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A mixed bag

[30 May 2012|11:22am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

On getting home last night, my bag contained the following:

- Medals: One Queens Diamond Jubilee, one NATO ISAF*
- Computer hardware: 2 x 1T hard drive, 1 x 160G hard drive, one Intel network card, micro USB cable
- Tools etc: Leatherman Wave and Gerber Artifact, Gerber torch, mini-LED torch
- Books etc: Collapse, my Kindle, a folder and notebook with various important bits of paper, including notes on a forthcoming parade
- Clothes etc: Fleece, buff, shemagh

It was an ... acquisitive day.

Last weekend was rather busy. On Saturday a good friend and colleague from the regiment was married. He had asked me to be in the guard of honour, which along with looking good would form a sword arch as they left the church. The six of us in the guard of honour would be in No 1 dress for the day, as well as wearing swords. I don't have a sword or a No 1 jacket, but the groom provided a spare sword and I hired the jacket. The rest of No 1 is a mix of No 2 and No 10 dress - George boots or Wellington boots**, cavalry trousers with braces, brown gloves, Sam Browne belt, blue No 1 hat (which is worn with No 2 dress on parades, so I have that). It's a little complicated.

So, I had a jacket fitted on Monday last week, and on the day I drove a long way round London to Kent to pick up the jacket, then a long way round London to Sandhurst, where the wedding was held in the memorial chapel. Thanks to three different stupid drivers, traffic was backed up at multiple accidents, and we arrived only forty minutes before the ceremony. I had to change into my No 1 in the car park, with the heat melting the tarmac under my feet. Let me tell you, putting on George boots and cavalry trousers is hard at the best of times, let alone doing it in a hurry while standing up and sweating.

After the madness of getting there and getting ready, the rest of the day was excellent. The sword arch looked very good, and no-one was injured, even though my poor sword drill meant that I almost cut the man on my right, and almost stabbed the man on my left. A long afternoon and evening at the Sandhurst boathouse was quite lovely, and the dinner and speeches were a perfect end. By this time little V, who refused to sleep, was getting very cranky and tired, so we made our excuses as soon as possible and left at 21h00. V was asleep in her car seat before we even reached the gate.

Sunday was a much more relaxed event, which was good because I was a little tired. My dad's birthday was last week, so we went up to Cambridgeshire and had a quiet family lunch while V played in the garden. She is completely stable on her feet, and can even run a little. She is also the scourge of daisies, which she plucks and gives to people nearby.

Tomorrow, at last, finally, I have the interview for my own job. It's been nearly two years since this reorganisation started. In the last month two members of the team have resigned, and one person from my team has been sent to another team. This has had the bizarrely serendipitous effect that the post most suited to me is a pay grade higher, and I'm the only applicant. Good things come to those who wait?

The weekend ahead is a four-day holiday weekend, including the Jubilee! V has already appropriated on Union flag, so I'll have to get another one to hang in the window. Also this weekend is the third session of my DnD game, where the players have to work out whether Benchi the ratling merchant was kidnapped by Flying Fox and her minions, JiaoBao the Giant, or the Green Sashes - and then rescue him!

* I'm not allowed to wear the ISAF medal - it's not given by the Queen. Any decoration not given by the Queen has to be individually approved, and it's a general policy that NATO and UN medals are not approved.
** Not those Wellington boots, silly!

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This is why cross-training is important

[10 May 2012|12:45pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

I've been cycling madly to work for the last couple of months. It's 22.5km from home to work, so I'm cycling 45km daily - usually 4 days a week, because Monday is Game Night and I don't feel like cycling home at 23h00. Following my reasonable time in the half-marathon, I thought my running time would have improved massively. I'm not running a great deal at the moment, because I am tired from cycling and weekends are usually busy. This last weekend was a three-day bank holiday weekend, though, and I managed to get my "short" run in.

It was appalling. I was a minute over my usual time, and my legs were aching. Cycling two days later was hard work. So, it's pretty obvious that I need to mix up my training a little more.

Speaking of mixing up the training, I'm off to the Brecon Beacons this weekend to hike up Pen-y-fan, the highest mountain in southern Wales and England. This is preparation for the regimental team attempt at the Three Peaks Challenge in July.

