Saturday, 31 December 2011


Well I had a post to write for this week, actually based on the 'fun' I had dealing with banks and the passport office last week, but I think I'll wait for next week.

For now I'll do a quick end of year post and relax again.

End of a year, and end of 35 year period of my life.  Last night I celebrated my nephews birthday, as was previously discussed I went as him, and if luck holds out with deliveries it should be the last time I have to go as him.  The party was great, being him somewhat less so.  But that is now history.  On to a new year and new challenges.

Ow?  I had my ears pierced today.  Ow.  A little at first, growing to a lot and now a faded throbbing.  But at least in 6 weeks I can wear the one of the presents from Mrs Stace that I got at Christmas :)

Happy new year all!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Oh, er, oh...

Before I sign of for the Christmas weekend there is one last bit of my first week as Stacy that I wanted to post...  It was from the last day of the week, and put such a smile on my face that it was something I wanted to share.

We always do the shopping on Friday afternoons, on this occasion Mrs Stace had the day off of work so I was picking her up after she had finished the shopping so that we could get home after a stressful week and relax.

Before meeting her I wanted to pick up my St Christopher from the jewelers, where it had been re-soldered to the chain.  It's a really nice small pendant and chain that my parents got me to wear as Stacy a couple of months after we told them - and with the thought behind it makes it mean the world to me.

Now, the morning before leaving for work I had forgotten to pick up the slip of paper that says the pendant is mine.  I asked if this was a problem in the shop and was told it was fine, as long as I had ID.  Oh dear - all of my ID is still in my old name, with my old photo.

There were two ways I could do this.  I could either just say 'Oh well, I'll come back tomorrow I don't have any with me.' Or I could just get on with it.  I went with the second one.  'OK, but I do look a little different in the picture.'  Not to mention that they have a name and gender marker that does not match who I am, but hey...

I passed him my driving license.  He looked at it, then at me, then at it, at me again. One last time at the driving license and he said 'Well, you look very good!'  I laughed and said thanks, whilst he wrote the details down.  I had wondered whether it would be an issue - the owner is a very old man and looks very conservative, but no.  He was fantastic.  Sorted everything out for me and helped me look for a replacement strap for my watch that looks a little more feminine.  Fantastic way to end a great week!

With that I wish you all Merry Christmas (or happy holidays if you prefer)!  I hope you have a fantastic day celebrating whatever way you do.


PS Don't try to write a post whilst making risotto - I just nearly burnt our dinner whilst writing this...  Oops :)

Friday, 23 December 2011

First week

The first day in the office went smoothly, I was absolutely shattered from emotional exhaustion - with a little bit of physical exhaustion thrown in for good measure from the lack of sleep on the Sunday to Monday.  Everybody tried really hard and I had some great conversations with people from the different business units.

A few rooms have done something to try and help people get the name and pronouns correct.  One room is collecting a euro for every mistake and there are a couple of others (mine included) that have started a board to list the mistakes.  A friend started the one in our room, and named it the 'Shame Sheet'.  It takes up an entire white board and lists each person in the room.  Including me.  Each time there is a mistake it is marked on the board.  I have 2 (from signing emails, damn muscle memory ;p), both made within the first couple of hours.  I have now got to the point where writing Stace comes as automatically, thankfully! Most mistakes are made in the heat of the moment and are corrected immediately.

But I can't believe how much everyone is trying hard to get it right!  And most people have made the change in their head quite well - so well in fact that I have given a complement to them for making the change so easy and natural.  After all it has only been so easy for me because it has been made this easy by the people I work with, most comment that I manage help that by being so natural as Stacy that as far as them seeing me goes it's already normal in their head.  The name and pronoun don't come quite as naturally - after all most have known me for more than 5 years.  Whilst they are all trying you can tell with the pause and the way that Stacy or Stace is said who is having the most trouble.  It will come with time I am sure.

There are a few people who are not sure how to react to me when they see me now.  Some just utter 'Morgen' as they pass, some just make themselves treat me normally whilst they get used to it.  Either way there are not negative responses and hopefully once people get used to it they will just treat me normally again.

On the last day of the week I was speaking to my boss before the weekend, he asked how it had gone and I told him well, that the most exciting thing was that it was not exciting and that after the first hour or so it was just so natural that I wasn't thinking of it anymore.  He also commented that I made it easier for other people by staying myself, and just being natural.  And he was pleased to see that I still played table football before lunch - something that is a habit in our room and something he was worried that I would stop.

All in all it was an amazing week, full of moments where I caught myself thinking 'wow, have I really made this step' and full of many more where I could just get on with life as it should be.  Whilst the noise has not gone from head completely, it most certainly dwindled and people comment how much happier I look.  :)

Sunday, 18 December 2011


So...  After telling everyone on Monday - and being a complete emotional wreck in the process - I was kind of dreading Tuesday.

In the end there was no need for any of the panic.  I had my outfit chosen, actually I picked my outfit some weeks ago.  The only change was the shoes (trust me this becomes important) as Mrs Stace suggested a pair different to my initial choice.

The change in life started from the moment the alarm went off.  Normally Mrs Stace showers first whilst I make the breakfasts then I shower whilst she is getting ready.

Hmm...  With my hair and make-up I now take a little longer than before, and so we we have swapped.  I jump in the shower whilst Mrs Stace gets breakfast. I managed to get ready in time to get Mrs Stace to the train station in time for her train, not bad I think - alarm going off to sitting in the car was less than 40 minutes.  Considering it used to take me an hour just to get ready I think I've got it down quite well.  I certainly couldn't have coped with having to get up even earlier in order to be out of the door in time!  5:40 is quite early enough!

The drive to work was actually very uneventful, and without any stress.  I got to the office changed shoes (I can't drive in heels so I always drive in my deck shoes) and...  Stepped out of the car.  I shocked myself there, I had expected to need some time to get out of the car before I started but in the end I just did it.

I always get to the office really early, in fact their are generally only one or two others there at the time.  So I thought that the best thing to do was get the first introductions out of the way before more people started to turn up. I got some nice responses, again like when I told them the day before they were all supportive, and thankfully treated me completely normally!

With those out of the way I tried to do my normal routine.  Going for the first coffee of the morning with our DBA, which we normally take in the entrance to the building.  This actually had a very good effect - drinking coffee and chatting about both work and my feelings whilst people arrived made things much more normal than they could otherwise have been.

I'll be honest the rest of the day is somewhat of a blur.  I got lots of great comments from the people I work with, both on how I was handling the situation, and how I looked.  Normal was a word used regularly - and I can't think of a word that I would rather hear when someone was describing me!

Throughout the whole of the day I managed relatively stress free; I think that after telling people on the Monday them seeing me just didn't seem as scary. The only exception being just before lunch; it was the one part of the day that I was worried about, after all it's one thing see individuals on their own and quite another to walk into a room full of people!  It passed without a hitch, though for the rest of the week I did not go on my own.  Hopefully I'll get over that soon enough - I am certain that it's all in my head!

Something else started on Tuesday in the office.  We had three Christmas trees delivered (well 4 - one of them was for the canteen decorated in the company colours) although for once there were no decorations on them.  We found out why when someone from marketing came around with post cards.  All of them with a different complement on the front, and then space on the back to write a message.  You can then put your cards in the tree.  Someone dropped a card off on my desk almost immediately, and apparently there are loads of cards to me in the trees; though I am being blind - I checked three times after 7 or 8 people told me that if I was still worried about reactions I had to check the trees and I can still only find a couple of cards...

The whole day passed without incident, lots of compliments, lots of people trying really hard to get my name and pronouns right (more on that in another post); but most of all it passed with people treating me just as they did.  Everything felt so normal, and so right - but it is something that would not have happened without the support of all the people I work with day in, day out.  It felt normal because everyone made it normal.

Remember I said the shoes were important?  Well, I had planned on wearing my boots.  They have a small heel, fit like gloves and are really, really comfortable!  Only, Mrs Stace said that the black didn't really go with beige and brown of the rest of the outfit and suggested my shoes instead.  So I had beige court shoes with 8cm heels on (I'm sure there is a picture of them on the site somewhere).  Which brought some comments, people wondering how long it had taken me to learn to walk in heels (I've been doing it since I was a teenager so no problem), and people commenting that they were lovely shoes, but was I insane to pick those for my first full day.

I just said that Mrs Stace obviously hates me because at 10 in the morning my feet hurt like hell!  Sitting in them was fine.  Walking in them was fine.  Being stopped in the corridor and chatting to people caused me a lot of pain!  So did playing fussball before we went to lunch! Our HR woman told me not to remove them until I was ready to take them off for the day (we had arranged a chat to see how the day was going), otherwise I would not be able to get them back on.  Good advice, but the next time I expect to be on my feet for most of the say I'll pick some different shoes I think :)


Well actually that should read Sunday...  It's the day when the stress of the week really kicked off, and I became a bit of a wreck.  Well, a lot of a wreck actually.

For some stupid reason I managed to notice the clock at some point in the afternoon and the thought 'in 15 hours I'll be telling my team' came to mind.  Stupid!  If anything is sure to make me panic and stress it's counting down hours until something happens...  I called my parents and had a long chat with my mum - who again offered to fly here to be with me during the week and managed to get me somewhat calmed down - and ordered me to have a cognac (a Christmas pressent from my parents last year) to help.

Sunday night I pretty much did not sleep.  I went to bed and took a valerian tablet to help me relax and it worked; for a few hours.  Then I was awake, panicing and stressing in bed from 2:30 until 5:40 when the alarm went off.  I managed to do some breathing exercises to make sure I got some rest even if sleep did alude me.

I got to work on Monday morning then the stress hit me completely, I honestly can't tell you what I did for the first two hours (except check my watch every couple of minutes to see if it was time for the team meeting).  We all made our way to the meeting room and rather than try to talk around the issue and lead up to it I just said what was going to happen the next morning.  It seemed the easiest way.  Cue lots of shock, and one guy in the team looking like a bowling ball for a couple of minutes.  Then a few questions, a bit of explanation and a some talk.  All of it positive, no negative reactions at all.  Phew :)

When we ran out of questions I told my team that the other department meeting that was planned later in the morning was to tell everyone else, and at the same time the other business unit managers would be telling their people too; and asked them not to discuss it in front of others until that time.  Saying that caused the stress that was receding to start building again and our web master came out with a fantastic phrase for me...

'If anyone gives you any grief about this, just tell them that your team is completely behind you'

I don't think I could have asked for a better reaction than that from him!

30 mins of stressing again and we were in the biggest meeting room, with the whole department - about 30 people I think.  My boss was giving the news, with me there to answer any questions that I felt I could answer but with the instruction that if I got to stressed I was just to leave.  He brought the news over to the team 'X is in a process of transition and as of tomorrow we will have a female team lead in IT, Stacy.'  Cue lots of quizzical faces and our one female developers asking the question that I have since found out was in the minds of a few others. 'But what will X be doing as of tomorrow then?'  I couldn't help but smile here, and answered that I was going to be Stacy.  My boss said some other things (which I can't remember) and asked if there were any questions.  None came back and so we went back to work.  Well we didn't...  I got back to my room to find it filled with people and we spent the next 30 minutes chatting about it.  Again the reactions I had were great.  There were the people who were shocked, and the people who said something along the lines of 'I always knew that you were somewhat feminine, but never really thought anything of it.'

The rest of the day I tried to keep working (failed miserably) and tried to make some calls to ex-colleagues so that they found out from me and not from other people.  There were 4 people that I really wanted to tell in person (well 5, but one is visiting family back in India so I knew he couldn't be there) and so I tried to arrange to see them.  I think I managed to scare a few people that day.  'Hi it's X.  I have some news for you, but it's not something I really want to tell you over the phone.  Can you meet me in a cafe at 4:30?'  Now...  I made these calls between 12:30 and 2:30 PM, not giving people much time to be able to get there, and I was expecting a rather 'hmm, that could be really difficult' response.  The first person I called couldn't make it - he was in bed sniffling - so I had to tell him over the phone.

Wow...  Really!  You're not joking?! (I've become accustomed to the last one in recent days) was the response.  This is a person that I was dreading telling, there is a story somewhere on this blog about why - he has come out with a very scary story in the past - but he was fine.  'You are still going to BBQ next year aren't you?' was one of his responses.  We had a bit of a chat, which was cut short as my boss then called my phone to find out where I was as I was late for the team lead meeting (oops).

The others just commented that it was very mysterious and that they would be there.  Including a guy on the other side of the country in a business meeting (which he said he couldn't concentrate on after the call as he thought something very serious was wrong).

At 4:30 I got the cafe where two of the group where already there, we chatted for a while as we had to wait for the last to turn up (he brought his wife with him as we know each other as well) and when everyone had their drinks and we were all sitting down they demanded to know what was wrong.  I told them.  Three times.  Again: No?!  Really?!  You're joking aren't you?  When they understood that it was not a joke and the shock had worn off a little we chatted for an hour.  It turns out that they all had the same couple of thoughts.  I'd quit and wanted a job (they all have their own companies since leaving the company I work for).  I'd quit to start my own company and wanted some freelance work.  I'd started my own company and had an amazing idea for a startup but needed some collaboration to get it off the ground (I wish...).  I was seriously ill and not long for this world (thankfully not!  That is thankfully not serious ill, not thankfully not long for this world).

The wife of my friend said that we needed a getting to know Stacy party in the new year.  I like the idea, after all I don't see these people day in, day out and I would be good for them to meet the real me sooner rather than later.  I am just not sure if I am going to be hosting a winter BBQ (I like the idea I must admit) or just to go for drinks one evening after work.

The responses from all were amazing, and I was really impressed that I have friends who will drop everything and drive across the country if something is important.  We are not the closest of friends (we see each other 4 or 5 times a year at most) but obviously we are very good friends - that was a little overwhelming when I stopped to think about it.

We had to leave before one of our party had his car clamped - he had not put enough money in the machine to park very long :)  And I still had a couple of people that I needed to tell - unfortunately I knew that I was not going to be able to tell them in person so I had to call.

One was another ex-colleague from where I work now, and I always watch at least one match of the 6 nations with her.  I called her, told her and guessed correctly from her voice that she already knew (I kind of figured that she would do as she is close friends with a few people in my department still).  She was very supportive, and came out almost immediately with 'You're are still coming to the 6 nations aren't you?  You're not going to make me go on my own?'  Again we chatted for a while about this and other things before I had to go.  I was home by now and needed to cook, then there was one last call of the day.

This time to a colleague who I worked with a while ago.  Again he took it fantastically, and made sure I was still throwing my yearly BBQ in the summer.  I don't think I could have asked for better responses so far.

After that it's a bit of a blur and exhaustion was really setting in.  My parents called to check how I was doing, I watched Only Connect (wonderful program - makes you feel really stupid ;p) and went to bed.  And slept!

Sorry for the long post, but I guess there was a lot to tell!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

A very quick update...

Well, I'm absolutely exhausted!  The stress is finally draining and I am starting to relax but now the problem seems to be that recovery is now trying to take it's place.  Roll on the weekend!  And please let me have a lie in!

I have now been full time at work for three days after the company finding out on Monday morning.  I have had lots of support, lots of questions and everyone I work with is really doing their best to get the name and pronouns right.

There are, of course, far more details - but I think I will see if I have the energy at the weekend to write that up in a few posts, at the moment I just don't think I could manage something that is not a ramble!

But a very overwhelming (in the best possible way) week so far...  Now to try and chill for the rest of the evening!

Monday, 5 December 2011

One Week

Well, it's getting close now.  In just 7 short days everyone in the company should know about me, and I will be stressing about whether I have picked the right outfit for the first day working as Stacy (which I hope isn't really as shallow as it sounds).

The plan is that I will be telling my team first thing in the morning, then there will be a department meeting where those who are not in my team, but are still in my department, will find out.  From that point on the other Business Unit managers will be able to tell their  people - I have asked that they do not say anything before the people I work closely with find out and before I come to the office as Stacy for the first time.  There will also be a mail sent to everybody, from their own manager with a bit of text from me in it.

