Friday, September 28, 2007

It's a sign!

Actually it's two, one on either end of the bridge notifying the world that the bridge will be closed on the 6th-7th and 13th-15th of October; so as I've said a couple of weeken... hold on 13th to the 15th. That's a Monday, they're shutting the bridge down on a Monday, on a normal work, school-term Monday. I'll think I'll take the day off.

Still nothing about STW, and still no parking attendants; I counted nine cars parked on the double-yellow, plus single yellow striped High Street just now with a tenth parked in the bus pull-in necessitating the bus to jut out even further then it usually does; not good when one of the nine is parked just opposite.

Oh and the Worcester Road works have progressed down to OGL, narrowing the length between themselves and the island to about 7 car lengths (join the queue in Gilgal), on the plus side they are at least picking up their skirts behind them at least to some extent.


Pretty yellow signs in York Street and Bridge Street; no not about the forthcoming roadworks don't be silly, this is to warn people about these parking attendants that are/will be operating in the area. I can understand the deterrent factor, after all that's what it should all be about, but isn't the contra view that anywhere without these signs should be posting "You can park here illegally with only a low chance of getting fined" signs?

Something I've mentioned about attacking symptoms and not causes, in this case why do people park illegally in Stourport? Because the car-parks are some distance (i.e. walking) from the town and the minimum charge is for an hour, if I'm just going to pick up a paper or withdraw some money (something that should be quick, but often isnt') I'm not going to all the hassle to drive to the car-park, dig out exact money (because they don't give change), walk to the store, make my purchase, then walk back. Doing all that will take say ten minutes, parking illegally directly in front of the store and popping in - five or less.

We do have parking bays in High Street if I recall correctly they're hour-stay onlys, but are they monitored? We have the free car-park in Vale Road, but you need to both cross the three-lane road then face a shortish walk to get into town; there's the pay car-parks next to the Civic Centre (including Raven Street), but as I've said minimum's an hour.

So how about setting aside part of the main Civic Centre car-park as a short stop 15 minutes for 20p no return within an hour - just as an experiment? Hell make it free, just make sure it's monitored.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Just stuff

Just some bits and bobs.

Strobing blue lights and a quick burst of sirens last night, a police car pulling someone over for what sounded like "failure to indicate" yep the officer wanted to check the guy's lights were working. I could go off about why aren't they chasing down proper criminals, but I won't because I was actually impressed.

Talking about road use, has anyone seen any parking attendants yet? Call me crazy, but wouldn't the best times to patrol be when the parking time restrictions are in force?

The works on Worcester Road have migrated slightly downward making the stretch longer, sadly the inter-red times don't seem to have altered making the chances of one set of lights going green before the lane is clear slightly greater. Really only noticeably only with streams of traffic.

Something I forgot to mention about the delivery to the building work at Thomas Vale opposite OGL was that I believe it was for the fencing rather then the building itself; prior to this I recall a workmen on the pavement holding back one of the large boards that threatened to fall down. Some braces have now appeared on the other side, but you can still see a noticeable kink in the line.

If STW are planning on starting work on the 1st they're leaving it a bit late to tell people using the road, roadworks on the major routes get all sorts of notice... oh hold on isn't that when it's the Highways Agency doing the work; silly me Utilities just turn up one day and start laying down cones.

The WFA site hasn't been updated in a while, I guess Tav is busy sunning himself on a beach in Californ-i-a. Oh and for some reason the Stourport Carnival site has been disabled. In conjunction with her physical move Suzie appears in the middle of a virtual one too going from artography to beyondwords. Likewise Gail was shifting her site, but that doesn't seem to have happened; she's been posting details on the PASS 2007 event, but also started to write about her roleplaying group (which I find more interesting :-) ) The scenario sounds very chthonian, though without the sanity loss.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Stourport Carnival Photos

That's the last of the actual parade photos uploaded. The first one was 3840, the last 4231 and there should be about 180 of those in my Stourport Carnival set now; so about half which isn't bad.

Stuff on the field including the hawks and prize-giving runs from 4232 to 4494, and the illuminated river boats and fireworks from 4495 to 4571. I'll be starting on those next, should be quicker to sort.

and just to make it explicit I have no objection to any of the organisations who had floats using these pictures on their site or in their promotions, just give me a credit :-)

Millfields meeting

Apparently the Millfields meeting was well attended with two IHC councillors and the mayor-elect in attendance along with around 40 residents.

Alterations from the original approved plan was discussed, and the reason for some houses not getting leaflets revealed - the councillor used the plans to estimate the number of houses and layout and found it bared little resemblance to reality.

The item I was originally asked to keep stum about was discussed, the actual deeds attached to the sold houses, which apparently not only mention a kiddies play area (non-existent), but the fact that the roads would be brought up to approval no later then six months after the last house was built.

STW also aren't happy with the drains and asked for the plans, with no reply; and the councillors have asked for the final plans, again with no reply. Breach of planning and breach of contract maybe?

A residents association is being formed, with voting for members etc which I'll give as much notice as I can for.

In the news.

So first off Burma, with reports of tear-gas, shooting and arrests against the Buddhist Monks. Damn straight too sure they may be unarmed and say they're non-violent, but I've seen the movies they're all kung-fu bad-asses; better to get them out of the way now.

