Friday, 30 November 2018

A Song of Fire and Reggae

Is George R.R. Martin, the author of the books on which Game of Thrones is based, Del and Rodney Trotter's uncle Albert.

I heard on the news that reggae is to receive protected status from UNESCO. What the hell does that mean? If you're a reggae artist will the Reggae Police check your music adheres to certain standards before allowing you to say it's reggae? Will those who hate reggae have visits from the Reggae Police? Sounds daft to me.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Forecasters - What Do They Know?

So the government has produced its Brexit forecast and the Brexiteers are shouting from the rooftops that forecasts are wildly inaccurate, without checking on the veracity of their statement, nor the direction of and historical inaccuracy.

  1. The Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts are not 'wildly' inaccurate. Excluding the forecasts for 2008 and 2009, which were compiled by the Treasury (the OBR only came into existence in 3010) and affected by an unexpected event - the global financial crisis, which could not be forecast as it was caused by fraud - the difference between the OBR growth forecast and actuality has never been more than 1%.
  2. The actual outcome has consistently been worse than the forecast, not better.
  3. If the OBR is forecasting a 4% drop in GDP for May's Brexit and 9% for a hard Brexit, on the basis of probabilities and past accuracy, it will be 5% and 10% - possibly more since the forecasts are for a longer period than just one year and the error will be compounded over time.
  4. A forecast of 2% growth versus a 1% reality is a large percentage error, but not a large absolute error and is a consequence of using small numbers. Brexiteers can be guaranteed to quote percentage errors in the coming days.
  5. Brexiteers have yet to produce a forecast, and they won't; they will persist in their own Project Mindless Optimism with nothing to back it up, hoping to garner the reactionary forces of huffing and puffing outrage from those who don't bother to check anything and believe what they're told by demagogues who sound authoritative.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018


I was brought up to believe that the berries of the yew tree are highly toxic and are to be avoided; however, I switched on the radio yesterday to learn that this is incorrect. The pulp of the yew berry is entirely edible, but what must be avoided is crunching the seed in your mouth, as that is the poisonous bit. Don't crunch it and  it will pass straight through your body with no ill effects, or just spit it out.

The proof is here in The Poisonous Garden website. To quote the pertinent information: "Though the berries are harmless, the seed within is highly toxic. Unbroken it will pass through the body without being digested but if the seed is chewed poisoning can occur with as few as three berries."

When at the Chatsworth House Christmas Market last Friday, someone was selling Christmas wreaths make from real fruits, the purpose being to feed the birds with your wreath. Not only were they spectacularly beautiful, but they served a purpose beyond the usual, merely decorative intention.

Tuesday, 27 November 2018


With a month to go, Christmas preparations are under way at last. I bought my silly Christmas jumper at a charity shop yesterday and finally managed to get some Iceland, 12 month matured Christmas puddings when the shop restocked. None were available on Saturday or Sunday due to their popularity.

These Iceland puddings are meant to be the best on the market, according to Which Magazine and a survey of 12 baking experts.

When Hay saw them she said that she thought her dad still had some from last year, making his 24 month matured puddings and even more desirable...

Monday, 26 November 2018

The Monsal Murder Mysteries

I took this photo on Saturday of Hay exiting the old railway tunnel on the Peak District Monsal Trail.

It makes her look like Batwoman leaving the Batcave. Cropping it a bit closer and it would make a good cover for a murder mystery.

The other end of the tunnel terminates at the Monsal Viaduct.

One of those magnificent feats of Victorian engineering. It's now used as part of a walking and cycling trail from Bakewell to Blackwell.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Overheard in the Peak District

Overheard in Chatsworth House Farm Shop, which is very expensive:

Husband, as wife grabs a basket: "You won't be needing a basket, love."

Overheard in Hobb's Tea Shop on the Monsal Trail as Hay steps outside while the Chairman returns from the loo:

Shop Owner: "Your wife's done a runner."

