No internet

Flying visit today as I’m on the mobile phone …

Today I have no internet and a phone extension that doesn’t work. Phone company said they’re not responsible for the extension. I said they are if their engineer disconnected it. I can’t re-report the fault for  24 hours, so it has chance to “settle down” and “get back into the system”. 

Oh well. At least I should get plenty of work done. So far this week it’s been a week of distractions.

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An engineer cometh

My broadband has been dropping out like a dropping out thing. I know why, it’s because we’re right at the very end of the cable at the maximum distance from our local exchange. And the cables just aren’t powerful enough to keep the signal. But an engineer needs to come and check that it’s not any of my equipment so that they can escalate the problem upwards and hopefully get something done.

The thing that really makes me laugh is when I’m talking to them on the landline to report that broadband is down and they always, always ask me if the landline is working. “Yes, I’m talking to you on it.” And then they ask if I can make voice calls. “Yes, I’m talking to you …” And then they ask me to unplug the phone and plug it back in again … “Um, I’m talking to you on it, if I do that I won’t be talking to you on it any more …”

But … an engineer is coming today to take a look so hopefully it will be sorted soon. He was supposed to be coming between 12 and 3 but he called last night and asked if he could come at 11am. I said yes … but he’s not here yet and it’s 12:30.

I’ve been asked for more pics of the puppy, but I worry that doing that too often will be a bit like showing too many baby pics. I don’t appreciate baby pics and I’m sure there are people who don’t appreciate puppy pics. So I won’t be showing too many, maybe some every week or less often. Plus, pictures take up a lot of space and it’s a faff to get them onto a picture hosting site

The engineer just called to say he’s 20 minutes away so I’d best sign off for now. At least we know it’s working today. So far …

Altogether now …

… say ahh.

Here he is at last. Please meet Rufus – that’s Lord Rufus to you. He’d had a long drive and was very hot and bothered when I took this picture. But he seems to be settling down.

That's *Lord* Rufus to you ...

Holly’s not too keen at the moment, but at least they had breakfast together this morning. He doesn’t like the breakfast I got for him yet. If he doesn’t eat it I can take it back on a satisfaction guarantee and get a full refund. He prefers the Go Cat and he’s currently drinking far too much milk for my liking.

He has a very fat, full tummy here. No wonder he's fast asleep.

Domino is being much more tolerant. She’s lashed out at him the once, but now she’ll sit on the settee next to him or often just sit watching him. Rufus and Domino are currently indoors with me but Holly’s being her usual anti-social self and is out exploring – and no doubt terrorising wildlife.

Altogether now ...

Much of yesterday was spent keeping one eye on the road in case they couldn’t park or something. Most of today is going to be keeping one eye on Rufus. His collar and lead are too big for him at the moment, but we have been for a short walk around the “estate” (that’s back-in to you …).

I’m getting him used to his basket but at some point today I need to go and get him some more meat. I didn’t know what to get him before and I still don’t, but at least he ate the meat I got him, although he could do with it in 2 servings. He was so excited at feeding time, but he waited for me to say go ahead before tucking in, and when I say NO, he backs off from the cats’ food.

Looks like I have my hands full for a few days while we all get used to each other. Ideal time for sitting downstairs and doing writing and/or reading work.

Another good weekend

Friday was great. It was good to get out into the fresh air, and to spend a few hours with Mom and Dad. They even brought a picnic, so after the wreath laying ceremony and a quick wander around the Arboretum, we sat in the car park and ate sandwiches and cake.

The pictures are below, but I couldn’t get the slide show to work over here.

I stopped off on the way home to get cash – my monthly spends for shopping and pocket-money – but it took me a long while to get there. This was due to the Friday afternoon traffic on the motorways. By the time I got in I was shattered.

Saturday was shopping and chores, and I stayed in to watch television and to read.

Sunday the tickets for the Edinburgh Book Festival went on sale. I gave the phone a few tries in the morning, but I couldn’t even get into the telephone queue. So I popped out to our local RSPB reserve because the library was launching their summer reading campaign from there, and on the way home I dropped off at Hickleton, where we have a Sue Ryder home, because they were having their summer fete.

When I got home I was on the phone again, got onto the phone queue straight away, and only had to wait 33 minutes before someone dealt with me. I wanted 9 tickets, only 1 was sold out. I managed to find a quick replacement, but the course leader for the workshop that was sold out is trying to arrange an extra session. If she manages that, and at a convenient time, I’ll still make her workshop.

Then I needed to book my accommodation, but my internet fell over. I kept trying every hour or so, but it didn’t want to play. So I had to book my hotel online via the mobile phone. I found a cheap enough B&B – they’re all Very Expensive in Edinburgh, and I needed it to be quite central. I have no idea how good or bad my chosen guesthouse is, but it looks nice enough and so long as it’s clean and comfortable I’ll be happy. I just hope the mobile phone connection was secure.

Now I just have to book my train ticket, but I’ll leave that a week or so. I want to see if we get that extra workshop and whether or not I get onto it before finalising travel, and if the worst comes to the worst, I can probably drive – although I’d rather not do that as it’s a long way, it’s city centre, and there may not be parking available.

The pet sitters are sorted. We just need to finalise whether they come the night before or the same morning.

Today is a study/writing day, and we also welcome the arrival of Stainescloud Lord Rufus at about 4pm. The Kennel Club wouldn’t let us call him Barbarosa, but Lord will do nicely. Some things were just meant to be …

Here are 10 of the 28 pictures from Friday:

The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas - National Service memorial
Founding members of the National Service Veterans' Association
The National Service memorial - they also served
The Green Jackets' memorial
The Armed Services' memorial
There are 16,000 names - and counting - over 6 of these walls. That's the number of lives lost *since* 1945.
Dad helps give me some perspective of size.
The Moussey memorial stone - 220 local French men were sent to concentration camps when they refused to give information to the Gestapo. 140 of them never returned.
The Royal Engineers' memorial - with stones from the Falklands
Dad and Mom

The full album can be found here. Link to the slide show here.

A day off?

Just a flying visit today as I’m off out to the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas to meet my mom and dad. My dad’s national service association is laying a wreath in a private ceremony before Sunday’s national veterans’ day and we thought it would be a good opportunity for me to have a visit, take a look, chat to some folk.

I’m taking a work bag with me in case it’s nice and I decide to stop off on the way back, but when I get back I still have writing, invoices and banking to do. I outlined a short story yesterday, so now I have an article and a story to draft.

And speaking of writing, I thought I’d leave you with a reminder of how the little man was doing last time we saw him.

Have a great weekend.

Late start

I had quite a late night last night, mostly due to watching Castle on Alibi. We’re on Series 3 and last night’s episode was a double-whammy, the one with Nathan Petrelli from Heroes in (Adrian Pasdar). I was just off to bed at the end of the regular episode when Part 2 came straight on. What a treat – a whole 2 hours of Nathan Fillion. Yum.

The second thing I did wrong was get the late night munchies – aka pig-out way past my regular bedtime. This gave me indigestion and that kept me awake for half the night. Not with sickness, just bellyache. I was in that half-awake state where I knew I ought to get out of bed and go *all the way* downstairs to get the Rennie, but I really couldn’t be bothered. And so I tossed and turned instead.

And the learning outcome of today’s story? Leave some Rennie in the bedside chest.

But it means I’m late to my desk. I’m not beating myself up, though. I know I’ll make the time up. I have too much to do, although I’m still doing quite a lot of study work as well as a couple of stories and articles.

Tomorrow I have the day off, only it’s not really a day off as such. Yes, I’m meeting my parents for a few hours, but I’ll also be networking for a book proposal I tentatively pitched earlier in the week. I’ve not had a reply yet, but I think they’re pulled out at the minute in mid-production for the pre-Christmas market.

They publish a LOT of books. I may not have asked the right person, but he’s my main contact there. He may be discussing it with colleagues to find out who best to submit the fully fleshed proposal to. I don’t know. But I still have to network tomorrow in case they say yes.

I have more invoices to raise this week – this is Very Good. I also get most of my final payment from the ex day job tomorrow, but there was some confusion over the tax-free element, which they’re clearing up and hopefully I’ll get that back by the end of next week.

Anyway, I’d best go and get some work done.

Whaddya think?

Okay, so I’ve been having a play. Did anybody notice all the new bits that appeared on here yesterday? I hope it’s not too busy for some of you, and I do think I’m going to stop now. For now. But, if you have the time to take a quick look and let me know what you think, that would be great.

What do you miss from the old place that you think would be good here? What do you think we could really do without? What would you like to see? What don’t you want to see?

I’ve added 4 more books to the “buy my books”  page. These are all available to pre-order from Amazon at the moment.

There’s a new books page, “more books”. These are the books I’ve been proof-reading for Pen & Sword. Should I include a links section in the side bar for people I work for?

There are 2 new sample pages, “sample articles” and “sample stories”. These are in the working stages at the moment, they need more samples, but they’ll have a “back to top” at the end of each.

I’ve added my Tweets to the sidebar as well as the links to Twitter, Facebook and the NUJ. I’ve expanded the “recent posts” section, and I’ve added a “what we’re saying” section.

Is anyone missing the UK clock? The Amazon links? The FeedJit?

Please do let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

I did a lot of work again yesterday and the tick list is getting longer. This took quite some time, though, especially when I found we can’t insert our own paragraph breaks by just hitting the Carriage Return/Enter.

Today is mostly study work. If I’m done in time, and if I’m feeling energetic enough, there’s a summer evening walk I can go and join at 6:30pm. But I’ll see how the day goes first.

Gonna call it “night shift”

Well, where did yesterday go? I was working flat-out all day I forgot to even log on – well, apart from via the phone. And then I had to reset the phone because it thought its memory was full. I don’t put anything on the phone memory, it all goes on the memory card. I think we’ve sorted that now, which means my portable lifeline is still in action.

So, what’s been happening? On Friday night we went to see a band we saw only 2 weeks ago. I try not to see them that frequently, but they were very good, it was a friend’s birthday, and it was at a nice venue. We went again and we loved them even more than last time, and so did birthday friend.

It was a late night, though, and it’s hard work standing, dancing, talking, shouting, singing, and I slept in Saturday, missing the start of a garden fete I wanted to go to. I did my shopping, but that’s all I managed “out” on Saturday. I did some more de-cluttering, emptied another 3 bags of books back into the bookcase and pinned another item up onto the noticeboard.

Sunday was Father’s Day, so off I tootled to Birmingham to see my dad, my mom and my sister. I asked Mom and Dad if they wanted to pet sit for 1 or 2 nights in August, but my sister volunteered my eldest niece thinking the word “puppy” might do the trick. Result. Eldest niece + bloke are coming to house sit and look after the cats and the new puppy for a few days.

That meant Sunday night, when I got home and after I’d watched what I wanted to on telly, I was able to browse the programme, check out rail prices and times, and start to plan my first ever visit to the Edinburgh Book Festival. I am over the moon! I wasn’t expecting to have a holiday of any sort this year and now I’ll have 3 days, 2 nights in Scotland’s beautiful capital. To say I’m a bit giddy is a bit of an understatement.

Yesterday was proof-reading for much of the day in between odd bits of study and admin. I finished work at 1am and then – then! – just as I was drifting off to sleep, a short story idea I’d been trying to come up with for days suddenly jumped fully formed, with character names, market and length, everything, into my head and demanded attention. NOW! So I had to write that down too.

This morning, needless to say, I slept in again. And I felt guilty. GUILTY! Why did I feel guilty? Is this part of being pre-conditioned to act in a way that’s expected or we get mocked and ridiculed? Then I thought about night shift workers. No-one ever mocks or ridicules them for staying in bed, and they stay in bed ALL day. In fact, we all have to tiptoe about the place for fear of waking them even though it was their career choice to work a night shift in the first place.

So I’ve decided. When I find I’m working at night, I’m going to call it the night shift, have a lie in and not feel guilty about it. So what if someone comes to the door in the middle of the day and I’m still in my dressing gown? So what if I haven’t combed my hair so it’s sticking up all over the place? I worked the night shift and you should be knocking my door quietly.

There, I feel better now.

