Word meme

Jul. 21st, 2009 09:51 pm
[personal profile] twovectors
Reply to this meme by yelling "Words!" and I will give you five words that remind me of you. Then post them in your LJ and explain what they mean to you.


[livejournal.com profile] atreic gave me

Mathematics

Mathematics is something I was always comfortable with – when I was small I used to ask for sums to do rather than a story at bed time, and when I was travelling in the car I would suddenly call out a number and it transpired I had added up the digits of a phone number on a sign or something similar. It just seemed to make sense to me and each time I found a new bit it would fit in a gap I had previously found. This was probably at its peak at A-level – or first year University where I really felt on top of what I was doing while simultaneously charging through new territory at a good pace also.

Even now I find I still have that comfort with maths – it may not be what it was but I find I can see how things would react when you change something. The inter-dependencies, the dance of the numbers, how X will mean Y without ever having to do the sum. It annoys me sometimes when I am forced to do a long laborious task just to show what I could see in a second to a sceptical person.

This last maybe my greatest weakness in a work context – impatience, not considering the audience, pitching things wrong. It probably means I could not be a teacher, although I have done maths tuition when younger (between 16 and 18) – one on one I can gauge reaction, re-pitch the idea, find the way in. Writing, or to a group it is harder. When I give training at work it is in smaller groups of equals and the interaction is probably better, although not perfect.


Fatherhood

This is something I am learning all the time – as Liz and the children are teaching me. Hard work, but nothing beats the beam of a one year old who is pleased to see you. Mini things! Mini things niiice.

What am I good at? Well I am playing a lot of the traditional father’s role – the more physical play (picking them up, twirling them around, playing football by swinging them at the ball…), the silliness – I do a lot of entertaining by silly activities – at dinner going past the door way with silly walks, pretending to be a deflating balloon wooshing round the room, ending up nibbling noses, giving rides on shoulders (called Ba ba da ba as I tend to do the William Tell overture while doing it), giving hugs and reading to them – Daniel will tend to revert to asking for those if other things don’t work as we rarely if ever deny them to him.

I need to work at consistency, sticking by what I say, and making decisions about what they can do when they ask. I also need to work on helping Liz more when both babies are demanding her. I have problems just looking after them as they play – I need to be doing something to occupy my mind so I get bored quickly, and hence tired walking them round the house or waiting for them to finish dinner.

It is very nice when they want you, sometimes only mummy will do: "Mummy come help me get rid of Daddy" (Daniel when I was checking on him at bedtime)


Money

I am slightly worried this is one of my words in some ways. I don’t think this is something I want to make people think of when they think of me.

I earn more than I ever thought I would and a younger age than I ever thought I would. It is nice not to have to worry so much about it. I am slightly bemused about what I earn as I cannot believe my skill set is that rare - I feel most of my friends list could be taught to do my job in about a year, or at least the mathematical ones. I don't earn anything like what the bankers earn, and what they do does not seem that special, beyond ridiculous hours so there is more amazement that there is still more room above!

I am still amazed at various bits of economics that don’t seem to make sense to me –

e.g. a recent BBC article put the top 1% of wage earners at around £100k – so who is buying the £600k houses then? £100k won’t pay for them and it seems to me that there are too many of said houses compared to the earners.

Who was wiling to pay £300/hr for my time (my charge out rate) at my former job, when I was paid less than I am now? How can that make sense? What is happening to the money? (I only got a fraction of that!)


Readthroughs

I enjoyed the ones of these we did when we did single plays that I knew, and therefore could perform. I very much enjoyed Earnest, Arcadia and a few others. However, I almost never take part in these anymore. I am not a good enough actor to do a major role, and would feel uncomfortable doing one, or even asking for one when there are better people to do them. Also, I have not much interest in just doing smaller roles (although some parts in my favourite plays are worth doing). So I do nothing instead. I might be better at roles in plays I know well.

So I am now child wrangler – which can be difficult when their mother is lying dead on stage…


Career

I started at the national audit office, trained as an accountant, but after a while I found it just too slow and frustrating (I felt like I was working at about 50% capacity, but this still marked me down as a high flyer). I left to join Grant Thornton where I was public sector advisory and gradually moved into financial modelling, really by just doing it when I could. When the modelling team manager left I was asked to step into the team as manager. I then left to go to Balfour Beatty Capital where I bid for public sector work, as head of a modelling team I was employed to set up. I nearly left soon after joining, as I felt that my role was an unnecessary cost without much benefit, but I carved a niche and set up the team, and have saved some serious money in some projects - £4m in one case where I was better at using our model than our advisers. Given we had just given £5m in savings to the public sector without any clear idea of where they were going to come from, this was very welcome.

