Blog

For a wider audience and instant distribution most of my thoughts go straight to Facebook. But for extending those thoughts, and to reach people who understand where I'm going, those thoughts may also appear here.

Unlike every other weblog you ever saw, this one is in correct chronological order so you can read it the right way round. But it always shows you the latest entry first so scroll up for earlier stuff.

The 2020 index will appear here in a mo ...

SuperPower

I remember long ago getting a clockwork train set for Christmas. On Boxing Day I was playing with it alone in the front room. One of the wagons would not stay on the track and kept derailing the whole lot. I couldn't find the cause and eventually lost my rag. I uncoupled the wagon and trod on it.

I had discovered my secret SuperPower...

F R U S T R A T I O N

I was immediately deeply ashamed of my ingratitude, an emotion reinforced by a strong wiggin' from my dad. It's only a SuperPower if you can control it.

Move forwards 20 years and I was working for a company manufactuing parts that depended on friction produced by tightening a bolt to stop a bush turning. Except in certain conditions they were failing. Those were the -40° conditions in Canada. It was a serious problem that could have brought down hundreds of miles of transmission lines and put power out in major Canadian cities. Not what you want at -40° !

I looked at all the variables; dimensions, tolerances, materials, methods. If the bolts were tightened with a torque wrench they were OK. If they were assembed with a pneumatic nut-runner to exactly the same torque they failed.

Solved it. The bolts were locked in place using Loctite. Wonderful stuff that has saved many a British Bike rider's sanity and maybe life. Tightening by hand was no problem but running the bolts in quickly during manufacture was causing friction heat and curing the Loctite before the thread was fully run down.

I took the solution to my design manager. He didn't want to know. The problem was no longer technical - it had become a political issue between Quality Control and Production.

It's a wonder there wasn't a smoking crater there and then. I put on my coat and walked out. After an hour or so the frustration pressure was back under controllable levels and we were spared a nuclear winter.

Move forward another 20 years. I had one of the early inkjet printers. Worked fine for nearly a year then it thought up problems as though it had Artificial Stupidity. It was costing a fortune in wasted ink, scrap paper and cleaning materials.

Eventually I bought a new one.

Normally when I junk a piece of electrical equipment I disassemble it for the screws and any thistles. You know, things you think "Thistle come in handy". Not this printer.

When no-one was around I carried it into the back yard, put it on a slab and smashed it to smithereens with a sledge hammer.

What did it achieve?Nothing.
What did it feel like?Bloody marvellous

That's when I lost my SuperPower. Since then frustration has been replace by my New SuperPower...

C Y N I C I S M

Money or your life

I transcribed all the old club magazines I could find onto this website. They are there to be read in our Megaphone section, for what it's worth.

It doesn't get a lot of attention except for a few waifs and strays who find it after Googling something that has been indexed by search engines. If you look at our Statistics you'll see it makes up about 10% of the number of pages but just 2% of the pages visited. It's a bit of a backwater.

But I know the considerable work that went into producing it. Members, who worked hard all day and were not naturally inclined to put pen to paper, made a special effort to express their thoughts and ideas for the amusement of their friends. The editor and his team spent hours slogging at the unfamiliar task of beating an ancient manual typewriter into the delicate waxy membrane of a duplicator skin, wrap it round the inky black drum of a Gestetner printer that had seen better days, and then crank its handle while trying to get the paper through in the right page order.

It was a Herculean effort by a good proportion of members. At its height we would go through that three or four times a year. The copies were then freely distributed to eager members on a club night.

At the end of the evening our club room was covered with discarded Megaphones. What else would you do with something that you have read? It's a throw away society, after all. But it just didn't seem appropriate after all our hard work.
(Luckily some folk did hoard them for posterity and LPMCC.net)

We tried to get the members to pass them on to other riders to encourage recruitment; maybe leave one at their local dealer or at the barbers. Not a lot of uptake.

So we put a price on the cover to give Megaphone an appearent monetary value.

We find it difficult to estimate the worth of anything except in terms of money.

When I worked in accident prevention I was miffed that my pal who worked for finance was on a much higher pay scale. He said it was because he could save or cost the company millions to which I responded that my work could save or cost lives. His answer was simple: Life is Cheap!

Cheap, but we still put a price on it. To estimate what remedial work would give a fair economic return for its investment we would evaluate the cost of the injuries and deaths that we could save over a three year period based on a table produced by the Department for Transport.

