Scope Creep

What is scope creep?  Click here, or see the following extract:

Scope creep refers to a project that has seen its original goals expand while it’s in progress. As the term suggests, scope creep is a subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished. Even if the project is completed, scope creep can result in final deliverables that look nothing like what was originally envisioned.

Scope creep may also be called creep of scope.

Think:

  • Death by a thousand cuts
  • Boiling a frog

Then you probably have a good idea about what this article is about.

Those of us who work in projects know what scope creep is.

Build me a car.  Here are the specifications.

Then five hours before planned delivery date:

Oh, and can the car also have a kettle built in?  And it should be blue.

Scope creep also happens in our daily lives.

At church:

G in G, can you organise the annual cricket match in a fortnight.  Our team captain is on a business trip and can’t organise it.

Sharp intake of breath.

Yes, I will.

(Passive aggressive British “tut” and shrug of shoulders.)

Then two days before said match…

And can you pop over to church to load the cricket kit into the church car?

(Strange, I thought I was organising, not doing…)

Then one day before the match…

Can we [= you] put the TV on in the church so that the cricket players can watch the England games straight after the football match?  Can you also let the cricketers know that they need to start one hour earlier?  Also, can you come to church on Saturday to mow the church lawn so that the visitors get a good impression of church?  [And fourteen other requests.]

So from organising to being literally hands-on.

Voom!  Pup!  Pup!  Pup!  Lawnmower starts on a scorching hot, redhead-unfriendly morning.  Schatz, patient as ever, is sitting in the shade.  Mrs Busybody is standing over me.

Why have I set the blades at this level?

Why don’t I empty the lawnmower bin more often, like I do?

Why haven’t I mown the grass behind the church?

I bite my tongue.  I grit my teeth.

I finish the mowing.  I come back to Schatz.  I turn into stereotypical fiery redhead.

A dictionary’s worth of expletives leave my mouth.

I tell Mrs Busybody:

I have done everything you asked.

I add:

I am sorry.  I cannot help you any further.

This is a British euphemism for:

Now get lost and leave me alone!!!!!

I head off to cricket and drink a pint of Pimms in the shade.

Howzat!

Have an un-creepy day, won’t you!

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A warning about your health

Men, please don’t be shy about going to the doctor.  Now, let me give you a personal insight.

Last week I had been feeling discomfort “down below” for several days. I went and saw my (female) doctor, who took a careful look.

She then told me, “I think everything’s alright.  However, next time, please do that in my surgery, and not while we both happen to be doing the shopping down at Aldi.”

***

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

doctorFem

Charlie don’t surf – Glasshopper doesn’t hug trees

Glasshopper and I go back to over 40 years to the days when he and I were pads brats “Klassenkameraden” at Wolfenbüttel, Germany.  He is nowadays a police officer, and spent several years as a riot policeman (Bereitschaftspolizist).  On the nerd/jock spectrum he and I would probably find ourselves at opposite ends.

In fact, here we are in this photo from 1977, HM Queen’s silver jubilee year.  Glasshopper is rear rank, furthest left.  I am next to him, with my finger in mouth.  Cute, eh?

classpic

On the last Wednesday in October 2017 Glasshopper’s wife was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

How is it that I remember that date?  Photographic memory?  No.  Did I just check in my Moleskine diary?  No.  It was the night that I had just come home from an excellent comedy evening down the Altstadt.  In fact, when I got home, I had been laughing so much, it was as if I had been doing sit-ups all night.  (Most unlikely.)

But once I had arrived home and had logged onto Facebook, I wasn’t laughing much any longer.

I saw Glasshopper’s posts on Facebook.  I saw his wife’s posts on Facebook.  I had arrived  home at 02:12.  Glasshopper was still up and on Facebook.  Glasshopper told me the devastating news.

My reply did not consist of Bible passages or words from hymns:

F*ck f*ck f*ck.

And then:

Sh1t, sh1t, sh1t!

Today was Mrs Glasshopper’s last of ten chemotherapy sessions.  This week they have several appointments to review progress (or lack thereof) and options.  Frankly, there are few options left.  When I asked Schatz (who knows a thing or two about medicine) a week after diagnosis, I summarised her answer as:

Also, der Tod ist sicher.

(“So, death is certain.”)

Over the last month I’ve chatted to Glasshopper a lot, forming a rapport with him, trying to work him out.  He seemed cheery, but was that alpha-male, riot policeman, bravado?  No, he is genuinely businesslike (perhaps as his coping strategy) and realistic.  He even uses the D-word: death. No euphemisms.  No:

  • The inevitable
  • When she passes away
  • When she moves on
  • When the end happens
  • Etc

Instead: death and dying.  He’s calling a spade a spade.  (DE: die Ding beim Namen nennen.)

Mrs Glasshopper, on the other hand, is in denial.  She’s not saying her goodbyes, because she denies shes going yet.  She is convinced that she will still be alive – despite doctors’s predictions – for her son’s graduation in two years and probably many more family events.  Death is the last taboo in our western society.  Nobody wants to die, at least, not early.

By analogy, I once joked to a female friend of mine:

Women have PMT.  Men suffer from PMT.

Maybe it’s similar here.  The patient has the terminal cancer.  The family suffer from the cancer.  Am I being too cold?  Too clinical here?  Is Glasshopper?

He even ‘fessed up last week:

Sometimes I just want her to go so she is no longer in pain, and so I don’t have to deal with this any more.  And I feel an absolute a$$hole for saying that.

Since then he has called me “Padre Ginge.”

