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Welcome to my world of disconnected environmental, community and family projects.
I have been working in the renewable energy field for a number of years and this web site has been set up to give you a flavour of some of the projects that I have been involved in both professionally and as a keen, but slightly mad, DIY fanatic.
Mikes words of prejudice
01 July 2013 Got any change please?
Although I am well into my 50’s I never feel as if I have completed my journey of discovery in life. I am always looking at ways I can change and improve myself. I still feel passionately that I want to learn something new every day. I am always please and enthusiastic to be offered a training program in any aspect of my life. I have never felt belittled by the aspect of someone teaching me something. I have never thought that I am a failure if my boss sends me on a training course, even if I feel that I know most things about a subject I can still use the opportunity to reflect on the way I do it and explore new ways.
Try telling that to many salesmen (mainly men). Most seem to find it a personal insult to be asked to go on a training course. Tantamount to challenging their sexual prowess. Organising a professional selling skills course for my work colleagues is one of the most challenging tasks that I have every had to do. So many people ego’s are at stake. I just hope that I can always maintain my “learn something new everyday” attitude, where’s my schoolbooks?
I am not one of life’s natural optimists but I have always been struck how peoples fear of violence often seems to be greater than the reality of their exposure to violence, Growing up in inner London Islington, before Islington was Islington, in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s I feel that I have had a bit of “street awareness”. An idea that I could avoid trouble before it overwhelmed me, gave me a sense of safety on the street. I moved out of London 20 years ago to the rural idyll of the Cotswolds but returning as I do to work most days I have always believed that London streets are much safer now that they every where.
I was recently given a book as a birthday present The Better Angels of Our Nature: A History of Violence and Humanity by Steven Pinker. This extraordinary book looks at all kinds of evidence across the ages to evaluate the level of violence in our society and the books overwhelming conclusion is that is that life is less violent now than in the past. I was heartened to hear further evidence this week with the publication of the UK peace index http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22275280 I have argued for many years with many people that we live in a less violent time now than at any time in our history. We lock up our children in a way that gives then no understanding of dealing with danger and I wonder if their lack of street awareness will be a hindrance to them in the long run. My parents let me wonder the streets, within strict limits, at the time of the moors murders and Fred West when we cocoon our children today in the 4*4 car bubble with all the dangers of obesity. Who had the most dangerous life?
The other interesting research that is coming out at the moment is about the link to exposure to lead in petrol and paint and post war crime wave. This Daily Telegraph article or this http://www.skepticblog.org/2013/01/14/lead-and-crime/ both detail some correlation although this is short of a proof it is very neat.The simple message I would like people to share is you live in a less violent time now than at any other time in our history. Do not spoil you life through the fear of crime.
I’ve been purchasing my olive oil in bulk from a small company based in the Cotswolds for five years. A couple of weeks ago I placed an order for four large cans of olive oil and the value of circa £70. Elanthy’s website is a little basic although providing most of the details about the product that you could want. When placing an online order they have no facilities for processing payment and as a long term customer the websites of recommendation is to place the order and Elanthy will contact you for payment. The wonderful olive oil arrived promptly on Monday, 11th February and was kindly taken in by a neighbour. On that same day I was sent an email with the invoice and a telephoned message on my home answer machine asking me to make payment. Both my partner and I were working abroad for the whole of that week. Working as I do for a multinational company, who are paranoid about network security I have no simple access to my personal emails nor do my company take kindly to me using my business email address for shopping. Returning on the Friday afternoon (four days after the invoice date) I was very shocked, annoyed and distressed at the deluge of telephone messages on my answer phone. They started off very civil asking that I may call back Elanthy and make a payment. By the Friday the telephone messages where really quite offensive, accusing me of theft and demanding the return of their stolen goods. Having heard the messages I immediately telephoned and made a full payment for the goods I also express my displeasure at the tone and content of the messages. Then checking my emails on my private computer I also discovered a daily huge of chasing messages. The final message was not only offensive to me but I think bordering on racist and was as follows:
Dear Mr Moseley
We do not spare any expense or time to retrieve our un paid for goods. You are not a customer until you have paid and out of 15 000 customers you are the only one who enjoys withholding payment. I am sending my Bulgarian to Park Cottage on Saturday morning to collect my goods.
I do not want you as a customer any longer.
