Emotional wreck

October 26, 2008

Dropping the boys back and driving away still breaks my heart. When they cling to me and tell me how much they miss me I never want to let them go. Then I feel guilty and question again whether I did the right thing. The loss associated with not seeing them and not getting to tuck them in each night is horrible and as the tears come part of me remembers just how bad it was; just how abusive it was; the year of therapy to stop thinking I deserved it. Rather than feeling guilty I should be feeling angry that I’m here but somehow never manage it.

An unexpected pleasure

October 24, 2008

I have new neighbours; they’re originally from Hungary and last week they invited me round for a drink as an introduction. On the allotted night I was tired, had a load of things to do before having the boys for the weekend and was very tempted to make my excuses and rearrange it. My conscience got the better of me though and so I popped round with the only bottle of cold wine in my fridge. I was greeted warmly and given a choice of Hungarian wines that turned out to be very drinkable; given that my neighbour is the sommelier at a top hotel I shouldn’t have been so surprised. The wine flowed, the conversation was interesting, ranging from wine to Hungarian history to how to get our kids to practise their spelling. Time to head home came all too soon, I was enjoying their company and the wine. I’d gone from thinking that I’d just pop round for a hour or so before getting on with some chores to thinking they were really nice, interesting people and I’d really enjoyed myself. Sometimes making a small effort pays dividends; there’s a lesson there I think.

What’s so hard about tea

October 21, 2008

What is it about our European and American cousins that they find making a cup of tea so difficult. Even the ultra-lazy method of dropping a tea bag into a mug and adding boiling water eludes them. Instead they deliver a pot of hot water and a selection of individually wrapped tea bags. So instead of a nice refreshing brew you end up with a fairly insipid infusion that somehow masquerades as tea. It’s just not right.

When in Rome…

October 21, 2008

Business takes me to Rome this week for 3 days. I’ve been a couple of times before but never seen any of the sights of this historic city. I hoped this time might be different. Sadly it looks like it’ll be the same story. Rather than just seeing the airport and the client office as per previous trips I can now add the hotel to the list of visited places. The hotel is close to the airport i.e. a good 40 minute taxi ride to the centre of town so sightseeing is difficult. To be honest Rome isn’t the sort of city I really want to wander around on my own, I’d much rather be with someone special and have the time to enjoy it. The time to visit for pleasure rather than business must be fast approaching.

A little reassurance needed

October 10, 2008

I picked my kids up for the weekend this evening and was met with a request that in all honesty I should have seen coming. They want me to themselves this weekend; no visits to girlfriend’s house, no going out with girlfriend, or anyone else for that matter, just me and them. I think this is a request with different aspects; partly I think they were a little bored last time they came to stay as girlfriend’s sister and boyfriend were about to emigrate to New Zealand and so we needed some adult time to say our goodbyes (put that down to unfortunate timing more than anything else) but there is also a growing realisation that daddy does have a girlfriend and they’re thinking through the consequences of that, not least that this means that daddy and mummy will not get back together. Their next question is does daddy love his girlfriend more than us.

This weekend is about them starting to understand that daddy will always love them but that daddy’s girlfriend is important too. It’s about reassuring them and having some fun but also gently explaining that they don’t have a blanket exclusivity. The emotions of 2 small boys need to be handled carefully but there are other people’s emotions to take into consideration too. It’s a complicated dynamic and there is a careful line to tread; another example of how being a weekend dad means trying to find a balance and hoping you somehow get it right.

Downloading music

October 9, 2008

Yesterday I got the urge to listen to an old Brian Wilson album, he of Beach Boys and staying in bed for a decade fame. Surprisingly it wasn’t on my iPod although I know that I own the album. One of those that got lost in the split with my ex was the likely explanation. Since it was first released it has been re-mastered and now features demo tracks and Brian’s interludes about the album. It was available on iTunes for £7.99 and hmv.com for £6.99. Every little helps as someone keeps saying so I went with the cheaper option. Here’s what would have happened with iTunes. Click Buy, enter iTunes store password, watch download. Here’s what happened with hmv.com….

