Archive for September, 2006

Blog change

Sunday, September 10th, 2006

I upgraded my blog software this weekend and it looks like I’ve overwritten the images I used. I’ll play around for a while to see if I can change it back ( I’m not certain ).

September update II

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

After our great holiday, we landed back at SFO and it couldn’t have been more different from a year ago when we first arrived. It was like coming home. We knew what we were doing and where we were going. When we got home, our landlords had been in and installed a timer switch so that the house looked occupied while we were away.

We were also greeted by a mountain of mail. Most importantly, the tax refunds arrived 🙂

I returned to work the next day. While I was in the UK, I changed jobs in Scalix. I’m now the team lead for the Sustaining Team which basically means patches and hot fixes to the applications in response to customer escalations. This means that I’ve moved out of support into product development. It basically completes the circle. While I was in support I would identify cause and fix but I wouldn’t change the code. In this job, I can do everything ! ( Queue lightining flash and maniacal laughter whilst sitting in a leather chair with a white cat on my lap ).

We spent the intervening time between then and now getting ready for the girls’ return to school. For some reason, the school didn’t publish the new classes until the weekend before they were due to go back. That wasn’t so much of a problem but they also didn’t release Rachel’s school supplies list until then. So we needed to run around in the final weekend getting stuff like pens and pencil boxes etc.

Sam was getting really nervous about letting Joanna go full time because that now means Sam’s in the house on her own. She’s already told me to hide the credit cards and never let her have the car.

Last week was Sam’s birthday. I took the day off and, with the girls at school, I took her shopping to the mall so she could shop uninterrupted. She kept telling me that she felt like royalty being allowed to try everything on without hearing arguments and having her attention diverted.

I just stayed outside the stores keeping quiet.

September update

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

This seems so familiar. I’m sitting in front of my PC with a blank blog entry wondering why I haven’t updated it for so long. I did start to update it a few weeks ago but my hosting company removed the data from one server with the intention of moving it to another but forgot to do the restore.
Looking back at the previous post, I realised I hadn’t finished the details of the UK trip.

I forgot to mention how the trip started in the first place.

Virgin Atlantic changed their baggage policy from 32Kg per case to 23Kg. I didn’t want us to take the same 8 cases back as we’d brought out so we ended up with 3 cases for the trip back. It was also to save my spine. As chief lifter and shifter, I’m responsible for pushing the cases around the airport so the smaller number of cases the better.

It turns out that each case was over the limit so we ended up paying $35 per case just to get them on the plane. As I understand it, the new weight restrictions came in because of health and safety concerns for the baggage handlers not because of the plane. What did the handlers think they would be doing as part of a baggage handling job ? If you’re worried about whether they can lift a suitcase, get stronger people.

After getting our shoes X-rayed through the security checkpoint, they decided that the battery on my camcorder had some kind of explosive on it. They took me to one side and took a swab from the battery terminals and decided to let me go.

I’m very accepting of security checkpoints on the basis that, whether you agree with the checks or not, they won’t let you on the plane if you don’t comply and, at the end of the day, they have a job to do. The quicker you accept that, the quicker you can get through. The only problem I have is that if they want you to do something, they never tell you what you’re supposed to do. Most of the time, they tell people to take their shoes off once they get to the scanner, never before. There’s nobody explaining that each and every laptop must be taken out of the bags and put into a tray, etc. etc. While everyone’s waiting in the queue, they could be preparing. They watch all their fellow travellers in front going through the same procedure and then act all surprised as if they didn’t know it applied to them as well.

With the swab they took, they didn’t tell me what I needed to do. They only told me to stand in a different place. I get concerned, like I do at live auctions, that if I scratch my nose or blink more than once, does that mean I’ve commited to something. In the case of an auction, does that mean I’ve just bought something I never wanted for a large amount of money. In the case of the security check point, will they think I’m drawing a gun and shoot me down ?

We managed to get through unscathed and boarded the plane although there was a melee trying to get through the gate because the Virgin Atlantic staff spoke through a sock when making their announcements and nobody knew who was boarding when.

Once on the plane, we settled down for a 10 hour flight. About an hour out of SFO, it became apparent that the entertainment system was on the fritz and it was going to take more than percussive maintenance to fix it. So, we had another 9 hours staring at the back of the chair in front of us.

To the girls’ credit, they behaved really well and managed to occupy themselves.

That was until Rachel decided that she didn’t like the smell of airplanes and felt sick. Sam took her to the toilets and, while they were in there, the captain decided to turn on the seatbelt sign because of impending turbulence.

For the next 5 minutes, we had a bit of a bumpy ride. To add to the amusement, they’d just handed out the dinners to the girls. Joanna was trying to eat spaghetti and meatballs like the scouts on the roller coaster in the infamous “Jim’ll Fix It” clip.

Once we’d cleared the turbulence the ride was smoother but, an hour out of LHR, Rachel decided she was going to throw up into her sick bag. It was during this hour that the cabin staff were trying to make their landing preparations so they couldn’t take the bag from Sam. The faces on a couple of the stewardesses were priceless as they realised what was swishing in the bag that Sam was holding out for them. One of them got brave and took it from Sam eventually but, just as we were landing, Joanna decided that if Rachel was going to be sick, so was she. So, we had both of them honking into wax paper bags.

We were at the back of the plane anyway and waited until everyone else got off so that we could clean the girls up. When that was achieved we started to disembark from the plane. However, we got about 3 or 4 feet away from the door when both the girls simultaneously chucked up. My daughters now hold the dubious honour of being capable of being travel sick on a stationary airplane.

The biggest benefit of the delay was that we sailed through immigration and our cases had already been taken off the carousel so we just needed to pick them off the floor and exit the airport.