W R Davies
If you can’t be bothered to provide a proper Internet payment system (which I would have much rather used) and you invite long-standing customers to place orders for which payment will be requested after receipt you cannot expect everyone to be available immediately on your whim, nor is sending an email the same as a recipient reading it. Many busy people are difficult to get hold of and work away from home for days at a time.
After questioning Mr Davies business manners he told me in his final communication that “Now that you have settled the matter of paying. I have no further need to be rude to you and I will rest on my laurels”.
Mr Davies seem to have taken a deliberate stance of being rude to me to enhance his chances of being paid. Whilst we must all deal with bad debts vigorously there is no excuse for being downright rude and threatening behaviour is never acceptable in business. But all I can say about Elanthy is that it is wonderful olive oil just unfortunate that is provided with such rude thuggish service.
If I could do anything I would wish to convince the 200 people who jump under trains in the UK each year that life is good and worth living. I believe that however bad things get they will change in time, they may not get better but they will change and with change there is always hope. Tomorrow is always a new dawn with some glimmer of hope for something better. Our forefathers had so much less; less choice, less stress, less food, less life expectancy, but they somehow seemed to be more content with their life. They had much lower expectations, life was much more simple. We could still reduce the pressure on our lives now, perhaps by focusing on a few small thing and changing them we could all develop a life plan that made us feel better and give us the space to enjoy what we have. Very few people in the UK are so poor that they starve and that is a vast improvement in the last 100 years or so. So no matter how bad things get you and your family will survive, at sometime in the next few days or weeks the sun will shine and what ever your problem it you will feel better.
My daughter-in-law has worked as a train driver for the past few years and every time I hear of a jumper I am prettified that she was the drive. I am not sure how she will not cope with the stress of dealing with the thought she killed that person. She has been taught that if they suspect that someone is going to jump they should sound the horn and look away to avoid the inevitable eye contact between the driver and the jumper. There is a very interesting report from 2004 looking at the way railway staff deal with post traumatic stress and other fatalities.
Another interesting piece of research by Volante research tells us that the world heath organisation estimates that one million people globally die by suicide each year, 6,000 in the UK of which 4,000 are men. Of the 200 people who committed suicide each year contrary to popular belief most do not jump off platform stations; 63% choice to die on ‘open track’ miles from anywhere. The report can be found here. Other interesting articles giving information on some of the current initiatives to cut down railway suicides can be found from the BBC and Guardian.
Buying a new car has always seemed a daunting task and in the current economic climate of uncertainty the need to get it right even more daunting. My partner and I have shared cars for the past few years and we have run two Toyotas both brought from new. The Yaris, which is 12 years old and was beginning to cost us money. Our other car is a hybrid Prius that we bought in December 2004. Both cars have done over 150,000 miles. My partner and I both use cars for business travel and over the past 10 years we have averaged about 30,000 miles between us. As I work most of the time in London I commute on the train and so I generally used the Yaris just to get me to and fro to the station, 18 miles from home. My partner works from home and visits educational establishments across the country and sometimes around the world. We have come to believe that a model of running a car from new until it is worthless is a good one for us and one that minimises our environmental impact.
We live, or perhaps we should say, we have chosen to live, in a very rural area with just one bus a day to Cheltenham, so we have to have two cars to do our jobs but we have more than just a financial interest in minimising the cost of running two cars as we are keen to minimise our environmental impact. The Yaris with a less than one litre petrol engine has always been economic and has given us MPG in 40-50 MPG depending on the type of driving or how heavy your boot is. We bought the Yaris new 12 years ago at a cost of £8,000 and we expected it to last 10 years costing us £800 PA deprecation. We have always been very impressed with the servicing costs at circa £77 for a 10k mile service and £144 for a 20k service. With the exception of tyres, batteries and one new exhaust that was the sum total we spent on the car in the first ten years. The last couple of years have been more expensive and after the need for a new manifold at a cost from the main Toyota dealer in excess of £2,000 we changed to a local garage who did it for £800. The last service and MOT came to nearly £800 and we decided to cut our losses and start gain with a new car.
