June 2005 Archives

Recreate The Business

Has anyone else noticed BT recreating the Yellow Pages again? Their latest TV adverts highlight the fact "The Phone Book" contains all you need in life with the 'phone. So, having hived off Yellow Pages and sold it as a seperate business back in 2001 having declared it "non-core", it now seems that business pages have now become "core" business.

Next thing you know, the Post Office will be selling telephones services again...

Makes You Sick

Not one for linking to other blogs, but iMark, one of the deletetheweb community, posted up an interesting fact, if you want to call it, from the Observer. Strange indeed, how people who are tasked with aiding the sick, actually end up being more sick than everyone else.

I know Jules mum, Janet, is always telling me about this and that injection. She also gets the flu jab, something my Mum's entitled to, now she's reached the dizzy heights of pensiondum ;-)

Owh, and you'll notice iMark has comments back. Really can't wait for it to return here :-D

8 years...

...since I met the woman who fancied the "Milkybar Kid"...

A year ago I was contemplating the fact it had been over a month since the funeral, and how much things could have changed in 12 months. And now, I'm still looking at where the year has gone.

I sat up at the cemetry tonight, finding it hard to believe it's more than a year now since it all ended and Jules found peace at last. And even as I type this, I'm making the mistake of putting months and days, not months and years. It only feels like yesterday we were sitting at home, making plans. And to think it would've been around this time that we'd have been getting married, her scribblings in the pads from hospital peppered with "2-0-0-5 W-E-D" on just about every page.

Be grateful for the memories, thankful for the gift of today, and excited by the emptyness of tomorrow.

A Childhood Icon Gone

Woke to the news that Richard Whiteley died last night from pneumonia.

I remember him as a kid back home, presenting the news on Yorkshire Television's Calendar before moving onto Countdown, the programme you watched instead of going to lectures or studying for those finals ;-) He'll be missed, and Countdown will never quite be the same again.

Obituary: Richard Whiteley

Hanging On Like a Bulldog

Bulldog Broadband. One call does it all...:-(

Had a call from a very eager Asian sounding woman back in May, asking me all the usual questions about my ISP, telephone usage, etc... and how much cheaper Bulldog Broadband would be. I agreed to the sending of some information on Bulldog Broadband, just to see what it said in print, rather than believing what I was being told over the phone. Her very strong accent didn't help matters, but then, who am I t' talk, by heck!

It all went quiet after that. No email, no post, and to be honest, I'd completely forgotten about it. Until Friday. When another Bulldog Broadband person rang, this time a chap with a much stronger accent, asking if the installation appointment they'd arranged for next week was still okay. I really struggled understanding what he was saying, and being in a rush to get out, put the phone down. Needless to say, someone else called back Saturday, and this time I had the time to listen. It turns out that, according to their system, I've signed up, paid, and arranged for my Bulldog Broadband installation next week. When I asked for details, I was told they couldn't provide this information since it's controlled by the finance department in the UK, and they're based in India. So I told the chap to cancel, and give me a contact in Bulldog Broadband Customer Services so I can find out why they seem to think I've signed up :-O

Imagine then, on Sunday, a further call from Bulldog Broadband to confirm another installation. Worrying really, and I did try and explain this to the guy on the phone, who seemed to struggle with the statement, "No, you really must have the wrong person, goodbye" :-X

Links to lots and lots of other seemingly worried and disgruntled people:

Janet's Big Surprise Birthday Bash

Won't tell you what birthday year it was, but on Friday we all pilled over to Zeus in Baldock for a surprise party to celebrate Jules mum, Janet's birthday. And what a fantastic evening :-D

Just about all the family were there, and my Mum had come down too. And just by coincidence, there was a Hen party there, from the A&E. There were struggling to believe that Janet was up there, on the dance floor, with the belly dancer. "It can't be Janet"... ;-)

We partyed late into the night, smashing plates, drinking, and dancing. All in all a brilliant night, and I can't remember enjoying myself that much in a long time ;-)

No Longer Available

It's the problem you find with having an older car, the phrase, "Sorry Sir, it's No Longer Available" :-( I've become acustomed to it every time I go to the local VAG garage. But I don't expect the same for tyres, particularly when I only bought a set 2 years ago.

