Saturday, 11 October 2014

Still here

Just not had much time to get a post actually finished! I have started a couple. One still to come, and another that has just been deleted. I was on far too much of a downer when writing it and it was too much.

The downer is caused by issues in the office at the moment. I have just started emergency coaching as when in the office I feel about 2 seconds away from a complete breakdown (and have been on the edge of tears too often in the last few weeks). The coaching is going well, but there is a long way to go or recovery.

The good side is that except for the complete and total lack of energy (and falling asleep on the sofa too much) it is limited to just the office, it is not something I am bringing home with me!

This week has been really tiring though. The little guy, after trying it out when he was two months old, decided that he wanted anothe taste of 5th disease this week. On Monday he had high temperatue and was taken to the doctors (btw 240bhp and hearing that are not a good combination! Waiting to see if any tickets come in). The doctor originally thought it was a bad cold as he had a running nose, was coughing and wheezing a little.

The temperature dropped over the following day, but then the spots arrived...  I called the doctors again and they said 5th disease, normally he would have had immunity seeing as he had it in the past but apparently that immunity only comes after a certain age. At 2 months he didn't get it. Hopefully he will at 8!

When he started to recover though we had something that we have never had before (except the first few days). He just would not go to bed one night. He moaned when in our arms and screamed when in his bed. After spending 4 hours trying to get him to sleep we decided to give him a bottle (something he has never needed). Before it was finished he was asleep. We guess that he was starting to recover and got his appitite back. I now have even more sympathy for anyone who has a child that won't sleep at night. One night was enough to completely wipe us out!

He is doing fine now BTW. The spots have gone (expect for the ones that went hard - they are going to take some time to dissapear), he is eating, and playing on his own again. Though when he gets tired he hangs on to our ankles until we pick him up :)

So what else???  Well, a month ago I treated myself to a Sonos Connect to listen to streaming music in the living room. We've tried a few options in the past, but there was nothing that really worked well. I must admit I wasn't overly hopefull about this either (I only bought it after making sure I could return it even after unpacking if it wasn't any good).

Well, I was quite wrong! 5 minutes after unpacking it I had streaming FLACs coming from the server upstairs and it sounded so good that we moved the CDs out of the room that weekend (MP3s are fine for background music, but awful for when you actually want to listen to something).

With that and very good Spotify support connected to the amplifier via a digital link so that the DAC used to make the audio signal is the best it can be I am very, very impressed!

Of course it meant even more cables in the living room and eith that and making it as safe as possible for the little guy (we have not baby proofed the room, he just needs to learn what he can and cannot play with - but the dangerous things to him have been hidden) meant that I had to re-organise all of the equipment. That was a lotmore work than I was expecting, There were cables all over the living room and 7 years of dust bunnys from underneath the furniture that needed moving!

I worked it out that there must be about 200m (about 220yrds) of cable underneath the cabinet! 24m of just power cables! Then there are the network cables. We bought an unmanaged switch a year or so ago. I wanted a 5 port but the 8 port was only a few euros more. Good job that I did! We now have only one of the 8 ports free (if a connection can be wired then I use it wired - better signal and less traffic over the wireless link). And that is used for when we need to transfer huge volumes of data from the laptop to the server (even with a 200Mbps wireless connection a 1Gbps connection is much, much faster!).

All in all taking everything apart, cleaning everything that has been hidden, laying the cables for each bit of kit and then putting the kit back together cost me about 4 or 5 hours. Far longer than I had hoped for!

Worth it though!

Right, looking at the time I should get the little guy up and organise some breakfast for him!

Monday, 8 September 2014

An update, casual misogyny and no more compact discs

Well, after the post last week I thought an update was in order.

First of all I would like to say thanks to all of you for your kind words. I tried to answer them, but the text just wasn't coming so I thought I'd do one big update.

Dad is still in hospital, though as of yesterday he is allowed out of his room and he is walking around. The nurses have told him that he can leave the ward now, the door is open and he is allowed to go further than just the day room!

Where he went to watch F1 yesterday and today (he is where I get my interest in the sport from), but hasn't gone further as he is still too tired.

Which isn't surprising - he has lost more than 2 stone in two weeks (24 pounds / 13KG). But, the infection has gone and he is not in pain anymore and can start to eat again. All of which is great news!

He has to stay in for a few more days as they want him to start building himself up before coming home.