The Prius was quite a gamble when we bought in December 2004. Hybrid technology was still quite new and we had some concerns about the life expectancy of the battery Toyota’s 100,000 mile guarantee on the hybrid part of the car gave us some confidence at the time. We were stung out of the government grant available in 2004 for buying the hybrid car because we had ordered the car before applying for the grant. We were not well advised by the garage, beware anyone who is buying an electric car at the moment that you do all the things in the right order. Again nine years and 150,000 miles down the line we have been very please with the overall performance of the Prius which in the early day would average 60 MPG. This has fallen over the years but is still in excess of 50 MPG. Driving the car in the cold conditions gives much poor performance than in the warmer weather. The engine runs until it reaches a preset operational temperature, which it takes much longer to reach in the in the winter. Again the servicing costs have been reasonable in the region of £100 for small 10,000 service and £200 for big, 20,000 service.
So we were looking for a replacement primarily for the Yaris but although we are going the try to keep the Prius for 18 months we were also considering a bigger car. Living as we do in the Cotswold Hills we were also considering a small 4x4 to get us out of the village in the snow. Most of our nabours have one and although I have developed a high speed sledging technique for the old Yaris. To get up the slope on the way to the main road I speed down the snow and ice on the previous slope and have never got stuck. We were not sure that this technique was a good idea in a brand new car. The Prius has not conventional gearbox, as the drive is via electric motors and a variamatic drive from the engine; it is almost useless in the snow and ice.
I put together a list of potential cars mainly from the Which web site and grouped them in different categories. You can see the list and links etc here. I was trying to look at the total cost of running a new car for 10 years. I took the purchase cost and divide by 10 to give the capital cost; the difficult bit was looking at the fuel cost over 10 years. From our current driving record we knew that we did 15,000 miles in each car. I got the historic data for diesel fuel prices back to 1977. The average monthly fuel inflation was 0.54%. I also looked at the average fuel price inflation over the past 5 years that was 0.90% per month. Using both figures I looked at the total cots over the 10 years. The spreadsheet will look at both figures and calculate the total cost. I was interested in the Vauxhall Ampera, which is a new type of hybrid that has a petrol generator, which provides power for the electric motors when the batteries run out of power. Giving you the same kind of range as a convention car from as an electric one. The problem is that this is a very expensive purchase and even with a government grant of £5,000 it still costs over £32,000. If fuel inflation stays at the average since 1977 the cost of this car over 10 years was £48,000 one of the most expensive we considered but if fuel inflation ends up at the most recent 5 year average it would cost £49,000 over 10 years close to the cheapest the Volkswagen Up at £44,000. The two biggest variables were the cost of fuel over the next 10 years and the number of miles we drive.
We booked various test drives and rather liked the Volvo XC60 but at £30,0000 plus it was very expensive and hard to justify. The BMW X1 was OK but nothing special and found the inability to see the speedo through the steering wheel off putting; also my son warned me that if I buy a BMW nobody would let me out. The test drive of the Ford Kuga was quite poor with the car rolling around on the springs enough to make you seasick on any kind of mildly rough surface. The Ford Fiesta was OK but we were not inspired, as it did not feel anything very special and we could have probably negotiated a very good deal. The Volkswagen Polo 1.2 TDI Bluemotion seemed on paper one of the cheapest cars to run. Did not like the old fashion diesel noise of the 3-cylinder engine, although a petrol alternative would have been good I am sure. We rather liked the Volkswagen Tiguan in the 4x4 version, which seemed a good solid ride. The parking system where it could self-park was almost like a scene from a science fiction movie. Take you hand of the steering wheel and just operate the gears and brake and it will parallel park or put its self into a car parking space. It was not that expensive over the 10 years either. The final test drive was in the Toyota Yaris, quite a different car from the old one. It was boringly good. Lots of fancy integrated systems for the sat nav, music and phone and it was combatable quite and powerful.
The final decision came down to a choice of two go for the Tiguan 4x4 or the old favourite Yaris. Our experience of low coast Toyota motoring and a 5-year warranty convinced to stay with a Toyota. It was also an ideal replacement for the old Yaris and we can still buy the bigger car when the Prius needs replacing.
Then the bit I really hate; negotiating the deal. It was not too painful in the end, we wanted to pay for the car in full but the dealer told us that we could get a better deal if we opted for the balloon payment finance scheme. Paying a 20% deposit £180 per month for 3 years and either hand the car back or pay the outstanding £5,000 balance. As it was interest free at the time and a few calculations showed we could earn at least £500 interest we agreed. I researched prices on the Internet using http://www.autoebid.com/ and http://www.carquake.co.uk/ I got some comparison prices that the local dealer matched. We got about £1,500 off the list price. Timing seemed to also be important we did the deal and the end of the month and end of half year and the dealer had targets to meet. We managed to get about £1,400 off the list price.
