Sunday, 31 October 2010

Waiting in the rain.


The first part of this post happened a few days ago on the sea front. Imagine you are driving a number 12 towards Newton Abbot. A little way in front of you is an other number 12 also heading for Newton Abbot. The 12 in front indicates it is going to stop at the next bus stop, you on the other hand don't have to stop. You also know the bus in front isn't anywhere near full. So do you, A) stop behind the other bus at the stop and wait until it fills up and then follow it down the road and possibly do the same at the next bus stop or B) go past the other bus and continue down the road there by picking the people waiting at the next bus stop a minute to two sooner. A) is OK but b) is better.

Now change the situation slightly. The bus in front of you isn't a number 12. It isn't even the same bus company. It's a number X80 and it is indicating it's intention to stop at the next stop. There are people waiting at the stop, they could want the X80 but more likely they are waiting for the number 12. The X80 only goes as far as Torquay Harbour but the 12 goes to the top of town and then onto Newton. Also the people at the stop are more likely to have Stagecoach return or day tickets and therefore less likely to wont the X80 than your number 12. So what do you do? A) Stop behind the other bus or B) go past the other bus and continue down the road there by picking the people waiting at the next bus stop a minute to two sooner.

When you are the poor sod stood at the bus stop in the wind and the rain waiting for a bus to Newton Abbot in the first scenario you don't really care but in the second scenario you can get very upset when the bus driver chooses B.


The second part of the post happened in the early hours of this morning when

British Summer Time ended, hopefully we will never see it again. Right now we are working on Greenwich Mean Time and will continue with that until the spring. Then we should go onto British Standard Time which is the same as British Summer Time but without the inconvenience of changing back to Greenwich Mean Time next October. There is a move a foot to scrap the changing of the clocks in winter so we get lighter evenings at the expense of darker mornings. As I tend to get up late in the morning I know which I prefer.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Save the Lobster

You might have read the story about the Emperor being shot. No not some foreign country's head of state but a red deer that for the last 12 years has been running wild on Exmoor. He was believed by some to be the biggest wild land animal in the UK. He was 9 feet tall and had been photographed many times in his long life. Twelve is a good age for a wild deer. The name was given to him by one of the people who photographed him though it is doubtful the stag actually answered to his name. And the claim to be the biggest is in some doubt as well. Anyway he was shot, probably by a trophy hunter, right in the middle of the rutting season which was a bit unsporting if you ask me and people are up in arms about it. Him being shot that is. Now I should point out a couple or three things; if his name had been Snotty of Exmoor or Breaks Wind Easily of Exmoor no one would have heard a thing about his death. Shooting deer is an everyday thing. Thousands are shot every year, either for trophies or for culling. With out culling we would have the sight of elderly deer starving to death in quiet corners of moor land Britain. Deer, once they get beyond a certain age and their teeth wear down, don't have an NHS to look after then, younger deer don't take pity on them. They don't think, "That could be my dad", or "There but for the grace of God", and chew grass till it is nice and soft and mushy and walk up to the old deer and feed then mouth to mouth. Nature isn't like that, nature used to provide predators like wolves and bears to come along and 'take care' of the sick, lame and old. But we, people that is, got rid of the wolves and bears so we have to do the job, either in the form of trophy hunters or gamekeepers.

An other thing to think about if the shooting of the Emperor bothers you, when you drive down a country lane and see a herd of cattle or sheep, do you point to one of the cows and say to the kids "Look, there's Daisy. One day soon we could be eating part of her. in the meanwhile who fancies a Big Mac?" No, we don't think twice (well vegetarians do) about eating beef, chicken, lamb, pork or fish. We just do it. And why not? We'd soon run out of interesting things to eat otherwise.

If you want to get all gooey about one animal that is killed regularly but isn't on the diet of most people because a) it's too expensive and b) it's hardly worth eating for it's nutritional value then spare a thought for the poor lobster. Eaten mostly in expensive restaurants as a 'show off' dish but lobsters can easily live for well over 100 years. I mean would you go to the Galapagos Islands and eat a tortoise that could well have meet Charles Darwin? No. But people eat lobsters. Could it be because they aren't so well connected.

