Tuesday, 29 September 2009

No 152 Of Twitterers & Hoodless Spoofers

Today started early for me at 5.30a.m. as I got suited and booted (and of course showered beforehand) in readiness for a breakfast seminar on Twitter to be delivered at 8a.m..

I fired into Belfast in the convertible an hour later from Antrim with the hood down in the hope that air blasting at me 60 miles an hour for 20 minutes would have me fully woken up and ready to go by 8a.m.. It worked and was much needed. It turned out that the Hotel Internet connection wasn't working, then there were problems with the laptop and an awful amount of spoofing on the hoof was to follow.

I'm not sure whether an ability to spoof on the hoof its a good quality or not - pity they don't give olympic medals out for it tho.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

No.151 Of Rosina & Snowy

The early birds are getting earlier. I was in the pool by 7.30a.m. today and it was packed. I must set the alarm for 6.30a.m. in future. Beaten to the poolside twenty times over at the start of the week is not a good start to the week say I.

Last Thursday a friend (Kd) & I saw a lovely picture in the local charity shop whilst out cycling late in the evening. It was by Rosina Wachmeister, who it turns out Googles impressively.

I said the picture would look great on my lounge wall and declared an intention to buy it the following lunchtime. Anyway by 12.30p.m. the following day I was staring at a blank wall through the window where the picture used to hang. Knowing Kd's sense of humour I suspected she'd already gone in and nabbed it. So I went in and inquired about the picture and its purchaser "Oh a lovely gentlemen who gave me twice the asking price bought it" I was assured by the attendant. Something didn't feel quite right. For some reason the episode reminded me of one of Tintin's adventure - "Red Rackham's Treasure" (or it may have been "The Crab with the Golden Claws") when he goes into a shop and asks about an antique model sailing boat which is gone when he comes back for it the following day. The surly description of the man given to Tintin who bought the ship tells you that there's trouble ahead that might even require the intervention of Snowy the dog.

Anyway later that evening when I called round to Kd's to see Kd's very own Snowy there was the picture hanging on the wall and Kd sporting a grin just as wide. The games people play....

No.150 Of Those With the X Factor - Naturally

I've realised I'm made a terrible mistake feeding the office plants these bionic grow pellets you can get nowadays. Those at the entrance to Island House have grown so much they're beginning to look like two large guards on duty with tentacles that might end up round your throat in a kind of triffids sort of way. Emm must go out the back on my way out tonight.

I went for lunch at the Antrim Park today with the Lady Captain. As always, she was on great form as she tucked into her roast beef Sunday dinner and me my veggie equivalent. She's great craic and so natural with it...must find her a bloke....

I watched the X Factor last night and felt for those whose dreams were shattered as they nearly made the final 24 but didn't. But then I thought I'm not so sure that I should feel for them at all. Aren't most just clammering for fame and that awful glitzy celebrity status that the British revere and crave so much nowadays and seem increasingly hollow because of it?

Ho Hum. Time to evade some triffids, if not celebrities, as I make my way home.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

No.149 Of TV and Whats PC

I attended the Belfast artist festival last night. I'm loathe to say I didn't enjoy the Zimbabwe band playing at the John Hewitt because every time you say this about an ethnic band you feel you'll be branded a racist. But I thought they were monotonous and a steal drum sounds great for the first two numbers but after that I want a bit my variety and a whole lot more boogey please.

I'm contemplating giving up TV for a year. This would involve loaning my big screen to someone and putting the other 3 portables that I have somehow accumulated over the years beyond reach in the attic. Such a sacrifice would mean giving up The Apprentice, the chance of a Susan Boyle moment, Gareth Malone and Paxman on Newsnight. Emmm a thought that needs more work methinks.

Oh heavens a text has just come in. Mother has finally learnt to text!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

No.148 Of Inflated Prices & Inflected Voices

I was at the auctions again last night. It's a strange place but with some interesting characters - many of them traders looking for bargains and quick resales. I've decided I don't like traders they know what they're doing and they usually pump up the prices.

For some reason I always thought the job of an auctioneer was quite glamourous but as I watched two of them work last night taking it in turns to sell car after car I wondered if it is actually more monotonous than anything else. Between them the pair sounded like they were at a cattle auction throwing out the ever increasing figures in a fast monotonal drawl that would suddenly become inflected like the voice had just hit a farmer's stone wall and fallen over the otherside. Bizarre. I wondered whether they talked to each other in a similar fashion afterwards or got home and reported to their other halves that "YES (inflection) they had a good day at work and No (inflection) they hadn't made their bonus that month.

