We wants a training day!


[Long sorrowful exhale]

It’s been a long day today. It felt like I was never going to get home once I eventually got on the road. Those familiar ten miles seemed to stretch on forever. How did it take me about 30 minutes to drive home?!

The day’s first obstacle was getting into work before nine am. We have quite a relaxed setup in our office and find people wandering in any time up to about 11am! So long as you put in the hours and get the job done.

On average I seem to arrive around 9:11. I know, that is pretty exact. But that’s what time I clock when I get into the office. It probably means that I should leave the house eleven minutes later than I normally do, but I’m usually not out until about 17:30 every day anyway, so they’re getting their money’s worth.

Training day

But today I had a training course (09:00 – 15:00) which was hindered only in the minor detail that it was on a product that I have no involvement or (to all intents and purposes) understanding whatsoever: e:Vision or SITS:Vision.

It’s the Web front-end to our student record system called SITS.

The training session was on how to create Vistas (views on the data). Which is really useful if you understand what data is there, and why you’d want to create a view on it. Which I didn’t, so understandably felt at somewhat of a disadvantage.

I was there to understand the system enough to know how to customize its look and feel; it uses simple HTML 4 and CSS. They covered that in about five minutes.

At the end of our six hours training session.

And then finished off by saying that if we wanted to customize the whole look and feel of the product, essentially ‘re-skin’ the whole shebang — which we do — then we’d best go on a training course. But not this one.

Ah … oh well. Still it was a pleasant day in an overly warm room with some nice colleagues and university-made sandwiches. Tuna and olives anyone?

CMS Upgrade

Add to that the fact that our enterprise content management system, the mighty TerminalFOUR SiteManager, was being upgraded from version 5.3.0017 to version 6.0.0014 and you might understand why my colleague and I were a little distracted.

Looking on the bright side, I did get Firefox Portable installed on my personal network space as well as the usual array of essential add-ons (Firebug, Web Developer, Twitterfox, Tab Mix Plus, Google Toolbar, etc.).

Friends Reunited

This evening I had intended to spend being efficient and productive. I actually spent it mostly replying to emails.

The weird thing is that in the last week or so I’ve been contacted by numerous friends — and not via Facebook!

Tom and Rory both live in New Zealand, in Christchurch and Auckland respectively, and are both coming back to the UK this year for 12 months. Margaret Jane is now an English teacher in my old school in Selkirk!

Today I phoned an old school friend Kevin, who lives in Glasgow. Remarkably the mobile phone number he’d given me years ago still works. Had a lovely catch up. I do miss his friendship. We used to spend hours sitting on his bedroom floor — his bedroom was on a balcony above the sitting room! — listening to metal (Flotsam & Jetsam, Megadeth, Metallica, Iron Maiden) and it was he who introduced me to Senser, Portishead and a bunch of other cool sounds.

And now to bed … tomorrow’s going to be another crazily busy day. I’ve got some website code that I need to explode and deposit in our content management system. And a sermon to write by Sunday morning.


The title of this post comes from a sketch on The Million Pound Radio Show, which you can download here in MP3 format: Pirate Training Day (2.3 MB).

Weekend in Selkirk

Borders General Hospital
View of the car parked at the Borders General Hospital; Mum has a blue badge so we could park legitimately in the disabled spaces.

On Friday evening I drove down to Selkirk to see Mum; the first time I’d been down for months.

My plan/agenda was:

  • spend some time with Mum
  • install Mum’s new BT Synergy 4500 phones
  • update the antivirus software on Mum’s laptop
  • put up a hook on the back of the kitchen door
  • hang some pictures
  • take a wreath to the cemetery
  • move some things out to Mum’s newly constructed shed

Here’s what we did:

  • spend some time with Mum
  • install Mum’s new BT Synergy 4500 phones
  • update the antivirus software on Mum’s laptop
  • put up a hook on the back of the kitchen door
  • hang some pictures
  • take my sister Jenni to Accident & Emergency at the Borders General Hospital, where she was diagnosed with shingles
  • take Jenni to the local pharmacy for her newly prescribed medication
  • take Jenni and her cat Myla to the vet for an emergency consultation. One quick injection of antibiotics later and we were driving back from St Boswells to Selkirk
  • move some things out to Mum’s newly constructed shed

It certainly wasn’t an uneventful visit, but I did get to spend some extra time with Jenni, which was lovely. I do love my Mum and my sister.

Accident and Emergency?

While sitting at A&E it occurred to me that the department might be better called Accident and/or Emergency, because Accident and Emergency implies that both conditions need to be met before a patient will be treated.

