D4D

You look like one of them, but talk like one of us

Slow Progress

This year, as I’ve said before (and on many occasions) I’ve been working at getting more exercise, with an aim of losing some weight, improving health, and all that standard crap. At the same time I’ve been keeping track of food intake and so on, which has been interesting rather than overly useful.

I’ve been doing fairly well for a start- I’m tending to average walking about 3-4 miles a day, including at least a mile round the village every day. I started off just making sure I did it even on days when I wasn’t in the mood, or when the weather was vile (and lord knows we’ve had plenty of those so far this year) so that I could establish it as routine, and thus have even less excuse when the weather was good.

It’s slow-going though – which I’m not happy about. I’m eating less than the ‘recommended’ calorie count, and I’m doing more exercise. But weight has stayed fairly stable.  As it is, I’ve lost half a stone this year – which is better than it could be, but it’s still hard to monitor when it takes so sodding long.

This week has been different, because of stuffing my back last weekend (which is improving, but still insanely sore in the morning) I made the decision to lay off the walking etc. as much. It’s about halved from the usual, and I’ll actually be glad to get back to it.

Anyway, there’s been progress, it’s just been ridiculously slow. Next step, once I’m back to not hurting (pardon the pun) will be to get back on my bike again and do more work on that score as well. Maybe that’ll help things progress. We’ll see.

 

Miss Transit

Back in September, I wrote a small bit of cynicism about Luton’s Guided Busway, and why I was rather unconvinced about the reasoning behind the current glut of Busways, Tramways.

This week the first operating quarter’s passenger figures were released – and they’re only 41% of what they were projected to be.

Luton Borough Council revealed there were 346,854 passenger journeys between October and December 2013.

The 2008 busway business case projected usage of 9,000 daily trips, indicating 828,000 journeys for its first quarter.

But of course there’s someone else to blame – and it’s not the council, nor is it the bus companies involved in the project.

“If you want to blame anybody, blame the bankers,” [Colin Chick, the director of regeneration] said.

“When the country starts to recover and sites are developed and we create new jobs in that area and the airport expansion goes through, within a few months those figures will go back to what was anticipated.”

I remain unconvinced – but apparently the figures for the second quarter will be published soon, so it should be fun to see what they reveal…

Waiting For Pay

This current contract has had one major downside – the agency in question have the worst pay schedule I’ve ever seen.

Of course, there are also quite a lot of other downsides, which is why I’m not going to be extending or renewing the contract anyway. But that pay schedule is definitely a contributory factor to the entire thing.

It’s come through an agency I hadn’t previously dealt with, and while they did say that the job paid monthly (which is fine with me) they carefully didn’t explain quite what they meant. This tells me that they damn well know the pay schedule is insanely broken/dodgy, but can’t be chuffed to do anything about it.

Usually, a monthly contract is paid by dint of the contractor submitting an invoice and getting paid seven days later. All well and good. You have an invoice deadline of (for example) the 23rd of the month, submit by then and get paid for month-end.

Not with this agency. Oh no.

You submit your invoice for the end of the month. They then take three weeks to pay, *and* still send it BACS, so it takes three days to hit your account. So, for example, the invoice for March, submitted by the ‘March’ deadline of 4th April (don’t ask) doesn’t hit a bank account ’til 18th April. (Which is a bank holiday – something the agency only realised when I asked them what they were doing about bank holidays)  For me, because this one has gone through an Umbrella company, I don’t get paid ’til the next working day – the Tuesday after Easter.

My colleague who started on 31st March won’t get paid til the 23rd of May.

In short, that’s shocking. And I can’t wait to get paid (three days before my contract ends).

Skewing Perceptions

This story from Business Insider contains one of the worst (or cleverest, depending on your perspective) graphs in history.

The story is about gun deaths in Florida, and contains the graph below, created by Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement.

florida_gun_deaths

Looks like deaths went down after the “Stand Your Ground” law came in, doesn’t it?

But no, look at that Y axis on the chart (or the bold ‘totals’). The scale is upside down – so gun deaths actually increased after that law came in.

I can hear Blue Witch gnashing her teeth about that graph already…

Back Down

Over the weekend, I somehow wrecked my back. I don’t know quite what happened, but yesterday was seriously painful.

I think that I somehow did something stupid – moved in a strange way, or slept in a weird position – because I do recall being vaguely awake and feeling something ‘wrong’ in my back. But then I went back to sleep.

It was OK again in the morning, a bit sore but nothing to write home about. But then I went off for a walk (which I try to do on a regular basis, building up exercise routines and so on) and this time it was down to the local wildlife centre – about 3 miles all told, which isn’t that much. But while there I sat on one of their picnic tables to read my book. I reckon I must’ve been leaning forward over the table for a period of time.

And the return journey was painful, the muscles in my lower back definitely hurting in style. I still walked home, but it hurt a lot more than the first half had.

Over the rest of the day, it got worse, to the point I wasn’t wanting to bend down or anything. I hoped that a hot shower/soak of the muscles would help, but no. I hoped that sleep last night would ease it up, but no. Still exceptionally sore this morning.

It’s eased off a bit today, but time will tell. There’s a good portion of the day remaining, after all. We’ll see. But in the meantime, bloody hell that was sore…

Breaking Things

Last Friday there was a big(ish) story in the BBC and Media about the convicted paedophile who is requesting his laptop – complete with ‘non-obscene’ images of one of his victims. Dorset Police were quoted in the story as saying it would be ‘unlawful’ to delete/remove those images from the laptop, because they’re not technically obscene or showing nudity.

Now, aside from the fact that there’s something so blatantly wrong with this entire process (and why wasn’t the laptop just removed/destroyed as part of the evidence and ‘proceeds of crime’ bollocks?) then surely this is a perfect opportunity for a tragic IT-related ‘accident’?

Make sure it’s believable, could happen, and is feasible, and it’d be the devil’s own job to prove anything.

For example, a liquid spillage. Or leaving the machine next to – I don’t know – some kind of large magnet. Maybe the metal scanner in a doorway. Or just mis-filed in such a way that a) it can’t be found or b) it got destroyed. Lost property, IT security, avoidance of possibility for divulging person information.

There are many, many ways in which this could’ve never been an issue. The mis-filing and “sorry, can’t find it” would be easiest (and probably hardest to be disproved) but any of them would work nicely.  It’s more of a problem now, because they’ve admitted that a) it exists and b) it’s currently in an OK state. Ooops.

Squish

Maybe I’m more aware of it this week, with Death of the Mau, but on my drive to and from work I’ve noticed a lot more dead animals by the roadside this week.

Uncommonly, the great majority seem to be badgers (of varying sizes and ages) which I always find very sad.  At least these are on dual-carriageways, rather than the completely-intact bodies I sometimes see on the edge of other roads. (I’m never quite convinced that these aren’t actually from farmers/people gassing them, and using the roads as a convenient excuse/reason for dead badger, and disposal thereof. But I’m horrifically cynical)

In my opinion it’s always sad to see dead badgers – they’re awesome creatures – but particularly seeing younger ones depresses me.

I suppose it’s that time though, with semi-mature ones making way for new litters and exploring the world, and also post-winter-sleep. (I know they don’t ‘hibernate’ as such, but they certainly appear to slow down significantly over winter)  All the same, you’d hope that a driver would notice a bloody big black-and-white creature lumbering across a dual-carriageway. (I know they don’t, because they have issues noticing other cars, let alone animals. But still, we can hope)

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