Saturday, 29 March 2014

Time flies when you are simply looking at your son and smiling!

I may not have much time to write this - as I type I can see my son waking up on the video monitor. I think that he wants to watch F1 qualifying with me :p

Well, it's been 6 weeks now, and things are still going well. He is healthy and has learnt to smile - and there has been nothing in my life so amazing as having him smile at me when he wakes up in the morning!

He's being very kind to us at night, only waking up once for food - and last night that once was 7 hours after he went to sleep. From what others have told me, we cannot complain at that!

We are starting to get into a rhythm during the evening but over the daytime he is still doing his own thing. Poor Mrs Stace struggles most with that though as I have to go to work...

And that is really how much time I have as he is starting to get upset!

Oops, I seem to have turned into someone who only talks about their children! (I hope that is acceptable when they are so young!).

One final thing before I go, I managed to get a new dress recently. I saw it on

...

Ok, a few hours later and he has let me get back on the laptop for another couple of minutes!

So, I saw a dress on a fashion blog that I read, I read them normally to see what can work, what not and what things I would never have thought of appeal to me.

This is the first time I actually clicked through and bought something. Though I was rather scared when I did. The fashion blogger is a very pretty, short, thin read had. The closest I get to that is red(ish) hair. But, the dress was not a couple of hundred pounds from an exotic shop, it was a 35 pound dress from Tesco's online clothing shop. (I didn't even know they had one!)

So, a look around and we got some baby things as well (really cheap 100% cotton clothes!) and ordered them. A couple of days later they arrived - we ordered some things from a Dutch site on the same day and the delivery from Yorkshire actually got here faster; well done Tesco! :)

On Friday I tried the dress for the first time and...  It has paid for itself in compliments and self confidence! Almost everyone commented on it positively (one person did complain that it wasn't summer yet, and didn't get the point when I said the warmth was fine, it was the slight breeze that was the problem...) and I felt great in it!  Not bad for the cheapest dress I own!

http://www.foreveramber.co.uk/2014/03/birthday-dress.html
From Tesco's Site



Right, time for a cup of tea and then I think that someone may want to get up again!


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Away for a while...

Well, just a quick note to say that I am still here, and I'm now a parent :)

Everyone is doing well, all three of us are just adjusting to the new routine and so there may be a lack of posting here for a while :)

Stace

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Memories

No, I'm not going to start singing to you :)

I've had a rather uneventful week again - things are 'going' at work. Every time I get something finished (another chore checked off before going on leave) I start on something else and obviously want that to be finished as well!

I have had a bit of fun this week though - I have started our welcome document for new developers. It's not an 'On-boarding' document because that word makes me cringe and brings up images of stiff corporate offices where people are not allowed to think for themselves.

No, the place I work for is very informal and so I have tried to keep the document informal as well.  Maybe too informal - I am waiting to hear what the other team leads think!

I was happy though as it wasn't my job to write it - but the others were busy and I could see it never being done. Three hours of thinking with the keyboard and I think we have a good basis that simply needs to be completed, and of course implemented (we currently have no fixed welcome  process, it's all a little off the cuff...). I'm quite proud of it really!

The second document I wrote was going to be a cheat sheet for Scrum as a way of bringing it back into focus in the Scrum teams and helping the development teams and the product owners understand the responsibilities they have, and how they can make it work more efficiently.

It's not really a cheat sheet any more - in fact I think it is now a 7 page document :)

But, it's finished and either I, or another of the Scum Masters (should I be on leave) will be going through it with the Scrum teams over the coming weeks.

And... My Scrum blog, that has a grand total of one post still, is going to have a few entries based on it.  I wonder what feed back it's going to get...

---

Yesterday I was watching the  latest episode of Hij is een Zij and for the first time it had me in tears. In fact it completely screwed up my entire morning.

One of the women went back to her school with her brother, revisiting their childhood. It sounds like she had as good a time in school as I did. An emotional, gentle person who was constantly bullied because of it (the fact that I never backed down to the bullies, a trait I picked up from both of my parents, didn't help me either). Not wanting childhood photos to be used in the program due to the feelings those photos bought up.

Slowly my eyes filled, and then that was all that was in my head for the next few hours.

It's amazing what you think you have left behind, but actually is lying just under the surface.

I'm fine by the way, it's nothing that is going to cause a spiral in me (that is more than 20 years ago now - I feel old!) it's just something that hit me at the time.

And of course the update...  Well I have time to write this, so I'll let you guess :) (Everyone is doing fine btw)



Saturday, 1 February 2014

When is something offensive?

4 weeks ago a new program started on Dutch TV – Hij is een Zij (Literal translation: He is a She). Quite a few people in the office had told me about it, but I had not got to see it until last week when I found it on the Dutch catch up TV app.

I really like the presenter of the program, he tackles quite a few difficult subjects, and it never feels like he is making it sensationalist.

