Saturday, 31 January 2009
It started to go a bit whoppy a couple of weeks ago when a 'Kserver' error message came up (something to do with my iPlayer I think). From that point onwards my laptop started randomly hanging. Then it just got more frequent. Not being a techno-geek, I didn't know what to do, so I resorted to the following course of action: 1) swear at it; 2) press alt+ctrl+delete a million times even though I know it isn't working; 3) turn off the power; 4) reboot; 5) repeat the above approximately every hour.
I have now accepted that for the sake of my sanity, I need to escape from this vicious circle. So I am going to send it away to someone who knows what they are doing, because I, quite frankly, haven't got a scooby. If anyone has any suggestions, they would be warmly welcomed.
Hopefully, speak to you soon!
Thursday, 29 January 2009
Given the fact that I love this part of West London, I am going to attempt to be an E-tour guide in the next paragraph. Here goes - Historical Fact No. 1: King Henry VIII used to live in Hampton Court Palace, and the palace is set in the grounds of Bushey Park. Historical Fact No. 2: Bushey Park used to be Henry VIII's hunting ground and it is enormous. Historical Fact No 3: Christopher Wren lived right next door to Hampton Court Palace. Historical Fact No 4: Hampton (which is where I live) means village 'Ham' on a bend of the river 'ton'. Historical Fact No. 5: King Hezza's gaff is very 'well proportioned' compared to mine. To the tune of approximately 900 acres. Plus his Maze whops my gazebo's ass.
Tons of wild parrots live in Bushey Park and sometimes they make it as far as my garden. In the picture above, the parrots are the green blobs in the middle, but oddly two of them seem to have no heads (I will just make this post into a Child Advisory - sorry about that). Next bit of wildlife is........
The heron was standing on one leg minding its own business. But before we go onto anything else, can I please tentatively explore the phenomena of something really top-heavy standing on (and even sleeping upon) a single spindly leg? How can that be relaxing?
No. 2 A Heron (tall, grey, skinny blob in the middle)
Anyway, when you look at the picture above, you can see a beautiful moment of calm before Naughty George sees the Heron. What you can't see is Naughty George's sight 'locking on' to the Heron, going bonkers and then charging, whilst a party of school children witness the impending death and start screaming, which makes me run after my charging dog in an attempt to stop him. At the point of critical mass, I launched myself at George, and heard people from the other bank shouting 'look at her, she is trying to kill that dog'. It was like being in the eye of the storm because just as Naughty George got close to the heron, it (in slow motion) serenely launched itself from the river bank and flew away (I can prove it - I was lying on my back, on the river bank clutching Naughty George at the time I took the photograph. See below).
At this point I was feeling pretty hacked off with my wildlife day, so here come the rest of shots with minimalist captions:
They were all well chilled out (eating grass) until I went up to them, and then they all stood up, turned around, and gave me the 'who the h*ll are you' glare. These creatures are the 'hoodies' of the animal world. A couple of them have tried to kill Naughty George in the past by stamping on him during breeding season. I can't say I discouraged them hugely though.
Flipping hek, don't let me forget about Artistic Copse. This was actually a serious work photograph that I took for framing (believe it or not). Straight after the angst of producing a wonderfully constructed Copse shot, I managed to capture............
No. 7: Where is my Dog's Head?
Ha ha. My favourite so far. You have a good weekend!
Wednesday, 28 January 2009
Ok, I am jesting! But seriously, look at it - some designer has obviously spent ages perfecting that design, carefully having it manufactured and then lovingly photographed. They probably even stood back, head tilted slightly to the left, thinking admiringly 'yep, I am proud of this one'. I wouldn't mind seeing the results of the Ink-Blot Tests for this individual.
Then there is this one below. I kid you not - I found this sofa on a proper design website. Yes, someone has seriously designed a sofa made from sand-bags. Now it might be me being old-fashioned, but isn't the art of design supposed to encompass at least some form of aesthetics? Again, it might be me, but I can't see anything aethetically pleasing about a sandbag. Nor can I see any aesthetic synergy arising from the fact there is more than one sandbag.
Mind you, what would I know? I am the type of person who walks around the Tate Modern saying 'I could do that'.
Talking of which, I went to see the installation (picture below) that caused all the controversy at the Tate a few years ago. The gallery paid a couple of million pounds for a pile of bricks that the artist had creatively named 'Pile of Bricks'. To be honest with you, it was rubbish.
Mind you, the cow that was cut in half was cool. I felt a bit sorry for the cow at first, but apparently Damien Hurst only bifurcates his bovines once they have already departed this planet.
