Archive for September, 2009

Ennui kills!

Oh my! I’ve been sat at home now for a week, scared to do much online shopping because I don’t know if I have a job or not, and getting more and more bored. I have been window shopping for jobs the last couple of days, but I can’t really commit until I am definitely sacked, as they are all crap in one way or another. There is one advertising in Manchester, Trafford Park, which is just down the motorway. He’s willing to take on new drivers, but the traffic into Manchester is a nightmare, it would involve nights out, and the pay is £7.25 and hour! So, spend five and a half grand to take a twenty percent pay cut!

Obviously if I am sacked I would have to apply.

Just now I was looking again for jobs, and, through a link to another job site, came across an advert for drivers, 19-43 years old, to go and get blown up in some godforsaken corner of the globe. So I’ve applied!

Military Driver, Royal Logistics Corps, Territorial Army.

Larf!

It says you have to be able to put in at least nineteen days a year, but as soon as they’ve got you doubtless you’ll be sent out on tours of duty. Wendy was OK with it until I suggested that it might involve active duty.

I really do have a lethally low boredom threshold. 

We’ll see, I might not even get an answer. If I’m not sacked, work would have to be cool about it as well.

My fitness is tolerable, I have the mental where-with-all to be able to take army life now, and it would be a sterling commendation on any driving CV. And if it was only for short bursts, and I don’t get blown up, could be quite fun.

Things you do!

Buck.

Sax and bugs, not even dole.

The nasty enervating illness I have been labouring through is waning. To prove that every cloud has a silver lining (and that where there’s a will there’s a platitude) it seems to have sapped my will to worry about work. If I get sacked I’ll just have to deal with it, at least I’ve got a week off, paid. And if I’m not sacked I didn’t have to work through that nasty cold. It was weird, I didn’t have a runny nose, or anything much except a little bit of a cough and tired eyes, but I just felt so weak I barely felt able to stand up. That and a temperature. Bad, but brief. Three days, and I was on the mend yesterday.

Which reminds me, I need to swab out my sax mouthpiece now, in case it’s possible to reinfect myself!

The sax is coming along apace. I have two books; "Learn as you play saxophone", and "A new tune a day for tenor saxophone." The former is the one my sax-sensei Pete teaches from, the latter is more challenging. Both want me to read music and play at the same time in chapter 1. That really is challenging! Pete asked me if I had any musical experience, I said I could play the triangle but subsequently confessed I could not read music. He said it was alright, that people often learnt as they went along, but I sensed an inward sigh.

I think I’m doing well though. In the space of a week I’ve gone from blowing like mad and being pleased I got something that sounded like a note, to expecting to hit each note of the middle (damn, lingo breakdown! Not sharp or flat, the middle bunch of notes! Damn , damn, damn!) octave, and worrying about keeping to 4/4 or 3/4 time!

(You go girl!)

Wendy, whilst appreciating the rate and degree of my improvement, is less than ecstatic about my practising. Hearing someone try over and over to get the right time and notes of ‘Chanson de nuit’ and ‘Au clair de la lune’ whilst you are trying to have a quiet chill must be irritating.

Did I mention the soundproofing was a flop? The egg-trays are apparently an urban myth, they give you wonderful acoustics, but don’t stop next-door from appreciating them. Genuine sound insulation relies on density and thickness. I briefly examined a professional soundproofing site, worked out that one wall of a soundproof box would cost around £500, then gave up. I have resorted to the old standbys of a thick pair of socks down the horn, and practising my fingering without the mouthpiece in (on top of the hour’s blowing). The socks are, at best, a token gesture. There are that many holes in a sax that the horn is just the final projecting bit.

I’ve taken to sitting in the hall upstairs, with all the bedroom doors, the bathroom door and the front-room door downstairs shut (so there is at least two walls between me and next-door, and a door and double glazing between me and the outside world) with the airing cupboard door open, playing into that!

It’s still really loud, but it’s the best I can do. I’m also trying to train next-door into realising that it is only for an hour, and at set times. This should help. The worst thing about having someone making a racket is the feeling of helplessness, not knowing how long they are going to be at it. If  you know they are going to be having a party until 1am, at least you know that it (should) be quiet after that. It’s lying in bed at 1245, music booming, grinding your teeth and whetting your axe that is detrimental to your chi.