And this one is no different; I think they have tackled the subject quite well. There have been a few complaints about the use of pronouns at the start of the program to explain what the program is about. And it is very much he was a she, she was a he. Kind of like the title itself. But, this is a program trying to introduce this subject to people who haven’t a clue. You have to start somewhere, and I can’t think of a good way to do it…

In the program we are introduced to various transsexual people, male to female and female to male. They are all at different stages of transition and all at a different stage of life. Some of the program is more interesting to my colleagues than me (I know rather too well what the process is ;p), some of it is quite upsetting – seeing other people going through the same things I have gone through, listening to my life told by other people. Of course not everything is the same, but there are a lot of similarities in the feelings that people described.

There was one part that really made me have to laugh though. It was with two female to male guys on a beach having just been surfing. The presenter asked why, when they were wearing wetsuits, did they have big, baggy Bermuda shorts on over the top. There was some embarrassed smirking from the guys, looking around a little, and then: “Well, the wet suits are really tight and, well, there is nothing there – it's not something we want people to see.”

Why did I laugh? Well, because there is a reason I don’t wear some of the outfits I really like. Skinny jeans with a nice top and jacket, looks great, but… If I wear skinny jeans I always wear a long jumper or dress over the top. For the same, if opposite, reason as the guys in the show J

The reactions online here have been mixed, with some people really feeling for the people on the show. Some of them feeling outraged that the people appearing have been used to make the show (I have to say that looking at it I don’t see it that way), and of course the trolls that crawl out of their caves and write crap about the people on the show – who obviously completely missed the point! Thankfully there were not that many trolls; progress? Overall, the show is very sympathetic, showing the lives of those involved and the way it has affected themselves and the people around them. The difficulties faced and the good things that have happened.

The reactions of my colleagues have shown just how good the program is. I’m quite open about myself in the office. They all know just what I am going through, and seeing as 90% of the people I am working with also worked with him I don’t see the point in being coy about it. I do have one small rule though. If someone asks a question that could result in a too much information answer then they could well get too much information. If you don’t want to know, then don’t ask. But still, there is so much that they do not know to ask – just how it affects me, and what the effect on my life has been; both the good and the bad. This show shows that side, and I think has been a good for my colleagues and myself.

The title of this post is there as I can see why people think it is offensive to reveal someones history on TV. I can see it as something that would mortify me completely, whilst people who know me, know me, those who do not - and those who get to know me now - have no reason to know my past. It does not affect them, and is in no way relevant to them. And yet I don't find this program offensive as some people online have. These people were not coerced into doing the program. They were brave enough to go on the show and tell their stories. The program has treated them with complete respect, not taken anything as a joke, and the presenter has supported the people on the show when they were doing something very hard on camera. I only think this can be a good thing, and the people on the show have my admiration for having the strength to appear on it!

I also wanted to write about a conversation I had yesterday. Considering I have been living as Stacy as two years now it’s maybe odd that it has had this effect on me.  It certainly seems that way to me, and yet it still pretty much made my day.

I have recently moved offices – or rather I now spend my time between two desks; two days at my old one and three at my new one. Yesterday I was working at my new desk.

About half way through the day a colleague popped in to ask about gift ideas for someone who will reach their 5 year milestone next week.  I’m not going into details about what was discussed (just in case someone who I work with is reading this and give the game away ;p).

But, there were two guys, me and the other female programmer in our team in one of the rooms discussing this and the guys went a little over the top with their ‘fun’ ideas that all four of us were discussing.  Afterwards the guys left to go into the town centre to get the gifts and my colleague just gave me ‘that’ look and said, “Guys just don’t have any idea do they, Stace?” That comment made my whole day!

Like I said, after more than 2 years this sort of thing shouldn’t mean that much to me, and yet…  Big smiley face!

One final thing before I go – update! No update J  Someone is still very happy where they are!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Brrr!

Last week someone came by to give our boiler a service. It's getting on a bit (18 year old) but was working fine so we were going to keep it until the summer, when we would change for a boiler with a better capacity and more efficient gas and electricity use.

The service went OK, except that it would not light at the end, so the guy lit the pilot light with a match - meaning that the attic was filled with gas. I wasn't here, but Mrs Stace commented on it, but the guy just said  it was normal (after all what would a woman know...)

Since then Mrs Stace has said that every time the boiler starts the attic fills with the smell of gas, something that we didn't like - obviously. One evening we did a test together - we went upstairs just as the boiler started up for the heating and...  Wow! The smell of gas was extreme.

Boiler unplugged and gas off, and call the service people  to come back.

Someone came the next day to check and found that the first service engineer left an important plug off of the top of the boiler when he was done. So when it started all the fumes came out of that instead of out of the exhaust pipe.

Including the CO that the boiler produces.  Gulp.

Needless to say that is the type of thing that makes you go out the next day and buy a CO detector!