Our illustrious leader Golden Brown laid down his sternness on the junta by demanding that they 'don't shoot too many of their unarmed civilians please, pretty please, we'll be your friends if you don't'. Shrub laid down his law insisting on more punishing sanctions against them and their backers, so that would be the Chinese - the ones who are holding a ton of your debt and could crash or at least seriously devalue the dollar. Expect a finger wagging.

Of course it's easy to go for Burma, we don't really get anything important from them otherwise we'd never have let them gain independence in 1948. The Chinese supply them with weapons, the Indians buy their gas. If the Western world (or at least its companies) had major holdings their it'll be 'Go Junta' rallies with reports of violence being 'greatly exaggerated by the media'.

UFOs, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Madeline McCann; the connection - myriad sightings backed up by grainy photos.

Caught the Mark Ronson video featuring Amy Winehouse performing a cover of "Valerie" by the Zutons and was surprised at how well Amy had scrubbed up; one close-up revealed off course that it wasn't actually her in the video. Perhaps she should think about employing that young women as a stage double, she could do the hard bits like standing upright on stage while Amy can lounge backstage with the microphone and a bottle of vodka; just a thought.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Come fly with me.

Just been trying to book flights for a friend with bmibaby, finding the flights was no problem it was the input of information and the price creep that annoyed.

'Daytime contact number', he hasn't got one he uses his mobile and oh look there's a field for 'Mobile number' so one blank and one entered. Email address, again he hasn't got one, leave blank and no I don't want to be spammed.

Click. "You haven't entered an email address are you sure you want to leave it blank?" Yes, "You haven't entered a Daytime Contact Number" sigh Cut and paste mobile into daytime, click. "You haven't entered a Mobile Phone Number" paste, click. "You haven't entered an email address" I know you've already asked me if I meant to leave it blank and I said yes, nope you need an email address.

You can pick you seats, normal seats at £5 extra leg-room £12.50 - bloody hell. Oo you can say you don't want to pick some seats, but chances are you'll be split up.

How many pieces of hold baggage are you taking at £5 each.

How are you paying - Credit card is an extra £4.99, Debit an extra £1.99, Visa Electron is no extra charge

Couldn't enter the expiry date. I could pick the month, but every time I selected the drop-down for year it would change focus back to the month field. Typed it in.

Print off the three pages of information due to the confirmation being on page 1, then ads then the actual details split between pages 2 and 3.

Easyjet, went straight through with flights and information £4 for two pieces of hold luggage, same charges for credit cards etc. and printed off the first page of two which had all the information needed on it.

Hey guess which site I found to be the easiest to use.

Pickup queues

A quick detour to pick up a parcel, useful that I go past the collection point as it closes at 12:45 weekdays open from 7 though. I say quick I left early and sat in a queue at the bridge. A big block o'something sitting outside Salford House, so I don't know if they'd just had a delivery and blocked the road up; incidentally someone mentioned that they had floodlights on the scaffolding at about 1:30am and he had seen people working inside at other times.

One quick pick-up and back into the queue, hmm. The normal up Vale Road and down Gilgal up to the island and stopped; not the lights? Nope the new development opposite OGL appeared to have a couple of big lorries making deliveries and were parked and reversing back down roads etc. at ten to bloody nine. Gee when do we get a lot of traffic, say it wouldn't be around that sort of time would it?

Oh and a reminder of the meeting tonight at Wilden about Millfields

Monday, September 24, 2007

Severn Trent Water, and parking

Okay that was spookily quick, one handwritten note and a shiny (well matt actually) leaflet later.

Severn Trent are starting work on 1st October in Bridge Street and High Street for about 2 weeks; and a set of three way lights will be put up. Presumably at Bridge Street, York Street and New Street; that'll be interesting. After that they'll be shutting down a lane in York Street for about three weeks, which will make sod all difference because one lane is permanently blocked by parked cars anyway.

Sadly the happy new leaflet isn't about resurfacing in Bridge Street, but about changes to parking enforcement, yup it's being decriminalised and WFDC are taken it over; hopefully they aren't thinking about making it self-funding (the goal of parking enforcement is to stop people, the goal of self-funding is to hope it still continues).

Anyhoo apparently this momentous change occurred on 17th September (only a week late in telling us; improving) so we should all keep an eye out for the Parking Attendants "Dressed in distinctive uniforms". Hopefully they'll deal with the Lloyds Pharmacy van this morning parked half on the road and half on the pavement across the double yellow lines and single yellow stripes, next to the No Loading between 8am and 9am sign; oh and the two cars parked just now in the same situation next to the No Loading between 11am and 3pm sign.

Hell if they do the job York Street might actually have two lanes clear (when STW have finished) and somebody might feel it worth while to <gasp> re-paint a lane divider down it... nah!

Adverts, programmes, and more death

"Oh that advert where they clean the penny, I don't believe that" Well I don't believe that atrocious dubbing, good old Cillit Bang never letting standards rise.

Two hair shampoo adverts (featuring women of course) Head and Shoulders that can leave your hair up to 100% flake free and Nutrisse (or however it's spelt) which can cover up to 100% of your gray hairs. Uh-huh 0% is 'up to' 100% gimme a range here.

