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Archive for June, 2012

Filler

June 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Sorry for the filler post people, especially since my posts have been so erratic lately but I have only just walked in the door after completing my stores stock take and my brain is still rather frazzled from all the counting meaning that I am unable to come up with anything of note to write about.

I would however like to point you over to fellow blogger E.A Hughes, blog. He saw my post yesterday and came up with a fantastic idea off the back of it!

I, and I’m sure he would love it if you where to get involved!

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Categories: Uncategorized

Thank You Ryan Podger

June 28, 2012 10 comments

So as you may remember from my post a few days ago, my already gloomy June took a turn for the worst which resulted in my Holiday to Mexico being cancelled!

In a month when I was already feeling pretty down, this really took the wind out of me.

Unfortunately due a combination of some problems with the Thompson website and some mis-communication the Balance of our holiday was not paid in time to secure the booking, at this point we where £700+ into the holiday already and the resulting cancellation not only meant that we were going to spending two weeks in August sat in our sauna of a flat, but that even if we wanted to book something else we were already £700 down on our allocated funds to pay for it.

A phone call to Thompson on the day we realised this had happened was met with not much success, we explained the problem, reiterated our belief that the holiday had been paid in time but as for whatever reason no money had actually been taken there was no record of our interaction with the website the few weeks before, the suggested course of action was simply to book another holiday and take the financial loss, at this point understandably the Wife became a little upset and asked me to speak to the Customer Service representative, I went through the same process explained again what had happened and how confused we where that the transaction hadn’t gone through the website.

Luckily for me the gentleman we had on the end of the phone was in a word awesome, realistically the problem was probably more our fault than theirs, whilst the initial problem with the website payment was through no fault of our own, Thompson had tried to contact us and we should really have noticed the large sum of money that had failed to leave the bank account. Despite this Ryan pointed out that they had a team that were able to track any website interactions, unfortunately they where closed at the time of the call but he suggested that we call back later that week, gave me his extension number  and promised that he would see what he could do.

I was not hopeful, Thompson had our money, they could sell the rooms/flights etc to someone else and have our £700+ as extra profit. They had done their bit, fulfilled their obligations, as I said before realistically at this point the fault was ours.

I had the next day off so first thing I called the CS line, and explained once again the reason I was calling, and gave Ryan’s extension number. By coincidence it turned out that I had been put through to Ryan anyways. Ryan quickly raised the issue with the web team, explained it could take a little while and that he would phone me back as soon as he heard anything.  The hours ticked by and I had heard nothing, I couldn’t leave the house for fear of missing the call and I had run out of both Cigarettes and Red Bull.

Finally my impatience got the better of me, I called them back. I didn’t get Ryan this time but instead another gentleman who insisted on going through the entire process again, to finally say that he would chase Ryan up and get him to call me back. Two more hours passed and still no call, my hopes of saving the holiday where sinking fast, I made another call but still Ryan wasn’t available, by this point I had pretty much given up, but then 10 minutes later the phone rang!

Ryan explained he had spoken to the team, only to find out they were only able to trace website interactions at the point of the booking not any later, so that was it GAME OVER, holiday gone, £700+ down the drain. I half heartedly asked what else we could do.

Ryan offered that I could speak to a supervisor; sure I said if that’s what it will take I’ll speak to anyone. He put me on hold whilst he tried to find an available one to speak to or arrange a call back. Ten nerve racking minutes later the hold music clicked off and Ryan was back. Unfortunately at this time there wasn’t anyone available, however he had managed to speak with a manager and thought he had a way that they might be able to fix the problem as long as I didn’t mind going on hold again, of course I didn’t.

Another nail biting ten minutes passed and Ryan was back, with a solution!!

We would have to pay the current price rather than the early booking one we had secured in January, as well as a £50 per person Admin charge, but if where ok with that he could redo the booking there and then.

Of course we agreed!  Ryan then had to go off and remake the booking but would call back shortly to take payment, another nerve racking thirty minutes passed with me hovering over the phone , the final call came in and as I mentioned in my earlier post it is now all sorted and we are still heading to Mexico in August.

Whilst making the payment my Wife asked for Ryan’s full name so that we could make sure we wrote to thank him for all the hard work that he had put into fix this issue for us, and even then he was humble stating that he understood and was just glad he had been able to rectify the situation so that we didn’t miss our Holiday. He even went so far as to praise me for the calm manor in which I had dealt with him and his colleagues in what must have been a stressful and upsetting situation.

I’ve written the letter to Thompson, but also felt that this was a very public way for me to thank Ryan as well, I’m reasonably sure he will never read this but maybe one day when he is bored he will goggle himself and stumble across it and it might make him smile and realise what a positive impact he has made on our impression of the company he works for.

On another day and with another representative we might well have been looking at a pretty depressing summer, something I had thoroughly prepared myself for, whilst I had to try I was fully expecting to be told that nothing could be done.

So as the title says..

Thank You Ryan Podger!

You really have made our summer!

Armageddon – Episode 5

June 27, 2012 Leave a comment

OK so this segment is getting somewhat harder to write, despite the copious amounts of websites related to the supposed end of the world, when it comes to the theories on how, people have been somewhat less prolific.

