Tuesday, 31 July 2012

tax 2011-12

I haven't done it precisely yet, but it looks like I earned £19,090 before any overheads were taken off.

Between April 2011 and July 2011 I paid £2210 into some arrogant tosser's sports car fund.
Between April 2011 and April 2012 I paid £3743.40 for the lease of a tuition vehicle.
Between April 2011 and April 2012 I paid £776.56 to insure that vehicle.
I spent about £312 on advertising with google, and it was shit. I got hardly any leads in return.
I spent about £75 on topping up my phone.
I spent about £50 on a website and domain names.

What's that? About £7167. Then there's fuel.

To accurately determine how much I spent on fuel, I'd have to go through all my reciepts. This is something I will do at some point in the near future, but for now, a rough rule of thumb back of fag packet guestimation is about £10 per day. That's £3650 a year, except in a leap year, which 2011 wasn't.

So £19090
-    £7167
-    £3650
__________
=    £8273

Don't suppose there's much point opening a bank account in Jersey. The personal allowance before tax is £7475 for 2011/12, so only about £800 is taxable. 20% of that is about £160

And there will almost certainly be a few extra sundries when I go through my reciepts. I remember spending £10 on QR code stickers for example.


driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Pass Plus...

When I became fully qualified as an instructor, I initially joined the AA School of Motoring. Bad move financially, but they did at least pay for me to be pass plus registered (saving me about 30 quid) and gave me a free sat nav, which I still have and use, although the maps, being about 6 years old, are becoming increasingly prone to error.

The Pass Plus scheme is a course of post-test tuition that helps to broaden the skills and experience of new drivers. It covers motorways, dual carriageways, rural roads, city driving, driving at night, and driving in bad weather.

It involves a minimum of 6 hours tuition but offers no strictures on how to divide those hours. I tend to place emphasis on Motorway driving, since most of the other stuff has been covered in ordinary lessons. I also encourage people to do it all in one session.

This allows me to get them driving to somewhere quite exotic. I'd established a route that took us along the M53 and M56 before dealing with Stockport City Centre, and cutting across country to Glossop in the Peak District, and on over the Snake Pass. This last bit in particular is a spectacular drive, and marks the far point of our outward journey. We stop, have lunch, and head back around the north side of Manchester using the M67 and M60 before joining the A580 East Lancs road, a long dual carriageway that takes us back to Liverpool and Wirral. At this time of year, it's near impossible to include driving at night, but like bad weather, some elements are covered by use of questions and answers.

A few months ago, I attempted to visit Emley Moor Mast with Bren, but the weather was awful, and the cloud base was a few scant feet above the ground, so what we actually saw was a sort of concrete stump that quickly vanished into the murk. But the journey was not without use.

Once again, some of the scenery we passed through was magnificent, and the journey covered a wide varuety of road types, and was of a similar length to my established Snake Pass route.

You can see where I'm going with this, can't you?

Yesterday, I did a pass plus course with a former pupil. The objective was to get to Emley Moor. I knew some of the route from the previous attempt, but I also took the satnav just to help us.

And yes. It worked brilliantly. It placed the emphasis on motorway driving, but also included a lot of rural stuff, both open free flowing roads, and narrow twisty bits with cows and tractors and stuff. It also included a magnificent stretch of road between Mottram and Penistone. The A628.

Part of this road is also called the Woodhead Pass.

So that, I've decided, is the real reason why the Pass Plus course is so named. With Paul Sharp School of Motoring, you get to drive through some magnificent passes.


driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

Saturday, 28 July 2012

A yearish...

It's sort of a year or thereabouts since I last had a cigarette. I'm pretty sure it was last July that I stopped.

That's got to be worth a blog post.

driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Vrooom!

For Christmas (or was it my birthday?) My wonderful Wife bought me a supercar driving experience.

Today I took that experience. With me was my Stepson, Alex, who also had a voucher.

We had to be at the venue, near Stafford, for 8am, which meant leaving Wallasey at 6am just to be on the safe side. It's about 90 minutes away and at that time in the morning would probably be a straightforward journey, but I wanted to allow a bit extra. In the event, that extra wasn't needed. We got there, without any real mishap with plenty of time to spare. This meant though that the registration process was easy. We didn't have to wait in a queue as we were pretty much the first ones there.

We bought overpriced coffee from the inevitably named Pit Stop café and watched as the supercars were gradually brought on site.


The red one above is a Ferrari


 The yellow one above is a Lamborghini.

Alex was scheduled to do his drive in a Ferrari F430. I had the Lamborghini Gallardo. After more standing around, we, along with lots of other people were taken to portakabins, and given a safety video to watch.

Then back outside to wait our turn.


