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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Well, I made it 

The last few days before the move were pretty manic. I seemed to spend a huge amount of time moving heavy objects up and down stairs, and the rest of it in pretty constant motion of other sorts. But I managed to get things put/given/thrown away of packed up to go. One of the biggest issues was getting rid of rubbish. In an effort to reduce landfill the local Council had recently brought in a rule limiting refuse to one bin per household per week. From an enviromental point of view that's admirable, but from the point of view of someone needing to get rid of a sizeable quantity of stuff, it's a pain. So at 2am on Tuesday morning I was prowling the streets like some sort of mutant Father Christmas 'donating' the odd bag of rubbish here and there. I think I got about nine hours sleep over the course of three days and hardly ate anything, so by the time I made it to the departure lounge at Heathrow, having some how managed to check in 128kg of luggage and not had to pay any excess baggage charges, if
I could have found a way of eating and sleeping simultaneously, I would have done.

But I'm now installed in my apartment, I've unpacked (in the sense of having got everything out of the suitcases, although it's not exactly put away yet) and I managed not to melt in the ridiculous heat that we had yesterday. I'm pottering around and gradually getting things sorted out, and looking forward to my roommate arriving on Sunday and getting properly started next week.

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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Goodbye and goodbye and goodbye and goodbye 

I seem to have spent the last month steadily saying goodbye to people. Off-site colleagues who I wouldn't see again before I left, members of the trustee board, family at my sister's wedding last week. And there've been the 'lasts'. Last management meeting, last stewarding gig (for the incomparable Kit and the Widow, increadibly talented and lovely people to boot), last train journey. This week just gone has been particularly full of goodbyes and lasts. I finished up in the office on Friday, had by last day at church today, and there are farewell drinks tomorrow (hopefully in a rather nice beer garden, although as the UK's longest dry spell for 38 years broke this morning, we might have to sit inside the pub instead).

In the course of all this two things have particularly struck me. First has been how different it's felt leaving my job this time compared to previously. Every time I've changed jobs before it's been over the Christmas/New Year break, which has always taken some of the focus off a bit. But more importantly, when I've left jobs before it was because they were coming to some sort of end, even if it was just that I'd taken them as far as I could and it was time to move on. This time though, the leaving's caused by a pull rather than a push, and it feels strange to be leaving somewhere when I still have so much enthusiasm for what I could do there.

The other thing that's struck me, is my feelings about leaving Bristol, where I live (at least for another 36 hours or so). I've realised it's the first place I've lived that I've actually chosen to live in. Previously, I was where my family where, or where I was studying, or where my job was. But Bristol was a definite choice of somewhere I wanted to live, even if it maybe wasn't the most logically practical choice. And despite the undoubted problems of its impracticality, it's somewhere I've loved being. I think the huge pluses of being somewhere I actually want to be are something that I need to keep in mind when it comes to deciding where I go post b-school.

But for now, it's not much longer until I'm Philly bound. This computer is shortly to be boxed up and shipped off to my sister, so I'll be making only periodic contact with the world of the web until I'm in Philadelphia and have laptop and internet access sorted out.

TTFN.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

Paper Mountains 

For the last 3.5 years I've been splitting my working week between home and the office, which are a couple of hundred miles apart. As a lot of my work is paper based, and our office servers can't be accessed remotely, this has meant constantly transfering physical and electronic files from one location to another. In this, my last, week, I've been entirely in the office so that I can get all the loose ends tied-up, or at least as many of them as I can manage, so I made a point of ensuring over the weekend that I sorted out everything that I'd got at home that needed to make it back to the office. Unfortunately, I seem to have managed to leave one fairly vital set up of papers at home, which means that along with everything else on my 'to do' list this weekend I'm going to have to get some work done and then send some documents in to the office using Royal Mail's 'do not lose on pain of death' service.

I've spent this morning clearing out my filing and have managed to add a whole load of stuff to the recycling pile, which has been pretty cathartic, and various other piles of paper are being redistributed to other people's desks. Suddenly it really feels like I'm leaving tomorrow.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Why didn't I just go to Cambridge? 

That's been a question that has popped, unbidden, into my head pretty frequently over the last couple of weeks (making the massive assumption that Judge would have been prepared to have me, of course). 'Why did I not take an extra week off work?', has been another one, even though I know I'll have the answer when I get my final pay packet next Monday.

Previously, I'd been somewhat incredulous about people who started to get cold feet about going to B-school at such a late stage, but now I'm beginning to relate. Why am I moving thousands of miles and plunging myself hugely into debt? Why am I leaving my organisation when it's got an interesting period ahead that I know I could make a significant contribution to? What if I can't get a job afterwards? What if something happens to my family and I'm a long and expensive plane ride away? Will I cope with the workload? Will I get enough sleep? Is this one huge mistake?

