One with everything

My dears, last week I acted completely selfishly and took the opportunity of having a training course in London on a Friday to grab a weekend with a friend whom I had not seen for a while. I abandoned you all, but such is life. Now I’m back from melting in her garden over a jug of Pimms and sharing the latest of the highbrow jokes in The Independent.

From British Classic Comedy website

For example: A Buddhist monk approaches a hotdog stand and says: “Make me one with everything”.

Boom, as Basil Brush would say, boom. The old ones are the best.

Possibly the heat melted more of my brain than I realised. It’s hotter than the Med for goodness’ sake. I blame the Government. Seriously, I do. If they had manned up and dealt with climate change we would be enjoying the usual drizzle and English hobby of muttering about the weather. Now we have to go around saying things like “Well, it was never this hot when I was young!” which is completely not how it should be. I’m not confusing weather with climate; don’t get me wrong. But too many weather exceptions have been achieved over the last few years to make me comfortable.

So anyway,  I drank Pimms, came home, and packed immediately to go to work away for the week.

Now I am back home again after a week from hell, where I have had to pass on some brutal truth and try to pick up the pieces of both the thing that was wrong and the impact on the person in question. Which is a convoluted way of saying I got to play Bad Cop because no one else would do it. It’s my speciality. I’m good at the Headteacher Voice: you’ve let the school down, you’ve let your teacher down, but most of all you’ve let yourself down…

Sigh.

I’m not very good at it really, not in a constructive, caring, development opportunity way. I’m just good at the Voice which makes people stop and hear, rather than ignore and carry on doing what they were doing. It’s not pleasant, either as a Voice or as a recognised ability.

More sighs. Not many jokes there, I can tell you.

If we are all one with everything, my Voice, the special capital letter one, is either the equivalent of self-harming, or it’s the immune system fighting off infection. I’m not sure which at the moment but I hate upsetting people. Really I do. I know people may think I don’t because I am always the Bad Cop, but I do.

One with everything, though. It’s come up a few times over the week. Firstly in the jokes in The Independent, most of which I understand but not all. Then thinking about the project which is having problems – well, we need to get it right for the good of the company and the customers. Finally today, a friend was talking about a bereavement. Sharing the memories of a person we have lost and the grief of those left behind is important for everyone. We are all one.

I keep thinking of the point made by Stephen Jay Gould about the miracle of Life. He talks about how Life has been constant on this world for so many billion years from the first bacteria and single-celled organisms up to the complexity of today. There has not been, in all those countless eons, a single break. Not for one fraction of a nanosecond has Life ceased to beat; if it did it would have to start all over again from the beginning.

It’s not like a heartbeat which can stop and then be restarted (Defibrillator, nurse! Clear!) and return the person to their whole, gloriously complicated self. If Life stopped that would be the end of it. To start again it would go back to first principles. It’s more like a soap bubble, expanding and expanding, reflecting the light in rainbows (and possibly unicorns for all I know). Once it bursts you can take the raw material and create a new one but it’s completely new and different in its own complex, wonderful way.

For us to exist, there has been a pre-requisite of soapy water if you will (and I can stretch a metaphor until it screams, people), stars have been born and died. We stretch back to the immeasurable past and into the immeasurable future.

We are one with everything.

Namaste.

Addiction with EBL

Humans see pattern everywhere, even when they don’t really exist. Usually there is no pattern, just coincidence. Sometimes the patterns collapse into meaning.

I am not prepared to say whether my experience this week was coincidence or some kind of spooky world consciousness kind of thing. I was feeling frazzled. I was tired and a little worried that by agreeing to take on a project on top of my existing workload (which is already out of control), I was losing the battle with my over-active God-complex.  I was open to a new way of looking at things.

I agreed to take on a project that is in an almost desperate state. One that is likely to fail. One that could be damaging to my mental equilibrium. I agreed to work extra hours instead of reducing the time built up during last year’s marathon effort delivering a major OJEU tender and system migration to unreasonable timescales. Yes, I agreed to take on a Death March Project.

I can’t resist being told that no one else can do it, that no one else has the skills / experience  / capability. How stupid am I? I bet you never knew people fell for that line of nonsense.

