Petrol and Diesel

This week, one of the main stories in the news was about the UK announcing it had brought forwards a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to 2035 from its initial target of 2040.

That’s all well and good, but it does have its problems as well. To my mind, the biggest of these is the necessary infrastructure.

You can tell that the great majority of the people proposing these requirements (and expecting everyone in the country to follow suit) live in houses with driveways – or at least off-road parking – as well as the funds to pay for a significant increase to their electricity usage.

However, lots of people don’t live in those situations. Those in blocks of flats, for example, wouldn’t necessarily have access to anything. For those who (like me) live in a house with on-street parking – and even then it’s not guaranteed or reserved parking, so I regularly end up parking a distance away from my place – but even if I were parked outside the house, an electric car would mean dangling a power cable out of the house, and across the pathway that’s regularly used.  For that scenario, I’m honestly not sure what the infrastructure requirements would be – and I don’t think anyone else knows either.

The costs are another matter. Yes OK, you’re cutting out the costs of fuel, but if the demand for electricity shoots up that much, then so will the costs of it. Additionally, there are plenty of people who are on paid-supply meters, or high tariffs (whether because of laziness and not changing, or because that’s all they can get because of debt, income, whatever) and that can also be an issue.

Alongside those concerns – and just using myself as an example – there are plenty of drives that fall outside the range of all but the most expensive electric vehicles.  An ‘affordable’ vehicle like the Nissan Leaf, for example, apparently has a range of 135 miles. So I could do a return journey from home to London, no worries. But I couldn’t do a trip down to see my friends in Somerset (which I can do in 3 hours currently) without a recharging stop each way. (And again, they don’t have a power point for charging a car down there)  Same when I go to see friends in Manchester, or Newcastle.

Hell, I’ve even done daily commutes that would take me past that kind of mileage – and the office was (again) somewhere with no connection to a decent charger, it would’ve been power-cable-tastic – which would have been entirely impractical.

If that kind of target for everyone to have electric vehicles is to be realised, I think there need to be quantum leaps in several aspects, including (but not limited to)

  • Infrastructure for charging vehicles
  • Battery technology, to improve both the range of electric vehicles, and to improve the speed of charging
  • and to improve at-home-storage, allowing the potential for using home-based renewable generation – solar, wind, whatever – that can be stored to provide the charging without draining the grid
  • A huge review of the costs of that electricity, and to ensure increases to the supply that will handle all that extra demand
  • Consideration of the impact on petrol and diesel industry – including the effects of all the staff who might then be in less demand at filling stations and so on

Personally, I think a lot of stuff round electric vehicles is a load of old cock. I’m not convinced that they’re any more efficient (among other things, there’s a lot of power lost in the transmission over cables, so it needs a *lot* more generation in order to provide the supply) and while they’re less polluting at the point of use, I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything more than moving that around. We don’t know what happens with the constituent parts of the car batteries, or what happens when they expire (or when a car crashes or whatever)

I don’t claim to know what the answer is – but I also don’t think that a wholesale change like this is necessarily the best plan.  It needs a lot more thought, and a shitload more planning than currently seems to be happening.


Organising

Among all the usual stuff, I’ve spent some time this month getting things a bit more organised, and kicking off things that had slipped last year.

So in the last two weeks, I’ve…

  • Moved/merged my credit-card crap onto one interest-free balance-transfer card.
    It’s not a huge amount, and not something I’m worried about, but it’s good to have it in one place and no interest for the next two years.
  • Started playing hunt-the-pensions, seeing if I can find them and merge them into one fund, so I know where the hell things stand.
    I’m not expecting much, but again, it’ll be good to know
  • Started sorting a new will, as the last one was done while I was still with Herself. So yeah, that *really* needs to be sorted
  • Booked in cat-sitting people for all the stuff I’ve currently got lined up (which is more than it should be, but less than it could’ve been)
  • Actually also done less – in each of the three weekends so far, I’ve had a day of doing very very little, as per the plan for this year.  I don’t know if that’ll keep on happening (in some ways I’m finding it more exhausting than being busy, but I’ll write about that another time) but so far it’s worked out
  • Completed another project outside of my usual work, which has already made me more productive than last year
  • Oh, and visited my first Michelin-starred restaurant of the year as well (and it was bloody excellent)

It’s been interesting, and eventful – and it’s good to have some of that stuff checked off the list already


Into 2020

It’s been interesting (for no good reason other than that this is a year that ends in a zero) to look back at what was going on this time ten years ago.

