Thursday 31 January 2019

I Can't Get Down

Nothing funny or interesting happened to me this week, but I did hear a great story. I had read about a woman who got stuck in a tree while trying to rescue her cat (which was stuck in the same tree). Apparently our fire brigade is so stretched and so risk-averse that they won't get cats out of trees anymore but they will rescue cat owners.

My mum's friend spent a good amount of time in Sweden and told us about a challenge that their fire brigade often face. Elk like apples and will search out the trees or break into orchards. A hungry elk can also clamber up an apple tree in search of food! Moreover the windfall apples are often starting to ferment and the elk have a low tolerance for alcohol. One of the courses that the Swedish fire brigade run for their recruits is how to rescue a drunken elk out of a tree.  Judging by the amount of elk meat that gets served the woman telling the story did wonder if the elk are "rescued" with a captive-bolt gun and a hacksaw.

Richard "call the elk brigade" B

Monday 28 January 2019

Supply and Demand

If it weren't for double standards I wouldn't have any standards.

In most economic matters I'm very pro free market and competition. Let the consumers decide how they wish to prioritise their desires and let the invisible hand balance supply and demand. I find it trivially easy to understand how rent controls destroy accommodation in a city. When the tickets for a concert sell out in a single day and then turn up on ebay at twice the price it strikes me that the tickets were too few or too cheap and that the touts are doing a valuable service. I'd rather pay an entry fee to walk on Dartmoor than fund all of the national parks through my taxes and I think parking should be paid for by the hour and roads by the mile.

But god damn isn't it unfair when rich people have taken a liking to something you want and pushed the prices out of your reach!

It's the time of year that I'm planning and booking track days. I have a friend in the South East whom I like to drive with (I trust him with my life, my car, and to a lesser extent my expensive tyres and friction materials) and he can easily put me. The nearest circuit to his house is Thruxton but I don't like it (too fast, too frightening, nowhere to overtake, doesn't suit my underpowered car). I searched outwards in a spiral from where he lives and found the perfect track day. It's less than an hour away, it's a lovely circuit, it's a full day, open pit lane and novices allowed. The problem is it's at Brands Hatch and because of its name and its proximity to London its full of millionaires and their supercars and I can't afford to go.

Travelodge in Bedford here we come!

Richard "Rand" B

Thursday 17 January 2019


Quotation marks (and quotation fingers) have a few different meanings. They demarcate the part of the speech which is attributed to someone else, they add emphasis and they sometimes show that the quoted section is wrong, euphemistic, imaginative, almost like a sarcasm mark. Like saying my blog is "popular".

In the run up to Christmas I got a card from my cleaner. The inside of the card was printed with the message With Best Wishes. When she signed it she also added double quotes around With Best Wishes so it looked rather like she didn't really wish me the best. My friends and I laughed about it and added lots of sarcastic quotation marks to our own Christmas cards.

The thing is that my cleaner quit last week. Maybe she hates me and she meant exactly what she wrote in my Christmas card.

Richard "Labour Relations" B

Saturday 5 January 2019

Flat Floor

I once visited the Boeing factory in Washington and there were a couple of things that I would have liked to see, but didn't. Instead of a giant pitched roof, the factory has a flat roof and a snowplough lives up there. They've also, apparently, got a bit of floor large enough to build a jumbo jet on that is flat and level to a few thousandths of an inch.

I used to be confused about measuring the suspension geometry of my car. When I do it at my mum's house I get good results and the numbers make sense. When I do it at home nothing adds up. One of my brothers once had to take an airliner apart and put it back together and have it come out exactly the same shape. He explained to me that it can't be done unless you are taking measurements from a floor which is flat and level. He didn't have a flat floor to work from but rather brilliantly made bits of one using dozens of scissor jacks, steel plates, and a laser level. I believe his crew were encouraged not to move them or kick them over while the job was in progress. I've got the same problem - my garage floor isn't flat.

If I were working for a racing team there would be an area of floor in the workshop that was known to be flat and level. In fact "flat floor" has now become a verb, you can have your car flat-floored, it doesn't mean that the floor is made flat, like "chiselled" it means that the tool is applied to the car - before the corner weights and geometry is adjusted. Cheapskates can't be choosers, and the car only touches the floor in four spots, so I have shimmed it up with cheep vinyl flooring tiles.

 In the racing team they would also have turntables or slip-plates to put the car on so that you can steer and adjust the wheels without putting any force on anything, my slip plates are made with more of the vinyl tiles - good side to good side with grease in between.

 They work better than I could have hoped.

Richard "Whitworth Three Plates Method" B

Wednesday 2 January 2019


The Saturday before Christmas I was running sound for my friend’s Oasis tribute band on their very last show.

It was well attended, drunken and exceptionally rough. The first fight broke out six bars into the first song and spilled onto the stage. The rhythm guitarist, who is normally very placid, was so annoyed at having to catch a falling speaker cabinet and having a drunken stranger lying all over his pedals that he kicked him off the stage with enough force to also tear the feet from one of my wedge monitors. Later the singer got a mic pushed into his teeth and I got beer spilled into my (valuable) mixing desk. I spent the whole time shoving the crowd and their drinks away from my station to the point that I ended the night with bloody knuckles.

Richard "As a practical matter - are we playing 'Stone Henge' tonight?" B