Despite having a three-day weekend, I still didn't have a lot of free time. Saturday was an all-day stag do for a fellow officer, with go-karting and bowling (I'm improving at both). Sunday was the second session of my new Pathfinder game, where the players encounter bandits by the score. And Monday was Y's birthday.

I worked from home Tuesday, to allow me the time to fill out the application for my current position. This is a silly exercise.
- "Why are you suited to this job?"
- "Errrr ... because I've been doing it for six years?"

V can now say "bath"! I'm working on "banana" next ...

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Prepare for the likely as well as the unlikely

[13 Apr 2012|11:11am]
[ mood | cheerful ]

While my zombie apocalypse plans are fully developed, I was not adequately prepared for a puncture while cycling home last night ...

I had covered 15km when I went over a pothole, causing what is known as a snakebite puncture, where the impact of the rim on the tube makes two neat incisions like a little snakebite. It was 19h00, the nearest bike shops were 4km behind or 5km ahead (and closed) and I did not have a puncture repair kit or a replacement inner tube (although I had both at home). I ended up walking the remaining 7km home.

So, today, I am going to the bike shop and buying two replacement inner tube (cheap!) and carrying both with me, along with my usual tyre levers and pump. Then punctures will mean a 20-minute delay at most, not an extra hour of walking.

Monday saw the start of what will hopefully be an ongoing game - a Pathfinder (ie DnD 3.5+) game set in Song Dynasty China. The period is really interesting, and sees my favourite historical antagonists arrive - the Mongols! Really, the Mongols and the effect they had on world history are completely under-appreciated. I try to use them in every historical game I run - unfortunately none of my Ars Magica games ever got far enough for The Mongol Invasion.

I really liked DnD 3rd ed when it came out, ooh, twelve years ago? DnD 3.5 mostly passed me by, since I didn't see the need for the changes. I missed the release of DnD 4th Ed, and the surrounding controversy and flamewars. Wow. 4th Ed is ... not very good. In fact, the whole logic behind it is rather poor. The end result is a system which loses most verisimilitude, and the supposedly better combat rules are in fact worse for complexity and time.

So, Pathfinder. Pathfinder fixes a lot of the worst problems with 3/3.5. It's a very familiar system to anyone who has played 3rd ed, and has a lot of good fresh approaches to some things. A good example is Pathfinder goblins - a nice development of a very vanilla DnD monster, with excellent artwork to match the theme.

The reorganisation at work is still going on. It started on my 34th birthday, in 2010. Since it started I've done a tour of Afghanistan and had a child, who is now a year old. I'm not sure what else can be said about that.

Little V had a fever from her vaccinations a couple of weeks ago, but she is such an angel. She walked around looking a little flushed, and wanted lots of hugs. Poor little thing! She is now all better, and ready to conquer the world once more.

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That's Captain C to you!

[04 Apr 2012|04:05pm]
[ mood | bouncy ]

Indeed, after many years as a subaltern I have been elevated to the dizzy heights of Captain! I was gazetted on the 1st of April (I'm assured that this is not an April Fool's joke) and must now send my uniforms to the tailor to have the appropriate ranks added. I'll also have to buy several rank badges for my field uniform.

There will be a reshuffle of positions in the squadron, and I'm going to leave my beloved A Troop to sit in a tent somewhere and shout orders over the radio. Alas, as a Captain I am expected to be a serious and responsible person, which may prove difficult ...

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Two answers

[25 Mar 2012|05:51pm]
[ mood | pleased ]

The questions I had on Friday night were, "Where am I going on my exchange visit with the US National Guard?" and "What time will I achieve on my first half-marathon?"

Answer 1: Wisconsin! starmadeshadow, I'm not sure how far Fort McCoy is from your university ... maybe I'll have a chance to drop by. Funnily enough, I'm not working with native Wisconsinites - I'm attached to a unit from Texas. They'll be travelling pretty far to get to Wisconsin as well. The Olympics are off, for me - I've been told I can either guard a car-park in East London for a month, or go and shoot guns with Texans in Wisconsin for a fortnight. Hmmm.