About the future - that has to be discussed on Tuesday with the oncologist. She agrees with the diagnosis that there is nothing to see on the scans and that he is probably free of the disease. But... She would prefer that he goes onto a somewhat lower (though how much lower we don't know) dose for as long as he can take it / mid November to make sure. He has said he is gong to try as they have removed one part of the chemo that was causing the most problems.

We'll see on Tuesday where or not he is home, but at least it's a positive update today, and for the last few days, from my mum.

How am I doing? Exhausted, though nowhere near as much as my mum is. She looks shattered, but also a lot better than 7 days ago.

This week I am off of work, not to go anywhere, but just to stay at home and do nothing. Friday 11am I finished my time for the week and that was that! We are going to buy a book tomorrow that has arrived at the bookshop and I plan to read it whilst the little guy is sleeping, or keeping himself busy.

Friday was also a party for the company where I work, it has existed for 15 years now and it was celebrated with current and past employees with a Robin Hood theme. A hog roast, archery buts set up in the school yard and most people dressed for the period. And, yes, the witch got anoher outing! No doubt there will be pictures coming as the professional photographer that we hired seemed to like my costume!

It was a great evening catching up with people that I haven't seen for a while, and some people I haven't seen before, say, December 2011... One guy was great - he came to the table where we were eating and asked if he could join. Then he introduced himself to me. I helped him remove his stereo from his lease car when he left :) I introduced myself but pointed out that he knew me, albiet a little differently. A wonderful look of shock mixed with realisation as he apologised for not recognising me (not a problem, I can't recognise me from the wedding photo on our piano either) and then a chat about it. There was someone else who almost didn't recognise me, but she has seen me since I transitioned. She came up to me whilst I was eating and tapped me on the shoulder, 'Stacy, it is Stacy isn't it? You look amazing!" Which when you consider I'm there wearing a raggedy cheap witches costume, and green eye shadow was a stretch :) But I'll take the compliment anyway!

The only problem was that the casual misogyny was also with the archery and hog roast. I was waiting to shoot with a couple of the guys that I work with, I got the bow in my hand (after being totally blanked by the guy running it a couple of time) and then he actually took it out of my hand to give to one of the other guys who were behind us. If it wasn't for the fact that raising a scene in the middle of the party wasn't my intention I would have said something.

And when I did get the bow the guy still totally blanked me and left me to it whilst he chatted to the other guys giving them tips and helping them use the bow.

The other was the hog roast, the guys in front of me got a nice slice of hog, then I came and got two tiny slithers, and then the guys behind got a nice slice again. I know I'm not the thinest person in the world, but really!

But, that aside I had a far better evening that I was expecting - I was really nauseated when I got there, as I am for any party without Mrs Stace. Self confidence is still not my thing!

And lastly, gadget news. I was going to be a complete geek for my birthday. Get a Raspberry Pi, with a HiBerry Digi+ sound card on it and download PiMusicBox to play Spotify from the net and FLAC files from our server. I've been wanting to get rid of the CDs in the living room for a while, but not whilst I could only listen to MP3s via the TV. Both a pain to use, and not the best sound quality - great for the background music but not to great for when you actually want to listen to something.

Until I was reading news about Sonos this week, removing the need for their bridge to work over WiFi. I'm not a fan of Sonos speakers as they seem really expensive and sound just about OK for a kitchen. But, their little Connect box has a coax digital out that can go straight into the back of our stereo and use the decent DAC that it has and my nice speakers for the music.

So... Wait for the Pi, fight it and struggle with setup but have the geek factor. Or buy the more expensive Connect and have it set up in minutes with a much more user friendly app to control it.

Hmm, I'm 38 now and I have to admit that sometimes the consumer option is just so much more appealing as long as it does the job. So after an amount of deliberation the Connect it was. And, yes, it really was 5 minutes from unpacking to listening to great music from the network!

So, a table full of CDs to take to the attic, and two days ripping the 20 CDs that we didn't have as FLAC yet (whilst annoying the little guy as he loves the computers and we would not let him near them :p ) and we are now CD free in the living room - and have listened to more music in the last two days than we have in the last 6 months, I think. It really is that simple!

Oh, and of course the little guy - he is doing really well still. He wasn't sure about mum the witch - I got some strange looks, Playing, crawling and desperately wanting to play with gadgets!

And being very nice to his parents - as I said, we have a week off of work, and I have woken up twice before him so far! May it continue for the rest of the week!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Still here

(Excuse typos this is not going to be much proof readong)

Without looking at the date of the last post I know that it has been a couple of months since I last posted. There are a few reasons, trying to cut down on what I am doing and spend time not looking at a couple of million liquid crystals (not really working), being exhausted and just really not in a place to write.

