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Posts Tagged ‘postaweek2011’

  1. Postaweek2011

    January 4, 2012 by superlative

    This is just a brief post to say HOORAY! I completed #postaweek2011!

    Back in January I took up the WordPress challenge to post at least once every week throughout the year. They also ran a #postaday2011 thing, but there was no hope of me ever doing that.

    Sometimes I let it slide right back to the end of Friday before I posted anything, but having just scrolled back through my calendar of posts, I have successfully written at least something (quality is not guaranteed) in every week of the year. I think it was really good for me to post on a more regular basis, and it made my blog a bit more worthwhile.

    I’m going to try to keep it up during 2012, but without an actual goal like I had before I’m sure I’ll let it slip at some point. Obviously I won’t be tagging them with #postaweek2011 any more because that would just be silly.

    I’m really pleased anyway, and I hope it’s not been too inane.

  2. A bumpy Christmas, but better than expected

    December 30, 2011 by superlative

    Well I survived Christmas, which is good, and although it had the potential to be a disaster what with Dad being suspended, in the end most of it was better than I expected it to be.

    The first day back, on Friday, was horrible. That was my first day with my parents and they were in full-swing massive stress out mode regarding Dad’s job. As I mentioned briefly in my previous post, he has been suspended for gross misconduct, the details of which I’m not going to go into too much on here. Basically he has been suspended for two things, one of which he did but which is fairly minor, and one of which he claims he didn’t do, but his story is a bit woolly and Mum doesn’t believe him. He should be in his disciplinary meeting right now actually, and we don’t know if he’ll get a warning or get the sack or what.

    So anyway, Friday was MASSIVELY stressy. Which was odd, I thought, as this is a job that Dad hates and Mum hates and we have been urging him to resign for about three months. He hasn’t wanted to though, because he says he won’t get job seekers’ allowance if he resigns, so we said in some ways it would be better if he got sacked. Which is sort of what might happen now, so I was bemused that Mum was making it out to be such a disaster. It is true that the day before Christmas Eve isn’t the nicest time to be suspended, and that his manager most likely did that on purpose because she’s a cow and the things she has suspended him for happened in November. But aside from that, to my mind this was exactly what we’d been saying we wanted to happen.

    So I spent most of Friday counselling them (when did I become their fucking counsellor?) and trying to get them settled back down. As I said to them: if he just gets a warning, nothing changes; if he gets sacked, he doesn’t have to go back to this awful job that’s running him into an early grave. So it really isn’t that bad.

    “But he’ll never find another job, and then I’ll have him at home all day and I need to REST!” Mum wailed.

    Well, fine… That’s possible. But a) it’s his house too, so you’ll just have to deal with it, and b) why have we been telling him to resign then?? Where’s the consistency, mother?

    She was just catastrophising and being stressy, but it made being at home pretty horrible nonetheless.

    It also threw into doubt whether or not they would come to Chris’ Mum’s house for Christmas lunch the next day, because she was “too stressed”. I wouldn’t have been happy about that, so I urged them still to come and reminded them that being out of the house for a day, and being around other people so they weren’t just thinking about this and squabbling over it, would do them a lot of good.

    I spent Christmas Eve night at Chris’ house, and then had to wait until the morning for the verdict on whether they would be joining us or not. Thankfully, they did, and I was entirely right because they had a nice lunch where they talked and laughed with people (I can’t remember the last time I heard my Mum laugh), and it seemed to reset them back to a more normal level.

    I had a nice Christmas Day overall, and I got some lovely presents. I’m always much happier once my parents have gone home, because then I know for sure we haven’t had any disasters and I can relax. I’m really pleased they came though.