Answer 2: 1:39! I achieved a time of one hour, thirty-nine minutes for my first half-marathon, and I am very pleased. The adjutant of my regiment, who is training for the London marathon, only came in two minutes ahead of me. I have one large and two small blisters on my aching feet, and my dehydration headache has only just faded, but I'm feeling fine. I have never actually run that far (21km) in one go before, and I was cruising until about 1:10, when I started to cramp up and I could feel that I didn't have much energy left. I tried to sprint in the last 200m, but ended up doing some sort of bouncing hobble as my calf muscles cramped up on every step.

I don't think I'll be cycling to work tomorrow.

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A bright future

[19 Mar 2012|12:46pm]
[ mood | calm ]

Saturday was Doljanchi for V; her first birthday, where she has an array of things on a table and whatever she chooses corresponds to her future life. She chose a book, thread and pencil (in that order); first and last indicate that she will be a scholar or academic, and the thread indicates long life. Yay V! I've got it all on video (including her taking off her hat) and will post it soon.

I've been cycling to work the last week, which is both excellent and exhausting. From the north (far) side of Potters Bar to Euston/Kings Cross is 14.1m/22.5km by the most direct road route. High Barnet, at the edge of London and just before Potters Bar, is the highest point between central London and York (!), halfway up the country. This means that the route has a few ups and downs. Getting to work in the morning is easier (going from 190m altitude to 80m) than the reverse in the evening. It's just over an hour to get in to work, and maybe an hour and fifteen minutes home. This has the advantage of saving me £170 in train fares monthly, and not requiring more time in the morning or evening to exercise, so I have more time to play with little V!

All this exercise is good build-up for the Fleet Half-marathon which I'm doing this Sunday. It's a pity I haven't been cycling for longer ... nonetheless, I'm pretty sure I can make a sub-2-hour time on this. Watch this space!

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Operation Olympics

[22 Feb 2012|01:24pm]
[ mood | cruising speed ]

(Someone must really have stretched to come up with that name)

The TA is contributing people to the Olympics, and I may be one of them! However, senior MoD planning being what it is, I don't yet know when I'm mobilising, where I'll be based or what I'll be doing. It's ok, guys, you've only had seven years to work this out.

Army news

BBC news article

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More V!

[14 Feb 2012|02:20pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

Yeah take a look at this little girl, with her low-riding trousers. Aw yiss.

This is a more recent video - the last one is a few weeks old, while this one is from Friday.

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Shooting things with other things!

[13 Feb 2012|03:59pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

This last weekend was the annual Regimental shooting competition, which is more fun than a barrel of monkeys with guns. Actually, it's remarkably similar in atmosphere and outcome to a barrel of monkeys with guns, with a bit more focus on safety.

The weather was bitterly cold (for the UK; Russian/Canadian readers may disagree), with temperatures dropping down to -11C on Saturday night. Fortunately we were in barracks overnight, and there was no rain or sleet, just lots of snow. We usually host guests for this event, but our civilian guests probably stayed away because of the weather. Instead we were hosting a group of officer cadets (officers in training who usually have not yet selected a regiment). I was asked to be the host for this group*, and guided them through the weekend without too much drama. One of these officer cadets is female and a model, and proved to be very popular with the soldiers. Her popularity surged when she stripped down to a pink sports bra while changing clothes after a run, and even more so when someone found her lingerie shoot on Facebook.

Saturday was occupied with various shoots - a moving shoot down a range, a pistol (Browning Hi-Power) shoot, and a machine gun (GPMG) shoot. I get to fire a rifle several times a year, but opportunities to shoot pistols and machine guns are few and far between. My pistol skills are average as always; I had great fun with the machine gun. Army training specifies firing the GPMG in 3-5 round bursts, and I duly fired a couple of those at the target. The range officer then told me "Ok, finish off the belt", which I interpreted as "Fire the remaining fifty round in one looooong burst." That's not what he meant, but I certainly killed that target. Although I know the drills on firing a GPMG, that's the first time I've fired live ammo.