Most theories that have come across whilst trying to find inspiration for tonight’s post have essentially been slightly differently worded versions of what I have written about in previous episodes.

For those of you who haven’t read them and would like to, they can be found below.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

So I was struggling to find a topic for tonight’s Episode, then I came across this one. All of the theories that I have so far posted are at best unlikely and at worst wild speculation and tonight’s is no different, although I’m pretty sure it falls closer to the latter end of the spectrum, and especially so when tying it in with 2012.

 

Grey Goo Hypothesis

 

Grey Goo is an end of the world scenario based on the emerging technology of nano robotics, essentially it is a scenario whereby out of control self-replicating nano robots consume all matter on earth whilst building more of themselves.

The term was first coined by Nanotechnology Pioneer Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation, although he has since stated that he wished he had never used the term.

In chapter 4 of his book, Drexler explains quite how fast these tiny machines could work.

 

Imagine such a replicator floating in a bottle of chemicals, making copies of itself…the first replicator assembles a copy in one thousand seconds, the two replicators then build two more in the next thousand seconds, the four build another four, and the eight build another eight. At the end of ten hours, there are not thirty-six new replicators, but over 68 billion. In less than a day, they would weigh a ton; in less than two days, they would outweigh the Earth; in another four hours, they would exceed the mass of the Sun and all the planets combined — if the bottle of chemicals hadn’t run dry long before.

 

Now imagine that the bottle of chemicals is Earth, potentially scary stuff.

 

 In chapter 11 he goes on to describe “Grey Goo”

 

Early assembler-based replicators could beat the most advanced modern organisms. ‘Plants’ with ‘leaves’ no more efficient than today’s solar cells could out-compete real plants, crowding the biosphere with an inedible foliage. Tough, omnivorous ‘bacteria’ could out-compete real bacteria: they could spread like blowing pollen, replicate swiftly, and reduce the biosphere to dust in a matter of days. Dangerous replicators could easily be too tough, small, and rapidly spreading to stop — at least if we made no preparation. We have trouble enough controlling viruses and fruit flies.

 

Like I said scary stuff, but we have no need to worry just yet, first of all more recent research has discovered that a scenario like this is much less likely than first thought, and to be honest the chances where pretty slim in the first place. Secondly its has since been widely accepted that such self replicating nano robots are not needed and last of all, as far as I can tell nanotechnology of this type is very much in its infant stages and so is highly unlikely to make it in time for December!  

That’s not to say that these tiny machines are totally safe, whilst the Grey Goo Hypothesis may not be a very likely scenario there are still a number of concerns around nanotechnology all of which are far more likely and in some cases equally as concerning.

Dangers of Molecular Manufacturing

I’m Back!

June 26, 2012 Leave a comment

OK first of all yet another apology is due, it’s now been just shy of 2 weeks since my last post, and whilst I know you have all clearly been waiting with baited breathe for my next insightful take on the world at large, I’m afraid I don’t yet have one.

However what I do come with is the promise of once again regular daily posts, as I mentioned earlier this month I’ve been feeling a little bit “meh” for most of June, the day after that post the month took a catastrophic turn for the worse that saw my much anticipated Holiday to Mexico go down the drain, after some frantic emails, and a unhealthy amount of time in a phone queue being told how important my call is, this is all sorted and this has put a huge smile back on my face, and given me the idea for a future blog topic!

 The June Blues have really but the brakes on the momentum I built up in April followed by my triumphant month of daily posts in May, not to mention the progress I was making on SFU, but I am once again looking to join the post a day club in July, and whilst I was going to wait until the 1st  before I jumped back on the wagon, I decided that there is no time like the present and getting a bit of a run up would get me back in the habit.

Tomorrow I should be posting a much belated Armageddon Episode 5 post, and from then onwards I shall be returning to my usual musings on, well whatever takes my fancy at that point.

Categories: Uncategorized

June Blues

June 15, 2012 1 comment

First of all, an apology for my lack of posts over the last few days, in fact my lack of posts this month in general.

 I haven’t really felt either the desire or the inspiration to write, I’m sure they are linked, after all if I can’t find anything to inspire me to write it is probably going to negate my desire to do so.

If it makes any difference I have spent many an evening staring at a blank word page trying to conjure up something of interest to share with you, but nothing has been coming.

I’m not sure what it is about this month, I mean it’s the summer after all, the football is on and more importantly we haven’t as predicted been spanked in every game, in fact this evening we even won a game, so it can’t be that that’s getting me down.

Work is its usual combination of boredom, frustration, anger and disappointment but after ten years I shouldn’t be surprised, so it cant be that.

The weather has been changeable we have even had some pretty decent sunny days, so it can’t be that, and I had a lovely start to my month with my visit to Claridges so it got off to a good start.

Being ill the last few days probably hasn’t helped, waking up at 5am for no apparent reason with what feels like a tiny man beating you round the head with the world’s largest sledgehammer, throwing up and then going off to do an 11 hour shift doesn’t really put you in the mood to do much at all when you get home.