    Boxing Day was my day for seeing my Horrible Grandad, which I had complained about constantly in advance. Mum never ends up coming (she’s not up to it after Christmas Day), and my brother is on holiday, so I knew it would just be me and my Dad and my Grandad and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. He doesn’t know I’m gay, he doesn’t know I’m married, and he doesn’t know Chris and I bought our first home this year. I don’t care much for his company as he is hugely critical, and at times bigoted and spiteful. He has also always favoured my cousins over my brother and I as they are ‘good with their hands’, and he puts much more store by that than academic achievement. So anyway, I dislike him, and consequently decided many years ago that he doesn’t deserve to know me properly or to be given the opportunity to judge me unfavourably because I enjoy hot boy-on-boy action.

    I therefore went off to my Boxing Day meal with a fair amount of trepidation. I only go as a favour to my Dad really. But as it turned out, it was MUCH better than I was expecting, and was the best Boxing Day meal I’ve had with him in about four or five years. He was pleased about my secondment, he didn’t say anything mean about the infrequency with which he sees me or my Mum, and he actually liked and was grateful for the present I got him. Normally he just says something like “what am I going to do with that?”, or “I’ll put this on the pile of 10 of these I’ve got, shall I?” and I end up thinking well fuck you I wish I hadn’t bothered. But he LIKED his book this year and thanked me for thinking of him. You could have knocked me down with a feather. He also told me that one of my cousins’ current job (much to his disappointment) is Ditch Digging, which I found HILARIOUS. Yes being able to do things with your hands is so much better isn’t it?

    The lunch reminded me though that for all my bitching about him, he is a lonely, old, infirm little man now. I still don’t like him, but I am perhaps too harsh about him sometimes.

    And that was Christmas really. We saw some friends on Boxing Day night for drinks and giggles, and it was nice to do something normal with no family members and no stress, and then we escaped back to Brighton on Tuesday afternoon. It’s always nice to come back to my peaceful home after I’ve seen my parents, and especially so after Christmas. I’ve got a few days off left before I go back to work, and so far I’ve spent them slobbed on the sofa cramming chocolate things I was given for Christmas into my fat face. It is practically New Year’s Eve already, so the week is going pretty fast, but it has been nice to be off work, and overall I should be grateful for having a much better Christmas than I expected.

  3. Home for Christmas

    December 23, 2011 by superlative

    We’re off back up to Essex and London tomorrow to spend Christmas with our mummies and daddies. As always it’s going to be a bit of a whirlwind of rushing about to see all sorts of different people, which is a bit of a shame because it ends up being more about ‘seeing’ as many people as possible, instead of actually enjoying  it. I’ll have to look at Austin Drage in a santa hat for a while to console myself.

    The same as last year, I’ll be spending Christmas day up at Chris’ Mum’s house and my parents are going to come for lunch for a few hours. It seemed to work pretty well last year and it meant that Mum and Dad had more of a proper Christmas than they would if they just sat at home. It also means that I won’t have to travel on Christmas Day (the only day between now and Wednesday that I won’t be driving anywhere), and once Mum and Dad go home I’ll be able to relax properly! I did find it a bit stressful having them there last year, because Mum has the potential to be so difficult, but it turned out fine that time and they were just grateful to be invited somewhere. They don’t actually have any friends, which is a bit weird really!

    Then on Boxing Day I’ll be seeing my horrible grandad for lunch, which I’ll hate, and I’ll have to remember to take my wedding ring off and dodge any questions about my home life. It’s such a chore. I’m sure he’ll also mention that he only sees me once a year on Boxing Day now, but, well… there’s a reason, and it’s because he’s not a very nice man.

    For the first Christmas in my life I won’t be seeing my brother at all as he has gone away on holiday. Lucky him – I’m quite jealous that he doesn’t have to bother with all the enforced family engagements.

    Other than that I’ll just be trolling up and down between Chris’ Mum’s and my Mum’s houses, seeing friends in the evening, and stuffing my fat face with Christmas food. It could be worse really, I shouldn’t grumble!

    Then we’re back to Brighton next week for New Year and some much needed peace and quiet.