On Sunday there was a march-and-shoot competition, which involves a 4-mile march/run followed by a timed ammunition load and shoot. Snow started coming down as we moved off, but moving kept us nice and warm. I managed to mangle my hand while loading rounds into magazines, which meant I had blood dripping off my rifle as I fired at the targets in a gratifyingly war-like fashion. After cleaning it up and receiving medical attention, it turned out to be a disappointingly small graze which won't leave any kind of heroic scar.

No news on the civilian job front - the change project rolls on with nothing actually being settled or working.

V is princess of the house now that she's walking. Well, more so than before.

So, on to the multimedia! A pic of me and a video of little V after the cut ...Collapse )

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Holding action

[30 Jan 2012|02:36pm]
[ mood | busy ]

I frequently think these days that as soon as I finish X, I'll be able to relax a bit, and think ahead. Many many events have I labelled X, and they have passed by with varying degrees of success, but there's always another X looming a few days away on the calendar.

Anyway, last week I ran in the RLC cross-country championships near Abingdon in Oxfordshire. It had been raining the day before, so the course was rather muddy and slippery. The best footing in some parts was going through the calf-deep puddles, because at least the bottom of the puddle was firm. The course was 9.75km, and I came 108th in a field of 220 with a time of 49:56. This is one of the few professional races I've taken part in, but the captain of the regimental running team has me on his list now, and I think I'm already signed up for a half-marathon in March.

We took V swimming on Saturday, and she was a bit sick afterwards. Not good! But she's a hardy little thing and was better by last night.

The work reorganisation continues (I could use this same sentence in every blog post from May 2011 to July 2012). We've reached deadline 1 of Set 1 of Group 1 of Phase 3 (yes, really) and I submitted my application for another position elsewhere in the department, as Information Security officer. My TA work is actually a major contributor here - being very well-versed in information security and working on secure systems, as well as holding security clearance, is quite helpful.

This ties in neatly with my plans to transfer to the TA information security unit. I'm reluctant to transfer for a couple of reasons, though ... I feel loyalty to the unit with so many friends. I'm also going to the US with this unit. And finally, I've been nominated as the team captain for the regimental entry to the Cambrian Patrol this year, and I would dearly love to complete the Cambrian Patrol. So I may delay and delay any change until the end of 2012.

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[23 Jan 2012|11:14pm]
[ mood | recumbent ]

V is walking! She's been standing for a while now, and managing a couple of steps every now and then. Today we were having dinner and watching TV, and she just strolled across the lounge in front of me. Squee!

Of course, the second I had a camera out she went back to crawling. I now have a couple of videos of her chasing me round the flat, crawling not walking. Come on, V, I need some cooperation here!

The videos are added to the vast collection of photos that I will put up at some point. It's a lot of work to filter all those pictures!

This last weekend I was away with the Army. It was a weekend to sweep up the last of the training objectives for the year (training year ends in April). I had to do a couple of the tests on Army standards, and a 6-mile 90-minute march. The other tests - first aid, CBRN, law of armed conflict - I have already done this year, so I was free to take part in other activities. We were at RAF Halton, which is a rather nice RAF training establishment. I spent most of Saturday on climbing walls and high ropes obstacles, or in the swimming pool.

The march was a good final build-up for the RLC Cross-country championships on Wednesday. I'm one of the better runners in the regiment, so I'm in the team pretty much by default. We're running on a fairly muddy course out near Abingdon in Oxfordshire - I'll probably be a little grubby when I finish.

The ridiculous restructuring of work continues. After much wrangling by the union and wibbling by management, it has become pretty clear that (1) management has no idea what they're doing, (2) they're making it up as they go along, and (3) their actual technical understanding of anything beyond MS Office is pretty much non-existent.

So, life continues to careen madly down hill with my little arms waving wildly in the air. But it's fun.

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Year of the Dragon (almost)

[05 Jan 2012|01:12pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

(Update: Tiger?! It's year of the DRAGON. Y is Tiger, I'm Dragon. Misfiring synapses!)

And what an exciting New Year it promises to be!

2011 was probably the most significant year in my life. After all, I'm suddenly responsible for another life (fortunately, it's a sweet, happy and sunny little life).

