Doing my bit

My job is not one that lends itself to working from home; a large part of it is based on speaking to people as they come in and firefighting little problems as they arise, neither of which is particularly easy to do over the phone. Also, there are many difficulties in working out how to actually get onto our network from home and inefficiencies in the work-arounds that we’ve had to put in place.

That said, looking at the massive problems that both of my usual train journeys would have during the DOG, and today especially, have forced me to try and work out some alternatives. My options are limited; one train journey goes through ground zero for train disruption, the other goes through St Pancras which is hardly an easier option. Driving isn’t an option, what with my only route options involving roads liberally painted with the Five Rings o’Doom. So: on some days, I’ve had to decide to work at home.

I’ve not done that in quite some time, since moving over here really. I’ve got plenty to do (for a couple of days at least), and will hope to arrive back at work with a new accounts package, a few HR things and generally a better idea about several projects that I need to do. So it should be good.

It’s difficult, however, to get on with doing work when there’s a staffie-type dog in the house. Because you can be happily typing away without a care in the world, when suddenly your elbow feels damp…

Lovely animal, Roxy is. But why she’s obsessed with licking my damn elbow, I’ll never know.

Can I arrange a bulk licence?

Rarely is it that I find a piece of technology that I think should be worked in to most aspects of work, but damn it, I have today.

My advice to ANGRY EMAILERS is this: don’t write drunk, arsehole. But if you must, and you lack all self control, check out this anger-o-meter. It may save you from shame, lost friends, lost jobs and found lawsuits, down the line.

Called ToneCheck, this Outlook plug-in ‘identifies and flags “emotionally charged sentences in your email message”. Just like a spellchecker for ARSEHOLES.

The developer, a Canuck firm called Lymbix – tagline: E-mail lives forever. Prevent flame wars and litigation with ToneCheck – cites research that email messages are interpreted incorrectly half the time. In other words, even if you don’t mean to be PISSY, your CRAP WRITING SKILLS REALLY GET UP PEOPLE’S NOSES.

Obviously, being as how I work in an office and with lots and lots of people who work in offices, Outlook is used a lot and many many messages arrive in my inbox from Outlook. So anything that lowers the amount of twattishness in said emails would be a winner.

So my proposal is this: someone contact Lymbix and see how much a bulk licence would cost for, say, everyone in the NHS. And then we put our hands in our pockets, and get that licence bought. Because the world would be a much better place afterwards.

Who’s with me?

A fantastic policy

Cameron is to ban mobiles in Cabinet meetings. This is a fantastic idea, and one that I’m all for rolling out to more places.

For one thing, it would have meant that I couldn’t have read about the above story on my mobile while slightly bored in a meeting yesterday afternoon. Which would have meant that I might have been paying more attention and thusly have avoided reading the minutes and saying when did I agree to do that?

Aw damn it. I forgot

I’m generally not one for terribly worthy causes and their respective days. Earth Day sees me kicking trees and using that little bit more accelerator than is strictly necessary. No Smoking Day sees me tempted to light up a cigarette, despite the fact that I’ve never smoked. Turn-Your-Lights-Off-To-Save-Gaia day sees my house lit up like Christmas tree.

So it was with a heavy heart that I discovered that this week is Walk to Work week. I already do walk to work, where possible I walk from work to meetings and between workplaces. In the eight months I’ve lived here I think that I’ve driven to work a dozen times and taken the bus half that.

So how do I register my non-compliance with this weeks theme? I know – by not walking a step more than is necessary. None of the usual detours over the Heath or to Tesco; no gentle meanders through the more picturesque streets. Just a straight slog from the flat to the desk, and make it abundantly clear that I’m only doing it because I normally do, not because it’s a fad to.

That should show my lack of support quite clearly. Hurrah.


I have to say, what with the ongoing news from the North, and the general tone of the facebook statuses from people there, I’m quite glad I’m not there at the minute. Couldn’t be doing with that just now – this is the first year I’ve been in charge of a proper year end operation, and me being me, I’ve left quite a lot of it to the last minute.

So, I’ll be off to work now. To swear and curse and pull my hair out, as I try to get things organised before the 1st of April.

Which is boring, and stressful, and all that. But hey, at least I can rely on the electricity, which is more than can be said for most of the Norn Ironers.


