Writing for the Slash and Burn crowd

Waiting For Pay

This current contract has had one major downside – the agency in question have the worst pay schedule I’ve ever seen.

Of course, there are also quite a lot of other downsides, which is why I’m not going to be extending or renewing the contract anyway. But that pay schedule is definitely a contributory factor to the entire thing.

It’s come through an agency I hadn’t previously dealt with, and while they did say that the job paid monthly (which is fine with me) they carefully didn’t explain quite what they meant. This tells me that they damn well know the pay schedule is insanely broken/dodgy, but can’t be chuffed to do anything about it.

Usually, a monthly contract is paid by dint of the contractor submitting an invoice and getting paid seven days later. All well and good. You have an invoice deadline of (for example) the 23rd of the month, submit by then and get paid for month-end.

Not with this agency. Oh no.

You submit your invoice for the end of the month. They then take three weeks to pay, *and* still send it BACS, so it takes three days to hit your account. So, for example, the invoice for March, submitted by the ‘March’ deadline of 4th April (don’t ask) doesn’t hit a bank account ’til 18th April. (Which is a bank holiday – something the agency only realised when I asked them what they were doing about bank holidays)  For me, because this one has gone through an Umbrella company, I don’t get paid ’til the next working day – the Tuesday after Easter.

My colleague who started on 31st March won’t get paid til the 23rd of May.

In short, that’s shocking. And I can’t wait to get paid (three days before my contract ends).

Skewing Perceptions

This story from Business Insider contains one of the worst (or cleverest, depending on your perspective) graphs in history.

The story is about gun deaths in Florida, and contains the graph below, created by Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement.


Looks like deaths went down after the “Stand Your Ground” law came in, doesn’t it?

But no, look at that Y axis on the chart (or the bold ‘totals’). The scale is upside down – so gun deaths actually increased after that law came in.

I can hear Blue Witch gnashing her teeth about that graph already…

Back Down

Over the weekend, I somehow wrecked my back. I don’t know quite what happened, but yesterday was seriously painful.

I think that I somehow did something stupid – moved in a strange way, or slept in a weird position – because I do recall being vaguely awake and feeling something ‘wrong’ in my back. But then I went back to sleep.

It was OK again in the morning, a bit sore but nothing to write home about. But then I went off for a walk (which I try to do on a regular basis, building up exercise routines and so on) and this time it was down to the local wildlife centre – about 3 miles all told, which isn’t that much. But while there I sat on one of their picnic tables to read my book. I reckon I must’ve been leaning forward over the table for a period of time.

And the return journey was painful, the muscles in my lower back definitely hurting in style. I still walked home, but it hurt a lot more than the first half had.

Over the rest of the day, it got worse, to the point I wasn’t wanting to bend down or anything. I hoped that a hot shower/soak of the muscles would help, but no. I hoped that sleep last night would ease it up, but no. Still exceptionally sore this morning.

It’s eased off a bit today, but time will tell. There’s a good portion of the day remaining, after all. We’ll see. But in the meantime, bloody hell that was sore…

Breaking Things

Last Friday there was a big(ish) story in the BBC and Media about the convicted paedophile who is requesting his laptop – complete with ‘non-obscene’ images of one of his victims. Dorset Police were quoted in the story as saying it would be ‘unlawful’ to delete/remove those images from the laptop, because they’re not technically obscene or showing nudity.

Now, aside from the fact that there’s something so blatantly wrong with this entire process (and why wasn’t the laptop just removed/destroyed as part of the evidence and ‘proceeds of crime’ bollocks?) then surely this is a perfect opportunity for a tragic IT-related ‘accident’?

Make sure it’s believable, could happen, and is feasible, and it’d be the devil’s own job to prove anything.

For example, a liquid spillage. Or leaving the machine next to – I don’t know – some kind of large magnet. Maybe the metal scanner in a doorway. Or just mis-filed in such a way that a) it can’t be found or b) it got destroyed. Lost property, IT security, avoidance of possibility for divulging person information.

There are many, many ways in which this could’ve never been an issue. The mis-filing and “sorry, can’t find it” would be easiest (and probably hardest to be disproved) but any of them would work nicely.  It’s more of a problem now, because they’ve admitted that a) it exists and b) it’s currently in an OK state. Ooops.