    Ryan Phillippe wishes you all a very merry and partially-clad Christmas:

    UPDATE TO THIS POST: Dad has been suspended from his job for gross misconduct. Hmmmm, so this is going to be a fab Christmas of frosty atmospheres and snippy passive aggressive comments from Mum, isn’t it?? Jesus Christ… I might just rock up drunk and try to stay pissed all the way through until Tuesday. I can’t see how else I’m going to get through it. God I love my parents’ gypsy curse, it makes my time at home feel so MAGICAL.

  4. New boring work that is hopefully not boring

    December 16, 2011 by superlative

    This is following on from my recent post about the interview I had for a secondment opportunity in our central web team.

    The short version is I didn’t get it, but it looks like I’ve got something else which may even be better, and I’m quite pleased.

    I went to my interview on Wednesday morning, and did a ‘Short technical test’ (which I stormed) and then a surprisingly long interview of about 50 minutes, which seemed quite a lot for an internal post. They asked me lots of questions and I answered them all (as is traditional with conversations), and it was quite good natured and relaxed, and I came out feeling pretty good about it. I’d been really nervous beforehand, and was terrified I would balls it up and make a fool of myself, but actually once I was in the interview and talking it didn’t feel too hard at all. I did myself justice, and it was fine.

    Unfortunately, that wasn’t actually enough to get me the job. One of the other applicants (whom I vaguely know) was far better qualified, with a degree in programming and loads of professional experience, and apparently although we both interviewed equally well, I was just outclassed in terms of skill. There’s nothing I can do about that really.

    And I’m actually not sorry. There were aspects of the job that I was applying for which didn’t sound very nice (being hassled a lot by people, for example), and after the interview I’d kind of made up my mind that I didn’t want it. That was partly a pragmatic opinion, and partly a panicked one because I don’t deal with change very well. Either way, I would still have taken the job if offered it because I couldn’t possibly turn it down when I desperately need more development experience, more variety in my work, and when I bitch constantly about being bored. So I was kind of hoping they wouldn’t offer it to me, and was relieved when they didn’t.

    However, the story does not end there. When the interviewing man came to see me to let me know the outcome (which I thought was odd, as he could have just rung me), he said unfortunately we aren’t able to offer you the job BUT we’d like to offer you something else.

    In essence what he said was they really liked me, I did well at the interview and they know I’m good, and I had made them wish they had two jobs they could fill. They were also very sensitive to the reasons I gave for applying: namely that I need more opportunity to do development work (as opposed to the web editing I mostly do); that I am ready for a change after four years in my job; and that it would do me a lot of good to work with and around other web professionals instead of entirely on my own in a little office in a field.

    So what they have offered to do is to buy me for two days a week from my manager so that I can go and work in the central web team on development projects, and then for the other three days I’ll do my normal job in my current office. And actually that will suit me really, really well. I’m ever so pleased. I’ll basically get to do exactly what I wanted, to gain more experience so I’m better placed for applying for jobs in the future, to improve my development skills, and to work with other web people, but I don’t have to do the hassle parts of the job I applied for, and I don’t have to leave the friends I have in my current office. And if I’m completely honest, I’ve said a number of times in the past that I could probably do my job in three days a week anyway, so my faculty won’t actually be losing anything. My manager saves money on his staff budget, I get the experience I want and a change of scene, they get extra help in the web team (they’re woefully understaffed), and I’ll be in a better position when they review how we support our websites in a year or two’s time to make sure I can slot into any new roles they create and not find myself redundant. It’s pretty much a win all round. I suppose technically yes I’ll be working harder for the same money, but that basically means I’ll deserve my money because at the moment I’m paid a lot for doing not very much.

    So I’m pleased, and I hope nothing happens to scupper it. With a bit of luck I’ll be able to start in my new half-role in January. Multi-yay.

