A Slow Meander Through Life

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Whale News

For those of you touched by the plight of the whale last week (and I believe that I was slightly), I can only apologise. It is rather amusing though.


I'm quite excited, but annoyed and concerned at the same time, by my first ever experience of being on the wrong side of the law.

Yes, 'goody two shoes Daniel' has been caught speeding. 10 years of driving both cars and motorbikes, blasting around our fair isle, and I've been nicked for speeding out of Birmingham city centre at ten minutes past midnight on a Thursday morning. I arrived home yesterday to find a Notice of Intended Prosecution, so all I have to do at the moment is confirm that I was driving the car. We've tried to come up with stories to the contrary, but it's simply not working.

I knew that it happened, because I saw the two lovely big flashes as I went past the camera, but thinking that I had been caught doing about 44mph in a 40mph speed limit, it appears that I was doing 41 in a 30. This worries me because it is significantly comparatively faster than I thought it would be.

Obviously, like any low life criminal, I'm feeling bitter and hard done by. I drove so sensibly and well coming out of Birmingham and feel that a 'real' policeman would have been very understanding, having seen how I behaved. I'm also sure that I couldn't have been in a 30mph speed limit, which makes me wonder if I've been nicked in the place I thought I'd been nicked in.

Anyway, I'll look forward to receiving the pictures of the car so that I can exactly calculate how fast I was going, and I may have to pop back to Birmingham simply because I can't quite work out where exactly they mean in the letter. That'll be the detective in me coming out.

Realistically I've been lucky not to have been caught before, so I'm approaching this calmly and with an open mind. I think what amuses me most is that I was caught in my super-slow Astra, and not on the bike!

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Resolution Update

My resolutions are progressing steadily.

My first was to lose weight. We are only twenty-three days into the year, and whilst the weight isn't falling off, I am exercising loads. The gym is now a regular occurence and I'm feeling a lot better. I've started drinking gin instead of beer to help with this. I feel less bloated at the end of the night, but I struggle to walk. A minor problem.

The second was to stop eating meat. This hasn't been as successful, and I need to try and push this one more. It's just laziness when there isn't much to eat, and the fact that RoadChef's offering of vegetarian sandwiches is basically rubbish.

The third is going quite well. I've started to take recycleable rubbish out of the bin and put it in to the recycling box, and I constructed the start of our compost heap on Sunday. I have to say that it was an awesome bit of DIY, and I amazed even myself with the way it all fitted together. Currently in there are some leaves (not too many), some branches fromt the bushes we chopped down and five teabags. I'm not holding my breath.

I joined the Lincoln Freecycle group, and quickly became a moderator on it only to find that the owner was forced to step down and set up his own local freecycle website. It seems that Freecycle.org are a little on the corporate side and are pushing for pretty much world domination. That wasn't quite what I had hoped for, so I've followed the owner to his new site and it all seems to be progressing nicely. I have yet to give nor receive, but I am hoping that I shall be able to do my bit soon enough.

Anyway, I'm off to recover from my training for the Lincoln 10km Race. I fear it's going to kill me.

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Monday, January 16, 2006

Thieving Bastards

Whilst I was grateful in my previous post for the excellent work done by the ex-Triumph dealer in Gloucester, I fear that my gratitude for the work done on my motorcycle clouded my mind somewhat and allowed me to miss a vital part of the story.

When I arrived at the bike shop the gentleman was delighted to tell me that it was ready. I was delighted to hear it! However, instead of telling me the price immediately, he started to lament on the hard work that they had put into the bike over the course of the afternoon. My mind started to guess how many pounds this was adding up to:

"Well of course sir, we had to remove the rear wheel and completely scrub the tyre with detergent to ensure that all traces of oil were removed. Then the rear disc had to be cleaned, and we did our best with the brake pads. Keep an eye on these and if they don't improve then have them changed: we fear that the oil may have seaped into them. The bike had lost a lot of oil due to the leak, and we had to replace the oil filter..."

Which brought us to a grand total of £92 (not the £96 I originally posted). Not too surprised, and simply relieved that the bike was well again, I passed over the Switch Card and took the copy of the bill. I glanced my mathematical eye over it. The values were roughly as follows (all plus VAT): 1 Hour's Labour, £40; 1 Oil Filter, £7.50; 4 Litres of Oil, £7.50 per litre (ouch).

Nothing out of the ordinary there I hear you say. The last item, however, upset me slightly:

1 Sump Plug Washer, 42p.

In a somewhat perplexed voice I questioned this item on the bill.

"You're actually charging me for the washer? 42p for a washer, on a bill that totals £92? You're joking, I presume?"

No chance. The bastards had the nerve to itemise the 42p at the end of bill. The washer represented 0.4% of the total value of the work done. It would have come from a drawer somewhere in the workshop which contained loads more of these washers, purchased in bulk for a pitance. They could have included it somewhere else and I wouldn't have objected, include it in the cost of the filter, for example. But alas, no.

Thieves, I tell you, they're all thieves.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Born To Be Wild

On Sunday evening I made the brave decision of using the motorcycle for work this week. The plan was simple: fly out of Lincoln on Monday morning, zoom past rush hour traffic at Nottingham and arrive at work half an hour sooner than I would in the car. In fact the plan was even better than that: use the motorbike on Tuesday morning to ride to Tenbury Wells (a small town in the middle of nowhere), blast down to Gloucester for a meeting and then charge back up the M5 to return to Norton Canes.

