Sunday, 31 March 2013

Ow!!! Woot!! Almost :(

Yesterday was a long and stressful day for me.

It started with trying to get ready in time for my third southern laser session.  I got there (exactly) on time and except for the fact that Amsterdam was a standstill with Easter traffic it was not too bad.

Until she started.  Previously the anesthetic cream has worked wonders, not feeling a thing and everything being numb to the point where I could just have a chat with her.

Not this time though...  It seems that by concentrating on making sure there was enough cream at the back that I didn't concentrate enough on the front.  From the first zap I felt it, and it grew and grew for the first ten minutes.  Really ow!

But once she worked her way backwards it seemed fine.  And suddenly she went to the freezer for an ice pack.  We can't be done this early I thought...  And we were not.  There were two spots that reacted very strongly to the laser.  So I now have two small burns and three different sorts of creams to help it heel quickly.

For the first time I was in serious pain driving back from the laser place.  And for the rest of the afternoon.  It's still sore now, but getting better!

And it being sore in the afternoon was a bit of a problem...

You see before I left for laster I had managed to read through most of the course work for the PSPO I (Profesional Scrum product Owner I) exam I was planning to take on Monday. I decided that once I had everything there were two options.  Read through it all another two or three times trying to cram as much as possible in my head (something that didn't work at uni and I don't expect it to work now...) and spend the next two days (the whole long weekend!) stressing about an exam.

Or I could realise that I had all the information I was going to get for now and just take the test when I thought I was ready.

I decided on the second option.  Finished the course notes, tried the preparation exam again (100%) and decided to go for it.

Stressed to hell I went through the questions, blitzing the easy ones, and working hard on the difficult ones.  Got to the end of the exam with only 20 minutes gone and started from the beginning again and checked my answers.

In another 10 minutes I was back at the end of the exam.  Hmm... There are a few questions that I am not sure about, but I don't expect to find the answers in the next half hour.  Finish, confirm finish.

And the results come onto the screen.  Results that I have still not got my around yet.

I passed.  And I didn't just pass, I *passed*.

But...  Last year I did my PSM I (Professional Scrum Master I) and got 96%.  Should I ever want to in the future that would allow me to progress to get my Trainer certification.

This time I only got 92%.  3% less than you need should you want to go forward.

So I am in a kind of ug place with it.  On the one hand 92% is not bad, and on the other it's not what I wanted!  But then being a trainer would be lots of consultancy work and travelling which is something I hate in a job.

But still.  It's bugging me!

I may wait 6 months and pay the $100 exam fee and have another go just to get that last 3%.  I have an idea where I lost them.  As I said after the training I am not a product owner.  I am a Scrum Master I solve problems, and I think I was trying to solve too many in some of my answers rather than stick explicitly to the framework.  The exam is evil that way.  Sometimes they want explicit answers, and sometimes they ask what leeway there is in the frame work.  And which one they are after is not always obvious!

But for now my boss is telling to me enjoy the 92%, my parents and Mrs Stace are telling me to enjoy it so I think I am going to have to try and listen to them!

Right...  Time to get changed for running, finish of the Easter breakfast bread I started last night so it can do the final proving whilst I run, and then go for the run!

Oh - and it seems that my email is screwed (again!) for the last few days. It seems that I have not received anything since Monday.  No spam in my Spam filter (which is odd as I have about 100 a day come in on that one), not in my catch all account that I use for online shopping, nor in my home account.  I think that outgoing mail is working I sent some mails last week to my work account that seem to have arrived.  I think it may be time to start using my new email addresses with people... This is the third time this year that it has gone wrong, and no word from the provider on it.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

We sitting doing nothing, working the whole day through

This week I have not had that much time for myself.  That is something that I am planning on changing in the coming weeks again!

But, we have a long weekend now so time to relax.  Almost :)

Today is my third zapping session, this time I am really going to try and make sure that the anaesthetic is in all the right places :)  After all I don't want to get a close up of the ceiling again this time :)

Then, apart from visiting my in-laws for Easter, the rest of the weekend is going to be taken up with studying and on Monday taking my exam for Professional Product Owner.  Whilst I can do well in the test exams on, I also know that the questions I get wrong (normally 1 per test) are ones that I do actually know the answer to, I'm just not reading it correctly. And I cannot afford to do that in the real exam.  We'll see.