The engineer put everything back together and tried again. I thought it was better, but he was not happy with it and went to fetch his meter.  Every joint in the exhaust is leaking, not a lot, but leaking CO all the same. We needed new pipework fitting, pipework that would only be suitable for this boiler.

And to fit it you have to dismantle the boiler and remove it from the wall.  An 18 year old boiler that is at the end of it's life and would probably not go back on the wall afterwards.

So, a new boiler needed. We put lots of layers on, and left the heating off - just plugging it in (with all of the attic windows open) when we showered in the morning.

Thankfully we have been having a warm winter so far!

The guy came the next day and helped us choose a new boiler, and arranged for it to be fitted a couple of days later.  At least it could be done quickly!

On Friday they came with the new boiler and within 4 hours it was done and the house was starting to defrost (I said it was a warm winter, but it's still winter!).  Lighter in the pocket, but happier in the house, I have had to rearrange so much that I needed to do to arrange this - laser in prep for the op, and various meetings in the office had to be moved around for it.

Aside from having 50% more hot water now (the shower is GORGEOUS!) there was one other fun thing with the new boiler.

It's a geeks machine! It came with a free thermostat (our old one is not compatible with new boilers, as they are more complex).  Of course it's the simplest one available, but you can go better!

For an amount more you have one that has 7 programmable days.  Great.
For a bit more than that you can get one that is controlled via your phone.  Bingo!

7 days, 6 time ranges per day, settable per .1C if you want, we have it at the standard .5C intervals for the temp. Connected to the internet so it knows national holidays and automatically sets itself to a Sunday so you do not wake up too early with a too warm house.

It even tells you when there is a problem - and service engineers can connect to it for deeper analysis :)

I tested it yesterday and, yes, I can change the temperature in the house from miles away! Useful if you are coming home early and want the house warm for when you arrive...

Anyway, that was my week.  Cold, with no hot water for most of the day, scattered due to the  many appointments we had and tiring.

We never appreciate modern life until something goes wrong and you get thrown back to warming the house with candles do you?

And...  One last point - those of you without them... Buy a CO alarm - it is something everyone puts off untiil it's too late (we did!), learn from our mistake!

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A bit late but...

Happy new year all!

I've just noticed that it has been a month since I last posted! Time flies when you are not having fun!

(Before you worry, it's not anything serious - I just didn't stop for air for most of that time!)

The last few weeks of the year were almost all about my project. Picking up the stray requests and ensuring that they go the right way, fixing glitches and basically just trying to keep things ticking over.

Due to Dutch health insurance laws you can only switch (outside of extra-ordinary circumstances) in the last two months of the year, with the insurance starting on 1st January.

To give you an idea of what this means for my project... Each month there are about 500 to 600 requests flowing through the system.  In November this shoots to about 40000. In December it gets closer to 100000. And a quarter of those requests in the last two days.

And...

The machines crashed

On Christmas Eve afternoon

And I waved goodbye to any thought of a relaxing Christmas and New Year

And so I was spending between 2 and 14 hours every day from 24th December to 2nd January fixing the problems caused by this.

It kind of sucked.

But at least it wasn't boring - only having 24 hours in a day and having so much to do meant that whilst the tasks that needed doing were mind numbing, and at one point I think I went a little blind from staring at a screen for hours on end without a break and with total concentration, the time actually flew by.

Mind you 2nd and 3rd January I was about asleep for the whole day :)

But... I did enjoy Christmas (only a couple of hours worked Christmas day - mainly checking the mails to see how bad everything was whilst someone else was spending the whole day fixing it). Skypeing with parents, and having Christmas dinner with my in laws.

And that just about covers the last month :)

The house is really ready now (except that we need to hang curtains in the nursery and study).

Oh, and I've given up alcohol for the coming time. I had Champagne to celebrate the new year and that was it. Seeing as in the coming time I may need to drive at any point, and that if I'm driving them I don't drink at all, I decided to call a temporary stop :)

The problem for me is that I don't like sweet drinks. As a teenager I was obsessed with Coco Cola (to be fair I'm still fairly obsessed with the paraphernalia around it) and drank a lot of it.  These days it tastes like pure sugar and I rarely drink it!

So...  I'm currently drinking lots of coffee, lots of tea (which is a problem as I am running out of English tea and I don't know when I can get some more!) lots water and lots of apple water (half fizzy water and half apple juice).

It's not too bad, but I do miss drinking something with a bit of a kick (just to clarify - seeing as everyone thinks I have a problem with drinking when I say that - that is kick in the taste, not kick as in getting drunk) to it. Apple juice just isn't the same as a good wine, or a cocktail!  If anyone has any suggestions (most things online seem to be orange juice or grapefruit juice with a false sounding name rather than a real alternative!) without caffeine I would really appreciate it!

Well that's all from me for now! Look after yourselves!