“EBL saves the world again!” scream the headlines. “Without her we would all be lost!”

It’s official. I am insane. But there are those words: almost, likely to, could be. I grew up watching too many superhero cartoons.

I got back home after being away for a hectic week at work, and decided to relax by catching up on some blog posts. First of all I found that Rohan7Things was expounding wisely on self-discipline and Internet use.

“That’s good stuff,” I thought, frittering time away by using the Internet. “That’s what I need to do – after all, I have cut back on my blogging, so that’s all good. Hah, this stuff is easy!”

Who am I kidding? How deluded can I be? Pretty deluded it seems.

Next I read Rarasaur, who fell off a wagon. Even the mighty Dino of the Blogosphere, the Blogosaurus herself, has limits. Who knew?

I looked at my life. It snarled at me.

There I was thinking I was doing well because I resigned from Governors. Already I have been told I am about to be asked to pick up some jobs at our local Quaker meeting, and already, without knowing what they are, I know I will say yes.

My reasoning is this: all work and no play makes EBL a dull girl. If all I do is work, then I don’t enjoy my life. I need to be involved in activities outside work for balance. So it’s good to take on those jobs, right?

We-e-e-llllll….

Let’s say a friend has given up some voluntary work because it was too demanding and she had been doing it for nine years and felt stale and tired and wanted a break. This is all hypothetical, you understand. This friend has a fairly busy job and is often away from home. She works quite long hours, although not excessive hours like junior doctors. No more than 50 a week. Quite reasonable really; usually only 45 in fact. Civilised hours.

Now she has been asked to take on a trusteeship and another role in her community, on top of her other voluntary commitments for fundraising.

Did I mention she is also a carer? Well, she is.

Then there is her desire to pursue, in a completely selfish manner, some trivial hobbies for her own amusement. She had a rota for those but it has fallen apart recently.

She has just agreed to take on a Death March Project.

I have to admit that looking at it, it doesn’t sound so clever. Even so, I suspect I will still say yes.

My father died of stress in his sixties. I need to take that seriously.

But I will still say yes.

Only the good die young. What’s the point in living longer if you do nothing with the time?

Perhaps the first step to dealing with addiction is to recognise the problem and admit to being powerless over it. What I need is a Twelve Step Programme for Workaholism, like this one here. I scored 15 / 20 on the test, which is a bit scary.

So that’s another project to do – dealing with it.

How common is this, and is it because of the period of change our societies are going through? Or am I just a hopeless case?

Namaste.

 

EBL to Her Coy Reader

It’s as well I don’t aim to blog every day or even every few days. My life is bursty. I live in bursts. Take last week for example.

I was away for work, stuck in a hotel room with no Internet connection. I could have paid for Internet if I had wanted to, but it was expensive (in my mind) and I was out and about so much that it didn’t seem worth it. Most evenings I didn’t get back to my room until nearly ten o’clock, exhausted and too brain-dead to string together any sentences, let alone read those produced by others.

So it goes, my dears. At times I write extensively, just as I did for NaNoWriMo; at others I read more, or exercise, or I knit, or I play games, or learn a new language, or I get involved in some project or other. I also volunteer as a school governor and help to write quizzes every fortnight for the Village Hall funds. I am a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. I can’t do everything at once so I do things in turn. Last week I worked.

I also socialised. I am not a social animal by nature, but when I am away in Leeds I like to catch up with the local Offspring, and a friend who also works in Leeds, and colleagues whom I usually only meet by telephone. On Monday night for example I worked late at the office with one colleague and we went for a pint after to get over it.

One thing drives out another and I realised I have blogs I want to write this month and have not yet done. Next week I have some time off so perhaps I will do them then.

But is it just me? I am interested in so many incompatible things and cannot choose. I end up doing all of them superficially. When I was at school I couldn’t decide on subjects to study. If you ask me about hobbies I am likely to say I have none, almost because there are so many things I want to do that I can’t settle on one.

Andrew Marvell had it right – there is not enough time. It’s true he was just trying to get his lover into bed, but the same principle applies. There’s no blogging from the grave.

