Catching Up

March 3, 2009

Life at the moment is manic. Between my day-job, photo-work, generally attempting to be less of a part-time parent / neglectful husband as well as captaining a failed rugby team it would appear I have been rather poor at doing my part to fill the internet. Moaning about being busy is neither entertaining nor unusual, <OverlyEnglishAccent>but one must do ones duty what what…</OverlyEnglishAccent>

Brief highlights:

  • To say Maggie is now crawling would be an overstatement, but she is definitely now mobile. Gone are the days of putting her down and expecting to find her where you left her 🙂 . She is our resident Sniper. She also seems to have developed a sixth sense for things she’s not allowed to play with – marbles, shoes, Lego, pens … These are problems we never had before as when we last had a Sniper in the house Bart was still on quite child friendly toys where as now it seems everything they have seems to have removable this and detachable that.
  • I Offered to host a family photo day for my children’s school, in order to raise funds for the “Parents Society” (PTA). Have now learned that I might have been better to have kept my big mouth shut as I have jumped through sooo many hoops already and it’s not until Sunday … Note to self … Do not offer self up as human sacrifice in future! Bad Idea! Not even to raise money!
  • Bart and Lisa’s reports came through … much as expected.
    • Lisa’s report gushed about this angelic child that works hard, self motivated, plays nice with others … all the thing you want to hear.
    • Bart’s report clearly points out, although through a vale of Teachereese that Bart needs to clam down and concentrate more. He is too easily distracted and could do better. However they then begrudgingly point out that he as aced his exams. – What reaction am I expected to give to that? He should be working harder … but he got 100% in verbal reasoning … so I would probably loose the argument anyway 🙂
  • Swimming, swimming, swimming … I seem to spend most of my otherwise free time, shepherding one or both of my children to/from swimming. Bart had time trials to get into the swim team, but being that he has spent the past year staunchly refusing to use his legs as anything other than an anchor, I fear it may be a long-shot. On the plus side is that Lisa just got moved up a class in her Sunday swimming lessons and will be swimming at the same time as Bart … which should reduce the time spent by up to 2 hours … unless Bart does make the team and then all bets are off.
  • I attended a belated Darwin Day lecture last Tuesday by Professor Armand Leroi which was fascinating. Once I found the lecture hall that is. I wondered if it was some form of selection along the lines of “You have to be at least smart enough to get to the lecture, in order to attend” Thankfully I just about scraped in 🙂 They obviously don’t have a cartography department in the university!
  • It is almost spring so I have been harassed encouraged to sort out our gardens. We bought the house with a very nice, fairly large, well maintained garden. Since the purchase I now understand that to mean “Time Sink”.
  • I reclaimed some of this time by “reading” The Time Traveller’s Wife via audiobook whilst doing the gardening. This book was amazing (I will talk about it separately), however it did result in a lesson on audiobooks. You must pay attention to where you are going to listen to certain books as I power-washing the front drive whilst crying over a certain section of the book some of the spray came back and collected around the vicinity of my eyes.
  • Mrs Geek has been arranging our summer holiday. Scouring the internet for camp-sites in the south of France in order to play catch-up on some of the sunshine that we are so desperately craving here in Not-So-Sunny Northwest England. I refuse to wish my life away (especially as everything to do with the kids seems to be so temporary) but I am SOOOO looking forward to three solid weeks of sunshine (barring unreasonable freak weather conditions!)

I am sure there are probably many other things that I have overlooked, but I will stop here or it will never get posted.


Photos Catch-up

December 23, 2008

OK so after the last post where I found that I was the only one who hasn’t been sharing their photos, and I got the “gentle” reminder that I have not exactly been generous with the photos of my children with my vast audience I decided to share a few of the photos from the pre Christmas build up.

IMG_4343Firstly, just to show that when RC discussed “Co-Sleeping” I mentioned that although we are lucky enough to have a king-size bed, it is still far from spacious at times.

Secondly … OK I have still not got around to taking a picture of the trimmed tree … however it can (partially) be seen in the background of this picture of Lisa.