PS To those few who came across The Emperor of Exmoor regularly I can understand why you are sorry he is dead. If you get to know an animal quiet well it is always sad when they go. But all the rest who have just heard about it on the news; sorry I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

Any one got £130 million to spare.

Today appears to be the day. Will we get a bypass or will we have to sort out the road between Torquay and the Penn Inn roundabout ourselves. It's 5 miles from the outskirts of Torquay through Kingskerswell to Penn Inn. From Penn Inn it is possible to drive to Glasgow and beyond on either dual carriageway or motorway, only the first 10 miles of that is non motorway driving. It's just the first or last 5 miles that causes the problem. Now lets look at that 5 miles from my experience. If I leave Torquay at 9 am on a Sunday morning I can, in a coach, be at Collumpton Services in 45 mins (33 miles). But I don't always leave at 9 am on a Sunday morning, sometimes it's 3pm on a Thursday afternoon. The longest it has ever taken me at this time is 1 hour 10mins. The extra 25 mins was spent getting through Kingskerswell. I have known it worse coming back into Torquay, sometimes an extra half hour.

Now an other journey I made last Friday. Torquay to Hatfield, Google maps said it would take 4hours 5 minutes and as I wanted to be there by 10 am at the latest I left at 5, plenty of time. Actually I got there at 9:13 but I did take a wrong turn (old-fashioned satnav, not worth the paper it was written on) and had to drive 3 miles in the wrong direction before reaching a roundabout and heading back. Getting there at that time meant I could sit down and have a cooked breakfast which was nice. At 5pm I decided it was time to leave the family gathering and head for home. With a brief stop at Bristol for fuel I got home at 10:58. Not bad. No, hang on, that's two minutes less 6 hours. What the hell had I been doing to take 2 hours longer. I tell you what I had been doing, I had been driving on the M25 at evening rush hour. Nose to tail 5 miles an hour top speed between long periods of complete inactivity. On and on like that for miles and miles, road works to the right of me , road works to the left of me, on into the road to hell I drove. Even when I reached the M4 to situation hardly altered until I was passing Reading. Hundreds of thousands, millions maybe, all trying to get home from work, many of them from London where they do proper jobs, not like us down here in Devon who try and sell ice cream and boat rides at inflated prices to luckless visitors who only want a cheap holiday.

So if Big Brother is going to spend money on road improvements will it be for us few thousand down here in remotest LibDem voting Devon or those millions of Tory voters in Middle England?

We will see, but I wouldn't hold your breath for too long if I were you.

The photo is Kingskerswell on a bad day.


Sunday, 24 October 2010

Hi Wayne, You haven't got a hundred thousand to spare have you? I'd be most greatful.

So Wayne Rooney now 'earns' about twice as much more in a month than I will earn in my entire life. And that's even if I live to be a hundred and carry on drawing my index linked pensions for the next 34 years. Portsmouth almost went bankrupt last week. Wayne could have put the club back on a secure financial footing and not even have noticed. He could buy a house the same size as the one he is living in and pay off the mortgage in a year, it took me 20 years to pay of the mortgage in what I would describe as a discreet town house. I could visit my sisters in Australia 28 times with what he earns in day where as I how to save up for 3 years to be able to afford to go once.

What I can't understand is that people still go and watch football even though a day at a match for two people must cost a serious chunk of a weekly wage.

Once when I was selling a house I asked the estate agent how he decided what a house was worth. "What ever somebody will pay for it." was his reply. So I suppose as long as there are people out there willing to pay for their football then Wayne should be paid what ever he can get and good luck to him.

PS. I hope he starts scoring goals again soon or christians being fed to the lions will be a child's picnic in comparison.

PPS. Portsmouth are indebt to £120 million and their creditors almost pulled the plug. Man U are in debt to three quarters of a billion quid and that amount doesn't show any sign of going down. Will the day ever come when even the name Man U can not sustain that kind of debt. Think Northern Rock and other banking names before you answer.