Scenario #1

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?
Patient: Yes please, I’ve had an accident.
Receptionist: An accident, excellent. Tick. Now, can you tell me: is this an emergency?
Patient: An emergency? Well, no … I suppose it could wait until Monday to be seen by my local general practitioner.
Receptionist: I’m afraid that is going to have to be the case, you see this is an accident and emergency department.
Patient: Oh.
Receptionist: Don’t worry, it happens quite a lot. You see, what you are wanting is an Accident and/or Emergency department.

Scenario #2

Receptionist: Hello, can I help you?
Patient: Yes please, it’s an emergency!
Receptionist: An emergency, excellent. Tick. Now, can you tell me: was this the result of an accident?
Patient: An accident? Well, no … I was in a street brawl and my opponent deliberately attacked me with a variety of poorly executed moves he’d learned from a Playstation 2 game.
Receptionist: Ah … you see this is an Accident and Emergency department.
Patient: Oh.
Receptionist: What you want is the local Deliberate and Emergency department.
Patient: I see. Sorry to trouble you, I shall go in search of such a medical department, thank you for your assistance.
Receptionist: You are very welcome. I hope you stop bleeding presently.

You see, the government spend far too much money reorganizing the NHS in ridiculous ways every couple of years, without thinking it through. This method would allow some kind of basic triage to be determined before the patient walks through the doors. You’d have three departments:

  1. Accident and Emergency
  2. Accident and/or Emergency
  3. Deliberate and Emergency


Scotland v Italy: post-match round-up

Thumbs up for Chris Paterson; thumbs down for Dan Parks

I’m exhausted having watched the Scotland v Italy game this evening. Exhausted and relieved that Scotland won by the narrowest of margins (18 – 16), and only thanks to Bortolussi failing to slot a 77th minute penalty.

It wasn’t an elegant win, it wasn’t a win that Scotland fans can be particularly proud of except that it was a win, and that’s what counts at the end of the day, and now Scotland are through to the Quarter Finals, facing the winner of Pool D (I’m hoping it will be Argentina) at St Denis on Sunday 7 October.

This is my opinion on Scotland’s play this evening:

  1. Scotland defended well

    I was proud of how Scotland defended, particularly in harsh, wet conditions. Italy are a very physical side and even when Scotland were reduced to 14 men (see point #2) they defended consistently well, and made good advantage of Italy’s ill-discipline. If Scotland can continue to build on their defensive skills all the better, but they also need to improve their kicking game (see point #4).

  2. Scotland gave away too many stupid penalties

    I was disappointed at the stupid penalties that Scotland gave away: holding on in the tackle, coming into the side of a maul, pulling the maul down. In the heat of the moment, under pressure Scotland need to keep the heid and retain their discipline. There were too many points and too much ground lost because of this kind of lapse of discipline.

  3. When given the opportunity the forwards played a good driving game

    When given the opportunity! There were a few passages of play when the forwards were able to move the ball, drop, recycle and create a few good phases of play. But more often than not certain players (see point #4) simply kicked the ball up the field.

    When you’ve got the ball in your possession you have control of the game. As soon as you kick it, especially into open ground and not high enough to allow your own players to get up the field, you open up the possibility of something horrible going wrong. And this evening there were too many examples of this; it was just as well that our defence was so strong.

  4. Dan Parks kicks too often and too inconsistently

    I can’t understand why Dan Parks gets picked to play so consistently, because from my point of view his playing is less than consistent. ‘DP‘ — as he’s unaffectionately known here (or sometimes ‘Dorothy’ if I’m feeling even less generous!) — appears to be a one-trick pony, and his trick is kicking.

    If he is passed the ball he kicks it. Sometimes it finds its mark and Scotland gain ground, but more often it goes straight into the hands of the opposition.

    Now, I know that I was a forward and forwards like running game, but I do understand that sometimes you do need to quickly gain yards by kicking the ball strategically into touch. I just wish, more than anything else in the whole of the Scotland game, that we had a fly-half who could kick consistently and accurately.

    Is it because Parks is an Aussie that we’re afraid to drop him? I’d give the job to Gordon Ross. I really, honestly cannot understand why Parks is playing. Can someone please explain this to me? The commentators keeps saying what a good game he had, and I always think/shout at the telly: “Were you watching the same game?!”

  5. Chris Paterson is the man!

    Now as anyone from the Scottish Borders will know there is a long and affectionate rivalry between Selkirk and Galashiels. I’m from Selkirk; Chris Paterson is from Gala. But let me be the first to say that Chris Paterson is the man, and I’m deeply proud of him. So far in this World Cup he’s slotted 16 out of 16 balls over the posts. Fabulous!