Back to reality, my friend Josephine (known her for donkeys years and she has a cool job too) is coming over for dinner tonight. Actually, I will show you a picture of her because she is in magazines, and I take great delight in taking the mick. She will kill me if she sees I have posted this picture, but I know she is crap with computers and will never find out! ha ha! (evil laugh).
In fact her partner Dave, came around last night until I booted him out at 12.30pm - can't they afford heating round their house or something?
But anyway, I digress. I jumped into the car to drive to the supermarket and ...... nothing ...... zip ..... zilch......the bloody car wouldn't start. So I cussed, and huffed and puffed, called it a heap, and got the RAC to look at it, and they told me...... wait for it......... it didn't have petrol in. How EMBARRASSING is that when you are a trained engineer? I lowered my head in shame I did, and then tried to pretend that it wasn't my car.
So instead of 'bring a bottle', Josephine is having to 'bring a canister of petrol', otherwise I am trapped in West London with no visible means of escape.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Crikey, Carl's pictures are amazing, and yes they are all taken with a camera (you will understand this better when you see the pics on the website - they are ---WOOWWW!!)
So, based on the above, I decided that I am going to do random blog entries entitled 'Interesting Jobs' as and when I come across them. Plus, I would really like it if you could forward me details of people that you know with cool jobs.
FIRST UP! I am going to introduce you to the first 'Interesting Job' which involves my old and good friend from University, Justin 'Archbishopofcanterbury' Horton. He lives in Laguna Beach, California.
His job is 'Alias Designer'. That means he is responsible for designing all the concept cars that are produced in big American companies (and eventually end up as road cars). Once his designs are published, they are toned down into somthing mundane and put into production. Before that, his job was designing monsters for computer games. And now he is designing weird boat things for the army or something..... sorry Justen me dear.... I forgot who is buying these big jet-ski thingys that you designed below!!
I stand corrected..... it is a 'troop carrier catamaran, which addresses many issues of 'crew-comfort' on long missions. Apparently there is a demi-hull system which makes all cross-water trips all nice and smooth. Thanks Jus! xx
Monday, 26 January 2009
Today, I am going to cunningly disguise the fact that I have been working from home (on the new sofa designs, which does vindicate me a little!) by trying to make 'delivering furniture' sound interesting.
Saturday, 24 January 2009
A view through a door - Corpus Christi College
After an hour or so, Our Sarah's feet started hurting because she was wearing daft shoes, so we decided to go and visit Oxford Castle which is right in the centre of the city. It took me a while to find it, because it isn't particularly well sign-posted and is hidden behind a hill-thing, which as it transpires, is actually part of the Castle. Our Sarah is a history teacher, and she reliably informed me that the hill-thing is in fact a 'Motte'.
The Motte - as seen from the top of Oxford Castle
So the views from the castle tower were pretty amazing, but my favourite part of the tour was the crypt. Allegedly, this is the most haunted part of Oxford Castle, but I liked it because there were randomly placed, unrealistic dummies scattered about.
Me hanging out with a couple of peasants
We spent quite a bit of time in the crypt trying to spot a ghost. If you have ever watched 'Most Haunted' on Living channel, I was a bit like Yvette Fielding, except that I didn't do any high-pitched girly screams.
Me and Paul Daniels
And then would you believe it! I bumped into Paul Daniels wearing a dress and doing some tricks. Crazy places these crypts!
Finally, it started going dark, so we decided to have a hot chocolate and call it a day. We jumped onto the park and ride and went back to Forest Hill, finishing off the evening with a meal at one of my locals - The Talkhouse. ACE!
Friday, 23 January 2009
I wasn't quite so positive about everything this morning, but that's because things didn't exactly get off to a good start. I was about to rush out of the house to buy some milk, when I heard Naughty George (my dog) making funny noises (half whoop / half hiccup) in the kitchen. I immediately attended the scene to find him vomiting profusely on the kitchen floor. He is called Naughty George for a reason, and in this case, it is because he was standing next to the open back-door whilst introducing his stomach-contents to my polished kitchen floor. Being faced with a pile of dog-sick first thing in the morning isn't the most pleasurable experience. In fact, I admit that I called Naughty George a 'bloody git'. He just looked at me benignly and went back to his bed.
Let's look on the bright side - surely things can't get worse than dog-sick? WRONG.
I jumped into my car to go and get the milk, turned right into the village and heard another 'funny noise'. At first I thought that one of my shock absorbers was grinding a bit, then I pulled over to have a look at what was going on, and found out that my tyre was flatter than Paris Hilton's singing. Things were not going well.