And what the hell is Howard of the Halifax doing walking his shopping in the... damn rhymes with teeth 'When I'm walking my shopping in the something, I want a credit card that has some teeth' Like a park, anyway why do you want a credit card in the park? Actually on second thoughts I don't think I want to know.

'"Does you air-freshener sometimes get a bit overpowering' well yeah if you spray half a bloody can about it does.

New Diesel aftershave ad which of course is as pretentious as all the other perfume/aftershave ads (bar Lynx). Diesel "Fuel for life" just remember not to drink it.

Oh and applause to Evans for not only producing clothes of size 16 and above, but actually having an advert featuring a women with some nice curves to her to model them.

One big surprise - a switch from a programme to the adverts where the adverts were quieter, woah, that was until we got to the end and got some promo for 'Z-list celebs ballroom dancing in tutus on ice while performing surgery on animals and giving fashion tips and showing the best method for wallpapering a room' where the volume seriously surged.

Not forgetting what the hell was that all about on GMTV this morning where that girl felt she'd been humiliated on X-Factor. She couldn't sing, couldn't dress, and hey no-one forced her on to the programme; boo-freaking-hoo.

On a sad note a fatal stabbing of a four year old and injury of a fourteen year old in Yorkshire, don't expect a media circus as they've already got two suspects and it appears to be a domestic dispute so no chance for hand-wringing vultures declaiming the downfall of civilisation, or bemoaning the so-called justice system in the lands of Johnny Foreigner.

Bridge Street and Millfields Estate

More on the road improvements, firstly Bridge Street. We got a blip from the Shuttle and on the Wyre Forest District Council front page (exactly the same text).

So here we get a full overview of what's happening - well maybe.

The improvements will include new lampposts, the block paving of most of the pavement and new bins and direction signs. The scheme also includes new and refurbished street nameplates, a 'gateway' feature and a public art project.
Wow you know that sounds exactly the same as the plan proposed last Spring when the
partners asked the public for views on the ideas
So has anything been changed following those comments? <shrugs> Who knows, what comments were made - who knows? Might be buried somewhere in a meeting report, of course you'd have to pick the correct committee (or committees) then pick the right meeting (or meetings) to find anything. That's assuming it was debated by WFDC and not Worcestershire County Council.

So where are the plans of the new works, when will they start, when will the roads be closed (if they are); why don't we get to know this stuff?

Secondly I've just this minute been handed a flyer from the Independent Health Concern reps for Mitton regarding the problems on the Millfields Estate. An open meeting has been arranged for tomorrow (Tuesday 25th September) at Wilden Village Hall for 7pm to 9pm.

Okay first of a big round of (non-sarcastic) applause to the IHC for doing this, for holding it in the closest public meeting area, and for doing so at a time when people should be able to attend. On the downside it appears that they only leafleted the main roads, people on the sidings didn't get notified. So if you're reading this and got a leaflet tell your neighbours.

I must make a point that this is in effect a prelim meeting, only the two IHC councillors are likely to be there, no developers etc; if enough people turn up and vent then the next is likely to feature some people you can shout at ;-)

Oh and still nothing from the Conservatives, Labour, or Liberals; it might not be your ward, but it may never be if you don't show some interest.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Hello again 21C

So I've finally got my parents to splash out on a Freeview box with a recording facility like mine, in fact exactly like mine the Humax 9200T (which now also comes in black as well as silver). There are some good reasons for this, firstly I'm happy with mine, and secondly when they forget how to work it they've someone to turn to.

Anyway a quick flick around gives me the cheapest price of £180, amusingly Comet are doing it online at this price but £200 in store, so I'm going to go and haggle with them; if they don't bite there's always Curry's and Amazon et al.

The one problem I might face is the version of firmware it comes with as the latest OTA was 06, but the latest on the site is 15. The nasty apparently is version 10, where the use of PiP eats space on your hard drive without returning it except by formatting; if they've got that then I'll have to upgrade them.

Easier said then done. Despite having a USB interface, you can't use that to upgrade the firmware you have to use the DE9 RS232 on the back, that means a null-modem cable. Now for starters how many modern computers even feature a DE9 output, and then how many people happen to have a null-modem cable lying around? Sure you can pick up a USB-DE9F cable, but again is that something that people just have spare.

Fortunately I have a laptop with a D-sub 9 output, but despite the fact I was sure I had a null-modem cable I can't find it. Amazon do one for £3 which is fine, I'm just ticked that I would possibly even need to find one of these in this day and age.

One might say that all this is because you should wait for the Over The Air update, but the actual update procedure is a cakewalk - download the software, download the update, hook up your system and tell the software where you've saved the update file, and then sit back and watch. The hassle is the physical requirements.

[update - one spanking new box for £180 with all the latest software pre-loaded - yay! Small hassle with the auto-tune as it was picking up a weaker signal from another transmitter, which meant me wiping and manually tuning it, but so far everything's fine and my parents had fun in rewinding a film they missed the start off. Next-up explaining the intricacies of Pausing and Recording.]

Just some stuff

Finally got around to trying some of the different goodies I picked up from Hotel Chocolat last week, the white chocolate Strawberry & Cream's are very nice, the insides are more fondant then runny or solid which I prefer; the milk chocolate Mandarin pieces aren't quite as nice though, even the women selling them said she preferred the raspberry alternatives. Anyway I'd also picked up the box set of chocolate slabs, which I'm looking forward to opening and dishing out.