I attended today’s presentation, by Asset Skills, on the Green Deal Advisor Training procurement that they are running on behalf of DECC. Philip Stott the project manager at Asset Skills expanded on some of the documentation that can be found on Asset Skills web site.
DECC are looking to prime pump fund 1,000 Green Deal advisers by October 31st 2012. To facilitate this they are offering funding, for training providers through Asset Skill in the form of three tenders. Tender one is for 600 green deal advisers across the country and DECC is expecting to pay between 50% to 70% of the training costs depending on the size of the company who employ the potential Green deal advisers. If they work for a company with less that 100 employees DECC funding 70%, 101 – 299 60% and above 300 50% from DECC and 50% from the trainee or their company.
The second tender is aim at green deal providers and it is 50% DECC funded. It is looking to provide 300 Green Deal Advisers in the same time scale. The third tender is aiming to provide 100 Green Deal advisers from regional schemes probably run by local authorities or other not for profit groups. Again DECC will fund 50% of the cost
Although the DECC target date is 31st October the implication is for the advisers to be trained and registered before the end of the year. The training providers will be expected to train mainly existing qualified Energy Assessors, although Asset Skills would like to see provision for 10% of the funding going to completely new trainees. The full training is expected to require 470 hours of study, both directed and individual. This would be made up by 250 hours for energy assessors and 220 hours additional for Green Deal Advisers.
Asset skills are making available various materials on their web site to inform the bidders including NOS (National Occupational Standards) and QCf credit framework follow this link. Asset Skills will also be offering train the trainer session for successful bidders and 60 others on in the north and one in the south 13th & 14th June watch their website for details.
The timetable for the process is 23rd May submission deadline (both paper copies and an email required), 29th May DECC sign off with a 6th June announcement of contracts for a July delivery. Although the training providers are responsible for recruitment Asset Skills have a list of pre registered people that they will make available. The bid can be both national and for the 60 places in each region. The Training providers would need to have provision for local contact, although new technology solution could be incorporated.
The total target price (including contribution by trainee or company and exhamination fees) that Asset Skills are looking for is between £800 - £1,200 per Adviser. There was a lot of debate around this figure because currently the examiners have not published their fees so bidders will be operating somewhat blind. My assessment is that they are looking for the training provider to carry the risk because even if they lose money on this they will be in a good position to offer training for which people will pay the full costs later. This is seen as a process aimed at providing a minimal number of early adopter green deal advisers at minimal cost. The main aim of this provision is for Domestic Green Deal Adviser but there is some ambiguity about the non-Dom advisers as DECC have recently announced a delay in the whole Non Domestic Green Deal set up.
Training Providers will have to have been offering (or through a partner) the current energy assessor’s qualification as a prerequisite to bidding.
I hope this is useful information for someone any questions email me firstname.lastname@example.org I am keen to get involved with partners.
Watch this for some very scary facts; ignore social media at your peril!
The explosive growth of social media gives us all a dilemma in trying to understand the amount of time we should devote to our activity in looking after our new media profiles. Many of us are using the likes of LinkedIn, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook as a business tool, but how useful are they? I will focus mainly on Twitter and LinkedIn as in my experience Facebook is not really a credible business tool when you are working mainly in a B to B environment. The fist thing to consider is that you cannot use social media in isolation for other forms of communication and you cannot be effective without a plan.
Your companies social media plan is going to be key to organising and understanding what resources are going to be needed. As Mike Thimmesch’s 8 point social media plan states most social media platforms are free, but social media is not going to be without costs for your organisation. So think about what you want to achieve and how you are going to resource the plan. Many of your staff, especially the younger members, will be very active in social media in their private lives and you will need to have clear guidelines about what you expect from your staff when using social media. You will need to a clear employee policy in place covering the use of social media. Many organisations are going down the route of banning or time limiting some social media platforms. This may or may not work for your organisation but your happy, contented, motivated and enthusiastic staff will be your greatest social media ambassadors. Social media is a nightmare for control freaks, you can influence say about you but I don’t think you can control.