1730 on 020908: a time and a day that will live forever in the minds of those poor sods stuck behind my work firewall.

For it was then that a new police seemingly came into regarding Facebook:

Reason: The Websense category “Social Networking and Personal Sites” is filtered.


Balls. No need for that sort of behaviour at all…

By my own damn petard

I don’t hide this blog; that’s my picture on the right and my name right above it. Search for me on google and you’ll find me here. Hell, I’ve even appeared on a radio show where literally dozens of people heard me make a tit out of myself. Look for me on facebook or MSM and there’ll even be a link on my page.

That said, I don’t really advertise. I don’t introduce myself to people as Ed Hillan off of If someone makes the connection (hi mum!) without being told, that’s OK, but if people from meatspace don’t read the blog, I’m perfectly happy. Means I don’t have to watch what I say as much…

Unfortunately, sometimes things get across. The leaving card from my last job, at which I don’t think I ever mentioned this place, featured a couple of ‘keep on blogging’ comments. And this morning a not-entirely-welcome conversation happened.

Boss: Ed, you should do us a newsletter for us. Staffing changes, changes to working practices, good news/bad news, our clients need to be told.

Me: Er, OK. I’ll see if I could pull something together. It’ll largely be made up shit for space filling, though.

Boss: Good good. I’ve read the blog, I know you can do that…

How rude. No need for that kind of attitude.

Once again, I’m impressed

Despite misgivings, I have to say that the good folks of Belfast have impressed me once more. Not only in the adjustments to driving style, although they were both excellent and considerate, but in the way that people actually went to help others. I’m not used to such consideration.

For example, on the helping front: anyone I saw with any indication of their car being stranded in a drift was helped by passers by. Helpful passers by? In Belfast? I near died of shock…

And on the driving front: plenty of space left to everyone, two lanes generally reduced to one for reasons of leaving such space. Nobody pushing any limits. And not a single honking of horn.

Of course, now I’ve arrived in the office, I find myself alone… Oh wait, here comes someone else. And they’re accompanied by child, because the crèche is closed.

Joy of joys.

Oh well

Over my several years as a doorman, I’ve had to attend a few first aid courses. The theory being that we’re meant to be their to look after the customers, and that could conceivable include giving them mouth to mouth in the case of them trying to pop their clogs in our establishments.

Obviously, the likelihood of said customers being nothing more than incubators for many nasty diseases is quite high, as is the likelihood of them doing their very best to either bite us or chunder all over us. So some of the establishments I’ve worked in have been nice enough to offer little one-way plastic valves to us, allowing us to ensure that the customer gets the life-giving, yet foul smelling, benefit of our breath, while we don’t get the dubious benefit of a taste of their partially digested dinner.

Now, in my years on the door, I’ve never seen anyone need mouth to mouth, let alone be in a position to have to give it. For which I’m very thankful. But various laws, council policies and insurance company instructions require me to be current in the theory of it; the implication being that I would then be bound by various rules to give first aid, including chest compressions and mouth to mouth, should the situation arise.

There are similar rules for the day job, which is why I spent yesterday afternoon playing with Resussi-Anne and a few doctors and nurses. Where I discovered that, apparently, the giving of mouth to mouth is entirely optional, based upon the moral and ethical feeling of the giver at the time. Because of the possibility of getting a disease or the unpleasantness of the chunder, apparently.

This confused me; why was this choice never mentioned in the door courses? Why were we told we had an obligation to help in a dark room full of drunks while office workers and doctors are told to make their own decision? Is it because doormen are thought of as to daft to make that decision, or because a drunken twat who’s tongue has been swollen by narcotics is more worthy of saving than the guy who’s given himself a cardiac arrest by lugging a toner cartridge up six flights of stairs?

I can see why there should be a choice there, I really can, but why wasn’t it mentioned by the various council officers and ambulance types who trained me recently? Eh?

Sadly, it’s true

Said Mia Wallace, in a masterpiece of the motion picture genre:

When you little scamps get together, you’re worse than a sewing circle.

The implication being that groups of men, employed in a line of work that can involve a degree of physical violence, can gossip quite a bit.

Which I’d like to be able to deny, but am unfortunately not in a position to do so. As was evidenced by the appearance of a well know local political figure in the workplace this evening. Which was followed by much silly talk.

