Tag Archives: Real Life

Underground, Overground

About 13 years ago I got a job as a team leader for a team of techies at a university.

About one year into this one of the guys was troubleshooting a problem with a user’s calendar and asked me to help out, by giving me full access to his own calendar in Microsoft Outlook.

A week or two later I realised he had forgotten to remove my privileges, and had gone on holiday. I immediately created a recurring event on the second Monday of every second month which simply said:

“Remember you’re a Womble.”

I then removed my access but also sent out an invite from my own account to the rest of my technicians for the same date every two months, to tell him that he is a Womble – all of them accepted without questioning what on Earth planet I was on (I loved that team).

Because of the way Outlook works, after I removed my privileges, he wasn’t able to delete the reminder. Oops!

It is now about twelve years later, he left my team about six months after this incident and we kind of lost touch a bit (you know, work, etc.) even though we were still in the same department. Since then I have moved jobs, and emigrated to Australia.

When I checked my phone after getting on the train to work this morning the self-same techie had tagged me in a post on Facebook. I wondered what it could be. The post had four words in it. Can you guess what they were?

It turns out he still gets bi-monthly reminders that he is a Womble. I suspect he will do until he leaves the university, although it is one of those kind of places where you can have a job for life!

I’m hoping he stays for many years yet, moving up the echelons, eventually reaching some kind of senior management role…and keeps getting reminded that he is, indeed, a small, litter-collecting, sentient mammal who lives on Wimbledon Common!!!

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Read ‘Em And Weep

Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook, follows me on Twitter or, unlikely as it seems, occasionally looks at my Google+ account, will know that for the past two years or so I have been undertaking a reading marathon of Pratchett proportions.

I started with The Colour of Magic and continued with all 41 Discworld novels, as well as the maps, cookbooks, tourist guides, kids books and short story collections. After this I started on the non-Discworld books – Strata, The Dark Side of the Sun, the Bromeliad trilogy, the Johnny Maxwell books, etc.

The reason for this single-minded readathon are numerous, I tend to reread my Pratchett collection every few years anyway, but after his untimely death in 2015 I couldn’t bring myself to pick up a book by any other author.

I assumed this feeling would pass but several months later I was still in the same mood, a year later I felt the same, two years later and I was still in my reading rut.

Seemingly unrelated, about two months ago we got notice that our landlord wanted their house back, which was a bit inconvenient because we were just in the middle of trying to find somewhere of our own to buy. Scroll on to about a week ago and the house is full of boxes as we get ready to move to a new rental. I was packing up my Pratchett collection (shudder) and amongst them I found my Kindle, untouched since I picked up The Colour of Magic.

I wasn’t sure what to do with it so I left it on top of my drawers in our bedroom. Then, last Sunday night I was getting my stuff ready for work the next day and thought “why the hell not” and slipped the e-reader into my bag.

When I arrived at the train station on Monday morning I got it out and started reading (American Gods by Neil Gaiman, if you must know!), and have been doing so on every journey to work and back since. It seems my reading mojo has returned and, with it, my brain has also fallen off a deep precepice into the icy waters of “I Have To Write” again.

Ideas are sloshing around inside my head like a particularly spectacular Formula One pile up and my fingers are itching to type. But what to do first?

I’ve been working on a few things, slowly, for the past few months, a Discworld fan-fiction piece about Rincewind; a comedy fantasy novel about a vampire; a biography about my life as a type one diabetic; a kids book I’ve been working on for a couple of years now.

All these conflicting stories are arguing for precedence, so what I’m going to do is…go to sleep! Life is complicated enough at the moment without worrying about what and when to write, so I just need to put digits to keyboard whenever I get the chance.

Wish me luck!


Politics

I’m not generally one to weigh in on political matters but I thought that today’s vote for independence, or otherwise, was too important not to talk about. I wrote this on my Facebook page so all my friends could see it, although to be fair I think I know how most of them are voting already, that’s what makes them friends!

 


 

Good morning Britain from Australia,

Before you head out to the polls today please take the time to watch this video of Professor Michael Dougan, a Law professor whose speciality is European Constitutional Law at the University of Liverpool, talking about the implications of leaving or staying in the EU.

Having moved to Western Australia two and a half years ago (for purely personal reasons, nothing to do with the economy, jobs or immigration), I am seeing your current situation from the outside but from the point of view of an insider.