So, looks like I have to change brand. Dunlop Sport 2000 is the one's I can get in the size and speed rating. What's worrying is the comments on that link above, not many seem to like 'em :-O

Sick Cat

Or at least, that's what I thought :-O

Spitfire spent most of the early morning trying to be sick. And after making a fuss and showing concern, he disappeared off outside as if nothing had happened ;-)

I don't think he was actually that ill, and I'm told he would be making much more of it if it was anything serious. If anything it was probably because I've been away the last couple of days and he was making me suffer.

Seminars Over!

So, the Forum in Action series has ended. And what a final session it was :-D

First, a mad dash down to meet with the group beforehand for dinner, having landed from Paris at around 2pm, and just making the train for 4:15. Not everyone could make it, but it was good to have a bit of time just talking and getting to know each other outside of the seminar session. Something that you get opportunity for during the weekend course, but harder to achieve with the seminars and the early starts and late finishes on a school night.

We looked at acknowledgement, saying "Thank you", and what it's like to give and receive. Not something I'd say I'm lacking, but certainly interesting to see what it makes others think, and also the feelings of embarassment receiving the thanks.

And so it's over. No more for a while. Janet starts her seminars in a week's time, and I'll be popping along to those I've missed.

Back from Paris

And what a 2 day jaunt :-D

We were over for the closeout meeting for the company's Primavera project. This, as mentioned previously, was to rollout Primavera to the business, as well as looking at a way of integrating the 3 National Primavera systems into an International system. And this part's been the hardest, and will be worked on further. So, not out of a job yet ;-)

We stayed in the centre of Paris this time, at the Le Meridien Montparnasse. In the evening, once we'd finished our meeting, we went to an amazing resturant called the Restaurant Le Ciel de Paris (Tower Montparnasse, France). It's on the 56th floor of the Tower Montparnasse, and as you can imagine, you get amazing views of Paris as the sun sets. Also, as night falls, the Eiffel Tower lights up with a light show, flashing and shining.

And to finish the night, as it was the summer solstice, the Fete de la Musique was on. So, we had a wander around the bars listening to the various onstreet musicians and bands.

All in all a great time away, shame we had to come back and get on with some normal work ;-)

Le Rush!

Off to Paris tomorrow, and out the office for 2 days, meaning everything needs to be in place today. I know, should've been present to the fact, but I wasn't, so it's been a mad dash around.

Also, much to my annoyance, I filled the fridge on Saturday. So a monster cook-off tonight, with chicken curry and fajitas. Lots of grub ready for my return on Wednesday, except I'm off out with the seminar gang :-D So looks like I'll be waiting 'til Thursday to finish off what I've cooked tonight. Shame I've not got a freezer, as it'd be handy having it all tucked away for those days home from work/gym when I can't be bothered to cook ;-)

Anyway's, t'is an early start tomorrow, Mike's picking me up at 6:30am (yes, I know, it'll be a shock to the system ;-)), so better get off otherwise I won't be up in time.

Reading Up

Grabbed a chance to surf the 'net and catch up on things. Bits and bobs on the Club GTI website and forum, news, and publishing lots of bits on here which I've left as I've been beavering away at work.

Interesting bit of news on the BBC, following on from last years articles about terminally ill patients rights, about giving families the support to allow a patient to die at home. I guess each case has to be taken individually, but I'd hate for this initiative to just become another way of reducing the number of available hospice and care beds. The Hospice has the required care levels because of the staffing and facilities. It's a shame it has to count on charity so much, and that we can't have that sort of level of care everywhere in the health service.


It was Tessa's party for Rwhanda yesterday :-D And apart from the complete failure of train services home from London (got in at 3am :-() it was a fantastic day :-D :-D :-D

Met lots and lots of beautiful people, helped raise lots of money, and had a whale of a time meeting up with many of Tessa's friends. Didn't win anything in the raffle, but did manage to consume a large quantity of BBQ, several delicious pints of 1664, and top up the tan sitting outside manning the "Information Desk" ;-)

All in all a good day out, got me out of the house, and good to catch up on all Tessa's preperations for her mission to Rwhanda and the studies she'll be undertaking out there.

Linking Out There

The site's been suffering more and more from Trackback pings. Things that put a link to another site from here, so that the Google ranking picks up. Fortunately there's some excellent backroom stuff on here that blocks most of it.

So, just out of interest, I did a scan of Google to see if there was any sites linking to here. And I found this:

All Mystery Website - A Thread

It's the seventh or so posting down the thread. What's amazing is that someone I've never met, in another country, has found Jules site and found some comfort and support from reading the stories. It suddenly reminds me how important sharing is, if only to let the rest of the world know, we're all not alone.

