May 2021

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Sunday 30 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1622396337

Some Tweets for a Bank Holiday Sunday

Thursday 27 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1622132920


It turns out that Dad had a UTI (is that 'a UTI' or 'an UTI'? 'an' sounds wrong) which can commonly cause delirium and basically all of the symptoms that he has been exhibiting. I wish the Doctors or Nurses had told us that up front because we've been worried silly about (very) sudden onset dementia and if he'd be able to come home or not. But it's "just" a UTI so once that's sorted and it's not dropping his heart rate and BP, he should be clear to come home.

Great news!

Thursday 27 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1622132748


What they didn't tell me when I bought a home compost bin was that it would take 2 years before I could get anything but wet smelly slush out of it.

Still that formed the bottom of my plant trays with some compost from Lidl covering the top to prevent the smell getting out - it certainly smells "rural".

But it's been a productive day in my official capacity of being on Gardening Leave...

Tuesday 25 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621971478


I was watching the Monaco Grand Prix with my son on Sunday.

Every year, we comment on the zebra crossing on the hairpin turn which seemingly ends in a brick wall and goes nowhere (I've since discovered there's a door in the wall).

I said that it would liven (or deaden) things up if at random intervals, a little old lady with a Zimmer Frame crossed the zebra crossing during the Grand Prix. Sure, it'd probably result in some deaths, but they've had a good innings...

My more empathetic son said that we could make them virtual grannies.

And then he coined the term "HoloGrans".


Tuesday 25 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621944765

Smart Device Paranoia

I do understand how people get paranoid that their smart devices (Google Home, Alexa, Siri, etc.) are listening to them.

It's certainly disconcerting when you discuss needing something and suddenly Amazon is sending you that thing as a suggestion. I have felt that way myself even though I know that they are not listening to you except for the wake words "OK Google", etc.

But yesterday I thought that we could do with some brown packing tape for sending parcels instead of using gaffer tape that I have been using. I told nobody about this, made no outward noises about it, and certainly haven't searched for it online. I only made a mental note to get some.

And this morning, Amazon suggested that I might like some brown packing tape...

I'm sure it's just the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon (frequency bias), but it is quite unsettling...

Monday 24 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621881492

Dementia Clocks

Because Dad is on a dementia ward, they have dementia clocks which tell you the date as well as the time.

One thing I've noticed is that they are all wrong!

But they are all only slightly wrong. Is it a test or are they just fucking with the patients?

Surely it's an evil prank?
Surely it's an evil prank? (Photo taken at 14:52, but it's the month that's bothering me)

Monday 24 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621872678


As I look out of my front window, I can see that my ex-employer, Babcock, have decided to fly an overly large Union Flag (or Union Jack - I'm not arguing about it) outside of Henley Building (the newish office block).

This rise of flagism is bowing to the new wave of nationalism that has been gripping our country, and it's pathetic.

As he writes in his great blog, David Allen Green avers that this is nothing short of a constitutional distress signal. When the government and then prime government contractors feel the need to fly such a hapless symbol of nationalism, we are in a very precarious and sorry state indeed.

Now, I love my country, but at the same time, I understand that it's purely an arbitrary line that someone drew on a map. OK, the UK is a bit different with many parts physically bordered by the sea, but nonetheless, it is an arbitrary construct designed to promote tribalism.

I am disappointed, but not surprised by Babcock (I'm not singling out Babcock for any other reason than their flag is literally in my line of sight) as well as many others choosing to jump on this bandwagon.

We somehow try to keep with the utterly outdated notion that these arbitrary map lines actually mean anything. Yes, the resources, wealth, and administration 'belong' to that country, but why? We have 7 billion Homo Sapiens on Earth, and if we pooled our resources, surely we'd all fare better. That's not socialism BTW, that's just common sense. The notion that 'we' are somehow better than 'them' should have been consigned to the historical dustbin many years ago.

So very true
So very true

Monday 24 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621844560

Book Review: Close to the Bone

Close to the Bone (Widow's Island, #1)Close to the Bone by Kendra Elliot
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First of all, I didn't realise that this was a short story. At < 100 (kindle) pages, it is very short and I'm always suspicious that this is a money-making scheme by the publishers to make you buy instalments of short stories.
That said, it's a good story and develops some interesting characters, environments and scenarios. It's definitely rich-fodder for follow-ons, and you finish the book never quite feeling that you've finished the book.
So I like the story, but dislike the publisher's greed.

View all my reviews

Sunday 23 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621796199

Lay-in (ish)

Looking forward to my first day of "Gardening Leave" tomorrow.

I have a mini-lay-in but I do have a call with my agent at 0900 to begin my onboarding process.

Oh yeah, I kinda fibbed to my old employers about joining BAE Systems. I technically am going to work for them, but as a contractor. I am going to be an Engineering Team Leader / Consultant Chief Engineer.

So whilst I have accepted a 12-month contract from BAE Systems, I'll be my own boss, doing my own hours, etc.

Happy Days

To be honest, I just needed to leave my old employers - it had gotten to the point where I really didn't want to get up and work for them any longer, and I think it was starting to affect my mental health, so this change will be as good as a rest - and I get 3 weeks to rest before I start!

