The cake fairy

Reentry from honeymoon to real life was softened a bit by this…


…which was waiting for us when we got home this morning.  Looks like the cake fairy got in while we were away! And the milk fairy had restocked the fridge so we could start making up for missed tea without any shopping delays!

It’s been a fantastic September so far, but it’s not over yet. The rest of the month I will mostly be:

  • Married!
  • Unpacking
  • Going back to work tomorrow- urg!
  • Catching up (what’s been happing the last few weeks? Anything interesting?)
  • Writing lots of thank you letters
  • Looking at wedding photos
  • Looking at honeymoon photos
  • Finding out why @jthouse is frozen
  • Working on my second CurrentCost development board circuit (this time sensing pipe temperature- any clues?!) inspired by the homecamp blog
  • Taking things apart
  • Going to another wedding!
  • Other stuff I’ll find out about when I risk looking at my inbox in the morning

But first, of course, I’ll be eating cake! (And sleeping!)


Ban Bullying at Work Day

Three years ago on November 7th my mum travelled from Whitley to Westminster for national ban bullying at work day, having been bullied at work herself. At the time she also ran a web site to help other bullied teachers where, as well as describing the facts that led to the premature end of her teaching career, she recommended reading “Bully in Sight” by Tim Field.

Bullied Teachers site

Bullied Teachers site

Sadly I doubt much has changed in the last three years so the best advice I could give, if you are ever bullied at work, is to find a new job if at all possible. This monster career advice article on the subject makes some good points and has a figure that seven out of ten people who are bullied lose their jobs, so better to do it on your own terms.


I wasn’t expecting to see ban bullying at work day get that much coverage but the BBC managed to have a news article on bullying without even mentioning it! Quite pleased to see my old university raising awareness though.


Last week I was sent to Helsinki at the last minute, which is becoming something of a regular occurrence after a trip to Chester a couple of weeks ago.

Helsinki was fantastic- I would definitely like to visit Finland properly at some point. I’m not really a natural city dweller. I like being close enough to visit now and then, but far enough away to escape the mad crowds. Helsinki could be an exception though: it has all the good points of a city but it was a really relaxing place to be in. As a bonus, I could use my second favourite method of commuting to get to the IBM office…



That’s the number 4 tram about to pick me up outside the apartments I stayed at. Nice.

If only getting to and from Finland was as easy! Like my recent experience with Virgin trains, a late Air France flight from Southampton meant I missed my connection in Paris. Unlike the train companies, Air France didn’t charge me extra for the pleasure of spending three hours in Charles de Gaulle. Sadly my complaint and request to use their lounge and internet connection didn’t get very far. After three complaints all I got was a free sandwich. ‘Wow.’

Even though the flight back was late as well, I do like flying from Southampton. Much nicer than the chaos at Heathrow or Gatwick. Mind you, Fly Maybe were causing a few queues because some computer was broken and they were having to hand write boarding cards! Luckily the Air France computer was working and I’d checked in on line.

P.S. For anyone else on the trip, the rumoured contribution of the company to Finland’s GDP appears to have been wildly exaggerated, although 4% is still pretty impressive if you ask me.

Update: 4am start tomorrow to head back to Helsinki!! The price of a direct flight from Heathrow. (13 Oct 2008)

IBM Hursley Golden Anniversary

I’ve been reminded why I’ve worked in the same place as long as I have a few times recently. The July edition of Computer Business Review (CBR) includes a supplement on ‘50 years of Innovation at IBM Hursley’ covers the work aspect pretty well. Good to see an advert for Information Management on the inside cover even if we don’t appear in the main article- we are one of the newest teams in Hursley.

John McLean, our lab director, says, “It’s all about the people….” which is absolutely right. The people who work at Hursley are astounding, from new students to ‘heritage’ IBMers, and I get to work with them all the time.

As a bonus, the place itself makes for a pretty nice working environment. We celebrated with an open day recently, which was a great chance to bore entertain Jo and my mum with a tour of work- I don’t suppose many offices get their own air show.

It’s interesting that NASA are also celebrating 50 years. I wonder which has had the biggest impact on peoples lives over the last 50 years. I expect more people have heard of NASA but CICS alone makes it a close race.

Walking to work

I haven’t been abroad for IBM in a while but I spent last week in Paris. Or at least pretty close to Paris in La Défense which I didn’t escape from due to working far too many hours! Still, I’ve been sent to less interesting places; not to name names but I stayed somewhere that used to be called the Clinic View Hotel, and that really was about as interesting as it got!

There was a big practical advantage to staying in La Défense since that’s were I was working, so I could just walk to work. I like walking and there were some great buildings to look at along the way, which made for a very relaxing commute.

Arche de la Défense

Arche de la Défense

I dream of being able to walk to work every day.