Not that I would practice at such a time, I was thinking along the lines of 12.30 am -1.30 pm on 2-10 shift, 5-6 (pm) on 6-2.

I’ve been up nearly two hours and I’m not overcome with illness. I’ll go and get some grub and if I’m still OK I think I’ll have a workout. My next Taekwondo grading is in four weeks (if I’m not sacked/ can afford it) and I’ve been remiss through illness this last week.

Later,

Buck.

Sax

Gawd bless the internet and all who sail on her! Last time I (briefly) owned a sax I don’t think I even got a proper note out of it. I sold it to buy a motorbike. Priorities.

This time around, twenty years later, I have t’interweb! Straight on to YouTube where there are posts on how to wet and fit your reed, embouchure (how you hold your gob, if you’re not down with us saxophonists) and which buttons make which notes.

I was giving it all a go today. First impressions are: by god it’s loud! Obviously it’s a lot to take on board, and it’s really tricky, but not impossible. I was stringing together a couple of notes at a time and I’ve been practising fingering the sequence B,A,C,G,F# (never thought I’d get to use that on my keyboard) D, B (I think).

I’m loving it.

It’s been a splendid day off; Wendy’s mum and dad have been staying with us but they’ve buggered off to Wales for the weekend and it’s lovely to have the place to ourselves again. I had a good Taekwondo work-out this morning, sax in the afternoon, and chilled ‘twixt and ‘tween. Lovely.

I’m going to have to price up a soundproof mini-room tomorrow. Apparently making a big box lined with egg trays reduces the sound emissions to a whisper. (According to one source on the never-wrong internet.) I can get the requisite 140 foot square cardboard egg trays for about twenty three quid, but I will have to find the price for that much plywood/ hardboard and sixty four foot of 2"x2".

Really I suppose I should research further the efficacy of the proposed project before I commit to further spending.

I’ve re-applied to our local music shop to set up a starter of  four, hour long, lessons (after Wendy thoughtfully tidied the tutor’s name and ‘phone number into the bin).

They way I’m progressing I’ll probably have mastered it by then!

Anywho, just to say I love my sax!

I have a new obsession. In the old days that would have meant ‘flavour of the week’, but as the driving and martial arts have shown, I can stick at things now. OK, so the Russian has slid off the radar for the moment, but that is a lifetime’s commitment to learn (well, it is the way I go about it!). And it is just a whim. Hmm, better not go there with that argument, everything I do is on the basis of a whim or impractical desire. Some yuppie shop was flogging it’s elitist tat with the slogan ‘Desire, aspire, acquire’. That is how my life goes!

As I’ve said before my teen dreams were to be a black belt, play the tenor sax, and ride a really nice Harley chop. When the telly sells you these dreams they don’t mention the years of graft you have to put in to get them. Harley is pure cash, that isn’t quick or easy to come by (not legally, anyway) the black belt requires years of work, training your body to react without conscious volition in ways that are practically impossible for the untrained, and the sax is the work of an afternoon.

(I think there may be a bit more to it than that, actually.) You can see the Matrix’s  appeal, you want a skill set that requires years to learn, but can’t be arsed moving off your sofa? Just upload the programme and hey presto, "I know Kung Fu."

Reminds me of an advert where they were exhorting people to save, quoting a survey that said ‘**% of people wish they had saved’. Of course they do, so they could spend it now, but it was the spending it now, then, that means they didn’t save! Stupid bloody thing.

This is why I have issues with inane adverts and misleading ‘news’ reports. Back to me seeing further than other men, again. I refer to the quote that some Noble prize winner made ‘ If I have seen further than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants’. I prefer to think of it as ‘I have seen further than other men because I am surrounded by pygmies.’

Which is doubly negative, as it says I’m no great shakes, but the common herd is bovine. Contemptuous of self and society. I may adopt that as my motto! This is not to say the people I know are morons, but the people at which this stuff (against which I rail) is aimed must be. The Jeremy Kyle crew.

Well it’s getting on, and every word I type takes me further from Buddha, time for bed.

Buck.