I think that the two most useful and exciting platforms are Twitter and LinkedIn. Twitter is your opportunity to take part in a conversation, link up with people and see what exciting and enthusing those working in your or simular areas. The biggest problem to overcome is the need to take part in a conversation and not just broadcast. Too many company tweets are just shouting; "we are doing this, aren’t we wonderful". To take part in a conversation you have got the listen and then answer people’s questions. Supplying them information that is useful, relevant and engaging. Are you following your own company’s name and responding to people who use it in their tweets? Do join the conversation.
If Twitter is about a conversation LinkedIn is about managing your networks. I recently attended a LinkedIn workshop for Construction Professionals run by Su Butcher which I can highly recommend further workshops are being run around the country. LinkedIn is your professional shop window to the world and it is important to maintain your profile to reflect your experience and expertises. Use of key works and links in your LinkedIn profile can have a dramatic effect on your and your company’s Google search ranking. In using LinkedIn & Twitter together one thing you should consider is feeding your Twitter in to LinikedIn; do not do it! Intersting article from LinkedIn Man about the issue.
To answer my own question I do not know how much time it is worth spending on social media; I will tell you in a few months time if I have grown my business for my activity or not.
Being a bit of a train spotter at heart I was very please this week, when going to a meeting in Canterbury to give a lunchtime CPD seminar, that it gave me a golden opportunity to travel on the HS1 link from St Pancras to Canterbury West. With the potential for a HS2 from London to Birmingham and beyond these are just a few of my thoughts about the experience. HS1 was fully opened in November 2007 and is designed to carry to Euro Star service to Paris and Brussels. The domestic part of the operation carries passengers to and from Kent Towns. A good overview of HS1 can be found on Wikipedia .
I travelled on Monday 12th March from St Pancras on the 11.12 changing at Ashford and arriving at Canterbury West at 12.21. The return journey was direct on the 14.25 arriving at St Pancras at 15.21. The HS1 journey time of just under an hour compared with the conventional southern service of one hour and forty minutes.
The whole experience was fast efficient and convenient for my requirements. The trains were bright, clean and comfortable. Compared with my daily commute from the Cotswolds to London on the 1970’s HS fleet this was a much better experience. It left me with a feeling of being 30 years behind our French and German colleague with their high-speed train networks. I cannot understand why anyone would want to appose the building of HS2. I can only see the positive benefit to the country. To remain a competitive and sustainable economy we have got to offer high speed connects. Businesses will locate themselves in areas where the infrastructure, not only serves their requirements, but where they can feel part of a progressive vibrant and sustainable economy. Our rail system with its huge dependence on outdates and polluting stock of diesel locomotives must be updated urgently for the 21st century. With careful investment such developments as HS2 & the long overdue electrification of the Western railway could stimulate the local economy and should be used to help create the thousands of jobs we urgently need in the UK to “fill the gap” left by the cut backs in the public sector.
I am off to a lecture tomorrow night at ImechE, where Andrew McNaughton, Technical Director, High Speed 2 gives a lecture; High Speed Rail- British Plans in a World Perspective. Let us see how far we will remain behind our global competitors.
Video Along the route
The rights & wrongs of Baptising a baby?
I have spent a long time considering my religious beliefs. Having been christened as a child I was brought up in a family, which was probably agnostic. My parents only went to church for the standard rights of passage. Both my father and my mother probably went on a journey from belief to agnosticism (“yes I believe in God” to “I do not know”). Towards the end of her life my mother would have liked to believe but deep down perhaps knew that my fathers end of life position was probably right “when your dead your dead!”
Although my parents did not go to church I went to Sunday school, perhaps encouraged by them to get me out of their hair and my time in both the cubs and air cadets exposed me to standard forms of Church of England doctrine. Through my teenage years I would have call myself agnostic but found the concept of an omnipotent deity more and more difficult to believe in.
I had a lot of exposure to non-conformist church from my wife’s parents who where long term members of the United Reform Church. Sundays always included two visits to church and they both led what they would see as a life driven by Christian principles and teaching. Although they was little evidence of Christian charity for people who did not fit into their limited experience of “nice” people. I had little problem with a marriage in this church and felt that I was doing the right thing. Even with the birth of my son, I had no problem with a simple blessing service, give for him in his first few weeks of life. The URC’s belief was that babies or children could not be members of the church and that only consenting adult could be baptisms showing a persons acceptance of faith.
