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32Yr old Male I.T. Monkey living in Belfast N.Ireland.

Likes photography, I'm a bit of a horror sci/ fi film and book buff, I play guitar (not that well - but it's better than doing crack for a hobby) And I am a recent unwilling convert to gym and mountain biking in an effort to shift a bit of poundage.

My Flickr is here if you're bored - any comments always appreciated.

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» I Quit!

Worst job
One of the worst jobs I've ever had was working quality control on a frame line for a double glazed window frame manufacturer. It was simply awful. There were meant to be five of us on the line - two checkers and three 'runners'. I was one of the checkers. I would pull the job details up on the computer, quickly check over the dimensions, check the frames for defects and also that they had the right amount of 'holes' for the actual windows etc. The runners' job was to place the checked frames in a storage area and make a note of the storage location, tell me where then I'd update the computer records so they could be pulled for delivery. Simple enough.

This is the only job in my life I have ever walked out on. I was about 20 and had worked there for quite some time on the lines welding the frames quite happily before I got promoted into QC due to my 'knowing a bit about computers' as my line manager put it. The job had an evil reputation and had seen the sacking and quitting of quite a few people who had been there longer than myself. I didn't want anything to do with it. I was told by our line manager, a typical beancounter that I was working this job or I wasn't working at all.


Now the line would pump out anything between 40-80 frames an hour, these things would be anything up to 12ft by 10ft and anything that size had to be steel reinforced as well, so these were bloody heavy, cumbersome things and also the storage area was about the size of a football field, full of numbered racks to slot the frames into. (We also had a sash line where all the windows came down, this was also the storage place for all of them, then the orders went out together, frames and sash - you get the idea...)

I was given two people, me checking and two runners. To say we got behind was an understatement. On the very first evening I didn't get home till about an hour and a half after the line had finished. Conscientious as I was back then and eager to please in my new post - We'd worked over our breaks and most of our lunchtime to try and get caught up. 'No problem' I thought - I'll get quicker as I get used to it and with a few words of encouragement to my work mates and on the line supervisors say-so we filed the overtime for that evening's work and went on home.

The same happened the next night, and the next. So on the Thursday I went to see the line manager and expressed my concerns about (a) not having enough hands and (b) therefore not having enough time to do my job properly. We then proceeded to get off on the wrong foot.
He said that all the other people could do it fine, why couldn't we - to which I reminded him that the longest anyone had stayed in the post previously was just over a month and that previous to that 3 of the guys working there had eventually got sacked for letting dodgy frames get through. 1 bad frame through = 1 warning. I explained that we just didn't have the time to do all of what the company wanted well with just the 3 of us on the frame line.
To cut a long story short - it got quite nasty, he didn't want to take another couple of blokes off the line to assist and I refused to back down. I eventually declared that perhaps, due to his lack of forethought and willingness to get someone to help out in QC, that was why the factory had such an evil quality control reputation?

He got rather angry and started yelling. I was an 'upstart' and 'how dare I tell him how to run his line', you know - all the classics. This screaming brought the factory boss in. Who naturally enquired what the fuss was about. I politely explained whilst said beancounter stood, fumed and sputtered in the corner. After I was finished I was politely asked to leave the office as they had things to discuss. Now - I'm not sure what was said in there - but the very next day I had another two men to help out. Things were on the way up!!

However - I'd made an enemy. This mean little bastard then started taking an unhealthy interest in our work, pulling jobs 5-6 times a day for inspections, pulling my team off the QC point as he wandered round fault finding with a tape-measure, questioning jobs that were well within limits, ordering re-welds on the frames despite there being nothing wrong with them them that the installers couldn't fix on site in two minutes with a stanley knife. He would of course naturally pick the busiest times of the day to do this, then leave the frames in the middle of aisle for us to repack and re-process. Another favourite was to pull us all into QC 'meetings' for 20-30 minutes as the line rolled on, usually biting into our lunch or break times. This went on for a bit but we just grinned and got on with it.

The week before the Christmas shut-down he wandered up with a sickeningly smug look on a Monday morning and said he needed both of the men back on the line and that 'I'd get them back ASAP' - At this point everything was in a rush to get all the frames and orders ready for delivery straight after the two week holiday. The QC and storage bins were spilling over, frames, windows and orders everywhere, the lines were going full bore - the place was in absolute chaos.

We worked like that for a week. We had to stay late every bloody night to get things squared up. I had the line manager prick from hell riding my arse like a horny goat, pulling us at least once an hour for the build up of frames on the QC point. I got my first ever warnings for missing some transoms that had been welded in the wrong place and also one for screaming back at the cock faced little twunt. Myself and what remained of my team clocked up just under 20 hours overtime in a 5 day week just trying to keep on top of the work coming down the lines. At least it was all overtime I thought.