Now while I love living in Western Australia (WA) I think there are some things that could be learnt from looking at us. WA, and Perth specifically, is a very remote place, both geographically and socially. One of the outcomes of this is that everything – yes really, EVERYTHING – costs a lot of money because Australian trade agreements were set up by a single, sparsely populated country (Australia) with other countries who were either more populous or else more powerful.

I don’t want to show any lack of respect to my newfound home, it’s a great place to live, however I do miss the ease that I could get hold of, say, an egg whisk for a ridiculously low price simply by hopping onto Google and searching for egg beaters. I often ended up purchasing from e.g. Amazon. Now Amazon is an American company, America has trade agreements with the EU…BUT NOT THE UK!!! This means that England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales would then have to pay the same (very steep) tariffs as China, Brazil, India, etc.

I also used to enjoy, to a greater or lesser degree, my occasional trips overseas. Which were a lot easier because most of the places I used to visit were within the EU. No problems with getting visas, and the queues at immigration were always relatively short.

There is a lot of stuff I miss about the UK, but if a greater part of the British population vote “leave” today then it will probably be some while longer, than it would otherwise have been, before I can bring my family back for a holiday, because the prices are likely to mean that we will have to save up twice as much before planning such a trip.

However you’re going to vote today, have a great day. And think carefully before you pick a box to tick.

Cheers

Dan

 

 


 


Hard Copy

This morning I dropped my young ‘un off at school then headed to a small warehouse near my house, to collect a parcel which no one was in to receive yesterday morning.

I had a vague suspicion I knew what it was, but wanted to wait until I had it in my hands before getting too excited. After a bit of faffing about the company found the box and I signed for it, chucked it in the car then came home and ripped it open.

This is what I found inside…

Jump by Dan Ladle

Jump by Dan Ladle

Yep, that’s a paperback copy of the book that I wrote! Sadly it’s not a “published by a publisher” copy, I found a special offer to upload for free on a site called Feed-A-Read some time back and this is the result.

It’s actually not that expensive to get a couple of copies printed out, although the postage to anywhere in Australia is a bit steep. However, having a hard copy of all the words I wrote is, as the advert goes, priceless.


An Exercise in Self-Awareness

Due to the seemingly everlasting task of applying for jobs I have decided to take some steps to try and refresh my outlook as, to be honest, it can become a little tiring constantly being ignored and turned down for roles I could do with my eyes closed, welded together, then encased in concrete and sunk to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

I had a sudden brainwave the other night and decided it wasn’t my worst idea, so I did a bit of research, found a tool, then started putting together a mind map of everything I can think of to do with me!

Now, I’ve never tried any mind mapping software before but as usual finance is paramount, which is why I decided upon FreeMind which, after trying and becoming frustrated with a couple of tablet based apps, seemed to be the most simple and effective one you can get for a PC.

So I’ve started writing down everything that I can think of about me! I haven’t finished yet but am well on the way to having a pretty, but messy, synopsis of everything to do with Dan Ladle! It’s a funny problem to try and break everything about yourself into small manageable chunks, then decide which of them is worth expanding. Obviously writing is the first thing I transcribed, I’ve put down all my ideas, whether fully formed and written or just initial scribblings. I also wrote all about my music, although I haven’t gone as far as putting song titles. Then on the other side I’ve covered work and education which, at the moment at least, isn’t as fully stocked as my personal side, but I have a plan to trawl through my CV and chuck anything relevant onto it.

My reasoning for carrying out this task is that, if I have enough information in the map then when I try applying for a job I can look over the image and cherry pick the relevant experience. Whether this will actually work and be practical I have no clue, but at least it’s a bit different to just hammering out the same old words, phrases and other CV related rubbish again and again!

This is where it’s at right now, click on it if you want to see a full sized version.


 

 

Mind Map of Me

Mind Map of Me

 


 


I’m A Strong, Confident Woman!!!

I’m not a woman, that’s a quote.

Not really about writing tonight, more of a rant!

We moved to Australia in January of this year, my wife, our son and I. She acquired a job soon afterwards and I started getting us settled in, but kept my eye on the jobs scene while I was doing so.

It is now July and I am still seeking jobs, not with an incredible amount of success to be honest. Why this should be I cannot imagine. I am a middle aged man who has been working in various technical jobs since leaving university in my twenties, I have worked in computing for the past ten or eleven years and have had experience in many aspects of IT.

