Archive for the 'A bit of a rant' Category

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!

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – Part 2

Posted by on January 13th 2017 in A bit of a rant, Illness and injury

The call came, the results are in, and they're not brilliant. They make a mockery of yesterday's result-less consultation, which I am sure would have had a significantly-different outcome if the results had been available for analysis at the right time.

Click here to show/hide contents

So, let's see what's what...

Ferritin vs Hb: Well, the ferret-reduction process continues to work while the Hb manages to stay within acceptable limits, but the rate of reduction has decreased significantly:

 

 

Neutrophils vs WCC: These are both trending downwards which isn't good. The newts are heading towards their bottom-limit, and the whites are now below their bottom-limit. I suppose it's possible that the lower-than-usual results could be explained by the testing being done by a different lab, but I suspect that the drops are real. If the latter, it could be that my remission has stalled, or it could be that my levels have dropped due to me fighting an infection (which is unlikely considering that I have a low CRP score of 5). Either way, it needs the beady eye of a diligent consultant, and probably further testing, to figure it out:

 

 

Of course, it could have been dealt with yesterday, but it was so easy for the consultant to smile it off, blame it on the system and assume that all was still OK. Well, here's the news, Professor... IT'S NOT OK. And that means an unplanned visit to LRI early next week, and another unnecessary cost added to the NHS overdraft.

It's not all bad news... platelets are higher than usual (213), so at least I won't bleed to death any time soon.

You can tell that it's Friday 13th.

P.S. I suppose it's possible that I've been given someone else's results again, they do seem rather prone to doing that for me.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted by on January 12th 2017 in A bit of a rant, Illness and injury, LMAO!

So, with venesections every third Thursday and out-patient consultations every fourth Thursday, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that every 12 weeks the two sessions will fall on the same day. Today was such a day.

Click here to show/hide contents

A month ago some bright spark at LRI decided that on such days it would be best to perform just the one set of blood tests, at LGH, on samples taken just before the venesection. Said tests were to cover everything needed for the venesection session at LGH and everything needed for the out-patient consultation at LRI about three hours later. LRI gave me an appropriately-completed bloods specimen form with attached samples bag to give to LGH on the day. It was, allegedly, a fool-proof idea...

I turned up at LGH early this afternoon, they took the blood sample and I handed them the form/bag from LRI. They said that they didn't need the form/bag as they would use their own, so they took away the LRI form/bag for disposal. They also said that they were now using a super-duper digital system on PDAs which would make data collection, storage and transfer much better. I was insistent that the tests would have to cover the requirements of both appointments and that the results would have to be available at LRI by 16:15. They were equally insistent that it would all work flawlessly. I was then bled and given saline as per usual. All good so far.

Of course, in accordance with my expectations and contrary to theirs, it didn't work at all. Nearly four hours later over at LRI the consultant couldn't find the test results in the database, so the consultation was a complete waste of time.

 

 

My Friday is now trashed. I have to wait in for a phone call - someone from LRI will be calling the land-line (but not the mobile) IF the results can be found. Oddly, even though they are going all hi-tech with PDAs and the like, and the results (and my records) should be on a database, they are not allowed to send me the results via text or email. For reasons of security the information has to be given verbally. How quaint!

But hey, they DO like to send me appointment-reminders via text - one seven days before each appointment, and another five days later - telling me that every missed appointment costs the NHS an average of £126.

We sure as Hell won't be doing it their way again. To quote Tolkien's Pippin: "Short cuts make long delays."

Maybe I should be charging "an average of £126" for this afternoon's fiasco?

Welcome to 2017.

Quantum parcel

Posted by on December 19th 2016 in A bit of a rant, In the post

For many years some of the world's most eminent physicists have laboured hard to prove that some objects can be in more than one place at the same time, thus proving Einstein right even though he thought that he was wrong.

Well, they need not have gone to all that trouble. All they had to do was to use eBay to order something from the States via USPS for delivery in the UK, and then use the internet to track it.

According to the tracking tech, here are all of the places where my parcel was known to be at the same time this morning...

According to eBay, it had been with me for 2 days:

 

According to the Royal Mail site it was at their international mail centre at Heathrow "being made ready for despatch overseas"...:

but clicking the "Where has my item been?" button told a different story:

And the good old USPS site deemed it to have been delivered, but didn't state that they had delivered it to the Royal Mail and not to me:

I printed off all of the pics above and thrust them into the hands of the counter-jockey at the local sorting-office. He looked from one print to another, and another, and another, and back again, with a look of incredulity on his face.

They had my parcel. There was no Import Duty or Excise Duty, but it would cost me a Royal Mail International Handling Fee of a tenner plus V.A.T. to possess it, which was more that I'd paid the USPS to transport it from Port Saint Lucie to Heathrow via Miami, and more than the cost of the item inside.

But hey, cutting-edge science doesn't come cheap!

And I suppose that paying a burly sorting-office bloke £11.23 to handle my small package has some comedy value 🙂

One man’s muck…

Posted by on October 29th 2016 in A bit of a rant

Councillor Smithers: Hmm... it looks like we underestimated the uptake of the new green-waste permit, Sir. You know, the one that you brought in because green-waste services were paid for out of the Council Tax, supplemented by the County Council. We have a surplus of £165,000.

Mr Burns: Excellent! Just give me a moment to rub my palms together and to don my Face of Avarice.

Councillor Smithers: Shall we give them a partial refund, Sir?

Mr Burns: No. It's my money now. MINE, I tell you!

Councillor Smithers: Shall we reduce the price for next year, and hence attract more people to the scheme?

Mr Burns: Hell no!

Councillor Smithers: Then what do you suggest we do, Sir?

Mr Burns: Put the windfall to a different scheme, one which they might not support, and where they'll never see any benefit.

Councillor Smithers: Will there be anything else, Sir?

Mr Burns: Yes. Crow about it in the local free rag. We ought to keep the proles informed, it's good politics.

Councillor Smithers: Should we issue an apology or express some gratitude, Sir?

Mr Burns: Over my dead body, Smithers!

 

I don't mind paying for the service, but I do object to paying over the odds for it. I also object to paying into the Developing Communities Fund without my consent while others who didn't pay for a bin-permit won't have to do so.

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