14 Jul

UCU success, Lords of Waterdeep is great fun, had a good BBQ

UCU wins right to strike for migrant workers

After months of campaigning by UCU, including most recently the threat of legal action, the home secretary Sajid Javid has announced that he will be changing the immigration rules to ensure that migrant workers will now be able to play a full part in legal strike action without fearing the impact on their immigration status.
This is a big win for all trade unionists, not just those in UCU and it has come about as a direct result of our campaigning work. Thanks to everyone who wrote to MPs and in particular to members from overseas who took strike action despite these concerns.

Lords of Waterdeep is great fun

Paul, Andrew, Nigel, Alex and I had great fun playing Lords of Waterdeep on Friday night. It was really nice to boardgame, which is such a prep-free form of gaming opposed to rpgs. The game has just enough bells and whistles and ins and outs to be intriguing but with an essentially simple core engine.  I wanted to play it after I was rather delighted to hear that the new D&D adventure is Waterdeep:Dragon Heista guide to Waterdeep and a city heist adventure creation engine. I love city gaming, so it got me all fired up to explore Waterdeep in boardgame form.

A boardgame and a can of beer

Gaming and Lager

a boardgame

Lords of Waterdeep

BBQ

We had Conor, Kate, their sons Eugene and Tristan with Emmanuel, Catherine and their daughter Farai round for a BBQ. It was a very very hot and sunny day and the BBQ went well and Farai had a dip in the tub, and the boys really enjoyed Super Mario Smash Bros on the Wii. I got a bit faint and dizzy a few times, I need to keep an eye on that.

 

04 Jun

Lovely Weekend

I have had a lovely weekend. I spent Friday night in the green room at the People’s Theatre drinking lovely day with lovely people and my lovely wife. They’re a great crowd at the theatre and I think I may have made a few new friends.

On Saturday I realised the perhaps the lovely beer had been too lovely and I drank too much of it. So I spend Saturday largely in bed holding onto my head and then eating a very lovely large Domino’s Pizza. In the evening we watched the film: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. The film was very good and deserved all the plaudits it had received.

On Sunday after a night of heavy rain the garden was cool and wet: perfect weather for gardening. I have largely neglected the garden during the period of PhD writing up. It was an absolute Delight working in the garden, reminding me how much I enjoy it. Ann made a lovely Bolognese and we then watched the last episode of the excellent docudrama about Norman Scott and Jeremy Thorpe: A Very English Scandal.

All in all a cracking weekend. Poor Amn got a bad cold..

Ttfn.

 

 

30 May

May!!

I have been ill most of May. Just as I was celebrating my birthday and Ann’s new amateur career as a thespian, I got a virus that was to my mind a proper ‘flu and that took 2 weeks out, as well as stopping me going to chair a big conference I had helped organise in Brussels 🙁

Then I got myself together well enough to go and do my duty at a project event in Cyprus and just as I was about to go back I got a cold that has progressively attacked my chest until now I have a chest infection and am on antibiotics.

It’s true to say that I have also tried to keep up with family commitments and visits, and that probably hasn’t helped my immune system in fighting the bugs buy hey ho, you can’t just give in, can you?

So what did I manage to do? Well I had 3 lovely days in Cyprus before the 2nd bug got me. I got to run a starter game of D&D for a family friend, their son and my grandson, at the end which the virus decided to take away my voice for 4-5 days.. Olly, Amy and Mike came and stayed. We played Obama Llama and Machi Koro. Steve and Tree came and we drank beer.

Ann as Mrs Northrop in "When We Are Married"

Ann as Mrs Northrop in “When We Are Married”

We saw Matt in his home in Cambridge and caught up with him and Alaa and met his chums at his place of work, a lovely Italian café.

But now, all I want to do is take my antibiotics, ease back into mainstream work, and REST..

 

04 May

21 Again! My Lovely Birthday Weekend

I had a lovely birthday weekend.