The last is strange really, it should be a good way of releasinhg the tension and yet everytime I have sat down...  Nothing, staring at a screen or looking at words that have been written and just thinking they are nowhere close to how I am feeling and what I need to say.

We're all OK in this house. The little guy is doing well, and still letting us sleep in a way that annoys my colleagues with children (for some reason complaing that he woke us up at 7am on a saturday morning is not appriciated by those people who count 6am as a lie in). Physically we are all in tip top shape.

My op has been delayed, yet again, for planning reasons unknown. The care given by the team at the VU is great, the planning sucks beyond belief. I have decieded that I'll beleive I am having the op when I am the table and not before - it's hopefully healthier than getting worked up (in a good way) only to be told that, nope, whilst we said August, very maybe September we are now saying very maybe October, but we don't know.

Work has settled down. I wasn't happy earlier and nothing is going to change the cause. But, I still love my job, I'm just no longer prepared to make myself ill for it. As I said to my manager great for my work life balance (I now try to work my 36 hours and not a minute more, rather than the 46 to 50 I was doin) and Christmas is going to be spent (outside of those 36 hours) with family, not firefighting major problems for 18 hours a day for 9 days in a row, as it was last year. This has also been said to my manager.

But those are not the issues either.

My dad is very sick. He was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year - about 2 weeks after the little guy was born actually.

It was caught early and should not have been a major problem. But it has been. Delays in getting the operation (more hospital planning screw ups) meant that it had spread locally before they could operate. They got everything, but it meant chemo.

And for more than a week now he has been feeling like giving up as the chemo has reacted very, very badly with him. In the words of the doctor who stopped it, it was killing him. He is now in hospital with a bad infection trying to fight both that and the remains of the chemo that has not yet flushed from his system.

And it's a rollercoaster. One day he is doing great, reading hundreds of pages of a book, and the next he is non-communicative and scaring the living daylights out of my mum.

The only good  news is that the professor at the hospital has said the emergency cat scan he had is clear. The bad news is that the oncologist still wants him to have more chemo and we don'tknow why, and dad is refusing it because of what the last lot did.

It's a very strange feeling, I look at the little guy and am so happy, and then I have this as well where I am crying on my keyboard.

Thursday, 26 June 2014


Well, after a various delays caused by my private life I have just called the hospital to say I am ready to go on the waiting list.

At the start of July I have to speak to a psychologist as you need to have spoken to one from the gender team less than 6 months before the operation and I have to have another appointment with the anesthetists as my last appointment was too long ago to be considered valid.

After that it is simply a case of waiting for an operating table. Sometime over the summer is the expectation. It could be as close as 5 weeks, or as long as 11 weeks away.

I have set this in motion now and it seems very surreal, and has freaked me out somewhat. Not as it did last year but more a 'Holy crap, this is actually happening...' way.

To be continued as the saying goes!

(PS Sorry if this makes no sense, I don't have the ability to think straight right now!)

Friday, 20 June 2014

Scary realisation

This is a bit of an emotional post, it may ramble. Sorry.

Something happened this week that has made me realise I have been answering questions a little wrong over the course of my transition.

The little guy is fine (actually, more than fine - he is wonderful :D )

And there is nothing to worry about, so please don't get too concerned.

Something happened yesterday at work that has totally thrown me. Totally. Nothing to do with the transition (I hope), but something that has made me really start to question things.

This caused me a huge amount of stress, and a few tears and a lot of anger. Not things that I am wonderful at boxing in.

I was shattered yesterday from it all,, and could barely stay awake before going to bed.

In bed was a different thing, I couldn't sleep, yoga breathing techniques were doing nothing to help and I was just in free fall.

And then I bit my finger very hard.

And then I started to think if that is a normal thing.

It's not really is it?

This morning I have done some searching and it does seem to be classed as self-harming. Which is something that I have always said I didn't do. Turns out I did - I have often done this to my arm and fingers before starting the transition as a way of coping.

Not that I wanted to punish myself, or that I felt I deserve pain, but more because it just took my mind off of everything else.

I only really thought about it last night when I did it and realised that I had not done it in years.

I'm expecting a call from my boss today (he called earlier, but I was changing the little guy and so couldn't answer the phone). We'll see what he says...

Update: had the call, made things worse :(

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Wow, customer service...

