Tuesday, 10 June 2003

Round Robin written 10th June 2003 (James the Cat)

IN BRIEF: I had an interview with Luton Police for an admin position in forensics but arrived too late.

I took the children to Brighton by train for the day one Sunday for just £11 return for all of us. When the tickets didn’t arrive by post Thameslink let us go anyway. Then they refunded the ticket cost.

Filters on my email are eliminating 50 messages a day. If you write to me be careful what you put or it might end up in my spam file.

I have virtually gave up potatoes and bread and have lost a stone in the past month. I was up to 14 and a half stone. It has cured flatulence, too.

Bought a new fridge freezer.

Next I need new carpets to replace the cigarette burnt ones. I have a slow stream of advertisers to my web site.

Looking forward to about £500 from the past 6 months efforts. We have just got some recycling bins in Brecon Close. They are full already. At the cheapo Saturday cinema we have seen several films.

NTL now supply me with basic analogue top box service, so for an extra £2.49 a month I now get 21 channels to choose from instead of 4.

I recently bought a CD R/W drive, now the price has fallen to £50, and have just started learning how to cut my own CDs from my ancient record collection. Getting back into Pink Floyd and Deep Purple to begin with.

 I can now use the garage for the car. The car tax is due. Come to think of it, so is the petrol tank. £20 a week.

 There was a big carnival in Luton at the last Bank Holiday. I wandered around with the feeling that I was in Africa, India or somewhere else other than in England. I am an ethnic minority in Luton.

 The Liberal Democrats did well in the Luton elections and now run the council with the support of Conservatives, much to the annoyance of Labour who thought they had everything in the bag. I might even have voted if I had had leaflets other than Labour leaflets.

 JAMES THE CAT Moving on from Jardinains, that popular download game where you knock gnomes off walls, I have changed some pictures and music. The kids and I now enjoy knocking cats off walls, and gain power-ups by catching pictures of Alan, Caroline, Nanny, Grandad, Melissa, Robert, slippers and saucers of milk. Meanwhile, the cats throw half-eaten fish bones at us.

 I still have some work, or so they lead us to believe. Maybe they just don’t want us to leave yet until they get the first software upgrade to the release model, ready for issue. Other products are in the pipeline an if I want to work there it looks like I can for some time yet. Which is just as well, because I don’t know where else I could end up.

 I have bought some camping stuff, and maybe one day I will get around to using it and take the children somewhere. Still need to sort out what I will do with them last week in August.

Saturday, 5 April 2003

Round Robin written 5th April 2003

Hello Everybody,
Thank you for all of your news. 26th January was my last write-up, so I ought to have something to say.

Nice big rooms in the three bedroom flat in Blackpool. Shame about the commuting distance. As for values of property, see the enclosed from this weeks Herald Express in Hemel Hempstead.

Fascinating to read about your Mum’s imaginary win on celebrity shares. I haven’t had any imaginations like that, although the manager in my section at Xerox says the Xerox share price has doubled in the last 3 months. Wait and
see what happens when their next product comes out of development from Welwyn Garden City. I think it might fall.

We have spent months testing the developed work with the fax part of the latest machine, only to discover that they are so far behind that they have to drop the fax for product launch.

Interesting to discover that Graham is thinking of moving to Cornwall. Look up our relatives in Camborne.

So, have I got something to say?
I launched a revamped web site on 17th March. Deducting the 71 trial hits I made on http://www.timeshare.freeserve.co.uk/timeshare/onsale/index.html I have had 850 hits on that page since. However, the income I started to get has dropped off. Maybe because people try to sell their timeshare more positively when they get the demand to pay their maintenance charge for the year in December and January.

Nothing happening new on the interview scene. Looks like I am stuck on peanuts at Xerox for awhile yet.

The children still visit at weekends. They enjoy playing some games I down-loaded from the Internet. Unfortunately, Robert is rather more hooked on some of them than I wish he was. He gets quite annoyed when I ask him to come off after an hour and half. Meantime, Melissa gets quite hooked, too, and is sometimes distracted from her homework. I am surprised there is quite a lot of homework for her to do sometimes. She is only seven. Her teacher, Mr Heaps, is quite young. Melissa’s class has not had a regular teacher for the past 2 years, and he is making quite a difference.

Apparently he gets in at 7.30 every morning to get things sorted before the children get in. Melissa has been placed in the top group for everything as she is doing very well.

When we had a parent and child evening Mr Heaps explained that Melissa and four others had been given special extra tasks to get on with after they had done their regular work. They are compiling a rocks and soils collection. On a visit to the library in Luton she took out a large book about Rocks and found that quite interesting. When we go to Blackpool, a trip to the caves at Ingleton (?) would go down well.

