Sunday, September 30, 2007
What A Week
Really this has been an incredibly tiring week, in many ways - for a start, I had to go to our own office on Tuesday morning, then it took me two and a half hours to get to St Maurice in the afternoon. On Wednesday Gil told us to go to our own office and we spent the day there, then had to go back to St Maurice on Thursday and Friday, after orders from Mr Rabbit. Not that we could do very much from there, as we are trying to access a machine in Asia, as our own is in such bad shape, and it's very slow from St Maurice. Actually the only progress I made was to uncover that one of our major modifications is simply not working.... not for the first time am I glad that they don't shoot messengers these days! I am sure that Mr Rabbit thinks I am a moaner because it's always me that uncovers the problems.

I did have some news, Mr Resources Director wrote to me and said I should be going back to Cyprus in November, for about three months - they are going to go live finally, and would like my help. He said Sylvain should have told me all about it, but of course Sylvain is in Hong Kong this week, so I know nothing! Not the dates when I should go, not if I have to do anything re a work permit, nothing..... someone had better get cracking and tell me, otherwise I won't be there for November.

I talked to David about it, he was worried that going back to Nicosia might not be the best thing for me, but actually I don't mind spending the winter there. The weather will certainly be better than Paris, and I can go swimming etc. Of course the weekends will be boring, but I'll take a lot of embroidery and knitting down there.

With David's present, I have made a little progress this week, look at this:

I think it is another one of these ones that looks better in person than in a photo.... I'm working from the bottom up, for some reason, this just happened.

And here is our local landmark, with, guess what, a rugby ball:

Really all this rugby is getting a bit much, every week there is some new, horrible advertisement, for something completely unconnected with rugby, that gets in on the World Cup. I wish I could remember the one for hair clippers, it had a terrible pun with "demi de melee" (= scrum half, I think) and a messy hair style.

And I think this New Zealand pavillion is being constructed now, I can see from my bus stop that something is going up on the Champs de Mars - it's where I thought it would be, right opposite Ecole Militaire.
posted by Ally at 1:36 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, September 24, 2007
A Little Enabling Post
Yes, Drawn Thread has some new charts, this is a needlebook and scissors case, to go with the "Box of Stitches". There are also two new parts of the alphabet just been released, I must get them too.

As you may guess, I have not got a lot to do today, I have just done an external design, now I am going through a translation that needs checking - and how! "empêcher" does not mean "empeach", for about the last millennium, I think we might use "prevent" today! Tomorrow I am going to our own office, as I have some admin things to do, with a view to going overseas again for work in November. Gil also just came and offered to give me a lift to the metro at 5:30 pm, so I'll get out of here at a reasonable time.

So, on the program for tonight, more of David's present (I did a fair bit yesterday, a whole bird!) and Inspector Morse. Some asparagus soup first, I bought one of those nice fresh cartons at the weekend.
posted by Ally at 5:14 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Sunday Update
I left really early on Friday evening, still no database, I was sick of the whole thing.... and I don't think there will be any luck tomorrow either, judging by the emails I have just read. But apparently we have a conference call with the techies in the Far East at 9:30 am.

Yesterday I went to the hairdressers at 9:30 am, goodness I was so tired, I nearly fell asleep at the basin while the nice young man massaged my head. Kim and July did a really good job, it looks nice, of course it was the usual 200 euros. And then I went across to Le Bon Marche and bought two bras and two packets of knickers, so that was another 200 euros. The bras are a brand called Empreinte, which is the only French brand that I like much, apart from the extremely expensive ones. Then on to WH Smith, where I bought four more Inspector Morse series - I am only missing series 1 and series 5 now, maybe I can get them from Amazon. These videos are doing a terrific job of keeping me from worrying about everything - in fact, I watched one this morning when I was still in bed, and did a bit of stitching on David's present, which has suffered from my stitching slump.

I told Nicky the other day that I was planning a special gift for David, and he said, what, are you planning to arrive in Warsaw in a pink balloon? Sometimes Nicky can be very naughty.

Actually I feel more like stitching now than I have for about two weeks, I just hope the week doesn't spoil this! This is the worst time I've ever had at work - and part of what is so horrible is that there is nothing I personally can do to fix these problems - and it's really made me feel very flat and lifeless.
posted by Ally at 1:01 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Glimpse of a Silver Lining
Not as far as the database is concerned, it is all completely cactus today, and we have complained big time. So of course this means the thing has to be stopped and analysed, goodness knows when we will get it back again.