Grief Support

Interesting article on grief and counselling on the BBC site today:

BBC NEWS Health 'I've got so much anger'

I can relate to many of the girls thoughts and comments from my experiences. But I was more worried about things after Jules died, and less angry. Guilty that I could have done more. I suppose the inevitable outcome mean't the anger and frustration was gone by then, having had time for it to sink in. Although I now know what little I was listening to, or understanding. Just looking at the photographs and video from last year, I'm amazed at how quickly Jules had deterioated, and I never noticed.

As for the girls views on counselling and support, I do agree. I feel so fortunate that the Hospice was able to offer support during the whole period. Something I know is not as obvious for others. Being able to talk things through with someone helps so much in coming to terms with everything that's happening. And support in what needs doing, and when.

60 Today!

It's Mum's 60th today. And as a surprise I came up yesterday, staying at Nigel's, before sneaking into work this morning :-D

She'd no idea I was there, even having a little dig at the fact I'd "forgotten" to send her a card. Little did she know I was hiding in the cupboard, card in hand, waiting :-D And the flowers, balloon, and pressies have all gone down a storm. Although the banner across the front of the shop wasn't as funny as we thought it might be ;-)

We're all off out for dinner at Nigel's local pub, although I'm not too sure I'll be having the steak, after this bit of news :-O However, there will be plenty of beer me thinks, and then off back to Stevenage in the morning. Well, I've been given a day's passout from work you see, they really do work us hard these days ;-)

News on Kylie

Kylie Minogue
After the news on 17th May that Kylie Minogue has breast cancer I, no doubt along with many others, have been keeping an eye on news of her progress and treatment. Looking at the BBC News today, it seems things are working out, and that she's now on the road to recovery.

Fingers crossed ;-)

No Trains?

So it would seem, WAGN having to complete some engineering works until 10am. Kinda daft and unexpected, there actually being NO service to London for a whole hour, not even a bus :-X

Was mean't to be popping into London to meet up with Tessa and Mike from the Advance course, who are doing their Self Expression and Leadership course. A chance to see what that's all about, and catch up on what's been happening since we last saw each other.

As Tessa said, fate has dealt it's cards. So home, grab a little shopping, and spend the day doing those things I didn't expect to get done :-D


So, lots of beer, lots of snooker, and lots of curry. Owh, and a producer from the local Police :-O

Got the suit and haircut out of the way, then down the snooker club for opening, a beer, and booking a table. I needed to pop over to Hitchin to grab a few bits for the car, so I left everyone and nipped off. Only to be stopped on the way and asked for my documents. The policeman did point out he didn't expect me to have any of them on me, and was most pleased when I produced my driving licence. But without insurance and MoT certificates in the car, I'd have to pop down the police station instead.

Added a bit more excitement to the day anyway, which we finished off by having a monster curry at the new curry house in the High Street, yum :-p

The Week End!

Been mega busy week at work, so the fact the weekend has arrived means soooo much :-D

Will be a manic weekend, with Jules brother, Stuart, having his suit fitting for the wedding. Be interesting to find out what size I am now, with the weight I've lost since Christmas ;-)

So, in light of all that, tonight's an easy one. Kick back, update the weblog, watch a bit of telly, and early bed ;-) Gotta get me haircut first thing tomorrow :-O

More Cancer Developments

More news on the fight against cancer on the BBC this lunchtime:

New cancer-causing agent revealed

Fish oil hope for breast cancer

In particular, a way of identifying cancers, meaning it could completely change the way cancers are diagnosed, and treatments. And the implication of their usefulness is down to their role in embryonic development, something I remember the consultant explaining when telling us what exactly is a brain tumour and how's it made up.

The other story, about usefulness of fish oil, will, I'm sure, have all my older relatives grinning, having spent early parts of my childhood trying to spit out spoonfuls of Codliver oil. Hope that one type, at least, could be used in the treatment of breast cancer.

Genetic Sex?

Image of a couple
So, research suggests, the phrase, "A match made in Heaven", isn't too fair from the truth ;-)

I wonder how long before someone creates a genetic screening system small enough to take out with you on a night on the town, "Oh, sorry love, but you're not genetically matched, so it wouldn't be magic..." ;-)

Janet's Guest Evening

So Janet's completed her Landmark Forum. And I popped along as a "guest" ;-)

Interesting, as the format of the evening was completely different to mine. The conversations and discussions touched on other aspects of the course, no doubt picking up on areas that hadn't been fully covered during the weekend.