Those grey-white bits towards the right, above the red white and black cars are people waiting for their names to be called. The whole thing is a bit of a production line. I'd kind of expected that really, and was prepared to be cynical. Still I found a stirring of excitement and adreneline as I waited for my name to be called.


The Lamborghini Gallardo. A slightly old model. The latest ones have around 560 horsepower, but mine had a paltry 500. These things go through a gallon of petrol in about 18 miles, and chuck out over a third of a kilogramme of carbon dioxide for every mile they travel.

My name was called, and I got in and got seated and seatbelted, and then I was away to join the track. No time really to prepare or familiarise myself with the controls. Like I said, a bit of a production line...

The track itself is very simple, and not particularly long. Two straights, each of which ends with a shallow chicane, then a hairpin bend. that's it. The track has been formed by adapting a runway at an old RAF base.


I got to do six laps then it was all over. I was only driving for a few minutes, yet it actually seemed like a reasonably long time.

So how did it feel to be driving a Lamborghini? And how did I get on? I mean, ace driver driving instructor and all that. Spent far too much time playing Gran Turismo. How did I fare when put behind the wheel of a real sports car?

Well I couldn't go too far wrong. I had an instructor sat next to me, with dual controls at his feet, and he was giving me a constant stream of feedback about what to be doing with my feet, my gears, my steering wheel, etc. But I didn't do as well as I'd hoped.

To change gear on the Lamborghini, you have to make sure the clutch is pressed right down to the floor, and I mean right down. So I kept struggling to get the gear changes in without grinding them or not getting the gear in place. this took my attention away from other stuff, so my road position could have been better, and I couldn't brake as late as I would have liked, as I wasn't confident about getting a gear change in in time.

Still I got it right some of the time,



and when I did, the car pulled. And how.

exiting a corner at perhaps 20 miles an hour, I'd put my foot down in 3rd gear and suddenly, boom, I was doing 70 and the next corner was rapidly approaching. At one point I even managed to make the traction control engage itself.

And yet it didn't feel all that fast somehow. the Lambo is a big car, and its size and solidity made it feel less... well less chuckable I suppose.

Old habits too, die hard. I kept trying to check my mirrors. the centre mirror was turned away from me. It was for the instructors use, not mine, so I kept on trying to use my door mirrors instead. I kept letting the car just roll into stuff, without pressing any pedals, the way I'd do in an ordinary car. For balls out track driving, if you're not braking, you're accellerating.

So I could have been quicker, and other drivers were quicker than me. It was still good fun though, and it was an utterly fantastic present. It's something I've really been looking forward to.


Still, if I ever do anything like this again, I think I'd want to try something slightly different. Lighter, if less powerful. Lotus Elise, Caterham 7, Ariel Atom... That sort of thing.

After I'd got back, Alex got called, and he went out in a red Ferrari.


He came back thrilled with the experience. Something he too may choose to do again in the future.



driving lessons in Wallasey?

Monday, 23 July 2012

Backgammon players are people too...

Now then,

I spent an interesting old time last night on the dailygammon discussion board.

Dailygammon actually has two discussion boards, labelled "General" and "Politics", although "Moderated" and "usually unmoderated exceot in exceptional circumstances" might be a better description.

The general board is for backgammon stuff, and fluff, and uncontroversial things. The politics board is for politics, but also for adult humour, character assassination, squabbles, flame wars, endless bad tempered bickering, etc. Effectively it's a shit trap. It provides an outlet for the antisocial that only they will read. The vast majority of people will peek in from time to time, see the usual suspects calling each other nazis and cock suckers, and leave them to it.

Dailygammon is an  established online community, and like any other community, it has it's share of angels and devils, mature contributers and trolls, republicans and democrats, etc. It contains racists, bigots, bullies, and the occasional saint like me :)

If I were to state that bullying is a bad thing, most people would tend to agree. But what if the person being bullied is a bigot? Does this justify the bullying? Is it bullying at all?

Curiously enough, this last question was asked by someone who creates threads from time to time with the specific intention of attacking someone who's far right, zionist, islamophobic views are way out on the extreme right of the political spectrum.

If you're a dailygammon member, you can read the entire thing here: http://www.dailygammon.com/bg/forum2/politics/read/41313#57


The poster in this case posted to announce an informal survey to ask if people thought that the zionist was being bullied. Ironically, the post itself was an attempt to belittle the target. A couple of people responded "yes" but I went further, and accused the poster of being one of the bullies.

Unsurprisingly, this led to a confrontation. I've taken an absolutist position - that if you bully someone, then regardless of the motivation, you're bullying them.

Just a thought here. If you told Hitler to Fuck Off, would you be using swear words?

Let's turn it into a survey shall we?

  1. Yes. Fuck Off is a sweary phrase, ragardless of who it's applied to
  2. No. When you say Fuck Off to someone who you think is evil, it sort of means the same as "Fluffy Bunnies"  It's somehow not sweary.