But Sylvain was here again today, for a meeting with the clients and our new PD, Mr Rabbit, as I call him. Of course they were in with them for three hours and every time I passed the room, my most unfavourite lady who picks her nose during meetings was in full flight. But Sylvain did come and see me afterwards, and say that he had been speaking to Mr Resources Director and understood that I couldn't stay here forever, with the three hours per day travel. But I still have to stay until the end of this phase i.e. end of October - I suppose that won't actually kill me, now that I know it won't be long-term. As to where I will go after that, I don't know, but Sylvain did say there may even be more work in Cyprus. Which would be OK for a while, I think. Apparently our new company insists that we stay at either the Hilton or the Holiday Inn, both of which have really good indoor pools!

Another positive thing is that, when I got home last night - at 7:30 pm, after leaving work at 5:45 pm, and totally shattered, I found my parcel from SBB in the letter box, that has to be a record, only a week since I ordered it.
posted by Ally at 2:46 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Autumn in Paris
The weather has definitely changed, I wish a few other things would as well.... on Monday I had breakfast with our Resources Director, I have begged him to shift me, but no luck. The problem is that there is no-one to take my place, because of the French language requirement. I was moaning about this to Nicky last night, he says there's heaps of work in Poland, and once the project is confirmed, he's going to try asking for me, maybe that will work.

It gets grimmer, as we are still having problems with the database. Even worse, Gil and Madame LA are working at the office today, preparing some huge meeting, so I am "in charge" here, I hate this. I only have two people to be in charge of, but one of them is nuts. She is the young trainee who knows everything, and it is getting a bit tiring. She sat in our team meeting yesterday and told Gil it should only take a day to add steps to our test scripts, while I was saying, well, I am not sure. I just went over to get her started on it, and she is like, well, I don't know what to put for these steps. I have been very nice and, instead of saying, well, how did you know it would only take a day then, I have explained how to turn the test into step by step instructions for a tester. The other guy is no trouble, in fact, he's helping sort out the database problems, so that is good.

Also Sylvain and the big boss from London turned up, I almost said to the latter, have you come to take me away from all of this. But it's a worry that they are here, they have been in with the bosses here for about three hours, probably listening to complaints about us all. I shudder to think what they say about me, and I do know now that Tom left this project because they wanted a French project director, and they didn't like him anyway.

I am longing to get my SANQ and JCS Ornament issue from SBB, I know they are on the way, I got an email to say so. I have got my Traditional Stitches Stash Enhancement package this week, and it has beautiful socks that say "Still Stitching". Quite timely, as I was about to go out and buy some socks. These are weekend ones, of course, I need some black cashmere ones in case the Poland plan comes off. Or the anywhere else plan....

Very little stitching, oh dear.... and I'm feeling very tired.
posted by Ally at 4:01 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Well, the mammogram was interesting, especially the bit where they said, now you have to wait for the doctor to look at the results and then she's going to come and talk to you and examine you some more.... I was a bit scared, actually. The doctor however was extremely nice, and she did an echographie, which was quite interesting, and showed me all the results of the tests. Apparently I have got cysts with fluid inside them, it's quite common, the doctor said, and not anything malignant. Of course the echographie was not free, like the mammogram, but I guess it's money well-spent, and I get most of it back anyway.

I was a bit shaken when I went home and spent quite a bit of Friday evening quaking at the thought of what I would have done if there had been a real problem. It kind of brought home to me that I haven't really made a lot of plans for the future - I've always been busy trying to get through the day at hand. I haven't even thought when my next holiday will be!

Yesterday was consequently a rather quiet day, I did do a bit of shopping, and housework, and unfortunately my washing machine has chosen this moment to get its "on" button stuck and will not work. I have no idea when I will be able to get it repaired, as it's bound to involve a lot of waiting around at home..... fortunately there is a laundry in the street, and I can use that for the time being.

I have not done a stitch this week, what with all the goings on (or lack of them) at work, and the consequent stress, and the whole mammogram thing, I spent most of the week worrying about something. Actually the doctor on Friday asked me about menopause and was I taking a treatment or anything, and of course I'm not, what I know about menopause could be written on the head of a pin. So I did buy myself a book called "Menopause for Dummies", as I felt so ignorant. I have only read portions of it, as some of it is quite horrifying, all sorts of medical details, but I suppose it's better to be prepared.

