Category Archives: Thoughts

Just my thoughts.. on the fly.

Quality vs. Sales in a GMP Environment

“Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) is the part of quality assurance which ensures that medicinal products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use and as required by the marketing authorisation (MA) or product specification. GMP is concerned with both production and quality control.” (MHRA)

GMP

What really matters?
As a laboratory manager for several years, in various contract laboratories carrying out analysis of food, water and pharmaceuticals, my number one concern has always been Quality. Whether relating to government regulatory authority compliance or independent accreditation bodies, the standards required not only ensure public/patient safety but also provide consistency and a high level of understanding and integrity amongst the scientists carrying out the work, provided they’re trained correctly.

In a laboratory where the business depends on making a profit however, it can be quite a battle with senior management on a regular basis to explain why, for the scientists at least,  Quality will always take precedence over Sales.

This is not the kind of thing you can explain in a half hour chat over coffee with your MD. You could barely scratch the surface in a 2 hour presentation to the board. That’s because working in a GMP environment is one of those things you can’t really explain to those who simply don’t ‘get it’ or are simply too far away in terms of their role in the business.  It’s a way of life, a culture that is almost innate and becomes apparent in everything you do. The number of times I’ve been signing and dating a document at the bank and written the date wrong. The overwhelming urge to cross through, initial and date before rewriting is quite a force to try and resist! Some of you reading will be nodding with a knowing smile…because you get it!

Whenever I write about Quality (always with a capital ‘Q’) I am not talking about it on the same level that your average sales rep might understand it. I’m sure, in plenty of businesses it’s considered quite a skill to be able to know when one can compromise quality for the sake of sales. Taking shortcuts to quickly improve profit margins or temporarily dropping standards for the benefit of a faster turnaround. Timing and risk….I get it, when talking business. When talking Quality however, this is the thing,  Quality cannot and must not be compromised ever. Without it we have no business.

Making It Work
So, how to find a balance? It requires commitment, dedication, integrity and passion. What also helps is doing your utmost to understand the business perspective in order to communicate and work with the people whose job it is to get  the numbers in, in an effective way. Learn their language so you can teach them yours.

 

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Long time…..

 

……no blog posts!

Yes it’s been a while but I’ve been fairly full-on busy.  What with appeals for secondary school places (for my daughter, not me), successful by the way, yet another house move and finding an albeit temporary, job….writing has unfortunately taken a bit of a back seat.  I’ve missed it though!

Other important events I’ve been taking care of have been watching True Blood Season 4 – final episode on Sunday – and discovering new (to me) series!

I know I was a bit late to catch on but I finally got around to seeing the first two episodes of The Vampire Diaries which I LOVED! At first I thought it was going to be a bit of a teen drama thing but it really isn’t! Apart from all the actors portraying 17 year olds being at least 20….it actually has quite good story-lines, a gradual but not too slow introduction of new elements (and when I say elements I mean witches, werewolves etc), not tooooo much blood and gore and enough intrigue to have me watch the entire two seasons back to back in a 48 hour period!  I started watching with a definite plan to NOT try to compare it to True Blood but it really wasn’t an issue.  Despite the essence of both series being about vampires and other supernatural beings, they are totally different in every way.

 

Another serial show I managed to catch was V.  This is a remake of a series originally from the 70’s (I think!) and features some of the original characters. Again…..

REALLY good!  Little bit different, but still my favourite genre, sci-fi – and again – watched two seasons pretty much back to back!

 

I’ve started watching Lost Girl on Syfy channel but am still making my mind up as I’m only two episodes in. It’s something a bit different again though. About the Fae ‘community’. There are two sides, Dark and Light and focus around a woman who has an unfortunate habit of killing every man she sleeps with! She’s also got a tag-a-long sidekick who is human and was rescued by her after being date-rape drugged by a random loser in a bar.  I’ll write on on this as I watch it.

Very much looking forward to the new Sons of Anarchy. Apparently Season 3 didn’t go down too well with the viewers who weren’t keen on the baby-chase to Ireland. So, in light of this information, Season 4 promises to go back to the original style of the first two seasons.


Also on the horizon are Boardwalk Empire and Haven. Coming soon…..!

 

 

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Starting secondary school – top tips!

It’s a daunting time right now as my daughter and I approach the end of primary school and prepare to make what feels like a HUGE leap to secondary school.