The other guy blamed the zionist. When challenged, he attacked me. Then he was doing it because he was supporting some of the women on the site who'd been victims of sexual slurs from the zionist allegedly. If I had any decency I'd be posting sweary stuff on the boards attacking the zionist too.

It was starting to become repetitive, so I went off at a tangent. I googled "What is bullying?"

Much of what I unearthed stems from the same source - A guy called Tim Field

Tim's website was instructive. Here are my thought tht stem from it:

  • I was initially arguing intuitively, but the poster ticked almost every box.
  • I could not hope to change the poster, only to alert others to his real personality
  • I have been a victim of bullying in the past
  • I have sometimes bullied other people.
  • As I've grown more mature and more secure within myself, I've become less of a bully.
Eventually, since the same pattern of postings was continuing, I announced my retirement from the thread, and hid it. Hence I don't know which posts, if any, were deleted. I will not be checking in to find out. I hope I've alerted people to the second bulletpoint above. I also hope I've alerted the person that initiated the thread to the second point above, but with less hope. Still, this is an intelligent, articulate person I'm arguing with here. If I can grow, so can anyone else.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Liverpool Open - Day 2...

Well folks, I swept the board. I trounced every player that came before me today, and won both the main event and the one point side tourney.

£350 better off, thank you very much.

But sadly, only in my dreams.

I got off to a bad start, and things went downhill from there.

In the main tourney, I was drawn against Sean. He's a top player (ranked 32 at dailygammon)Sean beat me, 9 - 0. I scarecely managed to get a piece off the board. I was roundly trounced. Sean went on to be the losing finalist in the main tournament. I went on into the consolation tourney, the Liver Cup.

I played one of the locals, Angie. We know and like each other, and the match was much more light hearted than the previous tense one. First to 7 points, and I got myself into a strong position straight away. We'd passed each other. No further interaction was possible. It was a straight race to the finish, which I was leading, and the doubling cube was turned to 4. Then Angie rolled two consecutive double 6's. This turned the game right around and put her well ahead in the match. I don't remember the exact score but I think she won either 7-4 or 7-5.

Bugger.

I was now out of the main and the consolation. But I was still in the 1 point side tournament, and was automatically entered into the last chance tourney.

I played the next round of the 1 point tourney next. A close match against a guy called John. He won in the end and went on to win the 1 pointer. And fifty quid.

So that was almost that. Played three, lost three. And just the last chance tourney to play.

I was up against Noel. A cheerful Irishman, now living in the Isle of Man. I'd already met him the day before in the 1 point tourney and beaten him, but now we had a 5 point match to play.

At last the dice were with me, and I beat him 5-0.

My next opponent was David, but he was nowhere to be found, either inside or outside the building.

I went out into the garden and read Catch 22 in the sunshine.

Eventually David appeared and we played our match. And again, I got the upper hand. This one went to the wire though.

So then came Martin. Martin is a blunt, slightly caustic person. I can imagine him being a lawyer or something. He's obviously clever, and he's a pretty good backgammon player too.

Our match hinged on one roll. He had a piece on the bar, but I'd been forced to leave a blot - a single piece on a point. Martin doubled. I took the cube. He had to roll a 5. This meant he had a 1 in 3 chance of hitting me. 6 numbers, 2 dice...

Martin rolled a 5 and eventually won.

And that was that. My Liverpool Open had come and gone and I was heading back through the Mersey tunnel with empty pockets.

Great fun though. I won;t be getting hugely into live tournament play. It's an expensive hobby if you're not one of the very best players, but I will be entering the Liverpool Open again next year I hope.

A lot of photos were taken during the tourney. When they get posted, I shall grab some of them and post them here.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Proper backgammon, like what it's meant to be...

Today I participated in my first ever official backgammon tournament, The Liverpool Open.

I've actually been playing backgammon since my late teens but it used to be just something I did while getting stoned. I don't think I was particularly good at it.

then along came the internet, and I started playing online. After a decade of online play, my game has gradually improved and I can hold my own, even against some decent players.

Backgammon is not chess. It incorporates a degree of luck. Indeed, much of the skill in the game is knowing how to maximise the effects of your good luck, while minimising the chance of an opponent's luck causing you a problem.

Point being that in a short game, someone with only a basic grasp of the rules will occasionally beat a world class player but the vast majority of the time, despite it being a dice based game, the better player will prevail, especially over longer match lengths. The best players have their heads full of maths, They know the probabilities pretty much without having to think too much.

I've been playing in the Liverpool monthly meets. These are just one night per month, and you play perhaps 6 short (3 pointers) matches. The winner might walk away with 20 quid or so. Small beer.

