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Archive for May, 2012

Have a Break Have a KitKat

May 31, 2012 3 comments

I read a story on the BBC website this evening about staff at Hospital taking offence at their reward for a job well done.

To be fair to them it’s not that surprising they were a little bit miffed; the hospital in question had won what I believe to be a prestigious reward within their industry. The hospital was named acute healthcare organisation of the year, a national award to reward innovation, ideas and dedication in the healthcare sector.

The reward for the hardworking staff?

A kitkat.

Worse than that, not even a hand presented kitkat, but a voucher included in their pay check. I have to be honest I would be pretty offended myself.

The upper management claim that the gift was “misinterpreted” and

 

“It’s a way of thanking everyone – lots of ‘thank yous’ to show that we really appreciate staff.

 

Really? That’s the best you could do? I mean perhaps the hospital employs a million staff and this gesture whilst small, cost a massive £600,000 but I find this unlikely, I mean for such a prestigious reward you would at least expect a bottle of wine! Maybe even a small cash bonus in your pay check.

This attitude, I find in my experience is typical of higher management (yes I know I’m generalising!! That’s why I said in my experience!)  

I have lost count of the amount of boss’s I have had who have suggested offering a Can of Coke to the person who sells the most X or the staff member that puts the most cash through the till. But when considering for many of us our bonus’s are essentially won or lost by these people and depending on your profession these can be substantial sums, it seems somewhat insulting to offer them a fizzy beverage as their only reward for a job well done.

An argument often used is that these people are paid as it is to do their job, anything extra you give them even if it is only a chocolate bar, fizzy beverage or a free McDonalds it is above and beyond that and they should be grateful, but if that is the case why do us management types deserve any kind of reward for hitting our targets?

Generally getting an award such as the one mentioned above, or any equivalent within our own industries requires going above and beyond what we are simply paid to do, in terms of management this is driven either by the potential financial incentive offered for over performance, an individual drive to succeed and progress within our careers or sometimes just blind luck, but for the standard staff member as general rule they are expected to perform above and beyond with the thanks of their boss being there only reward.

Don’t get me wrong sometimes a well timed Thank You or Well Done can be enough to lift your spirits for the day, make you feel valued and inspire you to greater heights the following day, but that can very quickly be undone by berating them a few days later for them having a day that wasn’t quite so good.

A business that has the right idea when it comes to rewarding its staff is John Lewis, not only do their staff have a say in what happens with in the business but they all share in the company’s success, all the way from the Chairman down to the shelf stackers, in 2010 for example every “partner” as they are called, received a bonus of 18% of their salary based on the company’s performance. It wasn’t as good this year, only 14%, but thats still 14% more than most retail workers will see in the way of “thanks”, and despite the economic downturn they still managed to increase like for like sales and create jobs. In an environment where most retailers are suffering and reducing headcounts this to me seems to say that it is at least an idea worth looking at.

It’s a model that I’m sure wouldn’t and doesn’t work for everyone, but it is one that recognises that the success of the business as a whole is built upon the performance of each and every individual who works there and rewards them accordingly, and that in itself is clearly going to inspire every member to perform to the best of their ability as they realise that their contribution is valuable.

On a totally unrelated note, thats it one month straight!! I have now posted every single day in the month of May!

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Almost there

May 30, 2012 3 comments

Well I’m almost there.

Only 1 day to go until the end of the month and I have managed to maintain my post a day streak, it hasn’t always been pretty, some of the post have been outright fillers and some have caused controversy amongst my peers.

But either way I’ve almost made it, on top of that I have put together a draft of another chapter of SFU, something that realistically has taken me years to manage!

It’s been tough, hence the filler posts, its undeniably difficult to write something every day, it’s even more challenging to write something people want to read every day. That’s probably the biggest area I need to work on for next month, the filler is all well and good but to a certain degree it feels like cheating.

If you didn’t want to read it was it worth me writing it?

So overall in blogging terms May has been a successful month, in SFU writing terms it also been a success, although at a rate of one chapter a month I’m unlikely to finish it before I die so I better get a move on!

Guilty Pleasure

May 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Over the last few weeks I have evolved somewhat of an addiction.

I’m not a fan of Reality TV as I have mentioned in a previous post, but recently I have found myself watching episode upon episode of Storage Wars and Pawn Stars.

Now they are not reality TV shows in the traditional sense, there are no performing animals, talented or more often than not talentless singers/dancers or performers, but the “stars” are normal people like you and me.

Both are kind of like a working class version of antiques road show, and that is perhaps is what makes them so addictive. Much like antiques road show you get to watch the look on people’s faces as they realise their “antique” Ming Vase is actually a cheap knock off, as well as the joy expressed by someone finding out that the quirky piece of junk they found in their grandmas garage is worth thousands.

Both are far less serious than Antiques Road Show for obvious reasons and the reoccurring “characters” are far more likeable than any expert you will find on the show.

I guess what I find fascinating is what people are willing to pay money to store away and what they are willing to leave behind.