So what else has been happening this week...  Well, the project I mentioned before is finally starting to come alive for me.  I know what I want to do, I know what needs to be done internally and, most importantly, I am finally starting to find out what the people involved last year want from it this year.

Yes, there are still lots of challenges to overcome.  Most of which I can't mention here, but trust me they are going to make it complex and difficult in places where it shouldn't be! :)

I spent a few mornings doing stress testing for a part of our system.  And I'm trying to think if there is anything more boring! You spend six hours clicking a few buttons, waiting five minutes, writing down the results and then repeating.  You also have the feeling that you are just sitting there wasting your time staring at a screen that is doing nothing. But at the end I had a nice collection of figures and managed to make some nice graphs to report to the people who have to make the decisions about SLAs.

And then...  My nemesis came back to haunt me this week.  It was the Team Foundation Server test migration day again.  Now, for various reasons this has been delayed, and then delayed some more. Yesterday it should have been delayed again, but I decided to try and fight it as it's now taking too long.

That was a mistake!  I spent 8 hours trying to get the groundwork done for the migration, and ended up 1/3 of the way through the migration itself.  Servers not correctly configured, data not being available and login names not working all thwarted my efforts to actually do something useful!

On the bright side, I had a walk and talk with my boss again where I could air my thoughts, give the updates that needed to be given, and managed to get some work that I am just not able to do taken off of my plate.  I'm pleased about the last one.  There was some work that is really important, just not a urgent as the things I am doing now.  And therein lies the problem. But it's one of the tasks that is easy to transfer to someone else, so he offered to do so.

I really think that is about it for now...  It has been a busy, stressful week - but not really something that I can explain!

Oh, my other blog is starting to come along.  I now have wordpress installed, just need to figure out how to make it useful for me...  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Lunch Bite 2: But this is...

Last week I reached a wonderful milestone.

Thanks to the wonderfully over complex bureaucracy that countries have with transitioning I now have a complete set of official documents to say who I am, and before I, or my therapist, was expecting it as well!.  I know that some people don't think it should matter, but it does to me.  If I have to produce my drivers license, passport or residency permit (as I'm an ex-pat I need one) I don't want to have to explain why the card and person holding it don't seem to match!

I got the letter a couple of weeks ago saying I could pick it up - but had to wait a few days before I could get around to it (government opening hours and all that!).

I sat in the waiting room for what seemed an age (OK, it was an age ;p) waiting for my number to appear on the screen.  Then it came.

Go to the counter and passed my passport, the letter saying it was ready, and the old residency permit.  The woman on the other side smiled and said "Oh, great!  You have everything ready for me!" (I have to ask why is that a surprise.  But I suppose that is a different story...)

She went through the documents one by one and got to the old residency permit.

"Err, but this permit if for a man"

"Yes, unfortunately"

"No, er...  This permit is for a *man*"

"Er...  Yes, that is correct.  Unfortunately.  That's why I need a new one"

"Oh! I'm so sorry, I never realised!  My apologies!"

I did explain that she really didn't have to apologise.  Really not.  I told her that in fact I took it as a huge compliment that she didn't know.

Everything was sorted with the new one in a few minutes, I paid the not as obscene as the UK documents amount of money for the new card and got up to leave.

Again she apologised and again I told her it was a nice thing that she didn't realise.

"Well, I'm glad that you take it as a compliment, but I'm still really sorry I did that to you!"

It just goes to show that there are some wonderful people working for the government as well as the jobsworths that are the stereotype!

So yes.  Full compliment of official documentation now.  A milestone I can check off.  Just my degree and the last few companies that I need to tell (the ones that make you send in letters, in triplicate, signed in the blood of a dragon type of places) and I'm sorted.

And relax and smile :)

(And there go my watery eyes again with the realisation of where I am!)

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

My dealer now knows as well

Due to hideous time constraints and exam preparations for the coming weeks I thought that I would do some shorter posts during my lunch breaks!