Bloody annoying that I seem to have Lil' Chris's cover of "We don't have to take our clothes off (to have a good time)" running constantly through my hand, for starters is it Li'l Chris or Lil' Chris as I seen, besides as it's a contraction of Little shouldn't it be Li'l' Chris? Either way I don't normally have time for anyone who uses Li'l' or starts pieces to video with "Yo".

On the use of language I found it worrying watching a ten year old attempting to read something to camera, more worrying was watching him just attempting to use the English language (and yes it was his native tongue). It happened to come up in conversation with my mother, and she mentioned how she'd dragged me up "There was never any bow-wows, no gee-gees; there were dogs and there were horses. I always talked to you as an adult... I worry if that was the right thing to do" The answer of course is I don't know, there's not another version of me around to compare to; although perhaps one indication is with stuffed toys.

I had a big blue and white bear (which now belongs to my cousin), a Birmingham City one; I never supported football and still don't, but the bear was simply "Bear" or to distinguish it from a smaller brown one I had "Blue and white bear", I had a monkey hand puppet which had a squeeky bulb in it's mouth and wonderful soft fur (which the girls liked to stroke - heh) which was "Squeeky monkey" or just "Monkey", a stylised cat was (can you guess?) "Cat". I did have one stuffed animal that had a name an anthropomorphic frog called "Kermit" on the grounds that, well, it was specifically a "Kermit the frog" toy.

Perhaps as a result I've never understood the need to assign names to toys or for that matter to line them up in the rear screen of my car; or to assign 'personalities' to pets. It's a stuffed pig, it's a dog, it's a cat; they either don't think or do so in ways we would have difficulty getting our heads around. Before anyone gets worried about sociopathic tendencies I would like to point out I have no difficulty with other humans; I just don't do it with anything else. I can grasp intellectually why people do this, I just never had or see the need to do so myself.

Another indicator is perhaps in how I treat children. I am aware they don't have my experience and have less knowledge to draw upon, but other then taking that into account I don't see why I should treat them differently to adults, hyper-bloody-active adults, but still... well people. All this preserving childhood blah blah is a myth and a damn recent one at that, some actions most children aren't emotionally ready for, some are simply a matter of age; but if you treat children as children, don't be surprised if they act that way. The most important task of an adult in this regard is to prepare them for adulthood, and you can't do that with bow-wows and gee-gees.

Road fun

Bit o'fun on the Worcester Road last night, we hit scenario three with the traffic from the island backing up to the lights and flowing over it. This in turn pushed the traffic from the lights to the island and should have eased it off if it wasn't for some selfless individual who had left a gap for the Hartlebury Road traffic to get through. Some of the outgoing traffic got so fed-up they tried to drive past those blocking the single lane by driving up the dirt side of the road, which sadly would only work up to a certain point before you would be forced back onto the main road... or at least you would be if there weren't cars blocking your way. Anyway so far we've been lucky, but this is what happens when you get a bit more traffic flowing through, well, our entire town; everything starts to jam.

On the Millfields estate side, I mentioned they'd raised some of the drains and manholes in preparation for some road-laying, well I've been told they've come back and lowered the drains on the grounds that it's 'unlikely anything will be done for a couple of years', note they haven't lowered the manholes (yet) which are the biggest problems to cars driving along. I might have some more news on this, but for the moment I've been asked to keep stum.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What month is it in support land?

Ah good old British Gas, they sent a letter telling us they were fitting a remote-read metre while I was on break some time ago making me run around to make sure someone knew what was going on and would be in; then promptly fitted it to another unit.

So now we get the second bill utilising this wonderful technology and woah that can't be right; one phone call and one hold queue later

"Hi British Gas can I take your name"
"Yeah it's [name]"
"And how can I help"
"Uh account number?"
"[account number]"
"So how can I help?"
"To start you've got the site name wrong [they're addressing it to the building they said they were fitting the metre too] it should be [site]"
"Okay I need to go through the security questions to enter this screen - What's your telephone number?"
"[number, which is public]"
"[postcode, which is public and on the invoice]"
"and how you normally pay?"
"[pay, which if Direct Debit is also on the invoice]"
"Okay I've changed that anything else?"
"Yeah can you bring up the latest invoice dated [date], do you want the number?"
"No I 've got it in front of me here"
"Okay can you see where we've been charged [units] from the 2nd August to the 28th?"
"For Dec and Jan Weekday off-peak rate?"
"It's August!"
"Yeah... what's the problem?"
"For the Dec and Jan rate"
"It's August!"
"... let me put you on hold"

One lengthy hold later I'm told to ignore that invoice and that they'll be looking into it.


Always nice to see other people squirm, in this case it was on display with ITN last night talking to a representative of the US State Department about the removal of Robert Mugabe

'If he keeps this up he should be removed' stated the representative
'Are you planning on doing that?'
'I think that should be up to the people of the country'

Ye gods is this an example of the US government actually learning something?


Young or old it happens to us all, we perform some repetitive task our hands/feet/fingers just do it without any conscious thought; or we carry out some action so often all instances blend into one and something interrupts us and we think am I doing this right, did I do this? I think the only difference between the ages is that the young get annoyed or shrug it off and the old worry about it.