Sunday 23 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621795956


Just testing that I can publish from my Windows boxen...

Sunday 23 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621785154

Jesus of Suburbia

So, after dropping Joshua home and a roast around to Ken, we were driving up Valletort Road in the driving rain today. In one of those moments when you wish you had a camera ready, a hippy-like man (like me when I did the beard and hair growth in lockdown 1.0) was running (as in jogging, not running away from something) down the road.

He was running barefoot. Well, he was running bare-everything apart from a pair of shorts.

It's 8.5°C and absolutely pissing down outside!

Friday 21 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621589674

Last Day at Babcock

So, here it is - my final day working for Babcock.

A lot of people emailed me to say that my goodbye email was the best they'd read - I don't think so, personally, but I include it here for reference:

          Dear colleagues past and present,
          The time has come for me to hang up my Babcock shirts and explore pastures new.
          Well, actually it’s pastures old, but in keeping the metaphor, the crops have been rotated – I started out as an
          Apprentice at British Aerospace System & Equipment and I’m going back to BAE Systems.
          I’m in my 15th year at Babcock (I started as a contractor in the Drawing Office), and I never expected to stay at one
          company so long – but Babcock have been good to me over the years, and I’ve had plenty of rotation around the business
          units myself.
          Growing up in Torpoint, I promised myself that I would never work in the Dockyard – Some people would say that I’ve
          fulfilled that promise!          
          Today will be my last day “in office”, but I just wanted to write to thank you for making the 15 years a rich, joyous
          I wish you all the very best of luck in the future, and every success in your own Babcock careers.
          Look after the place – As I said, it’s been good to me, and you get out what you put in, so treat it well and give it
          the occasional tickle on the belly, and it’ll continue to be a strong, diverse and fun organisation to work for.
          Some questions about Devonport Dockyard arose during my time:
          1. Where are Hills 1 to 59??*
          2. Why is it called “The Red-Brick Building”? Yes, I know, but so are many of the other buildings in the dockyard…
          3. Why is there no flippin’ telephone directory? If you need the HR/Facilities/Nurse/Cleaners/Karen from Finance, you
          have to know someone who knows someone who’s worked here 143 years. And the AD in Outlook is a mess.
          As the ‘bloke who knows stuff’ and general departmental geek, I’ll pass on my trade secret – I just know how to use
          Google better than most people.
          And I learned how to do that here: Power Searching with Google - Course ( (a bit dated, but
          still relevant).
          I personally think that this course should be a mandatory joining course on Success Factors.
          If I’ve missed you off this list: (a) How are you reading this? (b) Apologies, I used the recently saved addresses in
          Outlook as my source data
          So all that needs to be said now is good luck, farewell, don’t forget your towel, and most importantly, Don’t Panic!
          Kind Regards,
          *I found out that it’s called Hill 60 because on Ordinance Survey maps, it was labelled next to a contour line and read
          “Hill 60” - as in 60ft above sea level
          Mark Smith BSc (Hons) MIET MIAM MIIOM | Capability Insertion Manager
          Marine Warships | Marine & Technology
          Babcock International Group
          Devonport Royal Dockyard | Plymouth | Devon | PL1 4SG
          Tel: +441752 976892 | Mob: +447805 881689 |


Wednesday 19 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621451162

2 Days Left

It does feel weird that I'll only be at Babcock for another two days...

Wednesday 19 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621448545


Really pleased with Dad's progress today when I went to visit him at Derriford. He's come on so much in the last two days. He's still a bit confused about things, but what a difference - it gives me hope that he will be able to return home and see Trevor again.

I'm very, very happy.

Wednesday 19 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621427531

Book Review: Army of One

Army of One: Introducing Joe BeckArmy of One: Introducing Joe Beck by Alastair Brown
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A copy-cat run-of-the-mill hard-man lone-wolf action book.
It was OK as a mind-numbing read between more serious books, but not worth buying.
It has blatantly racist connotations throughout ("the woman on the phone had a black-sounding voice"!) and the Hispanics and black characters are shot/tortured first...

View all my reviews

Monday 17 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621249238


Ah, I've discovered the issue with an office with an East-facing window. In the mornings, I am blinded by the sun - time to get some curtains, pronto...

Sunday 16 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621165733

African Grey

About right...
About right...

Sunday 16 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621165629


He's moved to a ward this morning and I've spoken to the nurse there about my concerns - so I'm feeling a lot more comfortable today. He won't get seen by any doctors on a Sunday, but at least he's in a safe place.

Siobhan took a lovely photo of Trevor
Siobhan took a lovely photo of Trevor

Saturday 15 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621108798


I've decided that Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile are terrible. The media speeds are amazing (600Mbps), but the quality of service is rubbish. It keeps going down. The mobile service is also rubbish - Any RCS messages are hit and miss and you have to wait minutes before getting the option to send them as txt messages.

Saturday 15 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1621108476


My dad was taken into hospital last night. He had a funny turn and a fall. He's talking nonsense (as in garbled words and can't seem to get his thoughts straight) today. I've been to see him for 10 minutes (I wasn't really allowed in). I need to speak to the medical staff tomorrow to see what's going on. I suspect it's another stroke.

