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Making it Personal

Archive for the category “Driving”

Slightly Quiet – the Recovery

Carrying on from the last couple of posts – Reasons and Repercussions – I’m hoping that I’m now on the road back. (If nothing else, the fact I’ve done these three posts should say that I’m on the way!)

This last few months has been tough, there’s no denying it. There’ve been a number of facets to that toughness, but I’m generally optimistic that they’re all on the way back to something approaching sanity.

Financially it’s definitely been tough, and I’m back to pretty much square one again. This month will (hopefully) be the last of that level of toughness, now I’m back to working on contract instead of permanent roles. The last few months have cost me dearly, going into what savings I had amassed, based on promises that salary deficits would be fixed and so on – which never happened.

Socially it’s been absolute piss. I’ve hardly seen anyone – some of that is related to the financial stuff, some of it down more to depressions, to not wanting to go out, as well as to feeling a bit trapped by a number of things.

Workwise – well, we covered that in other posts. Safe to say, it’s not been fun, and it’s affected me pretty negatively.

Creatively, it’s been a bit of a dead zone. The only positive is that the amount of time spent on the road while commuting gave me the opportunity to think a bit about some writing ideas, although I didn’t have the time or inclination to actually get them done. Still, with any luck that’ll be part of the next phase.

Really, the only real positive of the last few months has been health-wise – I’ve managed to lose two stone in weight, and been walking far more than I was. And again, that’s something I’ll continue making the effort on, I think, as well as (now I’ve got some more time to myself and my life) getting back to the gym a bit more.

This last few months have left me feeling pretty flat and wiped-out. I’m hoping that now it’s a bit more settled and sorted, things will head in a more positive direction for a while.

Slightly Quiet – the Repercussions

As I wrote yesterday, some of the stuff of the last few months has affected me in a number of ways, none of which I’m all that great at explaining at the time.

The work and jobs I’ve been doing this year haven’t left me in a good place, and I’ve found that (as on other occasions) it affects me more than I’m actually happy about.

I value myself to some degree by the work I do – and I like doing good work. Being part of a grinding factory of make-work bullshit isn’t my thing, and that was the kickstarter this time, a three-month contract with a company in Cambridge that was almost local-government in its use of people and make-work self-justifying crap that signifies the environs I really hate working in.

The work I did there was negligible – it wasn’t even relevant – which never helps. The next one was just bad, totally demoralised staff and an obsession with everything being “Agile” and a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP), which appears to be techie-code for “Yeah fuck it, that’ll do”.

The idea of MVP is a good one in a startup business, or one that’s launching. It means that you do the basics, get it ready and get it out, then continue improving, adding functionality, listening to customer demands and the like.  However, when you’re in a business whose product has been available for a while, MVP means basic “do what the customer requested”, but without any thought for knock-on effects, or even how that functionality affects or integrates with existing code and setup.

From there, the next role was more challenging, but owned by an asshat. Lots still ongoing on that one, but at least it’s over.

But when all’s said and done, it all affects me – and more than it should. More than I admit, probably even to myself.  It leaves me demotivated, and not wanting to work on my own projects – whether web/tech-based, or just writing.  You’d think – and logic would dictate – that when I’m down about my paid-work being shit, I’d want to rectify that with producing decent stuff outside of work. But it doesn’t work like that – if I’m not happy with what I’m doing, I don’t want to do more of it.

With the excessive work hours at the last place as well, I didn’t really have time. I felt like I was existing only to commute, work, and sleep. Never a good place to be.

About the only positives to come out of it all have been that I’ve learned ever more about things I really don’t want to do, more warning signs about working with/for douchebags, and some more writing ideas when I get back into the mood for it.

Statistics

On the news last night, there was a story about how rural roads are more dangerous/deadly than motorways (which just makes sense to me – of which more in a minute) and one of their illustrations of this was this road sign

road_statsThis is supposedly a sign from “one of the more dangerous roads” – but 43 injuries in 3 years equates to 14 (point 3-recurring) deaths a year. That’s just over one a month. Not quite such a scary figure…  The same goes with 4 deaths in three years – just over 1 a year.

I don’t know if my viewpoint is a rarity, but I look at a statistic like that, and tend to think “I’ll go with those odds”.

