of the ABB posse with us and the beer was flowing…it took the organiser quite some time to get us all together to go to dinner (akin to herding cats).

Dinner was fucking awful – shellfish and pasta starter, followed by fish…I HATE fish. Still, beer was good, ditto the bread. After dinner it was back to the bar in the square for a few more hours of drinking then off to bed.

Following day was 07.00 start, down to the hydrofoil and a trip across the lake to Lenno, then 30 minute walk (uphill) to the factory. The morning was taken with presentations and discussions on the product range, then in the afternoon we split into groups – the principals off to discuss sales strategies, us bods to partake in training.

The training was mainly about the new wireless models, so we started with lots of questions regarding security, data verification etc (this was really well inside my comfort zone!), then had some hands-on with the equipment to learn how to setup everything, blah, blah, blah…

The walk back to the hydrofoil port was very hot – temperature was around 29 degrees – and downhill. On cobbled walkways. I was glad I’d decided not to wear shoes, but instead some very comfy trainer type footwear. There were more than a few people complaining of sore feet.

That evening was almost a mirror of the first – the bar on the square had now become our base, and from there we headed off to a different restaurant for dinner (delicious lump of cow this time…nom, nom).

Back to the square and more beer – I went to bed around 23.30 but there was a hardcore of the guys who partied until 04.00.

Thursday breakfast was amusing – I was wide awake and full of beans, but there were more than a few heavy heads. We had a couple of hours discussing everything, then everybody made their way back to the airport and home. Alan and I didn’t have a flight until 21.40 so spent the afternoon in Como, having some lunch, a few beers, and generally soaking up some sun.

And this week: Monday is a bank holiday, I’ve booked Tuesday and Wednesday off, so nothing until Thursday for me…although I do have to paint some fence panels.

Life is good πŸ™‚

 

ANOTHER post? so soon?

It’s Friday people! πŸ™‚ I’ll be finishing early today, then Lisa and I are off to the O2 for the Channel 4 Comedy Gala

Spurs need one more win (from 2 remaining games) to confirm second place in the league. Now everyone says second place is just first loser, but all these people support the Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal et al who have all finished lower…this confuses me until I realise it’s all jealousy – jealousy of our players, of our manager, of the team’s fitness levels…

129 days until Mexico…

Alert! alert! new post :O

Wow, 18 months since my last post…and reading that, things have certainly changed! and all for the better.

Firstly, Lisa and I got married – very romantic affair really, it was sold to me that financially it made sense with the properties etc. As such, we got 2 witnesses, Lisa’s dad, and my mum and off to the registry office. We had the Muppet Show theme tune playing during the ceremony, then Lou Reed’s ‘Perfect Day’ (the only ‘sensible’ wedding ceremony song), follwed by Foo Fighters ‘Long Road to Ruin’. We left the registry office to the Muppets ‘Manamana’. Lisa got a ring, I got a ball and chain (seriously – I got a ball and chain, it’s not a euphemism).

So yeah, pretty big change right there.

Work has changed vastly too – for legal reasons I cannot discuss any settlement agreements or wrong doings.

After a couple of months working as a packer on a production line, I got a job doing some data analysis for a distribution company. I actually applied for a basic administration position but got a call back saying they thought I was over qualified for the position, but they’d created a new position for me (which is a huge ego boost for someone of my age).

I then took a job for Liebherr, a German company specialising in tower cranes. My manager had some odd ways of doing things which saw me leave there after only a couple of months. Once again, I was turned down for the original job I applied for, but was offered a different job to match my skills.

After mooching around for a couple of weeks, and Christmas starting to loom on the horizon, Lisa sent me a link one day for a job inside ABB. I applied, and we both agreed that to avoid any bias one way or another, I’d not mention her working for the company.

The application went in, was received with interest, and I underwent a telephone interview – I’m quite good on the phone, and have the knack of sounding knowledgeable about things I honestly know little of. I then received a further callback inviting me to an interview – this would be just before the Christmas break.

At this point, Lisa and I decided she should approach HR and let them know she had initiated the recruitment so she’d get the recruitment bonus (we thought this would be a couple of hundred pounds). HR told her yes, there was a bonus – Β£1000 if I was successful in the interview, and a further Β£1000 after 6 months.

Interview day comes around – a Friday (this is key). I arrived promptly for my interview and was met by Al (the manager of the section) who was dressed in jeans and t-shirt. Seeing my expression, he said, “I normally wear a shirt and most days a tie, but Friday is dress-down day.”

For the first time IN MY LIFE, I was the best dressed person in the company. The interview with me, Al, and the other Al went very well, and I was offered the job a couple of days later to start in the new year – January 11th in fact.

I was actually phoned on the 5th to ask if I’d like to attend some training they were holding that day which would be of use for me – having nothing better to do, I did this, and as such, became the first person to start work before my start date…

So, my new career as an Internal Proposals Engineer is a very interesting one – I’m learning the range of products offered by ABB, and was approached by the head of UK sales in late March to say he’d like me to attend some training in Italy in May. Now, in my head I was thinking “Hmm, my probation period runs until mid April, but I’m booked on some overseas training in May – I think I may have this job…”

Sure enough, a couple of weeks ago, Al turned to me and said “Paul, about your probation period”, I turned around and he continued “Yeah, you’re in…despite being a Spurs fan.” (he supports Chelsea).

Which brings me neatly to the current EPL – Spurs trailing Leicester at the top of the table, still (as I write this) mathematically possible for them to be champions – but what a season, what a difference the manager has made, and what effort the players have put in as a whole, they really are awesome to watch – like an unending white wave swarming over defences.