Chairman: "That's the 3rd wife that's done that to me."

Shop Owner: "You'll have to let me know your secret."

Overheard in Bakewell:

Chairman: Shall we go to Ashford under Water next?

Hay: "I think you'll find it's Ashford in the Water."

Chairman: "Sounds wet either way."

Never been to the Peak District despite having been brought up under two hours from it. Well worth the visit. Somewhat like the North Yorkshire Dales, but not quite as bleak.

Hay wanted to jump into the River Wye, but hadn't brought her swimming gear. Next time - possibly in December or January...

At the Chatsworth House Christmas Market, there was a preponderance of stalls flogging flavoured gin and jumping on the gin bandwagon. To my mind, that's akin to those cheeses with bits of fruit or herbs in them - a bloody heresy.

Saturday, 24 November 2018


This AirBnB thing is so different from normal BnB stays. We tend to spend more time chatting to interesting and very nice people who allow us in their homes than actually sight seeing.

The one we're staying at in Bakewell has an even odder twist - the owner isn't even here. She left a key for us and we have the free run of her house while she's away. We've never met her and she doesn't know us from Adam (or Eve). Trust and reputation through reviews (both of the renter and the lodger) is paramount.

There is a drawback to AirBnB - it takes revenue away from traditional BnBs and hotels,which, given the vast majority of AirBnB hosts don't declare their AirBnB income, means less tax revenue for the government. Yes, AirBnB themselves pay tax but, being a humungous company with revenues of $2.6 billion, they have expensive tax accountants who specialise in reducing their tax burden through loopholes and the like.

Visited the Chatsworth House Christmas Market yesterday in the evening. A fantastic market - much better than the one at Bath. However, every 4th stall was some bugger selling flavoured gins. Surely that fad has run its course?

Friday, 23 November 2018

Jamal à Becket on Thanksgiving CCTV

Is it me, or does the Khashoggi affair bear all the hallmarks of Henry II and Thomas à Becket? "Will no-one rid me of this turbulent priest?"

Received the other two solar powered, Wi-Fi, CCTV cameras this week. I'd forgotten how to link them to the App and spent an entire evening trying to connect them - with eventual success. They all work a treat.

Seen so many adverts, especially from restaurants, advertising Thanksgiving events. They have transformed into sending presents or treating special friends to a dinner out in thanks for something they've done. What with Halloween and Black Friday (which is a scam of the proportions of Brexit), the UK is fast becoming the 51st state of America and it's all being driven by commerce. I want nothing to do with it.

We're off to the Peak District for a mini-AirBnB break today, leaving the boys in charge of the house, so it will be a good chance to test them - the CCTV cameras, that is, not the boys - but logically it's both.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Optimising 1 of 68 Apps

I recently bought a 2nd hand 2008 VW Passat Estate. This car has a head unit, or an Android-powered display, for the uninitiated.

Several days following the purchase the head unit went into a spin and began to go into a cycle of optimising the Apps. It would start at optimising 1 of 63 Apps and then go through exactly the same cycle, perhaps with occasionally fewer Apps. Nothing I did would bring the display back to normal.

Even an automotive electrician who specialised in these things said it was knackered and I'd have to order a new one for £150, but it would have the latest version of Android. I duly ordered one from him and simultaneously booked him to install it and a reversing camera I'd bought on eBay.

When we went to The Gower on Saturday I left the head unit to keep going through its cycle to see if a long period would have any positive effect. Lo and behold, once we go to Swansea the head unit booted itself into normality.

On inspecting the System function, I discovered that the head unit had upgraded itself from Android 4.0 to Android 6.1. What had happened was that the unit, for once, had sufficient time to download every version of Android between 4 and 6.1, optimising the Apps at each stage, which obviously required a couple of hours. It's now apparent that the previous owner had never connected the head unit to the Internet for several years.