The first...  Well, I thought that I had told pretty much everyone that I needed to tell.  Then came a call from my dad about my Spitfire.  For those of you who don't know it's dead, and he is busy bringing it back to life.  At the moment the chassis is hanging from one garage wall, and the body tub from another.  I can't wait for photos!

But...  He had bad news, well two pieces of bad news.  One, my prop shaft was dead and needed replacing.  Ug.  Another cost I had not taken into account!  But that is an easy decision, I need a new one, full stop.

The other is more of a discussion point.  The rear leaf spring has always been really soft, it's old and tired.  But, if you match it up with some serious shock absorbers to make the car as stiff as possible then it gives amazing handling to the car - the rear end is lowered and the camber on the back wheels is increased to race set up proportions.  So I have never worried about it. With the tub off of the chassis though now is the time to decide whether or not to fit a new, non tired part.  Something I have to discuss with someone who knows their stuff.

My dealer at Jigsaw Racing Services.  Hmm...  Well, I am not going to get on the phone and pretend to be him.  I'm past that now, I'm pleased to say.  So I had to start the discussion by telling him.  And when it is someone who you care how the respond it is still hard to prepare myself.  Random people who need to know (see a future post) not a problem.  People who I know personally, yup.  Problem.

But...  I called and said "Hi, I used to be ..." and told him "But now I'm Stacy" and his reaction amazing.  Not a single pronoun wrong, never got my name wrong (and he has known me since before I moved to Holland - 14 years now!) and was so supportive.  We had a great chat about how I was coping, he asked how Mrs Stace was coping etc.  It really was wonderful.

After about 20 minutes chatting about that we got down to the business of the car.

I could not imagine a better response!  Hopefully we'll get to see him at some point this year, and as he's hoping to race one of his cars at Zandvoort next year I've offered my services as photographer for the team :)

Oh, and I'm keeping my soft spring :)  But am looking at one of his quick street engines to make it a more pleasant (quicker) drive in modern traffic.

I'm grinning ear to ear just writing this!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

And Stacy then?!

A quick anecdote from a friend of mine a few weeks back that I thought was really amusing :)

The last time that I went to have my hair cut and dyed I was chatting, as you do, and she said something that her (very clever  6 year old) daughter had said.

There was a misunderstanding about the nature of growing up, and someone made a comment about girls growing up and becoming men.

It was explained that girls grow into women, and boys grow into men.

After giving it some though my friends daughter asked 'And Stacy then?'

I couldn't help but laugh at that - perfect use of logic!

(It was explained that I had always felt like a girl, and so I was still a girl that grew into a woman - but I still love the logic of the comment)

Damn, blood pressure again!

It's been an interesting week...

But let's start with what you already know.  The pain in my leg, ankle and foot is almost gone, thankfully, and I'm getting back to normal.  The bruises have decided to make an appearance, so my toes and ankle did turn a lovely shade of purple - but that is also starting to go now as well.

It has caused me some issues though :)  I saw some lovely shoes this week, and as my summer heels have seen better days I thought that maybe it was time for a new pair.

Err...  No. The shoes in the shop were as small as child sizes - I take a euro 39 / 40 depending on style and the size 40 pair in the shop were still about 1 cm too small to even get my foot into - let alone be a bit too small!

So... Onto another shop, one of our favorites.  There were not too many styles to choose from (I don't like the shoes this season!) but one pair were quite nice.  Beige suede, and just the right height for what I was looking for.  Only...  The 39s pinched a little too much, and I walked out of the 40s.  Hmm...  OK, I know the bridge of my foot has swollen a bit, and apparently so has the toe.  Lets abandon the shoe shopping until my feet are normal sized shall we.  I hate failed shopping trips!

But...  That was the end of the week, time for a flashback to the start!

I have taken over the project from a colleague so that he can concentrate on a new project that he has.  It's an evil one, that when everything works is going to be great, but getting to that point is going to mean that multiple companies are going to have to work together, and at the right pace and understand each other.  And therein lies the problem :)

So, on Monday the project started for me for real.  A trip to one companies offices to discuss last year, and to see where we are going to take the project this year.  Fine.  No stress at all.  Zero history and scared witless of sitting silent in a meeting for 2 hours feeling a complete failure and fool.