  5. So… are we in Europe, or out of it?

    December 9, 2011 by superlative

    I’m not sure what to think yet of David Cameron’s decision this morning to withdraw Britain from the new financial system being put in place in Europe. I’m deliberately not using the phrase ‘wielding his veto’, partly because the news is rather over-using it today and partly because, as the Economist has pointed out, vetoing something means stopping something from happening. That isn’t what he has done, because the rest of Europe has just carried on without us. So it’s not really a veto.

    In many ways I am sad to see the UK become less integrated with Europe. I don’t want our country to become isolated and to lose influence on the global stage by returning to being a single nation, even if we are above averagely rich. I have always been proud to be a European, and proud of our status as one of the ‘more important’ European countries with more financial and military clout than some of the others.

    At the same time, I have never regretted that we didn’t join the euro. At the time it was set up (I was a bit young to understand it properly), my view was that it wasn’t sensible to tie our fairly strong economy to that of other weaker countries, and to lose one of the strongest currencies in the world in the name of integration. Although I didn’t know much more about it than that, the last few years seem to have proved me correct in some regards, as not being too closely bound to the economy of Greece hasn’t seemed like a bad thing at all, and having our own currency gives us more economic options than they have had (such as devaluation). So I still don’t regret that we didn’t join the euro, not at all.

    While I am sad that some people see this as the start of our withdrawal from Europe, I also wonder about what the effects would have been if David Cameron had said yes. Greater control of our budgets by a European authority; penalties for running too high a deficit; closer links to other countries whose economies may yet implode. I wouldn’t have been very happy about any of those. So it seems like regardless of what the outcome of last night’s negotiations had been, I still would have found something to be upset about.

    And although President Sarkozy has implied that the Brits were being pig-headed and selfish, I can’t help but feel that the French have always been quick to ignore any EU regulations that they didn’t feel suited them, knowing full well that they were too important to be properly punished by the rest. This deal is much more beneficial for France than it is for the UK, so of course he was going to try to ram it through.

    There isn’t very much we can do now other than wait and watch the other nations thrash it out, and wonder what role we’ll end up having at the end. It is a shame though that compared to yesterday I already feel a little less European.

  6. Boring work, possible new boring work

    December 2, 2011 by superlative

    I’m not writing very much again this week as I really haven’t been up to all that much. We had friends to stay last weekend, which was nice, and we had dinner at the recently revamped restaurant in the Lansdowne Place Hotel, which was pretty good but not amazing. Other than that I’ve just been plodding along at work the same as normal.

    I do however have an interview coming up now for a secondment opportunity elsewhere in the university. It’s still a web job, but it is working in the main part of our web team doing a hopefully more challenging role involving more development work. The interview’s in about a week and a half.

    I’m a bit nervous about it, because I haven’t done an interview for four years, and it will be a panel of people who know me so I can’t blag it or make stuff up. In some ways that’s a good thing though, because they already know that I’m good at what I do and they should have a good idea of whether I’m suitable for the job or not.

    I think that I want it, if only because I really need SOMETHING; I can’t carry on being bored all the time and not really doing anything most days. I am scared though, because I’m not very good at change, and although I complain bitterly (and constantly) about how dull my job is, it is at least cosy and not stressful and I know what I’m doing with it.

    I’ll go to the interview anyway, and then we’ll see what happens. It sounds like they’re interviewing more than one person for it, so I might not even get it. But if I do it should be a good opportunity, and I’ll be an actual web developer again instead of a sack of meat on a wheely chair. So wish me luck!

  7. Home improvements

    November 25, 2011 by superlative

    Once again I have left it right to the end of the week to write anything on my blog. Sorry about that.  I am desperate not to ruin my #postaweek2011 attempt though, not when I am so close to the end of the year. I’m surprised I’ve done it for this long actually, and how quickly the year seems to have gone. It will be nice (hopefully) at the end of the year to look back at my 52-or-so posts and see the whole period charted out.

    Anyway, this is just going to be a very brief post with a bit of an update on how things are going with our flat.