For Tendrils who told me off for not sharing reminded me that I had not posted any pictures of baby Maggie recently

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And having told numerous people how I do not do early Christmas presents, yesterday we had a Mini-Christmas for my brother-in-law’s girlfriend as she is going back to the US today to be with her family for Christmas. So here are some of the pictures from the Geek’s Christmas dress rehearsal.

IMG_4392 IMG_4393 IMG_4408 IMG_4414 IMG_4416 IMG_4418 IMG_4436 IMG_4445 IMG_4452

Christmas Meme-ories

December 9, 2008

OK, even though I still have not got around to the last Meme that both RC and Tendrils tagged me for (I’m not at my computer to look at my photos and when I am [Cue the violins] I am too manic to remember to look it up)

But I have gone ahead and robbed this one from Tendrils anyway because I love Christmas and it was too good to pass up (P.S. I too have added the WordPress Christmas Snow … Yipee!) (P.P.S The OCD made me change the many uses of Favorite to Favourite … The voices in my head made me do it :-p ) (P.P.P.S … and color!)

Cola Cao1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Hot Chocolate. If for no other reason than I have never had Egg Nog! One of the few things we here in England have not decided to copy. I really did develop quite a liking for Cola Cao (slightly thicker, and richer than normal hot chocolate) when Mrs Geek lived in Spain.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Family presents go under the tree, Santa fills the stockings and sacks by the fireplace. Each child has different wrapping paper to avoid confusion. (He really is very considerate).

3. Coloured lights on tree/house or white?
White. I don’t know why, I just feel they look nicer.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Never have, but they were selling it when we got the tree last year, and if I had more money with me, last year would have been the first… Therefore I anticipate this year being our first Kissmas 🙂

5. When do you put your decorations up?
Anytime in December that we have opportunity. This year Mrs Geek seems to have taken much of the load as they are mostly in place, yet I have not been party to it. I believe the Tree and the paper chains are being left for me. The Tree because it is heavy, and the paper chains because I have to get the big ladders out.

6. What is your favourite holiday dish?
Here in the UK traditionally Christmas day is our “Turkey Day”. But we gave up having a traditional Christmas dinner in our house as it became too much effort to police the children on a day when we just want to be happy. Therefore it has now been ruled that Christmas day is “Favourite Food” day. This meant that last year the adults got turkey and all the trimmings, Bart got lasagne, and Lisa got fish fingers and potato waffles. I think I will stick with the Turkey.

7. Favourite Holiday memory as a child:
Christmas day as a 6 year old playing with my “Space Lego” while the adults were sleeping off the turkey.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
What truth? I met him last year… Jolly nice man he was too 🙂

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
No way (Shame on you Tendrils)

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Mrs Geek and I have built a collection of little decorations over the years, but many are still the super cheap decorations we bought from Lidl for £1 on our very first Christmas. Alas fewer and fewer of them are making it through each Christmas.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
I LOVE snow! But we get so little of it, it does seem a little wasteful to have it on Christmas day when there is already so much going on. That said two years ago was my first White Christmas, and it was lovely.

12. Can you ice skate?
Yep. I used to like in a city with an Ice Rink so it was an integral past of my childhood. But it tended to be a summer activity.

13. Do you remember your favourite gift?
As this is a clean blog (ish) I will assume this means when I was a child. In which case I will go with my old Atari 2600 .

14. What is the most important thing about the Holidays for you?
Happy people. I love seeing people happy.

15. What is your favourite Holiday Dessert?
Again I am very English… Christmas pudding (with a coin in) with custard! (Hold the brandy/sherry/other nasty spirits). I am also quite partial to the odd mince pie.

16. What is your favourite holiday tradition?
Going to the Pantomime on Christmas Eve with the family … which isn’t going to happen this year 😥 .
And going to my friend’s church for carols by candle light (which hopefully is going to happen, although it may be a bit late for Maggie)

Chubby Angel17. What tops your tree?
A chubby little angel doll, mounted via a twisted coat hanger. She was another hold over from that first Christmas where we couldn’t afford anything better, but I don’t think we will every want to replace her.