On the way discussed some of the history with my colleague.  Got there fine, and into the meeting.  And yes, sitting there silently as I listened to the evaluation of the last year, not being able to make a good contribution.  Lots of notes, and actions for me, but nothing really to say at that point.  Hmm...

Still, it improved.  They asked about our implementation of SEPA and it was something that I know a lot about (being involved in the pre work to see what we have to do, and knowing what the really annoying and difficult problems are!)  At last I could speak, and actually I quite enjoyed it!

We agreed on what we needed to do, and closed the meeting and left for home.

Or that was the plan.

Unfortunately my colleagues car other other ideas.  Whilst changing gear it suddenly revved uncontrollably.  Hmm...  He tried a second time, and this time it just went insane.  Hazard lights on and over to the hard shoulder (emergency lane - thanks Cass!).  Keys out, but no difference, it's still revving well over the rev limit of the engine and the smoke coming out of the exhaust has put a solid smoke screen across both directions of the motorway.

Only once before in my life have I been that scared of a non moving car.  That was when the AA set fire to my first car by removing what the guy said was 'dodgy, cowboy wiring' but which was in fact the main fuse for the car.  2 hours later the engine bay caught fire whilst I was driving.

This was the same feeling.  I just wanted to get out of the car and as far away as possible!  I wasn't worried about fire this time, but flying con rods and pistons should the engine really let go.  I ran up the embankment (not easy when it's overgrown with brambles and is loose sand, and I am wearing tights and heels). And filmed it for my colleague, he wanted some proof of exactly what it did.

The first tow truck came and moved the car to a safe place.  We got to a rest spot and my colleague called the rescue service, just as his phone died.  So he needed my number in case they needed to contact him again, so I had to try and write it on the back of his hand.

The ANWB (Dutch AA) guy came and very simply said it's dead - you need towing.  So they arranged that the truck that picked us up from the motorway would take us to get the hire car.  As it was bloody cold, and I had no coat with me we waited in the truck whilst the loaded the car onto the back.

Oh...  And tight(ish) skirts are not the outfit of choice for either climbing the embankment, or climbing in and out of break down trucks! :)

We eventually got the hire car and started on the way home again.  And saw the time :O So...  he offered to make me some food as it was going to be very late before we reached the office, and I had another 45 minutes from there to home (I was assuming that the traffic was going to be fine at that hour!).

Now I need another flash back...  Whilst we were waiting for the car to be loaded a second time he told me that the first guy assumed I was his girlfriend.  The second assumed I was his wife.  Quite outside of the wonderful feeling I took from that (could you ask for more of a compliment from complete strangers!?), it made a wonderful 4 part joke.

In one day...  I went from having a guy ask me for my number for the first time.  To being his girlfriend.  And then his wife!  And he cooks for me!!!!! ;p

Not a good end to the day (especially for him, I feel so sorry for what has happened!) but there was something that we could laugh at, at least :)

And...  Seeing as I think that is quite enough for you guys to have to read in one go I think that I'll give you a rest now, and type the rest of the week up later :)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Quick Ow

Very, very quick post!

I had a very full day yesterday.  I'm currently doing my PSPO training (Professional Scrum Product Owner), hoping to get certified in the coming two weeks when I get the courage to do the exam!

After a long, interesting day my head was full of information (and ideas for the office) and as we finished earlier than planned I took a small detour on the way to my sister in laws (we eat there once a week) and picked her up from the office.  After getting lost as her office building is supposedly too new to be in the Sat Nav!

Once home (after a great evening with my in laws as normal) things went really wrong.

I went up to the attic to feed the cat.  On the way down I checked to see that he was OK (instead of looking where I was going) and slipped at the edge of the steps.  I managed to stop myself by grabbing the handrail, but not before falling half a flight of twisty, open steps and getting my foot trapped through one of the open steps.

Awful feeling when you think that you are about to break either your leg or back and there is nothing you can do.  Thankfully catching the handrail stopped serious injury, but I don't think I have ever heard the sound I made coming from me before - kind of terror mixed with pain.