I have installed networking kit on people’s roofs in small villages, I have taken phones and computers to pieces and put them back together in better working order, I have led teams of technicians fixing computers, I have implemented IT change management for a university, I have worked in IT security. Frankly I have also removed gut contents from fish and designed circuit boards.

I am smart, I am extremely adaptable and I used to be pretty confident, but searching for jobs and being knocked back for a few over the past few months has really taken its toll on my psyche. I now feel like I’m not really cut out for any jobs that come up, on the myriad job sites I trawl daily for anything worth applying for.

What’s worse is that the misery is starting to encroach on my life and my leisure activities now. And though I don’t like to compare, one of my friends had a bout of depression some time back and I appear to be displaying some of the signs he was presenting at the time. Like losing my creativity and being unreasonably grouchy with my son when he isn’t really misbehaving.

It’s also affecting my usually unbreakable drive to write, which is ironic as I am now writing this post about not being able to write! Frankly it’s all a bit rubbish.

Of course what I would really like to be doing is writing. For a newspaper, a magazine, a newsletter, a book, a ‘blog, a TV show, anything that would publish me really. But of course life isn’t easy and never works out quite the way it ought to. I am happy with my life and my wife and my son and our cat and the house we are living in. I am happy that we moved to Australia. I am just sad that no one can seem to see how good I am at whatever task I am given to do and has snapped me up, before whatever competitor they have that should be fighting over employing me.

Hopefully something will come up eventually, but the days and weeks seem to pass with frightening haste and I never seem to make any progress.

I do apologise if this post is a little different to normal, and somewhere heading towards depressing, but I just need to get some of this off my chest and this is the only place I can put it as it doesn’t really fit in with any of my other sites or ‘blogs.

I hope that it hasn’t put you off me too much and if you are in the same boat then at least you know you’re not alone.

I’m great, someone give me a job please!


Writers’ Group

Since moving to Perth I have, more or less, acted as a stay at home Dad. This is partly because my wife got a job first and so I took up the task of settling our family in to life in our new country. A couple of months ago she suggested that it was about time I got out of the house a bit and found something to do, other than applying for jobs and tidying the house. So I started searching for the kind of things that I thought I might like to do, now I had a completely fresh slate to start from.

One of the first websites I found was one called “Meetup”, it is a place where people can set up groups and invite others to come along and attend meetings. I checked out musical meetups, atheist and skeptic societies, readers clubs and writers groups. A lot of the meetings were either not quite my thing or else in the wrong place for me to attend, but then I discovered one which wasn’t too far away and was for writers who just wanted to discuss writing. It seemed perfect!

I went to my first one last month and met up with an interesting bunch of people. It was a little like stepping into Bernard Black’s shop from Black Books, as they were all drinking red wine and making slightly cryptic but amusing jokes, or making derogatory comments about each other. However once the meeting had started properly and a few more people had arrived it seemed a bit less surreal and I felt a little less out of place.

The meeting went well and I felt very welcome, even getting to tell them a bit about my book, Jump. Anyway I left feeling quite pleased that I had found some interesting new people to chat to, ones with a shared interest in putting finger to keyboard, or in some cases even pen to paper!

A month passed and it was time for the next meeting. I was quite looking forward to it and gathered my thoughts, if not actual evidence of having done any further prose in the time since the previous gathering. Once again a good time was had by all, we were discussing endings, which are surprisingly tricky things to master when you get down to thinking hard about them.

The night was just wrapping up when one of the more senior, or at least longer serving, members of the group caught my attention and told me that one of the things he does is work as an editor for a small publishing house in London, who are currently aggressively seeking new writers. He continued saying that he thought that the plot of my story sounded like something that they (the publishers) would be interested in, and would I be interested in sending him my manuscript so he could send it on to them to check out?

Unsurprisingly my answer was “yes”! However this is, of course, no guarantee of publication, or even that they will get back to me. But that doesn’t really matter. I am a new(ish) writer and so I know I can improve my technical and lyrical skills, the really important thing for me was to be told that the basic idea behind my novel is a good one, as ideas are the really difficult things to come up with.

So what does this actually mean? Well, to me it means that I can be fairly comfortable that I’m not just wasting my time throwing words at a page and that if I continue to work at it I might eventually come up with something which people may want to read.

Hooray!