On the Friday before the shut-down, just after break-time as the pay was processed by the main office, he called us all into the office (the line was still running of course) and he was sitting with our clock cards. He said that the company wouldn't be paying for the overtime as we were simply 'below par performance wise' and we had to 'pull our socks' up. He then proceeded to start and lecture us on how he was ultimately responsible for all the frames in QC etc...

One of my guys felled him, right there and then. The little bastard loved it,got up, bled over everything, then got the police involved and had his twenty minutes of overbearing smugness as he poured out his tale of woe to the police and then looked on with a self satisfied smirk on his face as one of my workmates was carted off in the back of the police car. He was then was allowed home early, taking great delight in telling everyone who was listen how he was going to push for GBH / assault / attempted murder charges and claim thousands in compensation.

This was the final straw - Gary and myself went back to the QC point and decided that we'd had enough. We quietly worked through till closing time and then we stayed behind yet again. Security were used to seeing us trailing frames round QC till late at night and that night - we excelled ourselves. Every single order that was packed and ready for transport after the holidays we broke up, moved, peeled the identification labels off and buried as far away as we could get from the original locations. We stayed from 5 until just after 9. I then deleted all of the updated frame and job location files from off the Q.C. Pc - just before I updated the main records on the server with the blank file (that was the last thing we had to do at the end of our shift). The last thing we did was to write the little git a Christmas card and leave it on his desk before we left for the pub.

Nothing fancy - Just "Merry Christmas - from A & G"

I really, really hope he got the message.

As a side note I was offered another job over the Christmas period - so it all worked out quite well. Never looked back since.

Length / girth etc...
(Thu 22nd May 2008, 22:11, More)

» Darwin Awards

Whilst working on my car
I was 18 & it was my first car, one of the the old 'hearse' shaped Volkswagen polo 'C's and I loved it very much. 70,000 miles and it had cost me £400 of my own money (None of my folks buying my first car for me thankyouverymuch) I had great fun with it, from local track days to just pottering round the back roads of where I lived at the time.

I had done silly (but insurance declared - I had the premiums to prove it - £1000 plus!) things to it and I was forever tinkering with it. Out had come the old 1.1 head and a rebuilt, ported and skimmed 1.3 had been put in (same block) Twin carbs, alloys, better sparks, uprated ignition points and cables, decent filters, uprated brakes and slightly stiffer gas shocks and lowered springs. I also in the latter stages of ownership added a custom built 4-2-1 stainless steel exhaust. I'd spent a fortune on the damn thing and I was throughly enjoying the whole tinkering part of car ownership, finding out the whys and hows and I was really starting to fancy myself as a bit of a mechanic.

On the outside it still looked like a bog standard 1.1 as well. I had avoided those horrendous bolt on kit monstrosities that seemed to be so common in my (then) age bracket. Hell, it even had the same amount of speakers as it did when it rolled out of the factory.
It also went like stink (well, for a 1.3 shopping trolley) very much to the annoyance of a few 1.3 Nova Sr owners and a few track day participants at the time... Anyways.

It was a Sunday morning and I was moderately hung over and perhaps, in hindsight, not thinking the best. I was replacing the front brake pads, cleaning the carbs and replacing the jets at the same time. Not a particularly hard job, just fiddly and awkward.
I was with my girlfriend of the time and she was 'helping' me by sitting on the garage bench and talking at me about the cause of last nights hangover...

I had jacked the car up at one corner on one of those scissor jacks and was working on one of the front brakes when my aforementioned girlfriend decided that it would be a good time to change the radio station, which she did by jumping in the car, crawling over the front seat and proceeding to change the radio station / Cd track. This had the result of knocking the car off the jack and onto the ground. Onto me. I had started to roll out of the way as soon as I had caught the movement out of the corner of my eye and the car crashed down onto its brake disk about six inches from my face, one of the suspension / steering arms catching me across the cheek and grazing me, This also had the effect of pinning me under the car, by my head. It was that close...

Once the shrieking was over and my father had been called from the house to help jack the car up again. I'd had to console my then partner, mostly due to two things, one was the shock of her having nearly killed me and the other was over the names I'd called her as I was pinned underneath.

Anyways, luckily, as it turns out the car was fine, the jack had collapsed under the brake disc, giving it a softish landing and giving me an extra half inch or so, so there was no real damage done bar soiling of underwear. We each had a smoke and I proceeded to change the front brakes with no further incidences. I also was now using my father's hastily supplied trolley jack which I initially couldn't be bothered to get from his car.