Siobhan's being a bit of a star looking after Trevor (his cat) with her friend, Kaitlyn.

Friday 14 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620976145

Moved into Office

If you can read this, then my server move to my office (and onto a new subnet) has been successful. It was a bit long and painful because I didn't devote the time needed to do it and forward the ports properly and therefore was caught out a little bit, but hopefully all is well now.

Wednesday 12 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620852797


I now have the makings of an actual office to myself...

Needs flooring and cable trunking, but it's getting there
Needs flooring and cable trunking, but it's getting there

Wednesday 12 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620814989

Happy 18th Birthday, Siobhan!

A massive Happy 18th Birthday to my gorgeous and loving daughter, Siobhan.

I feel old now that my youngest child has reached adulthood, and I'm technically biologically redundant now, but what a fantastic day. She's the love of my life and until you have children of your own, you never really understand the love that you feel for them. My two kids have been fantastic and I love them both so dearly.

I'm a very happy and proud Dad!

Sunday 09 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620556168


This morning I have planted Avril Avocado properly

Avril Avocado Planted
Avril Avocado Planted

And we've adopted Bob the Bonsai

Bob the Bonsai
Bob the Bonsai

Saturday 08 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620496769

Book Review - The Ardent Swarm

The Ardent SwarmThe Ardent Swarm by Yamen Manai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a brilliant, lovely, beautiful book.
Again, I didn't think I was going to like this book, but there's a famous saying about books and covers!
A really good story, with interesting and engaging characters.
It really makes you think about our world and the state in which humans are leaving it.
Absolutely brilliant!

View all my reviews

Saturday 08 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620496369


And we are home. The bathroom is done (still needs painting). We had home-cooked food for dinner. I've put a curtain rail and curtains up in Teri's room.

I mean, the house still needs a bloody good clean (and we've done loads), but I am so looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight!

Friday 07 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620418266

Day 40 (and the last!) of Hotel Life

The house is starting to look good now - the bathroom is done as far as the builders are concerned, but will still need painting etc. to make it our own...

Kim has done a cracking job at cleaning and Teri (who's feeling so much better) has been decorating her room.


And my major news is that today I handed in my notice to Babcock - After 14.5 years with them, I'm hanging up my Babcock hat/boots/coat and I am moving to pastures new.

More information on that in due course....


I am disgusted and utterly disheartened by the collective Stockholm Syndrome our country has exhibited...

Thursday 06 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620323186

Day 39 of Hotel Life

Job Offer

An all-round interesting day - I've received a firm job offer and I've just interviewed for a separate company - had to code a game in 45 minutes (even though I haven't coded in a serious way for 15 years!). So I won't be getting an offer for that one, but it doesn't matter!

Wednesday 05 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620249392

Wednesday 05 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620249392

Day 38 of Hotel Life

It looks like we could be moving back in on Friday...

But, against our screaming urgency to leave this hell-hole, we have asked if we can delay it for a day (at least) so we can clean the place up enough to actually move back in. It's a tip and covered in dirt/dust from all the building work. We can't realistically be expected to move back into that...

Don't get me wrong - when I call this a hell-hole, the Jury's Inn is a perfectly nice hotel and the staff are lovely (I'm even quite good mates with the maintenance bloke), but with the restaurant and bar closed due to COVID-19, and now pre-reopening refurbishment, we can't even get a decent coffee and have to have the Kenco sachets with UHT milk in the room. So, the hotel is fine, but 6 weeks in these circumstances is just hell.

Tuesday 04 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620164490

Day 37 of Hotel Life

Brewdog Plymouth

On the way back to home (the hotel) this evening, we decided to stop for a pint (Punk AF for me) at the new Brewdog bar in Plymouth. Of course, due to COVID-19 lockdown, we could only sit outside to drink.

Bloody freezing!

You have to be a hardcore alcoholic to spend an evening doing that!

Monday 03 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1620072984

Day 36 of Hotel Life

Happy Birthday Dad!

84 years young today. We hope you have a lovely birthday and don't drink too much 10 Torres brandy tonight!

Sunday 02 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1619991015

Day 35 of Hotel Life

The Home Office

(not that one)

I've finally gotten around to starting to convert the spare room into a WfH office for me.

I've run a Cat8 Ethernet cable (future-proof) up from the downstairs router (the Virgin Media hub), and have invested (less than £30) in a TP-Link WiFi router for the office. Mainly because I needed more Ethernet ports, but with the added advantage that the WiFi coverage is now full house (the Virgin hub is awful).

Now to buy a sofa bed (for when people stay over) and a decent desk for me to work from.

Saturday 01 May 2021
Epoch Seconds: 1619885528

Day 34 of Hotel Life

Ah, the house is starting to come on now - we have bathroom furniture - not yet in the bathroom, but it's in the house. We have new floorboards in the bathroom and Teri's room, and all the pipework in the bathroom is done.

Spent most of today cleaning the worst of the dust off everything...


I've also spent of lot of today revising some stuff - I can't say what or what for just yet, but I will when the time is right.

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