I think I am not working our tonight - I kept screaming in agony whenever I put pressure on the pain points through the night (apparently even when asleep) and whilst it doesn't seem too bad when sitting still now, whenever I move it all comes back...

Oh well...  Time to finish my cappuccino and get to the second day of the training.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

It's bloody freezing!

Well after the excitement of last week I managed to keep this week a little sane. I spent the week doing more normal things, and almost working normal hours.  Almost J

So what has been happening…  Well, I have been freezing my butt off running through the week…  I’m actually really happy about how well that’s going at the moment.

I was starting to get really fed up that I was running as hard as I could, pushing myself throughout the run and getting home knackered.  And it having precisely zero effect on my figure (which I will admit is the only reason why I am running J).

And so I did some research (which is not undisputed…) that talks about zones.  So I am giving that a try now.  Trying to keep my heart rate below 146bmp, and trying to run for 50 minutes.  Why 50 minutes?  Well, basically just because I can’t face the thought of spending 1 hour running.  50 minutes, even though it’s only 10 minutes shorter just seems to be less of a psychological barrier.  Running for an hour or more seems a long, long time to spend 2 or three times a week.

Anyway…  Last week was gorgeous! Wonderful sunsets, running in t-shirts and being warm.  In fact it was almost like it was March and not December.

This week it’s been cold, wet, miserable, cold, freezing and even snowing.  And cold.  When I ran on Monday it was that bad that for the first 1.76km I could only feel pain in my fingers.  Nothing but pain. At that point I was thinking that it was a mistake and maybe I should just go home.  But being bloody minded, and just a little stupid, I decided that I would carry one.

By the way, did I mention that in the wind chill it was -10 and I was in capri length running shorts?

At the 1.77km point (I checked my running watch J) I noticed that I was no longer in pain and carried on with a smile on my face and ‘Save Me’ in my ears (very apt, considering the cold).  That was until about 3km into the run when I was running east to west and had the very cold and bitter north wind blowing on my right hand side.  Then my left was nice and cozy from the running, and the right freezing from the run.

For two kilometres. It was decidedly unpleasant. And got worse… Because at 5km into the run I turned north onto a very long straight road that acted like a funnel for the north wind that I had to run into.  Then I was just cold for the rest of the run (another 2 and a bit km).  By the time I got home my skin was red raw from the cold from my shins to my neck.

When I got back Mrs Stace said she was surprised that I had actually gone running.  I said I was considering not going, but decided that I didn’t want to be a wimp.  She answered that not running in -10 was not being a wimp, it was being sensible.  Maybe she had a point.  She normally does J

Anyway, it has warmed up a little in the last week, Thursday and today I was only shivering when I got back and not red raw too!

I really hope it warms up soon though – when they weather went nice I booked the car in for its summer tyres.  The next day it snowed, and the day after that it snowed and froze.  It could be worse, my boss had his summer tyres fitted the day before it snowed (how is that for timing!)

And lastly, as I have to go and bake a New York Cheesecake for the office, I’m starting a new blog.  It’s going to have some overlap with what goes on here with running posts and the like, but will be more geared towards my professional life (Team Foundation Server, Scrum, .Net development, leading a development team)

So why the two blogs?  Well, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and the main theme of this blog, and the main theme of the new blog just don’t sit together and have two different audiences.

Someone looking for insight into how to create a reason list in a TFS WIT file is probably not going to be interested in my journey as chronicled here.

Someone struggling with their gender identity is probably not going to be that interested in why Scrum Sprint Reviews should never just be called a demo and the damage that can be caused by doing that.

Sure some posts will cross the boundary, and they will be posted on both blogs.  And anyone interested in the more technical side of me is quite welcome to come and take a look at the new blog.  When I decide on a name and get it started.

The first posts are going to be along the lines of:
  •  What I want to see in a CV
  • A post about why you should not call Scrum Reviews ‘a demo’
  • Why you should question product owners wishes, and why you should KISS

As I say, when it’s there I’ll let you know J

Right, time to start baking!

Monday, 11 March 2013

These (Tech)Days

Well, I suppose I had better start with an update on last week.  Whilst it has been sitting with me for the whole week, it’s not something that has been dictating my life for the week.