I spent the first quarter of the year alternately freezing and boiling in Afghanistan. This was a really good experience, and I didn't suffer any of the ill effects that get other people. I didn't see anything especially bad, wasn't injured, and wasn't even in a firefight. No PTSD for me, thankfully. In fact, it's possibly been good for me, in that it has engendered just a little bit of impatience and reckless courage into my attitude. If I've faced the possibility of death, I can be a bit more bold in talking to people, or making things happen quickly.

My military experience didn't finish there - I attended a NATO conference, a multi-regiment exercise and a long course with regular Army peers. I think the key lesson I've learned in the Army is in learning to handle things (problems, issues, situations, tasks, whatever) in an organised and effective manner.

The highlight of the year, and probably many years to come, is of course the arrival of little V. She is amazing. She's happy, pretty, intelligent, strong-willed, and is going to be rather a handful when she learns to walk (which will probably remain the state of affairs for many years too).

That segues neatly into looking ahead. This year V will learn to talk, and start walking. She's already standing all the time, sometimes unaided. I can't wait to hear what her voice sounds like, and start talking to her - which, given her and my current tendencies, will be all the time. My Korean is going to improve a lot from learning along with her.

Also this year Y's niece J is coming to live with us while she goes to university. She did quite well on her final school exams, but that wasn't enough in the brutal competition for places in the top Korean universities. A foreign degree and English fluency will make up for not going to the best university in Seoul.

I'll be going to the US this year on an exchange with the US National Guard (their equivalent of the Territorial Army). The USNG is a much more significant part of the US military than the TA is of the British military - something like half of the US military are reservists, as opposed to about 20% in the UK. This means their exercises are pretty big and exciting, so it will be quite a trip.

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Stupid stupid civil serpents

[20 Nov 2011|09:28pm]
[ mood | angry ]

The UK Border Agency is responsible for numerous stuff-ups on an ongoing basis. I have another example to point out.

I'm a foreigner* who works for a university, so I was vaguely aware that there was a new visa system for students from 2009, call the Tier 4 system, which is ostensibly points-based. I thought it was a reasonably sensible idea, matching similar schemes overseas. I WAS WRONG. IT'S FUCKING STUPID.

I had a look at the process on behalf of someone else, and went through the application process to determine their point score. Now, I've fidgeted with immigration systems for several countries out of curiosity, so seeing a series of questions like how old are you, what course are you studying and so on made sense. Then I got to the scoring system, which is like a giant neon sign saying "THE PERSON WHO DEVELOPED THIS IS A GODDAMN MORON".

There are two - two - questions which score points. One is for the institution where you are studying, and scores 30 points. The other is for how much money you have, and scores 10 points. That's it. The pass mark is ... 40 points.

Earth to stupid people! This isn't a points-based system! This is two questions followed by a yes or no!

Why on earth score it out of forty? Why not four? Or two? Or just say "These are the two criteria - pass these and you're in"? The whole case behind a points-based system is that it's fine-grained! Two questions isn't it!

I strongly suspect that some minister said "We need a points-based system like Australia", and all the innumerable civil servants were too busy claiming expenses and taking backhanders and attending groupthink sessions and hiring costly consultants, so they gave it to a 16-year-old intern to write up in twenty minutes.

* Well, until recently

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It was bound to happen sooner or later

[16 Nov 2011|12:44pm]
[ mood | energetic ]

I'm without a computer at the moment! Well, for a limited definition of "without" - this is me, after all. I still have two desktops at work. At home I have a work laptop, Y's laptop, my Sheevaplug microserver*. I also have my Kindle (with 3G/Wifi and a browser) and my Samsung Wave (with Wifi and a browser).

Still, I'm without a computer, dammit!

My laptop survived Afghanistan without too much incident. It did collect a lot of dust**, however, and this caused the fans to wibble occasionally. Last night the main fan stopped with a grinding noise, and the laptop won't run without it.

My desktop is still out of commission - I ordered new motherboard/CPU/RAM, but apparently I can't read because I ordered a motherboard too big for the two cases I have at home. Unlucky.

So, I've got some work ahead of me to repair both systems.

* Which doesn't have a monitor socket, so it's not really suitable for, eg, web browsing
** And an Afghan National Army sticker and a Radio Char-e-Anjir sticker

Also, here's a pic of my in my new uniformCollapse )

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All change!