But at least we are over the hump, only half of June left to go and hopefully whatever it is that has get me down in the dumps will lift with July, and if not its only 60 days until I hit Mexico for a well earned break!

Categories: Uncategorized

Search Criteria

June 12, 2012 Leave a comment

I get allot of hits each moth straight from Search Engines, generally Google.

It’s kind of cool, knowing that someone was searching for something and despite the entire world web to choose from they ended up at my site.

The most common search that seems to end up at my site is “Theodore “ted” Lewin” or some variation there off. I guess it’s not all that surprising he is not a well known individual. In fact if you pop his name into Google, my brief mention of his name in my King Rat “review” is number nine on the list.

Yesterday one of my hits was via a search engine  where the search criteria was simply Kuwait and somehow my brief mention of it sent them to my site, although that one really baffles me, as when I used the same criteria out of interest, I couldn’t find me on any of the first 10 pages.

It has got me thinking that in order to grow my audience and expose myself to the wider world perhaps I should just start writing about weird and wonderful people, topics or places rather than trying to be topical.

I’m not suggesting I should trawl Google for places or people that have a small number of results simply to get some cheap hits on my blog, but perhaps occasionally I should write about something that as far as I am concerned only interests me, if only to be surprised by the number of other people it might interest as well.

With that in mind I thought I might talk about Bora Bora tonight.

Bora Bora is an Island in French Polynesia, it’s a place I have had somewhat of a fascination with since I was in secondary school. My best friend Anthony had a book, I can’t remember what the purpose of this book was now, but it had a shot of this island in it and we both decided it was THE place to be.

In fact if I remember correctly we might even have done one of the fictional “what I did in my summer holidays” stories on it, although I could well be allowing nostalgia to cloud my judgement here.

Me and the Wife have always been somewhat adventurous with our holiday destinations, now by this I don’t mean we are visiting Iraq or Afghanistan, but we have always shied away from Spain and its Ilk, although we did venture to Ibiza one year, perhaps if you’re lucky sometime over the next few weeks I might tell you the story of James and the Dragon (let me know if you would like to hear it), which was probably the highlight of that trip

Our first “real” holiday was to Morocco, and since then we have visited Tunisia and Cuba much to the Wife’s parent’s dismay, and this year we are heading to Mexico, all of which are I guess are fairly standard destinations but at the same time a little more out there than a week in the Costa del Sol.

Anyways back to Bora Bora, to try and fulfil my childhood dream we did look at taking a trip to Bora Bora this year, we had saved a bit and felt we could treat ourselves, and after all how much can it cost.

Well the answer is lots.

In fact as far as I can tell I can’t even find a travel agent that does trips there from the UK, that in itself makes it both difficult and expensive, not to mention that the flight times are likely to be pretty horrendous

For those of you who might not understand the fascination or why I would like to visit, below are some photos.  

Stuck in a rut

June 11, 2012 2 comments

Recently I have read a couple of blogs relating to change, about hard it can be to change and how especially as adults it can be tough to get yourself out of a rut.

I’ve been in the same Job now for the best part of ten years and whilst overall I enjoy it, if I’m honest I am getting rather bored!

At the same time I go through this every 12-18 months, start looking around for something new, perhaps go on a few interviews, even get offered a couple of roles, but when it comes to making the big jump I get cold feet. Sometimes this is for a positive reason, something happens in my current job, be it a promotion, a new project, perhaps even a new boss. Other times it’s simply due to cold feet, whilst I find the idea of starting over exciting, it also scares the hell out of me.

What if the whole feeling is simply “the grass is always greener” I rock up to my new place of employment, only to discover all I’ve done is change the name above the door, that’s 10 years of hard work down the pan, I’m a nobody again and have to work my way back up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not important within the company I work for but I’m at least well regarded and feel I have contributed to it over the years, the thought of slogging through the same process in a new company to end up in the same place literally makes me feel sick.

At the same time I’m pretty sure that all the above is basically just excuses to rationalise the fact that I don’t have the balls to make a change in my life, saying that, I’m sure we all have the same or similar list that prevents us from doing the very things that we want to do most.

A couple of friends of mine are immigrating to the states in a few months, a few different colleagues of the Wife’s are heading oversees to teach, one of them is lucky enough to have landed a Job in the Bahamas.

And it’s got me thinking.

Whilst I obviously don’t have any skills that are likely to be in dire need in another country as a teacher she does. Sadly it seems that the only place that is desperate for Drama teachers right now is Kuwait, and that apparently does not appeal to her.

All joking aside it is something that appeals to me (not Kuwait, immigrating), I like the idea of starting a new life in a new place, especially if that place’s idea of summer is not rain, rain and yet more rain!

Experience tells me however in the event that it became a real possibility that I would find a way to place the same roadblocks in front of myself that keep me at my same job, I’ve had opportunities before, when younger I could have gone to both Brazil and Tenerife to live/work and as you see I’m still here, that’s not a bad thing, these opportunities were before I meet my Wife so it worked out well.

All in all I guess if I can’t even commit to change what brand of Cigarettes I smoke, or beer I drink then suggesting changing the country I live in is perhaps a step too far, although perhaps it would be like taking the training wheels off the bike!

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