PPPS. The total indebtedness of the Premier League and Championship League football clubs must be about 10 billion pounds. There's whole countrys out there who aren't even worth that. Is football living a little beyond it's means or is simply so far out it can never get back.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Had a day out today.

A few weeks ago, McColl's packed up, went to the wall, ceased trading, went bust, call it what you will, it meant I was out of a job and bored silly sitting at home all day long. So I emailed a couple or 3 coach firms with my very impressive CV. OK I think it's impressive. A couple of weeks went by and nothing. Then one of the companies got in touch and said they maybe able to make use of my driving skills on a part time, as needed basis. Yes said I, no problem with that, just give me a day or twos notice and I be behind a steering wheel like I had never left. I did a trial run in one of their coaches just to make sure I wasn't lying when I said I could drive a coach. Then I sat by the phone waiting.

On Monday my persistence, I can be very persistent at sitting by a phone, finally paid of and it rang and a nice voice at the other end of the phone line said, "Can you do a day out to Looe and Polperro on Wednesday." Which is why there is a photo of me up there standing in Polperro looking out to sea with the harbour behind me. Hopefully the first of many such days out over the weeks, month and years to came. One little thing I did find out is the company only insure their coaches for drivers up to the age of 70 so I can't work on for ever. Probably not a bad thing.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Buses in Malta

A friend of mine is on holiday in Malta and he sent me this picture of a couple of buses waiting time in the bus station at Valetta. In March next year Arriva will be taking over the bus services in Malta which are run at present by driver owners and if you think Stagecoach get lots of complains about drivers and bus services it's a drop in the ocean compared with these guys. Smoking and using mobiles while driving, rude and swearing at passengers, driving past bus stops, not turning up, throwing people of the bus for not having the right change, unhelpful to lost souls. These are some of the compains I have read in the Malta Times.  But Arrive are going to replace the whole fleet with low floor, air con, fairly modern buses and employ all the bus drivers. Uniforms, ticket machines, code of conduct, etc. So if you have ever been to Malta and think the bus service is quite 'quaint' and the old buses are wonderful then you haven't long to get there and take loads of photos and go for some interesting if at times uncomfortable bus rides.  

Monday, 18 October 2010

A Public Service Announcement re Microwave Ovens

Microwaving  Water!

A 26-year old man decided to have a cup of coffee. He took a cup of water and put it in the microwave to heat it up (something that he had done numerous times before). I am not sure how long he set the timer for, but he wanted to bring the water to a boil. When the timer shut the oven off, he removed the cup from the oven. As he looked into the cup, he noted that the water was not boiling, but suddenly the water in the cup 'blew up' into his face. The cup remained intact until he threw it out of his hand, but all the water had flown out into his face due to the build-up of energy.  His whole face is blistered and he has 1st and 2nd degree burns to his face which may leave scarring.

He also may have lost partial sight in his left eye. While at the hospital, the doctor who was attending to him stated that this is a fairly common occurrence and water (alone) should never be heated in a microwave oven. If water is heated in this manner, something should be placed in the cup to diffuse the energy such as a wooden stir stick, tea bag, etc, (nothing metal).

General  Electric's Response:

Thanks for contacting us; I will be happy to assist you. The e-mail that you received is correct. Microwaved water and other liquids do not always bubble when they reach  boiling point. They can actually  get superheated and not bubble at all. The superheated liquid will  bubble up out of the cup when it is moved or when something like a spoon or tea bag is put into it.

To prevent this from  happening and causing injury, do not heat any liquid for more than two minutes per cup. After heating, let the cup  stand in the microwave for thirty seconds before moving it  or adding anything into it.

Here is what our local science teacher had to say on the matter: 'Thanks for the microwave warning. I have seen this happen before. It is caused by a phenomenon known as super heating. It can occur any time water is heated and will particularly occur if the vessel that the water is heated in is new, or when heating a small amount of water (less than half a cup).

What happens is that the water heats faster than the vapor bubbles can form. If the cup is very new, then it is unlikely to have small surface scratches inside it that provide a place for the bubbles to form. As the bubbles cannot form and release some of the heat that has built up, the liquid does not boil, and the liquid continues to heat up well past its boiling point.