As it transpired, the automotive electrician had managed to cancel the new head unit order. He did, however, fit the reversing camera I'd bought from eBay, although the camera (which doubles as a reversing light) was a smidgin too large for the aperture, requiring me to shave a tiny sliver of metal from it before seating it properly. This is despite the eBay advert clearly saying it is for a B6 VW Passat, which mine is. Bloody eBay...

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Solar Blinds

Spotted a news item on Reuters about Venetian blinds that double as solar panels

It would seem to me that there's a major stumbling block; you'd need to spend your days in near darkness to get the full effect. That's OK if you're away at work, but not so good if you work from home - or the weekends.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

The Allen Scythe

Went to collect the Allen Scythe on Saturday morning, just before we buggered off to the Gower for the weekend. Only just managed to squeeze it into my brother-in-law's Berlingo with an inch to spare.

Decanted it on Sunday evening (there wasn't enough manpower to do it on Saturday morning) - it was a lot easier to unload than to load. It's been idle for 2 years and I haven't tried to start it yet. It will probably require a full-on overhaul during the winter.

I'm hearing a lot of stories about this device, from it being a bugger to start to it chopping off people's fingers with alarming ease. It's a fine example of 1935 engineering design and they were manufactured right up to 1973. I'll have to look up the serial number somewhere to see when this monster was made.

Here's an old pdf manual I found online. You could get a host of attachments - I particularly like the trailer seat and the snow plough.

A couple of videos:

I wonder how it would perform with a Triumph triple 995cc engine instead of the 144cc Villiers 2-stroke. Here's the fancily painted one in action.

Monday, 19 November 2018

The Gower

Stayed in a very nice AirBnB place in Eastgate on the Gower Peninsula on Saturday night (we've yet to be disappointed with AirBnB) and the owners of the house had a couple of totally mad cockerpoos. This prompted the question of what would you get if you crossed a cockerpoo with a hen - a cockerpoodle-doo...

The Gower is our new Cornwall, and a lot closer. Some pics of rural south Wales at its best (click to enlarge):

Hay decided she was going to go swimming at Three Cliffs Bay. No, that's not a wetsuit, but a rash vest and leggings. She's mad you know.

She actually went out in the surf, but she was so far away that she can't be seen on those photos. I therefore staged a shot closer to shore where the water was only a foot deep - fake news style.

I spotted some guys kite surfing at Oxwich Bay. That looks like a good challenge for 2019. Rollerblading is so 2018. A freind told me he'd taken a week's course in the Red Sea, but I'm sure I can just pick it up - well, I suppose there is the risk of being accidentally whisked off to Ireland by kite surfboard.

Sunday, 18 November 2018


We're having a short break in the Gower peninsula. 

Rhododendrons blossoming in November? 

Saturday, 17 November 2018


I was having an argument with Hay last night about cat ownership. I contended that you can't actually own a cat - it chooses to stay with you or to leave you. Her contention was that if you paid for it, it's yours. I called that a false transaction, as no-one owns a cat and called it animal slavery.

It was all kicked off by one of the neighbour's cats, Spooky, who seems to prefer lodging in our house to that of his 'owner'. We're obviously doing something that Spooky likes - probably the fact we have underfloor heating and an abundance of cat food for Kitty. His 'owners' have conventional wall radiators which are switched off while they're at work and feed him dried cat food. He's highly selective and knows what he wants.

Friday, 16 November 2018


An interesting infographic from the BBC (click to enlarge):

I believe the blue route is fraught with problems and the only realistic red route options are a General Election or a 2nd referendum. I pin my hopes on a 2nd referendum and that the electorate has seen through the Leave camp attempts to prey on people's fears.