    I haven’t written specifically about the flat for a while I think, and generally things are going pretty well with it. We have had a number of different people staying in the flat over us since Mum stayed, and pretty much no one has disturbed us since that first family with the children and the people who smoked outside our bedroom window. That’s out of about 10 different couples/groups who have stayed up there, so I’m hoping that means we are generally going to be OK. The last few days have been a bit of a pain, because there was an older couple up there who seemed to be dying from chronic lung disease. They coughed ALL the time, both of them, and it was loud and often enough to wake me up through the ceiling. I’d wake up at about 1.30am to the sound of one of them coughing, think “Oh fuck off” and put my ear plugs in, and then I’d go back to sleep. Come 5.30am I’d take them out, and they were STILL in their front room, STILL coughing. Do they never sleep?? And if they’re that ill, why are they in a holiday flat in Brighton?

    So anyway, that was a pain, but they left yesterday. We’ve got more people arriving today, so fingers crossed they will be non-coughing and fairly quiet, especially as we have guests coming at the weekend. It’ll just be embarrassing if it’s really loud because I’ll have to say “Yeah sorry, my house is shitty, sorry about that”.

    The other main thing we have done is to have secondary glazing installed on the bedroom windows at the front last Tuesday. Because we’re in a basement flat, the front windows are at about pavement level, and so we were getting a fair bit of noise from the street during the night. It wasn’t traffic noise, that never bothered me and I actually quite like the soothing rumble of traffic, but if any people were talking in the street it carried straight in and was like they were in the room with you. That was why we got disturbed by those girls smoking outside at 5am and Chris went out and shouted at them.

    The noise hasn’t been so bad since the weather turned colder and wetter, simply because people aren’t lingering outside. But it was still something we had decided we wanted to do just to make the bedroom a bit nicer and as an improvement to the flat. I also didn’t want to think “oh it’s fine now” just because it was colder, and then regret not having it done come the spring.

    I chose a Sussex-based company called Soundblocker Windows, and we placed our order a couple of months ago and they installed them this week. We’ve had them for three nights so far, and it seems like they work really well. You can still hear low noise like traffic because that comes through the walls anyway, but higher noise like speech seems to get cut right down and people sound as though they are in a fish tank really far away. It’s hard to tell exactly how well it has worked until we get someone stood out there for ages talking, but so far I’m hopeful they were a good purchase.

    We still haven’t painted anywhere and that really needs doing, but I expect we’ll leave that until next year now. It is looking nicer anyway, and it is much better than when we first moved in, so overall I’m quite pleased.

  8. Lisa Loeb

    November 18, 2011 by superlative

    I haven’t had a lot to write about this week, so instead I’m just going to share with you one of my favourite songs of all time: Stay (I Missed You), by Lisa Loeb.

    I’ve been a fan of Lisa Loeb since about 1997, and I own four of her albums. She doesn’t record very much any more, and the music she has written most recently has been aimed at children at young people, but I never get tired of listening to those albums and would say she’s probably my favourite musical artist. Other artists come and go in my preferences, but Lisa has stayed firmly put since I first discovered her. I think I also really like that she’s not particularly well known, so it feels a bit more special to cite her as my favourite artist than if I said someone mega-famous.

    Really Lisa Loeb ended up being a sort of soundtrack to my growing up. I was still a child when I first heard Stay, and then by the time I bought her album The Way It Really Is in 2004 I was an adult, having been through university and being five years into a relationship. I think that is one of the reasons why she is particularly special to me.

    I was lucky enough to see her perform in London in 2006, and then I don’t really think she has performed outside the US since then, and may never do so again. She works a lot more on summer camps that she runs for underprivileged children now. I’m glad I got to see her at least that one time though.

