Saturday 29 March 2014

#65 Measuring up

It was appraisal season at work so people were scurrying about collecting feedback and setting up meetings. Season is not an exaggeration. Every year, the firm's thousands of employees are taken through a process that lasts several months, culminating in remuneration discussions in the summer. The feedback flowed like the rain in Forest Gump's Vietnam tour. Sometimes it came down from above, sometimes in from the side and sometimes it even came up from underneath us.

I was in my element at this time of year and loved nothing better than to sit back and write about my colleagues, all their greatest qualities and achievements and any areas in which I thought they could do better. It occurred to me that not everyone felt the same way. I think a lot of people get frustrated by the assessments because they take up a lot of time and don't directly make anyone any money.

In a large company, reviewing and grading people properly can be a challenge. People work on various different projects and don't just report to one person. To get around this, each person is assigned an independent manager, whose job is to collect and review feedback across the range of jobs on which the person works. The objectives that they have to meet on those jobs are aligned to a set of core competencies, several of which are going to be needed in any job, such as courage and integrity, technical knowledge, client focus and relationship building.

I expect that there are a lot of ways to review people. For me, a thorough process and meaningful discussions are part of what makes somewhere a great place to work and help to make a person feel valued.

Sunday 23 March 2014

#64 Back to basics

Sunday was a day of rest. I figured I'd earned it too. I'd gotten plenty of work done during the week, plus all of the usual cleaning and ironing of the weekend. Lela and I had been getting along well and stayed up until around 3am chatting on the Friday night. The surprise party for Kev's 30th on Saturday was a lot of fun too. I'd bumped into another old friend on the train home. A kid, that I'd called Kicker on the first day of school on account of his shoes. The name stuck on the schoolbus for the next six years.

So on Sunday morning, I lounged around in bed for a while and watched Moneyball. It's a pretty good film. At least I thought so and it scored 94% on Rotten Tomatoes too.

None of this makes for cinematic blogging but the year is young. In the evening, I just made some pasta. There wasn't quite enough tomato sauce but after throwing in a load of garlic, olive oil, chilli and basil it was just about ok. In some ways cooking for one is a lot easier.

Sunday 16 March 2014

#63 Friendship from a distance

It's a new morning, flip up the laptop, check if she wrote back
Eyes barely open, or if it's nearer, checking the phone
The second alarm, a reminder to stagger towards some hot water
Slowly waking, still imagining that we're not alone
A quick glance back at the clock as I'm dressing
Thank god for the urgency of work. 
Cause not that many things make time fly when you're missing a soulmate
Trying to concentrate, head down, drown out the gossip from a few desks over
Check over some numbers, write a few lines and get it all sorted
Thoughts drifting, my eyes shifting briefly, outside into space
Somewhere really far now she's probably waking
The phone rings and it's back to the task at hand
Nearly lunch, grab the phone and head over
to that area I found on the side of the canteen that has reception
Chicken's tasting good for a change, network in range, feel a bit strange
as I take a quick photo, take a look and send it over
Get back down quick, meetings, emails, telephone calls
Checking the phone as I stroll out the building 
and on the train, sometimes as I walk or back in the lounge
switch back to laptop, chat as the sun sets, what shall we eat next?
while Rich plays videogames in the background
wishing her goodnight, turn out the light, let's hope my thoughts pause for sleep
cause this hill can be steep, up and down but never flat and nobody knows
quite what's at the top or how deep the rabbit hole goes
close friends for seven months and it shows
in the way we message every day, sometimes for hours on end
sometimes for hours on end
debating our latest feelings, what we've been up to or how nice her hair is
the weather outside, her dad's new ride, the moon and the tide
persistently keeping it open, constantly believing and hoping
against the cynics and the critics, the norm and the difference of time
that we'll have our time
for however long, right or wrong or what happens after she's gone
in this space we are the masters
nobody comes close, accepts us more or feels more sure
hardcore to the core, the connection is pure, sometimes think about more
eyes wandering between the pavement and the sky
moving through the usual crowd as they pass by
deserving no more than a fleeting glance
between work, family, friends and the occasional run
and the possibilities that lie undiscovered under the sun
cause you don't meet the right person, you be the right person
try or die, it's never perfect but at least I don't lie
some days are good, some bad
constantly missing all the things that we never had
watch this space but be patient cause this isn't a race
It's hot outside, I might go for a walk.

Monday 10 March 2014

#62 Maple maple maplelicious

"I got milk. You got the eggs, right?" I asked Naino after work. I knew she had eggs. Despite wondering which side of the use by date they were hovering around, I was pretty excited. It's not often that we eat as a house and it's not often that British people eat pancakes. Rich was home, Barbs was on her way and Naino CBA to go to badminton that night, so we were all set. In fact she'd already made the mixture.

It wasn't long before I was scraping a piece of half-cooked batter off of the hob. "If you're going to toss it, you've got to go all in. You learn these things" she said. "Did you learn it when you messed up the first one?" I asked. We were doing ok though and had plenty of batter. I took some video while Rich elegantly flipped his perfectly golden creation. I think he'd achieved it by reducing the heat slightly, as he'd sagely suggested earlier on.

In the interest of diversity, I stirred some cocoa into the mix and threw in some broken up 70% but it tasted pretty bitter until the syrup was added. The extra fluffy self-raising flour and baking soda types were next. I'd be tempted to add more of the stuff but apparently you can OD on it. Keira was sat at her place, in front of an empty plate, wearing her usual innocent and vacant expression.

For the next four days, I made a couple of pancakes each night. 

Saturday 1 March 2014

#61 Friday night

"Dan dan?! What r u up to tonight?" My housemate must have really been thirsty. She hates Facebook and hardly ever uses it to message people. It turned out that she was in the middle of getting her hair styled and wanted to show it off on Lordship Lane. I was at home ironing shirts and had just started shaking my ass to some tunes but fortunately she had a while to go yet.

"What r u doing? Can I join? I need food" chimed in Naino. I'd forgotten that Barbs and I had been using a group conversation. "Meet in Adventure and go from there" she replied. "Can't get food in there" replied Naino, followed by "I need to be in bed by 9:30 so actually going to go home instead". Problem solved. I jogged out into the rain, across the high street and found my housemate propping up the bar. "What do you want?" She asked. "A beer" I said. "What type?" "Any beer" I answered. She sighed and started walking over to a table. "Just get two Peronis". I waited while one of the dozen student backpacker turned novice bartender types started making some girl's drink. 

It's ok to be meticulous in making cocktails when you're also really bloody fast at it but this guy had just got out of diapers and was no Tom Cruise. Adam is Tom Cruise. We all know this. That is, we that know my friend Adam from school. He looks just like Tom Cruise. Anyway, despite the late drinks, Barbs was particularly happy tonight. Not just because she was off to Tanzania in three weeks' time. The bar had also gotten rid of the cocktail menus that she'd found offensive and about which she'd written an email complaining. I had also never been that keen on the idea of cocktail menus printed on the inside of a VHS cassette case, which also contained a cassette entitled Star Whores, partly because retro was too easy a style choice for a place like that and partly because I doubted that the videos were actually the ones that they said that they were.

We had a couple of beers, got approached as usual by some drink weirdo and came home to find Naino dancing around in her underwear, several hours past her intended bedtime, trying on outfits for tomorrow night. We gave our expert verdicts on the various tops and shoes while Barbra's pizza cooked just about enough for her to ... ok gotta go