[10 Nov 2011|03:50pm]
[ mood | busy ]

Quite dramatic changes for me at the moment.

I'm British! I attended my citizenship ceremony this week, and along with nationals from 27 other countries swore allegiance to the Queen. Technically I've already sworn allegiance, with my Army oath, and that's a lot more binding. It includes obedience and following orders from her duly appointed officers.

In civilian work - my department is currently being restructured. In a meeting this morning I found that my team of four is being shrunk to a team of three. To avoid prejudice, we all have to compete for the remaining posts. This is department-wide, and there are plenty of positions available in the broader department, so I won't be completely out of a job ... I'll just be competing against friends and colleagues for the better positions.

When I came back from JOTAC I was spitting with rage at my regiment. I had a good opportunity to talk to various other officers, a couple of incidents happened while I was away, and I received some J2 (intelligence information) from another person in the regiment. Overall this left me really unhappy. Coincidentally I was on the course with someone from a specialist Army unit which is more suited to my skills. Transfer is on the cards. My rage has cooled but my resolution has not.

My new service uniform is finally complete. I have had to go to ridiculous lengths - and some expense - to fully fit the uniform. The uniform itself was issued to me by the Army, and tailored with officer buttons and a medal ribbon (by an Army tailor, after much persuading). I've had to buy shoes, gloves, two caps (one blue, for parades; one brown, for daily wear) each with officer badges and buttons, rank pips, collar badges, extra buttons and a Sam Browne belt. My medal is currently being mounted on the proper medal clip. I will look fantastic at the Lord Mayors parade on Saturday and Remembrance parade on Sunday.

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[02 Nov 2011|07:19pm]
[ mood | blah ]

We've been traipsing up and down the hills of Wiltshire to examine the ground with a general's eye (well, a lieutenant's eye; the British Army is in no shape to guarantee anyone reaching general these days). Lines and circles on a map are hard to relate to actual hills and forests and towns, and it's a skill that I'm gradually developing.

This has been accompanied by lots and lots of lectures on everything military, from how to get soldiers qualified (answer: it's hard and costs lots of money) to what the British military is up to these days (answer: mostly classified, even to me).

It's the last couple of days now. Yesterday we had a six-hour exam, on planning a complete company-level (100 troops) attack. Today we went through each persons plans. My excellent use of deception ("we steal a truck, and stage a road traffic accident here") earned me some laughs, but maybe not the highest marks.

S and I have been running almost every night. The hills here are lovely to look at, and great fun to run down, but each downhill run is preceded by a slog up, so the fun is hard-earned.

I messed up an admin point for the upcoming Lord Mayors parade, and have received multiple SMS/texts and emails shouting at me. This is contributing to my slightly downcast mood.

Tomorrow night is the final dinner, in mess dress. It will look pretty spectacular! I will try to get a photo of my class.

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Home for the weekend

[22 Oct 2011|12:14am]
[ mood | thoughtful ]

I'm doing three weeks of JOTAC, but it's a Regular Army course so it's only during the week - I've got weekends off. It's an absolute pleasure to see V again. She's got bigger while I was away, and has more hair. Also, she's almost talking now - there's the sound of words, but she hasn't yet worked out when to stop. This weekend we carry on with swimming!

The starting exam was not too bad in the end. Apparently although some Regulars fail the exam, no TA person has ever failed it. I suppose when you have to take time off work to do the course, you're not going to mess around with the possibility of being sent home on day one.

After a weekend with just the eight TA people (catching up on the first week of work done by the Regulars*) I joined up with my full-time group - the course of 60 or so is divided into five groups. I'm the only TA person in my group; there's a mix of other cap-badges (corps/regiments). The other officers are a helicopter pilot, a mech/elec engineer, a signals officer, two infantry, an intelligence officer**, a field engineer, a teacher***, a medical officer, a clerk and a logistics officer (like me!). The last person, S, was on Herrick 13 at the same time as me, and even visited Shahzad a couple of times. We were in the same room at one point, watching a comedy show! It's a small world. My group paid me quite a compliment today - they said that I was wasted in the TA, because I am so switched-on and knowledgeable. Coming from a Regular course of high-flying young officers, that's quite a compliment!

