A riproaring rollercoaster of a journey through time, space and that side road just over there...

Category: "General"


Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on November 10th, 2016 @ 18:46:00 , using 165 words,
Posted in General

Just had a very weird half hour. I was in the garage looking for old insurance policy paperwork. I've still not found that, but I did find some history; my history... Old hand written letters, postcards, birthday cards, letters jointly named, people I've not forgotten, but lost the connection to. Some people to whom the connection still exists, people here even, and the photographs.

It seems I was once organised enough to sort things into compartments; buff manilla envelopes marked "electricity", another marked "gas", one for the "building society", and the one scribbled in black marker pen with the word "letters". That one did it, a past me staring back through some 25+ years inviting me to relive a piece of life I'd not even realised I'd saved a memory of. There are things there I should share with those who were there at the time, before it becomes too late.

Perhaps Pandora's box should have had its lid more tightly sealed...

Now where's that policy document?

Behind You!

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on April 4th, 2010 @ 00:17:38 , using 83 words,
Posted in General

That was the cry from the pantomime audience wasn't it?

The oddest of things has come to pass and I seem to have found myself an internet stalker. The details behind it are not overly important at the moment, but they relate to my presence as a forum moderator and flickr member. Suffice to say I'm not concerned over this, but all the same it's a bit weird and hugely funny at the same time. Those who need to know have been informed...

These Things

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on March 29th, 2010 @ 01:07:40 , using 378 words,
Posted in General

Every organisation I've ever been part of spends time looking at how it attracts, recruits and retains employees - they wouldn't last long if they didn't. So today I find myself doing a bunch of tedious form filling on a 'Job Profiler'. Not such a bad job in many ways, I should at this point mention that it was for my own role, it just took a little time, patience and a methodical manner; out of the office so I could concentrate on it, as there are way too many distractions sat at my desk.

So why then, when sat in 25C heat in my back garden, do I find myself becoming rather annoyed about the whole thing? In fact, positively pissed off I'd say!

The form filling is aimed at doing the usual analysis of skills and their relative importance in doing the job, attention to detail, analysing data, delivering results and so on. Nothing untoward you'd think. At least not until I reached a short section on 'Building Relationships', and specifically a sub-element dealing with 'Impressing People'. It's not until you look at the declared facets of 'Impressing People' that you begin to understand where my ire begins to kick in, the facets being "Attracting Attention", "Promoting Personal Achievements" and "Gaining Recognition". At this point I begin to wonder what I'm completing. Is it really a requirement of my job, to blow my own trumpet? Shouldn't actions speak louder than words? Is this really a charter for some sleezeball of a bullshit merchant?

I suppose it's fair to say that I'm not a great fan of those who go in for self-aggrandisement and I certainly don't want that sort of crap written into the job spec. There are more than enough who'll do that sort of self-promotion anyway, without encouraging them. On a scale of 1 (Not Important) to 7 (Critical), you might rightly suspect I didn't rank this one very high. Maybe I'm missing the point of doing a job here and maybe I am (I've been wrong before), but this isn't my cup of tea.

I'm anticipating questions...

PS: I should point out that the questionnaire is text book stuff being run out of a consultancy, it's not a creation of the people I work for.


Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on March 20th, 2010 @ 00:05:17 , using 830 words,
Posted in General, Web & IT Stuff

I guess at some point, everyone has felt that impending sense that something is about to or has gone wrong, though nothing around them has changed or is obviously amiss. Perhaps there's a feeling that a family member is hurt or perhaps you slow down on a corner where you normally wouldn't because you know there's going to be a slow moving tractor when you power out the other side. That sort of inbuilt tendency to somehow divine what you logically cannot know or see.

Such has been the last week, but not for anything as meaningful as the personal safety of myself or a loved one. No, for me it came in the form of a piece of technology; my PC. For some inexplicable reason, I've been wondering whether I should get the disks cloned off onto some new ones, much as I had to do for the music PC a while back. That was 6 years old though, this one only about 2½, so no real age, but the doubt was there. Perhaps more so because it gets a lot of use. All original 'straight out of camera' (SOOC) original files are stored here, all my iTunes files, Adobe CS4 is on here, as is just about every piece of OU work that AM and I have done is stored here also. More insidious is the rather unsatisfactory nature of my back-up routine. Whilst I've got a very nice WD MyBook sitting alongside me and the Windows backup is set to use it, the PC regularly decides it knows nothing about it and the backup inevitably fails. Neither do I take the precaution of burning stuff to DVD, just in case something should happen. So like the self-respecting IT person I am, I ignore the dangers and pretend to myself that it can't happen to me - after all, in the very finest of ostrich-like traditons, "What could possibly go wrong?"

Muppet alert!

This evening as AM and I are sitting in front of an episode of 'Without a Trace' (don't ask me to explain that one), I hear the tell-tail beep of the boot-up sequence on a PC doing its POST message.

...Shit! Why has that happened?

The PC has been idle for a couple of hours now, there's no reason to expect anything to happen, nothing was left running when I went to help make the tea. I had though spent a fair amount of time during the day messing around with a little light MS Access programming and working on making some changes to the default workspace settings in Photoshop.

I did save everything didn't I?

I get up to investigate and wander into the study to find that the PC has indeed re-started itself and is about half way through booting back up.