I bought a dozen chairs for the new training centre. And Yes I did outbid the traders and No they weren't as cheap as they should have been.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

No.147 Of 1,2,3 at Full Pace

Wow! I seem to be starting many of my blogs off like this nowadays. So much is happening and at such a pace too. Last night we opened our new training centre which looked highly presentable after everyone had chipped in at least an hour of their time to help out moving furniture, hoovering the carpets or running rubbish to the tip. I guess about 40 people must have showed up at some point last night. The evening seemed to flow well with lots of people circulating, and networking with no-one that I could see stuck on their own trying to look occupied by studying the newly painted walls.

So that's task No 1 of 3 successfully completed for this month. No. 2 is also this week (our first Education Conference on Thursday) with No.3 (Twitter seminar) coming up next week. Onwards at full pelt!

Friday, 18 September 2009

No.144 Of Good Service & Iron Will

Wow! The service at Antrim's HomeBase is good. I went in last night looking for a loo seat and a grass strimmer (an odd combination granted). The first assistant approached me and offered help. She talked me through the various loo seats available - the pros and cons of each and how they are fitted. When I asked her what she knew about strimmers she conceded it was time to pass me on to a colleague and led me downstairs and introduced me to assistant No.2 who was equally as helpful. Antrim Homebase I salute you!

I'm testing myself today to see how disciplined I am. I'm in my office all day. Behind me are a crew of about five workers all beavering away trying to finish the training suite for Monday. My challenge is not to lapse into temptation and pick up a paint brush to help out. Instead I must apply myself to office work which though not urgent is important and needs to be done soon. If not Iron discipline then at least light sheet metal. Was it Angela Rippon the newsreader who was once called Iron Ange when her ear ring fell off while reading the news and she resisted the temptation to pick it up. She said afterwards "what was I expected to do tell everyone to wait while I grovelled around on the floor looking for my jewelery. I don't think so."

Time to pracitce discipline, stop blogging and get on with some work.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

No.143 Of Opening Times

Today, I was in the pool at 7.30a.m..That was still 15 minutes later than all the other early birds who now (due to earlier opening times), tip themselves into the water like sacks of falling potatoes at crazy times of the morning.

The extension to our premises is a hive of activity at the moment as we head towards its official opening next Monday. We have painters, staff drafted in sporting the finest bin liners as temporary footwear, signwriters scribbling furiourly away and carpeteers arriving today to see to the floor. The gardener it seems wont be making an appearance - the grass we are told is too long to cut. Where are 20 sheep when you need them?

A big month ahead follows with a presentations seminar to deliver tomorrow, one of our most important conferences for a long time next week and a Twitter seminar the week after. Never a dull or quiet moment on the Island. I wonder how that translates into Latin? We could do with another motto in the company...

Monday, 14 September 2009

No.142 Of Clocking the Miles & The Years

Wow! Torr Head to Malin Head to Fanad Head in the MG in two glorious days of sunshine. I'm not sure if life gets much better than this.

I've discoverd that it doesn't matter how much you cover up when driving a convertible the sun or the wind will get you somehow. Presently my nose is as pink as the shirt I was wearing for the East to West leg of the journey.

When I was first in Donegal about 12 years ago I happened across a lovely couple Martha & Tom Kilbane who ran a guest house just over the border in Fahan. It was superb Irish hospitality at it's very best. They took it upon themselves to look after this rare man who suddenly appeared one day to look for somewhere to live before he started work over the border in a few weeks' time. On Saturday I tracked them down. Now living in Buncrana and well into their 70s they would hardly let me go - not that I wanted to - a more wonderful couple you're unlikely ever to find.

Today is different. We're working flat out to finish our training centre and it's meeting after meeting to get ready for season 2 which starts on Thursday as well as year 2010 which starts all too soon. If only we could work by the Donegal clock things would be so much easier....

Saturday, 12 September 2009

No.141 Of Trusting Illusionists & Weather Forecasts

So Brown let us down last night and didn't afterall tell us how he predicted the numbers. Mr B I really admire what you do and your skill but I think there are trust and confidence issues kicking around here which you ignore at your peril.