18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving?
Giving. I’m not claiming to be all altruistic, I just like seeing other peoples reaction.

19. What is your favourite Christmas Song?
I have always loved the carol “Away in a manger” … but I think my daughter’s school rendition of “Mary, Rock Your Baby” has it now 😉

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum?
Neutral … I would much rather have chocolate.

That’s it … There seems to be no mention of tagging others in the original post, so I will not tag others other than RC because then I can point out that I tagged her even if Tendrils neglected to 🙂

P.P.P.P.S. On the subject of memes this was Published Post #99

Back in my day … the grass was greener, the summer was warmer …

September 12, 2008

and shops knew how to treat people.

Frozen Until I Can Get Good Customer ServiceI hate shoddy customer service! There is absolutely no excuse for it, and I hate to admit that it seems to be the way things are generally progressing.

I sound like someone’s granddad when I say things like “I remember when the person in the shop would …” and you can complete the sentence with so many things

… smile.
… remember their ps and qs
… pass me my change instead of throwing it on the counter
… not talk on their cell phone whilst making a minimum effort to serve me!

Garrhh !!!

I like the idea of voting with my feet and just not using these places any more … but it is becoming ubiquitous.

Online Customer ServiceAnd this is with real shops, the internet brings another level of indirection which in general just increases the likelihood of poor service… and the ones that outsource their customer service are even worse.

Recently others (RC and Helen (followed by crazy harrassment)) have used their blog to highlight particularly bad service.

However, today I experienced Exceptionally Good customer service, and I figured it would be worth mentioning.

A few weeks back I bought some new Headphones for Emily.

Fast-forward to yesterday, and one of the ear buds decided that it had had enough and so I was down to single ear listening. This is not that unusual, it certainly is not the first pair of ear buds that decided to do that. However, it is the first set that I had paid quite so much for (this was before we started cutting back).

In the past I have bough quite a number of things from amazon, and had very little problem. The biggest problem was finding a phone number to get hold of them on!

Well they seem to have sorted that since then, as rather than you call them, they have a link that gets them to call you … Instantly! Literally my phone rang within a couple of seconds.

I then explained my problem and how I felt a high end set of headphones should be more robust, half expecting to be told that it was my fault for “Excessive wear and tear” or some other such non-provable loophole, but the chap just fronted up and said it was no problem, he would send one out straight away.

I was blown away by their attitude. SO refreshing. I would seem they could not do enough for me … I had 30 days to return the original set, which means I could get by with my one ear set until the new set arrived. The parcel arrived this morning (I reported it at 2pm yesterday! That is quicker than when I originally ordered it), they have offered to refund the postage charges for sending the original set back via a recorded delivery. And they have apologised for any inconvenience that I might have suffered!

In an age of dying customer service, this is exceptional treatment. So to amazon … I take my hat off to you … BRAVO

[Note: I am under no delusion that this post will affect their bottom line, I just thought they deserved the recognition.
P.S. I will also point out that this was … and I have no idea if this behaviour is universal]

My name is Mr Geek and I am a ____oholic

September 10, 2008

OK so I got tagged by RC. I need to do the following:

List 5 current addictions and then tag 2 people.

It will take a little effort to keep it down to 5. Time to come clean. In this over diagnosed world I would suggest I have an odd, if not paradoxical blend of OCD and ADD*. The OCD makes it so that everything I do is an addiction, and I get frustrated if I am not given enough time to do it to perfection. This conflicts with the ADD which pulls my attention away from one obsession and focuses me on another then another. The end result is that I am a perfectionist that does a half assed job at everything and gets frustrated with all of it 😆

I would have liked to claim reading among my addictions, and for a long time it would have been #1, but it has been so long since I read anything I really can not. Just waiting for the next trip on the ADD addiction roundabout!

So here goes.