No problem, I thought to myself, I am a qualified engineer - I know how to change wheels with my eyes closed! Except for the fact that all the nuts had been tightened with those hydraulic sockets that mechanics use. I couldn't budge a single one (and yes, I know my car is a minging colour and needs washing!)
Finally, I gave up, threw the socket and jack back into the boot, donned my wellies and decided to walk to the shop to get the milk. The nearest shop is in a village called 'Stanton St John' which is 1.5 miles away, so I got Naughty George on his lead and took a short-cut across the fields. I was only halfway through the first field when Naughty George saw a rabbit and went for it...... pulling me right over into a muddy puddle. It was one of those falls where your legs go up, your bum lands first and then your hands (instead of saving you) come down last. I looked like a survivor from the Battle of the Somme by the time I got home.
A coffee later, then a good day working on new products, and it is finally weekend, and to kick it off, I thought you might like to see one of my favourite links from the BBC News website:
Click here to see: Odd Box
I particularly love the feature on Caravan Racing, and Alpacas going to the pub.
P.S. sorry about the lack of photos in the last two days. I have been working from home, and with my car out of action I haven't been able to get my camera.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
This is where the paradox starts: 8am and Mrs Smith emails regarding her replacement drawer front. 10am: an RSS feed comes in showing Barak Obama being inaugurated; then 12pm the dollar bombs! WHAT! I never saw that coming!
We are looking at £1.00 = $1.36 which is the worst exchange rate since 1985. That means that another 55% has been added onto our purchasing costs since August. Ouch........
However, I am hoping that we can hold all costs steady for a couple of months until the dollar reclaims it position.
I am just off to work on some projected scenarios......... I think that makes me sound important.... yah ....... yah!!
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
So there is only one course of action! Pretend that it isn't happening, and go and take random photographs of people.
First up was Phil, and he was right in the middle of a customer call (hence he actually looks quite serious in this photograph).
Then I walked out into the other office and shouted POSE!!!!
Juan spun round and instantly gave me a 'Staines Massive' with no preparation whatsoever. He's one cool scamp that Juan. Following all the excitement of the posing, I was just heading half-heartedly back to the photostudio, when I heard a horn in the car-park outside. Would you believe it? Another guy posing for a photograph! This time it was Mike/Fred blowing kisses at me.
Monday, 19 January 2009
We had two containers arrive safely at Portbury, Bristol after coming all the way from the Port of Guangzhou (pictured below).
One of the containers has been pulled by customs for inspection. Now as I am sure you already know, Revenue and Customs are the most powerful organisation in the UK, and probably the largest consumer of surgical rubber gloves.
For those of you who haven't been involved in importing, the implications of a customs inspection are: (1) your container is picked at random for a 'contraband' inspection (you may have noticed the occasional endangered parrot in your Twin Pedestal Desk!); (2) they pull all the furniture out of the container in the quickest fashion possible which generally means that up to 25% of the furniture is damaged; (3) on a good day, they will try and load the container again, resulting in probably a further 10% damages; (4) on a bad day, they will simply telephone and say that the contents of your container are on the dockside and need moving before they start incurring Demurrage (dock rental) charges; (5) Finally, they invoice you for the time it takes to do all of the above - and no! I am not kidding!
Bloody gits! We did however have one container land with us tonight...... will keep you updated!
Sunday, 18 January 2009
The way it works is: Firstly, you and your fellow players are assigned a number of cheap 'injection-moulded' items (e.g a pickaxe, sack, and water bottle). Then, you take it in turn to balance the aforementioned items on a crudely-formed plastic donkey.
At random intervals (seemingly bearing no correlation to skill), the donkey will BUCK (throwing all your plastic appendages into the air), meaning that you have lost the game.
Now, I am often called a cynic...... but that is one RUBBISH game.... !! Or am I missing something?
How many hours / days did the current 'thirty-something' generation waste trying to get each side to be the same colour? And did it make them a better person?!
I have to make my big confession - I did 'solve' the Rubiks cube once - I sat in my bedroom as a teenager, prising off all the cubes with a table-knife and popping them back into the right position with a small (but beautifully formed) wooden meat-tenderiser.
Therein followed a day of glory at school, following which, suspicion took hold when I appeared to have no logic behind my miraculous solution......... hoh hum...... it's a fair cop guv'ner.
What has happened to the beloved Chopper? How could something with such cult and retro status disappear without trace? I am casting my mind back, but was it something to do with the fact that you had to pedal as twice as fast as the wheels moved?
