Archive for the 'A bit of a rant' Category

Ad nauseam

Posted by on June 9th 2017 in A bit of a rant
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Uninformed

Posted by on June 5th 2017 in A bit of a rant
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Only three days to go until the big day.

And only after midday today did we find out about the following, via a friend who emailed me today after himself finding out about it only a few hours beforehand.

Of course, by then it was too late to re-jig my evening and far too late to submit any questions:

Of the people we've talked to about this, nobody noticed anything about it in the local free magazines and papers, nobody noticed any posters around the village, nor around the town (nor in the pub loos), and nobody received any flyers through the door.

Just goes to show how much they really want to engage with us.

Situation Normal.

Dealt a Yarborough

Posted by on June 1st 2017 in A bit of a rant
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Only a week to go until the big day.

When it comes to General Elections I've never had any problems choosing which candidate got my vote... until this one.

We have only four parties vying for the top spot here:

and I have misgivings about all of them.

LibDems: They've had my vote before, and their candidate stands the best chance of ousting our current absentee-landlord, but after Clegg broke his tuition fees pledge while polishing Cameron's buttocks I don't think that I can bring myself to trust the LibDems again.

Labour: Well, when your head honcho has played poker with his cards face-up by ruling out ever using Britain’s nuclear deterrent (thus making it no deterrent whatsoever) and whose credibility on defence is in tatters, who's going to keep the flag flying if Johnny Foreigner decides to take a pop at us? Moreover, there's NATO's Article 5 which say something like "an armed attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against them all". In that circumstance what's the top man going to deploy? Sharp sticks? Harsh words? Economic-migrant car-washers armed with wet sponges?

Conservatives: As a party they seem to have it in the bag already, but there's no way that our current candidate will get my vote even if his gaffer was [insert your preferred benevolent deity here]. My views on our current candidate's 30 years as Our Man In Havana At The Conning Towers are well-documented on this blog and don't need repeating here.

So that leaves the Greens. The party that favours ungreen* wind-farms here, there and everywhere. No thanks.

I think it may well be a case of "None of the above".

But I'll still go to the Polling Station even if it's only to bait the tellers.

* Probably not a real word but it seems to fit.

Subtle hint

Posted by on May 27th 2017 in A bit of a rant

Above: My feedback on the Royal Mail Door-to-Door Opt-Out Scheme. Soon afterwards, it was fed back into the local post-box.

Maybe I should have written it in all known languages, as it's clear that they can't read (or can't be arsed to read) the English version of the form which I've printed, completed, laminated and stuck to the front door directly above the letterbox, the flap of which also bears a "No Junk Mail" sign:

I suppose they've "lost" all of the properly-completed forms which I've sent to Freepost ROYAL MAIL CUSTOMER SERVICES this year.

Oh FFS! He’s standing again! (Version 2, with added YT clip)

Posted by on May 11th 2017 in A bit of a rant, In the News
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This is a re-hash of my post of 7th May 2010. Not much has changed, so for obvious reasons it's a copy/paste job with only minor edits and additions...

For 30 years we've had the same MP, and in all that time we've only ever seen him once, when he was in Hinckley town centre drumming up support for his re-election in 2015. Hardly surprising, really, as he still lives nowhere near his Bosworth constituency, he still lives 140 miles away in Sussex, which is still even further away from Bosworth than Westminster is. He's tried to claim expenses for astrology software and for an intimate relationships course, and was guilty of accepting cash-for-questions. He believes that homeopathy can fix the NHS. He's still never responded directly to any of the questions that I've put to him, preferring to "sub out" the job to somebody else. We had high hopes that he'd be ousted in 2010, and even higher hopes in 2015, but, despite calls for him to stand down he's going to be campaigning for yet another term.

His obsession with using his parliamentary position to campaign for homeopathy is, to me, just plain wrong. He's paid to represent his constituents, not to pursue his own personal agenda.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not anti-homeopathy, I'm not anti-Tory, I don't much mind which party ends up in government and if the Tories had decided to adopt a different candidate here I would have given him/her due consideration for my vote. No, I just want to see the back of this self-serving fool. Actually, seeing ANY part of this fool is unlikely. He's like the absentee landlord, happy to accept the rent-money but never there when you need him to fix the property. It's not what's expected of a public servant, and certainly not what I expect of my representative in Parliament.

