September Restart (Hopefully)

So, yes, I’m still alive. There’s been a bundle of stuff going on that isn’t blog-friendly (or even interesting) and August has been it’s usual shower of shit.

I don’t know why it happens, but it does, and it’s not a conscious process at all.  But I’ll have about two weeks where pretty much nothing goes right, and it whacks my brain hard, and then I realise that yes, yet again, it’s bloody August.

Obviously this year I also got slightly walloped by July, but well, who’s counting?

As is obvious, I got through it all – and in fairness, it’s nothing major that’s been occurring, I’m still in the same house, same job, nothing epic has altered.  But it hits me hard anyway, like I’ve had enough energy to keep going ’til now, then I just feel like I’ve been slammed into a wall, and there’s little to no time or energy to do anything for a few weeks.

So anyway, yes, September. Let’s see how things go from here…


Credit Clusterfuckery

Over the last few years (well, really since the bankruptcy) I’ve kept a fairly close eye on my credit score – mainly using ClearScore (who use Equifax data) and CreditKarma (which used to be Noddle, and use TransUnion’s data). Both services are free in perpetuity, and have done a pretty good job so far.

Anyway, back in 2019 I’d put a few things on credit (intentionally) and then merged it all onto one interest-free balance-transfer card which gave me a longer term to pay things off.  And my credit score went super-high, and has stayed there since.

In the last couple of months, I’ve completely paid that off, and all my cards now have a zero balance – which is a pretty good feeling, I can’t deny.  It’s always been well within my means, but still, it’s nice to be completely clear.

However, that’s had a significant knock-on effect on my score – because I owe nothing, my credit score has dropped by about 10% this month.  I know it kind-of sort-of makes sense, that they ‘can’t gauge my indebtedness’ if that figure is zero, but it also means that I could utilise 100% of my income to go into credit, yet somehow that’s less valuable. As is, of course, the perfect record for borrowing and paying back.  (Albeit without paying any bloody interest whatsoever)

All of which goes to show, yet again, that credit-scoring really is a monumental load of old bollocks.


Jabbed 2

On Friday, I got my second Covid vaccination jab.  It wasn’t supposed to happen ’til 1st June, but as I live in the perineum between two hotspots of new-variant Covid increases, I’d decided to bring it forward a couple of weeks. (And obviously was allowed to do so via the NHS system)

As with last time, the entire process was quick and efficient, and went really well.  The biggest downside was that the nurse managed to stick the needle right into a clump of muscle tissue/fibres, which hurt a bit more than the usual one. “Oh yes, I did see it twitch”, she said afterwards when I commented on it.

Not, of course, that it matters a damn. If that’s the worst of what happens to me, I’m pretty fine with that.

Interestingly, this time I’ve had absolutely no side-effects at all – not even a sore arm.  And again, I’m not complaining about that at all.  It’s just it’s a bit odd, considering how many people seem to suffer those side-effects.

And it also triggers that little paranoid part of my brain that says “Well, if you’ve not even had any soreness, how do you know it’s worked, eh?”.  Which is bloody ridiculous, but still a thought process that’s been happening.

Anyway, it’s all done now – unless the PowerClowns decide we need a booster jab in the autumn/winter, of course.  But for now it’s done, and I am (or at least I will be) as protected as it’s possible to be.  Of course, that won’t stop me from wearing masks and so on – I think they’re going to be here for a while still – but it is good to know I’m doing what I can.


Renewals

As it turns out, this year it’s time to do a couple of renewals – both my Passport and Driving Licence will need replacing in the next couple of months.

The passport renewal was first, and came back earlier this week (and the old passport arrived today).  It’s been fairly painless, all things considered  (I’d rather have had a nice red EU one, but there we go)

Doing it all online, I also used my own phone to provide the photo, which was the only bit that was a hassle.  It took several goes, including a rejected one, basically because of wearing glasses. Any reflection in them causes the processing to fail – and even the one that finally got accepted was rated as “Poor” in the upload tool.  (Impressive, for a 12MP camera)

So it’s been a faff, but it’s also been painless, and generally quite efficient. I also set it up for text-message updates as it went through the process, which kept things informed.

