Friday, June 28, 2013

Sometimes, it ain't about the time, it's about the time you have there.

Hi folks,

I am not going to talk about work.
I am not going to talk about work.


Let's just talk about the nice things in life eh?


Glastonbury is wall to wall on the telly at the mo. So far I've caught a few minutes and decided to put fingers to keyboard while the ever growing list of Acts I Have Never Heard Of continue to play on (with the exception of Dizzy Rascal). I could stick a hash tag gag about being old, but that in itself, would be old....... but not as old as The Stones. :-P I think it was the festival before, where I caught a performance by Marina & The Diamonds. I like quirky and I liked the act, so after listening a few more times on YouTube, I invested in the album. I wonder if there will be any more little treats like that this time around? One lives in hope.

I've never been away to a festival. I think a few years of camping holidays as a teenager, helped remind me as to why we invented hotels, comfy beds and a good bathroom. There was a big gig at one of the local parks back in the 90s and that was great. While most of the bands were well known locally, there were no big acts per se. Not that I mind, if you like a band, you like a band. If everyone else does, it just boosts the chances of your seeing them on the box. Not that that matters these days, not with the Interwebs to store videos and whatnot.

What about you, dear reader? Are you a fan of festivals, or are you more recorded music, or - like me - happy to sit in a comfy chair and enjoy the entertainment without having to kip in a field?

It seems music is very much in the air this evening, as Wee Man has been to the school disco. As I pulled up, I could hear the soft and melodic tones of LMFAO and by the look of Jones Jr's hair, he'd been dancing away like a good 'un. That or he'd dunked his head under the tap for effect. You can never be sure with our kids. :-) But he had a good time. Maybe the dancing bug in his blood too....

A Night Out

Strange, that in previous months, the idea of a short time En Femme - to use the lingo - would have dulled the fun in some way. Thankfully, that mentality has slipped away of late and now it's just a case of enjoying the time I have. I managed to get away a little earlier than I would normally and this time around, I remembered to take it easy with the Blade of Doom! :-)

I'd packed the night before and given the weather, I'd gone for a more summery look. At least, that's what I'd decided on, and then had second thoughts after a day of rain on the Thursday. Still, much as boots and leggings felt more appropriate, we Brits make the best of things, so summer stuff it was. Flats and trousers again. I'm wondering if I'll have to hand in my Trans* License at this point. Oh wait, I'm a bloke in lady clothes and a face full of slap. Panic over. :-)

We also had a visit from a lovely lady called Jo, who had emailed the group last month about a visit to talk about skin care, beauty and suchlike. I thought the visit went very well and unlike other people who'd come along, there was no feeling of the hard sell. It's tricky, in that, some people visit & chat; some people visit as vendors (which is fine) & they mingle; while others, you get the feeling that they are only there for the sale. The latter don't tend to do so well and they don't tend to come back. After ten minutes, you can normally spot that, but you do your best to make people feel welcome, nonetheless. Anyhoo, there was none of the latter with Jo and with a bit of luck, maybe she'll pop along again.

A few folk - Alison, Tanya and Pat - all had a good chat and picked up some tips. I asked about eye make-up, mainly as I seem to struggle with shading in the outer corner of my eye. It seems when I put it on, it's okay, but looking in the mirror normally, I somehow manage to blend the wrong way and it looks too heavy at the edges. Still, maybe that's the up close problem. That aside, it seemed that in general I wasn't doing anything too bad which is always a worry - and that if I line my top lash only half way, it may help. Something to try..... oh and I won't be trying the Number 7 eye-liner again, it did not agree with my eyes. :-(

Pat was asking me about other folk who might come along again. HotHair and Boots were both a big hit, so I may try getting them to come along again. Possibly at the end of summer, as numbers tend to increase as the season starts to turn.

Take care,

PS: If I can get my Editing Head on this week, you may see another post in Our Different Journey. I've also fired off a few emails to other folk in the Trans* blogging world. Fingers crossed!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Calm down, dear. It's just a job.


Shall we go with the personal and then end on the ponder-able?