In haste, and in eternity, Namaste!

Eleven Questions

Fish of Gold recently posted eleven questions, should you choose to answer them. Well, they were kind of fun questions, so I thought I would give them a pop. The alternative was to rant about Beeching, seeing as yesterday was the 50th anniversary of his report’s publication and the devastating effects are still crippling people in rural communities today. Ut it wouldn’t have been as much fun.

So take a deep breath, and here we go with something more convivial. Brew up some tea and relax for a while with me while I ramble.

  1. Do you remember what it was like to be short? I don’t mean adult short, but kid short, like 2 feet tall. (I don’t that’s why I’m asking.)

This is probably why I decided to take these questions. I have a freakish memory, and my earliest is hanging onto the fireguard because I am wobbly on my feet still. I know that might apply to any age where alcohol or drugs are accessible, but in this case I was also quite tiny and not at all like Alice down the rabbit hole. I remember gazing up at the giant furniture and letting go of the fireguard, and then my mother whooshing in and grabbing me and I flew up into the air and all the furniture was below me. It was a bit like the feeling on a swing when you go really high and your tummy gets butterflies. My mother says I learned to walk when I was 14 months old.

  1. How tall are you?

I am only a few inches tall when lying down.

  1. What is your favorite genre of movies?

I am old fashioned enough to enjoy plot, character and good scripts. However, exploding helicopters can make all difference. I would often take “The Princess Bride” as one of my top films, but also “Casablanca” and “Die Hard”.

  1. Do you drive to work or take public transportation? How long does it take you?

I work at home (smug face). Otherwise I use public transport to get to Head Office which takes about 2 or more hours. Until the last few months I have not been able to see well enough to learn to drive. If things go well maybe I will.

  1. What is your favorite moment of an average work day? For example, mine is getting home to see my dog.

I like it when either I finish a thing or get given a new thing. I like to feel the satisfaction of completing something, or the excitement of a new project I can start planning out. I do actually enjoy my job! It has its moments which are a pain, but on the whole, it’s scary-fun, like going high on a swing.

  1. What was your favorite candy as a kid? Is it different now that you’re an adult?

There were horrible sweets when I was little. People get nostalgic about Fruit Salads and Bootlaces and Black Jacks and Flying Saucers, but I shudder now. At the time I knew no better and the sugar rush was fab. Now I like little pieces of fancy chocolate – just one small piece a day is fine, although I might take a second in extremis.

  1. If you could pick one food item to eat as much as you want without any health consequences for the rest of your life, what would you pick?

Fancy chocolate is a contender, for sure, but I do love cheese. There are so many types and tastes! When I was little a delicatessen opened in town, and my Dad would buy a new cheese every Wednesday for him and me to try out. It was fun, although some of them were disgusting!

  1. What actor or actress would play you in the story of your life?

I’d like Meryl Streep but suspect I would be best with Jennifer Saunders.

  1. How far do you live from where you were born?

About 242 miles, according to Google. However, the hospital was 9 miles from where my parents lived, and their house is 241 miles from my house now. Do I need to triangulate? I only did Geography O-Level, and that was mostly colouring in. I thought these were going to be fun and now I’m orienteering!

  1. I’m going to write a check to your favorite charity. To whom should I make it out?

Well, I should think so after all that geography! Thank you kindly. Make it out to Mind, please.

  1. Do you like your first name or do you wonder what the H your parents were thinking?

I absolutely hate my name. With. A. Passion. My mother was going to call me a sensible name, until she had a dream about her dead friend and I was named after her. She had a freak name. So I got a freak name, which meant I was teased at school, and I was named after a woman who died aged 21 from cancer. Way to go.

Well, that ended badly. Apologies for that; perhaps I should have stuck with Beeching. If you are thinking of naming a child, I recommend a plain and common name, and then they can find their own unique soubriquet themselves, if they want one.

EBL – educating the nation’s parents since 1962…

Thanks to FOG for a great set of questions!

Thanks to everyone for reading.

Namaste.