As I said last week I am going to avoid baths for the time being and stick with showers.  Due to sheer volume of water that it takes to fill a bath it’s not something that I did regularly anyway.  The only problem of course is that as soon as you make that decision, you start to think ‘I could really do with a long soak right about now!’  Hohum.

So…  What have I been up to in the last week?  Well it’s been a long one, but it’s also been a lot of fun!

The consultants that are helping us with our TFS migration came by this week to perform the second test migration of our server.  A few weeks ago they came for the first attempt – where they did the migration themselves, writing a run book along the way and seeing what problems our setup could throw at the process.

This time I was in there with the consultant running through his run book making sure that it made sense to me, and that it provided us with the desired result.

Due to a last minute appointment I was running a little late on the day, so I only started at 10am, by which time he had made sure that ICT provided all the correct files for the migration (I don’t mind not being present for that as it’s something they are going to have to do on the migration weekend itself).

So I got there, checked my mail and my boss told me to have an enjoyable day migrating the machine.  Hahahaha.

We started the process from the initial snapshot that we took of the other machine last time.  So Windows was installed, SQL was installed and we could just get started.

Going through the first couple of hours everything seemed to be going so smooth, restores completed, SharePoint databases were converted to the in-between state (we were jumping several versions, so we needed a middle point) and backed up ready to transfer to the final machine.

Then when everything was in place we started the upgrade procedure, and that is where everything stopped.  Instead of it slowly going through the upgrade steps over two hours, it just did nothing for three hours.  The server was not amazingly busy, but the physical memory was totally full…

Anyway…  To cut a long, and boring, story short the migration that should have taken a few hours took nearly 10 in the end, and I ended up leaving the office at nearly 8pm!  That is a full ½ day longer than normal (although I did not get the office on time, I did start at 6:40am at home!)

So…  No running (which was my plan for the evening).  No healthy food (just cold creamy bacon pizza from Dominoes).  And a very, very tired me.

And yet…  The company I work for was on television that night, on a consumer affairs program and the website was hugely busy.  With being home so late I had not even remembered this, right until I got a call from my boss to tell the web site was dead, and could I call our data provider as everything seemed to be hanging there.  I said that I had not noticed, as I had just got home from the test migration and had not yet finished my dinner.  He was very good at that point, and offered to take over my normal role in these situations (I am the contact point, and responsible for the site running as it should run – so it should have been me taking the lead here!) and told me to relax and enjoy what evening there was left.  He just asked me to make sure that there was a  meeting arranged for the next morning to get all those involved in one room for a stand-up meeting to discuss the plan of action to try and make sure this situation could not repeat itself.

I did this, and by the next morning there were about 40 emails in my inbox from the conversation that went on until 1am (seeing as I get up at 5:45 I was pleased not to be a part of that).

The next day was pretty much taken up trying to see what went wrong on the website the night before.  Unfortunately the only things I was able to find in our error logs were unrelated (but still things that need fixing so I asked the business to create and prioritise the bug reports needed).  I was zombiefied from the day before and sitting trying to write SQL statements to filter all of the unrelated errors (without filtering out useful information) was a pain in the neck!

But…  It was a gorgeous day, the sun was shining and it was really warm.  By the time it came to leave (much later than I had planned – another 9 ½ hour day!) the sun was still shining and I was really looking forward to getting home, getting changed and running without a jacket on for the first time of the year!

I got home (late) got changed and by the time I left the house the sun was just about still visible over the horizon.  Not the run I had planned, but the sky was still such a beautiful peach colour as the sunlight reflected and refracted in the clouds that it was still wonderful!

The only issue was that I left my armband at home that lights up at night, and by the time I had done 5KM it was really needed.  I got home just as dusk was really descending – tired but happy J

The following day I knew that I was going to be rushed.  I had the last two days of the week off, as I was going to a conference, and was leaving early as I was meeting someone in Amsterdam.

Honestly, what I did has gone.  Just gone.  The day was rush from one thing to the next trying desperately to get everything sorted in time!

Except…  One meeting I had with my old boss, who is now a business unit manager and needed a tool.  We have something similar for another business unit and he wanted to save time by reusing some of the architecture that they already have.  Now, that one is necessarily complex and not fault tolerant in the slightest.  It also lacks documentation about how it’s made, why it’s made in the way it is and how it connects with the rest of the systems. (Cass – we need you!)