This week at work..... Well. Indeed. I have a very large glass of wine next to me, which is unusual; mainly as I'm more a hot choccy or gin & tonic kinda person. But, needs be as needs must. Not that it's been a bad week - no-one passed away, no-one got the sack, etc - but I would struggle to say it's been a good one.

Why the heavy vibes? Every year, the firm I work for, like many others, do staff reviews. Sadly, not a comedy line up, moreover a list of tasks you agree to take on, attempt to complete and if you do very well, your boss can recommend you for a boost in wages. Now, money is feeling a little tight in the Jones household - as no doubt, it is for many other folk - so this year, I did my best to go that extra mile. My thinking was I'd have plenty of evidence on the task list and indeed, I felt that in many ways, I'd gone beyond what was asked of me (extra out of hours work, taking on extra projects, not just planning upgrades but fully completing them six months in advance, yadda yadda).

I was a little surprised when I bumped into a friend in Personnel, when she asked how the staff review had gone. "What review?" I asked somewhat surprised. L when on to say that she'd seen most of the paperwork come in and the management folk had reviewed them. After more investigation, it seems our new boss..... and I struggle to type this without my blood pressure rising.... decided that he didn't like last year's targets (as he didn't set them), so he didn't hand them in.

Children of the 80s may like to rattle off the phrase: what 'cho talking about, Willis? :-)

All those extra hours, all that extra work. Written off because he couldn't get his sh** together in twelve months to let us know the plans, agree new tasks, or even, to tell us what he was planning.

Yes, to say I was a little cross, is somewhat of an understatement. :-D

You can imagine, office morale has been very, very low this week - and not just from me. I have been back in touch with Personnel and after gathering evidence, I've asked them to investigate. Judging by the look on the adviser's face, this goes against company policy. I've yet to challenge said manager over the issue - mainly as a co-worker did and was told where to get off. Nice.... :-\ I guess we'll see if anything happens from above. I am gently coaxing colleagues to contact Personnel if they also feel similarly.

Watch this space.


Friday on Radio 4 - yes, I do know how to rawk ;-) - sees the regular broadcast of Desert Island Discs. For those of you not in the know, I'll let you pop off for a quick Google and come back.....

Sorted? Good, well, this week's episode featured the editor of Vogue. I'm afraid said lady's name currently escapes me, partly due to traffic on the way to work, a day at work and the third of a glass of wine I've drunk. But while her name floats around the alcofrolically challenged neurons, her comment over a person's appearance has not diminished.
"I think that people make very conscious decisions, about the way they want to portray themselves. And if that's to say I don't care about my clothes, you're still saying something."
Clothing, for a trans* person, is a complicated beast. From a guy point of view, I may be scruffy - t-shirt, jeans that have sometimes gone in the knee and trainers - but I would like to hope I look together. Not a mess, but at although very casual - to the point of being laconic? - but okay. I'm not really a fan of the shirt & tie, although for a going out do, I don't mind. It's nice to dress up once in a while.

As to the trans wardrobe, it's waaaay more complicated. That's even with ignoring the physical issues of being tall (6ft), reasonably broad shouldered and, if I don't do more exercise, heading into two-new-wardrobes-please territory (looks guilty at the wine and drinks it anyway).

Complaining? No, not really. Perhaps the complication of it all adds to the fun. The challenge of putting something together than a) suits me, b) is fairly on trend, c) I like wearing and d) things I can't do (like, smooth pins). There are looks I like, but don't work for me and there are things that work for me, that I don't like. Fickle, moi? :-) But, I think that's true of everyone.... umm... not the fickle part, but the liking for things that don't always do us any favours.

There has been many evenings when I've found there's a look I'd like to try, or seen something in the wardrobe and wondered what else would go with it. On good days, it all comes together beautifully and when I get changed, it's all good. Most days, it's okay and I'm happy. On the bad days, even laying it all out on the bed and hoping the Fairy Gokfather (that's not a homophobic slur, BTW! Think Disney.... only better turned out and more helpful) will give me a clue, doesn't work. Instead, you end up falling back to old favourites.