I was reading an item from a psychology tract that maintains that people who lean to the right (especially the far right) have a heightened sense of fear of 'the other', which makes them more susceptible to scare stories. The Leave campaign capitalised on this by generating more and bigger scares than the Remain camp, almost all of which were fabricated. It's not necessarily that those on the right have more fear, but people with more fear are drawn to the right.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

My Way or No Way

So, Theresa May has succeeded in gaining cabinet approval for her form of Brexit, which is neither fish nor fowl. It seems the options are her Brexit, no Brexit or a hard Brexit. Once Parliament rejects her Brexit, where will be a clear choice - hard Brexit or no Brexit - I see a 2nd referendum on the horizon, as I predicted many months ago. It's all in the timing.

There's an irony in the Conservative Brexiteer MPs, who are firmly against a 2nd referendum, wanting shot of her, despite a referendum among the Conservative party on her leadership, which has lasted a shorter period than the time elapsed since the 2016 referendum. Another leadership election is a in itself a 2nd  referendum in anyone's lexicon. Hypocrites!

I can understand Corbyn's  refusal to endorse a 2nd referendum - he's a self-avowed Democratic Socialist, after all. Democratic Socialism is communism by the ballot box, and once you choose Democratic Socialism there can be no reconsideration - democracy is done away with in favour of a one party state. Endorsing a 2nd referendum would trash his principles and leave a Democratic Socialist government open to being done away with via subsequent elections. Think about it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Allen Scythe Project

Managed to snaffle myself a bargain on eBay - an Oxford Allen Scythe for the princely sum of £102 - an absolute bargain. They usually sell for a couple of hundred or more.

It will be used to tackle the long grass next autumn, resulting from us leaving patches of the lawn to go to seed in an effort to encourage biodiversity. Manually scything it this year was a task I don't care to repeat next year.

I want to give it a new lease of life and will attempt to make it look like this beautiful number.

However, I don't think I'll use purple. Triumph Strontium Yellow, perhaps?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Wireless Surveillance

I bought a new, solar powered, Wi-Fi, CCTV camera from China a couple of weeks ago to replace the wired one I'd previously bought - it finally arrived on Saturday. A wired system simply isn't a practical proposition.

The first problem was fitting the rechargeable Lithium batteries - they were a smidgen too long for the battery case and, try as I might, they just wouldn't go in. I looked up the problem on YouTube and discovered that most Lithium batteries have a small printed circuit fitted to one end with a metal strip that runs to the other end, which has to be removed to make them fit. How daft is that?

Once I'd overcome that problem it was time to tackle the Chinglish instruction manual and the phone app that controls the camera - that was a nightmare. Some three hours and a lot of head scratching later I had success and managed to receive a transmission in Mission Control in full colour and HD.

OK, the image above is in black and white, but that's because it's using IR night vision trained on my back door at half past midnight. A distinct advantage - besides the lack of cables - is that there's no need for a central black box, as there is with a wired system, so it's less expensive to set up. Additional cameras can be easily added at will - all you have to do is login to the camera's own Wi-Fi, set it up to access the house Wi-Fi and then login to the camera via the house router. I can login from anywhere in the world using a local Wi-Fi Hotspot or my phone's native data service. Data usage isn't anywhere near as high as I thought it would be.

All I now need to automatically record activity using the PIR sensor as a trigger is an SD card, although I can make recordings manually on my phone without an SD card or a cloud account and get notifications of any PIR sensor activity. I'm now constantly alerted to cat activity at the cat-flap, which is very informative.

I can talk from anywhere on my phone to anyone near the camera, as well as hear any activity near the camera, which would be handy for deliveries when not home.

On the strength of this purchase I've bought 2 more cameras from the same source in China at £52 each, which will probably take another 3 weeks to arrive, despite the eBay listing showing 3 days, although it's worth it to get 50% off. Kitty won't know what hit her. We could set up an Autumn Watch layout to monitor animal activity around the house.

I have yet to test the performance of the solar cell in recharging the Lithium battery pack. The camera seems to go into hibernation mode when not being used, consuming minimal power to monitor PIR activity, and then begins to drain power when activated - so it's not recording continually, like most wired systems.

Monday, 12 November 2018


An excerpt from Niall Ferguson's regular Sunday Times column yesterday, an historian for whom I have a lot of respect, writing about WWI.