Happened to me last night as my fingers flew over the alarm keypad without looking, I was about to hit the last key and stupidly looked at what I was doing and froze in thought - 'Did I get that right, should I trust I did and carry on or reset everything and start again?' I simply had no memory of what buttons I'd pressed. I trusted my instincts and carried on; it worked. Walking out the door, I thought about what had happened, does this happen more with age or do we just worry about it more, and how I'd pop this thought onto my blog. I got into my car drove off and then thought 'Did I lock the works door?' <sigh> Yes I had.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Compulsory voting

Some quick thoughts based on Elee's entry regarding compulsory voting.

First we have the interesting situation of making choice compulsory, the only way out of that is to have the choice of not choosing. As it stands at the moment that means intentionally spoiling your ballot, the difficulty with that is you can't distinguish between those doing so with that purpose in mind and those doing so by accident. We already hold investigations when there appears to be an abnormal number of spooled papers so either the numbers would be ignored, leading to potential 'fixing' of elections; or you investigate it every time, which would be a waste of everyone's time and money.

This leads to creating a specific option to 'not' vote the "None of the above" option, unfortunately as diogenes commented it requires the politicians to ask "Shall we give the public the chance to tell us that we are all rubbish?" this can be imagined clearly in any election where the majority voted for NOTA. What authority would any elected body hope to expect?

The phrase "duty and obligation" cropped up to in the comments section, and I agree the vote was fought for and should be used, but don't the politicians also have a duty and an obligation to make us want to vote? If you have to force people to do so (even if a NOTA is included) doesn't that indicate a failing in the politicians we're supposed to be voting for?

Perhaps the difficulty lies in that, despite all our grumbling, we're too comfortable; the policy decisions made by the various parties are either too complex for the lay-person to understand, or simply knee-jerk reactions that we're all getting a bit fed-up of. What overall difference has a Labour government made over a Conservative one, what difference would a new Conservative government make, what would a Liberal Democrat one do? To my mind only superficial shifts, the bedrock policies of this nation will remain unchanged and therein perhaps lies the problem - what's the point of voting it never seems to make any real difference who gets in.

The parties could try to differentiate themselves more, but could end up polarised along extremes; they could try to explain the complex issues in an easier way, but could make themselves look condescending; they could avoid the prevailing wind policies, but could make it look like they're not in touch with the 'people'.

So what's the answer? Is there one? <sigh> expect to see adverts featuring celebrities telling 'da youth' how cool it is to vote.

Flip the Pimp

Not a thing I would normally do, but I know someone selling this whonking great (as in size) Capodimonte piece of the Last Supper on eBay and due to the size and weight it's really a collection only rather then postage. So even though he's willing to travel some way it really limits it to the locality; hence the pimpage.

Anyway a smaller piece (but in pristine condition) went for $1,950 and his minimum is £75 so if anyone's interested have a gander.

Digging up the town

Well as the saying goes if you're going to make life a misery make it a big misery or if you're going to dig up part of the town then you might as well dig up the lot. The lights on Worcester Road haven't been too bad; the timing doesn't allow enough traffic through to feedback, but does allow enough so you don't feel frustrated.

Don's pointed out the lights in Lickhill Road, and I see this morning that the right-hand lane of Gilgal has been blocked off; no wait the top one-third of Gilgal has been blocked off on the right, the remaining two-thirds have been blocked off on the left.

[Additional - Re reading this I spotted that I didn't mention that the Gilgal chicane vanished the next day; either they finished real quick, they they got the wrong day, or they were meant to do something and couldn't. The last two options being the most worrying]

I'm just waiting for York Street or High Street (or perhaps both) to get the same treatment. Hopefully just before they start something on the bridge. Hey folks just avoid our town altogether for the next couple of months.

And just out of pure curiosity has anyone seen anybody working on Salford House on Bridge Street since they put the scaffolding up in the middle of August?

Stourport Carnival

Yarrr me hearties, some of ye landlubbers may have noticed that I be starting to ship them their photos I took of Stourport Carnival. I be sending them out in batches so ye should keep your eyes on the horizon for more sightings.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Oo more traffic lights

I saw them setting them up yesterday and they were up this morning on Worcester Road, now I see this playing out in one of three ways

  1. The traffic queues both sides and goes through smoothly.
  2. The traffic builds up from the lights to the island, Hartlebury Road gets trapped and Gilgal builds up, amusingly the Worcester Road traffic now flows with more ease.
  3. The traffic builds up from the island to the lights, overflows across the lights blocking the traffic from the island; which then traps Hartlebury Road, which lets the Worcester Road traffic out, which frees the blockage until it happens again.
Ah well we'll just have to wait and see.

Northern Rock - the saga continues

There I was going to get my righteous on; how can the government guarantee the bank? Doesn't it just encourage other banks to take high risks, fail, then get bailed out?

After all people invested in this bank because of the preferential rates, how do you think they could offer them? You took the risk and you've got to take the consequences when it all goes wrong.

Then a bloody BBC reporter punctured my wrath by stating that the money only becomes available should Northern Rock go bust.

It's still not good, and you can bet that should that occur those at the top of the tree will barely notice before being slotted in some other top spot at another institution. If it doesn't then the prop by the BoE will keep it stumbling along for a while, before it, well, collapses.