Maybe I’m more aware of it this week, with Death of the Mau, but on my drive to and from work I’ve noticed a lot more dead animals by the roadside this week.

Uncommonly, the great majority seem to be badgers (of varying sizes and ages) which I always find very sad.  At least these are on dual-carriageways, rather than the completely-intact bodies I sometimes see on the edge of other roads. (I’m never quite convinced that these aren’t actually from farmers/people gassing them, and using the roads as a convenient excuse/reason for dead badger, and disposal thereof. But I’m horrifically cynical)

In my opinion it’s always sad to see dead badgers – they’re awesome creatures – but particularly seeing younger ones depresses me.

I suppose it’s that time though, with semi-mature ones making way for new litters and exploring the world, and also post-winter-sleep. (I know they don’t ‘hibernate’ as such, but they certainly appear to slow down significantly over winter)  All the same, you’d hope that a driver would notice a bloody big black-and-white creature lumbering across a dual-carriageway. (I know they don’t, because they have issues noticing other cars, let alone animals. But still, we can hope)

Mau Down

Back in October 2012, I added Cleo – an Egyptian Mau – to the household. She was an adoptee, where no-one had wanted her from the litter, so I ended up with her.

Cleo, the Egyptian Mau

Yesterday I went out to get some fuel, and while doing so I got a call from a random stranger, which turned out to be from a local vets. Cleo had been found (by the person who drives the local pet ambulance, which is lucky) by the side of the road, having been hit by a car.  She was alive at the time, but apparently died before she got to the vets.


From what I/we can tell, it was all pretty fast, so she wouldn’t have suffered. In some ways I’m sorry I wasn’t there – in others I’m quite glad I wasn’t. I’ve been present when putting a pet to sleep before, and it’s something I’d rather not repeat. (Of course I will when I have to, but still, it’s not a fun experience)  Hearing the news from a stranger over the phone (she was obviously identified from her Microchip) was unpleasant, but I have to say that I think he was more upset than I was.

I am upset by it, but I’ve also been expecting it. I’ve seen her (and the Bengal) run across the road several times, and I know they both roam like demons, so to know it’s happened isn’t a massive surprise.

There’s paperwork to do – insurance etc. – but that’ll be handled tonight. In the meantime, I’ll also have to deal with a very change-averse Bengal, which will be a challenge in and of itself.

I don’t blame the (unknown) driver – I know the speed they dash out to cross the road, I know there’d be no chance to avoid them – although I do think it’s pretty shit to drive off and not even stop. I know, it’s not reportable etc., but when near a parade of less than ten houses, I might at least stop to let the inhabitants know. From the timescales, I was at home at the time, and must’ve just missed the people finding her.

I won’t be looking at getting a replacement (I’m happy to have just the two for the moment) and I won’t be getting back the body/ashes – both of which have always struck me as pretty gruesome, to be honest.

Anyway, it’s all a bit shit, but these things happen.


Shelterwood Field Notes notebooksOne of my loves is – as sad as it sounds – stationery. Pens, Inks, and particularly note-pads of various types. I use them a lot in my work, taking notes, keeping track of ideas and projects. Well, that’s how I justify things, anyway.

Recently I’ve been getting savage temptations from a company called Bureau Direct, who have a huge range of everything I love using. I’ve been impressed by their service, their range, and the speed and efficiency of their service. Sadly, their weekly promotional email is like temptation itself.

The most recent addition to my collection arrived over the weekend – a pack of three limited-edition “Field Notes” notebooks called “Shelterwood“.

They’ve managed to get a fine layer of American Cherry wood as the cover – I have *no* idea how they’ve managed it, but they have. The covers are still flexible, but they’re a razor-thin laminate of ‘proper wood’. Naturally, all the covers are different (as you’d expect from wood) and they’re ace. The books aren’t as big as I’d thought they might be – about A6, I’d guess – but that’s fine, and makes them different from my normal notepad-size too.

It turns out that Field Notes do these limited editions on a regular basis – I suspect I may end up with more…

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