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I have just experienced a surprising three month (approx.) period of unemployment. Surprising because having worked steadily through the IT world for almost 20 years in full time employment I thought I would be a catch for another company and would get a job sometime in January. I actually finished with my previous employer on the 9th January but I spent December sitting around on “gardening leave” so I am going to include that as part of my unemployment. I suppose I should have been doing all sorts of things around the house during this time and I did start with good intentions in December to the extent that we now have a fully floored loft (It’s only been waiting for me to finish that for 12 or so years), I also started painting inside of the bathroom door from a dull mushroom beige to a brilliant white (three coats and still it does not perfectly cover the mushroom colour) and I dismantled the locks on the bathroom door and kitchen door, ostensibly to clean off the accumulated years of paint and restore to shining brass (in the case of the bathroom) and burnished metal. This not surprisingly has turned out to be a much more difficult task that first envisioned and as well as not being finished to date has annoyed my wife as she would like handles on the doors of both the rooms she uses everyday.

I think that I have tailed off doing things around the house as I have got more nervous about not having a job and moving steadily towards my fiftieth birthday. I think that I see this upcoming birthday as a barrier beyond which I am unlikely to work again if I have not got a job when I reach it. This may be stupid but it still preys on your nerves over time. The good news at the end of this is that I have a job with a software house in the of position of Software Developer just round the corner from where I started my last 20 year period of employment and in a similar role which is not much different from where I started out all those years ago. However, it is much better paid and should prove to be interesting work.

I have to say that there have been a few poor decisions over the last few months, first one was being miffed at having my job eliminated in my previous company. They did try and find me a new position as my line manager had said that he wanted to keep my skill sets within the company (thus inflating my ego and giving me a false idea of how the market may treat me) and I was offered a position of, yes you’ve guessed it Software Developer in another team within that company. So filled with my own ego and being disappointed with having a job which I enjoyed (I should mention at this point that I was a Project Manager running a team split between Glasgow and Mumbai) taken away from me that in a fit of pique I choose to leave the company and get another job elsewhere. So brimming with confidence I set out to look for a new job. I had two interviews in December and early January which also boosted my confidence, but both of these were with the Clydesdale Bank who are now looking decidedly shaky due to the banks owners, National Australia Group re-evaluating their position in Europe and strangely enough both positions were either “outsourced” or “given to an internal candidate”. I had one more interview in January to work as a Software Developer with another bank in a team whose leader was less experienced than me and possibly younger. That had a rejection which sounded a bit peculiar to say the least and I have my suspicions as to what actually was the rationale behind that. After that… nothing. I was surprised and disappointed. Who would turn down my fabulous experience in several different industries, my long experience as a developer, architect, analyst and manager in IT! It turns out almost everyone and that has been a salutary lesson to me. I will not in the future be trying to make decisions based on my own hyper-inflated ego but will look at the cold hard aspects of the market and its demands. I have taken a drop in salary to get this new job and I think that part of the reason I have it is because I had a loose association with the company some eight years ago (when it was a start-up, spin-off company from Glasgow university) and that two of the members of the interview panel knew people that I had worked with or knew as friends. It is as they say “not entirely what you know, but much more who you know” and I was told in December, which I have to say I dismissed somewhat, that I was much more likely to get a new job from my own personal contacts and networking within those contacts than just applying for the most suitable jobs out there. Well, I hope that is a lesson learned and I leave this entry as a reminder to myself not to be so stupid in the future.

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So, we have gone down to Coventry to take part in the Redemption Multimedia conference. Wendy and I were up north in Fraserburgh for the first part of the week and drove down on Wednesday back to Glasgow and then flew down to Birmingham on the Thursday. So a busy week so far. We were gouged by wonderful FlyBe because we hadn't checked in our luggage online and it cost us £30 for 1 bag!

We wanted to get the bus to Coventry and were directed to stance K. This showed the 900 bus to Coventry arriving in 4 minutes. Great we thought, and waited. I suddenly noticed that the next stance (J) also had the bus number 900. Hmmmm, I thought. Why is there two stances which have the 900 bus. At that moment the 900 arrived at the next stance. So I went and asked if it went to Coventry.
"Naww, Stuuunce K, mate, Stance K" he said and he pointed to the stance next door as if I was an idiot who didn't speak English (like him). 

We waited, and waited, watching three or four 900 buses all going to Birmingham stopping at stance J while the electronic display at our stance clicked down twice to 900's going to Coventry which didn't turn yup.

Finally, the 900 bus to Coventry arrived and we boarded. It was a standard bus with hardly any space for luggage, and as it was the one bus going through the airport to Coventry this now made perfect sense.


We got to the bus station in Coventry 39 minutes later (which was marked on all the timetables and maps at the airport as Pool Meadow Bus Station, so tough if you didn't know that this was Coventry Bus station. It must be such fun for people who haven't done much research and expect to find sensible bus numbers and electronic timetable displays which are accurate, and maps which actually supply reasonable information, like me for instance) and the hotel 4 minutes later.
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We are on holiday in Beirut and Wendy has been having some problems with a cramped muscle in her shoulder. So we got an appointment with an Osteopath today and went along. I had a conversation with the osteopath treating Wendy while she was resting under the heating blanket. He was talking about the American University in Beirut, normally called AUB or even just Aub, were he works as a sports injuries specialist. He was saying, when I commented on the number of cats we had seen in the grounds of the university, that they have a welfare committee, with an annual budget, specifically for taking care of cats in the university! Absolutely brilliant. He also said that any student who is involved with injuring one of the cats will have a demerit put on their university record and if one of the cats is killed, the student, or students responsible will be expelled. My kind of university!


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March 2012

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