Until someone invents the Gok app for my smartphone ("Not that, sweetheart. Try the wrap dress."), I shall be ever looking for inspiration and coming up with outfits in my head, whenever meetings begin to drag.

Still, it is the weekend - depending on when and where you are reading this. Salut! [raises wine glass.]

Take care,

Friday, June 14, 2013

Who watches the Watchmen?

Salutations dear reader,


The dry spell has been broken. Whatever biological or mental (emphasis on the mental ;-) ) block was floating in my noggin, seems to have relented and off I went to Chams the other night. Strange, after those few weeks of being decidedly, well, meh, about the whole trans thing, my interest was piqued and I found myself wanting a little fabulous time out. And so, with the generous smile of the Fates, events conspired with me and all was well....

Well..... mostly. I almost put the kibosh on the whole gig, by giving myself a razor cut Sweeny Todd would have been proud of. There I was, enjoying a rather warm shower - the warmer, the better the shave! - when I felt a slight tug on my chin as I drew the blade down. Uh-oh. There was then a drip of something very red against my chest. Bugger. I'm sorry to say, I had a little bit of a panic at that point. You know, that type of feeling you get when things seem to be about to spiral out of your control. But a few deep breaths and I switched razors and carried on.

But so did the nick in my chin! Agh! Oh well, best clean up and then hope a dab of tissue to the affecting area would sort it. Nope. Okay, plan B. Dab it dry and then apply some powder to it. Dab again. Wait.... oh. Fixed! Yes, Buttons, you shall go to the ball!

Bloke gear on and bag packed from the night before, I was soon winging my way up to the Centre. Despite being a little later than I'd hoped - completely my fault, I just faffed about too much - my plans for the outfit of the night went okay. I've not done the short shorts and opaques look before, but I was happy with it, that's the main thing.

I did try taking some before and after shots, but as the lighting changed during the time between arrival and me finishing getting ready, I think I'm going to require a favour from someone with Photoshop-jitsu, to sort things out. That's the only negative for the night - which is pretty minor, all things considered - and everything went very well. I had a good chat with the usual folk (Tanya and Alison) and caught up with some new visitors too (Hello Lauren!). Oh, I also did my good deed for the day, by delivering on my promise to paint Alison's partner's nails. She seemed happy with the free nail work and a number of folk were after the Blackberry shade from Boots. Maybe I should ask for commission? :-)


If you were into conspiracy theories and The Man keeping his eye on you, this week seems to have been a good week for singing I told you so! For the record, and in a non-paranoid way, I thought that in some way, one of the main western governments would be doing it. But I was a little surprised at how deeply the American National Security Agency had been doing it.

Disappointed? Angry? Worried? No, not really. Given that I have a free blog hosted by Google and a Facebook account, from a corporate perspective, I guess my digital fingerprints are all over the Interwebz as it is. The main thing for me, is ensuring that I keep my Richard and Lynn digital histories part. Not because of any shame, but more to keep family life away from my trans-life. Something we talked about at last night's Chams - the awkwardness of keeping secrets.

I guess by know most of you know I work in IT, so my attitude to logging is a bit mixed. On the one hand, the necessity for an organisation to keep an eye on its web traffic is useful. Most of the time it is there to protect the company from individuals thinking they can do something illegal and the company will take the hit (no, that's why companies have a web use policy). Should said logs be used to see what people are up to? No and from conversations with the various security managers I've spoken to over the years, they don't. A) they've got better things to do with their time, and B) it would be an invasion of privacy. Instead, they keep the logs for the rare occasions when someone blows the whistle ("Fred's been looking at dodgy sites, guv!"), or the even rarer occasions when the police call.

There are main three areas where the NSA logging situation bothers me. Firstly, from what I've heard on the news, there doesn't seem to be much in the way of the data being at arm's length. What I mean is, they are free to read the data when and how they like. Using it real time (as much as you can considering the volume of information we're talking about) and after the fact to catch crooks, seems okay. However, the more insidious use - a bit like a scarier version of Facebook Ads :-P - where you start profiling your civilians; that I find worrying. Is that happening now? I couldn't say. I guess the debate in America will run on.