The reality, however, was somewhat different: discover a flat battery on Monday morning, have the worst ever rush hour journey to Norton Canes, ride through torrential rain on Tuesday morning and discover that the bike was leaking oil straight onto the back tyre, costing me £96 to fix. I'm feeling somewhat beaten right now, and almost regret not having driven in the car.

I say 'almost' because the bike, quite simply, is awesome. It's such fun to ride and so easy to ride quickly. It only needs the first two gears to do everything that my Astra can, and it's wonderful to be the fastest thing on the road instead of the slowest. I didn't see a single vehicle today that could go any faster than me. That is something that makes me smile, and makes me feel that the decision wasn't such a bad one after all.

I do need to write some words of explanation to the driver of the very dark coloured Mondeo on the M5 this morning. As a motorcyclist, rearward visibility is not great. As a motorcyclist in pouring rain on a motorway filled with lorries throwing up spray, visibility becomes somewhere close to zero. So when I pulled out into the outside lane having checked my mirrors and having checked over my shoulder, finding you flashing your headlights was a bit of surprise. What you may not understand are the subsequent gesticulations that I offered to you: the first was self-explanatory; the second, whilst looking like a scuba-diver's sign for an octopus, was to try and explain to you that putting your headlights on might help a little bit. A dark car on a dark day in the pouring rain with only sidelights? I haven't a chance my good friend.

Of course now I have to apologise to my mother who, if she has read this, will be slighly worried about my motorcycling antics. Mum, please rest assured that I always ride sensibly, if not always slowly.

I have one more trip this week: my return journey home on Friday. I'm looking forward to it, no doubt about it, because the back of a motorcycle is, quite simply, the best place to be.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006


It seems that I had developed a small addiction over the winter months, and it has taken me until now to realise that it existed. Down the side of my blog is a link to OGame, a game on the internet where you own planets and build ships and blow things up and trade and stuff. I was introduced to it by my cousin who is an avid player of the game. He and his friends have an 'alliance' in the game, and I was invited to join. I did.

The game is good, but it has one flaw: it never stops. Never. When you log off, it carries on going. Your mines produce more stuff, your ships keep flying and the rest of the world keeps watching. So, when you have a busy day at the office, then have a quick read of your book, then have tea, then go to the gym, then watch Arsenal play Man United and then return to your computer, it is possible that things may have happened whilst you were away. They did yesterday. I returned to the game to find practically everything gone. Some guy somewhere watched and watched and watched until he realised that I wasn't paying attention and went for me. I lost all my (imaginary) ships, lost most of my (imaginary) defences and he stole loads of my (imaginary) resources. I imagined that I may be annoyed, but I wasn't. I withdrew from my cousin's alliance and stopped playing the game. I have returned to the (real) world.

I sincerely apologise to my cousin as I know that he loves it and I know that my leaving the alliance has affected the alliance's score. However, they will continue to gain points fine without me.

What bothered me was the realisation that it had taken up so much of my life. I've spent hours checking up on it, moving ships around and building things. I would wait to ensure that my fleet was safe before leaving the house. I don't think heroin addicts have it that bad.

I welcome the new year as a free man, and I say the same to you all: go out and play.

But do drop back here from time to time. Please.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006


Depending upon which calendar you follow, it is the first day of a new year. The earth has completed another lap around the sun, everyone is hungover and the foolish few are making resolutions for the rest of the year.

I have never stuck to any resolutions in my life and I certainly haven't made any in the last few years. However, I've decided to make a few this year but try and ensure that they are achieveable.

Here is a summary of what I wish to do:

The first one is to lose the bonus weight that I'm carrying. I've discovered that whilst running on a treadmill is boring, running on a treadmill and listening to podcasts on your iPod at the same time is not. I ran for a full thirty minutes yesterday and didn't feel the need to stop at any time. Losing weight has too many positive effects: the motorbike will be faster, my gym membership won't be wasted each month, I'll fit into old clothes again, I'll need less weight when I'm diving and hopefully I'll look a little sharper. There are plenty of other further reaching effects, but I shan't go into them now.

The second is to stop eating meat. This is an environmental move and not an ethical one. I'm not that bothered about animals being killed for food, and the truth is that if there is no other option than meat than I won't have a problem eating it. The simple fact is that it's better for the world to be a vegetarian: producing vegetables requires a lot less effort than producing beef, for example. Also it will help with my first resolution.

Third, I'm going to become the recycling king of the world (well, maybe just Lincoln for now). We put so much rubbish into landfills every week, and it's too easy to put it in the black bin (or whatever the local council has given you) and see that it's recycled. I'll happily pop to the bottle bank to dispose of the glass. My main hurdle will be convincing the house mates that this is important. I can't see how it can't be important to someone: my aim will be to convince them of this too. I've registered with my local Freecycle group too, so that I don't have to waste the bigger items that I don't require any more. I am also planning a compost heap so that our food waste can be disposed of.

I think that I'm going to leave it there. There are three things that I can have a go at, and I think that the third one is potentially a 'biggy'. I think that 2006 is a year for changing the world.

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