Find that hmv.com doesn’t support Firefox, dust off IE
Buy album
Get prompted that I need to download hmv jukebox and download manager
Start software download, box appears with click here when install completed
Software installation wants to close Internet Explorer, including the “click here when complete” window
Try to log back on to hmv.com – IE wants to open the site in a new window – this fails
Remove hmv.* from trusted sites list so IE can actually open it
Download manager pops up message saying that BITS (Background Intelligent Transfer Service) is not available.
Open services manager, see BITS is running
Google problem and find that need to start IE in Administrator mode so that it can access BITS
Download starts then stops
Restart download, duplicates of tracks already downloaded appear in download directory
Finally get album downloaded

Was it worth the £1 saving. No, absolutely not. This was far too painful. If the record companies are serious about thwarting piracy then they need to make sure that it’s a hell of a lot easier than this to download music legally.

Schadenfreude at the BBC

October 8, 2008

There was a time when the BBC was the bastion of excellence in journalism. The now infamous spat with Alastair Campbell about the sexed-up dossier and the subsequent Hutton enquiry threw a new light on their journalistic integrity and the current reporting on the global credit crisis is not helping their cause. Robert Peston, the BBC Business Editor "broke" the story about Northern Rock and it can be argued his reporting worsened the situation.

Today has seen the announcement of the rescue plan for the banks and rather than this being seen as a positive step to bring some much needed confidence to the banking sector it is seen as a £2000 per taxpayer bill by the BBC. What rubbish. We need some confidence in the markets and seeing the dark side of everything is just undermining any moves this, or any other, government makes. Robert Peston seems almost gleeful at the prospect of the economy going into a deep recession.

In the end we will all pay the price for the reporting style being adopted by the BBC. Making a name for themselves seems more important than reporting what is going on in a mature, professional manner. Taking delight in others’ misfortunes is not reporting, it’s puerile and right now, plain wrong.

Doom & gloom

October 7, 2008

Peter Jones, the very tall one from Dragons Den, was on breakfast TV this morning saying we were talking ourselves into a recession and how typically British to do so. His point was that the economy relies on credit and that credit relies on confidence and it’s a lack of confidence that’s at the heart of what is going on in the economy. A little confidence would go a long way right now.

He went on to say that he thought that any recession would be short lived and that the sooner the banks start to trust each other and start lending each other money again the better for all of us.

It was very refreshing to see someone not talking gloom & doom. He should be on more often!

I finally succumbed to the lure of the new, 2nd generation iPod touch. I don’t want an iPhone as it can’t run the TomTom GPS software whereas my Windows Mobile powered smartphone can but the touch seems to pack a lot in.. music, video, games, wifi and it’s small and the user interface is stunning. Travelling through Heathrow Terminal 5 last week gave me the opportunity to get one tax free although I had to find a shop that actually had stock. Initial impressions were that it was all I’d expected and more and since then I’ve become more and more impressed as the days have gone by. I’m even writing this blog entry on it.

So why the ultimate gadget? I can listen to music, watch widescreen video, check email, surf the net, control iTunes from my sofa (this has to be seen to be believed), connect to the IM systems I use, check cinema listings and film times, play games and even update my blog all from a machine that’s a third of the depth of my phone. It’s fast too and it’s the speed that is the icing on the cake. Multifunction devices rely on features, ease of use and speed and the new generation iPod touch has all three in spades.

Living in fear

October 4, 2008

The current economic times are giving us a lot of things to worry about. How safe is my job being the chief one I imagine for most people, myself included. This doesn’t mean that we should live in fear though. Yes we should be concerned and we should be looking at what we would do if the unthinkable happened but worrying about it constantly and letting it affect our lives in a detrimental way is not going to help us. Negativity breeds negativity and there needs to be some level of optimism and hope to balance it or we might as well just admit defeat. Looking back I think I’ve spent a lot of my life living in fear of one thing or another and the time has come for it to stop.

There have been lots of books and articles about the politics of fear. We, as a populace, are easier to manipulate and govern when we’re scared. Politicians wants us to be scared and fearful, so do the media; it makes us pliable and a little more docile than we would be normally. It’s bad enough that these organisations want us to be fearful without us inflicting it on ourselves as well.