I’ve now got eight days for my nerves to recover until the next match. At the end of the day though: well done Scotland, and it was nice to see my former high school Rector (head teacher) George Jack on the TV in the crowd (he’s now the SRU President).

Groundhog Week

Groundhog Day poster - Bill Murray in a clockface

I think I’m stuck in Groundhog Week! Looking back, this is how every week has felt since about March:

Monday briefcase Work
Tuesday briefcase Work
Wednesday briefcase Work
Thursday briefcase Work
Friday briefcase Work, then drive to Selkirk
Saturday house Sort out Mum’s house
Sunday house Sort out Mum’s house, worship God, drive to Anstruther

I don’t mind saying that I’m now feeling quite exhausted. I’m writing this at 16:25 on Sunday afternoon, but it feels like midnight.

That said, I’ve not regretted a single moment of the last six months or so. I’m just so glad that Jane and I have had the time, money and energy to help Mum out the way that we’ve been able to. I know that Mum’s said that we’ve been a real blessing to her, but she has to us too and this experience has only helped to make us better, stronger people and strengthened our relationships.

Same routine, different setting

With Mum settled in her new flat, and the various loose ends being tied up (plumbing problems being fixed, shelves put up, financial transactions completing) we thought that we could take this weekend off and have a long-anticipated rest.

How wrong we could be. No sooner have we got my Mum moved, but Jane’s folks have now decided to move. So yesterday we cleared out the garage.


Full garage
Take one full garage, ready for some good old fashioned clearing out, and get to work …

During, pt.1

Peter carrying stuff to the skip
Remove items from it, one by one, and carry them to a nearby skip …

During, pt.2

Peter putting stuff in the skip
Drop items into nearby skip, and repeat until garage is clear.


Empty garage
That’s better! Jane and Peter investigate a previously unknown, secret door at the back of the garage.

Progress on Mum’s flat

Mum standing beside a bookcase
Mum standing next to one of her new pine bookcases.

Here’s what we got up to at Mum’s on Saturday. This is my to do list:

To do at Mum’s


  • Rudely awaken Jane at 08:00 – DONE
  • Poke Jane with pointed stick* – DONE

* I was quite inventive: I used the stylus from my O2 Xda Orbit.


  • Affix door stops – DONE

Living room

  • Put up clock – DONE
  • Fix chair – DONE
  • Check TV, DVD, VCR connections
  • Buy doormat


  • Mark location of shelves

Guest bedroom

  • Put up curtain rail & curtains – DONE
  • Buy 2 x tall bookcases at Argos – DONE
  • Build 2 x tall bookcases – DONE
  • Unpack boxes – DONE
  • Setup PC on desk

Mum’s bedroom

  • Affix wall hanging (need 2 x 1m poles) – DONE
  • Remove red trunk – DONE

Walk-in Cupboard

  • Buy shelves – OUT-OF-STOCK


  • Affix washing line – DONE

Not bad: got most things done.

Mum’s new flat is coming along nicely. The carpets and vinyl are down now, and the place is really beginning to look homely. She’s done marvels this week unpacking, with more than a little help from friends Dougie and Julie, and my sister Jenni. They’ve done sterling work.

We didn’t get as many cardboard boxes unpacked as we’d hoped, but we did buy Mum a couple of deep, wide bookcases which will allow her books to climb the walls … rather than her guests! 😉


A couple of annoying things about the new place:

  1. In the bathroom the shower was fitted with a rather cheap-looking shower mixer tap (the shower is fed from the boiler rather than an electric shower unit), which is almost impossible for Mum to switch on and off, it is so stiff. It has already been replaced with another one, which Mum can switch on but not off. Mum has arthritis in her hands; I don’t but still have trouble with it. It’s just bad quality.

  2. In the kitchen the waste pipe from the sink has been directed within the space for her dishwasher. The gap is 600 mm deep; her dishwasher is 600 mm deep; the waste pipe is about 90 mm deep. Surely it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that by removing 90 mm from a 600 mm space you are clearly not going to be able to install a dishwasher!!

    So at the moment her dishwasher sticks out … completely preventing access to one of her kitchen cupboards.

My Uncle Lewis, who owns and runs Brydon Home Improvement Services, came over on Friday night and we’ve come up with a snagging list of about 12 items, which also includes a dangerous fuse box, wrong light switches fitted (“… but we ran out!” is not an acceptable excuse in my book), unfinished tiling work in the kitchen, and a missing on/off power switch for the dishwasher.

A couple of weeks more, I reckon, and the house will be completely unpacked, fixed and Mum will be enjoying the benefits of her new smaller place. And then there is the garden to tackle … but, as they, that’s a whole new ballpark of worms.