1) The war was not “for civilisation”, as Claimed in John Ferguson’s Victory Medal (John Ferguson was a relative). It was a war for preeminence between the six great European empires - the British, the French and the Russian against the German, the Austrian and the Ottoman that broke out because all their leaders miscalculated that the costs of inaction would exceed the costs of war.

2) It was not fought mainly by infantrymen going over the top. It was fought mainly with artillery. Shellfire caused 75% of casualties. The war-winning weapons were not poison gas or tanks so much as improvements in artillery tactics (the creeping barrage, aerial reconnaissance).

 3) The Germans were not doomed to lose. If the French had collapsed in the first six months of the war when 528,000 French soldiers were permanently incapacitated : it could have been 1870 or 1940. French resilience was one of the surprises of the war. Even so, by mid-1917 the French were finished as an attacking force. German submarines were sinking frightening numbers of the ships supplying Britain. With Russia consumed by the revolution, American investors saw a German victory as possible as late as the spring of 1918.

 4) True, the Germans were handicapped in many ways. Their allies were weak: Austria-Hungary, Turkey, Bulgaria. Their generals used methods submarine warfare, in particular that made American intervention likely, if not inevitable.

5) Economically, too, the German side was at a massive disadvantage. Britain and her allies had bigger empires (the population ratio was 5.3 to 1), bigger economies (3.6 to l) and bigger budgets (2.4 to 1). Moreover, even before the US entered the war, Britain had ‘access to Wall Street.'

6) However, the Germans were formidably superior at killing (or capturing) the other side. Overall, the Central Powers killed 35% more men than they lost, and their average cost of killing an enemy soldier was roughly a third of the other side’s. The German soldiers were effective enough to win their war against Russia in 1917.

7) The Germans ultimately lost because the British Army proved more resilient than theirs. Men such as John Ferguson simply would not give up, despite all the hardships they had to endure. Was it patriotism? Did they simply believe in the official war aims? Or was it because British propaganda was so effective and British military justice so harsh? Perhaps all of these played a part. But it also mattered that British officers were generally competent; that the average Tommy’s lot was made bearable by plentiful “plonk” and fags; that, despite high casualties, the bonds between “pals” and “mates” endured.

8) The German army finally fell apart in the summer and autumn of 1918, after it became clear that British tenacity and American intervention made a German victory impossible, and after Bolshevik ideas began to spread westwards from the eastern front. Beginning with the Battle of Amiens (August 8-11, 1918), the Germans lost the will to tight and began to surrender in droves.

9) The war was followed not by peace but by pandemonium. The dynasties toppled: Romanovs, Habsburgs, Hohenzollerns, Ottomans all gone. Their great multi-ethnic empires also disintegrated. The Saxe-Coburgs survived by renaming themselves “Windsor”, but still lost the lion’s share of Ireland. Not only in Russia but all over the world, red revolution seemed unstoppable. To cap it all, an influenza pandemic struck, killing roughly four times as many people as the war had.

10) Not until the advent of a new generation of nationalist strongmen starting with Jozef Pilsudsld, Kemal Ataturk and Benito Mussolini was it clear that belligerent nationalism was the best antidote to Leninism. Some called it fascism. However, few of the interwar dictators regarded the peace treaties drawn up by the war's victors as legitimate. Most of the treaties were dead letters long before war resumed in 1939.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Thinking About Leftover News


Hay: "It's World Philosophy Day on the 15th."

Chairman: "I'll have a think about that."

Yesterday evening Hay made something from the leftovers of the previous night. Never had lasagne made from leftover homemade Cornish pasties before, but I have to say it was delicious.

I'm an addict for the news; I always listen to the Today Programme, have several news apps and watch the BBC TV news at 6pm without fail. However, I'm increasingly being drawn to listening to Radio 4's Six O'Clock News, as it's more succinct and there's less distraction from images, half of which have bugger all to do with the news itself - on the radio you just get more news.