All in all though, it was a chance to revisit some of the distinctions created, as well as seeing what Janet achieved and gained from doing the course.

It's Over!

So, the weekend has passed, and Janet's not turned into a brainwashed psycho ;-)

Last night was excellent, lots of enthusiastic conversations, people really coming to terms with what's happened in their lifes, and making choices on what to do about it. It also reminded me about things I said I would do, and haven't. Making a commitment to anything can be hard. And making a choice in what you do, being true to it, and aiming high.

I'm glad I went down. And conversations on the way home about life, religion, work, everything :-D

And with Janet's unnerving grin, I can see how some people might have been a little put off by myself all those weeks ago. If I was like this then, no wonder ;-)

Popping In

Yesterday was a long day, getting back after midnight with Janet, and trying not to stay up too late chatting. And with the final part this evening, I knew it'd be late again tonight.

All went to plan this morning with getting down to London, and Janet seemed to be looking forward to the day, the doubts of the Friday gone, and things starting to make sense ;-) Full of beans, happy, and really looking at life in a clearer way. And I can see it rubbing off on everyone around her :-D

So, having got back, it was a chance to grab the weekly shop, breakfast, and then a well earned soak in the bath, before dozing off in front of the telly.

It's now gone 3pm, so better start sorting those things left to do, before jumping on a train and getting myself down to London for the final part of the weekend.

Late Discussions, Early Movements

So, left work late yesterday, popped into the pub with Sy, then over to the leisure park to meet up with everyone, past and present, for a leaving do. What a night :-D It was like being back in time. So many people I've not seen for ages, catching up with the weddings, engagements, and babies :-D

And then, at 11pm, Janet finished her first day of her Landmark Forum. And, like myself, she's full of questions about everything in life, and what it all means. So, having missed them at the station, I went round on the way home, and spent a good 2 hours discussing life, Jules, work, and what she'd been doing during the day.

Then, this morning, after what felt like 2 minutes sleep, I jumped backin the car and took her, via train, back into London for day 2. I'm now home, and getting ready to doze off, before jumping back on the train to bring her home.

It's going to be a long weekend, lots of talking, and lots of snoozing :-D

Electric Ill

Reading through the news tonight, and found this story on the BBC:

Pylons 'may be a leukaemia risk'

It sounds like there might be some risk in living near pylons, but, like other studies, it'll need further investigation. What does seem to be true though, is the influence of low-level magnetic fields.

Reading Ivan Nobles new book, I grabbed a copy this morning, he also commented on the links between mobile phones and brain tumours. It also seems to be inconclusive, but, as pointed out, we're only going to see the impact of mobiles now. It's not a new influence on life, and rather concerningly, it seems my age group is going to be the first measure of whether it has impacted.

Speed of Sound

The new Coldplay album hits the streets on Monday next week. And after listening to the single, I'm looking forward to grabbing my copy :-D

Lyrics, and their meaning. I found comfort last year with a number of songs, many of which where used in Jules funeral service. And I know it's kinda daft, placing meanings on songs, but then life is made up of meanings, and memories are much easier to embed through music. I know I spent a considerable amount of my life in education wishing that someone would release a chart-topping song based on, say, the periodic table, or laplace transforms. Maybe, one day :-D

So, in the extended bit, the lyrics to it. And see what meaning it places for you ;-)

50 Not Out

My department head is 50 this weekend, Saturday to be precise. And yesterday afternoon was his work's drinks. And many were had :-D

It was a good afternoon of heated work discussion, many beverages, and then further discussions. Also it was good to take a little time out from working up the reporting tool, since that has been my life for the last few days sorting the GUI, and Gareth's life for the last few weeks sorting all the reports.

The final conclusion from the afternoon was we need to be sorting our office curry night out soon. So, when is it guys ;-)

What A Breakthrough

Having been banging my head against what felt like a brickwall, everything fell into place tonight.

It started by making the choice not to go to my seminar, then staying at work to finish off what I've been trying to finish since Sunday. Except this time, it was as if I'd stopped trying, it just fell into place :-D

The pressure off, and I could actually see what I was trying to do. Sitting down and logically stepping through each stage. Bingo :-D

The rest of the evening went swiftly, talking to Becky, cooking an amazing dinner, sorting out a load of email's I'd sat on the last few weeks, and even getting time to do a bit of blogging. I even had it all wrapped up by 9pm and was considering popping down London to catch the last few minutes of the seminar.

I feel great, refreshed, recharged, and ready for tomorrow ;-)

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

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