In recent years I have become more interested in faith and if I had it or not. Perhaps because I was going through some difficult personal times, I tried turning to God & the church for help but I did not find any Solis there. My job involved significant amount of travelling and I have had a fantastic opportunity to spend a lot of time reading. Having read a book “Do the Classics really matter” I felt drawn to read the bible as in the King James format, it was probably the most influential book on western literature. The whole experience left me cold. I felt a little embarrassed reading it, feeling that it would have been more acceptable to wrap in a copy of penthouse (showing my age now). I had a funny experience when travelling home on the train one night a priest sat next to me at Paddington, he did not say anything until he got of the train at Oxford when he said to me “ I am very impressed somebody working their way through Corinthians, keep at it; it gets better”. The words that I remember most from the experience are “I am a very jealous God”. I found the whole story of the Old Testament brutal and violent. The New Testament seemed to me to be little better, being littered with intolerance. Further detailed reading around the religious themes culminated with Richard Dawkin’s The God Delusions and a feeling of enlightenment. I see myself as a fundamental atheist, believing that organised religion has a basis of human control and is evil at its heart. So much suffering and war can be laid at the doors of organised religion. Until man believes in the control of his own destiny we will remain backward in sprit.
I have attended, like many of us, the religious ceremonies marking rites of passage dearth, marriages and birth. Although I cannot recall any christenings I may have been to one. Reading from Church of England’s web site the parents make the following promises:
When you bring your child for baptism, you will be asked to declare publicly on behalf of your child that you believe in God and that you will bring your child up to follow Jesus.
You will be asked to answer, on your child's behalf, that you have decided to turn away from everything which is evil or sinful and instead to turn towards Christ.
The declarations made by you and the child's godparents will be made in front of the church congregation; the local Christian community will promise to support you and pray for you and your child.
- Do you reject the devil and all rebellion against God? Parents and godparents: I reject them.
- Do you renounce the deceit and corruption of evil? Parents and godparents: I renounce them.
- Do you repent of the sins that separate us from God and neighbour? Parents and godparents: I repent of them.
- Do you turn to Christ as Saviour? Parents and godparents: I turn to Christ.
- Do you submit to Christ as Lord? Parents and godparents: I submit to Christ.
- Do you come to Christ, the way, the truth and the life? Parents and godparents: I come to Christ.
Copyright © The Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England, 2000-2006
I now have a real dilemma of conscious as my stepdaughter and her husband are having their two children baptised in to the Church of England. I feel that I have a particular problem with this ceremony because of the promises being made on the child’s behalf. I would have not problem attending a marriage or burial where the main participants have or had belief. My feelings are irrelevant to the parents’ choice but should or could I attend having such strong views against the ceremony or do I just go regardless of my views to support my partner and her family?
The news that the government is backing the development of HS2 with super fast trains from London to Birmingham on to Manchester and Leeds is long over due and I welcome this development. We seem to be on of the few countries in Europe without a high-speed train network. I hope that we can avoid a lengthy delay of legal action from protestors; this is after all the legitimate decision of a democratically elected government. We will still be a long way behind our European neighbours, France & German, even when this expensive project is complete. By the way I can show you how to get energy out of the tunnels to heat (and cool) the buildings towns villages around as REHAU has already done it in a tunnel is Austria.
What I do see as a major failing in the UK transport infrastructure is a lack of demand planning. Most of the time our planning seems to be driven by cost only. Looking at my local station Kingham on the Cotswold line, which I use almost on a daily basis, we can see the pitfall of finance driven planning. When I first started to use this line over ten years ago there was an enormous car park and the number of people using the line was significantly lower than it is now. Several years ago someone decided to sell off half the car park for an industrial development. Fantastic someone made a very nice income great. Trouble is that as there has been huge investment in the line with a new double track laid over the majority of the route and the popularity as shot up. Problem is now that, outside of the holiday periods, the car park is often completely full. Not a fantastic piece of future planning. People trying to travel by train will just turn up at the car park not find a space and be forced to drive to their destinations and will never consider the environmentally friendly alternative again.
Talking about environmentally friendly alternatives; why, are those of us who have the joyful occupation of travelling with First Great Western, inflicted with such old diesel trains? HST used on the majority of FGW long distance routes have a fuel consumption of 0.8 litres/ 100 seat Km. This converts to 25g of CO2 per seat based on full loading actual loading is much less and therefore the CO2 per passenger mile. They are mostly over 30 years old with all 197 units having been built between 1975 & 1982. Interestingly all bar three units involved in crashes are still in service. I still think it is wrong that theses trains dump our shit directly on the line. Paddington station is the only European capital city terminus station that I can think of that predominantly operates diesel trains. Let electrify the route now!