So we were trying to figure out just how it was going to work, and just how complex it was going to be – going backwards and forwards with requirements and ended up envisioning this major, complex system that was going to die constantly and be difficult forever more.

And then it hit me, just what he was trying to achieve.  Strip out the wish to reuse architecture that wasn’t actually needed and you ended up with a system that is going to be inherently useful for the users, simple to develop and best of all use completely standard systems so there is no horrible deployment configurations to organise, or try and keep safe.

After checking with everyone involved that I wasn’t being stupid and it really was as simple as it seemed I arranged a requirements workshop for whilst I was at the conference (I would have liked to be there, but sometimes it’s just not possible) and was left being quite happy with the way my neurons suddenly sprang to life.  It really is the part of the job that I love!

In the bi weekly team meeting that followed I gave a quick update on what I was doing, and included this, and was taken aside by my boss at the end.  It seemed everyone expected this to be quite some work and he was planning to try and get some extra capacity from another team to help develop the solution and was over the moon that it wasn’t actually needed.

And finished with, “You’ve earned your money today, go and enjoy yourself in Amsterdam with your Friend.”  I can’t think of a better way to end a meeting J

And…  That brings me onto going into Amsterdam to meet a friend (the wife of our best man) who I had not seen literally in years.

I parked the car in a small town (and small space – the wheels of the V70 were on the white lines on both sides of the car!) outside of Amsterdam and caught the train into the centre.  If I can avoid driving into the centre of Amsterdam I will, and if I can avoid paying stupid amounts of money on parking the car there I will!

We met up outside of Central Station and went to sit at a café for coffee (seeing as I had to drive…).  Now remember what I was saying about the weather the day before, as in sunny, warm and decidedly spring like?  Well the next day was supposed to be similar.  So there was me in a nice skirt, jumper and jacket drinking the coffee.  Whilst my fiend was sitting there wrapped up in a thick coat.  She had the right idea – I ended up shivering!

But it was really nice to catch up again and we sat chatting and drinking for an hour or so before she had to meet up with her colleagues again (there were there for the day).

I missed my train to get back to the car, and so I decided to see if there was a nice café at Central Station.  There was, one that I had not been in for years – the 1st Class Café.  Built on the site of the old 1st Class waiting rooms if I remember correctly. And wished that I had thought of that when we met.  Much nicer atmosphere and warm!  I had another coffee and took in the room – it is very art deco and very nicely decorated.  And surprised myself.  I don’t like sitting somewhere by myself, and immediately took out my e-reader to hide behind.  But…  I didn’t actually use it that much.  I just took in the room and relaxed.  Even made eye contact with other people in the room as I was taking it all in.  It’s something I can rarely do, and was all the more special for it!

So… That brings us to Thursday.  TechDays NL in Den Haag.  I work exclusively with MS software and systems.  And the chance to see what is new, what has changed, and get some tips and tricks is always good.

I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go this year though – like I said I’m quite busy at the moment – until I found out that a couple of the people who helped us with our TFS migration recently were giving talks on TFS and how you can use it.  Well, seeing as I know how much they know about the system (they were the only ones who we saw that convinced us they knew what TFS was, let alone knew how to do one of the most evil migrations I have ever done!) I thought it was an opportunity that was too good to miss.

So there was me, two days wearing a T-Shirt trying to get people to work for my company.  Which has a picture of a camera on it.  Which on the t-shirt on me sat in a rather unfortunate place! Rushing from teak to talk, taking notes upon notes during each one.  Ranging from front end web development, to back end web development to the ever wonderful TFS server (actually, I lie.  I like TFS when it’s set up right, it’s just a pain!).

After two days of this I had lots of tips and tricks, I had some nice talks with the speakers that came to do our server who are going to send me some files to make our server even better and I was exhausted! Information overload from the 10 75 minute sessions that were all quite deep in their technical level.

But I enjoyed it a lot!

And finally…

Well, actually not finally.  This is only until Saturday morning, there is more from this week but that’s another story!