She’s been at the same school since she was 4 years old. A lovely school with a great reputation for wonderful teachers and strong parent-teacher relationships. She’s had the same familiar faces around her, the same friends, a well-travelled route to and from school and right now, in the final few weeks, I suddenly realise just how big and comfortable that particular security blanket has been….for both of us!

I’m not an idiot. I do recognise that we have to let out children grow up. In fact since before my two were even born I’ve always been looking forward to what was coming next as opposed to some parents I know who dread it. The joy you get from watching them grow and come into their own personalities with their unique senses of humour and perspectives on various things…it’s consistently amazing and unpredictable. In a good way!

However, the ‘daunting’ bit is making sure they stay that way. Continually growing and developing. Safely.

Definitely NOT something I worried about myself starting secondary school. Of course not – I was 11. Unaware of how tough things can be in a somewhat less protective environment than primary school because it is, quite rightly, time for our children to learn new skills particularly concerning dealing with new social situations. Learning how to handle difficult scenarios without mum and dad there all the time for protection. I specifically remember learning how to think on my feet and talk my way out of trouble (thanks to inheriting my mothers smart mouth! ;) ).

Then there’s the very different and more intense work routine, which can come as a bit of a shock after primary school. Homework is a lot more organised, lessons a lot more structured and more is expected of our children all-round. It’s up to us as parents to encourage them to step-up to these expectations and get the absolute best out of school for the short time that they’re there without making them terrified of it and making it an enjoyable time for them.

There are lots of things to consider as the parent but I think it’s incredibly important to minimise this kind of stress for the children. The best way to do this is to minimise it for ourselves. This means being organised and prepared, which has the added bonus of setting a great example for our children to do the same.

So to prepare my daughter for what lies ahead I’ve been thinking hard about getting organised and prepared….This is my list of Top 5’s to try and make things as easy as possible for parents and children alike but remember – this is YOUR list – not the child’s. As long as you are sorted, calm, organised it makes it so much easier for things to fall into place for your child.

Before the First Day

1.  Don’t let your child see that you’re anxious – they’ve got their own worries and need to feel able come to you for support.

2.  Reassure your child that all the other children starting that day will be feeling just the same as them.

3.  Try and arrange a school visit before start of term to familiarise them with the layout – many schools arrange this anyway.

4.  Make sure your child has everything they need well in advance – uniform, p.e. kit etc, so they’re not at a disadvantage from Day One.

5.  If you can’t actually take or pick up your child to and from school, at least for the first week, make sure they’re familiar with the safest route by doing some practice runs.

During the First Weeks

1.  Don’t be late. Make sure your child has a regular alarm for a time reasonable and early enough to have some breakfast and set off in plenty of time. Don’t make them gain a reputation for being ‘the one who’s always late’. It goes without saying I think to make sure uniform, school bag and lunch arrangements are all sorted the night before.

2.  Be prepared for a settling in period. Behavioural changes can occur such as resorting to being more babyish, quick to tears or tantrums…they’re just dealing with the stress of a new environment – be understanding and patient, it will pass.

3.  Make your child aware of who is head of Pastoral Care at school so they know where to go with any problems.

4.  Homework gets more serious very quickly than it ever was at primary school. Make sure you have a routine which works best for your child. Whether it’s sitting down to complete it straight after school or before bedtime….whichever is most comfortable for them to get the best effort out of them. However, if they’re doing it straight after school it’s important to have a snack and drink on hand…most children are ravenous straight after a hard days work!

After Settling In – Going It Alone

1.  When your child has settled and is going to and from school alone, make sure they are alert to traffic rules if cycling.

2.  If they walk to school it’s important to walk confidently, like they have a destination and not be engrossed in their mobile phone or have their i-Pod playing too loud to be aware of who’s around them.

3.  If they’re taking the bus, advise your child not to sit at the back or the top of the bus – stomping ground for trouble-makers!

4.  If your child gets lost on the way home or feels in danger, encourage them to head into a shop and speak to a member of staff about calling you to collect them. (I actually did this when I ran away from school once and got lost – had to head into a florists and have them call my mum! Doh! – so embarrassing!)

5.  Make sure your childs mobile phone is always charged. Simple way is to get into the habit of plugging it in as soon as they get home and leaving that charger in the same socket all the time. Have a bolt-on set up so that they can always call or text you for free – whether they have credit or not. It’s handy too if they can commit your number to memory.

There are also some great books I would recommend keeping handy throughout the first year of secondary school such as:

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Joe Browns 60% sale!!

Yay…I believe I have mentioned my love of all things Joe Brown in an earlier post but I think it is only fair to make sure everybody knows about their latest sale!

I was actually waiting for summer to start before stocking up my summer wardrobe but going by the last few weeks I think it’s probably best to get on it NOW in case we continue to get random days (or half days!) when I can actually wear summer gear!

So, as usual JB’s is the first place I go and was very happy to see they’ve got a 60% sale on…result! Okay I know they do a lot of sales but I never take this kind of bonus for granted so it’s always a lovely surprise!

I’ve already picked out all my summer dresses, tops and jeans as well as sandals and gorgeous accessories to match. I suggest getting there quick though because the best stuff doesn’t hang about!

A little peek at some of the items in the sale!

 

 

Before today the four items above would have cost me £102.80 but with the sale thats now on it’s only going to set me back £60.80!!

Be daft not too really! ;)

 

 

 

 

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It gets better and better!

Well I was quite satisfied with Monday’s blog post justifying my treasured lie-ins…but wait! There’s more!

Not only have I a Licence To Sleep but, with absolutely no training required, I’ve got a Licence To Be Moody too! Wish I’d known this a few years earlier…

"I'm searching for some fancy medical terminology I can use to justify why I'm such a complete bitch."

…because it’s very scientific, which is of course, a language I understand and is difficult for others to argue with.

Basically it’s to do with serotonin levels. I’m sure we’ve all heard serotonin referred to as a ‘happy hormone’ (even though it’s not actually a hormone…it’s a neuro-transmitter!) and know that low levels of it can lead to depression. The number of women being treated for depression is much higher than that for men. Of course, there is probably some truth in the fact that the numbers of women being treated for depression may be down to the simple fact that they’re more likely to seek medical help, or talk to their girlfriends about it and be advised to go to the doctor by those friends.

Most of our serotonin is actually used for regulating intestinal functions- nice! But the small remainder is found in the central nervous system where it affects, amongst other things, mood.

The serotonin is taken up by cell receptors which allow neuro-transmitters, hormones etc in and out. So a double edged sword then. Not only do we need enough serotonin to be ‘happy’ but also enough cell receptors to take up as much as possible.

However men and women process serotonin slightly differently. Recent scientific research has found (using brain scans) that women have more serotonin receptors than men. Therefore, logically, need more serotonin. It should also be noted though, that where there is a deficiency of just about anything in the body, our cells open up as many receptors for whatever is lacking as possible in order to take up every last tiny bit that is available. So this could mean there was never enough serotonin in women and thats why we have more receptors.

For some people the answer is anti-depressants. Which is a medicine like any other as far as I’m concerned and solves a problem of deficiency, just like taking vitamin supplements. Some anti-depressants such as Prozac work by increasing serotonin in order for the receptors for it to have access to an optimum amount.

Then of course there’s the other reason for us women’s mood swings…the ACTUAL hormone ones. Oestrogen being the main culprit. The thing about oestrogen is that it also affects serotonin levels by stimulating the number of receptors for it in the brain – meaning during our monthly hormonal fluctuations we need even more!

What to do about it? We can actually help ourselves via our diets. Plenty wholegrain and fortified cereal gives us lots of B vitamins and magnesium which reduces stress hormone cortisol. The high carbohydrate content of these cereals also boosts the level of serotonin.

Of course exercise and sunlight are natural mood boosters, so getting outside for a walk or better still a run will actually do you the world of good – provided you’re not sooooo down that it’s hard to find the motivation to do it! Don’t diet though!! Restricting calories lowers tryptophan which is necessary for making serotonin.

Healthy eating and exercise – YES. Losing out on essential nutrients – NO.

Those chocolate cravings when you’re feeling grumpy?? Your body requesting ‘more carbs please’.

So feel free to indulge! ;)

 

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What The Hell Is Wrong With Chivalry?

The first thing to hit my, slightly sensitive ears today (after a little too much of the red stuff last night), was a tv Q&A about whether it’s sexist or not for a man to hold a door open for a woman. Really? I’m at a loss as to how this can be a problem for anyone.

Surely anyone can hold a door open for anyone? If I’m walking through a door and someone – man, woman or child – is only a few seconds behind me…I hold it open. It’s just simple good manners for crying out loud! I don’t deliberate over whether the other person will be offended by my politeness!! Just as I don’t worry about anyone being offended about me saying ‘please’ or ‘thank-you’.

I definitely consider myself a feminist, in my own interpretation of the word. I think it’s amazing how far women have come from as far back as having to fight and protest for a right to vote and beyond. I am and always will be full of respect, admiration and gratitude to all the women who have fought, sacrificed and even died for me to be living the kind of life that I live. Where I can make choices. I can choose if and when to have children. I can choose what kind of career I want. I can choose to be single, married or a serial dater. I can choose to vote for who I think should be running the country I live in.

Being a feminist however, does not mean that I forget that I’m a woman and possess all the beautiful, lovely, feminine traits that make me a woman. I have no desire to be genderless and not to be seen as a woman by anyone. If a man wants to hold a door open, give up his seat on the train, help me to my car with heavy bags, walk on the outside of the pavement or open a car door for me, then he is VERY welcome! These are lovely gestures and I think it must be incredibly hard for men these days to know where to put themselves when some women are reacting in a very rude way and taking offence.

Does this picture suggest in any way that the woman isn't a successful woman? In any area she chooses?

It’s not demeaning, sexist, patronising or anything else negative. For goodness sake! These acts are NICE. They are positive things in a world where people are increasingly horrible and rude to each other…don’t let this die out! Aren’t these gestures more borne out of respect and kindness? If you are a woman who finds these things sexist then I’m afraid YOU are the person who has the issue, the insecurity. You clearly don’t feel empowered enough as a women to be anything but paranoid about these gestures.

There are much bigger issues going on, particularly on a global level that women who want to fight for equal rights should be focusing on. Female circumcision, forced arranged marriages, honour killings etc etc. Get involved with THOSE things and stop complaining about men treating you nicely. You don’t know how lucky you are!

p.s. to the men who have considered being less chivalrous because of a few negative responses…..please don’t stop! Ignore them and know that there are plenty of women who appreciate and respect your courtesy and consideration. Me for a start! :D

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At last…scientific proof I need my weekend lie-in!

It’s true! Scientists have finally concluded than on average us women need 20 minutes more sleep than our fella’s! Yay! Actual scientific evidence…he can’t argue with that!

Better still, the reasons come down to us being much busier than men in terms of how we use our brains. Oh! – the leverage of that argument when negotiating who gets to lie-in and who has to get up with the kids next Sunday morning! Beautiful!

Obviously the whole point of sleep or rest is for our brains to recover from all the energy exhausted during our waking hours. Since women have to deal with sooo many more issues than men, we use more energy and therefore need more rest. (well I always knew that! ;) )

It comes down to our amazing multi-tasking skills really. I mean we deal with so many very different tasks all at once, going to work, getting the dishwasher/laundry on before leaving, dealing with the kids, dealing with our relationships, planning family meals, shopping, cooking, general housework, dealing with schools, kids social activities and personal dramas, looking after extended family members, remembering tons of birthdays/anniversaries – and these are the basics!

On top of all that there are hundreds of odds and ends that constantly crop up which involves always maintaining incredible flexibility…planned a chicken dinner? Forget it – hubby just decided he fancies beef and the kids all want different meals.

Granted the men in our lives may have to deal with some of this too, but (and I realise this is very general) let’s face it, beyond going to work everyday where he can pretty much forget about home until 5.30pm when he has to find his way there, there isn’t a whole lot of multi-tasking he has to do. Unless of course that’s part of his job. The scientists are telling us though that he still won’t need as much sleep as a woman!

Our brains are much more complex than a man’s, which enables us to take care of all the things listed above, which is simply down to our wiring. Another thing we already knew! The fact that we do so much more multi-tasking than the average man, added to not getting enough rest, unfortunately means that our brains age faster.

So we just make sure we get more sleep right?

It’s not as easy as it sounds though to simply ‘get more sleep’. I know from experience that once she’s had a baby a woman’s ability to sleep deeply and well changes enormously. It’s a kind of 24/7 radar for any noises as you are permanently tuned into listening out for crying or any kind of disturbance that  may be a potential threat to the child…and we all know that men can sleep right through babies crying! So we sleep much lighter than them, which doesn’t give us the ‘rest’ we need.