£ (2018 prices)
Accident/casualty typeCost per casualtyCost per accident
Fatal1,958,3032,196,534
Serious220,058251,458
Slight16,96426,087
Average for all severities70,79198,232
Damage only-2,344

So now you know. If you want a hitman to wipe out your bothersome neighbour, the going rate is about £2 million.

OK, Blamer

If you inhabit Facebug you may have come across shared posts about climate change that claim the innocence of older folk and blame the kids for our problem.

Most of my Facebug friends can see it for what it is: Someone latching onto a meme that reinforces their prejudice and bolsters their self esteem.

The right and proper response is "OK Boomer".

Nothing is achieved by stating the facts and logic of the situation.

  • Old folk behaved reasonably because they never had choice;
  • Kids are not in control (unless their parents abdicate)

We learned from Brexit that facts and logic cannot overturn deeply held beliefs.

That is something that is well known to politicians, advertisers and the media who really caused the mess. And something else they know very well...

Divide and Rule

Climate change (and other problems) aren't a matter of blame, it needs something doing about it. Arguing avoids the issue.

The kids aren't blaming old folk, they are calling the authorities and leaders to account to all of us. If older folk take it personally, maybe they have a guilty conscience.

Spanish flu

My father told me of his experience of the Spanish flu epidemic.

He was working as ships cook and steward on a steamer out of Cape Town. They picked up a German lady and her children from Luderitz in German South West Africa, who were travelling further up the coast to take passage on a ship for Europe. The lady contracted Spanish Flu and became very ill.

Two or three times a day my father disinfected her cabin and did what he could for the poor woman. This received criticism from the ship's officers, particularly the Belgian mate who said she should be left to die. My father's bitter response was "If you get it, you will die!"

His words proved to be prophetic. The German lady eventually recovered but the Belgian mate came down with flu and it killed him.

A corollary of this was that the grateful lady gave my father all the German money that she possessed although inflation had devalued it following the German capitulation. As soon as their ship docked at the lady's onward port my father took the money to exchange at the local bank. To his surprise he was given the original value because he had arrived before news of devaluation. He ran to the port to give the money back, but found that the family had already embarked for Germany.

Hyper vexed

What is the World Wide Web all about? It gets its name from the fact that it weaves threads connecting subjects together. It is written in HTML and that is short for Hyper Text Markup Language. The Hyper Text is what the Web is all about. It means links, the underlined words that usually change colour and have a little hand when you hover over them. Clicking it will whisk you off to another page that has more details about that particular subject. The idea is that no-one needs to copy-and-paste what is already available; someone else has the task of updating that page; credit is given where it is due.

On LPMCC.net we try to weave information into our pages with suitable links to let readers find more about something or somewhere. It also acknowledges that we value the linked organisation, such as a pub or café. Incidentally, the more links into a website from external pages, the higher that page ranks in Google searches.

So it is really frustrating when links cease to work. It damages our credibility and takes a lot of resources (ie time) to find bad links and correct or remove them. I spent all of Sunday doing just a few of our sections. There were almost a hundred duff links to be fixed.

Sometimes the link fails because the website has been abandoned. Usually it is when an establishment changes management and the new gaffer doesn't have the where-with-all to continue the site. Lack of time/money/know how for something with a low priority. Sometimes the organisation decides that it is easier to have a page or group on Facebug - OK for customers who are also on Facebug but further limiting access.

We also hate websites that are still there but horribly out-of-date. They have been there so long that they accumulate a good Google rank. But in March they are still advertising Christmas activities ... six years ago!

We try to make links as relevant as possible. That means researching for an appropriate page deep within a website. Otherwise we would link to their Home Page and leave you to wonder why we plonked you there. But some 'better' websites are updated frequently and the webmaster doing it will often change the name or location of the relevant page. The information is still there but not where it was. Broken link.

Some of the worst culprits, with scant respect for bookmarks and links, are big companies and local authorities. They have experts churning out large quantities of fresh and exciting material who should know better. It is so simple to leave a 'redirect' from an old and unused page to the new version. We do it on LPMCC.net all the time (when we remember). For example, many National Road Rally riders bookmark our Matrix page and some websites are kind enough to link to it. In the weeks approaching the event we redirect from last year's Matrix to the new version. Otherwise some poor blighter will be travelling to all the wrong places!

Sometimes we take steps to automatically delete bad links. We try to load a graphic from the target page and if it fails we hide our link to it. This week we added Fanfan's tribute to Rodney Taylor. Francois included a history of the Antelope MCC so we linked to that content on another website. If (and when) that ceases to be available we hide the link and show Francois' research.

Belt and braces.

- Ben Crossley