Oh and we did get some guy at the FSA stating that now with this backing it would be irrational for people to pull their money out; yeah 'cos you know people are well-known for making highly rational decisions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A bit o'shopping

So a trip to Merry Hell; some stuff I needed and just some general browsing. Anyway Battlestar Galactica Season 3 is out. £49.99 from HMV, £40 Virgin, £39.93 WH Smith, and £34.95 Sainsbury's oh and £37.98 from Amazon. Kind of fun when they put them next to Season 2 at £20.

HMV have obviously reopened and with a whole new look and a great smell of builders dust; big open aisles with flash shelves makes it feel even more sterile and unwelcoming.

Passing back and forth I ended up walking behind a girl who was wearing this severely short skirt and was hanging off the arm of her boyfriend; possibly for support. Seriously, from ankle to knee her legs were bone-thin up to a bulge inwards at her knees, before another bone-thin straight section that visibly angled outwards vanishing beneath the skirt. Now don't call me a body-fascist, but she was obviously happy enough to be wondering around showing her legs off. Sure she might have been ill, but if that wasn't how she looked normally why would she want to show herself off like that? And if she wasn't ill, what does it say when someone is happy to wander around looking like a famine relief poster child.

Looking at the traffic situation with the Dunley Road closed off for this week (it should be easily and quickly bypassable) I spotted something interesting on the Worcestershire hub, namely the Bridge Street work listed as starting on the 17th of September and finishing on December the 14th! Excuse me three months more unknown work starting today?

And yes I will post the carnival photos,hopefully tomorrow.

Northern Rock

"investors shouldn't be concerned [Northern Rock] say; gee that'll work."
I hate to say I told you so, nah sure I do. So the both the BBC and GMTV show us queues of people outside of branches of Northern Rock, well actually they both showed us a queue outside of one branch at Kingston-on-Thames. A cynical person might wonder if that was the closest branch to their studios, but of course I'm not that person.

The current chancellor Whosisname decided to go for the soft option and appear on the GMTV sofa to face those challenging questions. Quite amusing when Fiona did fire some off (later she revealed she had a mortgage with... guess who?). 'Isn't it the fault of banks lending out money at 5 times annual salary, 120% mortgages; why should we as taxpayers bail them out?'

No no no it's a loan, the BoE are loaning them the money. Uh-huh and if Northern Rock goes down they (we) get the money back how exactly?

Friday, September 14, 2007


So Northern Rock have required some assistance from the Bank of England, investors shouldn't be concerned they say; gee that'll work.

Anyway this is yet more fall-out from the US sub-prime crunch, and perhaps have an effect on the housing market, certainly more so then the yet again proposed 'build new houses' strategy from the government.

You can see why they'd want to do this it makes logical sense, a large number of buyers chasing a small number of houses means the price goes up; increase the number of houses, decrease the price right - wrong!

The problem is they're equating the housing market with the product market and it don't work that way. Remember when DVD players started to first appear, weren't they expensive! Well imagine there was only one DVD player manufacturer, all the retailers have to buy off them. To an extent they can charge what they like (too much and nobody buys from them), they can also offer better deals to bulk buyers. So now put two retailers next to each other selling the same DVD player, they sell at the same price; if one of the retailers got a better deal they could sell it slightly cheaper - this is called competition. Except why should they sell it for a lot less, price it just under their competitors and they could still make more profit then them.

Add in another manufacturer and the retailers can play them off against each other and overall prices will drop; and this is what we saw happen.

So let's look at the assumption here, the manufacturers and retailers want to sell their products; well duh! Except they could do that by ruthless undercutting, the bulk buyers could kill the smaller competition with slashing cuts; so why don't we see that by and large the difference in price between two stores selling the same product is tiny. Ah that's because of efficency and competition, the prices are already as low as they can get. So if it's all selling explain clearance sales. Either the retailer is not making a profit or they're still making one.

So if they're still making a profit why don't they sell the product at that price in the first place, because they can get more for it and here they price is set by the competition. If they're not making a profit why are they selling it at that price, because they need the space for other more profitable products and it's in both these assumptions we see the flaw in using this model for housing.

The assumption again is that property developers want to sell houses - why? Unlike retailers, once they've sold the house they can't fill that space up with another - it's a one-time deal. So why should they be under any pressure at all to sell? Once they've covered building costs they in fact they have less pressure in selling now then in the future what with the overall trend of house prices going up. So what price do they offer, well that would be the one set by the competition i.e. the surrounding properties.

So more houses means more competition, means a drop in prices - again why? See if a house is for sale at £125k and I build and want to sell an identical house in the same area then why would I price it less then £125k - because I want to sell it over the sale of the other house; but do I? There's a lot of buyers out there and at least two are likely to be able to afford this price and that's all we need.

All we require is enough people out of the pool of buyers to be able to match the number of houses for sale at that price; so where's the incentive to drop the price? Only if the number of buyers at that price level is less then the number of houses does it become an issue and the price drops.