When that was complete I'd moved onto the carbs. I'd removed them, cleaned them, re-jetted them and replaced them back in the engine, and I was adjusting the mix and idle screws to get it 'just sweet'. The engine was running and the filters were off the top of the carbs so I could get under them with the screwdriver. I was about 98% of the way complete when I decided to have a break, a coffee and smoke and just let the engine properly warm up so i could listen to it for any obvious hitches or hiccups.

We were chatting, well actually I was re-iterating very loudly about how stupid it was of her, what was she thinking and how careful you have to be whilst working round machines and how you had to have your wits about you at all time etc.. We had nearly finished our coffee when the engine started to run off a little and I asked the missus to blip the throttle a few times while I had another fiddle with the carbs.

This is when I 'woke up' from my hangover and found myself, a lit cigarette in mouth and pulling on it deeply, hanging about an inch over a set of dual carbs just as my better half floored the throttle in the drivers seat.

I never had a chance, a large whoosh of flame engulfed my head. I fell backwards out it, but alas it was too late, my eyebrows, fringe and eyelashes had went the way of all good things and to add insult to injury - I had also spilled my coffee. :-(

I didn't say a word to my girlfriend, at least not after the initial shock - I couldn't have, she'd never have heard as she was too busy laughing.

For two weeks later - My face had the appearance of having been sat under a sunlamp for two long. Think of a blotchy, red, hairless egg and you wouldn't be far wrong.

I now work in I.T.
(Fri 13th Feb 2009, 11:49, More)

» Tightwads

My father
was renowned for being a little tight fisted. he wouldn't replace anything, nor throw anything out until such times as it had either expired in spectacular fashion (mostly electrical) or grown hair (food)
He is reknowned for prowling and lurking at the discount sections of supermarkets prior to closing time, hunting for discounted yellow label stuff.

However, my two most most memorable instances of his miserly behavior that have stuck in my mind have to do with his drill and also the 3 year escapade with the electrical meterbox.

He purchased a black and decker electrical drill back whenever I was a child. It cost him a (then) whopping £40. He still has it - this was from over twenty five years ago. It has been mended, many many times.

The clutch is knackered - drills have been known to either spin out entrirely, or, as you are drilling slowly dissapear backwards into the main body of the drill. Blue sparks are not an uncommon sight whilst it's in use and he has also taped up the handle with insulation and gaffer tape as he has had the occasional jolt delivered up his arm on more than one occasion. The hammer action turns itself on and off with random abandon - which led to some quite funny scences as he was drilling through tiles in the new bathroom.

The chuck key is completely bald and the on/off 'lock' button always sticks on, so you have to hit the drill casing against something hard to turn it off.

Despite all this he point blank refuses to buy another one, as "they don't build them like that anymore!"

The other instance was with the electricty meterbox. In our old house (about 15-20 years ago) the meter box was directly in front of the back door, bolted to the wall. Behind this wall we had the "heater cuboard" containing the old economy seven heater, all the family coats and all the house cleaning stuff, brushes etc, basically a smallish storage room about 2m x 3 on the bottom floor.

My father, an engineer for Michelin at the time, had installed a great big 30 Amp switch with a handle, kinda like a large door handle on the front that made a very satisfactory 'clunk' when turned, directly behind the meter box - but on the other side of the wall. What this switch did was basically switch the electricity supply from peak to off peak.

This was wired straight off the back of the main meter, my father had accessed this by going straight through the wall behind it so that none of the lead seals had been disturbed or broken on any of the metering equipment.

We used this for about three years until we eventually got our economy seven replaced with oil. In the last six months or so we had the electricity men about about six times to examine the meter as our bills were always on the low side, never abused, just low.

Thankfully never once did they go in to cupboard behind the meter though. My mother was a nevous wreck by the time we got it changed...

We still have the switch box in the shed somewhere - it came with us when we moved in case we needed it again...
(Fri 24th Oct 2008, 12:03, More)

» Common

I hate
The term L.O.L. with a passion, along with most of that godawful 'txtspk' garbage.

Browsing some types of forums is turning into a real chore. Tuning (I use the term lightly - fitting a 4" bore exhaust and strapping an ironing board to the back of a 1.1L french shopping trolley is not 'tuning') forums and any overclocking forums tend to be mostly illegible to me. However, youtube comments are possibly the worst offender.

I usually infer that perhaps it means Loss Of Language?

*awaits LOL reply*
(Thu 16th Oct 2008, 22:44, More)

» Stuff I've found

anyone finds my bloody car keys before I have to pick the missus up at five - I'd be eternally grateful.

Ta muchly.
(Fri 7th Nov 2008, 15:50, More)
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