    If you don’t really know much of her music, I heartily recommend her Tails album, which is full of great tracks. All of her albums are great though, and I can’t really pick a single favourite song. Sandalwood reminds me of Chris, and I really love the lyrics of Wishing Heart on the album Firecracker. Give her a try if you’re looking for something to listen to.

  9. Uncle Superlative

    November 9, 2011 by superlative

    I’m going to be an uncle!

    As I have previously mentioned on here, the likelihood of me having my own children is pretty low (because I hate them), but what I would like to be is a really good uncle. Obviously when I say I hate children I don’t actually hate them, but they are quite annoying and I would far prefer a child that I can give back after a couple of hours. But this has been dependent on either my brother having a baby, which I don’t think he’s ever going to do, or Chris’ brother having one.

    And now, AT LAST, one of them is! It’s Chris’ brother, obviously, and his wife is presumably fairly involved in the process too. They let us know a couple of weeks ago, but we were strictly sworn to secrecy because they hadn’t had their 12 week scan yet and they don’t want to jinx anything or get ahead of themselves.

    They had their 12 week scan on Saturday, and all is going well so far, so hopefully sometime in May I will be Uncle Superlative.

    I’m quite excited, because although we have friends who have had babies, it’s just not the same as one in your own family and who you consider yourself actually related to. This child will hopefully grow up loving me, and me them, and that will be really very special to me. I want to be a really fun uncle that they look forward to seeing (note to self – order swimming pool and put deposit down on a pony).

    The only thing that could be slightly better is that Chris’ brother lives three hours away in Wiltshire, so I won’t get to see them quite as often as I might like. We’ll just have to make the effort to go and visit though, and not be lazy about it, because if we want the child to grow up knowing us it’ll be up to us to ensure it happens.

    They don’t know if it is a boy or a girl, and they’re choosing not to find out. Personally I know I’d be better with a boy because I’d know what to do with a boy more (that sounds wrong), but for some reason I feel like it’s a girl. Well I’ll have to wait and see, won’t I?

    I’m very excited anyway, and will be shopping for kick ass tiny T-shirts after Christmas.

  10. Thirteen years

    November 2, 2011 by superlative

    Today is my and Chris’ thirteenth anniversary of being together.

    I don’t feel like I write about him an awful lot on here, I mention him in passing, but I never really write about him. We generally get on so well that there isn’t much to say, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that I never have anything to complain or worry about with Chris.

    But today is our anniversary, so if I’m going to write about him on any day today seems appropriate.

    I still find it hard to believe that we have been together for 13 years. I’ve been thinking the same every year really (but increasing by a year each time obviously, I can count thank you), but it still always seems incredible when our anniversary rolls around once again.

    I was 17 when we first got together. SEVENTEEN. It was so long ago, and yet it hardly feels like it and the time has just flashed by. It only feels like a year or two ago that we were walking down the steps at college and said

    “Do you want to go out then?”

    “Yeah alright then.”

    And that was the start. Such an inconspicuous couple of sentences that had such a huge effect on my life ever since.

    We did our A Levels together, and then moved in together at university. We did the whole of our degrees, and even spent a year apart while he was in Canada and I was in Switzerland. Even all of that and all of those experiences only took five years. It’s the eight years since we finished university that have rocketed past and made it really scary. I honestly don’t know where those have gone.

    I’m still very happy though, and I know I’m very lucky. Chris keeps me grounded and sane, and will hopefully stop me from turning into my mother. He helps me cope with my anxieties and my pessimism, and he gets me out of the house doing so many fun things I would never have done on my own. He puts up with me, most importantly, which isn’t always an easy task. He makes me laugh and he’s always there when I need him. He doesn’t read this blog very often, but if he does see this I hope he realises how grateful I am.

    I don’t know where I would be now and what I would have ended up doing if we hadn’t met at college. No part of my life would be the same. I don’t really care where I would be though, because where I want to be is here, and with him. Who could ask for more?

    So there you go. Thirteen years. I’m going to stop being sappy now. Happy anniversary.