My birthday fell on the Friday, and so I rose early and went into the University, picked up my thesis from the printers, and handed in my PhD! Hooray!! This is the first submission, so it now goes to 2 external examiners for them to read, and then I have to defend it at a viva.

Tom going to hand in his thesis

Tom going to hand in his thesis

Tom submitting thesis

Tom submitting thesis

I have to say, I had no idea how much pressure would come off me when I submitted. It reminded me of the last day of finals for my first degree. I actually felt 10kg lighter! I went and was quite dizzy with some colleagues and distributed jam donuts, and then find a new generation MoBike and rode home. These newer bikes have 3 gears, bigger frames and wheels and are definitely my kind of stationless hire bike.

A bicycle

Next gen MoBike

Matt was up from down South, and so he and Ann took me for brunch at Stark’s Kitchen and surprised me with a stack of 2000AD comics, a new shiny USB lighter for my candles, and a Fitbit, very happy about the latter.. Ann had me well foxed on that.. especially since she had also got me a new amplifier..

Man holding comics.

Matt got me some 2000AD comix!

Man holding present

FitBit4Tom

Back home Alex and Matt joined me playing Five Tribes which Alex bought me about 2-3 years ago and we have never managed to play yet. It’s really tactical, easy to understand, probably hard to fully master, and full of a lot of replay depth. The takeaway was Lebanese and great..

A boardgame

Five Tribes

2 men eating Lebanese food

Lebanese Takeaway

All in all a cracking birthday..

Roll on 54.. er, I mean 22..

On Saturday we decided to continue to play Five Tribes since we had enjoyed it so much. Duncan Rowlands joined us, and then we ate the 2 curries I had made. I was very pleased with the chana dal since I had never made it before, and the cauliflower and sweet potato curry was also good scran. I was not so happy about burning my hand.

Anyway, after 28 winks, we all went to see Ann’s thespian debut in When We Are Married by J.B.Priestley at the People’s Theatre. Ann played Mrs. Northrop, the insolent charwoman. We all thought she was brillig and all her hard work paid off as she nailed this comic West Yorkshire part.

Mrs Northtop getting fired

Ann Zunder as Mrs Northtop

On Sunday.. we hosted the ‘wrap’ party for the WWAM cast and crew. Our house makes for a great party house, and I had cooked 2 enormous pans of chilli. People brought cakes and veggie lasagne, and garlic bread, and booze and hats and we had a lovely day in the gorgeous hot sun of the Bank Holiday Weekend. I crashed and burned at about 8pm with a poorly stomach, but a core group soldiered on and kept the flame alive until midnight-ish. I met some lovely new people from the cast and crew, and many of which I would love to spend some more time with.

Cast and Crew from WWAM (not all of them obvs)

So, all in all a great weekend and then we wrapped it up on the Monday by cleaning up the house, having a fry up at Cafe 120, and later on celebrating Guernsey Liberation Day at Helen and Duncan’s, with lots of bean jar and gâche.

TTFN

17 Dec

Lovely weekend

Had a lovely weekend.

We went to Duncan and Helen R’s annual ‘Cheese and Port’ party and ate a lot of cheese. We caught up with Neil and Crikey and Colleen and Nige.

On Sunday Ann took me to SIX, the restaurant on the 6th floor of the BALTIC art museum and we had Xmas afternoon tea which was scrummy.

Scrummy Xmas Afternoon Tea

Then in the evening Helen Rowlands took myself and Duncan to a BBC pre-screening of the Dr. Who Xmas Special at St.Nicholas’ Cathedral in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne. It were brillig.

Tom at TARDIS

22nd November 1963, man in hat with scarf seen at police box

Then home, and hopefully some work to do this week.