Not a ‘no’

Just a quick a update before I trot off to work. I went into the office four times yesterday to try and see Tony (the site manager) and each time he was in a meeting or doing other important stuff. On the fourth attempt I saw a middle manager I know (Murray) and he said he’d go into the meeting and ask Tony what the news was. Tony came straight out and saw me in person.

He said that we are getting new rigid (class II) trucks next month so, subject to them being able to sort out the insurance (which he saw no reason why they couldn’t as they’d run warehouse-to-wheels on other sites with the same insurance) his plan was to send me out in an old rigid to do deliveries. His reasoning being it would get me used to driving a laden truck (up to eighteen tons on the back, as opposed to the empty ones you learn to drive in), get used to the stores and doing the job, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I put the odd scratch on an old truck whilst getting the hang of it.

This is brilliant in several ways; it says that they have been thinking about me and how best to get me trained up, not just saying ‘we don’t know yet, come back again next week’, they are not expecting me to start off perfect, so I don’t have to think that one scrape and I’m sacked, and it would be days! This would be fantastic news for Wendy.

Also the pay is the same whatever I’m driving.

He said that they’d see how I went on, then upgrade me to artic’s in January if I was OK. At which point Murray chipped in that where he was they had w-t-w, and to get the new drivers good at reversing they put them on shunting for a week. That is just picking up trailers from one place in the yard then reversing on to a dock at some other point. Then repeat. For twelve hours a day!

All in all I found his immediate response, and credible plan quite encouraging. I wasn’t just being told what I wanted to hear or being kept in suspense. Hope springs.

In other news here are the promised photo’s:

The suit, twenty or so quid off eBay, perfect fit, natty as a spiv’s ‘tache.

The hand made to order winklepickers! Words cannot express the coolness.

The rented sax (so she thinks! It shall be mine!)

the ensemble! Tres Bleeding chic! Oh yes! Cooler than a penguins chilly bits!

What with being able to blow a C already (apparently that is the note you produce if you blow down it without depressing any of the keys) I only have seven more notes to learn and I’m fluent! End of the week I’m predicting.

Gotta go,

Buck.

It’s all about now.

Hi. I’m nervous now. Today is supposed to be the day. I have to go in and see the site manager, my bezzie mate/ total bastard, Tony Simpson today. This is it. My future hangs in the balance. If he says I can go driving then I’ll be ecstatic but terrified, if he says I can’t I’ll start applying for jobs in earnest. The third, and worst, option is that he says ‘I’ll get back to you’ (again).

So far this has been a happening week; Wendy and I compromised on the sax, I’m initially renting it for four months to see if I can take to it and stick to it, but I now have a sax! (Pictures to follow, got to go to work in a bit.)

I even got a noise out of it! I wouldn’t go so far as to claim it was a note, but it was better than the breathless wheeze I seem to remember achieving the last time I owned one.

My shoes finally arrived today, six days too late for the do to which I intended to wear them, but stunning none the less. Hand made to order, which explains the delay, but not the claim of a ten day turn around made by the website.

My 0% interest credit card came yesterday, I’ve transferred that huge debt I ran up for my driving lessons (for which they had recently upped the interest repayment to ninety pounds a month!) and we will easily be able to settle that before we start incurring interest again.

So now it’s just the job. I’m scared if he says ‘yes’, as when I said I would like to go out with a driver for a week to build up my experience safely, he changed it to ‘an assessor, yes’. If that is the case I’d feel like I was on my driving test for a whole week!

If he says ‘no’, then the panic subsides until such times as I can actually get someone to give me an interview, never mind a job.

If, as I’m expecting, he says ‘I’ll get back to you’, I’ll be miffed, but I have no choice but to hang in there.

Well, good, bad or indifferent, I’ll let you know tomorrow. Also I’ll post pictures of my eBay bargain suit, so-cool shoes, and unspeakably cool sax. 

Fingers crossed,

Buck.

Hurry up and wait

I’ve calmed down after my last impotent rant. When I returned to the Independent’s story later on the problem had been cleared and there were several cynical and informed replies posted. The story is getting out, and people are aware that want to be aware. If one chooses to subscribe to the evil Murdoch’s promulgation pawns that is a choice. Less of a choice when you consider how many local radio stations all cut to Sky for their news updates, and the unadulterated propaganda that is Sky telly. Enough!