 

All change is loss

In a previous life as a Local Authority IT Manager, I had two application support teams. They provided a help line service to staff using a couple of key IT systems in the authority, and were really rather good at it most of the time. Which is more than can be said for a lot of IT support teams in my experience.

In fact they were so good at it that they wanted to become better.

One of the areas they were keen to know about was change management. Working in a Local Authority is a master class in change management. I was there for about five years and had three managers, three different departments, and at least four restructures (the latest starting before the previous one had been completed) without changing my job. One of the reasons your Local Authority can appear a bit sullen to you as a customer is that the staff are being messed about by politicians like you would not believe. This applies quite generally in public sector, but whereas teachers and nurses get a sympathetic press much of the time, council workers are generally less fortunate.

So unsurprisingly my team was keen to understand how to handle the challenge of turning up for work and remaining sane.

I had also worked in a different Local Authority back in the 1980s and things were not so different then. One day the office received word that they were being moved to another building and we had to pack up immediately. Boxes appeared, were labelled and filled, and then disappeared. We moved as directed and found desks and boxes magically awaiting us.

Unfortunately for one person they were on holiday. When he returned to the office he found an empty space with a note saying “Sorry mate, we just couldn’t stand you any more”. It took him all morning to track us down.

Meanwhile, back to my team. I managed to arrange a day’s training for them on change management. It was illuminating and possibly saved quite a few of them from requiring therapy, despite talking at times about cheese that moved and polar bears on melting icebergs. Nothing is perfect.

We also talked about being scared and confused and feeling insecure. We talked about how people react when they feel those things and put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and realised why they asked stupid questions and how we should communicate changes properly and many other good things.

The one lesson that provoked a great deal of discussion as the trainer’s assertion that all change was loss.

My dears, I feel it is true. Not all of my colleagues were fully convinced but I uphold that proposition. When change happens we lose something, The something may be a thing we do not want, like an aching tooth or a few pounds of weight or loneliness. Nevertheless it is a loss and we must feel it and work through the stages of loss, however quickly and possibly gladly.

I must come to terms that I can’t use my pain as an excuse any more. I can’t hide behind my weight as a reason for not being sociable or not liking myself. I can’t demand sympathy from others because I am lonely and deserve special consideration. I have to face up to the responsibility of being happy.

It’s not that I want to be in pain or feel bad about myself or feel isolated. It’s unlikely that many people would actively seek those things for themselves.

But when we have been in those situations for a while we adapt to them, we learn how to live with them, work around them, define ourselves by them. Sometimes when they are taken away we no longer quite know who we are or how to behave. Then we feel scared and confused and insecure.

So why the sudden obsession with change management, EBL?

I’m glad you asked.

Life in EBL Towers is a little stressful. Despite completing the Great Project, which was a relief (and a change and a loss) this week is yet a Great Challenge. Sigoth will be unemployed as of the weekend, which leaves me in some anxiety about coping financially. I will be the only wage earner again, which I find quite hard, and we will have to be pretty tight-fisted. The Offspringses are all struggling too and I like to be their safety net – not that they often ask, but when they do it’s important.

In any case, it is true to say I am a little, well, scared and confused and insecure.

I am also known for catastrophising, so I wake up worrying about losing the house and moving mother to a home, which will kill her from the strain, and generally having uncheerful thoughts. I picture the Offspringses homeless or hungry or in variously desperate straits. Usually I hear wolves howling. The recent bitter wind from Mordor has not helped. At this rate I’ll be beating Orcs off with a stick and summoning Voldemort as my Life Coach.

I might even have to resort to a Knitted Army of Evil. Here’s one I made earlier.

Knitted Dalek

Or things may turn out OK. I’ll let you know.

Namaste.

 

Blogging as a means of remaining sane

My dears, those of you who read regularly may recall that I have referred obliquely to my Great Project at work. It’s tedious for those not involved, I realise, but in summary I am trying to move a large database from old kit to new, including an Oracle upgrade and so on and so forth (just insert the Martian of your choice here). Obviously I am not doing this alone and have been accompanied in the Grand Tour by a wealth of brilliant and talented people to whom I owe my very sanity. If ever they track down my little rambling corner and work out who I am talking about, then know I love you all and am proud of you. I do also say so to them in the real world, well, at least the bit about being proud. “Love” is the kind of word that can result in restraining orders if misunderstood. And suppliers can get a bit twitchy if you tell them things like this, and start wondering if the contract is worth the candle.

