1000 Shades of Grey
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Appraise me like they should
Those of you with memories for such things will recall this post and this post, in which my employer treated me first to the stick and then to a degree of carrot.

Well, last week I had my latest appraisal, in which my future, following the expiry of my fixed term contract in the autumn, was discussed.

The conversation went something like this:

Them: "We like you"

Me: "..."

Them: "We think you've developed well since your last appraisal"

Me: "..." (I decided silence was golden)

Them: "We still think there's more to come"

Me: "..."

Them: "You still get distracted a bit too easily"

Me: "..."

Them: "We'd like to keep you."

Me: "Good" (Cue mental celebrations whilst all the time maintaining a poker face)

So looks like I'll be around these parts for a while yet. The years of study and training (and massive debts) look like they might finally be coming to an end. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006
He doesn't do washing up
A hearty (and belated, for which I apologise) welcome to The Quiz Blogger, the latest addition to the 1000 Shades Blogroll.

Plenty of incredibly tricky quiz questions to ponder, plus the occassional rant against society from everyone's favourite former housemate.

Monday, March 13, 2006
Regular readers will be aware that we've had a cat for almost a year now. Throughout that time, as she's tentatively ventured in to the outside world she's done so seemingly unable to work the cat flap.

Now, I don't blame her for this, surely the idea of running straight into what appears to be a plate glass window is a foolhardy one. She won't get any change out of the patio doors, so why should she get through the clear plastic cat flap.

For the entirety of the cold winter months, we've propped the cat flap open, to allow her to get outside and exercise (and of late she's seemingly been chasing every male cat in the neighbourhood for a spot of extra curricular exercise). We've put up with the draft that has blown in through the open flap placing the needs of the cat above our own desire for warmth.

Well not any more.

Not since the little bugger went out through an open door and promptly came back in through the closed cat flap.

She's still a bit tentative when using it, forcing her paws and nose through at the corner, before launching the rest of her body through the gap, but she's definitely got the hang of it, and we suspect has known how to use it for a while despite leaving us in a draft.

Today's the day
According to my desk top calendar, it was on this day in 1877 that 19 year old Chester Greenwood of Farmington Maine received a patent for an "Improvement in Ear Mufflers". Chester went on to make a fortune supplying his Champion Ear Protectors to soldiers in World War I.

A mere 102 years later in a hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne I was born.

Truly a monumentous day.

Monday, March 06, 2006
O is for Opera
No, not the latest in my series of contributions to the excellent A-Z of Music feature on The Art of Noise, but rather the way in which I spent last Monday evening.

With Opera North in the vicinity, it seemed an ideal opportunity to double the number of Opera's I'd seen, and so it was that I watched La Boheme.

Admittedly, I'm hardly the most cultured individual, but equally I'd like to think I've sufficient breath and depth to my cultural understanding to be able to appreciate a spot of opera every once in a while.

Which I did.

The music was cracking - with both orchestra and singers performing wonderfully. I may not have understood what they were singing until I'd read the handy subtitles on the screen above the stage, and I certainly didn't know what the plot was before watching it, but I really enjoyed the performance.

The less said about the story the better (it's a bit like Moulin Rouge but without the prostitutes or Jim Broadbent), but then if you want a plot go and see Shakespeare, if you want great music go to the opera.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Brown Sugar
Today is the 1st of March, St David's Day and also Ash Wednesday.

Being the first day of Lent it's time to try and take my new healthier lifestyle to the next level. Having given up alcohol for pretty much the whole of January (the knock on effect of which is that I've seriously cut back how much I drink) I've now resolved to give up sugar in my tea and coffee for Lent.

Now, I realise this may look like a fairly minor gesture. After all, it's only one small teaspoon of sugar that used to go into my hot drinks (at one stage in my youth it was three in tea and two in coffee). However, I generally average about 4 cups of tea or coffee a day, which is the equivalent of me eating a tablespoon of sugar every 24 hours.

Now the sweetness which used to lift the bitterness in those drinks presents another challenge to be conquered in my ongoing quest to lead a healthier lifestyle. (To which end I played football for the first time in about two years last weekend.)

It could be a long six and a half weeks, but hopefully it'll be worth it.

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