Then I have to see what reactions I get during the day.  It's not my choice of timetable - I would have preferred something in the afternoon, but it's a good enough compromise with the restrictions of keeping the company running, you can't shut down whole call center departments on the fly and I do appreciate that.

My boss has translated my personal message, and enhanced it in the (and I mean that in the best possible way - I'm getting a bit scatter brained at the moment) and this afternoon he sent it to me for confirmation that I agreed with it before sending it to the management team tomorrow.


Then I have the list of people outside of those I work with that I want to tell on the day. I would so much prefer that people find out from me and not from others - I can't de everyone face to face in one evening.  One of those who I would really have preferred to tell in person has made that all the more difficult by daring to go on vacation back to see his family in India for a month, leaving one day or so so before I am due to tell everyone.  I guess he gets told on Skype, damn.

Then I have to shock all the others by changing my LinkedIn and Google+ accounts and waiting for the WTFs to come in :)


Sunday, 27 November 2011

Family, decorating and, yes again, stress...

Well, it's Sunday afternoon and for the first time since I wrote my last blog I can relax a little.

The last week has been very busy still at work, and there has been no respite at home either.  Work is going to remain busy and stressful for the coming weeks.  It's the same every year and I don't see why this year should be any different. Hopefully by the time that I start working as Stacy the stress is going to be somewhat diminished.

At home...  Well my brother arrived last Sunday to do some DIY for me (it's his job and I hate it so I thought it was easier to pay him than do it myself - thanks bro!) so we had to get the house ready for a guest, and I had to get into a place in my hear to share a house with him for a week. He's a great guy, but lives life like Frank Sinatra's song - My Way.  Not being able to have discussions - he is right in everything and knows best about everything too (including telling me how things I studied work - because he has seen movies that told him; grr!!!) It can get a little tiring sometimes.

So whilst I have been at work this week he has been swapping radiators, removing radiators and plastering the walls in our hall, landing and on the stairways.  And he even had time and material to do the bathroom ceiling for me!

Seeing as it was going to be the last time he saw his brother I was trying to figure out when to introduce Stacy to him, and stressed a little - he doesn't have the worlds greatest gift for tact so there would be no sugar coating his thoughts.

Events actually conspired against me for the week - Sunday was his first day so I thought as I am not full time yet there I would wait until he was settled.  Monday I got home and gave him a hand finishing the days work and preparing for the next.  Tuesday we were visiting my sister in law and her family so no go.  Wednesday and Thursday were also spent helping with some of the work.  On Friday I had therapy, my last session before going full time at work, so there was no choice there.  He was going to meet me.

After therapy we went shopping for Sinterklass gifts and the weekly shop and then back home.


As with telling him in the first place, a complete non event.  I've had a few different reactions but never complete and total dis interest.  And I don't mean that in the way that it sounds!  He just opened the door (he had my keys for the week) and said 'howdo'. That's it.

Yesterday he went to Amsterdam for the day, I dropped him off at the train station as him (running errands that I still need to be him for) and picked him up in the evening again.  As Stacy.  And again just thanks for picking him up and started chatting.  On the trip home I decided to bring it up, just to see if there was any reaction.  I asked him if he thought he would cope in the January with calling me Stace or sis.  'I don't know, I'd had 35 years of calling you bro - I'm a bit stuck in my ways, that's why I can't stop smoking.'  And that was it the subject was gone.  And we just hada normal evening watching Strictly (I still can't believe that he is a fan!) and then the went to bed before setting off home today.

One bit of stress gone I suppose :)

Oh...  And news!

I ordered my deed poll this week!  An amazing simple (so far) process!  Let's see when it comes through...

More annoying and difficult will be my passport...  It used to be that you could take a morning off of work, go to the consulate in Amsterdam and get a new passport.  But...  When then introduced the new passports a couple of years ago they stopped doing this 'to improve the service the office can give to it's customers' and I now have to post my passport to Paris.  Who will check if it meets their requirements for requesting a new passport.  If they agree it gets posted to the UK.  Who see if it meets their requirements for issuing a passport (yes, they can be different requirements!) who print it and then post it direct (thankfully) to me. I was hoping to come back to Leicester in the new year and take a trip to Peterborough for the one day service, but apparently I don't fulfill the requirements for that and it's one week minimum.  As I could not travel home again with no passport that means a two week trip and I just don't want to use the vacation time for it.  I just hope that posting it does not cause any problems...  I have to get the application form filled in this week (assuming my Windows machine will read the PDF they have, my Apple doesn't...)

Phew, more stress in the coming weeks then!  And a travel ban until they return it to too me!  Why don't the UK sign the Schengen agreement so I can travel without it!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Getting fit again!

I'll start with an apology for the length of the post - after not having a muse since my last post I started this morning and it all seemed to come out!

This week I am back on medication, at the start of the summer I began taking nose spray for hay fever. what I  assumed was a constant cold my doctor saw it for what it was and with the medication I was fine for the rest of the summer.

No sniffles, no aches and no thick head.  Wonderful!

When I got back from the UK I noticed that I was starting running low on the spray, but assumed that as summer and the associated pollen we over for another year I could leave it for a while.  I don't like the thought of taking medication 365 days a year. Then at the start of spring next year I could get my repeat prescription and start again.

And then I had cold after cold, thick heads and lots of aches and pains; just as I had at the start of the year.

This has impacted my life in a few ways, and none of them are good!  I am useless at keeping up the will power needed to work out when I have a bad head.  I get home from work and just want to collapse on the sofa.  Or at the weekend I just can't seem to get it together enough to actually get my running gear on and leave the house.  OK, there is also the question of dog owners at the moment - people who take large dogs out, without leads and fail to keep them under control.  Over the last few weeks I when I have had the will power to go running I have had problems with dogs and their owners at least once on each run.  Note to the dog owners: it's not funny, it's annoying as hell and terrifies the people on the receiving end.  When I had two Alsatians baring their teeth and chasing me whilst the ineffectual owner gently said 'come here, come here' and not moving from his spot 200m away my heart rate went from 145 to 190 from the stress.  Anyway I am off on a tangent again...

Another problem is that colds pour stress onto stress, and that is something I am struggling to contain at the moment.  This time of year is always stressful in the office, and whilst this year seems to be much better than previous years, it's still bad enough that I had an apology from my boss on Friday.  You see it's his first year, and in August I was making the planning and making sure that I had people available for my project now.  Everyone was adamant that we would have been ready and I was being over the top by making sure the people were still available.  Well...  We still have weeks of work for developers, there are times when being able to say 'I told you so' doesn't feel great.  But my boss spoke to me on Friday to apologise for not believing me when I was making the planning (though he didn't block my planning, he thought it was not going to be needed).  He can't believe that we are still working on it, but I get the feeling that next year the planning may just be a little better - he's the first one to actually admit that we need these people.

And then of course there is preparing for the fact that in 3 weeks I'll be working as Stacy.  Everything is ready.  I thought.  Hahahahaha.  Last week I was working out the planning for that and since then the stress has been that high that my IBS has had me in agony and yesterday I simply collapsed from exhaustion.  Literally.  A migraine that tablets couldn't touch, short term memory loss (Mrs Stace asked me for a drink and had to tell me three times in less than a minute what she wanted as it just would not stick in my head) and lots of borderline sleep through the day. 

Having the feeling of a constant cold was not helping matters at all!

So on Wednesday I arranged the repeat prescription, and on Thursday picked it up.  That is only three days ago, and the medication takes up to two weeks to really get to work, but I have noticed an improvement already.  The sniffles have gone, as have the thick heads.  The aches?  Well, they are still there, but not from a cold any more!

No, they come from the fact that over the last week I have been trying to get fit again.  Not running has left me a smidgen over what I would like to be size wise.  Nothing serious, and to be honest in clothes you can't even see it.  But I know it's there.  And I have terrible self body image at the best of times; knowing that I am stating to gain weight is just something that I see as the thing end of the wedge!  Something has to be done!

Running is not on the cards for me at the moment, the weather is to cold at the weekends and at night it's too dark.  My favourite place to run is the man made lake near where I live (where my sunset summer pictures in other posts are taken).  It's tranquil, pretty and a set distance - 1 lap is exactly 3km.  Unfortunately it's also unlit and by the time I get home from work it's pitch black - and when there is dog muck, possible glass from teenagers and possibly people lurking in the bushes around the lake (I don't know if the last one is true, but it's not something I like) I try not to do it in the dark.  Of course in the dark you also can't see the dogs and their owners!  So that's a no-no then :)

And so I am being a geek again :)  I pre-ordered 'Your Shape 2012' for the Kinect and it arrived on Monday, and has been used since.  I am trying to do three or four sessions a week, and I am trying to do 45 minute workouts at a high enough heart rate to get 400+ calories burnt per session.

It has different levels of work out for those just starting, those who have some experience and those who are really fit and annoying (I hope to join that group by the end of the winter ;p).

I started with the lowest levels - gentle movements and routines that lasted 5 minutes or so.  It is a good way to start, and a good way to get into the different moves that you have to do.  And the fact that you see yourself on the screen means that you can see when you are doing it wrong; OK a mirror would work just as well, but then you wouldn't be able to see the instructor!  The space you need is quite large - we only just have enough room in our house for it; and if we were in the UK with the tendency to have separate rooms rather than open plan living I don't think there would be enough space without shifting all the furniture to one side!

But, as I still have a baseline fitness the starter ones were really not for me.  I could not get my heart rate up enough, and I wasn't feeling like I had had a work out the end of them.

I tried the boot camp routine that it has (stupid of me, it's a level three routine even on the easiest level) and about collapsed at the end of the 6 minutes.  On the other hand my heart rate was definitely up!

So I settled for the level 2 routines.  I am concentrating on cardio at the moment as all I really want to do is burn calories and get my fitness level up. These take between 12 and 20 minutes per routine so I can do three different workouts and do my whole body.  Legs, arms and torso in separate workouts.  As this is something that I can't do with running I am actually enjoying it a lot!  I think though that I will still try to do one lap of the lake once a week for the fresh air!

Right then, I guess it's time to finish preparing the house for my brothers arrival this afternoon.  I was doing it yesterday but had to give up! It's been a while since I have seen him, and he is coming to change some radiators for us and plaster a ceiling and some walls.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


There have been many posts this week for remembrance sunday and the poppy.

I have mixed thoughts on the subject.  I always wore a poppy in the UK, and I always stopped the minutes silence at 11am.

But...  My granddad was in WW2 - he lied about his age to get into service and served in the Royal Marines.  It still makes me laugh when I say that too - it was always the Royal Marines - woe behold you should that word be forgotten!  He was extremely proud of the Corps.

And yet...  He would never talk about the war, except for the funny anecdotes - the one that I remember was when he was in a hut in the forest somewhere in Asia with a group of Royal Marines and a local guide.  They saw a spider on the wall, and they all got a bit worried :)  The local guide calmly walked over and pinned the spider to the wall with a large knife, turned to the commandos and said, 'Don't worry about those spiders, they won't hurt you.  It's the ones you can't see that'll kill you.'  I always liked the imagery of the commandos being scared of the spider and the guide being the one to calmly deal with the situation.

He never said anything about what he did during the war.  Refused to talk about any of the bad things that he had seen (or the bad things that he did).  Whenever there was a program where someone was glorifying war he always commented, almost always the same sentence, 'Anyone who says these things never saw what goes on in war.'  He hated it, and as proud as he was of serving in the Royal Marines I think that he always regretted his decision to lie about his age.  He was vehemently against war, and anything that tried to glorify it.

He also never liked remembrance day.  I asked his about it once, he simply said it reminds him too much of what he saw, and those he will never see again.  It was quite sad, and not something that I brought up again.

I can wear the poppy to support the British Legion working with ex-service men and women, but what about the other reasons.  I am wearing it to bring remembrance to something that the only person I knew who served didn't want to remember.  Since the day he spoke to me about why he didn't take part in Remembrance Sunday it has made it difficult for me to not to think of it.


Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tough week

This last week has left me absolutely shattered!  Stress both inside and outside of work has really taken it's toll, which has either left me open for illness or the illness that I had took advantage of my stress and really knocked me for six!

It started last weekend, when the cold came back and really attacked me - it really floored me over the whole weekend.  On monday morning I had an appointment with a mouth hygienist and I got halfway there before I realised that I would not be driving from the appointment to work as I had planned.  I didn't feel safe and thought that driving another 50KM in rush hour, motorway traffic was a bad idea.  There are times when it is a really bad idea to be ill - and this week was one of them!

Our biggest project of the year was going live on Thursday and Monday was the day when we decided if we could make the live date.  Thankfully I could just about think so I simply worked from home as best as I could.  Many emails and phone calls later and we were almost ready.

Tuesday was always going to be stress full.  Two hospital appointments in one day was never going to be nice, and as I had not been in the office on Monday I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to change my plans of working from home before the appointments and go in for a couple of hours.  Unfortunately that added about 100km to my driving for the day!

A drive there, a few fraught meetings, but everything was back on track.  Phew!

I left for the appointments, got there with 10 mins spare for the first one.  All went well until the nurse said that I needed a blood test.  Now I don't do needles very well at all (bodes well for when I start on hormones and need a baseline doesn't it?) so that sent my anxiety sky high!

Blood test complete (and almost painless as normal - why it bothers me I don't know!) it was time to get to the second hospital.  A drive across Amsterdam later and I was there.  This appointment was for a logopedist to baseline my vocal cords and arrange a speech therapist.  In theory this should have been the simplest part of the day - but in order to baseline they use a camera on a stick to video your vocal cords.  They tried a few times but my gag reflex made it imposible for them.  They tried one last time, with me more upright, and trying my hardest to relax and to begin with I thought that it was going OK.  It was not comfortable but I was not chocking. Then chocking stopped being the problem and I projectile vomited over myself, the chair and the doctor.  Great.  At that point they gave up and said that my voice was fine, and at a good baseline level for therapy and that they could go ahead without the camera.

So I left, still covered in vomit as they only had dry clothes to clean myself up with and went home to do some more work on the release - when all I wanted to do was collapse on the sofa!

Wednesday, Thursday were fairly uneventful - even though though the stress of the release remained.

Friday...  A day of opposites for me.  It was Mrs Stace's birthday so I had taken the day off of work anyway.  In the morning I was expecting confirmation of the disgnosis so I was stressed out.  And then...  Nothing.  I called the clinic and they could not find the status of my file.  I was supposed to get a call back in the afternoon, but it never happened. Such an anti-climax to the day :(

The rest of the day however went great - my in laws came over (my sister-in-law shares a birthday with her sister - just a couple of years older) and we had a great time.  Good food, some great New York Cheesecake and an amount of alcohol later we had a good evening.

This weekend?  Well the cold didn't attack again, so I have started running for the first time in weeks.  Lets hope it stays that way for the next week!

Monday, 31 October 2011

Happy Halloween!

From me :)  Well my Xbox me...

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Fighting Fruit

Last night I decided to start paying for the Spotify Premium service (more on that later).  10 euros a month does not seem too much, and I get to play the songs on my phone and a large catalogue of songs for a relatively small amount each month.

Once I paid for the account I realized that I have an old iPhone in the living room hocked up to the stereo. I used this as an iPod for a while, but seeing as it has WiFi as well I thought that I could use it for streaming and not have to try and find a way of plugging the computers into the stereo.

I very quickly regretted that decision...  I had downloaded the application to my Android phones and got it working very quickly.  I was expecting the same with the iPhone - go to the app store and download the application.  But things were not quite so smooth.

First off it wasn't connected to my network.  So I logged into my router and added it's MAC address to the filter.  OK - I am not going to count this is my complaint against the phone, I have good security on my network and it takes time to allow new devices to connect.

So MAC address entered (though it's hidden away on iOS and not that easy to find!) I tried to connect.  Several times!  The pasword screen refused to let me use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, so the password was always incorrect.

In the end I had to switch between the letter and number keypad each time I wanted to return to lower case letters.  It took some time but I finally managed to get it to work.

Go to the app store and download the free app.  Err...  No.  It refused to let me at first.  I don't know what was wrong but if I tapped the 'free' button it turned into 'Install' - so far so good - but then when I tapped it a second time it returned to 'Free'.  I had to press and hold the install button for it to actually install.

It returned me to the home screen and the app appeared to be downloading and I thought that it would be fairly quick to do.  But no...  Apple has changed their terms and conditions again and so you have to accept these new conditions.  So I scrolled down the accept button and clicked it.  And then...  You have to start the damn process again!  I was in the middle of downloading the app, why on earth did not carry on from where it had left off!

So back into store, download the app again and...  iTunes AppStore password needed.  WTF!  You just let me accept terms and conditions without me confirming me who I am, but won't let me download a *free* application without my password.

OK, enter password and the app downloads.  Doesn't run, but it does download.  I assumed that it was an incompatibility between the app and the version of iOS so I plugged it into my apple to upgrade it to the latest version.

The upgrade went very smoothly - I really don't have anything to say about that.  I plugged it in and it upgraded.  Easy.

Seeing as the upgrade was going to wipe the whole machine I decided to download Spotify from iTunes rather than on the phone again.  That was another set of problems.  I got the password wrong twice (oops ;p) and it forced me to the Apple site to reset it.  After two attempts!  Fine.  Did that and signed in.  And it complained that the computer was not authorized for the iTunes account.  It didn't offer me the chance to do it. No it made me go through a menu to do it.  Where it told me that I could only authorize another two computers after this one for my iTunes account.  I hope that I can easily remove authorizations without having the machines - I have no idea which the other two are!

So after the phone upgraded I tried to use it and... No.  You have activate your phone.  The same phone I have activated two or three times in the past!  But, fine just do it.  Oh no!  You can't, the phone doesn't have a SIM card in it! WTF!  I am not allowed to activate the phone without a SIM card!  At this point I was seriously reconsidering the reuse of the kit.  But, I dismantled my new phone and stuck the SIM card in the iPhone.  And it didn't recognize it until a hard reset.  Even then it took some time to pick it up.

Sim card in, pin code entered and activate!  'This may take several minutes.'  That was an understatement, it took a bloody age!

My Desire has been annoying me a little this week - there are things that Android phone makers really have to address to really make the phones great. I was really wondering what an iPhone 4S would be like - especially the 64GB version.  But after the crap I went though last night with the iPhone I will not be buying a new version in the future!

Apple - It Just Works.  Eventually.  When you have fought with it for hours on end.  And swore like a sailer.  And ran lots of updates.  And swore some more.

But it is pretty (well the computers, the phones not so much...)

Thursday, 27 October 2011

As requested previously...

In September Mrs Stace and I went to the UK and Ireland so go to a friends wedding, and then went for a trip to the UK to see my parents and a flying visit to Leicester to see my grandparents.  I think I have posted a basic description of the trip previously - but I don't think that I have posted pictures just yet...

These pictures are of the morning that we went to visit the Giants Causeway.  It was wet, windy but with plenty of light - and at one point we thought we were in trouble in the cliff face; but not as much as the poor American Tourist that I had to help around the a point in the cliff where the (end of) hurricane was blowing the hardest and most randomly.

The rock of the causeway itself is amazing to look at.  The black areas are dangerous, the yellow / gold are safe (when it's not in hurricane winds :p) Where they have been wet and are drying you can see the colour changing back to gold again.  Whilst it the causeway was not as large as I was expecting, it was still wonderful to visit and I'd gladly go back again (but not to the Causeway Hotel!)

Here are a few non-processed (I have to put that proviso in there...) shots:
The black and gold rock of the causeway

A couple of rock pools where the water never drains

A few of the columns of the larger of the two causeways

Just to give you an idea of how windy it was on the cliff face!  I never managed to capture the spray as I wanted, but this is the nicest that I have

On top of the causeway - playing with the camera position

And again :)

And again...

This one I have to play with a little longer, I was going for the ghostly water effect, but the light was too bright and even at the highest F number I could not open the shutter for long enough

Monday, 17 October 2011

Healthy(ish) Oven Chips

I'm English...  I love cider, salt and vinegar crisps (something Mrs Stace - and most of the other Dutch I know hate) and chips...  Whenever we go back to the UK we always have to have at least one fish and chip supper - over in Holland it's impossible to find them!

Actually, there are very few ways of cooking potatoes that I actually like...  Boiled I can do occasionally, but they are really not my thing.  The same with mash - though I am just cooking potato and spinach mash at the moment - Dutch winter recipe.  I love roast potatoes (if cooked correctly - for me that is...) and backed.  The problem with the last two is they take an age to prepare and the roast are less than healthy as well.

So when I saw a recipe for chips on TV a while a go I wondered if I could adapt it to keep the crisp and fluffy texture whilst removing the need to deep fry them - we don't have a fryer in the house and I am not planning on adding one!

So I played a bit and came up with the following:

Peel the potatoes, but keep them whole, rinse them and put them on to boil.  The time needed here will vary from cooker to cooker but on my induction (which boils water within about 1 minute) I do 10 minutes from turning the heat on to taking them off.

Put the pan under cold running water and make sure that the potatoes are completely cooled

Slice the potatoes into chips when cold - they should start to crumble slightly, but still retain their shape.  I normally cut them in to 1cm or 2cm thick chips or wedges along the length of the potatoe

When cut dry the chips off individually and put them into a bowl.  It's really important to dry them, even though it's a pain, otherwise the chips will not crisp up and stay fluffy.  After the first potato worth of chips is in the bowl add 3 table spoons of oil and mix so it covers all of the chips.

Repeat with the rest of the potatoes, only adding oil when it looks like they are not being coated - don't over oil!

Put the chips onto a baking tray, making sure that they are well separated, and place in a a pre-warmed 200C oven for 15-20 minutes.  They should be starting to crisp, but not colour at this stage.

Make sure that they are not stuck to the base of the tray - I always cook mine on a teflon sheet - and leave to cool.

Whilst the chips are cooling take a few cloves of garlic and roughly crush them, this will cause the skin to easily slip off, rather than trying to peel them still whole which is a nightmare :)  Take some red onion and roughly chop and skin as well.  Throw these randomly over the chips - use as much or little as you like to add some flavour.

Finally...  Throw the chips back into the oven for another 25 minutes - or until golden brown.  Serve whilst hot, with the onion and garlic (note - don't do this the day before a big meeting ;p)

With any luck you should have some light, crispy chips that are fluffy on the inside and have only used a few tablespoons of oil to prepare!

Sorry - no photos to show you how they turn out as I'm not that good at snapping food!  Maybe I'll try the next time I cook them!


Friday, 14 October 2011

Bye Bye Summer!

And so it seems that summer has left us for anther year...  Last week I was riding the motorbike to work in glorious sunshine, and actually I was overheating in my leathers, today I am on a train in t-shirt, polo neck jumper and with my coat (albeit my summer coat) tucked into bags handles for when I have to walk from the station to the office.

I was hoping to get some beautiful autumnal shots this year, with red, orange and bronze leaves falling from the trees as they did 12 months ago, but alas it’s not going to happen.  The trees in this year in Noord Holland have a decidedly brown manky look to them as opposed to the wonderful colours they had last year, and they just do not make as nice pictures; rather they are more depressing.  There is still some hope I suppose - there are an amount of leaves still on the trees, should they change to nice colours I’ll grab some shots and post them!

But for now it’s back to the dark mornings, wind wet and cold that we here in Holland love so much!  And maybe time to either get some heated grips fitted to the bike, or think about getting it tucked up somewhere warm and dry for the winter.

Note...  Just to prove me wrong it has of course turned out to be a really nice day here...  The sun is out, the windows are open and we are all back in T-Shirts!

Monday, 3 October 2011

I hate coming back from holidays!

I've had this page open multiple times in the last week, and every time I have closed the screen before I saved anything because nothing is coming out...

I've been stressed beyond belief over the last week, catching up on projects that have been running whilst I was on vacation, and trying to catch the fallout from other projects that exploded during my vacation.  And changes in my team that we found about about in the last couple of days that caused me stress even over my weekend.  Ug.

And of course I have been working over the news from the last session at the VU over in my head - and trying to figure out what I have to get organised before the end of the year.  Do you realise how many places your name is used?  I am up to 29 now, and I am sure that I am not there yet.  On top of this I have to figure out how I sort the different agencies in different countries, and how to make sure that the passport office fast track the passport correctly - as I will not be able to get home until they do if I come to the UK to get it!

As a result of all of that I have done  nothing over the week except for work and stress, and I guess that doesn't help the blank screen syndrome I have had when opening up the new post window.

So...  If you hear nothing from me for a week or so it's just because I can't think any more and am trying to relax!


PS Don't worry, I'm not depressed or anything else.  I just have too much on my plate at the moment :)

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Falling to bits...

No, not me. Thankfully - though it's been a little bit of a coaster ride since last week I'm happy to say that I don't have that much to say at the moment.

No, this is about my rusty wreck.  Whilst I was visiting my parents I took a look around the work so far, and the work remaining.

What I saw scared me - and made me ask my dad if it was actually still viable.  He's adamant that it is, and that whilst it's the worst that he has seen and worked on is still doable.  All it's going to take it time!  And mig welding...  And Oxyacetylene...  And new steel.  Lots of new steel!

Here's a few shots of what used to be my pride and joy!

The back...

New rear light panel and rear panel needed for this hole...

New steel!!!  The drivers side floor, cross members, heel board, inner and middle sills.  The outer sill is to be fitted once the floor is welded in place so that there is enough strength to stop the tub warping.  Gulp. 

Why there is going to be a new outer sill

And again...

The passenger floor (about the same as the drivers floor was).  That is not grey paint you can see it's holes.  Well OK it is grey paint.  Paint from the garage floor!
On the passenger side of the car there is not enough metal left to support your weight should you try and stand in the car.  And it got worse. My dad has had to rebuild the windscreen support as well.

But he assures me it'll be fine once it's finished!  Fingers crossed - he hasn't let me down with a car yet!

And to finish my own efforts at gas welding, made from three different pieces of waste steel.  I enjoyed trying this, and if I dare say it didn't do bad for someone having a first try.  Then again I had intense one to one instruction from someone who had been doing this for 11 years before I arrived in the world :)

Update and PS: Apologies to Jenny for stealing her term 'Rusty Wreck' - though I think you'll agree it's apt!

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Making my aunt cry...

The last time that my parents were visiting Leicester my mum asked if she could tell her sister.  This is something that she wanted to do a while ago so that she had someone close that she could talk to. At the time I told her it wasn't a problem - but she changed her mind, deciding that at the time there was no one else that needed to know.

This time she said that she said that as I have planning for transition she thought that it was time to tell her, and I agreed.

I guessed that she had told her when I got a very supportive text message from her.  I was going to call her at the weekend, giving her some time to think - but she was working the whole weekend and her home phone went through to the answer phone each time I tried.  The following weekend I gave her a call and we had a great chat.  Some of it about Stacy, but most of it was just a catchup as I hadn't spoken to her since February when I was last in the UK.  We also arranged that we would stay there for our stop over rather than with my dad's sister as we normally do.

So...  We got there after a long day's drive and got settled in.  Mrs Stace was not feeling well (I think I have what she had at the moment - slight dizziness and stomach cramp) and so she went to bed early, whilst I stayed up chatting about various things with my aunt.

The following day after a fish and chips supper (has to be done at least once when I am in the UK) and I asked my aunt if she wanted to meet me as Stacy - or would she rather wait until the new year.  She said she would like to see me now if I didn't mind, and if I didn't mind getting changed again before her partner was back.  Apparently he doesn't have too much of an issue - but has said that he would rather wait until I am living as Stacy before he meets me, because at the time he will see me as Stacy (which he doesn't yet).  My therapist has told me that some people work better this way, so I said OK.

I came down after getting changed and got some nice comments from her and we got chatting.  She tried on some of my shoes, as my mum had told her I have some nice ones and as she is a shoe person she wanted to try and steal some. Thankfully found she has slightly smaller feet than me so she can't :)

Anyway we got chatting again about various things, both T and non T related, and then she brought up the Livvy James story.  She said that she thought it was too soon for a child to know and asked me when I knew.  I told her I was four or five, and that it figures in my earliest memories. I think that this shocked her - she asked why I didn't say anything.  I answered that I was scared, and given the school I went to (and the attitudes there from students and teachers alike) that I didn't think that there was anything that I could do about it.

This got her quite upset, worrying about what type of life I have had and asking what quality of life I have had. And at that point she started to cry.  She came across the room to give me a big hug - though I don't know who was comforting who.

We got chatting again afterwards, but it was more chit chat than anything specific.  But I think that I can say that it was an overwhelmingly positive evening.

Oh, and she has changed her mind about Livvy :) 

Friday, 23 September 2011

Tired, Drained and Terrified

But happy...

It's been a little quiet here the last few weeks as I have not been around - or near to an internet connection most of the time.  I spent the time travelling around Ireland and the UK, and of course passing through Belgium and France on the way there and back! All in all I think that we covered something approaching 6000km in two weeks and spent nearly 80 hours behind the wheel of the car. As comfortable as the V50 is that is still a long time :)

There is the tired...

But...  That's not the only reason for the title. Yesterday, about 15 hours after getting back home I had another appointment with my psychologist at the gender team. I arrived a little late - I could not quite get into gear yesterday morning and was late leaving home. At least that is what I thought. What actually happened is that I checked the time of the appointment when I was in the UK and my phone decided that as I was in a different time zone that all appointments should also be moved as well so I assumed that everything was one hour earlier than it actually was.

So I ended up doing a new thing for the first time.  I ate lunch on my own as Stacy, in a restaurant. I don't like eating on my own at the best of times...   So I went in, chose what turned out to be the end of worst table. I chose a table next to an open window to get some fresh air, the problem was that the wind did not blow that much but the sun did make it very hot through the windows that were not open.  Thankfully I had a few appointments with a bit of a gap in between so I had a book with me - always a good defence when eating on your own and I spent what was actually a rather nice 1/2 hour eating a nice fresh sandwich.

The appointment itself was very surprising.  I had no idea what was going to be discussed this time but...  I arrived and my therapist started to talk about the official diagnosis, and we went though the diagnosis questionnaire and her recommendation letter to the gender team.  Just like that... And so I have had my last appointment, the other appointments have been cancelled and I will only go back when I start on hormones.  I have to wait until 3rd November for the gender team to discuss my case, and have to call back on the 4th to hear the official diagnosis, which will then be sent to my via post as well.

So now I wait.  Or rather my therapist at the gender clinic has told me to start planning for the end of the year - when I plan to transition at work.  I said I would wait until I got the official diagnosis, but she says that should be a formality.

There is the drained - it was an emotionally tough couple of hours - especially on top of the tiredness.

So that's it, I plan to transition at work the week before Christmas.

And I am terrified...

(Which I think is a good thing!)

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Crazy and in confusion

After week or so of really 'meh' weather, it was really wonderful on Friday and Saturday.  The sun was out, it was warm and there was just the touch of a breeze to take the edge off of it when you were outside.

It was such as shame as those were two days where I could have done with it being slightly cooler and overcast!  Our office air conditioning is broken (again) and so if it starts to get anywhere near pleasant outside it is almost unbearable inside once the sun hits the windows in the afternoon.  Due to the fact that we are on the ground floor our windows are welded shut to try and stop people stealing our computers at night.  So all we have are three tiny windows that swing open.  When it's not too bad outside they work OK, but very quickly the room just gets too hot.  Thankfully someone is coming in on Monday to fit a new machine.

Also, when it's nice we use the old school yard of the building as a meeting room.  Friday was the perfect day for this, and yet I had to annoy people by saying I had to stay in the shade (seeing as I was starting laser again the next day the last thing I wanted was to get a tan on my face to reduce the effectivity and increase the pain).

Finally, yesterday we had to dismantle all of our dining chairs, and move an old coffee table and dining table to storage.  None of which are that pleasant when it's 28 degrees with high humidity.

Last night that started to change, I checked the weather radar for Europe and saw a nice storm slowly climbing it's way north to us from France.  Which is great, as we have nothing to do today so a cold overcast day where we can't use the garden is perfect!

Anyway, we went to bed last night with it still being uncomfortably warm just as the pitter patter of rain started in the windows.  I had some sympathy for a neighbor - it seems they were having a last garden party last night, complete with lots of fairly lights (I had to do this for my BBQ next year) which they had to quickly take inside once the rain came (OK, I'll do it with outdoor lights!).

We got to sleep, and that's where it gets weird...  I woke up at 1:30 only now the rain is hammering on the window like it's trying to get inside.  I got back from a bathroom visit and it was even worse.  Flash, count to 15 and then boom.  OK three miles away.  I struggled to get back to sleep waiting for the next strike to come, I love watching thunder storms, but they also terrify me.  Or at least I thought I was struggling to get to sleep.  Either we had lots of really close strikes (we do occasionally get strikes somewhere in the neighborhood where it's almost instant Flash BANG!) and a low flying plane coming in to land at Schiphol whilst struggling a little, with lots of people panicing in the street or (and I think that this is a possibility) I fell asleep without knowing and my fears came into my dream...

But I rarely have a dream as realistic as this, and it's even rarer that I can remember everything vividly the next morning.  Maybe vaguely for 1/2 hour after waking up and then it all becomes hazy - but this is still there in completeness.  It's a little disconcerting I have to say...

PS Virtual New York cheesecake to whoever can guess where the title is from.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Bzzz, Crackle, Bzzz

And I am not referring to the sound quality of our new HD channels (the cable provider has just changed so that all normal channels are transmitted in HD - but sometimes as tonight the sound quality is not as good as it could be!!!!)

No.  I am referring to the sound made by my skin this afternoon.  After a summer break I started laser again.  This time at a dermatologists practice, once that works with the VU Gender Clinic, and I have to say after just one visit the difference between this and the previous clinic is huge.

First off they took a good look at my skin, something that the first clinic didn't.  And I mean good.  A magnifying glass with a ring light attached.

Second they went over the area slower and with more precision.  Look through the glass, gel, zap, scrap off gel and look through the glass to make sure that the hairs have actually been zapped. And then move to the next area.  Then after doing each of the zones she checked the whole face again and zapped the hairs that hadn't been caught from the first round.

She then put on some anti-septic cream, and gave me a tube to use for the next three days morning and night to prevent any infections.  We arranged another appointment and she gave me a prescription for a tube of anaesthetic to use the next time.

And throughout we had a good chat.  So whilst I may be in pain, and whilst I may be 100 euros a session worse off I think it's going to be well worth it.

Just a shame that I lost all the time with the other company.  Hohum.  As my therapist said at least the other company caused no skin problems.

After a wonderful hour sitting in the char of the pain I got home to find my in laws dismantling out dining chairs so that we could put the old chairs and dining table into storage and pick up our new one.  We have brought a green oak table - that is fresh oak not painted green ;p, with a matching set of chairs. Well, I say matching, they look the same and are from the same company - but if they are oak then I am stronger than I thought, I can pick two up with ease. I get the impression the chairs may be pine framed...

The table is most definitely oak though.  It weighed a ton :)  However, when we put the legs on it we found out that they had given us legs for a table 30cm bigger than the one we bought.  So back to the shop.  They had our legs in the warehouse.  They said.  It turns out they had gone walk about (no pun intended).

So they said that they would order the new legs, and I asked if we could get a discount - we now have to live for a few weeks without a dining table and take yet another trip to the shop to get the correct legs.  The guy at the service desk couldn't authorise that (wtf?) and had to call the store manager who annoyed the hell out of me.  'Not our problem, we haven't supplied the wrong legs, our suppliers have.'  Bull.  I pointed out that we brought them from the shop and not the supplier.  To be fair the guy behind the counter (NOT the manager) did what he could to help us.  It turns out that the table is on special offer this week, so I said cancel the order for me.  Order the table again (seeing as the they have to put an order into their supplier) and give me the discount price.  I'll accept that.

I hate computers.  With a passion.  Actually I hate programmers and systems analysts.  What should have been really simple suddenly becomes a major problem as it has to be done in such a way that the computer accepts it.  So rather than it taking a couple of minutes it took nearly 45.  But it was done, and we got a substantial amount of money back.  So we just have to live as students for a while and eat from our laps.

This evening we were supposed to be going to the culinary exhibition in the town centre, but as we were both tired from fighting the shop we decided to just eat in.  A table cloth on the (admittedly oversized) coffee table, and a spread of Chinese take away food looked very cute.  I'm sure we'll cope :)

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Ow ow ow, ow ow ow

So for a while now a colleague of mine has been saying we should go climbing.  About 14 years ago I did my 10 week basic course and got my 'yes you know how to climb safely' card meaning that I could go into any climbing center in the UK and climb without having to do their introductory course.

But, that was not long before I left the country, and my life has been too hectic to make any kind of long term commitment needed to improve my ability.  I did a few weeks here, wait a few years and then do a few more years, another gap and try again.

Today I went with my colleague (actually I have only just got home) and tried again.  After a gap of more than 7 years.  I found my climbing kit yesterday and gave it a clean.  Well I say kit.  Shoes and chalk bag is a better description.

We got there and I remembered just how much the shoes hurt!  Heels have nothing compared with a decent pair of climbing shoes!

We tried a few different climbs, and my arms started to seriously hurt.  I had forgotten that too :)  Not only is my technique awful, but my arms are not used to that type of punishment.

After 7 climbs (and a couple of hours) I called it a day.  The pain was too much and I could barely manage the easy ones!  But it was great fun - and we are going to try and make a regular thing of it.  Hopefully I can get to the point where I do not struggle to type when I am done!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

I need a new weekend!

Every year I throw a bring your own BBQ for the my department (plus partners).  I do a bring a steak, bring a bottle just because that way I don't stress about who is going to turn up.  If they do we have food, and if they don't we are not wasting anything.

So yesterday was spent playing with the new computer, cleaning the house and garden, taking a Volvo full of stuff to the local tip and putting up a couple of party tents in case it rained.

I've thrown this BBQ for the last 5 years and it has rained every single year.  This year was no exception - it came down in torrents (OK not New York / New Jersey torrents, but a lot!)  But everyone seemed to have a good time, we ate, drank and were merry.  I managed to keep track of what I was drinking so I had much less than I have in the past.  I didn't eat too much meat either, I was actually a little proud of myself for not going all out.  Until the cup cakes someone brought for dessert came out.  I had 1 chocolate, 1 lemon, 1 blueberry and then another chocolate.  And then felt really guilty!

We got the garden fire out once the rain stopped a little and it started to get dark got that going to keep everyone warm.

As we are all starting to get a little older people start leaving earlier - in the first couple of years people stayed until 2ish, yesterday most people were gone by midnight, and the last left at 1ish.  A friend of Mrs Stace was staying with us, rather than catching a train home, and the three of us chatted away until nearly 2.  I knew when we went to bed that it was too late and I was going to regret it, and indeed I do!  I'm exhausted!  I feel like I have lungfuls of smoke from the fire, and that I need to go back to bed!

Thankfully everything was left quite clean outside, and we can't dismantle the tents until they dry (June next year?) we just have the Kitchen to sort out.  Also not really that much of a problem, I just have to get off the sofa to do it...

I guess I had better do that now, my parents-in-law are coming for a drink in half an hour.  I hope that I can stay awake whilst they are here!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Less than a day... Good and bad...

Well, I've now been a Mac owner for a little less than a day.  I am beginning to learn things (like how to move the cursor by more than a single character at a time) and am playing with various bits and pieces to see test how things work.

I thought I'd put a quick good and bad points list together.  I though that it would be good to come back in a few weeks and see whether I still stand by them.

Always bad news first...

Installations are just a little bit annoying.  Well, very annoying actually.  Office installed like a dream (almost), where as Flash and Chrome were a pain in the neck!  It just wasn't intuitive for me how it installed - and what I had to do.  And once Chrome was installed I couldn't find the app!  I got it in the end, but it was more random clicking than actually figuring out what to do.

Updates...  I opened the machine and immediately installed the free upgrade to Lion (The hoops apple made me jump through to get that onto the machine made me want to throw the machine out of the window!).  And then...  About a GB worth of updates.  All of which required reboots.  So much for starting it out of the box without all of the updates that Windows needs...