It’s fair to say that a lot has changed in that time – albeit none of it recently.

Back then I was still in Norfolk, and working in Bury St Edmunds (and I did keep the promise to stick with the one workplace for the full year of 2010)  I’d just had the first (and still only) accident of my driving career, sliding on ice onto a set of concrete fence posts, which did a blinding job of twatting the front nearside.

So in that ten years, I’ve

  • split with Herself, had another shorter-term relationship, and been single now for much longer than either one.
  • moved four times – and been in one place (the current one) for far longer than anywhere else I’ve ever lived since leaving home
  • changed jobs more times than I care to think about (I could work it out, but truly can’t be chuffed) and been doing the current one for far longer than I ever expected
  • been through the whole bankruptcy process, and come out the other side
  • been to more plays and theatre things than I’d ever have thought I’d have been to
  • and the same for restaurants – Michelin-starred and otherwise. This time ten years ago, I’d not been to any Michelin places – that happened in mid-2010, and I wasn’t impressed at the time. Maybe I should go back there, maybe not.
  • changed car twice, and rented a bundle of others as needs directed

There’s a lot of other stuff – it’s interesting to see how a lot of the things I wanted to change then that I still want to change now, for example – and I’ll write more about that elsewhere/elsewhen.

It’s a whole new decade out there (and I can’t be arsed with the argument about whether that’s 2020 or 2021, so don’t bother) and it’ll be interesting to see what happens next.


Reinsuring

The world of Car Insurance is very, very strange.  I truly don’t understand how it all works.

My car insurance is due for renewal in October, so I recently received the renewal gubbins from my current insurer.  They’ve put my insurance up by £60 for the year.  Bear in mind, I’ve not even spoken to them all year, let alone made a claim, and I’ve now got another year’s no claims discount as well.  And yet it’s gone up.

So I shopped around, doing the usual comparison website thing (Meerkats rather than opera singers) and got one that’s actually £120 cheaper than what I was being offered by the current insurer – and with slightly better cover.

Brilliant, I’ll sign up and do that.  Job done. And this is where it all gets weird(er)

My new insurer is actually one I used a couple of years ago. So when I log in to their ‘self-service portal’ to see my new policy, all I can see is the details of the old one. Fuck sake.  (It looks like the policy is actually tied to a combination of my username and password – so I can change password, and now view the new details instead – but I didn’t know that at the time)

So first things first, I call my current insurer to tell them I won’t be renewing with them. It’s the usual automatic phone gubbins, and gives the name of the insurance provider – let’s call them ABC Insurers, for the sake of argument.   I give the correct information, go through, tell them I won’t be renewing, explain why, and it’s as easy as that.

Then I call the new insurers. Who are also using ABC Insurers.  So I go through the correct information for the new insurance, get things sorted, get the documents emailed to me, and it’s as easy as that.

But it’s weird – I’ve used two different companies (well, two different front-ends) and given them the same information (obviously) but one faction is offering me a significantly better deal than both the one I’m on, and the renewal quote from the one I’m on.  But they’re both the same company underneath!

How the fuck does that make sense? Offering the same person two completely different prices (and slightly different packages/benefits)  Why not allow my current insurer to offer the same price as my new one?  It’s all just a bit bizarre.


Halfway

Today, we’re halfway through 2019. The first half has been pretty good, but also has had its downsides and irritations.

So in the second half, I’m aiming to get rid of some of those irritations, and to get some stuff done that’s been hanging around for a while.  I’m not saying it’ll definitely happen, but I’m going to try, at least.

One irritation for me – as I’ve said before – is how much the noise of flies (and other buzzy bugs) annoy me. It’s something that I just can’t tune out, for whatever reason. When the weather’s warm, the food I have for the cats attracts flies, so it gets deeply annoying after a while. In previous years I’ve bought small bug-killers and so on, but they’ve never proved to be overly effective.  So this year, I’ve finally bitten the bullet, and bought one of the classic ‘kitchen’ big blue bug zappers.