  • Here, is that …
  • And why hasn’t he brought the minder out?
  • And who’s that with him, it’s not the wife…
  • Which wife? Did you no hear the scandal?
  • Sure someone was telling me that all the wimmen love him, means there must be hope for us all…
  • Did I not hear that he’d fallen out of favour over thon …..

And so on, and so forth. But never fear, dear reader, for a veneer of professionalism was maintained at all times. Isn’t that why they give us radios that the public can’t overhear? To allow us to indulge our sewing circle without appearing to?

For information, it’s not who you think it is, and that’s final.

Strange workings out

Originally, I had planned a fair bit for this weekend. Saturday, especially, had a few things pencilled in during the day that would be better off done than not done.

Then someone informed me that there was a birthday celebration on Friday night that I would be attending, and that it would be a fairly hefty celebration. And that I would be heading to it straight after work.

This caused some disruption to my Saturday plans, so I got busy clearing Saturday for a heavy headache and nothing else. Because experience has taught me that nights out with this particular crowd result in a very, very painful recovery that lasts up to three days.

And so I went to work on Friday night, expecting a quiet shift, a loud drinking session after it, and a sore head. Then circumstances intervened.

  • The quiet shift became somewhat more fraught when we ended up a man down, due to said man’s child being admitted to hospital at short notice.
  • Halfway through the shift, the birthday boy ended up being removed from the drinking and sat round the back of the workplace with iced water, coffee, and a few towels to stem the bleeding. Because of …
  • … the birthday boy’s brother being given a very reasonable choice by the lovely lads of the PSNI: walk away now or be put in the van.

So it was decided that post-shift drinks in the workplace would be less than ideal, from a public-relations (or, more honestly, from a boss-relations) point of view. So me and a mate decided to head further afield, where the tastiest pint of Guinness in a long time was had, along with a nice chat.

And I now have a clear Saturday with which to do nothing. Which I count as ‘bliss’.

So, some cluttered plans were scuppered by some nasty circumstances, but in the end it’s all worked out quite nicely. If only more of this could be arranged…

Timing is everything

At the weekend job, it would appear that we’ve long been making a crucial error. We’ve been actually doing our jobs, not documenting them. Which means that, when some fuckwit decides to save a few quid, he looks at us and says: they’re not doing anything, lets cut down on them.

A lot of this isn’t our fault, of course: Microsoft Excel (the decision making software of choice in such fuckwits) is not yet able to calculate the value of violence deterred, or of defacements not carried out because someone was kicked out early on. But a little might be our fault: when we kick someone out, or sort out someone passing out in the toilets, or knock back a load of wingnuts, we’ve not written it down, in triplicate, for the fuckwits to read.

Then someone decides to cut numbers, and all hell breaks loose.

Firstly, they do it on what could well be our busiest night of the year, so the under-age drinkers were plentiful, as were the very very drunk folk. Door were left unattended for a while while things were sorted out; jobs were left undone because there was nobody to do them. All of which was documented, and emailed to a long list of people.

Tonight, there was no concert. There was, however, a rather large drunken person that was required to leave, and his slightly drunken mates who were, we were assured, very well connected1, and would be waiting outside with a veritable army, just for us. Which was nice, since we didn’t have the numbers we like to have. But they were gotten outside and the buck was passed to the lucky folk who have to care about the outside. And we went back in, time passed, we closed up, kicked out, locked up, and then found out that our large drunken friend had, instead of carrying out his threats on people (nearly) his own size, knocked the tooth out of a girl outside. And was awaiting the tender ministrations of the PSNI.

And that was most definitely documented. With a ‘cc’ list longer than my arm.

I don’t like having to justify my existence at any job, and I don’t like writing memos at all. But when needs must, and shit like this happens, it does make the writing and justifying that little bit easier…

1 – One of the lesser realised side effects of the ongoing peace process is the way that more and more HMOTP style threats can be dismissed instantly. ‘ere Mister, don’t you fucking touch me, my da’s head of the [acronym] can be easily met with And he’s going to break ceasefire because his dozy son can’t handle his drink, is he?, and so on. The threats have always been meaningless, but making the threat-maker realise that they’re meaningless is a very satisfying thing to do. Yes, I’m petty. What’s your point?

Apprehension, ooh ee ooh

It would appear that my nice, calm weekend job is going to be somewhat different tonight. Firstly, the failed experiment from a couple of years ago is going to be repeated in an effort to make the business look more attractive. Which means that, once again, we’ll have less doormen than doors. Fantastic.