Amusingly (and just to prove that they’re not really all that efficient) having received everything back, I also got a text message telling me that I could renew my passport easily by doing it all online…


Spamtastic

At the moment, I’m seeing a lot more spam comments here than I used to.

It’s not insurmountable – only about 15-20 per day, and none of them actually show up on the site – but it’s still a pain in the bum.

I’m not sure why they’re happening – nothing’s changed at my end, I’ve still got the same set of plugins running as always. So I assume there’s been some kind of loophole found, and the spammers are trying to take advantage of it. (Although it seems pretty pointless in a site as under-used and under-viewed as this one now is)

All told, it’s just something else, another irritation I could do without.


Smart Motorways, Dumb Drivers

I see today that the UK has decided to stop any new “Smart Motorway” projects, insisting that they need extra safety precautions.  This is primarily the aftermath of coroner’s reports into certain fatal accidents on these Smart Motorways.

From the article…

  • In 2019, 15 people were killed on “all lane running” and “dynamic hard shoulder” motorways. This is four more deaths than in 2018.
  • The number of people being killed on motorways without hard shoulders increased each year from 2015 to 2019, and totalled 39 deaths.
  • By contrast, on so-called “controlled motorways” – a type of smart motorway which have variable speed limits and a hard shoulder – there were 24 deaths in that period.
  • On conventional motorways, which cover more of the UK than smart motorways, there were 368 fatalities from 2015 to 2019.

The M1 around where I live was one of the first Smart Motorways, and I’ve written a lot about how stupid people can be on those motorways – particularly about the availability of lanes, and a lack of general driving standards (Middle-lane cunts and the like)

From my experience, a lot of drivers seem to be incapable of reading road signs saying whether a lane is open or closed (although also even whether the approaching junction is the one they want or not, until the absolute last minute)  This also seems to be borne out by the latest rash of road-safety adverts telling people that they should ‘go left’ in case of problems on motorways (and fucking hell, in my opinion anyone who needs to be told this shouldn’t be in possession of a driving licence!)

As an example of this, one of the cases the coroners were looking at was one local to me where the person’s vehicle had a problem, showed the ‘engine problem’ warning light, and they pulled in to one of the emergency refuge areas.  Now, when that happened to me, I got out of the car (in a snowy January) and called recovery to get me off the road safely.  But not this twerd, oh no.  They gave it a few minutes, started the car, no light came on, so they pulled out to continue their journey.  (The ‘engine problem’ light doesn’t necessarily immediately light up on starting – for example, if the issue is to do with the turbo, the EGR valve, air filter etc., it’ll only come on when you accelerate over a certain rpm limit, at which point you’re shafted)  And that’s what happened to Twonktacular – the light came back on, the engine performance disappeared, and they got hit by another vehicle.   Yet somehow that’s the fault of the smart motorway, not the dumbass driver.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a huge fan of motorways without hard-shoulders. And I’m sure there are considerations and gambles that have been taken about how people get to emergency refuge areas, how the road monitoring is managed/staffed and so on. But I also understand how impractical it is, with current traffic levels and so on, to have a quarter of each road surface only available to vehicles in emergencies.

All told, I don’t believe that Smart Motorways are inherently dangerous. I think drivers (and their decisions, or lack thereof) are far more dangerous than roads. You just can’t blame an inanimate road for human stupidity.


Slowly Opening Out

It’s been very quiet round here of late – mainly because of Lockdown 3.0, and there really hasn’t been much to do, or to report.

Thankfully, things seem to be slowly opening up again, and that’s making things look a lot more positive for the rest of the year.

Last weekend had some fun, in that the “Locked Up” crime writer’s online festival was held – organised by Luca Veste and Steve Cavanaugh (who also do the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast)  It was all done via Zoom, with a range of (roughly) hour-long sessions with various writers.  And it was thoroughly entertaining.

Even better, the entire thing was done to provide funds for The Trussell Trust, and was entirely reasonably priced at £20 for the whole thing.

I can actually see events like that being more common in the future – I think they make a lot of sense, allowing a sort-of-social event without needing to be social, and reducing costs along the way (it’s a lot easier to get people to talk for an hour from their own houses/offices, rather than having to bring them all in to a location, accommodate them etc.) while also opening it up to a larger audience, rather than limiting it just to people who can actually get to the location.