So far (and it only arrived today) it’s seeming pretty decent – although the zap is pretty noisy! Hopefully it’ll prove more effective than the previous ones, and any flies this year won’t annoy me as much.

After that, well, we’ll see what other stuff I can get done and what other irritations I can get rid of.


Small Wins – Backup

Way, way back in the day – Nov 2006, to be precise – I bought a backup drive for all my music, photos and work. It wasn’t anything hugely special – a now laughable 320Gb drive – but it did what I wanted, and made sure I’d got everything preserved.  (Amusingly, I just took a look, and the roughly-similar drives now done by WD start at 3Tb!)

And then I moved a few times, and the drive got separated from its power brick, and I sort of gave up on it a bit.  Over the last few years I’ve mainly been using online backups instead (which mean that as soon as I save a file, it’s backed up, and synchronises to my other machines) and the drive became even less of an issue.

I always knew where the drive itself was, even though I was fairly sure I’d lost (or thrown away) the power lead/brick.  The drive has been on one of my bookcases, doing nothing except attracting dust.

Last weekend, though, I found a random power cable that looked like it might fit the drive.  So I took them both into my office this week, and gave it a go.

At the end of the day, I’d pretty much given up on it – it’s been sat there doing sod-all for a number of years, and has been carelessly moved, shoved in boxes and so on. So I expected nothing.

And yet, when I plugged the cables in and connected it to the laptop, it all worked. Straight away, with no issues, clanks, grinds, or other Warning Noises Of Doom.  Needless to say, I’m actually pretty impressed.

Of course, I’ll also now be working to ensure that a lot of it is backed up somewhere else as well, as that drive is distinctly venerable, but all the same, it’s a bit of a win for it all to have come back in the way it has.

 


Slump

Things have been quiet on D4D of late. Basically, I’m in a bit of a slump, and at the moment I’m not quite sure how to get out of it.

There’s a lot of reasons behind it, but mainly it’s down to an overbearing feeling of stagnation, or being a bit bogged down. I’m used to having change in my life, and at the moment it’s not really there. Some of that is inertia, some of it is still the final stages from the bankruptcy process and some of it is the current state of things. But it all adds up to an overall sludge – and while I know I want things to change, I also don’t quite know what I want to do next, or where I want to be.

Domestically, I’ve been in this house for seven years. That’s by far the longest I’ve been in any one place since I left the family home. I was looking at moving last year when the tenancy came up, but that was only just after the bankruptcy finished, and I didn’t want to push things while it was still showing up on credit checks and the like.  So I’m thinking about it for this year – but there’s also nowhere that’s dragging me, nowhere that I’ve been and thought “OK, this is where I want/need to be”, and it’s all a bit up in the air. There’s still time, though.

Workwise, I’ve been working on the same project for more than three years. (Probably closer to 4, all told)  And while we’ve got a lot done, there still feels like no end in sight (things keep on being added in to it, or stuff is more complex than initially expected) which doesn’t help. I like contracting in general for exactly this – that each contract is finite – even though they can (and usually do) get extended, they still have an end date where I can say “Nope, I’m done”. This one is open-ended, and it’s feeling more and more like a proper job and blah blah.

Outside of those two things, there’s so much doubt about what’s going on in the UK – with Brexit being delayed even further, it’s left everything in limbo again, of not knowing what’ll happen with it, and what’ll happen with jobs, economy and so on if and when it happens. I can’t deny, that all contributes to the current sense of stagnation.

I’m not depressed – well, no more than usual – and I’m still getting out and getting other stuff done. It’s just that I’ve not got the time or energy for anything extra. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I’m going to keep on working on it, though.  I know I need a couple of new projects to be getting on with – but I also need to find the motivation to get it going. That’s where the stagnation is really hurting – I know I need and want to change, but right now the drive to change things is also being blocked.

I’ll figure it out, I know – I always do, and always have done.  And hopefully it won’t take too much longer to turn the corner.