I am loving the fact that the cucumber has been sliced in a standard way, but to try and make it look 'exotic' they have arranged it in a half moon around the plate. To top off the 'creation' a random two slices of cucumber have been dressed with 'red stuff'.
A gem!..... but can anyone do better........ ummmmmmm?
P.S. you can Skype your pictures to me on 'annedickens' or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
So, I thought that you might like a sneaky preview of the items that should be ready to start selling from tomorrow onwards (they haven't even been launched on the website yet):
1. Kudos Small Coffee Table
2. Kudos Large Coffee Table
3. Kudos Corner Television Cabinet
What do you think of the designs? You might also notice that the Kudos range is no longer made from Sheesham wood. We moved production from India to China to achieve more consistent quality. One other thing (sorry I will stop banging on in a minute!), I noticed that when I was editing the images on Juans computer in work today, they looked really quite dark (almost too dark). Are you experiencing the same problem on your screen by any chance? If you are, it means that my laptop screen settings are probably too bright - that's the computer I do all the image editing on.
Anyway, enough of work before I get on a roll! I have got a new hobby, and it is re-introducing 'retro' things (words, food, clothes etc). Hence the reason I call Juan a 'young scamp'. I was having a laugh about this today with a friend who lives in Laguna Beach, California (flash git), and I told him that I have come up with the best 'retro menu' ever:
Starter: a fan of melon
Main: Surf and turf OR gammon, egg and chips (we had a bit of a scrap over that one)
Dessert: Black forest gateaux
I defied him to find anything more retro than that, and would you BELIEEVVVVVE it, my Skpe messenger has just gone 'schwwwwoop' (the sound Skype makes when you are sent a picture).
At first, I was quietly confident that I had won the 'retro' contest, but then I opened this picture.
Not only did he quote 'Blue Nun' wine as his entry for the retro-competition, but he managed to find an empty bottle of it in his apartment! Just to add insult to injury, he also set the bottle against a beautiful Californian back-drop to ensure it's 'blueness' was emphasised.
I feel that I may now be on a backfoot in the retro-competition, so I implore you for your help in discovering something MORE retro than Blue Nun! I know you can do it!
Saturday, 17 January 2009
There I was in my kitchen, beavering away on my laptop, when suddenly ‘pop’, all the lights went out………. again! Power cuts must be something to do with living in the countryside because it seems to be quite a common occurrence, and the power is normally down for hours, not minutes. This time, the lights have also been flickering on for less than a second every 20 minutes or so - a bit like a horror movie - Nightmare on Badgers Close! A picture of my kitchen is below. It’s like the Victorian times but without the corsets.
Thinking about it, are they still called ‘Power Cuts’ or have they been renamed something else, like ‘Energy Outages’ to make the electricity company sound better? The reason being is that I have noticed a recent, but subtle trend for renaming things. Arguably, the best examples are on the UK roads. In the olden days, we used to have good old-fashioned pile-ups, speed cameras and rubber-neckers. Instead, we now have ‘multiple vehicle accidents’ (I am sure that this has changed because the police like using acronyms and MVA sounds better than PU), ’ safety cameras’ (to make it look like they aren’t there to generate money), and ‘onlookers’ (The BBC probably found out that the colloquialism rubber-necker came from an undesirable source……..like ITV!.
I remember reading somewhere that the birth rate in a given area will rise considerably 9 months after a power cut, sorry, Energy Outage. The reason being that with no television to watch, people seek alternative sources of ‘entertainment’.Surely if this theory was applied to Oxfordshire, the population would be circa 10 million? Mind you, if you factor in the ‘H2O outages’ (we have had 6 days with no water at the warehouse in the last 3 months) this should balance out the lack of electricity for obvious reasons!
Anyway, I am now down to my last inch of candle, my laptop battery is nearly flat and my central heating has gone completely cold. I may have to resort to living off the land and eating things that would make a billy goat puke.
Either that, or drive to Dominos Pizza. Ummmmm………
P.S. You will be pleased to know that Phil is fine. He is in Lancashire because he is going to a fancy dress party tonight…. dressed as a Badger.
Friday, 16 January 2009
Phil and I designed this range about 6 months ago, and it is a 'New England' style white painted range. It is still pretty nerve-racking getting new designs in for the first time, because you never know if they work until you see them in the flesh. Normally I design all the best sellers, and Phil designs the dead ducks (ha ha - only joking Phil!).
So watch this space! It will probably take me a week to get all the photographs of the new designs complete, but then it is all systems go.