The other part, which is the line many of the big Internet companies rolled out: "we don't give them direct access to our servers." Well, given the highly distributed nature of these web giants, I can't say that would be particularly helpful and to be honest, if I want to gather data (many patching levels) from servers, I don't visit them directly (there's just too many). No, I get a software agent to do it for me, or if that won't work, I ask the Server Team to work on it. In other words, a simple request. Perhaps said companies were not allowed to state how the NSA get the information. I did read that Google took requests - no, not singing ones - hey, do you know the tune "Trousers and Firewalls Down It's The NSA"? :-) - and then fed the data back, either via secure file transfer or even in print outs.

The last part is that the weakness in most systems - oh, Linux users might like to yell "Windows!" at this point :-) - is the human element. Sometimes we sysadmin folk, we do dumb things. We leave USB keys in a machine, forget to change the default password on a new appliance, or we save a file in the wrong place. It happens..... but most of my stuff is project related and is not a person's personal metadata.

So all in all, I am worried? If a government agency was mining the data - to use a geek-term - to categorise its citizens, rather than using it to search for criminal activity, then yes, I would. This problem isn't going to go away and given the success of some of the hackers out there, I wonder what else is lurking in the darker recesses of security agencies? I'll leave that one for the X-Filers.

Take care,

Friday, June 07, 2013

Random acts of human kindness

Hey folks,

It's been a slow news week this time around. Perhaps, this is not a bad thing. Not sure I could be doing with drama, the weather's too nice at the mo.

In all honesty, I was considering not writing anything. I feel that I don't have much to get off my chest, or share with you. I mean, well.... blogging. It can be a bit egocentric when it's about yourself. How do people who write a column manage it? Well, those who write a column that's interesting, I should add :-P

Duh Moment

This week saw the continuation in a lack of T Force. Not that it stopped me driving out to Chameleons..... and then back again, when I realised it wasn't on. [facepalm]

Still, on the positive, it wasn't like I'd made an effort with a chin sizzlingly close shave (bet they don't use us T folk in a Gilette ad), nor packing a hernia inducing bag of outfits. Being lazy, has its benefits.


Midweek, the Jones Massive were enjoying a late afternoon stroll out in the local country park. So far, so typical. All was going well and we were overtaken by a young lady on a mountain bike. A few moments later - and pretty much as we rounded the corner of some rather tall bushes - said biker was stood, her hands shaking, chin bleeding and her knee was a mess of dirt and blood.

She was - understandably - very shaken, so we stopped. I write this next bit with a mixed emotion. Not so much the ooo-aren't-we-kind BS, but more, why do some folk not stop? We asked if she was okay - and no, we still don't know her name - and noting the shaking hands and the limp, we stopped our walk and offered to help. A lift home? Use of a phone? A drive to a shop for medical supplies?

While I offered my phone, so said biker could call her husband, the Ever Lovely Mrs J agreed to take the dog a bit further on, while Wee Man wheeled the bike along, During this, some others - perhaps another six or so folk - strolled, or ran by, and while a few had a good gawk at what was going on, no-one offered to help. Funny that. Not even a "can be help?" or the offer of a tissue / wipe to deal with the bloodied knee. Ten minutes or so later, we were all back at the main gates, and hey presto, biker lady's husband turned up looking rather worried (natch).

When I used to ride a motorbike, I would stop when people were broken down. Sometimes people wanted a push (to get off the road), some needed to make a phone call, while others were just fine. I don't do it so much now, mainly because I'm in a rush so much and also because I'm conscious my car isn't as easily parked up as my bike was.

Looking back to last year - when I had my accident - a chap I've never met and never seen since - he took the time out of his day, to keep the kids safe and keep an eye on my while the Emergency Services turned up. Indeed, he even called back in the evening, to see how I was getting on. It's a small regret of mine that I didn't thank him enough. It was a basic, but very welcome offer of help.

Take care,