It crashed on me!  One of the updates made it restart, and then it just made the bong noise over and over with a blank grey screen.  As it said 'Do not power off during this update' I dared not restart the machine.  In the end I had to hard power off to get it to do anything.  It did reboot fine (phew!) but not the start I had hoped for!

OK then the good news!

The track pad is a joy to use.  Why Windows machines cannot fit a decent sized trackpad is beyond me.  The one on the Mac is a decent size, responds well and doesn't accidentally click for no reason.  I like it a lot!

Scrolling and zooming work as I would expect.  Well scrolling more than Zooming, but neither of them are bad.  On Windows machines scrolling and zooming via the trackpad are always a bit hit and miss.  The zoom never responds how you would expect and there is an unacceptable lag there.  Scrolling is jerky, will it won't it and so annoying that I rarely use it.  On the Mac it's smooth, responsive and is exactly how you would expect.

The screen is on a par with the other laptops that we have in the house, for a machine that is only just four figures I think it is better than I was expecting.  Well, that's an understatement - looking at the Snow Leopard picture that comes with it is just superb!

And finally, the information that OSX gives back for the battery is so nice.  Time to charge is something that I find so useful, not that it has 10% left to charge, but 10 minutes.

Well, I hope that no one finds that list either gushing, or insulting.  Overall it's a probably about as good as I was expecting.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Here is the new, same as the old

You may remember that I am not a fan of Apple.  I dislike their business practices, I dislike that their rabid fanbois refuse to accept that they make shiny toys in sweatshops and that their kit does in fact also break.

I dislike that when I asked for help fixing my father in laws MacBook Pro I was told "It can't be the mac, the router must be broken.  Macs just work."  You now what, they don't.  They are a computer and they are just as annoying as any other computer!  And believe me I have tried a number of them over the few decades!  And now I feel old!

Anyway, getting back to my subject a little.  After all that I say I dislike them (you could even say hate...) I am also not a Linux or MS fangirl.  Linux annoys me, it's fine for my geek side - but I don't want a geek machine at home, I want a machine I can easily use.  MS is just MS.  Windows 7 is great, as long as you have a blank install without the standard bloatware you get when you buy a new machine.  XP wasn't bad. 2000 was good for the time and the less said about ME the better!

Every time I have looked at machines I have given some thought to trying a Mac, but the sheer cost of them to other machines (for no benefit other than an Apple logo) has sent me back to either Asus or Sony Vaio machines.  For example when I replaced my DTR earlier this year it would have been 800 euros more for the Apple for something with a generation older processor, less memory, a smaller slower drive and no BluRay writer.

Well, this is being written on a MacBook Pro 13.3" entry level machine.  The reason - cost!  It is +/- the same price as the Sony or the Asus equivalent and has a metal case.  The specs are slightly less - but it's close enough for me to take the plunge.  Especially with 100 euros off :)

So far my feelings of boot up and upgrading the OS to Lion are that of this is indeed another computer.  We'll see how I feel later, but for now it's nice.  But just as nice as my other machines.

Oh one last thing...  Mac minutes are the same as MS minutes it seems :)  Installing Lion was going to take 33 minutes.  I don't know how long it took but the minutes went up and down like a yoyo.  14 minutes stayed on the screen for a few seconds and 'Less than a minute' for about 5 :)

Here is the new, same as the old ;p

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Icky Mouse!

Midway through the vacation in France we took a trip to EuroDisney - or as I think it's officially known these days "Disneyland Paris'.

I have to admit I was a bit hesitant about this part of the trip.  I love roller coasters, and in times past we would have made lots of trips to Alton Towers in the UK when on vacation. Where we would have done ride after ride after ride until we were about ready to throw up!  But I always though that Disney was more about the Disney and less about the screaming.

It didn't help that we were only going for one day, and so only doing one park (why they split it into multiple parks is beyond me - apart from the be able to charge more of course!).  And...  The park that we were doing was Disney and not the Movie park with the 'Tower of Terror' and other big rides.

And so we turned up went though the gates and onto 'Main Street'.  I can say I was immediately impressed with how well turned out the park is!  That first street makes such an impression when you walk walk into the park.  The buildings look impressive, it is  *so* clean (other theme parks should really take note of this - I can't believe how clean Disneyland is) and really is like walking into a different country.

The first thing we did was stop for coffee whilst looking at the map.  And that was my first disappointment.  I love coffee.  I'm a coffee addict, coffee snob and even took my espresso machine on vacation with us.  So when I saw the 'Segafredo' sign I was over the moon. Nice Italian coffee beans, that produce a smooth coffee that is not too bitter.

I couldn't finish the cup of coffee is was that bad!  I never realised that Segafredo did instant coffee, but I do know that their instant coffee is as bad as everyone else's!  Add to that chemical foam instead frothy milk and the disappointment was complete!  Hohum...

Anyway...  We left the cafe and split up.  My in-laws went to the fantasy land with my niece and nephew and Mrs Stace and I went to the Indiana Jones ride.  We met long queues for the first time.  50 minutes wait before you could ride.  But...  Disney have queues absolutely nailed - again other theme parks really need to learn from this!  I don't know how they do it, but you seem to spend your time constantly moving in the queue rather than standing followed by shuffling, followed by standing still again for a long time.  We thought that had the wait time wrong when we got to the front of the queue and that it was only 1/2 an hour or so, but no it really was 50 minutes, it just felt faster.

The ride was stunning, we managed to get the front seat and as it's supposed to be a mine cart you have nothing in front of you unlike a normal roller coaster so it adds to the fear factor.  Brilliant!

After we went to find the others - they were waiting for the Dumbo ride; amazingly enough they had an even longer wait than the adult rides! And were still queuing for 30 minutes *after* we found them again.  They must have been in that queue for more than 90 minutes!  I'm amazed that a 5 year old and 2 year old coped with such a long wait.

A wander around looking for food followed, and again another disappointment.  The food was terrible, I had a ham and cheese baguette that tasted like it had been made a couple of days earlier and left in the fridge.  Awful!  I did like the look their toasted snacks that was the first choice, but I went to the loo and when I came back plans had changed and we were eating awful sandwiches.  Again  hohum.

We split up again in the afternoon and Mrs Stace and I went on Space Mountain: Mission 2, which is fantastic!  The acceleration at the start is phenomenal!  From the outside when you wait it looks rather lacklustre, but when actually in the ride it pins you to your seat.

After that we tried Star Tours.  The only ride we did where the wait time seemed terrible - but that may have been because we were worried about getting back for the others.  Whilst waiting were were worried that the ride was not going to be worth it - the intro seemed a little cliche...  But it was really fun.  A simulator with some Star Wars type footage.  It's amazing how your brain can be tricked by visual stimulation and slight movement!

We had some Ben and Jerry's ice cream - really good value, and easily the best tasting food of the day as well and met up with the others again.  For the rest of the afternoon we went on rides with the kids.  It's a small world, a boat ride though the fairy tales of Disney and a kids roller coaster.

We waited for the parade (really good, even if the text used in their songs was a little creepy) - and again the organisational aspect was shown off fantastically.  As soon as the last float went past the road was clear and you wouldn't have known that a parade had just taken place.  Amazing!

We had our evening meal, and again a huge disappointment.  Microwaved supermarket pizza for restaurant prices.  Quite how they can have some things so amazing in value and quality and others are so terrible I have no idea!

Then we watched the Mickey Mouse wizard show, with the Genie from Aladdin, the fairy godmother from sleeping beauty and all the princesses.  I had my niece on my shoulders for the whole thing so she could see.  It was a great show.  The they day was over, we did a little shopping and went back to the caravan.

And we slept really soundly!  11 hours of walking, standing and rising coasters really takes it toll!  But a great day - I would like to go back just Mrs Stace and me so we could do both parks and try to do more of the coasters!

Why Icky Mouse?  Well my nephew can't say Mickey yet.  It's so cute he starts shouting 'Icky Mouse, Icky Mouse!'

As we were going to be doing roller coasters I didn't take my camera with me, so no shots this time I'm afraid!  I was going to post pictures of the mementos we brought, but I can't find any on-line.  I'll try to get some shots and repost :)