More good news is that we are also in the process of increasing our stock of oak furniture from 3 containers a month to 6. We use a supersonic complicated forecasting system which tells us what stock to order and it is based on - well - 'guesswork' to be completely frank. We guessed there would be a slight downturn in Christmas sales due to the credit crunch, and our Customers proved us wrong, leaving our stock pretty pillaged! So we are putting all new trade accounts on a waiting list, until we have enough stock in to service our existing customers.
Buying all this new stock has obviously meant that we have had to cut back in other areas, like food. Each member of the Baumhaus team is now allocated a bowl of rice a day. I told them that I was a caring employer and was running a 'Detox Programme'. Still not sure if they realise that I am buying furniture with the proceeds.........
Thursday, 15 January 2009
When he's not rushed off his feet attending to Baumhaus business, Joe is also a font of all knowledge. Here's a brief synopsis of today's synapse snapping activity:-
1. Joe advises me on the best place to buy Mario Kart Wii (much cherished by my son and highly recommended by Joe)
2. Joe suggests I kill time by bubble-wrapping 2 boxes.
3. Joe kills his own time by bubble-wrapping 2 boxes.
4. Joe provides a virtual tour of his bedroom (foiled again in my shabby attempts to get a real-life tour - DRAT!!!)
5. Joe decides that McDonalds is the only place that can do us a decent lunch, and then chucks £6 into the kitty, with the proviso that Joe 'goes large'.
6. Joe teaches me how to wrap a pallet.
7. Joe kills time by showing me dodgy jpegs of even dodgier ornaments that he wants in his bedroom.
8. Joe debates whether the arrival of our eagerly anticipated McDonald's will be thwarted by the equally eagerly anticipated arrival of Anne. (NB it is now 1.30pm)
9. Maccy D's is here, safe and well, so Joe's synapses are momentarily firing elsewhere....... or are they???
10. In the absence of 1 barbeque sauce, Joe opts to give me Phil's sauce and plead ignorance.
11. Given the absence of sauce (which Phil has clocked by now), Joe offers to 'donate' his tub of barbeque sauce because 'we knew we were 1 short and Hazel had yours'
The moral of today's story? Never, ever trust a man who wants to go large.....
The only thing is - it says to 'all the LADS at Baumhaus'........ tsk tskkkkkk! I can only conclude that Becks, Hazel and myself resemble males on the webcam!
Wednesday, 14 January 2009
1. Don't take any photos I haven't done my hair!
2. I know Melvyn is dead, he is my favourite van
3. You have saved Melvyn AND bought me a new 3.5 ton Luton low-loading van as well? Can I read the email with the details?
So, Becks is now 2 vans better off than yesterday. So please give her some stick to balance out the good news!
Becks started to look a bit too happy for my liking, so I ran away and immediately bumped into Kelvin in the foyer. Kelvin works for DHL, a company based in the warehouse next to ours. Kelvin frequently brings us cakes (the star) and he also does driving for us on an occasional basis. He came round to show us his new supersonic mountain bike, and man-alive, it is a beauty. As soon as I saw Phil's reaction ..... I knew he wouldn't be able to resist the temptation..... (but what is going on with boiler suit in the background? Who has cause to wear a boiler suit like that in the furniture industry?).
Sure enough.... less than 30 seconds later, Kelvin and Phil have "progressed" to admiring the bike in the warehouse
Then less than 3 minutes after that...... Yep, Phil is performing 'wheelies', 'jumps' and 'bunny hops'. I KNEW he wouldn't be able to resist.
If you look closely, you can also see that Naughty George is pursuing Phil the whole way round the warehouse. What a git.
We have also got confirmation of the latest TV programme that our furniture is appearing on. I can't remember the name, so I will find it tomorrow and let you now. I think it was called 'Cowboy Builders' which doesn't sound the best in terms of marketing. Hey ho. I will let you know!
Determined to uncover the truth behind Joe's outwardly cool, calm and OCDish behaviour, I had a quick scoot through his drawers while Becky kept watch for any sign of activity from the warehouse..... Joe's top drawer revealed nothing of any interest. A couple of delivery notes, a stapler..... on to drawer three..... Again, one lonesome delivery note.... and then, in a Deal or No Deal moment, we struck gold!!! Drawer Number Two houses not just the ubiquitous delivery note but also Joe's calculator! Result! Joe is a self-confessed calculator novice and so this golden nugget intrigues me greatly... just what is he getting up to in his spare time?
Dun Dun Dunnnnnnnnnnn! Watch this space for more of Joe's shenanigans.....