Well, this weekend is the acid test and we are mid-migration as I type and preparing to start testing in the next couple of hours. Last night we had a conference call about an hour before shut-down and were all giddy as toddlers in a thunderstorm.

Have you noticed how kids get excited in stormy weather? Someone told me it was the ionisation of the air. It’s also why people sing in the shower or like sea air. To which I say “Wotevva!” and splash in puddles.

Anyway, the call was slightly hysterical with excitement because we have been working on this for two years and the big moment had arrived. I admit I cried a little when we finished. It’s a strange feeling. Next week I expect I will be doing bereavement counselling for the team – in fact I started last week as we began to recognise the end was nigh. When you have been working on a large project for a long time, ending it is a big loss.

I have just had the checkpoint call from the supplier to say we are ahead of schedule, so I have given the testers the green light to head into the test centre. Hopefully they are racing down the street right now, checking bus and train timetables, getting into the car, picking up their pack-ups and working off the adrenaline rush with frantic movement.

I sit still at home, trying to conduct the orchestra remotely, and have no such outlet. So I decided to blog through it, to try and keep sane. Trust me, meditation is not going to cut the mustard at the moment. I am not very good at it. I can type drivel for England though, so here I am.

What I was planning to blog about was Sigoth’s mighty sacrifice. Last night was also Red Nose Day. Sigoth and I have been keen supporters since the inaugural RND 25 years ago, when  I wore a red nose on the packed commuter train into London and was stared at so hard by everyone that my face ended up as red as the nose. But we like the pragmatism of the projects they run, and the split between home and abroad, and the focus on the positive. It may be more usual now, but back in the day it was more common for charities to be utterly patronising and show you nothing but desperation. I like to see the joy engendered by successful projects.

So Presentation1Sigoth decided to make the ultimate gift this year, because we can’t donate as much money as we have in the past. He shaved off his beard. He has had a beard forever. He may have been born with it, although the photographic evidence suggests not. In any case, he had it when I first met him in 1980, and has only been nude on the face for an occasional day since. He managed to raise £500 though, which is more than we could manage to donate by miles, and is my personal hero today. As soon as the beard has grown back he will also be himself again. So big shout out to the Wonder that is Sigoth, and to all the other people who did something funny for money.

 

Meanwhile, the project should conclude at 17.00 tonight, just as England kicks off against Wales in Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. Any elation I will be feeling will soon be depressed by watching England. They have a knack of winning in the most ungainly way or losing spectacularly. It’s painful supporting them. I also support Wales, given that I can sing the Welsh National Anthem in Welsh; possibly the most useful thing I ever learned at school, so the England/Wales match is always a difficult one. And it’s the final one of the tournament this year, deciding the winner. At the moment England can win the overall title – but only if they win this match. How much stress can I take today?

I like the Millennium Stadium. I have never been inside it, although I would love to go. I remember the season it was being built and Wales were playing their matches at Wembley. I lived near Wembley at the time and there was an International against the mighty All Blacks scheduled. As we had been over to New Zealand the previous year, I was quite keen to see them play again, so I rounded up friends and relations to make a party of it. My friend agreed to sort out tickets, and called the stadium.

“Any tickets for the match between Wales and the All Blacks?” she asked, crossing various extremities, and mentally reciting the Haka.

“No, sorry,” replied the ticket office person.

My friend was downcast, although not surprised. We had left it a bit late.

Then the ticket office person added, “I can do you tickets for Wales v New Zealand though. Is that any good?”

My friend choked a little and said “OK, that will do…”

So that was the day I saw Jonah Lomu belting down the left wing towards me with two Welshmen hanging from him like red flags. It was glorious, simply glorious.

I hope your Saturday is glorious too, and I hope for my sanity that my poor little project has a glorious result tonight.

Namaste.

 

Daily Prompt: Playlist of the Week

Tell us how your week went by putting together a playlist of  five songs that represent it.