Categories: Uncategorized

Urgh

May 28, 2012 1 comment

I’m still in a bit of slump today, despite having a day off in the unusually glorious English sunshine I’m still feeling out of sorts. I have searched the papers and the web news for something topical to inspire me but nothing really has.

I’ve been a bit lacklustre all day really; I couldn’t even bring myself to spend the day playing computer games!

I’m not sure if it is the oven like nature of my flat, or something more than that but either way im generally feeling “Urgh” and that doesn’t help when trying to achieve well, anything.

On the upside this feeling has meant that I have managed to narrowly avoid Girlfriend, Boyfriend sing along night, the Dr Horrible performance date is getting closer and all I can hear drifting in from the front room is the soundtrack on a loop!

The highlight has been this week’s episode of Game of Thrones which I watched tonight, it was awesome! There were a few disappointments, I didn’t think that the wildfire was nearly big enough, the Chain failed to make an appearance and Stanis’s fleet and army seemed somewhat small in comparison to what we where supposed to believe but to be honest I’m nitpicking.

Essentially what I am saying is that I have nothing for you tonight,  with the exception possibly, of recommending that if you have not already jumped on it, you really should watch Game of Thrones and read the books!

Sulking

May 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Today’s post is simply a pointer in the direction of yesterdays!

So Far Untitled – Chapter 2

I don’t really have anything to say and my first day back at work has not put me in the best of moods, so I don’t really have the motivation to try and find something cool, clever or interesting to say.

As the title says today I’m sulking!

So Far Untitled – Chapter 2

May 26, 2012 4 comments

At the beginning of the month I promised myself that by the end of this month I would have chapter 2 down on paper and in a position where I was happy for it to be read.

Well as I suggested yesterday, I’ve managed that. As I said it’s still a little rough around the edges and as with chapter 1 I am sure once the entire story is complete it will require some rewrites, but either way I wanted to keep my promise and on top of that get some feedback.

First of all if you haven’t read the opening chapter then go off and do that don’t worry we’ll wait.

Chapter 1

OK done? Feel free to post your thoughts on that as well if you haven’t done so already but if possible put them in that post, I’m easily confused!

So here it is, please post any comments or suggestions both positive and negative, I’m only just starting out with this so any and all feedback is very much welcomed!

 

 

2

 

Enord tipped the flask back, the water gushing down his throat, rivulets running down either side of his chin, cutting ravines of clean skin in his dust covered face.

The canvas opening to the tent lifted and another figure entered, Enord glanced up at the newcomer, his eyes wide, she was stunning, hair as black as a raven’s wing cascaded over her shoulders.

Ishwana walked towards the boy, carrying small plate, piled high with left over scraps from last night’s Oxen, and a heel of black bread balanced on the side.

“Here eat, you look famished”

Enord reached for the plate, dropping the water flask and quickly grabbing a hand full of the oxen, shovelling it into his mouth.

“Thankyou” he mumbled.

As Enord devoured the food he looked around the tent, candles guttered in the draft sweeping through the lose canvas opening sending shadows dancing across the walls, various chests lined the back of the tent their contents hidden, a jug of wine and two silver chalices stood on a small table next to the large sleeping mat to the left of where he sat.

The tent was big but certainly not lavish; it was filled with just the essentials, not all the pomp and ceremony that you would usually associate with a lord of some description, something his new found friend must be based on the number of men at his command and the quality of his armour.

Enord picked up the discarded water flask and took another large draught, his thirst finally starting to ease, the food sat heavily in his belly, but after nothing for the last few days he didn’t want to pass up the opportunity, reaching for the remaining half of his bread he realised he had finished the oxen already. He used the bread to wipe the remaining grease from the plate, feeling full and satisfied.

“Better?” Jezzrael asked.

“Much, thank you”

“Well it seems we should become properly acquainted, I am Jezzrael, this is my wife, Lady Ishwana and the man you seem so afraid of is Tairn. Do you have a name boy?”

“Jezzrael? As in? Oh Gods my lord, I’m so sorry, I mean I should have, if I knew I would have never…”

Enord stood quickly half bowing half curtsying, looking nervously at both Jezzrael and Ishwana, sweat now pouring down his face as he realised who his savours were.

“Sit down boy, for one in your condition a few courtesies can be overlooked, now again do you have a name?”

“Enord, Milord”

“Good, now Enord where are you from and how did you come be out here alone and starving?”

“I’m from Tendril milord.”

 At the mention of Tendril, Tairn lifted his head. Jezzrael locked eyes with him, shaking his head ever so slightly so as Enord wouldn’t notice.

“I left two maybe three days ago. The village was attacked, we didn’t really know what was happening at first, it was just some riders entering the village, we don’t often get visitors this far out but sometimes traders would stop for supplies. It wasn’t until one of them cut off Niles head that people realised what was going on. After that everyone panicked, I hid.”

Enord closed his eyes.

***

Niles hammer rang out throughout the village as he pounded the shoe into shape, each strike sending sparks flying in all directions. He looked down at his work, let the hammer rise and fall one more time and using his tongs picked up and quenched it in the barrel of water next to him. The hissing of the shoes cooling filled the forge as plumes of steam shot into the air.

