December 06, 2005

Och aye the snoooo

A little over a week late, this post, but never mind eh? Just some photos from my time up in bonnie Sco'land, on a site visit in Angus.

My flight up was delayed due to thick fog all around the UK. This meant Avis had given away my rental car by the time I got to Edinburgh airport, but it worked out well in the end: instead of the requested Corsa, I landed the next free car, a 1.8i Vectra. I was very glad of this later on. "Steady but a bit soulless" is possibly how I'd describe the car – but being steady came in quite useful.

Horizontal snow on the Thursday curtailed our survey, so I took an exploratory long way back to the hotel in the falling dark and fallen snow – it was either that or be back in the very small hotel before 4 pm with nothing to do all night. I stuck to the relatively clear main roads. Come the next day, I was glad of the practice.

The wind was really quite strong and the snow getting heavier, so I decided to head south before I got snowed in. Roads around Perth & Dundee were reportedly bad, so I took the "main" road west past Alyth, through Blairgowrie and on to the A9 at Dunkeld (placenames mentioned for the benefit of a local friend who might be reading this!). That was the most stimulating part of my driving up there – still lots of snow/slush on the road, and big puddles all along it, with associated sliding and aquaplaning dangers. Very satisfying to drive along the twisty route at a safe but decent pace. The weather did get worse, though. The M90 was horrible – see pics below – and was actually closed northbound shortly after I'd come south past that point.

Then I had a fun time in Edinburgh with a friend and, eventually, came home!

November 27, 2005

George Best RIP

A little late (I've been away) but RIP to a very talented sportsman with a controversial lifestyle very typical of sporting megastars of his era (witness also James Hunt, F1 world champion). A man whose death was long expected – I could almost say deliciously anticipated, by some of the media – and has been publically mourned. This entry isn't about him.

You'll probably have missed it, what with all the front pages, back pages and souvenir pull-outs in the papers in the last couple of days, but Britain has lost another sporting hero far more tragically this weekend, and it happened with barely a trace of coverage. Richard Burns, the first and only Englishman to win the World Rally Championship, passed away over the weekend, aged 34.

Burns had become the youngest ever winner of the British Rally Championship in 1993 with Subaru and entered his first WRC rally in 1998 with Mitsubishi. He rejoined Subaru, coming second in the World Championship in 1999 and 2000, before winning the title at the final round of the 2001 season, the Rally of Great Britain. (I was there, in my first year at Warwick, marshalling on Special Stage 6 with the Motorsport club).

He joined Peugeot as World Champion but, despite not winning a rally with them in 2002 or 2003, was within 5 points of the championship leader going into the final round, Rally GB, of the 2003 season. Driving himself to Cardiff in his road car a couple of days before the rally started, Burns passed out. After extensive tests, he was diagnosed with a form of brain tumour and prevented from competing again. Months of radiotherapy and chemotherapy looked to have helped him make a partial recovery, but his condition deteriorated again and even brain surgery earlier this year could not save him.

Family and competitors' tributes have spoken of a very gifted and intelligent competitive driver, a sharp wit and a man whose attitude in coping with a terrible illness was inspirational. May he rest in peace.

Richard Burns, 1971 - 2005

November 23, 2005

Off for a bit

No sooner returned than off again! I've not been anywhere up until now (except away from the blogs), but tomorrow I'm off to Scotland on a site visit to a nice open, windswept location near Dundee for a couple of days.

Scotland, you say? At the end of November? Windswept? What could possibly go wrong?

Check out that 46 mph northerly wind! Nice. Enough windchill for sleet in Portsmouth and Cornwall, never mind somewhere a couple of hours north of Edinburgh. It's gonna be coooold!

November 22, 2005


This is why phone keypad lock was developed, children. See my Sent Messages folder today:

A confused potentiometer salesman I had dealings with last year for Formula Student is probably wondering why Kenneth Williams sent him a text at 9:00 this morning. It was my jacket's fault, honest guv.

November 21, 2005

One year old (and a few days)

Happy birthday to this little creation.
Hoping all the hours it's taken are somehow still worthwhile.

November 13, 2005

A quick thanks

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

Cheers to those who sent a kind word after my post last week. The second half of the week got a lot, lot better as my workload improved and intensified (including having to drive 140 miles to a meeting, and back again; I enjoy driving, especially when being paid!) and I managed to meet up with some friends a couple of evenings.