We have all come to expect peace and prosperity from our European neighbours. What a different Europe it was sixty years ago. Mainland Europe was sending tonnes of high explosives to kill and destroy us. It is quite scary that many of our European sceptics seem to imply that modern Europe is trying to achieve the same goals with different weapons. Many of us can get very passionate about the interference from the bureaucrats in Brussels. Although David Cameron’s use of a veto will not take us to the dark days of 1941; it does put in to sharp focus our position within Europe. Talk of bull dog sprit would seem to be appropriate in 1941 but we would seem to be kidding ourselves if we think we could survive isolated and alone in 2012. I am not qualified to pass judgement on the minor political issues around or participation in the centre of Europe. I just hope that none of us forget the pain, sacrifice and courage that was needed to give us 60 short years of peace and incredible prosperity in Europe. We have been battling with our neighbours for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. I for one would rather have a few obscure regulations on the straightness of our bananas than a resurrection of the battlefields of Europe.
PV FITs Reduction
This week’s the UK government’s announcement on the reduction of FITS for PV systems of less than 4KW seems to me to be a rushed, reaction to what is a very real problem for the finance of the scheme. I feel that the impact that this decision will have on a newly emerging industry will be devastating. The government had already seen that the level f feed in support would have to be “Grandfathered” as the costs of installations reduced primarily because of the increased in the scale of operation. Everyone involved in the industry understood and accepted the need for this financial mechanisation. There was a clear progression and the impacts of the reducing feed in tariffs could be planned for by the hundreds of companies set up in the new industry. I can also see a funding problem for the long term future of the scheme that required a bigger reduction in the PV FIT come next April. What I find difficult the accept is that the changes need to be made effectively for schemes installed after the 12th December. This has given no time in the industry a reasonable period to adjust to the change. I may not have proper arguments to defend a higher PV FIT than 21p/ kWh but I feel very strongly that the changes should have been carried out in April 2012 as had always been planned not December 2011. I hope the government can feel comfortable putting so many at risk of redundancy just before Christmas. Good luck to all those in the industry. If you also feel strongly sign of the online petitions.Give social landlords fair access to green subsidies Petition | GoPetition
Stop Cuts to Solar PV Feed-in Tariffs
I listened to radio fours in defence of politics this evening. I agreed with so much of what Professor Matthew Flinders said. We are exposed to individualistic marketing that convinces us that we can have what we want now; even if we do not have the money we can borrow it. Why wait you can have it now. You can control what you do and do not want to do. Individual freedom is the king! But politics does not work like that. Often politics is about making the hard decisions taking from some to give to others and that is not just a socialist agenda. Look at hospital closures there is often completing economic and clinical reasons for centralising services in large modern facilities but many people, often the majority locally, do not want to lose their local hospital. Politics is about balancing those competing needs to find a compromise that just satisfies the majority. Leaving perhaps the vast majority feeling that they have not got what they wanted. Politics is about compromises and we do not feel as good about compromises as we do about wining.
Our political system has given us a huge amount and we must not forget that. We generally deal with our political differences by reasoned debate and compromise. No longer do we in the UK take to the streets to settle our political differences. I do not feel that my support for many majorities does not make me a target for physical attack. We have one of the most incorrupt systems of government in the world. Not for us is the political system which depend on brown paper envelopes full of cash or an executive that is dominated by the ministers’ family.
Yes our politician’s fiddle their expenses from time to time but how many of us can put our hands on our hearts and say we have never broken the rules. Most politicians left centre or right do what they do because they passionately believe in what they are doing. Yet they get corrupted buy the system and have to tell people what they want to hear. We and our media are very unforgiving of the politician who says sorry I got that wrong, do better next time. We all must remember that politicians are just like you and I but have got involved “doing things for other people”. Local politics is about ordinary people giving up their spare time to make a difference. They are not power crazed megalomaniacs looking to make money. I know I was married to one once and I believe that it cost me my marriage. Every day I cycle past Tony Blaire’s house and I see the continuing price he pays for his job. Several heavily armed police men guard him twenty four hours a day. How many people from the city of London who have million pound bonuses have to put up with that? If you think all politicians are corrupt and politics does not make a difference, get involved, change the system, it is only made up of people like you and I.