Well, I think I shall go out to the supermarket, then come back and try and do some stitching, see how I go - I only hope that next week is more productive!

Just to finish, the worst rugby-related add I have seen was in the metro yesterday - a bed with a rugby ball on it, and the text "Make a try, and you will be converted", to this brand of bed....
posted by Ally at 1:09 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Doom, Gloom and Shopping
Here it is the usual doom and gloom, environments that don't work, etc, plus a very large spreadsheet full of "errors" to correct in the configuration system. I was on msn with Suzette this morning, and translated a few of the weirder comments for her, I got a rolling on the floor laughing emoticon back.

So to cheer myself up a bit, I've ordered the Just Cross Stitch Christmas Ornament issue and the latest SANQ from Stitching Bits and Bobs, I hope they won't be too long in arriving. Their site has a large photo of the cover of the Ornament one, and I see there is an Eiffel Tower ornament that says "Joyeux Noel" - I don't really make ornaments very often, being normally by myself at Christmas, but this one looks quite nice, and might make a nice present.

Apart from that, only one other item of interest - last night on TV, there was a program about occupations connected with luxury goods, and they had three examples, a jeweller, Hermes the leather people and Lesage, the haute couture embroiderer. I wish to be adopted by Monsieur Lesage, he has the most amazing treasure of embroidery supplies. It showed the whole process of a haute couture design, with commands from Karl Lagerfeld and Christian Lacroix, from drawing right through to the mannequin wearing the dress in the parade. Some shots in the workrooms, which were interesting - the big frames with silk and tulle stretched on them for the embroidery to take place, and the Luneville crochet hooks they use to do the embroidery. I would like to try that..... amazing that for once there was actually a TV program with embroidery, especially in these days of solid football, with rare breaks for silly reality TV shows.

Oh, I wish I could get out of here before 7pm tonight. Last night I got home at 8:30pm, and was shattered.
posted by Ally at 3:51 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Mid Week Update
On Sunday, I did walk right up to the Eiffel Tower and to the river, no sign of any rugby ball shaped tent yet.... I really think they are going to put it on the part of the Champ de Mars at my end, near Ecole Militaire, rather than at the Eiffel Tower end, given the lie of the land and where there are gardens etc. People do not realise that, directly under the tower and around it, there are some lovely gardens, with ponds etc and seats to sit on. It's really quite soothing and very funny when you think that a few meters away there are seething swarms of tourists.

After that I went to WH Smith and bought the new Henning Mankell book, plus an Ann Granger mystery (these are total trivia, but I like them) and a DVD of "I Capture the Castle". This is such a good movie, I loved the book also, I recommend them both. Written by Dodie Smith, who wrote "101 Dalmatians", but totally different. I first read the book when I was a teenager, and I was delighted when they made a film.

After this the week has gone rapidly downhill, we had no database until yesterday afternoon, and then again today there is work being done, because I found a lot of errors as soon as it came up. I think Gil is nearly in "shoot the messenger" mode, he gets this hunted look when I approach him. Madame LA is sitting at her desk looking smug, she loves the misfortune of others, especially Gil. I was so totally annoyed by the whole atmosphere yesterday that I went off to the Thai restaurant by myself at lunchtime and ate a menu (12.80€) consisting of spring rolls, steamed specialities with Thai rice, and ice-cream for dessert. No dinner after that, for sure! I don't mind eating in that restaurant by myself, the guy there is sweet, and it is fairly quiet.

I'm not getting a lot done in the evenings either, as I don't get home until 8pm or so, and I am absolutely exhausted when I do. This project is such a worry, and then I have to say I am also a bit worried about the mammographie on Friday as well.... I mean, I know logically there probably won't be a problem, but I keep having these thoughts about what if there is etc etc. At least, afterwards I should be reassured about my health.

I think forward to next weekend, I hope the weather will remain nice, so I can walk again on Sunday - I'd like to go to Versailles and walk through the gardens, but it would also be nice to go to Jardin de Bagatelle before the roses quite disappear. You know there is a Guerlain perfume named after this garden? Very beautiful...
posted by Ally at 10:41 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Sad French...
They didn't win against Argentina, I've never seen such long faces..... really it's all about rugby here at present, I went to Hippo for lunch yesterday, and they have a poster with a hippo kicking a ball, saying "don't let your hunger go into extra time". Also my bank is a major sponsor, so every letter from them is decorated with rugby balls. And the railway stations have gone mad, at Gare du Nord yesterday, you could have your face decorated in rugby colours. Even children's clothes shops have little rugby balls in the windows. And every cafe has imported a big screen, including my restaurant on the corner of the street where I sometimes eat. Don't know about downstairs - there is a rather nice restaurant with specialities from the east of France, and I know they are big soccer fans, so maybe they will not be watching the rugby.

