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Michael’s Travel Diary

Friday, 09 Mar 2007

Location: Southampton, England

MapIt's been a while... let's catch up!

You'll be happy to know that I managed to shake my sore or 'strep' throat after the second dose of antibiotics. Well, for 3 days anyway. Once again, the pain returned 3-4 days after the antibiotics ran out. This time I canned the idea of heading to the walk-in centre, and went to the actual doctors - I just got back now. Well, didn't exactly hear what I wanted to hear. No more antibiotics, so I'm pretty sure by Sunday I'll be all sorts of miserable. Apparently, if the antibiotics haven't worked by now, they won't help jumping back on them, so I'm stuck with pain killers. Don't get me wrong, the pain killers do help, but for a 2hr window at a time. The antibiotics seems to hit the thing on the head inside 48 hours to the point where I don't need the use of the pain killers.

So am I just riding this thing out? Nope. Blood test and throat swab on either Monday or Tuesday morning. I guess it depends how bad I feel on the weekend. I will get it done at the walk-in centre, so if I can cope, I'll work Monday and let them know I'll be in late on Tuesday due to a doctors appointment. If I feel the way I suspect I will by the time Monday comes about, I'll be late for work Monday... why all of the need to be at work on time etc. More on the new 'flexi-time' arrangements that aren't so flexi later on.

Perhaps the scariest thing about this throat infection, aside from the needle used to draw blood for the test, is the words that hadn't even crossed my mind, but froze me solid - Glandular Fever.... woah, hold up... that shit can wait till after St. Patrick's Day in Dublin next weekend. Doc reckons that it isn't Strep throat as it would have been cleared up. She also thinks that it probably isn't Glandular Fever, as my glands haven't swollen up too much, but it be that. The blood test is likely to rule things out more than pin-point the problem (typical.... gimme an answer damn it). Will keep you all posted as to the result.

One side effect of this sick period is my lack of gym work. I haven't in a month, except for that 5 minutes on Shrove Tuesday when Megan and I convinced each other to head home to cook pancakes instead of taking the Body Combat class... hahaha, from being at the gym to home eating pancakes with sugar and lemon, maple syrup and whipped cream, and nutella. What a turn around. In any case, that's 32 quid down the drain, or $80 Aussie if you like. But the lack of gym is not all bad news. I've managed to loose another couple inches on the waist line since the New Year, and will soon be in need of another new belt - not to mention new work pants that are currently looking more like MC Hammer Happy Pants that suit pants!

So... assuming that everything goes well this week, and I don't die from some blood test or throat swab complication, I'll be flying out to Ireland on Thursday night for 4 nights in Dublin for St. Patrick's Day. What's to bet that I am there, at possibly the single biggest drinking day known to (Irish) man, on some prescription medication that has the side affect of leprosy if alcohol is consumed whilst taking the medication! Then again, maybe it will just turn my skin green, and I can have the coolest St. Paddy's Day party trick of all time! Oh well, not a huge fan of Guinness anyway (that's me trying to convince myself that I wouldn't really want to have a drink). Man, it would like be in the Irish Pub at Knox, only the pub is the size of the city, and everyone will be 2-3 times as drunk. There is no way I could stick out four days there without a drink... anyway, again, will keep you posted. Check for regular St. Paddy's updates from late next week... Ahh, finally on holiday again, it's been so long!

So I passed the 1 year mark. Damn, what a year it has been, but this isn't the place for a re-cap. Monday was the 366th day, so, we had three reasons to celebrate. My one year mark, Dan passing his certified investment exam (apparently he can now put the letters ASII after his name if that means anything to anyone) and it was a Monday. Yeah, the third reason in dubious, but Tom insisted we celebrate Monday. So Dan, Tom, Gerard and I headed up to the Brass Monkey up the road for a couple drinks, a few rounds of pool, and a couple more drinks. Megan, Dan's work mate who lives up the road and goes to the same gym as us, rocked up to join in the triple threat of celebrations. I managed to loose most game of pool that I played by pocketing the white and black ball at the same time. Yeah, I must be a bit rusty...

Anyway, somewhere along the way, Nat rocked up, and the few quiet drinks turned a bit more than that - think it was when Tom brought 2 x shots of Aftershock for each of us back to the table. Despite my best efforts in avoiding them (I accidentally knocked one of mine over... thank god for that) I had one. Finally the pub shut and kicked us out around midnight - check the picture page to put faces to names if you like!

Another drink at home (cos I clearly needed it), and I headed to bed at whatever time it was... problem was I didn't set the alarm. Either that or I did and turned it off and don't remember it. In any case, I woke up just before 7am, and jumped quickly in the shower and rushed to work. Well, as it happens, missed the ferry just and didn't get to work till 915am. What's the big deal? Well, this is the new 'flexi-time' arrangement...

Core hours are hours you are required at work:
Previously: 930 - 330 (6 hours)
This week on: 900 - 400 (7 hours)

So, Tuesday I'd already broken the cardinal rule, and rocked up after the start of core hours. Bad move. Not only that, but it greatly restricts things like organising times to go to doctors and dentists etc. Plus it means the most I can sleep in and still get to work on time (due to ferry scheduling) is 30 minutes. And the earliest I can get home is 540pm.

But check that, it gets worse... that half hour sleep in, scratch that. The days you just can be f'ed and head home as soon as core hours are up, scratch that too. Now on Friday's we have to submit out working hours for the following week. Today I had to announce my start and finish time for next week... There goes the chance for sleeping in half an hour, or bailing at 4pm cos I'm not having a great day. So what the hell is so flexible about the revised flexi-time agreement? Nothing.

What is worse, I have to leave work at 330pm on Thursday to catch my flight to Dublin. In the past, no worries, 330 is the end of the core working day. Now it is 4pm, so I have to take an extra half an hour of annual leave. I can't even work the extra half hour during the week to make up the difference. Because the half hour falls inside core time (even though it didn't when I booked the flight, or the annual leave off at work) I have to book and extra half hour of my annual leave. Yeah it went from being as flexible as a Chinese gymnast to about as flexible as an 85 year old with MS. Not real happy about it all... but them the breaks.

In other news, this ill health of mine has got me thinking about moving to the island, but getting out of the lease in Southampton isn't gonna be easy. Especially after the fuss I caused with the whole internet issue - not that any of it was unfounded. Figure that the 3 hours a day traveling to and from work isn't doing me any good. Plus it will greatly help on the money front. The 200 quid a month I spend on the ferry will be greatly reduced, plus being so much closer to work I would be MUCH more willing to do overtime, which will again help with the funds. Furthermore, adding the OT money to the pay check I have a better chance of getting a visa extension... so there are plenty of pros for going across, but man I think I'd get bored over there. Southampton is a pretty cool town.

Just for the record, Southampton has 220,000 people living here, 40,000 of which are students. That equals plenty of pubs, clubs and Rafe's to visit and a generally younger vibe.... especially compared to the geriatric sailing club that is called the Isle of Wight. On the other hand, IOW has the highest unemployment rate in all of England, the biggest prison in England (guess they still send their convicts overseas...), and the highest percentage of convicted felons in the population - seems none of them leave the island after being released. So, despite the IOW's pros in terms of work advantages, there are plenty of cons (literally and figuratively)!

Well, that is it for now, regular updates this week with my health status and St. Paddy's Day diary entries and pictures!

Miss you all