Was it one of those ‘use this word in a sentence’ deliberate misunderstandings on the word ‘horticulture’ that ran: you can lead a whore to culture, but you can’t make her think.

Not independently valid on any level when you break it down, but if you accept that reality is objective, its interpretation subjective, and its reporting selective, it follows that a person who fails to question probably just wants a simple answer.

As they say of being a biker ‘if I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand.’

Not you, imagined and implicitly clever reader, but the Sun reading herd. Not even that broad a category, Sun believing herd.

Anywho, believe it or not I have actually calmed down. All the above was just a way of saying that I probably won’t be writing up my manifesto piecemeal, defining myself by what I oppose. People believe what they want. The evidence that informs my views is equally available to all. To think that only I can extrapolate the truth is verging on megalomania, and is at best patronising. You are all spared. Do your own thinking and don’t blame me when you get it wrong! (Joke!)

Over myself now.

Now we’ve thrashed that one out lets move on.

Potentially good news about my driving, I went in to see the HR chick yet again on Friday (the latest date when everything would be resolved, obviously it wasn’t, again!) but this time the main woman wasn’t there so her minion said she’d go and see her. I waited a few minutes then out came the site manager. I ignored him, thinking he was about his business and it wouldn’t relate to mine. He came up to me, sat me down, and had a five minute chat with me. Perhaps I should mention in passing that the perception is that he is more than just the site manager (although that is at the top of the food chain as far as everyone on site is concerned), the feeling is that he is a troubleshooter. Sent to sort out sites, then move on. He is, it’s felt, a company hit-man.

Since he took over there have been lots of changes (such as we de-kit lads being chucked out of our department and Eastern European agency lads being given our jobs). So when I say he was talking to me, I mean a chap with some clout.

He said he was still looking into it, trying to find out why, if Warehouse-to-wheels was a success, it wasn’t an ongoing concern. If it was not a success what was wrong with it, etc.

He explained that Iceland own the fleet of trucks, but DHL (for whom we work) insure them. That because they are high street stores to which we deliver, the access is often torturous, across car-parks, and into tight yards. He asked how I saw it proceeding. I said that I would like to go out with a driver, me driving, him watching, for a week until I got my confidence up and learned the job.

He said he would get back to me on Wednesday, with an answer, but in principle how would I feel about night trunking? (Working nights, obviously, picking up a trailer from our big, wagon-friendly yard, driving along one or two major roads, with hardly any traffic on them, straight onto the motorway then the same again at the destination. Drop that trailer off, pick up another, then drive home.) I said that would be ideal.

All of which implies that he has been taking an interest, no just stringing me along. He’s talked to the transport manager, got an assessment of the difficulties a new driver would face and how to minimise them. This could be for real. He also said that as he would be sending me out with a driver for a week that would cost him £400 wages, how would I feel about staying on my current pay rate until I’d made that back? YES, goddammit! Give me the truck keys and lets go!

So now we wait, again. Hopefully Wednesday will be the day.

I’ll be sure to post whatever the outcome, for now I have to get ready for work.

Later,

Buck.

In the land of the blind…

…the one-eyed Buck is king.

I was angered into nearly changing the direction of my blog this week.

I never used to watch the news when I was young out of rampant apathy, then I became political as I grew older and watched with a critical, analytic eye. Recently, however I have become so disillusioned that I have been too saddened to watch. Everything is either too trivial and inane to be of any but the most superficial of interest or too predictably cynical and evil.

Everything I watch or read just confirms my world view. Even the knee-jerk idiot-fodder only shows what those in influence want the great (!) unwashed to think. In other words, they confirm my world view by denying it.

Which is pre-amble to my point, that out of boredom the other day I clicked on the ‘news; heading on my Firefox browser jobby. There upon I saw an article about ‘NATO’ bombing two of it’s own petrol tankers in Afghanistan, killing 90 people. There was no immediate link to The Independent (the quality paper for the tree-hugging, free-thinking, Lib-Dem voting, yoghurt-knitting, sandal-wearing, elbow-patched, be-blazered, beardy-weirdy) so I clicked on The Times article.