We're going to be screwed. Again.

Source

I think he gets through the candidate adoption process using homeopathic methods like this:

The simple things you see are all complicated…

Posted by on April 28th 2017 in A bit of a rant, In the garden, Shiny new kit
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A "Barrow-in-a-Box"... with only one moving part, seven components and a handful of nuts & bolts, drawing up accurate assembly instructions really ought to have been a doddle.

In an episode of madness we decided to defy male instinct and years of engineering & assembly experience. Instead, we followed the instructions to the letter, just to see how things would work out. What could possibly go wrong?

You can find the instructions here in .pdf format, but to save you the hassle I'll walk you through the odd bits.

First up - tools required. It says that I'd need a flat-bladed screwdriver for the M8 bolts which are parts 7 and 9:

but that's bollocks, parts 7 and 9 are all Torx-headed:

 

And then there are the 2-off front supports  - parts 6. Whoever specced the folding of the ends of these is an idiot:

And just for good measure, whoever made those supports didn't deburr them, so they have edges like ragged razors.

Eventually we bent the supports into submission with minimal effort, tightened all of the fittings, and stood back to admire our handiwork.

It doesn't live up to the expectations I had for it being a "HEAVY DUTY BUILDERS BARROW" (yes, on the box they omitted the apostrophe). Compared to my previous barrow it's cheap and tacky even though, allowing for inflation, I paid almost twice as much for it. The old one's front support was 32mm dia 1.5mm wall powder-coated steel tube and was part of the 2-piece welded-together braced frame, this one has those 2 pressed straps which, although described as "robust", appear to have been made from compressed KitKat foil - if I can bend them easily by hand, I can't see them withstanding the rated 150kg load for very long. They are bolted to a 3-piece 30mm dia 1mm wall painted steel frame that's held together by 2 bolts and wishful thinking.

After having previously had barrows with pneumatic tyres, and after having to replace the tyres or inner-tubes every few years due to punctures or perishing, this time I opted for a puncture-proof job. I've used such barrows before and they've been fine, but this one is awful - there's no "give" or "bounce" in the tyre, it may as well have had an iron-banded wooden wheel off an old hay-cart. The axle is the shank of a long M10 low-grade steel bolt sleeved with a bit of flimsy 12mm dia steel tube, unlike the old one which had an axle of hefty galvanised 32mm dia 2mm wall tube.

The tray's pre-galv steel is a gauge or two thinner than my old one and the edges are turned but not re-turned, so there are exposed sharp and ragged edges which have already cut my hands and gloves.

And the nuts... barrows have to put up with a lot of abuse, so there's a fair chance of nuts coming loose, therefore locking-washers or nyloc nuts are what's needed, but no, here we have low-grade soft-steel flanged nuts and no washers, except for the nut on the axle-bolt which isn't even flanged.

I'm not impressed. An Eastern European migrant builder may well think it's the Bentley of barrows, but a burly Brummie brickie would probably think it's more of a Trabant.

Not exactly spoiled for choice

Posted by on April 3rd 2017 in A bit of a rant, Name and Shame

Burger King, Hinckley, on Saturday evening:

Don't be fooled - it's a lie!

There's very little point in displaying the above signs when BOTH of your machines are broken and there's nobody on the premises who can fix them.

And when someone orders a Steakhouse WITHOUT CHEESE, and you say that you'll tell the kitchen staff to not put cheese on it, make damned sure that they listen, understand, and perform.

And then, when that someone sends back the one that you brought, the one WITH CHEESE despite you allegedly telling the kitchen staff, don't replace it with one without cheese AND WITHOUT BACON.

And when you advertise a corn dusted bun, MAKE SURE THAT IT HAS SOME CORN DUSTING ON IT.

Here's a visual aid for the terminally-stupid:

I won't be back.

Unless I do so like this:

Up and down like the Assyrian Empire

Posted by on March 26th 2017 in A bit of a rant, Illness and injury

Latest test results (from week 38 23/03/2017 test/consultation) plotted, so more boring blood-test result charts. I'm told that the results aren't important, so don't bother reading any further.

Unless you want to mouseover the charts to see how they look with spurious data removed, hence showing the real trends.