Heaps of fans in the streets, but so far I have seen no obvious New Zealanders, I guess they are down south for the moment. It goes on for over a month, which may be a bit too long.

I did a heap of shopping yesterday, went to Zara Home and bought a white towel, a set of silver woven baskets and a patchwork quilt, just perfect for my bed at present, as it is too warm for a duvet, but my little blanket is just a bit too light. Then bought two big baskets at Muji, one for my works in progress, the other for this season's shoes - presently occupied by the ten pairs of black work shoes I found in my wardrobe purge.

David's present is progressing a little: I am using the recommended R&R Alabaster linen (it came specially from the US), and it is better than the last R&R I had, I really like this one. It's a 30 count, very pleasant to work on. The threads are GAST and WDW, and it will look a bit more colourful when I get to the top half, with its big tree and flowers.

Not looking forward to the return to the house of horrors tomorrow. Madame LA will be back, so I expect she and Gil will have a fight. I told Gil I really can't stand this whole situation, the commute is killing me, and the attitude of the client is beyond belief, she's now claiming all the configuration is incorrect and saying she will reject the whole system. And of course I haven't been able to get on to the system and "fix" anything in the last week. Poor Gil is going through the PA report and making lists of points to verify, so I expect I will cop my share of those, and to be honest, I'm happy with that sort of thing - it's just all of this accusatory "it's wrong, and no I'm not going to tell you why, because you should be able to read my mind" sort of thing that I cannot stand, especially when said mind changes every day. Both Madame LA and the client are guilty on that count.

In fact I hope that now, having told Gil about my views, I may stand a chance of getting out of here and going somewhere else in the not too distant future. I'm going to beef up my winter wardrobe a bit more, in case it's Poland or the Netherlands. At least in those two places, I would get to stay in a nice hotel where they make breakfast for me, and either walk or get driven to work. Plus, if people say weird things, I wouldn't understand them, at least not in Poland, in the Netherlands, I probably would, after a while.

The only positive thing about this project is that I have proved my ability to work in French, which is not easy for a foreigner to do. I keep on hearing my former Australian colleagues telling me that, of course, Australian IT people are very sought after in Europe. Well, I'm afraid not, maybe in London, but somewhere like France, if you don't speak the language fluently, it's impossible. Mostly, if they advertise a job here, they won't even look at people if they haven't graduated from the right schools (i.e. the right French ones), so you have to be extra-lucky even to get an interview without that. I've been fortunate to be working for an international company and have a lot of project experience, but without the language, it would have been impossible.

Plans for the rest of the day include getting dressed (yes, it's nearly midday and I'm in bed with a laptop!), go for walk, buy papers, do some knitting.....

posted by Ally at 11:56 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Friday, September 07, 2007
Friday At Last
It goes from bad to worse - still no database, so we are filling in time doing documentation for tests before we have done the tests. Yes, exactly. There is a certain amount we can do, but of course it will all have to be revisited when finally we can do something. Gil is also in a not very good mood, as they had a horrible committee meeting yesterday, where he was the main victim, and our new PD (who is only part time on this project) was not very supportive.

I was talking to Suzette this morning and said I really felt like going and buying shoes tomorrow. She said, if she was me, she would get the matching handbag as well! In fact, buying shoes is the last thing I should be doing, as the recent exercise with the wardrobe etc revealed that I have absolutely no idea how many pairs of shoes I do have. It could be about 50, I am really not sure.

This really has not been a good week, I've done so little stitching that there's not even any point photographing it,I'll see how I go by Sunday. I have knitted a foot of scarf in this Noro yarn called Ganpi Akaba, but that's not very exciting to look at. I get the usual strange looks in the metro, a bit unfair really, when you think what some people are doing (barking to themselves, eating ham sandwiches for breakfast, picking their noses etc etc).

What else has happened this week? Well, all of our work mobile phones stopped working on Wednesday, in some cases in mid phone call - our new employers, who had sent us a letter saying that the contract was going to run out at some date that they did not tell us and they would send us another letter beforehand regarding replacement phones, just forgot all of this and let the contract expire. So my cellphone is now nothing more than an alarm clock! I actually wouldn't mind a new phone, as mine is the oldest one in the company, it dates from 2001. It still works, more or less, occasionally the buttons stick or something.

