And There You Have It


Over the last few weeks the UK has been snowed with sound bites, lectures, debates etc. etc. etc. Yes we were in the run up to a General Election.

Today we have awoken to a new political era. Where once we had a majority government we now have a hung parliament. Theresa May, still the PM, but in a much weaker position, visiting the Queen with a view to forming a minority/coalition government with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) of Norther Ireland.

Theresa May called this election, unnecessarily in my book. But having called the snap election she failed to perform, failed to consolidate her party’s position, failed to show herself as the strong and stable leader that this country needs.

A new Maggie Thatcher she isn’t.

But I don’t believe that the Tory strategy is totally to blame for where we now find ourselves. Certainly certain elements of the Tory manifesto became the sole focus of both the media and May’s opponents. She did not seem able to  defend herself when put under pressure over the Tories history with, and future plans for the NHS, Social Care etc.

But then, neither did Corbyn, on occasion. His performance on BBC’s Womans Hour was awful. Diane Abbott also did not exactly shine. Not what you would expect from senior, experience, campaigners. Admittedly, Abbott’s performance is now being written off as due to health issues. But, credit where credit is due, Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party out played the Tories.

Over and above the individual party performances I believe we have, in part, ended up with a hung parliament due to the frantic and, sometimes, seemingly hysterical entreaties of the anti Tory activists. I personally have been inundated with “vote anybody but tory” messages via emails and social media. I think that message may have seriously affected how some folks have voted and the perpetrators should shoulder some of the blame.

I’m pretty sure that there has always  been, throughout history, tactical voting but this time round it seems to have been more ferocious. To my mind though, there can be nothing so unproductive, as randomly voting for any party, as long as it isn’t tory. For those that followed that mantra it is tantamount to either not voting or damaging your voting slip.

And there you have it, a hung parliament. To all you activists out there …. I hope you are truly satisfied.

 

View From The Conservatory


I was both astounded and disappointed to discover that my last “View” was posted just over a year ago. I know that we have been busy and there have been other more recent posts.

Admittedly, the conservatory has been rebuilt and we did take off to Australia for three months followed by a month in France and a fortnight in Antigua. There have been several lesser UK based jaunts. However, we have also spent time at home and I have had my camera to hand. So, feeling suitably ashamed, here is a compilation of pictures taken over the last few weeks. We are now into the UK summer season and the garden plants are growing like crazy.

First up then is a regular subject, squirrels. Once again we are being visited by the albino variety.

Albino

Albino Squirrel

As you can see they do have the requisite pink eyes.

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Albino Squirrel

Here in the UK squirrels are sometimes referred to as tree rats. The example above is the most rat-like squirrel I have ever seen.

Of course we do have an abundance of the grey variety. Just a few days ago there were four greys in the garden. Of course my camera was out of reach and since these guys were raiding the bird feeders, any movement on my part just scared them away.

I thought that the pure grey squirrels would have attacked the albino, but apparently not. Judging by the shenanigans going on, high up in the trees, I believe the albino may have found a partner. Maybe we’ll see some piebald babes around this year.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many flowers on show already. So, just a few snaps ….

Iris_Flag

Iris

This Iris was discovered in a shady overgrown area of the garden. It was not planted by us and, as we are the only owners of this property since it was built, we have no idea how the Iris arrived. Pretty though.

We have a few rose bushes, which we did plant….

…… and a few other plants that we bought as plugs for potting on ….

And finally, for now ….

Lilac1

We don’t know what this is. The plant is a climber and for the moment it is in a pot on our deck and is entwining itself around the handrail.

Early Days


Yesterday was the first day (officially) of my retirement. However, it was not totally disassociated from work, as there was to be an official luncheon. The IBM Hursley clubhouse had put on a beautiful spread for the buffet and I thank them for that. There weren’t as many attendees as might have been, had I retired a few years earlier. During last week I had already had a number folks say that they wouldn’t be able to make it due to work commitments or vacation. On the way out to Hursley I received a couple of texts from folks who would not be attending for a variety of reasons.

The main reason though, I think, is that due to the companies “restructuring” over the last few years I have out lasted many of my colleagues. Although the department in which I worked numbers over 150 folks, I have to say that I don’t know many of them and I’m guessing most of them would say the same of me.

During my thirty eight year career I have worked with many people spread across the whole company both in the UK and globally. While company restructuring (redundancies) will have seen off many of my UK colleagues, the recent shenanigans with the company pension scheme saw quite a few more leave or lose their benefits. More recently my working from home will have removed me from my local UK colleagues memory banks. And so latterly, but for a small core of UK-based folks, most of my work has been with people based in the US and Mexico.

I always find these kind of events to be a bit odd.  Some folks find it awkward speaking to colleagues about to leave. Perhaps some are a little jealous that the retiree has found a way out. For some it may be that their workload has increased as a direct result of the retirement.

Still, it was nice to exchange memories with those that did turn to. For some of them, I was already an “old hand” when they began as new hires. For at least one a black cloud settled in when he realised that after eighteen years he still had another twenty to go based on my time served, the realisation that he hadn’t even reached half way.

I have experienced many things during those 38 years. Been part of the explosion of computer technology. When I started there was no such thing as a personal computer. My career started working with display products where we saw the introduction of colour “dumb terminals”, the introduction of terminals with a microprocessor which allowed for “multiple partitions and scrolling”. Think windows before Bill G got started with Microsoft. Later I moved onto storage products where disk drives were huge and driven by washing machine motors. The first product that I worked on was a 850Mb drive which was around the size of a large suitcase, was a two-man lift and mounted in a rack. Back in the day, during a presentation on disk drive technology I remember someone stating that the target was to get costs down to $1 per megabyte. That was the target and recently I saw that the current costs are around $0.0000317 Now there are solid state drives and mechanical disk drives that you can put in your shirt pocket. Storage was where I finished last Friday.

Just one other point regarding my 38 years. I started at Hursley in 1977 and my first office was on the second floor of C Block. After having offices in just about every building on site, as well as two assignment stints down at the Havant manufacturing site, I have ended up back in C Block. One floor down. So 38 years and just a change in altitude.

From a technological standpoint I wonder if the next 38 years will be as dramatic for the folks that come behind me. I don’t understand the media excitement generated by the next iPhone or iPad and it  just leaves me cold. I guess it is not so physically obvious now, as technology marches onwards.

For me, retirement is both the end of an era and also the beginning of a new one.

No Story ? Let’s Just Make It Exciting Anyway


The UKs media are, this morning, falling over themselves to report on, well, nothing really. Who can make the UKs weather the big story of day.

Last night they were warning us about the snow and the big freeze that is going to engulf the country. The ITV News and Weather were advising us that “much of the country” was going to be impacted.

This morning that has translated into “about a third of the country”

Last night we were being warned that even if we didn’t get any snow we could expect to get the severe icy conditions with temperatures as low as -6 degC dropping to -15 degC by the end of the week.

This morning we have +2 degC and no snow

On the TV we have had reporters dramatically describing to us how Stansted Airport is operating as normal, how the roads are clear and traffic is flowing unimpeded by the weather.

To a degree I can understand why they are doing it. After all the last big freeze caught many of us with our pants down. In some case the authorities let us down but predominantly we let ourselves down.

Britain does have four seasons every year, pretty much without fail. So it follows that we will have Winter at some time. We should not be surprised when the winter brings with it snow and ice.

Only in Britain are such conditions or even the lack of them deemed suitable for such a media frenzy.