My career has gone better than it had any right too (see money above), especially considering that I never really pushed. I never asked for a promotion, never asked for a new role, never asked for a payrise. I just did what I did the way I do it and got where I got to. My entire career is an accident.

There is an assumption in large parts of UK workplaces that you have to be ambitious – they look for management qualities in everyone, but not everyone can manage. They assume that only ambition can make people work hard and succeed. Someone once asked me about teachers who made me motivated to get good marks at school. Their assumption was that I must have been pushed to be ambitious, to work hard. (I cannot remember exactly how the conversation went, but this was the gist. It clearly excluded the possibility of parents, but I cannot remember how). I tried (and I think failed as I introduced Aristotle and the Tao at various points) to explain – that no-one had motivated me to try hard - it never occurred to me not to. Someone once attributed this to guilt at not doing something (at the time attributed to the fact that my mum was Catholic) but it was not that. It was never guilt at not doing something, it was just that this is what I did.

This is not expressed very well, but the book the Tao is Silent, by Raymond Smullyan seems to sum up how I find things a lot of the time.

Date: 2009-07-21 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] atreic.livejournal.com
:-) Thank you! I wouldn't worry too much about my choice of words, they probably reflect far more my own worries and obsessions than anything truly integral to my friends. It was lovely to get some background on your life though.

Date: 2009-07-21 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
Thanks for your words!

Date: 2009-07-21 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robert-jones.livejournal.com
a recent BBC article put the top 1% of wage earners at around £100k – so who is buying the £600k houses then? £100k won’t pay for them and it seems to me that there are too many of said houses compared to the earners.

That sounds about right to me. My brother makes the reasonable point that if he can't afford to buy a house, they must be overpriced. I think house prices must be being propped up by very low interest rates.

Date: 2009-07-21 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
I can only think that because houses turn over slowly a few people with high salaries can push up the price of many more houses than they can possibly buy - i.e. say 1 house in 20 is sold during a period, say 5 years.

Over that period one high salary person looking for a house could drive up the price of 20 houses.

Is this a feasable thought or is there a hole in it somewhere?

Date: 2009-07-22 08:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robert-jones.livejournal.com
I think you're right, although the turn-over must be higher than that, as your figures would suggest that houses on average are sold once a century. A bit of googling suggests about a million houses are sold each year out of 23 million odd houses (in England and Wales). However, at the moment turnover is unusually low.

Date: 2009-07-21 09:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] midnightmelody.livejournal.com
This was really interesting! I didn't even daydream about Arcadia, because I wanted to read the rest straight away.

It's weird that people associate working hard with ambition, and I think it's also seeping into education at the moment. Yet most nurseries are full of children 'trying hard' at whatever it is they're doing, and I don't think most of them are particularly ambitious about it. Ambition makes it about external rewardsand motivation, almost, and that cheapens the point of hard work. "Oh, if you work hard, I'll give you a cookie promotion and pay rise."

Date: 2009-07-21 11:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
Yes, this is one of my main gripes about the review/career process. Very odd.

I find I work hard if I am captured by the work!

Date: 2009-07-22 08:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] phlebas.livejournal.com
Words!
(though if I may I'll respond here rather than breaking my policy of not posting)

Date: 2009-07-22 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
Doctor Who, Beard, Arcadia, Consider, Charades

Date: 2009-07-24 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] phlebas.livejournal.com
Doctor Who
I sincerely hope the commentators predicting a surge of fashionable bow ties and tweed jackets are just missing the point.
Beard
An unexpectedly long-lasting side-effect from my bout of glandular fever in May 2000. Increasingly silver.
Arcadia
One of my favourite plays, managing to be at once very clever, very funny, very sad and very human. Also a legendary readthrough.
Consider
I do try.
(aside: Not my favourite Banks book, but the Eliot reference was too good to pass up. I rather enjoyed the Doctor Who novel that ripped it off, too.)
Charades
We played charades at school once, in an English lesson. It may have been the end of term. Attempting to convey "Red Dwarf", I pointed for the first word at a classmate's red coat. Unfortunately I had failed to take into account that the girl who owned the coat was actually a dwarf and never spoke to me again.