According to their trite propaganda piece the evil Johnny Foreigner scum had stolen two tankers, one of which got stuck. They were then spotted by a ‘NATO’ ‘plane that radioed back to base confirming that all ninety people surrounding the tankers were terrorists, so was given the green light to bomb the hell out of them. The local villagers who claimed to have spotted the stuck tanker and had their relatives rush to get free hand-outs off the hi-jackers were all seriously bereaved, but patently liars and terrorists to man, woman and child. And even if there were a few civilians present, the hi-jackers had started a fire-fight amongst themselves (at the exact moment the got the shit blown out of them by that ‘NATO’ ‘plane presumably) and probably caused the explosion themselves, an official ‘source’ claimed.

Not being completely stupid, I filled in the comments page. I urged an enquiring mind. I noted that the first rule of authority in cases of error is obfuscation. That in the instance of the police murder of Charles De Menezes, the media was immediately informed that the suspect was wearing a heavy winter coat in summer, that he had wires protruding from it, that uniformed armed police officers shouted ‘Stop! Police!’

This was allowed to sink into the herd consciousness, only to be found out to be total lies years later.

(As it turns out eye witnesses saw him stroll onto a tube in normal attire when a bunch of men in civvies ran on to the train, threw him to the floor and put eight rounds through his head. The jury wasn’t even allowed to return a verdict of ‘unlawful killing’ and had to leave it as an open verdict. Justice in a country without the death penalty.)The bit in brackets is my rage filled digression, I didn’t put that in my comment.

Then I questioned the statement that there were ninety insurgents around the tankers. How many men can they fit in those cabs? I also questioned the validity of their alleged ‘official’ source. I picked up recently that the election could only be held in some of the regions of Afghanistan because the other areas were in insurgents’ control. So the people were allowed to have free and open elections anywhere where they would vote for the puppet government. Kind of takes a shine off the concept of democracy, and therefore the merit of any ‘elected’ official. Then there’s the matter of the small- arms firefight. A military unit, capable of planning and executing a hi-jacking of two military intended tankers that then breaks with discipline and starts shooting at each other. And the clincher, at the exact moment the NATO ‘plane bombs them!  I concluded by saying that it is a sad old world, but try not to make it sadder by believing everything you’re told unquestioningly.

I clicked the ‘post’ button and it said "your comment will go to a moderator for consideration before posting."

Did they post it, whole or edited? They did not! Every comment was saying things like "our enemy is stupid, starting a firefight, bet we get blamed for it".

Then I remembered the evil swine Murdoch owns the Times now. I thought somehow the noble newsmen of the Times would rise above such a partisan owner and continue to make sure the truth set us free. No, in a word.

I wrote another comment, just for the attention of the moderator really, saying ‘do you only post comments from idiots? I know this is just the Sun with pretensions, but I thought you still had standards.’

That was not posted either.

*wipes froth from mouth, takes deep breath*

I then had an issue trying to post on the thrice blessed Independents’ page! I was not a happy bunny.

My thinking was, to maybe start applying my cynical and questioning mind to the stories that caught my attention and starting to write up on those.

I do seem to spot a subtext quicker than the average bear (he says immodestly). For instance, I was well ahead of the game when it came to Maggie making deals with the (Provisional) IRA to end the war/ conflict. Nobody else seemed to think it odd that bombers who had been found guilty because they had semtex traces on their hands were released on technicalities, or that those they couldn’t release were caught on video breaking out of jail while the prison guards held back eager German Shepherd dogs to allow them to escape. Or indeed that Maggie, the career politician, recognised them as ‘soldiers’ or an ‘army’ instead of terrorists in a speech. I added all these facts together and saw the bigger picture. A year or two later, under the leadership of John Major, a ceasefire was announced. The preconditions had been met.

I may start writing the truth as I see it, or at least questioning the lies. If I do, I’ll preface each one with (News) in the subject/ title box. This will allow any who are as jaded as I to avoid them.

It would give me more to write about though. Endlessly fascinating as my life is () I feel there must be more I could write about!

‘Nuff for now,

Buck.