Today – when I get dressed – I’m off to the post office to return some work. I have invoices to scan and email. Those will go in the post tomorrow. I have study work to do. I have that midnight short story to outline properly and the article I outlined last week to draft. And I have other queries and articles to outline. I’d like to get another query through the door as well.

Looks like I’ll be doing the night shift again.

So much to do

And so I nipped into the “office” to print off the next 2 parts of my BCJ assignment and while the colour printer was behaving itself I thought I’d just run off a few letterheads … and a few continuation sheets, and a few invoices, and a few compliment slips. Before I knew it I’d been there for over an hour and had even joined in a TwitForum while I was there.

How do these things happen? Do you see how I’m so easily distracted? I’d been working so well and so solidly downstairs away from the pc, and all I did was nip in to print off a couple of pages … (sigh.)

Of course, while I was printing stationery I thought I may as well print off some sticky address labels (my address). But could I find the things? I know they’re in a box somewhere, and I did try several locations, but those labels ain’t ready to be found just now and they’re so expensive I can’t afford to buy any when I know I already have LOADS.

But at least I have my letterheads and invoices and compliment slips. I feel so much more … established now just by doing that one simple thing.

Other jobs I did included emptying one bag of books back into the bookcase. Little steps but the clutter is gradually diminishing. I pitched to be a walks correspondent again as well, because I received news that the magazine in question had changed their email system and there was a new contact person. So while hot, I struck. Fingers crossed.

I didn’t finish that on spec article, I didn’t even start it. But I did write an extensive outline. I expect that to be fleshed out over the next few days and once I find the old holiday snaps to scan in – if they’re ready to be found and scanned, that is – that will go off to market.

It was another study/proofing/writing day and I got quite a lot done in between too.

One job was updating the mini CV I have on the bottom of my letterheads before printing them off. This is a list of all the publications and other media I’ve appeared in or on over the years. It used to run down the side of the letterhead, but that made the actual body of the letter too narrow, so now it’s at the bottom. I was surprised at the number of new markets I had to add in.

Another job was adding a disclaimer to the invoices. Some people are trying to move from 30 day settlement to 60 day settlement, but they don’t realise that’s actually illegal unless all parties agree. And there’s the clincher. “Agree.” You don’t just “tell” someone you’re delaying their wages by another month; you discuss it and negotiate, like adults, and come to some mutually acceptable agreement.

And you need to know too that the last piece of paper that exchanges hands is the legally binding one. So my invoices now have the 30 day settlement disclaimer clearly printed at the bottom. The people who don’t argue, who don’t try and con me out of my money (note, that’s my money), I feel bad for. They’re all great and brilliant and fair and everything. But I can’t afford to wait at least 60 days for other wages when I could be spending that time working for other people who will pay me a damn sight quicker.

Statutory settlement in the UK is 30 days. Period. I don’t understand why others are happy to give up their statutory rights. Maybe they’re rich or have another income. I’m not and I don’t. And I have a mortgage to pay.

Can you imagine me calling my mortgage company and saying: “Oh, hi. Sorry, but Bloggs Inc isn’t gonna pay me for another 30 days, so that’s when you’ll get your mortgage repayment.”? Can you imagine my energy supply company not cutting off my power if I don’t pay them for another month? Can you imagine my phone still working if I haven’t paid the bill?

And can you imagine them agreeing to wait another 30 days for their wages? I don’t think so.

Ahem, sorry. Bit of a mini-rant there …

Today is more of the same. Work, I mean. Although I have some amendments to do for the annual I submitted on Tuesday. I also have invoices to raise – wahey! On my nicely printed stationery too. It’s all green again, just like it always has been, although recently, during the transition period, I was printing off best quality black copies on the laserjet.

Not sure if we’re out tonight. It’s a friend’s birthday and while she wanted to go out Saturday, we could only find someone we all wanted to watch tonight. So we may go there, or we may decide to go out tomorrow night anyway – although I can’t be late home tomorrow night.

I’m off to a church fete tomorrow, so I can complete another part of my Writers’ Bureau course. I’ll also do my shopping. Sunday it’s Father’s Day so I’m off to see my dad.

Have a great weekend.