Enord waved at the smith as he walked past, his pack heavy with freshly shawn wool from his father’s sheep, it would be sold to the trade caravans that passed through, or carried to Oxfort by Arnon on his monthly visits.

In the distance the wind stirred dust clouds into spinning cyclones, buffeting the olive trees that grew all along the Traders Road, there small black fruit still a few months from harvesting.

It was an hour later when they came, Enord was in his home, eating a thin broth when he heard the town bell ring it’s customary once to signal new arrivals. He could imagine Ortho cleaning out his tankards and rousing his ladies of the night ready to take the much offered coin from the travellers along the long road, Niles preparing his stables and lining up examples of his work in an effort to reshoe the traveller’s weary horses and provide them a place to safely rest their mounts. Whilst the village was ultimately self sufficient the rare visitors from the world outside offered both excitement and coin.

Hopping down from his stool and heading over the window, Enord could hear voices drifting on the wind, Niles booming voice welcoming the new arrivals offering them the use of his stable, the visitors replying in a strange accent that Enord couldn’t place, making their words hard to understand. Craning his neck Enord tried to get a better look, but the angle made impossible, his interest roused he walked to the door and cracked it open, squeezing his head through the gap to see these new visitors.

Ten men sat astride their horses, their clothes dust covered and ragged still showed hints of the bright colours they had originally been, there was no sign of a wagon so it seemed they were not traders, and each one bristled with weapons. The tall one at the front muttered something to his colleague in a language that Enord didn’t know, then turned and said something quietly to Niles. Niles took a step back looking alarmed, the man’s arm lashed out, and Niles’s head slipped from his shoulders and rolled slowly along the floor.

Then the screaming started.

Enord stepped back and slammed the door as fast as he could, slipped under the table and began to tremble. As he hid, tears streamed down his face, he thought about poor Niles who had always looked out for him, perhaps he offended them he thought to himself, but as the screams grew louder he realised this was not the result of some personal slight by the blacksmith. Fear overwhelmed him and he couldn’t find the resolve to move, but he could hear the cries getting closer to his own dwelling and knew with certainty if he stayed here he would meet the same fate . He slowly forced his legs from beneath him, reached up using the table edge to lift himself up; he stood for a few seconds, resting his weight on the table to stop his legs from going beneath him. Snatching a quick look towards the window he could see two groups outside, the women all in one and the men the other, one of the visitors stood by each group, their swords unsheathed and ready to strike down anyone who did anything but cower.

Running to the back entrance to their home he slipped out, and quickly ran towards one of the long bushes that grew around edge of the olive groves. Enord crawled beneath the briar, the thorns catching on his clothes, he wriggled out the other side and looked around to make sure that none of the men had seen or followed him. Crouching trying to make himself as small as possible he looked back towards his house, he heard a splintering sound as one of the men, kicked the door open.

Enord held his breathe, alert and poised to run, his focus entirely on the door frame, waiting for the man to come outside notice him and chase him down. Every breathe was laboured, his heart beating so fast he could feel it pounding against his chest. With a creak the back door opened and the grizzled man stuck his head out searching for any sign of life. Enord held his breathe praying to the gods that the man wouldn’t see him. The man walked out looking around; kicking over a water barrel, satisfied that no one else was here he went back in. Enord waited he didn’t know how long, before plucking up the courage to move, eventually he uncurled his legs and stood up, still stooped behind the briar he followed it around the edge of the grove until he came to a small sty into the next field, taking one last look over his shoulder he climbed over and started running up the hill to his father’s holdings.

With one last burst of speed Enord crested the hill, stopping to look back down he could see the village, the people where dots now, he could still see the two distinct groups, and flames and smoke where now starting to pour from some of the houses, his own included.

In the valley below he could see the Glaybaen River winding lazily along; its lush green banks a stark contrast to the dusty surroundings of most of Tendril.

Sheep grazed, unaffected by the commotion, Enord’s gaze searched for the familiar shape of his father but couldn’t see him anywhere. He could see his father’s horse tethered to the branches of a tree drinking from the river, with one last look at the village he set off  down the towards the river and escape from the horrors behind him.

***

Enord finished his tale and took another long drink from the water skin, Jezzrael sighed and Ishwana gazed at him pityingly.

In the corner Tairn stood up and gruffly exclaimed

“There are some things a child should not see! I’ve already left the tracking of these beasts too long, if we are to have a chance of finding them I must leave now.”

With one last glance in Enord’s direction he stood and departed the tent calling for his chosen trackers as he walked towards his horse.

 

 

Time flys when your having fun

May 25, 2012 1 comment

My week off is almost over, I’ve got one last day of relaxation before heading back to work.

It’s been fun and relaxing, I haven’t got as much writing done as I perhaps hoped, but With D3 released just before its start I’m not all that surprised.  It doesn’t seem like it’s been an entire week, but then a holiday never seems long enough.

If all goes well tomorrow, I should have a version of Chapter 2 of SFU available for your viewing pleasure.

I’m still not convinced its right but at the same time that’s kind of the point of posting it here in the first place, to get some feedback and opinions.

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