This is not Hollywood cliché.  No:

  • Miraculous recovery
  • Constant hugs
  • Reiterations of “I love you”
  • Final hours in hospital bed, surrounded by loved ones and devoted medics
  • Final beep, beep, beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep on the electronic monitor

Woody Allen is famous/notorious for his quotation:

“I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens.

What can I do?  What can Glasshopper do?  Probably not much.  I told him this morning:

Padre Ginge is here if you need to let off steam, swap silly jokes, send internet memes or links to YouTube videos of cheesy 1970’s hits.

We pads brats don’t hug trees.  We don’t even hug humans.  We don’t do group therapy.  We do, however, look after each other in our own unique way, which “bl00dy civvies” never quite understand.

Please, folks, pray for and think of Glasshopper and his wife next time your train is running late or there is too much milk in your tea.

Have a grateful day, won’t you!

tree

 

Don’t Do Your Business in…

Sunray served 22 years in the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps.  But he was also a PARA.  Not Parachute Regiment.  PARA-noid.

His motto (which he repeated to me on a regular basis):

Don’t do your business in the place where you live.  (That’s what Captain Benn told me back in 1973.)

A pearl of wisdom no doubt.

I actually suspect it was my Grandmother who got Sunray into the habit, not Captain Benn.  Grandma lived in a tiny hamlet, Burrill, a good five kilometres from the nearest town.  Her nearest (sub-)Post Office?  Three ( yes – 3, drei) doors down from her, at Number 8.  Did she ever go there, even to buy a stamp?

Nope.

I’m not having Margaret H knowing I’ve just bought a 2nd-class stamp and gossiping that I’m too bl00dy poor or tight-fisted to buy a 1st-class stamp.

I’m not taking my letters to my son to her sub-post office .  She’ll know where he’s stationed and she’ll end up gossiping about it.

I’m not cashing my pension at Burrill post office.  She’ll then know how much old age pension I get each week.  I’m not bl00dy having that!

So every week, in all weathers, Grandma would waddle to the end of the hamlet, board the bus to Bedale, and do her post office business there, buying stamps, paying her bills and swapping gossip with all the other OAP’s.  As for actually posting letters, she’d send them from the hamlet post box, conveniently located in the bustling heart of the hamlet, next to the phone box, which Sunray would occasionally daily ring while guarding enemies of the British state twiddling his thumbs at the Maze Prison.  (You can see a picture of the bustling heart of the hamlet at the end of this article.)

As for Sunray himself, most of his post-Army life he spent living in villages in the Yorkshire Dales.  He would drive for miles and miles around to obscure village post offices – in rotation – to prevent over-familiarity and postmasters knowing his business.  He even had a laminated A4 sheet to tell him the opening times and locations of about twenty village post offices.

You can’t be too careful, son!

Have a paranoid day, won’t you!

burrillPBox

The bustling centre of Burrill

 

“We need to talk…”

First of all, your Bible quote du jour.

Matthew 18:15-17

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Since coming out of hospital a month or so ago, I had bitten the bullet and asked Billy to give me some space.  In other words, please stay away from me.  Like in the Jewish momma joke:

  • Don’t phone
  • Don’t visit
  • Don’t talk to me
  • Don’t Whatsapp me
  • Don’t email me
  • Don’t SMS

I had become fed-up of his:

  • Unsolicited hospital visit
  • Late-night starting arguments in his self-created Whatsapp groups
  • Interfering in everything from the colour of the toilet paper in the church toilets to how German funerals should be conducted
  • Etc etc etc
  • Ad nauseum

Last Sunday Billy asked to meet up with me for a coffee “to bury the hatchet” (sic).  I acquiesced.  I had a feeling the meet-up would be a bit pointless but we can but hope and pray, I guess.  And besides, I thought this could be my chance to tell him to his face what others had been saying behind his back.

We meet at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, a public place with plenty of people around.  I had prepared bullet points notes to refer to in case needed.

First ten minutes: stilted conversation.  My mind is thinking on every so slightly weightier matters than Billy’s new flat being near the big shopping arcade.  I am thinking of D, dying of pancreatic cancer.

After 40 minutes, 60 minutes, Billy is still talking about his new flat, like a ten-year-old telling parents what he had done at school today.  I am starting to day-dream.  The washing-up, the laundry, etc.

Finally – after an hour Billy remembers.

Oh yes, you said you wanted to talk to me about a few things to do with why you wanted space from me.

I tell him in a matter-of-fact way, very calmly without raising my voice (for I do not wish to encourage the stereotype of the fiery redhead) that I have serious concerns about his anger management.  I then give him a few examples of when he has exploded with rage.  He says he accepts he has anger management issues.  Good.  That’s a start.  But then at that incident and at this incident, if X hadn’t done this, he wouldn’t have had to scream and shout at them.  Someone else’s fault.  No personal responsibility.  Worrying.

I then ask calmly, like I was on my interrogator’s course again, is it possible that the reason why people have lost their temper with you is that you have provoked them time after time until they can take no more?

By now Billy has started cooking.  He has started hyperventilating, scowling at me, shouting over me:

No!  You listen to me!

All of a sudden, Billy grabs his coat and his daysack and storms out.

Oh, well, Billy has thus proved he has anger management issues.  Next time he sees me, he will probably move to the next step in his cycle of anger management, namely, look at me, puppy eyes and try to latch onto me and others heading off to Sunday fellowship lunch.  He’ll be wasting his time, I’m afraid.  High hedges make good neighbours.

Wer schreit, hat unrecht.

Have an anger-free day, won’t you!

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