What then usually happens is that the liquid is bumped or jarred, which is just enough of a shock to cause the bubbles to rapidly form and expel the hot liquid. The rapid formation of bubbles is also why a carbonated beverage spews when opened after having been  shaken.'

I have never come across this but is has happened so be warned.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

More on Banks in Torquay

It would seem that the art work on the Grovsner Hotel, opposite the now closed Sherwood Hotel in Belgrave Rd is by Banksy. The photo shows some workpersons covering the drawing, apparently with perspex to protect it and it will be unvailed on 19 Oct, no idea what time. The second photo shows that someone has already added a little extra in the form of what looks like a can of coke in the robots right hand. 
More photos here

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Last Miner Out

Well I stayed up last night to watch the first miner brought up and now I have waited up for the last miner, Luis Urzua to make it to the surface, he could be up by 02:00. This means it has taken less than 24 hours to clear the mine. A brilliently organised resue operation that does everyone involved it it credit. There are still 4 or 5 medics down in the mine who will be brought up shortly. When the last miner left after 69 days did he turn to the medics and say, "Would the last man out please turn the lights out."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

From Chile

It's 0215 on Wednesday morning, or 22:15 in Chile and I have been watching a BBC special from the mine in Chile. It was hoped earlier that the rescue would have started by now but the rescue capsule has been lowered into the shaft twice now but has returned to the surface and minor adjustment have been made. Some of those adjustments have been made with what is known as impact technology; that is, with a hammer. I don't expect the problem to be serious but it is causing a delay. I had hoped to stay up until the first miner was brought up but all that is happening is the two reporters are wandering around the site filling in time.

It's now 02:30 and I have decided to wait until 03:00 to see if anything happens. The capsule has gone down again on a test run but without any news from the crew working round the shaft. The capsule didn't have a medic in so it is an other test run.

Now 02:45 and the capsule is still going down, hang on, it's stopped. Now it's going again.

02:58, the capsule is coming up, I'm going to wait for a while and see if anything happens other than talk.

03:04 The reporter has just said that the next time the capsule goes down it will contain a medic which will signal the start of the final stage of the rescue. The capsule has just emerged. The medic is getting in and has got out again and the oxygen tanks are being changed. Now more adjustments and at 03:16 he has got in again, no he's out and more work with a spanner.

03:19 The capsule has started down, in half an hour it should return with a miner. I'll wait up, it's not as if I need to get up early in the morning.

03:30 The capsule, we are now told, doesn't contain a medic but a mining expert who is inspecting the shaft. He will return to the surface once that inspection is complete before a medic will go down and the first miner will be brought up, hopefully in half an hour.

03:36 Pictures from inside the mine. The capsule has arrived and the miners are greeting the capsule's passenger.

03:55 The capsule has started up with not the mining expert but the first of the miners. We can now see the top of the shaft with the winch wheel turning pulling Florencio Avalos to the surface and a life that will proably not include going down a mine again.

04:10 Capsule has reached the surface.

04:20 The capsule is now going down again with a paramedic and I am going to bed.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Is this graffiti, Art or Banksy

YesterdayI saw this painted on the wall of the Grovener Hotel in Belgrave Rd.

I know it has wasn't there 3 weeks ago which was the last time I went down Belgrave Rd and I don't know who painted it. Was it Banksy, it looks like his style?

I wonder how long it will last.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Rock Walk after Dark

Must try harder, a lot harder.
The first photo was taken from the top of the cliff looking towards Tor Abbey Gardens and the Grand Hotel. That isn't too bad. But the second photo was taken from street level and I really tried to show the lights off but it was just about the best shot I could get no matter how hard I tried.
I am certainly not going to travel to Brixham to see if His Holiness, the Deputy Mayor, Councillor Chris Lewis's claim that Rock Walk would be visable from that far flung corner of Torbay.
A bank of coloured flood lights are needed to restore the cliff face to it's former night time glory. The third photo shows that some effort has been made but that is it. Three lights. All white. The sum total of all the flood lights lights illuminating the cliff face. Not exactly overwhelming is it? 
Torbay can be seen from space but I don't think Rock Walk can.