So where are they pushing for more houses? In the areas with the most demand. See it ain't going to work.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Loading restrictions on Mitton Street

Noticed this on Monday, but they looked like pieces of yellow tape stuck down. They might still well be, but at the moment as well as the single yellow line parking restriction we appear to now have a single yellow line loading restriction too. For half of Mitton Street at least, the section outside the Hollybush. Of course now we just need someone to enforce them.

Bridge Street: Take 2

So here's the semi-official line, Worcestershire County Council have gone for overkill; they're only going to be shutting things down for a couple of weekends. Presumably it's easier for them to go for a blanket cover then apply just for the times they need; thus scaring/annoying the crap out of everyone.

Apparently they're looking at both roads and pavements (are pavements covered by the term 'carriageway'?), with talk that the road may be covered in the same sort of stuff as High Street (hence the cobble rumour) or it may be part of the Bridge Street refurb and just be this 'gateway feature' they were talking about across the bridge entrance.

Oh and fiddling with the street lights.

Yeah I know not much more, but my usual sources are almost as much in the dark as everyone else; not a good sign.

[Update 13/09 - Roads to be paved as normal, but may be coloured; pavements in blocks like High Street except for some parts, which will be in a different texture; and some paintings or some such on the pavements. Sounds like the Bridge Street refurb, except who picked the pictures?]

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I just want some mustard

I'm after a product, it should be easy I've got kind of addicted to particular type of mustard - Honeycup to be precise and I'm running out. Originally I got it from Waitrose, then Sainsbury's; but Waitrose packed up locally and Sainsbury's stopped doing it. First stop Google and it seems available if I want to get it from the States and if I want it by the case (which I might), but it's a little daft as it's a bloody English company making it.

Okay Waitrose. Hmm wants a postcode, but is side-steppable by clicking on the Waitrose Direct Grocery link, and there it is £1.79 with a £5 delivery charge... oh and a minimum spend of £50. I don't think so, nearest branch is Droitwich so not in any way a bad trip just seems a shame and waste to head in just for that.

Sainsbury's up next, no muss no fuss straight into the shop for groceries and away I go. Nope they don't do it, incidentally delivery charge is £6, but the minimum spend is £25.

Onto Tesco a click on groceries and wine/groceries and... a please log on or register. Um no I just want to find out if you sell what I want. I don't want to sign up for newsletters or be put into your system. Oh well let's see if I can get in.

I tried just hitting Register, but it validates; not only highlighting the offensive in red, but also via a pop-up demanding an email address. Heh nope I didn't enter my Clubcard number, oh wait I don't have a Clubcard I should just tick that box stating

"Don't have a Clubcard? Click this box: †"
Wait what's that symbol for...
† By ticking this box you are signing up to and joining the Tesco Clubcard Scheme
Woah there horsie. Excuse me not only can I not even peruse your wares without handing over my email address, but I have to sign up to your loyalty scheme too?

Oh look a pop-up after ticking that box
To enter an existing Clubcard number click cancel.
To continue to create a new Clubcard click OK.
<sigh> Anyone looking for option 3 will be disappointed. Oh is taken let's try @foobar instead. Heh I'm in, oh now it doesn't recognise my postcode of XX99 9XX, I'll try SW1 2AA instead (Number 10). Damn residential only - SW2 2AA? Yep Oh great now it wants me to fill in all these contact details. Nope sod off I'm not giving whoever lives around that postcode a slew of leaflets.

So here's the thought - imagine translating the online stores to the bricks and mortar equivalents; Sainsbury's I could walk straight in through those big doors and start looking around; Waitrose was a couple of guys with clipboards you could brush off; and Tesco's was the equivalent of airport customs and those guys over there snapping the latex gloves on.

Who do you want to shop with?

Yet more roadworks on the horizon

I held back on this until I got some sort of confirmation. Apparently a notice went into the Shuttle on the 30th August regarding work on Bridge Street, as you might expect this was the one week I didn't get a paper and by the time I find out the next one was already out. Anyway Pauline over the road took a copy and has rung up to, well to put it bluntly, find out what the bloody hell is going on.

We're not the only ones wondering as this letter attests.

Here's the exact wording of the notice (but de-capitalised)

(A451 Bridge Street, Stourport-on-Severn)
(Temporary Closure) Order 2007

Notice is hereby given that Worcestershire County Council intend, not less than seven days from the date of this Notice, to make an Order the effect of which is to close that part of A451 Bridge Street, Stourport-on-Severn from its junction with York Street to its junction with U11140 Harold Davies Drive.

The Order is being made to facilitate essential carriageway repair works.

There are exemptions in the Order to permit access to any land or premises having a frontage to the highway affected where there is no other form of access; and to allow the necessary works to be undertaken.

The alternative route for those affected by the proposal will be via A451 Stourport Road, A443 Ombersley Road, A4133 Main Road, A449 Worcester Road, A4025 Stourport Road, A451 Mitton Street, A451 Lion Hill, A451 York Street and vice versa.

Proposed Temporary Orders can continue in force for a period not exceeding 18 months or until the works which it is proposed to carry out have been completed, whichever is the earlier. However, it is expected that this order will only be operative for 30 days commencing 29 September 2007.