Click here to show or hide contents

So far only points for week 28 (12/01/2017) have been removed in the mouseovers. You might recall that I ranted about those results here. The serum ferritin result of 998 from week 15 (10/10/2016) has long been discarded as pure fantasy. With those dodgy results removed there are clear ongoing downward trends to the whites and the newts over the last 4 to 5 months, and the whites are now bang on bottom-limit. But it's not important, they say.

In my opinion, the latest value for the Serum Ferritin (499, week 38, 23/03/2017) looks to be, well, rather convenient, seeing as they were aiming for a target of 500, and the previous three values were 696, 643 and 642. And yes, I did tell them almost exactly that at the consultation, and I also told them that the previous week the blood-letting staff at LGH were quite concerned that their venesection protocol had ceased to be effective. Time will tell if I have to declare that result as dodgy, but for now I'm letting it stand as either a valid but surprising good result or as testimony to data creativity.

But it's not important, as they say.

Yet for some reason they have changed my 6-weekly checks back to 4-weekly.

Hmm...

Department of Corrections

Posted by on March 22nd 2017 in A bit of a rant, In the News

Most of today's news is fairly grim, but here's a reason to be cheerful:

Story here.

Of course, that was the easy bit.

A real challenge would be to convince the BBC's dimwitted web writers/editors to use the acronym "NASA", not "Nasa".

Note to Auntie: It's not as if there are no clues on the web. You could even crib it from the NASA logo:

 

Mental battle

Posted by on February 10th 2017 in A bit of a rant, Illness and injury

In case you'd not noticed, I like numbers and charts. They form patterns, patterns which form pictures each worth a thousand words. Keeping track of the numbers (the counts), noting their trends and learning their meanings, is one of the pillars supporting my determination to beat this festrous malady and then to hold it at bay. The more I understand something, the less I fear it.

*** Warning! Paraphrasing in progress! ***

Way back in December 2015 the docs were saying things like "Your blood counts are the most important indicators of your progress, that's why we do daily sampling and testing", in January 2016 it was "Your counts are good enough to go home, but you can't do (insert any meaningful activity here)", and in February it was "You did what? On a train? Bejeesus, you shouldn't have done that, your counts are still too low!"

A month or so later the concept of context was introduced... "Your counts are better, but we have to consider them in context, and that context is bad so we'll keep you in for a few days."

Later still they said "Your counts are recovering nicely, so we'll start periodic testing and monitoring, keeping an eye on the all-important counts. Monthly for at least a year, starting in June 2016. It's immutable. Only then will we consider cutting you some slack and changing to two-monthly testing and monitoring. It's not up for negotiation."

From all that it's clear that counts are important. I was (and indeed continue to be) tested every day I was there, whether as an inmate, a day-warder, an ambulatory or an out-patient. Each and every decision included a consideration of the counts.

But yesterday, after I had queried the low counts which were not discussed a month ago, the story was...

"Your counts dropped but have now recovered. We have to consider them in context, and that context is good so we will ignore and not bother to explain the reasons why the counts were low. They are good today. You really do have to stop attaching importance to the counts. Swings of up to 20% are not causes for concern. Oh, and we're changing the immutable monthly testing and monitoring to six-weekly as of now, not May/June. As before, it's not up for negotiation."

So, in one fell swoop my coping strategy was left in tatters and my diary until June had been trashed.  And I'm still not supposed to do (insert many meaningful activities here). Cheers for that, it was a real morale-booster.

I won't burden the main blog with many more boring blood-test result charts, from now on they will be hidden and/or segregated on their own page due to their alleged lowly importance. Suffice to say that last month my white cell count had "swung" from 5.2 to 3.6 x 109 cells/litre (a drop of ~31%) and my neutrophils had "swung" from 3.06 to 2.00 x 109 cells/litre (a drop of ~35%), clearly not within their newly-introduced "20% swing rule" and therefore justifiable causes for concern. It's obvious to me that something significant happened at or just before the week 28 test, but they didn't give a shit back then and continued to not give a shit yesterday.

I have another consultation booked for six weeks' time. Whether I'll bother to give the mandatory blood sample for testing is a moot point - after all, if the counts aren't important, why waste the NHS's cash on unimportant sampling and testing?

I feel a phase of conflict coming on, so I will continue to grind my axe (for defensive purposes only).

Baruk Khazâd! Khazâd ai-mênu!

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