Lisa and I decided to book a holiday in September once the girls have gone back to school, we initially thought Gran Canaria, but due to the problems in North Africa and Syria, it seems everyone is now going to Spain and the Canary Islands. In a nutshell, I was sold on the idea of the lazy river at the hotel in Cancun, so we’re off to Mexico for 2 weeks – lovely stuff.

Cats: Gif has really settled in now, and even tolerates the other 2 cats being quite close to him.

Household media system: Although the plethora of storage devices still exist, we’re moving more onto streaming films/TV shows (the girls love the US Whose Line is it Anyway?).

We’re (Lisa) is now onto the final room in the extended house to be redecorated – our bedroom. Yesterday I was allowed (under supervision), to take out a brick cupboard that used to house the boiler, but was now empty and taking up space.

I’ll upload some pictures later of the wedding, and the house/garden. Until then, ciao

It’s gone mad I tell ya…

Here’s a quote from the BBC News website:

The government is due to unveil a new plan to tackle the threat posed by the potential return to the UK of British Islamists who are currently fighting in Iraq or Syria.
The Conservatives want new laws to impose temporary bans on extremists re-entering the UK from foreign conflicts.
However, the Lib Dems have questioned the legality of such measures.

‘Questioned the legality’?

They are terrorists FFS – kick the bastards AND their families out of the country and send them to Syria/Iraq. And forget the temporary bit – strip them of any UK citizenship at the same time.

Meh.

Bit of an update

I seem to have neglected my blog for a while now, so let me bring you up to date:

Since February ’13 I’ve been mostly working – I had a lot of trips to Singapore/Malaysia last year (Lisa came with me for one week out there). Working in the heat out there is so draining…

Talking of work, we have now moved to new premises. Where we had the office separate from the workshop by about 5 miles, we now have everyone under the same roof – the old workshop has been knocked down and the land is going to be redeveloped for houses. The new building is the same distance as the old office form home, so just as easy to get in, but I’m no longer over the road from Lisa, so lunches have to be planned more.

I may have mentioned I’m now a director of the company – all this means is I work more hours and end up worse off financially…this should change over time now though (I certainly hope it does!).

Lisa and I bought my old house in Mallard Lane last year – as it was an ex council house, I qualified for a 45% discount (cost me Β£68,000, now valued at Β£130,000). After 5 years, I can sell without having to pay the discount back πŸ™‚

We’re now buying the house next to us in Green End Road to make our living space bigger – this is proving to be a drain on resources, so going out is no longer something we are doing 3 or 4 times a week.

Cats:
Gif is still Gif, Mallard Lane is being rented out and Bob (a friend) looks after Gif for me – I still treat him with Frontline for fleas, so I’m the bad guy 😐 Once we get into next door, we’ll bring Gif there to see if he’ll settle next to our 2 cats. Talking of our 2 cats – Gizmo (Giz) and Widget (Widg) – Giz got hit by a car last week so we took her to the vets: dislocated hip and perforated diaphragm πŸ™ The vet operated on the diaphragm and while she was out, he manipulated the hip back into place. Hopefully the hip will stay in or she’ll need another operation to have the hip bone trimmed. Again, this expense has hit us hard so money is tight right now.

On the bright side, my asthma seems to be good this year (last year I had a series of chest infections not helped by the almost constant flying), and the weather right now is awesome. We (Lisa, me and the 2 girls) also had a great week in Spain late May/early June.

Ooh, how about some techy stuff?

We don’t own a DVD player in the house (other than those in notebooks) – everything is stored on NAS drives and streamed to rooms using WDTV Live SMP boxes. All the bedrooms are connected wirelessly – there is a wireless extender upstairs to boost the signal.

The NAS drives consist of:
2 x WD 6TB (2 x 3TB drives) NAS enclosures setup in RAID1 – one for TV shows, 1 for Films
1 x DNS-320 4TB (2 x 2TB drives) NAS enclosure (again, setup in RAID1) for the more adult shows/films not suitable for the girls to watch

There is also a Zyxel NSA310 1 drive (2TB capacity) NAS enclosure which is used to store music and photos. I also use this as a network torrent client and seedbox. I’m waiting on delivery of a eSata drive to connect to this to give me a backup – I just had the drive replaced after failure and lost all the music etc. on there. Fortunately, all the pictures are up on my or Lisa’s Flickr accounts, and most of the music is replaceable (a lot of it is on my phone, USB drives for the car etc.)

As I’m partial to the odd game of football, I also have a satellite setup – a 1000mm dish on a motor which can pickup about 45 satellites meaning I get every Premier League game I want to see πŸ™‚ The satellite feeds into a Linux based box (I used to have a Dreambox DM600PVR, but needed a new box with HDMI output, so bought a generic box which seems to be fine).

To view all the content we have, we bought a new TV (well, ‘toaster’ – see explanation below) earlier this year; a Sony 46″ 3D enabled smart TV. The picture is stunning, it’s like looking out of a window. There is no pixelating like you get on other TVs – just a really good picture.

Toaster: well, we went out purely to research toasters, find some we liked the look of, then see if we could get a better deal online. I got bored and wandered off to the back of the store where the TVs where, and everything just snowballed from there.

Guess I should get back to work now…

Back in the US!

Uh huh, I’ve been allowed entry and am currently in LA for a couple of days (I leave Wednesday evening) to look at some aircraft jacks we may be buying…

Of course, getting away from the cold UK is just a bonus πŸ˜›

I love my job…

First post in almost 2 months…

But in my defence, I have been outrageously busy at work (sometimes it feels like I’m herding cats).

I have had a trip to Spain recently (for work), and do have a trip to Malaysia coming up (for work), but this means I can’t get a weekend away with Lisa arranged…and how she’s reminding me of this!

S’all good though… πŸ™‚

2 hamsters, 1 wheel

It’s like 2 girls, 1 cup only it has no girls, no cup, but DOES have hamsters πŸ™‚


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