Talking of news, Trump really is a nasty piece of work, isn't he? Can't determine whether he is a psychopath, a sociopath or just a plain, old fashioned fascist.

Friday, 9 November 2018

New Old Cars

I bought a new car from our local 2nd hand car dealership this week to replace the Jag. Well, I say new, it's one year younger than the Jag. It's a 2008 model VW Passat estate with 86k miles on the clock, versus the Jag's 176k miles.

It's a great pity the Jag has to go, but something is wrong with the clutch - the pedal suddenly is half depressed and I can't put the car in gear on depressing it fully. Talking to motor mechanics I know, it might just be a slave or master cylinder, or indeed the whole clutch - either way, having recently spent £200 on having the ECU cleaned out, £150 on repairing a wing and £35 on a wheel refurbishment, enough is enough for a car with a retail value of £200. It'll probably find a home at a local scrap dealer.

The Jag has been a good workhorse for 3 years, and at £900 it has more than paid for itself; however, the VW is streets ahead in terms of power (both are 2.0 litre turbo estates), looks, carrying capacity, comfort and gadgets. Even my old M reg Volvo gave me more information about fuel consumption and range than the Jag, which had the ability to tell me absolutely nothing through the dashboard instruments. The only thing I dislike about the VW is the black leather interior - it'll be hot as Hades in the summer.

The 'new' VW cost me £3,000 - around the average price I pay for cars. I simply can't understand why people buy brand-spanking new cars which are destined to lose 20% or more of their value the minute they're driven out of the showroom. And as for buying a depreciating asset on a finance deal - utter madness.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Dr Who Christmas Special

Just thought of a good Dr Who Christmas special:

Dr Who takes the characters from This Country on a time trip...

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Lead Loo Rolls

For Stir-Up Sunday, Hay is helping the Friends of Old Sodbury Church raise funds for the church fabric by holding a Christmas cracker making event for kids. This follows on from her world famous Kids' Crafts stall at the Village Day in summer. She's a victim of her own success.

To make the crackers she's asked everyone she knows to provide her with toilet rolls and Christmas wrapping paper. However, several ladies of her acquaintance have alerted her to the microbial dangers of toilet rolls, especially in relation to kids.

This was a popular meme several years ago that has never gone away and, being a PhD bio-chemist, Hay decided to research the issue through academic papers. She couldn't find a single academic paper claiming that toilet rolls were a disease vector. The meme was started by some schools being over-zealous in protecting the kids in their charge - the ever-present fear of being sued by parents causing a zero-risk response; the same zero-risk response that sends everyone to Accident and Emergency Departments for the slightest thing.

Unfortunately the church is in dire need of funds as, on the night of Tuesday of last week, some low-lives nicked the lead from the roof. While the thieves stand to make about £7,000 from the lead, the cost of replacement is around £30,000 and the insurance will only cover the cost of materials and not the labour.

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Road Sense

Well, that's Guy Fawkes Night over - the shops can now concentrate fully on Easter. Christmas, did I hear you say? They've been doing that since before Halloween. 

Why do people put Baby On Board signs on the back of their cars? Do they think I'm less likely to run into the back of them, damage my car and possibly kill myself if I know there's a baby in the car ahead of me? Old people don't put Pensioner On Board in their rear window, but given the way some pensioners drive, perhaps they should. The other day I was overtaken by a pensioner on our local dual carriageway, which has a speed limit of 40mph - he must have been doing 70.

We have a slight bend in the road before reaching our drive when coming from Chipping Sodbury and I always indicate I'm turning right well before the turn, as people race up the main road (which has a 40mph speed limit) without paying attention to the fact there may be stationary cars in the road waiting to turn just beyond the bend. Last night a woman driving a BMW had to slam on the brakes on negotiating the bend and stopped no more than 3 inches from my rear bumper. Perhaps I need a sign in the back of my car saying; "Caution - may occasionally stop to turn".