In the course of sorting out my computer files I re-read my 'Why MBA, why now, why Wharton?' essay, and of course the answers to the questions raised by last minute jitters are all in there. I know that if I phoned my boss right now and told him that I wanted to stay, he'd be delighted, as would my landlord. I suspect that if I applied to one-year UK schools to start in 2006 I'd probably get in somewhere respectable. But I also know deep down, that heading off to Wharton next week is absolutely the right thing to do, and I'm not going to change my mind. The next few days are going to be fraught in all sorts of ways, but once I've done all that I can at work, my remaining furniture has been dispatched where it's going, my books/dinner service/whisky collection/croquet set have all been safely stored, my clothes are in suitcases, and I'm in the car on the way to Heathrow, I'll be able to get properly excited about it all.

Six days and counting.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Too much to do, too little time 

I'm in the midst of trying to sort myself out at home for moving and at work for leaving, so blogging is having to take a bit of a back seat at the moment. Efforts to get things done are not being helped by a ressurgence of hayfever and hot and humid (for these parts) weather. (Moving a very large and heavy TV out of my flat and into a friend's car during the hotest part of yesterday was particularly unpleasant. At least we managed to get it down two flights of stairs without it falling and squashing me, which we felt would a - have been a bit of a waste of all the effort that had gone into getting to Wharton, and b - have made a rather nasty mess on the carpet.) Muggy night and early start this morning resulted in c2hours sleep last night, which also hasn't helped productivity today.

More substantive blogging soon, hopefully.

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Friday, July 08, 2005

"Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail." 

It's difficult to know how to start a post about yesterday. We had a meeting of our Trustee Board and the AGM at our offices yesterday, so the first we heard of the bombings was when we got phone calls from people saying that they might be late. At that stage, it looked liked problems with the Tube's power supply, and we were breathing a sigh of relief that it wasn't someone using the 2012 Olympic bid as an excuse for grabbing the worlds attention. No one was even giving a thought to a possible G8 connection. Over the next few hours, as the cause and the scale became increasingly clear, it felt distinctly odd being only about 20 miles from the explosions, and yet in the middle of quiet, leafy countryside where the only change was the large number of military helicopters flying past (there's a base not too far away).

News reports are painting a mixed picture - panic and quiet 'getting on with it', hotels being accused of profiteering and supermarkets donating food to Accident & Emergcy Departments and Ambulance Stations so that casualties and emergency workers could be fed easily. While the death total is still unclear, it loks like it's going to be under 100, which is mercifully less than it could have been. For those injured or bereaved, the scale is almost irrelevant, but I think everyone is aware of how much worse it could have been and thankful that, while it was the worst peace-time bombing in London, we weren't breaking international records.

Like Suzy, I know Bloomsbury well having been a student there. The bus that exploded can only have been metres from the statue of Gandhi in Tavistock Square, a place that has strong links with campaigns for non-violence. Fortunately, it was also close to the British Medical Association, which meant a ready supply of doctors. I may be a lapsed-adopted-Londoner these days, but I still have a huge affection for the city and pass through it regularly enough to share the 'there but for the grace of God' feeling with lots of other people.

A news reporter this morning was commenting on the eerie quiet of the now-running-again tube trains, and wondered whether it was a sign of people being scared. I beleive, and very much hope, that it isn't. Given the transport disruption yesterday ans uncertainty about when services would start running again, I think an awful lot of offices simply decided to close today. Come Monday I expect the rush hour will be as crowded as ever. When I hear Tony Blair yesterday talking about not being put off a mormal way of life, I thought it would be pretty fair to say that bombs and the threat of bombs are pretty much a normal way of life for London. Having lived there pre-IRA cease fire, I remember explosions, cordons and regular security alerts. While attacking transport at the hight of the rush hour and with no warning is a horific new tactic, London and the UK have know for a long time that we can't assume that we're safe, which means that such an attack doesn't have the same psychological impact as it might other cities. Certainly there's a definite sense that out of the shock and pain is coming a collective "fuck you!", to use a technical term, towards the bombers.

The statement from Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London, I think says very well what a lot of people are feeling. And check out qwghlm for the thoughts of an articulate and thoughtful blogger.

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

London 

I've been having a maniac few days and was hoping to find a few minutes to say how pleased I was with yesterday's Olympic decision. This morning's carnage in London makes that all seem pretty irrelevant though. Thought and prayers with everyone affected.

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