Dated: 30 August 2007

Simon Mallinson

Head of Legal and Democratic Services

County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester

So they want to shut down exactly the same area they did for one weekend, but this time for a whole month. Okay stop for a minute that's what they wanted to do for the bridge repairs (though for three months), but everyone said no way in hell, and now the WCC has decided they're going to do it! Seriously no way in hell, they're diverting the traffic as below for anyone wanting to get from one side of the river (Green to Red) to the other in a vehicle.

okay for some reason embedded a Google Maps iframe not only returns permission error, but then proceeds to frick up the editor so you can't take it out again anyway here's a link instead.

For a whole bloody month! Mr Cooper is right how the hell was this decision made?

Rumours time -

1. first they're only doing resurfacing, but as the Water Board want to lay some pipes they're only going to put down a temporary surface, then open it then close parts off so they dig it back up, then close it to resurface it.

2. They're resurfacing, but with cobbles. No not strips down the sides like High Street, full-on cobbles. Nope they can't do that on a major road.

Finally 3. They're putting in new kerbing and starting work on the piazza to the basin.

Holy Bad Puns

Dig out your Bat shark-repellent, kick up the bullet-proof soles of your shoes - BBC4 are showing the original 60's series of Batman tonight. I'm not sure if I can take it, but I will at least don my rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia to watch the very first episode of the 34 episode run.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Stourport Carnival a fun day out.

Miss me? Nah anyway normal service is resumed.

So the carnival - a bit late on the reporting front, but hey better late then never. I took a wander down to Areley Kings to get some photos before they set off (friends heading back told me I'd missed the judging not that I cared) and then some more off them setting off. Great fun squeezing the floats through the exit. So in no particular order we had a marching band, apparently arranged in order of height; the fire trucks; a mini-tractor, with a display of tooling; another mini- tractor with flowers; some old police cars; the church float; a Disney character float; a Pirates of the Caribbean float; the Drop the Beat float; the kiddies Cats float; a Viking dinghy; the lifeguards; and of course the Carnival Queen and attendants.

I got some nice pictures of the Queen, the Princess and the Rosebud. The Queen gave me a smile and a pose, the Princess had a big grin on her face and was was happily waving, the Rosebud seemed a little fractious. i followed the procession down from Areley Kings, jumped ahead at the bridge where they met the walkers and got held up by an ambulance trying to get past (then a Doctor's car trying to turn out of York Street to the bridge); then I had a rest on Vale Road. They all caught up then they had a rest too, an unplanned one I believe as none of the participants seemed to know why they'd stopped. Anyway refreshments were grabbed and consumed before they set off again.

They turned off Vale Road to get to Lombard Street and I met them coming the other way and walked against the flow; then I headed back down Vale Road and High Street while they negotiated Lion Hill and York Street and then met them at New Street and headed onto the field.

Caught the end of The Lady and the Sax (not my thing) and then took some pictures of the crowning of the Queen etc. Now people there's a traditional reason why the person doing the crowning stands behind the crownee and that's because we're interested in them and not the back of the crowner. Taking the crown from the previous holder - standing on the left, crowning the new one - stand on the right. As a result I was moving back and forth and always managed to be on the wrong bloody side.

Grabbed a hot-dog, noted the filthy nails of the guy serving me and got another from the other stall found myself a place to sit next to the field and waited for the next act.

Debbie Davenport and the bird display, falcons and owls flying around one at a time; one owl called Darwin was much more interested in the crowd then Debbie's lure and ended up perched on top of the previously mentioned purveyor of hot-dogs, then flew off into the trees. As a result we got several minutes of Debbie calling him before she finally gave up and got out the next bird.

I got some reasonable shots, most of the peregrine being a blur. A difficulty was that as the birds were flying so fast I wanted a focus lock before I needed it and so focused on Debbie - who then moved towards or away from me just as the birds came in. Ah well.

Next up was the Crystal Cheerleaders who appeared to be a bunch of eight year olds. I'm sure it's fun for their parents, but it leaves me cold and a little shuddery so I headed off for some real food. Watched GK Pyrotechnics (think that was the name) back their van into Harold Davies Drive and come to a halt with the timely help of its street sign.

Back for the river parade and due to the work on the bridge they could only come through one at a time, that was as soon as the River King got back and moored. I had a nasty feeling it would moor directly in front of me at its normal dropping off point, but I assume it used the other tie-off next to the fairground (presumably annoying the throngs who were gathered there). The boats were fun and I enjoyed the tank, the announcer was a bit of a pain as we were closer to the boats then she was we got to see them first then she'd announce that one just as the next was in our view; likewise on the return she'd ask why the banks and the bridge weren't cheering the incoming boats the answer being because we couldn't see them what with those honking great trees in the way. The underside of the bridge itself was lit up with lights, I'm guessing as a navigational aid what with the scaffolding still in place, but as the point was to see the light display of the boats, not a great aid.

Anyway another wander through the amusements staying close as the guide said the fireworks were being set off from the field. Wandering - wandering - bang, huh? Obscured by trees from my position I headed back to the field (apparently there was a count-down, which I missed due to all the music from the amusements). Found myself on the wrong side of the field and headed to the river bank and mixed with the crowd who were crammed into the only vantage point not obscured by trees (still not sure where they were letting the fireworks off from). Anyway managed to get some decent shots.

All in all for the day I only managed to take about 700 photos, heh. So I'm going through them and trying to sort them by float etc. Oh and a hello to the guy with the sharp hat if he's reading.