Due to the conference I had missed a day’s exercise and so decided that I was going to do it Saturday morning.  And then I woke up!  Rain drumming on the window, and the wind blowing around the street.  I checked the weather (I could always do my indoor exercises that day and do the running the next).  Err….  No.  Really not.  Rain, windy and cold today or snow, windy and freezing the next day.  I choose to get wet! J

By the time I got back I was soaked to the skin, my hair was stuck to my face and I was a little cold.

But I had also cut 4 minutes from my time whilst keeping to the heart rate that I was trying for.

An excellent end to an excellent week!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Busy week, busy weekend!

Just a very quick post to say thank you for the concern from my last post.  I'll be lying if I said that I was over it, but it's not something that is bothering me minute to minute.

But...  I've had a very busy, and very good, week and just have not had the time to write it up yet :)

I'm busy with it, and lots of other things, but watch this space - it's coming soon! :)


Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A bit of a low...

I had a great weekend.

Saturday was spent relaxing a little.  A walk to the shops to get (a) the things that we forgot from shopping the previous day and I managed to find a new pair of running shoes (more on that another time) as mine were getting a little old and no longer cushioning as they should.

Sunday was busy, but good.  We are both exhausted at the weekend from working and whilst the house is always kept clean, it is normally far from tidy.  And I hate that!  So the morning was spent clearing the living room, beeswaxing the two oak tables (they always looks so amazing when they are done), taking all of the glass bottles and paper to the recycling bins down the street and generally having a living room that we could be proud of again!

After that a run, in my new shoes :), along my normal route and trying to keep the pace down.  Yes, down.  You see I found out that the pace I was running at was, as well as being exhausting, not the right pace for what I wanted.  I've been running in a way that builds stamina, and hopefully at some point pace.  And I have not been losing weight or size which was my main idea.

So I have slowed right down.  From 160 to 165 bpm down to 140 to 150 (averaging 145).  This means I'm running longer, but I am enjoying it more and I am not collapsing when I get home.  I've also heard that this doesn't help with the weight loss, but the way I see it is that trying it for a month can't hurt.  I'm still getting my pulse going and burning calories so hopefully it's a no lose option!

After that run, and after cleaning all day, I dived in the bath - with a laptop set-up to watch the Ground hog day.

And then I made the best vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese I have ever tasted (I know you are not supposed to say that about your own cooking - but I really enjoyed it!).  Red onion, garlic and chestnut mushroom base.  Add a chopped sweet paprika and a coarsely chopped courgette and allow to soften. Chop a handfull of green asparagus and throw into the mix.  Salt, pepper and add Italian herbs to taste.  Stir regularly to make sure that nothing sticks and once everything has softened to your liking add a pack of sieved tomatoes to complete the sauce.  Allow to reduce for 10 minutes and server hot over fresh tagliatelle.  Wonderful with a refreshing white wine.

So why the low?

Well the bath.  I've said for a while that now I have transitioned it's going well for me.  So well in fact that except for bathroom breaks and taking a shower I don't think about it too often.

Well...  I shower in ten minutes, and spend much less time on bathroom breaks.  Sitting in the bath for 90 minutes was a bad idea.  The first 45 - warm water, lots of bubbles - was really OK.  Enjoy the film and the cider that was there with me.

The second 45 minutes just seemed to get more and more depressing and heavy. The bubbles were gone, making everything 'there', and the longer I stayed there the more I moved.  And when you move in a deep bath things float and move in the water.  Before the film was over I was in tears and stressed to hell.

In the end I very quickly got out of the bath, dried and dressed without doing any body lotion that I was planning on.  I just wanted to be covered.  Mrs Stace came in too see what the problem was and I broke down and could not speak to her (which got her quite worried as you can imagine) for some time.

In the end I calmed down and started to feel the evil crying headache that had put itself into my head.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful, and I'm glad I listed it here as I had forgotten the good bits until I did, but it was all ruined in those 90 minutes.

 I am *not* taking a bath until after I have been in hospital for a week :( Which I hate - we spent some money on bathroom furniture to be able to squeeze the bath into the bathroom when we remodelled a few years ago and it's now going to be semi wasted for I don't know how long.  Phooey.