Well my dears, I haven’t had time to tell you about my week, which included a cataract operation, a decision on The Project and Mother’s day dinner with my mother. So obviously the Daily Prompt felt that it needed to remind me to do so.

Fit the First:

On Wednesday I went across to Head Office in Leeds ahead of my operation because I knew I would have to avoid travelling for some time after it. The train was, as ever, crowded and a little late. It is ever thus.

That was not what was on my mind though. I was thinking about how we actually need another stop, like we used to have, to help all the harried commuters who live on the outskirts of York at Wigginton and Haxby. Every now and then they talk about restoring the station at Haxby which was torn out during the Beeching Evisceration of the railways on the 1960s. Flanders and Swann wrote a song about it at the time, called “Slow Train”. It’s very sad and sweet, rather different from most of their songs.

No-one departs, no-one arrives,
From Selby to Goole,
From St. Erth to St. Ives,
They all passed out of our lives

Fit the Second:

On Thursday I went to hospital for the cataract operation, the second of the two. Being Britain this was done under the auspices of the NHS, which meant I had a long wait between eye one and eye two, and then sat in a dingy room with five beds which was designed for four beds, surrounded by curtains which had a cheerful logo on about “Clean Hands Saves Lives” . The logo bothered me. I’m sure it should have said “Clean Hands Save Lives” but I suppose grammar has been cut to make savings. Sigoth couldn’t wait with me because there was no room for visitors so he went into town for the afternoon and came back about tea time to collect me.

In another bed an 85 year old woman was being sent home to manage on her own. She was blind, although the surgeon hoped to have given her some sight back, but she had no one with her. She will have to manage eye drops for four weeks. Eye drops are tricky beasts to wrangle. I dread to think what it is like to do them when you are 85 and mostly blind. Social care is also being cut along with grammar and ethics.

The surgeon was a delightful Dutch gentleman, fairly young and rather stressed because the 85 year old had blood pressure above 200 and he needed to operate on her first so she could get home before the transport system stopped at 5.30. Transport has been cut so it only runs during office hours regardless of what time you wake up from anaesthetics.

He gazed at me and said “Amazing! I’ve never seen anyone with Minus 24 before!” He was referring to my eyesight, in case you were wondering. I am used to it. It’s why I am having surgery. What it means is that they all pay attention and do a good job because it interests them.

They gave me a general anaesthetic and when I woke up the eye patch I was wearing made things a bit blurry, but I could see the surgeon smiling. Cue Jimmy Cliff and God Bless the NHS!

I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind
It’s gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin’ day

Fit the Third:

On Saturday I woke up, took off the eye patch and I could see. I could read the clock. I could see the knots in the ceiling beams. I could read the crossword clues to Sigoth. I could see the pattern on the curtains and on the duvet cover, and the veins in my hand. I could see the photos on the wall and the dust on the dressing table and the shadows to eh birds against the curtains as they flew past the window.

Really, I love science, and I love medicine and I loved that consultant for taking time out ina  really busy afternoon to run through the formula for the lens change three times to make sure he got he it as good as he could.

I have to praise you
I have to praise you like I should

Fit the Fourth:

On Sunday it was Mothers’ Day and we took my mother to the local pub for Sunday lunch. She enjoyed herself but couldn’t remember where we were going for the less than one minute drive (it less than ¼ mile from the house) or read the menu. She had fun though and I let her have a Knickerbocker Glory despite the diabetes.

We’ll build the world of our own that no one else can share
All our sorrows will leave far behind the stairs
And I know you will find there’ll be peace of mind
And we’ll live in a world of our own

Fit the Fifth:

Later on Sunday the Offspring who loves locally decided not to call me, but came over instead with a beautiful card. I was able to read it and I was so happy to see her and get the card and to Skype other Offspringses and I felt so blessed.

It was a cold day with snow on the wind. The weather forecast was grim so we stayed inside and lit a fire and drank tea. We have a song we sing when it’s cold. We nicked the tune from Lennon & Macca.

All you need is gloves!” we carol. “Gloves is all you need!

