D4D

I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.

Archive for the category “Driving”

Inept

Following on from yesterday’s post about car maintenance, and giving the Saab a treat, there was one final thing that needed doing.

Over the last couple of months, the car’s been intermittently reporting “Key battery needs changing”. It did it for a week, then stopped doing so. Then every so often the message would return. (I know, that’s pretty much the definition of ‘intermittent’. Sod off)

Anyway, last week it got more consistent, and over the weekend it started not locking etc., which I figure is a pretty good indication that it’s time to sort it out. (Luckily I’ve got two keys, so it wasn’t a complete hassle) Having looked at the instruction book – yes, a man reading the instructions, what a rarity – and picked up the necessary battery on Sunday, expecting it to be a two-minute job.

Safe to say, it wasn’t a two-minute job. Following the simple instructions, the panel on the key simply wouldn’t open. I probably could’ve forced it, but what the hell would be the point of that?

So it ended up that yesterday I went to my Saab garage, and got them to do it instead. It cost me nothing (except the fuel to get there, of course) and yes, it took them less than two minutes all told.

On occasion it’s galling to be quite this inept – although they did say it’s something that a lot of people have issues with doing – but at the same time I’m fairly secure in my inpetitude, and in getting things done by those who know how to do so.

Basic Maintenance

This week, the Saab must think it’s been stolen – allbeit by someone who actually gives a damn about cars.

With the various odds-and-sods and issues of the last few months, basic car stuff had kind of gone by the wayside. I’ve been promising the car some attention, and so now normality has been somewhat resumed, it’s been time to do it. Plus, of course, the onset of winter conditions, which means it makes sense to ensure things are sorted.

Over the weekend, it got a proper clean inside and out (I don’t quite know how car windows get so disgusting on the inside, but they do) which made a world of difference. There were also new windscreen wipers – the last MOT said they were OKish and wouldn’t fail the car, but did need replacing. So with the colder/wetter weather (and with the next MOT due in a couple of months) it was worth sorting out.

Finally, it’s now sitting on new tyres – it’s a year since I did the last new set, and they’ve done nearly 30,000 miles in that time.

Of course, now it’s had another couple of hundred quid spent on it, it’ll now break down spectacularly in the next couple of weeks, knowing my luck.

Signs of Life

Now that work-based sanity appears to have made a return, things are coming back to a more even keel – both life-wise and fiscally.

For me, the first major sign of this came this weekend, which went thusly…

On the Saturday, I went to meet up with friends in Nottingham. When I left home, it was a decent day, so I didn’t bother checking if I had a jacket/coat with me. (You can see where this is going already, can’t you?)

By the time I was halfway up the M1, it was absolutely slashing down, waterlogged roads the lot. “Bugger”, thought I, “but at least I’ve a jacket or coat in the boot”.

Once I got to Nottingham, it was still pissing down, but I parked up, and opened the boot. Jacket, there was none. Coat, there was none. Fuck it, thought I.

Due to being (as always) pathologically early, I still had the chance to go and buy a new jacket, so I did.

And that was the sign of being OK again. It wasn’t a worry, I knew I had the available money. I could afford this extra unexpected expense, and it didn’t mean I was concerned about what’d happen at the end of the month, what would be needed to counteract this item.

It’s still annoying, because if there’s something I really didn’t need, it’s another bloody jacket. I don’t even wear them most of the time. But needs must when the devil drives, or when the clouds open. It’s one of those things, a bit annoying, but better to have a day of not being soaking wet and enjoying things far less as a result.

But it was positive for showing the process of recovery after the shitty job…

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…

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