Of course the person who is handling this from our side is the mad Ruritanian Help Desk man (the one we refer to as Dracula), who has just told us that he has no idea when we will have new phones - some of the PDs, who are already getting severe withdrawal symptoms, are very cross with him. Gil and I are just sitting here saying, well, if anyone wants to call us.... it could actually be quite pleasant to be without a phone for a while. I don't actually have a personal one, when I first came to France, of course I couldn't get one (no French work contract, no French bank account, etc etc), and, although I could now, I've just never done it.

Plan for the evening - sneak out of here before 6pm, buy bottle of Sancerre, go home, whiz through some chores while Sancerre chilling, open Sancerre and sit with this and stitching in front of the Three Tenors. They are having this on tv tonight, the famous concert at the Caracalla Baths, in memory of Luciano Pavarotti, and I think this is more my sort of thing than France v Argentina.

Re Rugby World Cup, I think there will be a certain amount of mass hysteria here, although not like the Soccer World Cup, but certainly all the hotels are booked out at present, and virtually every advertisement you see for anything has got a rugby ball in it..... of course the poor dears expect France to win! I will go along the road to the Eiffel Tower when I can (it's a whole 5 mins walk from chez moi) and report upon this rugby ball shaped NZ pavilion at some stage....
posted by Ally at 11:09 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Back At Work
Just about to start the third day of the working week, and I hope it is more productive than the other two. I came back to find a system that has serious problems, and I am not sure exactly what has been going on in my absence..... I am doing what I can to find the causes, but it all seems to be techie stuff. Or most of it, I have answered a few million questions about business things as well.

We have a new guy, a contractor, who sits across from me where Suzette should be - he's rather sweet, French, he's worked a lot with Alec before. Suzette is still stuck at home, as they are still processing her work permit, it could take weeks apparently. She went to Vietnam for the weekend, shopping! Typical Suzette, she is a champion shopper.

It's taking me over an hour in the morning to get here - if I leave about 7:30, I can get here about 8:40, and getting home again takes at least that long. Last night I went to the supermarket on the way, so it was 8pm before I got in - I'm leaving here about six. Today I am leaving early, hooray, because I am having a facial at 6pm in the city. I've simply told Gil I have regular dermatology appointments, which is not strictly true, but this is necessary, because I've already noticed that my skin looks less clear after coming back from the mountains.

At night I am doing very little, pressing on with "Garden of Life" for David, and that's about it, apart from eating, watching the news and having baths..... I hope I don't get too exhausted by the weekend. I long for my five-minute walk to work in Nicosia, this commuting is such a bore.
posted by Ally at 10:25 am ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Sunday, September 02, 2007
Very Last Day
Of the holidays, and I woke up with a headache.... this is probably explained by the behaviour of the neighbours in the entresol, who have behaved very badly indeed all week, but have now surpassed themselves. Yesterday they used their Playstation at high volume for about three hours in the afternoon, then blessedly went out. Before they went out, I could hear them talking about going to find girls to chat up! some hope! It is two youngish English guys, with very loud voices, and they clearly don't realise that every word they say reverberates around the courtyard and upwards....

Then this morning at 6am, I am woken up by their talking loudly, I couldn't believe it! I went to the window and said "shhhhh...." quite loudly myself, there was a sort of silence and I went back to sleep for a bit.

Looks like I am going to have to go and see them and explain a few things, like they need to close the windows if they are going to scream, do Playstation etc. The principle in France is that any noise that can be heard is too much - of course, no-one worries about the odd bang or crash or gentle music, or the occasional party, most people around here seem to have one party every six months or so, they put up a notice to warn and excuse themselves. But constant noise is really breaking the rules, and they could actually get into trouble for it, French people are pretty good at calling the police in such circumstances. And now that people are coming back from holidays, someone probably will.

As an aside, I didn't know even adults played with Playstations, I've never come across that before.

Apart from all of this, the weekend has been OK, I finished all my shopping yesterday more or less, and the apartment is in a more or less respectable state, compared with what it was before. I've done a bit of David's present, which it is my aim to get finished in September. Birthday is mid-October. It's not something I can do on the train, unfortunately, I have knitting for the train. I am not looking forward to resuming 2 1/2 to 3 hours of commuting each day, but we will see how it goes!
posted by Ally at 1:20 pm ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments