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So, I've started my new job properly.. I'm aware that I've not actually written anything of substance here in quite some time, so I should at least vaguely explain what's involved in that..

On a monthly basis, we send out e-mails to those customers for whom we have addresses. One of the main purposes of these e-mails is to make sure that customers know how to spot a legitimate communication from us. We explain that we'll always address them by name, always include the last four digits of the current account number, and will never ask them to give out their details. The theory is that if they know how to spot a real mail from us, they're less likely to be taken in by a fake one. The jury is currently out on whether this is truly effective, but we've at least proved that receipt of e-mails from us doesn't make customers more likely to be defrauded.

So, each month I'll receive a brief from the creative part of our marketing department, telling us who they want to e-mail. For example, they might want to mail 30k new to bank customers, to tell them welcome, and let them know what's what. On top of that, they might want to mail 200k customers who are currently inactive on Internet Banking, to try to get them to come back. Then there might be another 50k customers to whom we'd like to send an e-mail letting them know about a new offer we have on personal loans. You get the idea..

So my job is to take that, and to get those customers e-mailed. I have a database of customer details, and some tools I've written that run queries against it. Using that, I select all the customers, stick them into an output file, and upload it to our third party e-mail sending company (there's probably a more eloquent way to say that..). They then send the e-mails out to the customers, and let me know who's bounced, etc.

Then, a month down the line, I take those customers and examine what they actually did. Comparing against control groups, I assess the return we got on the campaign, and try to ascertain which campaigns were more successful, etc. I then report this back to the creative guys, who make decisions about future campaigns and messages based on that.

I also do the same for contact through SMS, as well as aspects of that for our physical direct mail too. So I figure I'm a Campaign Analyst, though I have no idea what my official job title is. The important thing is that as of April 20th, I'll be paid the correct amount for the job I do. Which is nice :o)

So anyway, that's what I'm doing at work lately. That said, I've only been at work for four days out of the last sixteen or so. I had a week off recently, and for some reason, I agreed to go to Thorpe Park with Naomi. Now, I'm not entirely sure what my reasoning for this was - I don't do 'going upside down', under any circumstances. Yet, in some sort of attempt to either better myself, overcome my fears, or just look a bit less like a little girl, I promised that I'd go on every single ride.

It should be pointed out that I'd never before been on a rollercoaster with any inversions at all. I don't think.. The biggest rollercoaster I've ever been on was at Lakemont, in Altoona, PA, and it was somewhat lame.. So this whole thing was all very new to me.. Please bear this in mind when judging me for quite how pathetic the following ends up sounding ;o)

So, the first ride I went on was X:\ No Way Out, mostly because it's tame, doesn't go upside down, and is generally a bit arse. It actually left me feeling rather sick, but not in the good way. All the stopping and starting, going backwards in the dark.. I could kind of see what they were going for, but it just wasn't working for me. Maybe if you didn't already know that it went backwards, it might be cool.. Anyway, it was a nice gentle introduction to the place.. After that, I figured the best thing to do was to properly face my fears, so I decided that I should go on something upside down..

The next ride was Nemesis Inferno, which is a leg-dangly type rollercoaster.. It has one loop and three corkscrews, if memory serves. I can still very vividly remember how scared I was in the queue. Fortunately, I looked over and saw Stealth, which is a 200ft high launch coaster.. Just the thought of that one made everything else in the park seem way less scary.. :o) And as it turned out, I really liked Nemesis Inferno.. I even enjoyed going upside down, though I preferred the loop to the corkscrews - something about centrifugal force simulating gravity made me feel far more comfortable.. And in the end, it was the only ride that I went on several times.. I can now safely say that going upside down is okay with me :o)

With that in mind, the next ride was Samurai, which I'm reliably informed is a 'top scan' ride.. Basically, the thing flings you around, upside down, round and round, and disorientates the crap out of you.. I think this was the scariest one - lots of being upside down, 4Gs of force, etc.. And again, in the queue I was really scared. From this point on, assume that I was always scared in the queues for rides. Fear of the unknown is a dreadful thing..

To add to the fear, somebody was sick on the thing and they had to shut the ride down for a few minutes, which just prolonged the worry.. Then, once I got near the front of the queue (when I was really hoping it might get closed down again), Naomi and I got bumped up to the front. Fate hated me that day... Anyway, it was just as bad as I thought it would be, but I spent 99% of the time with my eyes closed, so it was mostly just about the weird sensation of having your body subjected to all different forces. The scientist in me found it all rather interesting, but he was being subdued by the coward in me that was clinging on for dear life..

But yeah, that was fun too.. I didn't fancy doing it again that day, but next time I go there I could totally go for that.. At this point I lose track.. I know we went on the teacups at some point, which was actually good fun.. I managed to spin the thing around enough to fling Naomi back and forth, which she seemed to find amusing (underneath the mass of hair that kept flying in front of her face).. At some point after that, we went on Rush, which is a giant swing.. It only has a lap restraint, and there's nowhere for your hands to hold on to.. Given that my general approach was "close my eyes, hold on, and hope for the best" this one wasn't helping with that..

Still, once again I had my eyes closed, which left me concentrating on the actual sensations.. Being in zero gravity certainly was a new one, and it was very neat.. Being pulled out of my seat and being held in by only the lap bar was less neat.. But it was certainly an experience. Again, I didn't want to go on it again that day, but it's something I'd like to do again sometime.. It felt really interesting :o)

And last of all was Vortex, which was a big spinning pendulum type thing.. I kept my eyes open for most of that, which I know is really nothing to be too proud of, but I am anyway. This one was much more like the sort of thing I've been on at Thame Fair (only less lethal), so it was all okay in the end.. I would've gone on it again, but we didn't really have time.. We had to leave early in order to beat the chavs..

That's the thing - it was the last day of term (I believe), which means that it was filled with skiving children. I've never seen anything quite like it, so many unsupervised children - it felt like Lord of the Flies gone horribly wrong. I know LotF is already pretty wrong, but trust me, if it had been done with chav kids it would've turned out far worse for all parties involved.

So yes, that was Thorpe Park.. I don't think I've missed anything out (except spilling donuts and chocolate sauce all down myself, but I don't want to admit to that because it makes me look rather dumb).. Suffice it to say, I had a great time, and all the rides were fun.. and I'm just glad that Naomi managed to convince me to go - it would have sucked to stay afraid of that stuff forever, especially since it was nothing to really worry about :o)

But it doesn't end there.. this coming weekend, apparently, I'm meeting Naomi's grandparents (the ones I've not met) and her friends (none of whom I've met). Does the nail-biting fear never end?! It should be cool though, I've heard a lot about them all, so it'll be fun to match up real life people to the pictures I've formed in my head.. But yes, argh, nerves.. The scary new experiences never seem to end :o)

So anyway, bed time.. It's funny, after the dance version of this song, I'd practically forgotten the original, or that I quite like it.. I have a new 80s collection of music that I'm working through, it's good fun :o)


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