A good opportunity to make a cup of tea for myself and a coffee for AM

I get back to find that everything on the PC looks normal. Must have been one of those spurious things people tell me never happen on a Mac {spits}, until I notice a small flashing icon in the system tray. Clicking on it brings up one of those utilities that no one ever uses, the 'Intel Matrix Storage Console'.

Sounds grand, but what's it do...

I open it up to find that it's showing a failed system disk. I go slightly pale I suspect at this point

When was the last good backup taken?

I check - last December, just before I flew home for Christmas. Potentially not everything lost then, and the other disk is still reporting itself good, but one half of the RAID1 pair has exited stage left. The console says replace the disk...

You don't say!

But it's well known that if one disk in a RAID array has died, then there's a good chance the others are not so far behind.

This could get mighty serious...

First things first, get a current back-up; time to sort out the MyBook and get it back on line. I'd suspected for a while that it hadn't liked being connected via Firewire, so a few minutes later, the box it came in was located and the cable substituted for a USB one. All is good at this point and the MyBook is back visible again in the Windows Explorer. A few more seconds and the backup routine is running, though who knows how long that will take. Likely a while, given that the MyBook says it's rebuilding its own array (it's got a RAID1 pair too) - it has its very own obscure utility to tell me this.

As I sit here some 4 hours later, the back-up looks to be about 45% complete and the MyBook array rebuild is only 17% done. I suspect my sleep tonight is going to be a little disturbed, but at least I know where my urge to start replacing disks came from....

...and replacing disks is what needs to happen next!

So, What Do You Want To Eat Today?

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on March 12th, 2010 @ 15:06:44 , using 596 words,
Posted in General

It's a simple enough question and one that for most people should begin to spark their imagination and at the same time their taste buds. A curry maybe, perhaps a nice rare steak, a...

...and there's where I hit the problem. I'm sitting here trying to think of anything that might come next in a list of appealing meals and am hitting a perpetual brick wall. Since starting the Glucophage (Metformin), the mere suggestion of food has become about as appealing as shaving 3 times a day, probably less so if the truth be told. My food intake is now a largely mechanical function, something I know I have to do, but in which I am struggling to find any real enjoyment or pleasure.

For the last 4 years, since the angioplasty, our diet has been modified to do the sensible things of increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables, cutting down on anything with saturated fats, minimising the amount of meals that involved frying, and all very sensible too. I was quite happy with that and succeeded in losing a few excess pounds into the bargain. Not so with this one though. Add into the mix the need to re-balance the proportions of carbohydrates vs protein and throw a few foul tasting tablets on top and all of a sudden, things just don't taste the same, or at very least I find them difficult to swallow and there is often a slight sense of nausea (this is common with Metformin I gather). Eating now takes a concentrated effort, unless it somehow contains readily accessible sugars...

And there lies the rub. All the stuff that supposedly I'm supposed to be eating remind me of an over-boiled hobnail boot and are about as palatable. Chicken reminds me of chewing rubber, salmon of... well, to tell the truth, I'm not actually sure, but it's not nice. I can though happily munch my way through a fruit salad, chocolate or toffee vanishes in seconds, I can't exist on that though and neither should I.

About a month back I bought one of those home blood-glucose test meters. Nice little kit, American rather than British read-out, but that's an easy sort, just divide by 18. Oh and then there's the usual Saudi complication, buy fancy equipment, but can't readily get the replacement test strips or lancets. So far what it's regularly showing me is that my blood-glucose levels are on the low end of where they should be. My guess is that only recently having been diagnosed with diabetes and only just being in the range that is considered as such, the tablets are actually too strong for my current needs. Further changes to what AM and I are eating are just compounding the problem.

Which brings me back to the original question, to which my answer these days is becoming and increasingly terse "I don't know" and the inward thought that "I don't fucking care either". AM is now wholly disinclined to try anything new (from her extensive recipe book library) and I find myself unable to help - there are times when just the sight and smell of food just makes me want to throw up - is that how a bulimic or anorexic feels I wonder? Whatever it is, it makes me about as useful in the food decision department as a breezeblock.

One way or another, I guess this has to sort itself out, but right now it's not proving an awful lot of fun. On the positive side, I've lost a few more pounds. Wonder where they went?

Drip, Drip, Drip...

Written by:Chris of Arabia
Published on February 28th, 2010 @ 21:11:36 , using 205 words,
Posted in General

So another trip home ends and this time with sad news whilst standing on the tarmac at Heathrow waiting to disembark. News that a work colleague has met an untimely end to his presence in Saudi Arabia.

Whilst I didn't know him all that well, I have known him for almost my entire time out here. I'll remember him most as being perpetually enthusiastic, always with a grin on his face, if anything slightly wired and as an obsessive exercise fiend. It was the latter that ultimately resulted in his death, the manner of which, if reports in this mornings' newspapers are true, are quite horrific, though entirely credible. As I sit here on the BMI flight into Riyadh, I have never wanted less to go anywhere in my life, but this post isn't about me or what I want.

Instead, I dedicate this to John, as the most fanatical Manchester United supporter I have ever met, and despite my own affiliations, I hope most fervently that his beloved Red Devils win the Carling Cup this afternoon. Wayne & Co. you owe him that much.

John, you will be missed and along with you, a small part of all of us died. Rest in Peace

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