1) Diet Coke OK so the people that know me in the real world, know that my Diet Coke addiction is extreme. I drink way WAY too much! This however is being addressed the hard way by our recent need to budget 😦 Damn you cold turkey 😥

2) Emily OK, so I have not updated you recently, shouting about my shiny new gadget when I am meant to be budgeting just induces Mrs Geek’s technophobic discrimination. However, I do find that I am constantly playing with it whenever I have 5 minutes to myself. Between twitter, reading my blogs, podcasts (see below) and Aurora Feint (simple blocks game that is totally addictive).

3) Food I know it is not really an addiction in the true sense, but I seem to have a problem. I would love to trim a few pounds here and there, who wouldn’t, but my historical technique of increasing the amount of exercise seems to be failing me. (1) because I can’t actually find the time to dedicate to exercise what with the whole family life and all (2) because it makes me hungry and I eat. I know it is not rocket science, I just have to eat less … I just seem to suck at eating less. Some people eat to live … I live to eat!

4) Podcasts This is sort of related to 2, but I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts. Every now and then I do a purge of what I listen to, but then I find a whole bunch more that just drag me in! At some stage I will do a post detailing what I listen to, but I never seem to catch up.

5) Bloggs You notice I did not put blogging. I enjoy putting my thoughts down on … well not on paper, but you know what I mean. But I am far from addicted as you may have noticed by tendency for the odd Blogcation (Thanks to RC for that word). I really enjoy reading other peoples blogs and I love the kind of community spirit that form around them. I feel concerned when someone I virtually know virtually disappears for a while. If I had more focus I could totally make a good stalker!

Anyway, as I said there are many other addictions that I may have overlooked, repressed or was just too ashamed to admit to.

I tag Nemma who I just realised was not on my blog roll (now fixed … my humble apologies) and Tendrils (and this time RC has not beaten me to it!)

Tag … no returns!

*Note: I have not been diagnosed with either of these afflictions, I am using them for illustrative purposes only. (I do have many the tendencies though)

Weston Pier Burns

July 28, 2008

Weston Pier Fire
Today the Grand Pier at Weston burned down. (This is slightly regional, so forgive my indulgence.)

First let me state that nobody was hurt, so I was surprised by the fact that I am so saddened by this story. It has probably been 4-5 years since I last went and I am currently living over 200 miles away. Chances are it would have been another 5 years before I returned, but this pier is pretty much a staple part of my childhood holiday memories.

I spent almost every one of my childhood holidays in Brean, the next bay along, so Weston was the “Big Town” to go to on days out. Goodness knows how much of my pocket money left me on that pier, not to mention the coins that dropped between the floorboards into the mud below. Then as an adult, I drove to Weston and had donuts on the peir the evening that I got my driving licence and I can remember taking my son onto the pier and playing Air Hockey, video games, and getting sick on candy floss and toffee apples.

It was bad enough when I found out that they had closed the Tropicana! But for the pier to be gone makes me more than a little sad. Now that I live away from where I grew up, it seems like every time I go back another slice of my childhood has been consigned to my memories alone, and in the process of my therapy writing this blog post I think I have determined why the story saddened me. It is not because we have lost a historic and arguable quite aesthetically pleasing building, nor is it empathy to the loss experienced by those that work there etc … It is something far more simple … far more selfish …

It is making me feel very old and I don’t like it.

hmm … not sure I’m overly proud of that discovery, as it does make me seem rather shallow

Baby update No Baby Update

June 12, 2008

CalendarOK so we still have no baby. And after yesterdays appointment with the midwife, Mrs Geek is now only 1 day overdue…?

How does that work … well when we originally worked out when the baby was due we got it to be the 11th of June, but when we had the scan they told us that based on it’s measurements it was going to be the 6th. Yesterday the midwife overruled this and reset it back to the 11th.

Now it doesn’t actually change the fact that the baby isn’t here, it does however increase the window of opportunity for a home birth, before they start wanting us to go in for an induction.

The midwife also informed her that she was dilated by 2” and that all was ready to go, we just needed to wait for the contractions to start.