One of the other officers on the course lost both his legs to an IED in Afghanistan. He moves around on artificial legs, or a wheelchair when he gets tired. He is incredibly strong-willed, and just gets on with things, making jokes and generally not worrying about it. I would hope that if I were to suffer a similar fate, I could show the same strength of character.

Last night S and I went for a run out of the Land Warfare School. The big hill, Battlesbury, is the first in a line of about five chalk hills overlooking a river valley****. We tried for a seven-mile route up and down the first three hills, but it was getting pretty dark by the time we reached the top of the second, so we decided to head onto the Salisbury Plain training area to the north and follow the perimeter road back. It's pretty winding and hilly at this side of the plain, so I'm pretty sure we covered about eight or nine miles by the time we got back.

* We do in two days what it takes the Regulars five days to complete. Dedication!
** Who is also my room-mate for the duration of the course.
*** Army Education and Training Services
**** We use local maps for all our exercises; I can draw the hills, river and towns from memory now

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Braaains ... I haz them

[15 Oct 2011|11:10pm]
[ mood | exhausted ]

I passed the exam - 88%. I finished after almost everyone else, because I very carefully went through the paper and changed four answers to multiple choice questions. NATURALLY, each one of those answers was already correct and I changed each to an incorrect answer.

The day has been crammed full of lessons and a few group exercises on map marking, planning and ground evaluation. We may get out of the classroom once or twice in the next three weeks, but it looks like I'll have to go running for any real fresh air. There's a couple of old Bronze/Iron Age hill forts to the east, on the edge of Salisbury Plain, so I'm going to go for a run up those hills tomorrow evening.

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Braaaaains ...

[14 Oct 2011|04:03pm]
[ mood | cranky ]

Y and V went to a baby play class the other day, where V homed in with grim determination on ALL THE TOYS and methodically played with each and every one. She's prettier than all the other babies, too. (Takes break to look at pictures of Victoria)

Aaanyway, I'm seething with annoyance on multiple fronts. It would be seething with rage but I'm all raged out.

Work is being reorganised. Our Glorious Leader (who is a PHB of note who doesn't actually know anything about computers) is running a consultant-assisted reorganisation of the entire IT department, which is (1) badly planned, (2) badly run, (3) badly communicated, and (4) stupid. This is leading to a lot of angry discussion and not a lot of work happening. We happen to be part of UCU - the University and College Union - so there's even the possibility of union action.

While packing last night (I'm off for a couple of weeks) a mouse ran across the living room. The landlord doesn't want to pay for pest extermination, and apparently the lease* backs him up on that. Y and I have been fighting with the landlord and agent all morning and we have booked pest control. Who will pay remains to be determined.

Apple are also being dicks in the way they are suing Samsung, but I'm not going to be able to afford a Galaxy tab for while anyway.

So tonight I'm heading off to Salisbury Plain for a three week course - Junior Officer Tactical Awareness Course. It's a fun course, mostly indoors, with very little shouting and all the outdoor stuff done in civvie hiking gear. It would be an absolute pleasure except for the fact that I have to write a confirmatory MK1 exam first thing tomorrow morning. It will be great once that's done.

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[21 Sep 2011|01:28pm]
[ mood | cheerful ]

So! Although I haven't seen V for 12 days, I've been calling every day so I can talk to her. She's now sitting up, and very keen on solid food; milk really doesn't impress her at all. We started her on solid food at 5.5 months; the breastfeeding mafia (as I've heard it called) would have it that babies have to breastfeed exclusively until 6 months. V has been bottle and breastfeeding, and we started her on solids because she seemed to get hungry very quickly.

She likes cauliflower and dislikes carrot; I'm not sure where she picked that up from.

She has a jolly jumper (the elasticated sling in the doorway) and a little walker (a wheeled harness that she can trundle along in) and is making strenuous efforts to stand up. I'm pretty sure she'll be walking early.

V is very suspicious of strangers; we tried to have my mum babysit once, and she wasn't having any of it. It's going to be interesting later ...

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