Over the last 40 years, Hay has had several cars shunt into the back of her outside our drive, as has Hay's dad. Hay's dad now prefers to go past our drive, turn further up the road and approach the drive on the same side of the road as the drive.

Monday, 5 November 2018

Barry Shout

That Barry Scott from the Cillit Bang advert must be a difficult bloke to live with.

He shouts all the time...

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Heater Instructions

Inadequate instructions annoy the hell out of me. I was trying to programme a new electric heater yesterday and became intensely frustrated. 

"Set the Mode to P," it says, "the numbers 1-7 corresponding to the days of the week from Monday to Sunday."

The natural assumption then is that 1 is Monday - that is until you realise that while there's a way of setting the time, there's no way of setting the current day as a reference point. The logical inference from that - after much head scratching - is that today (the day of programming) is 1 and not Monday, giving the lie to the literal instruction of the manual.

Then you have to programme each hour of the day, each day of the week. While this isn't too bad if using a preset, it's a nightmare if wanting the anti-frost setting, which doesn't register as anything against the hours axis, as the power is too low to show a telltale, and the entire weekend is anti-frost setting, as are the weekday evenings - ergo you are programming blind.

It took about an hour for Hay and I to figure it all out - and if you get a power cut, which we get quite a lot, then all programming is lost and you have to reprogramme the whole week.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Krap Checkout

Spotted this on our main road yesterday.

The owner is either a rapper who is slightly oblivious to some of his or her registration, someone who doesn't like their car too much or just a person with a sense of humour.

About a week ago I was in Tesco, waiting to be the next person served. The woman on the checkout was nattering to an old lady going through the checkout, oblivious of the people waiting in the queue. Additionally, it took the old lady several minutes to pack her stuff and pay, taking the long way around doing everything. Bugger me, if I wasn't subjected to exactly the same combination of old lady and checkout operative yesterday - and it took just as long. I know you're meant to make allowances for older people, but this was simply taking the piss. Standing in a queue to be served is not one of my favourite past times.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Fracking Nonsense

Why is fracking stopped after a tremor? Think of a reason and then ask why fracking starts again. One naturally thins it's like stopping hitting a pane of glass with a hammer because it has cracked, and then starting to hit it again, hoping it won't shatter completely.

Squirting water into rock under high pressure is bound to cause rock fracturing and tremors in order to release the gas and it's entirely normal. Stopping is merely the natural reaction to assess the volume of gas released along with the status of the borehole, fracture direction and extent of the reservoir, in which case why are all the stoppages reported in the media in the first place?

Well, stoppages have to happen by law at a certain tremor threshold, that being 0.5, which is the government red light system, but that is to mollify ecologists. The fact is that tremors of below 1.5 cannot even be felt at the surface, except by specialist equipment.

Ecological impact aside, the continual reporting of stoppages due to tremors isn't helping public perception unless the reasons for the stoppages are understood and reported too.

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Plumb Centre Voice Pump

Finally got down to the practical session on the 6th and final week of the plumbing course I've been attending. My friend Dave set up a basic home plumbing system in his workshop with bits missing, inviting us to each choose a bit and complete it. I chose a couple of joints, selecting to complete them in the old fashioned way, without the aid of a separate joining piece.

The task was made harder by being told (as we had already been shown) not to burn the chipboard backing, the burning of which apparently shows a poorly trained plumber. My effort was pronounced perfect.

I then moved on to a 3 way joint with a T piece.

Again, it was pronounced perfect.

My only gripe with the course was that there was a little too much emphasis on the theoretical, whereas all I wanted was the practical. Nonetheless, it was a worthwhile £60.

I was reading some emails from the Old Boys of my school yesterday where some engineers were talking about modern electronic equipment, such as TVs. I was scanning an email without paying too much attention and misread the words 'service pump' as 'voice pump' and thought what a good name for a mobile phone.