The very things that we have to deal with everyday are also responsible for us not getting proper rest. Stress and worry both result in lighter or broken sleep.

In reality though, the good news is that the men are catching up and catching on and have been for some time now. It’s not quite as ridiculous these days for a couple to decide to share everything fairly. As far as my experience has shown me, dads are much more involved with their children emotionally. As well as willingly divvying up the housework, shopping and cooking. So I suppose that means the lie-ins get shared too!

Think I’ll have mine this weekend…possibly even request breakfast in bed while I’m at it!

 

 

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Let little girls BE little girls!

This child is 11 years old and her role model is Jordan...her mother just wants her to ''be famous''!

There’s the same old bandwagon again..and the same people jumping on it to shoot their mouths off but not actually DO anything about it!

These stories have been filtering over to us for some time now, usually from the States but it’s getting scarily more common here, about little girls being made up to look like 25 year olds. The excuse? It’s for a beauty pageant. Seriously?? How long did anyone really think it would take for this ridiculous behaviour of dressing our daughters up like dolls and suffocating them in make-up, false tans and hair extensions, to trickle over into their everyday life?  There are 4 year olds out there who think it’s perfectly acceptable to wear blusher and lip gloss on a daily basis!

The latest outrage regarding this matter it is that now ‘mothers’ are giving their children, and I do mean children, not even teenagers….botox and boob jobs. As gifts! Hands up who’s actually surprised about this.

You must be kidding!

Why wasn’t this crap stopped way before now? Why the hell did it ever start?

Don’t get me wrong, we all find our own children the most beautiful creatures on earth….but taking them out to show them off in beauty pageants is obscene. That exhibitionist behaviour is about the parent putting their child through this horrific ordeal. It’s their insecurities, their need for praise or admiration. ‘Look my daughter won 1st place so I must be a wonderful parent right’? Wrong!!

I’ve read the articles, watched the tv documentaries and all you hear from the parents is that their children enjoy it and have fun so why not? Of course they enjoy it! What kids don’t enjoy dressing up and face-painting? They are innocents and have no clue what te effect on them will be when they’re older for this kind of conditioning.

Teaching them from day one – literally – that the way to succeed and go up in the world is through how they look. Even teaching them that they need to go up in the world or seek approval from complete strangers…this is incomprehensible to me. Once again it’s for the parents…’go be everything I wanted to be’, ‘go achieve all I wish I’d achieved’. Why can’t we just let them BE? Let them be happy and find their talents or strengths naturally by exploring and learning. Teach them how to be happy without stardom, huge mansions, flash cars. The pressure must be incredible for them. Thinking that they need these things to be happy because thats what mum and dad taught them.

We’re only here once. if we spend our short time here constantly striving for all these things we are taught are important things in life it’s going to be a miserable few years!

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“…it’s like some guy banging on some wok!”

Come Dine With Me is always an education! Take yesterday’s episode for example. I learned how to make a courgette roulade look like a vomit filled swiss roll, that it costs £300 a month to look after your dogs ‘properly’ (y’know…clothes, perfume, ribbons and bows…the usual doggy necessities) AND what a hang drum is….

Hang on (no pun intended honest!) that last one actually WAS educational! Just in case you didn’t get the sense of irony about the other ‘lessons learned’!

One of the highly cultured contestants, desperate to win the grand prize of £1000, invited in a friend to entertain his guests with the beautiful sounds of the Hang (pronouced ‘hung’) drum. Only to have it described as “…some guy banging on some wok” by one of the other slightly less cultured diners!

It sounded AWESOME! I’m no drummer but I know my music and this instrument is ‘special’. After seeing it, or more importantly hearing it, I spent the next few hours trawling the net to see where I could get hold of one. Bad news….you have to go on a waiting list! After which there’s more bad news…the one I like most, Halo, is about £2k!! Although I did spot one on ebay for £901. Still – looks like I’ll have to wait a while!

Anyway, totally impressed with the sound this guy was getting out of said ‘wok’ I joined all waiting lists, mailing lists and blogs having anything to do with hang drums!

Here’s some videos of what I found and why I must have one!

Hang Drum Solo

Reminiscence

halo

Gorgeous sound right? My birthday is at the end of the month….if anyone’s stuck for gift ideas….! ;)

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