Tomorrow's my fourth (maybe fifth) attempt to meet up with a Scottish friend from Warwick, who's working in my obscure commuter town down south. Excellent that we're so close, a shame we're both so busy! More photo society meetings are scheduled and hopefully I'll be seeing another couple of mates in the week. Then I'm off on a site visit to mid-Scotland next week, so I finally took the plunge and bought the iPod I've been promising myself for ages. Life is looking a little more funner.

November 11, 2005

Lest we forget

November 02, 2005

Oh the irony

*prints out another draft of the company's 18-page "Environmental Management Manual" and goes to put the kettle on*

In other news:

  • My first real paycheque is in, and it's four figures even net of the "emergency tax rate" I've initially been put on! Am sorely tempted to spend recklessly on exciting things like an iPod and the rent I owe my parents.
  • Boredom snacking continues apace.
  • It's a four-day week this week! I'm taking Friday off to enjoy our Formula Student prize, a factory tour around Triple Eight Racing, who prepare and run the Vauxhalls in the British Touring Car Championship.

October 27, 2005

The two o'clock mooos

Writing about web page

Everyone's had the email which uses the metaphor of cow ownership to explain various systems of government. A typical email might include examples like:

Feudalism – You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Pure Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours decide who gets the milk.
Representative Democracy – You have two cows. Your neighbours pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.
Communism – You share two cows with your neighbours. You and your neighbours bicker about who has the most "ability" and who has the most "need". Meanwhile, no one works, no one gets any milk, and the cows drop dead of starvation.
Cambodian Communism – You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.
Bureaucracy – You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. Then it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

But stumbling across Uncyclopedia (an awesome waste of time - it's like Wikipedia but... not. Go look.), I happened upon a page called You_have_two_cows. It's by far the longest list of variations on a single joke I've ever seen. Including (but by no means limited to):

England – You have two cows. They go mad.
Wales – You hyve two cwws.
Romania – You have two cows. You must bribe them first if you want to milk them.
Zimbabwe – You have two cows, they do not vote for you but you still win. You kill your cows.
Google – Results 1 – 2 of 2 for cows. (0.27 seconds)
MSNBC – You have two (CLICK HERE TO BUY VIAGRA!) cows.
Flamer – yor mom has sex with 2 cows
Shakespeare – Two cows or not two cows? That is the question.
Dickens – It was the best of cows, it was the worst of cows.
Golding – You have two cows. The nerdy one falls off a giant rock and dies.
Tom Clancy – You have two cows. They go to war with each other. It takes 1,300 pages.
Catholicism – If you have two cows, you deserve them.
Islam – If you have two cows, it is the will of Allah.
Pragmatism – There are cows.
Atheism – What cows?
Rammstein – Du… Du hast … Du hast zwei Kühe…
Eddie Izzard – Er… yeah… so… COWS!
Yoda – Two cows you have.
Tetris – You have two L-shaped cows, but you really need two I-shaped cows.
Monty Python's Life of Brian – Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the two cows ever done for us?
Keynesian Economics – You have two cows. Both of them are concrete.
Unimaginative people – You have two cows.
Binary – You have 10 cows.
Floating-Point – You have 1.999999999 cows.
Scientific notation - You have 2.0 × 10 0 cows.


(__) (oo)
/-------\/ ||
/ | ||----||
* ||----|| ~~
~~ ~~
div.cows {
text-decoration: none;
cows: 2;
border-left: 1px solid #000000;
20 GOTO 10

October 24, 2005

New F1 proposals

Writing about web page

Just so I can say "you heard it here first": this is what a Formula One car may look like from 2008, or even – optimistically – 2007 if every team agrees. (OK, 2008 it is then).

The big change is the design of the rear wing, to let cars follow one another much more closely and hence, hopefully, get a lot more overtaking. Slick tyres should make a comeback too!

The principle is to massively improve the ratio of mechanical grip (from the tyres) to aerodynamic grip (from the wings) – at the moment, aerodynamics disrupt the airflow so much that a car loses loads of front grip if it gets anywhere near a car in front. CFD simulations (see pic below) show the centreline air-pressure profile of the new rear-wing regulations – bottom – as much better than the current – top – one. If you're not technically-minded, trust me, it does.

With these regs, F1 should actually stand a chance of seeing some more overtaking again!

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