Epilogue

I haven’t even mentioned that I rang into a tele-conference on Friday to approve go ahead for The Project, so was feeling very chipper about that too.But I did. It’s been an amazing few days.

Next Wednesday I am back at the hospital to have a suture removed. They might need an entire opera for that.

Namaste.

Gang Agley

OK, OK, if you are not familiar with the Bard of Scotland, then that post title may look a little suspicious. Your trusty EBL does seem to have a penchant for quoting odd bits of schoolgirl poetry. I swear I don’t know where it comes from, I work in IT, for goodness sake.

The poem on question is “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough”, and the bit I am referring to is

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

It’s just saying that things don’t always turn out as we expected and hoped.

Today was my last trip into the office for a while as tomorrow is The Operation, and I needed to go in and ensure I signed off The Project so everyone could crack on with it while I was out of action for a couple of days.

Well, the warning signs were there. When there are that many capitalised nouns in the schedule, something is bound to give. It’s one of the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Long story short, I did not sign off. On the plan I don’t sign off until Friday anyway, so I am leaving the goodly folk on the team to work a miracle tomorrow and will dial in for a sign off call on Friday afternoon, hoping that by then I can see well enough to press the right buttons, and will be recovered sufficiently from the general anaesthetic to be coherent and decisive.

It’s a bother.

Never mind, chin up me old muckers! The mantra for a Project Manager on my position is “No one will die!” My career, however, may not survive the business, not that it is a particularly robust or flourishing specimen. It may be best to put it out of its misery.

Oh look, everyone! EBL is catastrophising again!

On the plus side, I may have achieved agreement to proceed with a new project today. There’s nothing like looking someone in the eye and saying “We can do that!” with conviction and confidence. There is some kind of phrase about it: straws, drowning…I forget. The fact is I am confident we can do it, or at least do what is needed. The difference between want and need, there’s a thesis right there! Anyway, we’ll get that sorted next week when I am back.

I also managed to take some things into the office which needed to be there on time.

So not too agley, in retrospect. Perhaps more “fashionably late” than “ohmygodwe’reallgoingtodie!”

In fact, I am not completely distraught. Take note, my dears, that was a flash of optimism. In fact, my project officer said today “The new system has optimism built in!”

I must have caught some.

So here I am to pass some on to you. Catch!

Namaste.

 

No one expects the comfy chair!

Rarasaur is kindly providing a series of prompts for the promptless and this week it’s on the 11th Possibility: the 11th Possibility is the idea that, regardless of data to the contrary, something unexpected and outside the realm of ordinary thought is always potentially around the corner.

This, my dears, speaks to my very soul. I love that kind of non sequitur, and all I could think of after reading the prompt were prime examples of humour that make me go <snort>.

For example, Monty Python’s hapless Spanish Inquisition, bursting in to cry “NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition!” and then failing miserably to torture or maim anyone, beyond making them sit in the Comfy Chair, ensuring that the victim will get “only a cup of coffee at 11” o’clock and making the torture “worse by shouting a lot”.

Ah, Messieurs Pythons, how I love you. I never wanted to run a pet shop anyway, I always wanted to be a lumberjack.

You know when you get an ear-worm – one of those tunes you can’t get out of your head, sometimes for days? It’s been a bit like that with this prompt. I keep thinking of something completely different.

Most clamorous have been Messrs Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams. Both writers convey the 11th Possibility with expertise and panache. In both cases I appreciate their sudden twists of logic which leave me wrong-footed but amused by the dissonance.

In Adams’ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”, apart from the invention of the Infinite Improbability Drive to power a spaceship, there are little moments when things just don’t quite go according to the usual script.

“What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
“Ask a glass of water!”

As for Terry Pratchett, almost any page you care to look at will have some kind of twist or turn that leaves the brain faintly disoriented.

The question seldom addressed is where Medusa had snakes. Underarm hair is an even more embarrassing problem when it keeps biting the top of the deodorant bottle.

So does an 11th Possibility matter? For me, it’s about opening up new ideas, creating space to try something different, or just experiencing uncertainty in a safe but stimulating way.

I am making it sound dull. Let’s try this.