27 Oct

Hello Old Fiends

Been a while hasn’t it? Welll I am still here, plugging away at the PhD thesis, although many other tasks and reports and proposals have bumped into the way.
On the PhD front I am now at Chapter 8, maybe 33% finished, and I hope to have it nailed by mid November.
Then Chapter 9, Reflections, or as I like to think of it “Now I read it again, how would I have done it properly”..
Then Chapter 10, which in truth I hope will write itself.
I want a bound softcopy for the supervisors in their hands before the Christmas vacation..
Other things we/I did:
Went to Thailand for the International City Logistics Conference: freightandlogisticsnews.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-10th-international-conference-on.html
Went on a cruise to Norway and it was rainy: www.facebook.com/tom.zunder/media_set?set=a.10154918642471453&type=3
Seen my lovely grandson Ollie Bear less than I would like 🙁
Ann retired..
The CHARM project ended, and probably so did any further work with the EU.. 🙁
Shacon 2017 was great. Furnace 2017 was hohum for me.
BREXIT rumbles on like a senile blue colossus, whilst everyone with any sense just looks on, including me, sorry to say.
Ah well. No wonder I feel down..
But life is good, Ollie Bear is lovely, Matthew has come home and completed his Masters, and is living in Cambridge with Alaa and applying for graduate schemes. Ann is fit and healthy (well apart from her foot) and despite putting on kilos of weight, and grinding my teeth and suffering from rolling cluster headaches.. so am I…. am I?
Tom

05 May

Chapter 4 done!

About 20:30 I laid my penultimate draft of Chapter 4: Context and Observations, or as I think of it, ‘When I went to war with stats, and won”. I read it back to write the summary and I am quite proud of all I have done. Cleaned 2 huge datasets, used VLOOKUP, INDEX, MATCH, array formulae, specified and deployed perl (no I didn’t code it, but specced it), brought my SPSS skillset up from ‘barely remember it’ to nicely whizz, and more importantly started to conceptually understand when to use what, and more importantly to recognise when it can’t help. I had some great support from two great a statisticians, one a real expert, and I now begin to see that there is as much craft in stats as numbers.. It’s a huge chapter, nearly 80 pages, and 15k words, but a lot of the page count is tables and figures and screenshots, which is appropriate and means that the work is very reproducible. That’s important since after the PhD, I want to take the other 3 years and analyse them as well. I suspect there are 2 papers at least from this one methodology and data alone. Mind you, it’ll need reading back at the end to tease out some more, or bury some errors..

Off to see young Oliver in North Hykeham, Lincoln, Saturday, and see how much he’s grown. I am really rather looking forward to seeing him, and I am taking mr Dr Who mister men books to read with him.

Oh, and Monday I start Chapter 6, Business Models. I think that might be smoother.

 

04 May

May the 4th be with me

I got up about 8 and settled down on the sofa for a change.. and opened up a big stats file and jumped right in. It’s got me in it’s grip, so when the Muse is with me it’s great, but I do miss seeing people and networking and all that. It’s been really sunny here but much colder than a few weeks ago, but the sun’s great through our big windows.

At 4pm (how appropriate) my birthday started proper with some great pressies. Janet got me some of the Roger Hargreaves Dr. Who books, the First, Fourth and 11th Doctors. Very jolly and I will be able to share them with young Oliver!

Books

Dr Books

Ann had got me, as well as some new aftershave, a bloody great headset for my Xbox One S, a Turtle Beach no less:

Headset

Headset

I tried it out playing Forza Horizon and it has great sound, is very comfortable and the sound is awesomely good. Ann need not be bothered with the noise and we can be together, she can knit and I’ll play games.

Matthew got me the 10.5 year Anniversary edition of Brian Froud’s Goblins book. I had a much earlier edition years ago but lost it, or maybe it never was mine, so it was a great present. Oddly, I feel the goblins may have got at it before it got to me!

In addition Ann got me a very cool sign for the games room:

Beware of Zombies

Beware of Zombies

But the peace de la resistance (as Del Boy might say), is the very big, very heavy and very cool giant D6..

Then we went to Santanas, one of our fave restaurants and had some great food and I got the giant birthday Tiramisu!

It has been a great birthday, thanks everyone and especially Ann who was even willing to give up cheese for me.. but let’s not go mad, eh?