And secondly, some rubbish boy band from off of the nineties is going to be playing. Which is always worrying; current boy bands have enough mentalists in the audience, it’ll be considerably worse when the people in attendance are old enough to know better.

Actually, even at current bands, it’s the middle aged attendees that cause the hassle anyway. But still, these ones’ll have had a decade to get over their obsession, and haven’t. Which is sad, and the cause of the apprehension.

Actual interestingness

Surprisingly, today’s conference was quite good. Sure, only a couple of the presentations were what I’d call engrossing, but there was craic, and catching up with people I didn’t expect to see there, and frankly the best lunch I’ve had at one of these things.

And the new thing I’ve learned today? Some of the best folks working with diabetes in Norn Iron aren’t preaching what they speak. Specifically all that mumbo jumbo about 10,000 steps a day; it’s presented as a normal figure that everyone should be attaining, and one that will greatly reduce your risk of many things.

And the good professor’s daily average? Some 7,600 steps.

This amused the assembled multitude. Because it was either laugh or cry at the death by powerpoint…

Potential interestingness

Today, I shall mostly be out of the office. Which is nice.

But it’s because I’m at a conference. Which is generally not so nice.

But it may be an interesting conference. Which is slightly nicer.

And the hotel it’s in has provided me with several nice meals in the past, so the free lunch should be good. Which is very nice indeed.

Apart from that, don’t expect to hear too much from me for a while, for I’ll be busy freeloading listening attentively.

A change is as good as a rest, part the 71st

Tonight started off working in the normal place, till the normal time. But it ended up in a very different place, working a very random club night that served beer until silly-o’clock and had music until stupid-o’clock. With a very nice1 crowd, and more women than men.

This was pleasing to me.

Also, it was the first time recently I’d been working somewhere where there was need for a manned smoking area. I miss working places where the craic that follows the smokers happens; it’s not the same in non-smoking venues. Boo hiss to the ban.

I’m not saying that I’m mad keen on going back to working clubs proper, but, as the title suggests, an occasional night might not be the worst of ideas…

1 – for which, read ‘Mojo-ish’, which will mean something to exactly one of my readers…

Not the average night

Just to let the locals know what I’m speaking of; d’ye remember a few months back Newtownards and the Giant’s Ring being in the news for being a meeting place for a certain activity? Aye, well, a group of like minded folk attended one of our bars tonight for something similiar… Was a little different, and sure doormen will take any excitement they can to put the night away…

‘course, our attempts at being subtle and laughing quietly at the antics were somewhat spoiled by the head doorman informing everyone within earshot See her? She’s a swinger! And so’s she, and her, and him, and her, and …

Professionalism. We’ve heard of it, but didn’t much like it…

This land really is painfully small

A story in three parts.

Part I
Part of my job involved the organising of independent contractors to cover gaps in our schedule. There are many gaps, and a varying number of contractors. In fact, a big new batch of contractors start in a month or two, and have been busy letting the world know of their existence through the medium of mass mailed CVs.

So a couple of weeks ago I started calling these new folk, and organised a good amount of work with a few of them. And all was well in the world.

Part II
Then, the following weekend,I was driving back from a nice wee village up on the coast with my sister, and ended up driving through ArseEnd, Antrim – the Garden Village of Ulster, doncha know – when the darling sister suddenly turned into my mother.

– What?!? What, did I hit something? What?
– I know those people! Turn round and I’ll have a wee word with them, haven’t seen them in years, only be a minute, blah blah.

Ten minutes later, we’re back on the road. And I get a short life and career history of the pair she’d been talking to. Involving the career that one of them, Miss X, was involved in. Think nothing of it.

Part III
Another week, another random conversation with the sister.

- Here, you’re still looking for contractors, aren’t you?
– Aye, could do with one or two still. Why?
– I’ve just thought, X does that sort of work. You could give her a call.
– Hang on, what was her name again?
Interlude : the sound of much creaking as an underused brain accesses a failing memory
– Er, already have. 400 odd hours worth.


T’is a rather small and inbred place, Norn Iron. 48 hours after first hearing of the existence of someone and speaking to them, you randomly bump into them 30 miles from anywhere you’d expect to be.