I'm here looking incredulously at the weather forecast : three days of full sunshine - all of which I plan to make the very most of. Already on my itinary is three laps of Donegal, including twice round the Atlantic Drive and twice round the Innishowen 100 with stops for dips in the Atlantic. Throw in 20 Mr Whippy ice creams, 4 picnics, a day surfing and 30 prize winning sandcastles and I might just feel I've had a summer by Monday.

Friday, 11 September 2009

No.140 Of Life's a Lottery

All this talk about the lottery and Derren Brown prompted me earlier today to think about lotteries, gambling and the fact that when I was about 8 I was given a pile of Premium Bond Numbers as a birthday present. Knowing that I've moved around so much since I was 8 (in fact 26 times to be exact) I thought there was a good chance that I may have won a load and have never known and there's a pile off wonga waiting for me to collect. Alas a search on their site where you can find out if this is the case by entering your numbers informs me otherwise. That's 36 x 12 x 100 and at least 42,3oo draws I have been in without winning a penny! Clearly the luck of the Irish is not rubbing off on me and I need to watch Mr Brown this eveing to see what I can learn.

It's a glorious day outside with a forecast of 2 more to come. All well made plans are being abandoned on behalf of a trip to Donegal this weekend in the MG...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

No.139 Of Brown & Blackberries

Yes! Started today with a bowl of porridge with fruit (courtesy of Legal-Island's very own "wild" blackberry bush) followed by 20 lengths of the Antrim pool. Question is will I be flagging by lunchtime and think by then that such activity so soon after a lazy holiday was actually a very silly thing to do?

Derren Brown you are a Master Self-Marketeer. I've no idea how you did what you did last night but everyone is talking about it. Its hot in Twitter, on the web and the radio. As I drove to the pool Cool FM was talking about it. When I drove back half an hour later they were talking about it. My guess is that there's a technical explanation here - perhaps numbers on the balls can be changed remotely.

There's loads happening this month at Legal-Island. Twitter seminars, the opening of new facilities here, an Education Law Conference - the first of it's kind and an MG this Saturday if I can find out where by then. Onwards in fourth gear with the override button on.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

No.138 Of Powerful Salutes

Wow! What a way to finish off a day. Gareth Malone in "The Unsung Choir - South Oxley" - if there's a bit of better tele on at the moment that I'd like to know. He's modest, understated, highly motivating and clearly deeply passionate about what he does without edging towards evangelism. Yes I've no doubt the programmes are edited to carry a pre-determined message and I suppose he does play to the camera but it no less powerful because of it. Gareth I salute you.

I finished last night by reading Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia". This is a book that offers the reader what can only be described as alost perfect articulation. It's well reasearched brutally honest, observant and his ability to describe what he notices is masterful. Jonathan I Russian salute you.

No.137 Tuning In and Out

I attended a half day seminar this morning in Belfast. It consisted of about 30 people representing about as many organisations all with a common interest : innovation.

I decided right at the start I would volunteer for every job going. If we were asked for questions I'd fire one in and possibly more. If they required a volunteer to facilitate a breakaway session and report back to a plenary group that would be me. I find it's the only way I can engage nowadays and be sure that I'll stay tuned in to these types of events. Is this a reflection on the quality of seminars nowadays or is the explanation more simple and personal than that I wonder? I fear the latter.

Presently I'm busy preparing a presentation for a company strategy update tomorrow. It's very hard to resist the temptation to play around with the knobs and whistles that come with Power Point 2007 thinking that it will significantly improve what I want to get over.

Monday, 7 September 2009

No.136 Of Unplugging

Wow! Two weeks away from the Internet on holiday and not once did I miss it. No cravings. No trembles. No irrate moods - not cold Turkey related at least. What message should I take from this? That life unplugged is possible. Enjoyable even?

Today, however, was payback time. As I tried to juggle 26 balls in the air at once more staff appeared with yet more balls and so the day continued.

Last night I wrote down a few personal objectives for the next three months on the Island. The first is to lose weight. The second is to spend less time (and preferably no time) watching rubbish T.V.. Last night I was watching that stupid "Guest for dinner show" on C4. I was fuming with myself by the end of the programme that I had wasted a whole 30 minutes of my life on it. So why didn't I just switch off my tele and do something less boring instead? (Wasn't that the name of a kids T.V programme in the 80s? I think it was). The third PO is to read more. I'm currently reading Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia" and it is just wonderful. He's so articulate and his vocabulary so strong that he has me dashing for the online dictionary at the turn of every page. See, I knew life without the Internet wasn't so easy afterall....