Humour is what makes the world go round without us falling asleep or falling out; our creative brains are engaged and exercised and expanded by indulging it.

In my team at work I am the most right-brain of us all. What that says about our team I dread to think. Anyway, on one occasion we were on a workshop together and during the day various members of the team would leave the main room to go and take part in an individual exercise elsewhere. My colleague sitting next to me said, during the tea break, “You know, I keep seeing people going out but I never notice them coming back.”

“There’s a mad axe murderer out there,” I explained. “We’re actually being picked off one by one. By tonight there will just be one of us left. It’s management cutbacks.”

She looked at me strangely. “Trust you,” she said. “I just meant I was impressed by how quietly they all slipped back into the room.”

I sighed. How boring.

Namaste.

 

Operation

I finally received an appointment for the second cataract operation.

Previously on ElectronicBagLady’s Blog….In case you don’t recall, or missed the first one, I am between operations to replace the lenses in my eyes. I don’t have fully formed cataracts yet, but I am myopic (“pathological myopia”, they told me) to an extreme level, so much so that the optician can no longer correct the problem fully. So they are giving me new plastic lenses in the eyes which should correct the vision and also prevent the further development of cataracts (they are beginning to form). The first operation in October was very successful but in the interim I have been suffering headaches and vertigo and nausea from having one eye very slightly long sighted, and the other so short sighted it’s almost looking behind me. And now the story continues…

There was a great deal of fuss involved in sorting out how to get to and from the hospital (not that easy from where I live), arranging the pre-op assessment (again a whole day to get there and back for a five minute MRSA swab – annoying but necessary) and many colleagues to calm down because it will be a week before Project Go Live and about 24 hours after I sign off Go Live, assuming that I do, in fact, sign off Go Live.

Well, that was all gobbledegook, wasn’t it? In English then, I will be going in for an operation at a Very Awkward Moment for everyone at work. However, being a Project Manager of some competence, I had recorded the possibility in the Risk Log and we all had agreed what to do if it happened (which is what a risk is). So there was no excuse when I held everyone to account, looked them in the eye down the phone line and said, “So you know what to do, right?”

Bless their hearts, they did. After the initial shock everyone admitted they might be able to manage, which soothed my ego nicely. I am sure they are cheering really because I have been so neurotic over the last few weeks they will be glad to get rid of me. The other item in our favour was that we finally signed off the documentation yesterday, by which I mean the planning documents, policies, joint procedures and so on, and have more or less finished running the Disaster Scenario tests.

Oh my dears, I will be so pleased to have this operation over. I hope the second eye will be as successful as the first (although it’s a different surgeon so I am a little nervous). They had said the wait would be 6-10 weeks, and that was a few months ago. God bless the NHS and all who sail in her, but they are lousy at timing, although in this case it has worked out better for my work life, even if it has meant a period of nausea and vertigo which was longer than hoped.

I don’t really have much to say tonight; I just wanted to share with you about the operation, and to say I am not sure if I will be able to see well enough to post for a while. If I do, I pray you will indulge the many typing errors (as opposed to the hopefully lower number that slip through during normal service).

I can’t touch-type. I wish I could now, but when I was more nimble pf brain and finger, my school took the attitude that we girls should not learn to type because that was what less academic girls did in order to become typists. We were destined to do greater things, attend university and marry well so we could entertain our husband’s business colleagues amusingly and intelligently. That was why girls went to university, don’cha know?

It didn’t work out. I fear I have let Sigoth down terribly. I am most ashamed. If he ever brought captains of industry home for supper, I shudder to think what would happen. Much would depend on their conversational ability, and the level of casual –ism of choice (racism, sexism, homophobia, which is an –ism really, or their position on hanging, which will have some –isms attached somewhere, probably by a reef knot).

On the other hand, if I bring home strays from work, as I used to do back in the day when we didn’t live in Ultima Thule, Sigoth can whip up demon veggie lasagne and we have a right good laugh. Even that time I invited my boss, we forgot he was coming and ate everything before he arrived. He enjoyed his Indian takeaway very much though so I think we got away with it.

Namaste.