Am I alone in being struck by some of the similarities in the current disturbances in UK to those in the Arab world? Yesterday the prime minister and the home secretary both, rightly, condemned the “criminal gangs” and mind less thugs and made a commitment that the full force of the law would be used bring the perpetrators to justice. On the same day Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's blamed anti-government protests on a small group of "saboteurs" and he went on to say "We will work on chasing down and holding to account everyone who spilled blood or sought to spill it."
I know and I would hope the vast majority of the people who read this know, that London and Syria are not comparable in there political freedoms. However if you a young disaffected person from an inner city area with little prospect of getting a job and working your way out of poverty how different does it really feel? Boris Johnson talking on the today programme this morning said that the motivation for this was pure criminality, the youths discovered that they could get away with it and had no regard for impact of their actions on others. Could this same statement not be aimed at our bankers, who similarly took what they could because they could get away with it?
I do not offer this as a defence of what is simply defenceless criminal behaviour but that we need to perhaps hold a mirror to our society and consider if it is sustainable for the rich to grow even richer; while we condemn many of our young people to a life of poverty, gang warfare and hopelessness. We all need to feel safe on our streets and even with tens of thousands of police on the street we will not do so if we ignore and condemn vast parts of our youth to disaffection. What the the grater crime a million pound bonus for making rich people richer or looting a flat screen TV from Curry’s.
Being politically active during the time of live aid am I alone in feeling famine burnout and left cold by the current crisis in Africa. Somehow during the famine of the 1980’s there was a sense that we were somehow responsible for the starvation and misery because of our (the western world) greed. By exploiting Africa we had caused this crisis and we had a moral duty to do something about it. Most of the wars in Africa were the deadly manifestation of the conflict between the west and Russia and the poor native people were just the victims. There was a great optimistic feeling that we could solve this problem and allow people to get on there own lives without interference from political blocks. This was going to be a once in a life time opportunity to free these poor suffering people. What went wrong? Generally Africa has shown a very poor ability to provide stable and secure governance. There are, I am sure lots of arguments as to why we in the west have a lot to answer and how big business still exploits Africa. However I am left with an overwhelming sense that the bigger problem that the world is facing is population growth. So many of our problems can be traced back to too many people occupying a plant with finite resources. Why is population control not on any countries political agenda? How can so many of the worlds religions believe in a God who wants us to go forth a multiply without limits? How can religious leaders still want to keep women in shackles of un educated continuous child bearing? This to me seems like a good illustration of the concept of evil. It is well documents that there is a clear link between female education and birth rate. I will be making my charity donations to groups promoting female education and population control.
Long discussion yesterday about how to develop a social media position for my company. Interesting research across our major competitors who are all construction product suppliers showed little uses of social media. Does this mean that we are ahead of the game or is the use of social media for B2B use going to be limited? There seems to be so many different things to consider. It would seem that social media can be considered in a variety of different aspects. Inward and outward facing is an easy distinction to consider but some of the internal communications could be useful to customers how and what should you show in your public forum? I am still very confused about what the goals of a company should be in considering B2B social media.
Social media what is it all about. Spent half the day in an internal company meeting discussing social media policy. I am clear that we are all going to change the way we communicate over the next few years. Social media is likely to revolutionise the way we contact people both inside and outside of work. What I am struggling with is w this is all going to work. Like so many of my colleagues I am trying out the world of social media. I have my Facebook account a profile on LinkedIn a tweet account and my own web site with a few blogs like this. I know this is never going to be enough and I have to drive traffic to my web site with tweets and other links but somehow I cannot see how this is going to revolutionise my communication. Perhaps we can travel this road together let us share experiences of the brave new world. Email me email@example.com
Why do we find it more difficult to talk about death than sex? Being a committed or perhaps you could describe me as a radical atheist, I am very concerned that society’s attitudes to death have not kept place with medical science. The experience of my mother’s death last year convinced me that choices are constantly being made about when and how people die. I want this process made more open, subjected to people making there own informed choices and not left just to the medical profession working within inappropriate religious sensibilities. I was sent a new item from the British Humanist Accociation today about a group The Dying Matters coalition which is encouraging people to talk about their wishes towards the end of their lives. It’s in everyone’s interest to talk about it, before it’s too late. It is well worth visiting their site.// -->]]>