And now, about those stats in the first place…

The stats in the story are :

  • 3 people a day die on rural roads
  • That’s 11 times more deaths than on motorways

To me, that all makes sense, for a number of reasons – including…

  • On motorways, people drive faster – but (in general) pay more attention when doing so. Sure, there’s still idiots – there’s idiots everywhere – but in general people are paying a bit more attention on motorways.
  • People definitely pay less attention – and drive worse – on non-motorway roads.
  • But also – on motorways, everyone’s going in the same direction. It’s *far* harder to have a head-on collision at speed on a motorway.
  • The speeds are higher, but with everyone going in the same direction, it also reduces the relevant impact speed. A head-on is the sum of the two impact speeds – so two cars hitting head-on at 60mph is an impact speed of 120mph. Even if you’ve got someone at 70 on a motorway hitting a stationary vehicle, that’s an impact speed of 70.
  • It’s not the same factor if you were to crash into someone ahead of you (for example) because they’re still going forward at 60-70mph anyway, so – as I understand it – if you’re going 70mph, and hit someone going at 60mph, the *impact* speed is 10mph – the difference, rather than the sum.

The other key factor is that I’m willing to bet that there’s one hell of a lot more miles of rural road in the UK than Motorway. In 2005, the DfT’s report said that the UK has 2,202 miles (3,523 km) of motorways.  According to this document, the UK’s motorways account for 1% – ONE PERCENT – of the total road space/distance.  So again, 11 times more deaths on roads that account for 99 times the road mileage.

All told, it’s just bad stats and shitty journalism

 

Oncoming

On Saturday night I discovered possibly the scariest message that can be displayed on those motorway information boards.

That message is

Caution. Oncoming Vehicle.

I can tell you, it does fairly make the old backside pucker, seeing that.

 

As it was, I didn’t see the vehicle in question – I assume it either got stopped, or turned round.  But it doesn’t half make you worry.

Of course, if this were all a joke, the punchline would be

And it wasn’t just one, there were bloody hundreds of the buggers.

But it’s not a joke, and it wasn’t a funny thing…

Signage

At the moment I seem to spend far too much of my available non-work time on the road, so I notice stuff around me.

Over the last couple of weeks one of the motorway gantries on my route (the ones with speed cameras on) has been out of action, so there’s been a small – but noticeable if you pay attention – yellow sign saying

Camera not in use

Today though, I noticed that it has changed, and now says

Camera now in use

And lo, there we go, seeing it flash on speeders.

It just struck me as interesting, the simple alteration of one letter that means so much, and changes the whole thing – and I wonder how many people notice/realise.

Going Round in Circles

Yesterday I did – yet another – circumnavigation of the M25 in one day. It’s quite a childish thing, allbeit not something I do on a whim, but sometimes it amuses me.  The main difference this time was that I did it anti-clockwise, which for some reason I do less often.

Yesterday was a drive from home to parents in Oxford, collect them and drive them to Dover (they’re off on a holiday) and then back round to the M1 to go home.  It also involved a trip into the office – that’s a post for another time – so all told I covered about 350 miles in the day.

Anyway, all well and good, and I’m still alive. Just currently snowed with work-related stuff, hence the paucity of postings here.

Inherently Useless

On my commutes, I regularly find myself bemused by the whole thing of performance cars – things like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, AMG Mercedes and the like.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like the look of a lot of them, as well as the idea of fast cars. I love seeing them, and some of the stuff about them, the hand-made elements and so on. But here in the UK I just don’t really see the point of them.

I get that some of it is about showing off, that you can afford a fast car (as well as the petrol etc.) and fair play. Personally I don’t value myself by my possessions – large or small – and I don’t define myself by that perceived value, or that of the brand/marque that’s been chosen.

But regardless of whether you’ve got a shitty old Mk1 Ford Fiesta (or any other ‘low-end’ vehicle) or a £200,000 Mercedes SLS AMG, you’re legally limited to 70 mph. 80 at a push. And the run I do on a daily basis is populated with speed cameras and police, so it’s really not worth speeding past that – it’ll become a very expensive hobby, for sure.  So what’s the point of a car that can do 200mph, if it’ll never get there?

Sure, there’s other places you can speed, where there’s less cameras. But even then if you do get caught, it’s going to be expensive.

And then you get to the fuel consumption. That SLS gets 21mpg on the combined cycle – and I bet that drops like a stone if you put your foot down.

Great, you’ve got the money to make it feasible for you. I’m happy for you – not impressed, and not bothered, but it’s not for me, it’s for you.

Mind you, if you own that £200,000 car, it must really steam your piss to be overtaken by a shitty 13-year-old Saab that’s worth less than a hundredth of what your car cost…

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