On the last half term break Melissa had me searching the Internet for information about the Ancient Greeks. After I printed out some information, I highlighted parts of it for her to copy out on a daily basis. She kept herself targeted by awarding herself one Skittle sweet for each completed paragraph. Her handwriting was very good.

High Score - Highest level
Alan 295855  - 14
Melissa 32745 -  5

Robert has written his name all by himself. That happened here last weekend. I just had to remind him what letter came next. It was quite a surprise, considering I had to drag him off the pc to make an effort at it.

The jet-set will be back from their March break soon, so I need to get this posted before they arrive. Maybe I will see this letter in Blackpool when I go up at Easter?

Sunday, 26 January 2003

Round Robin written 26th January 2003

Round Robin 1

New Web Site takes Shape. 

I spend many of my spare hours working on a new look web site for my timeshare stuff. Aiming for a less cluttered, black text on whiter background, and reorganising and re-writing some of the files. Many people have posted up their advertisements for free over the years, and there are currently over 500 European timeshares on sale on my message boards. It would not be possible without Bravenet, who host the boards, and so long as their service is free, I will still offer that. I will trim the free ads so they only run for 3 months, so the advertisers will have to come back to renew.
There used to be free boards for timeshare in Loot, but they charge now, so I figured I would, too. The premium paid-for ads will get a better position on the web site and I will just make it harder for them to get to the free board. I have been heartened by a steady stream of payments for advertising in December and January. It has taken awhile to become established, as every brand does. I cannot retire yet, but at least it’s a start. I opted to be paid out by the credit card company in June and December, for a birthday present and a Christmas cash boost.

Melissa aims high 

Melissa is in the top group in her class, doing very well in all subjects. When her group have finished their work, they go and help the other groups. She has been telling me how she helped one girl who was struggling to do a sum that went into the hundreds. “I didn’t tell them her the answer, “ she said, “I just told her how to work it out.” She loves her swimming and has swum 2 lengths of the pool.

Robert gets the Sound right 

Phonetic sounds are taught in school now. Robert is learning his sounds by sounding out a letter shape, and learning an appropriate action to go with it. I have tested him on all the letters he has been taught so far, and he is right on the button with it. So with “u” he holds his fists out in front of him and thumps them together as if putting up an umbrella, while saying “Up umbrella”. For “v” he puts his arms out in front of him and makes like he is moving a steering wheel and driving a van, saying, “Vvvvvvvvvroom van”.

Work and all that 

As I write this, I seem to have mislaid Michael’s letter. I could not help noticing that Ben is earning more than I am now. All of us in the lab are fed up about pay. They treat us very badly considering what the job calls for. I think I should be worth at least 50% more than I am getting now. But against that background, we are run, effectively, by the USA side of Xerox, and they could easily argue about sending the work to Thailand or some other Far East country and get them to do the work for third the price they pay us. Or we could just leave and work somewhere else, if only another job was so easy to come by. I have been trying since 1995 to solve that conundrum. I had an interview in Hemel at BT last week, but did not get the position. It was administration in a web development area and could have been ideal for me, if they had thought me the most ideal candidate for the job.


So, 2 bedroom flats with garages in Blackpool are £26,950. Great. I will bear that in mind when I come to sell up and retire. Does that come with central heating and thermal underwear? Mind you, your haircuts are half the price, too.

Trips Out 

This month I have take the children to the library theatre twice (holds about 280) for packed out shows. We have been to the Natural History Museum in Tring and the children did drawings of birds and lions.

As you can see, Robert got an exciting race track for Christmas, and if the ink in my printer worked properly you would be able to see it properly.

Yesterday I took them to Saturday Morning cinema here in Luton. That was packed out and excellent value at £1 each adults and children alike.


Meanwhile, I have been downloading games from the Internet for them to play. They have enjoyed Elf Bowling (Santa firing elves out of an over-sized Mother Christmas bra), Charlie the Duck (jumping and waddling along avoiding being stung by bees), and Melissa just started Busting Bubbles. All found on Tucows.com or Download.com. My pc is now back in action – I spent Christmas reloading software. I have not yet fathomed out how to make the Logitech quick cam work on my Windows ME system and I am fed up spending time trying to get it working. I am glad I spent money on a firewall and Norton Antivirus 2003. I have caught no end of virus’s in email and have had several attacks on my pc thwarted by this software. Look out for big@boss.com and make sure you do not download anything from it into your email package.

All for now. ALAN