I just got off of the phone with my cable provider as a very happy bunny. (How often do you hear that!)

Our cable recorder just died on us. First it turned off, then it wouldn't turn on. Even after being physically removed from the power for a couple of minutes.

OK, then 15 minutes...

Woot, it starts. But now my EGP has two entries for a lot of channels, and for those channels when I press the channel number it goes to one that says 'This channel doesn't exist any more - retune your decoder'

Fine.  Menu. Systems.  WTF - the option to rescan the channels has greyed itself out!!!

So I called the cable company as they provided the box and after a wait got someone on the phone.

I said who I was, gave my address and was told:

"I see that this account is in the name of your husband."

Ah, yes...  A couple of years ago when I tried to change my name and title here I was told that it could only be done in writing, and I hadn't got around to it...

"Er, no. It's in my name. It's a bit of a complicated story"
"OK, can you give me your date of birth then"
"OK, and that is *your* date of birth"
"Yes, like I said there is a story behind it"
"Well, do you just want me to change it to Mevrouw?" (Dutch for Ms, Miss or Mrs)
"Er, yes please!"

Wow, I wasn't even expecting my decoder to be fixed - I certainly wasn't expecting someone to be able to fix my customer record.


Oh, and with a bit of a collaboration between him and me we got the decoder working again :p

Friday, 16 May 2014

Finding yourself

Life is streaming past at the moment and it seems that every time I sit down to write one of two things happens.

1) My brain shuts down and says enough computers already
2) I find that I don't have the time to actually do anything and end up hating what I have written.

So let's see if this one gets finished!

Lot's has happened over the last few weeks. The little guy got his first illness, the fifth disease. Normally this is not a problem for children. They get 'slapped face' syndrome, maybe a fever and feeling a little under the weather and then they recover.

When the patient is 9 weeks old doctors get nervous and concerned.Which in turn gets parents very nervous and concerned. Lots of temperature checks, lots of making sure he is comfortable. Lots of him going to  sleep in our arms rather than in his bed.

Thankfully he never managed to get to the 38 degrees, if that had happened then it was probably going to be a hospital case, even though he got very close at one point. But, he soon dropped back to normal and started to get his normal personality back, and lost his slapped cheeks.  Phew. We were beyond stressed.

He has started daycare - and is coping far better than us :) In fact he is enjoying smiling away at the nursery nurses there!

Me? I've been cleared for my operation, from a laser point of view anyway. I saw my surgeon for the first time this week. He seems a very nice guy, was very personable and actually spoke to me, not about me. Anyway, he has told me that as far as he is concerned everything is good to go, though not to cancel my last appointment in a few weeks :)

I told him I was terrified of the operation, not the results, but the operation itself. I liked his response. I would be more concerned if you told me you were not worried.

There is another delay, but I am not really ready to go into it just yet.

So the title. Nothing really to do with the above, more to do with changes in me. Obviously being a parent changes you. And in ways that I could not imagine, and can't put into words.

One of the things that has changed is that I now go out more without make-up. It has more happened from lack of time, but previously I would have been late. Now I just go out without it.  It's a very stupid thing really, and yet it's not small...

One of the other things is that I have started to look at clothes more from what I like, rather than always asking whether or not people will be asking if I am trying to hard. Literally everything in my wardrobe was brought with that question not just in the back of my mind, but on my lips. And there have been well meant comments in the past. Not saying there was something wrong with what I was wearing, but more saying I didn't need to wear it. I always steered clear of dresses. I assumed I didn't have the body shape for them, and so didn't wear them.

Until Christmas when I got a lot of compliments on my Christmas party dress - or more my wedding reception dress (for the wedding we couldn't go to in the end because of the little guy). And so I tried another just as a day to day dress. And liked it. And so I went a little OTT and have a new style. 50's a line dresses feature a lot.

And I don't care any more. I like them, I think I look OK (as good as a personal opinion is ever going to get for myself) and I'm wearing them.

Now to unwind on for the final of Master Chef! 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Away for a while...

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

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


Sunday, 9 February 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 1 February 2014

When is something offensive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 19 January 2014


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

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

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

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

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

Including the CO that the boiler produces.  Gulp.

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

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

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

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

Thankfully we have been having a warm winter so far!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 11 January 2014

A bit late but...

Happy new year all!

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

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

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

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

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


The machines crashed

On Christmas Eve afternoon

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

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

It kind of sucked.

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

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

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

And that just about covers the last month :)

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

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

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

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

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

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