Date: 2009-07-22 09:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sashajwolf.livejournal.com
Before the credit crunch, mortgage companies were regularly lending at multiples of 7x income, so someone on £100k could get a mortgage for a house costing up to £700k. This is of course utter madness, but it was happening. Also, the pool of "buyers of houses in the UK" is not the same as the pool of "UK wage earners" - at the higher end of the market, a certain amount of price inflation is caused by wealthy overseas individuals buying a base in London or the home counties.

Date: 2009-07-22 10:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robert-jones.livejournal.com
And of course UK buyers often have other resources to draw on. A person earning £100k pa getting a 3.5x income mortgage could buy a £600k house if they already had equity worth £250k, or could get a soft loan for that amount from their parents.

Date: 2009-07-22 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sashajwolf.livejournal.com
Good point. A third of the cost of our current house was paid for with equity from the sale of the previous one.

Date: 2009-07-22 03:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-alchemist.livejournal.com
Plus it seems to me that high earners quite often marry other high earners, and two people earning £100k can obviously buy a £600k house.

Date: 2009-07-22 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
True, but then this shrinks the proportion of households with high earners (as they tend to double up) so making the shortage of people on high salaries worse!

Date: 2009-07-22 07:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
True for us as well - Which get you somewhere up the ladder, but, for example, I cannot ever see us being able to afford my parents' house in Sheen, even if we are both working and have a stack of equity. Before the crunch I reckon that my parents' house (a 3 bed made 4 by loft conversion) was touching £950k or so(!)

Date: 2009-07-22 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robert-jones.livejournal.com
Hmm, yes. A house close and similar to where I grew up is currently under offer for £475k. But there was nothing extraordinary about that house: it was just the sort of house where everyone we knew lived. I can imagine being able to afford something like one day, but only because I can imagine being in the top percentile of the population by income!

Date: 2009-07-22 07:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
At around 6-7 x salary, the mortgage is 100% of the post tax income, so they may have been offering, but I don't know who was using them!

Date: 2009-07-22 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
There is also the fact that it seems that "wage earners" excludes self employed and business owners.

However I have always felt that while the high end is priced by the super rich, but they should not drag the level below up unless they are affordable.

i.e. if a house is twice as big it might be 10x more expensive and the half size house will not be dragged up by the price of the larger house as no one who can afford the house at that price will want to live there.

However displacement of purchasers down the chain may partially explain the cascade effect of high prices at the top end.

Date: 2009-07-22 12:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ashfae.livejournal.com
Arcadia remains my favorite readthrough of all I've ever done. It was fun to act with you. =)

May I have more words? I'm enjoying this meme. =)

Date: 2009-07-22 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
Bounce, American, the letter y, Scotland, library

Date: 2009-07-22 03:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] the-alchemist.livejournal.com
I enjoyed the ones of these we did when we did single plays that I knew, and therefore could perform. I very much enjoyed Earnest, Arcadia and a few others. However, I almost never take part in these anymore. I am not a good enough actor to do a major role, and would feel uncomfortable doing one, or even asking for one when there are better people to do them.

This makes me a bit sad. I think one of the lovely things about readthroughs is people getting to play roles they'd never get to play on stage, either because they're not good enough or because they're the wrong gender/race/physical type.

Once I move house I want to have more small, single play readthroughs, so if there are any plays you know and would fancy a part in then let me know!

Date: 2009-07-22 05:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shreena.livejournal.com
I don't know about [livejournal.com profile] vectorious but the problem I always have is that I feel uncomfortable asking for a big role because I feel like other people are far more enthusiastic about doing them than I am. If I would enjoy a big part but know that there are people who would love love love a big part, I feel a bit mean saying that I would like one on my form.

(Also, and I realise that I should just ditch my pride here and that I'm being a bit silly, I assume that I wouldn't get big parts and I would rather not have asked for them and not got them than ask for them and know that the person assigning didn't want to give me one.)

Date: 2009-07-22 08:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robert-jones.livejournal.com
I'm very much with you in not wanting to ask for things I don't expect to get.

Date: 2009-07-22 08:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
I think Shreena has it pretty close - I would feel out of place, having denied someone something they would appreciate and make better use of than me.

And also the not wanting to ask if I don't think it likely I will get, and my lack of interest in smaller roles meaning that if I did get them I would be not very interested in the whole.

Date: 2009-07-22 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] vectorious.livejournal.com
The ones I know well enough have been done several times already: Arcadia, MSND, Earnest, Rosencrantz and Guildernstern. I also like Noises off, but I don't think that would work as a read through, as the second act is basically visual farce.

I liked a Yes minister one I went to, as as we had multiple stories we could all have a go at being the main characters. I missed the Old harry's game, but I know that well enough as well.
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