This proper tournament though involved 64 entrants, each playing 5 matches in what is known as a swiss format. Each match was first to 9 points. Backgammon never ends with a tied game, and because of the way the swiss system organised the brackets, if you win 3 of your 5 matches, you'll end up in the top half of the bracket. If you lose 3, you'll end up in the bottom half.

I registered fairly early, and ended up playing a quick 3 pointer with a fellow competitor. He wanted to make it more interesting so we ended up playing for a fiver. I managed to beat him, so I'd got off to a really good start even before the tournament had officially begun.

I lost my first match, however, to a woman called Annette. It was close though. She was obviously a knowledgeable player, but my more intuitive play, combined with a dash of luck, meant that suddenly the game was at 7-6 to Anette, with the doubling cube on 2 but on my side of the board.

The doubling cube is what turns backgammon from a sort of complicated Ludo to something much more involving. When a game starts, the cube is between the players to the side of the board, and is set to 1. At this point, either player can turn the cube to two. That person's opponent then has to either accept the cube or forfeit the game. If s/he accepts, then the game is played for 2 points instead of 1, but they then have the cube. the person that doubled cannot redouble. the player who has the cube can turn it again, this time from 2 to 4. Their opponent then either forfeits 2 points or accepts that the stakes have been doubled yet again.

So it was that we were entering the closing stages of the game. She was ahead in the match, but I had the cube, and it was my turn to roll the dice. We were very close. I turned the cube to 4 and offered it to Annette. This meant, with the match score at 7-6, that this game would decide the match. She accepted, and it all came down to one roll right at the end. She'd had a slightly better run in, and I needed a double to win.

Doubles in backgammon are often useful because you can use each roll twice. When you throw the dice, you get two numbers, and can use each one seperately. So for example, if you roll a 6 and a 1, you haven't rolled a 7. You've rolled a 6 and a 1. You could use the roll to advance one piece 7 points further, but you don't have to. You couldn't move one piece 4 and another 3 though. Each die is a discrete number that has to be used as such. If you were to throw a double one though, for example, you might move one of your pieces 4 points forward, but you could also use the rolls to move one piece by two points, and another 2 pieces by one point each,  for example. A double 6, while not always that useful, can be very powerful in a straight race, because you move your pieces a total of 24 places forwards.

It was my roll, and I had 3 pieces left on my 1 point. Annette had two pieces on her 1 point. There wasn't a single combination of dice that would prevent her from bearing off her last pieces on her next turn. So I needed a double. It didn't have to be a double 6. Just any double.

I didn't get one. Annette won the match 9-6 but it was actually far closer than the match score suggests. She went into the top half of round 2. I went into the bottom half where I was matched against Brian.

Brian is from Manchester. I think he's a lawyer or similar, and he's won the Liverpool Open 3 times in the last 7 years. This too ended up close, at something like 6-6, before I somehow pulled in front and won 9-7.

Quite a scalp. I'd now lost one and won one. Mid table mediocrity. The format dictated that I was now paired against someone who had also won one and lost one.

Charles.

Charles really should have beaten me. I was hanging in there for much of the match, and he built up a decent lead and, needing just one more point to win the match, he was well ahead in the game. Then I got lucky. I rolled a double 5. It was the one roll, of all 36 available rolls that could really turn things around. From being trapped behind a wall of pieces, I'd suddenly got clear and it was now a straight race. It was a race that I narrowly won, and from there, I went on to win the next couple of games too, and so the match.

Played 3. won 2. Lost 1. I was in the top half of the draw and was paired up against Ron.

To play a 9 point match takes over an hour, unless reckless doubling cubes hasten things. It also takes concentration, and both Ron and myself had been concentrating for about 4 hours by the time we came to play each other. Yet another close match, against someone who I feel is probably the better player. And in the end, I prevailed here too. This match was notable for one incident.

I had the upper hand for a protracted period of play, trapping at least one of Ron's pieces on the Bar.

A backgammon board is comprised of 24 points. If you have more than one piece on one of these points, your opponent cannot land there. If there are no pieces on a point, your opponent can land there. If you put just one piece on a point, then not only can your opponent land there, your piece gets knocked off the board, and placed on the wooden divide between the two halfs of the board, - the bar. Until that piece has rejoined play, a person so barred cannot make any other moves, and they can only bring that piece back into play from their beginning  position. Since each player ends in their opponents beginning position, if one player manages to develop a wall of pieces in their opponents starting 6 points, they will struggle to get back into play.

And that's where I'd had Ron. Trapped on the bar, move after move, while I advanced my pieces. But then at some point, he managed to get back on the board. I made a move, then he rolled a double 2.

I had 2 pieces on his two point.

Frustrated, he picked up the dice.

then, a moment later, he realised that he could have played, because he didn't have a piece on the bar. Those 2's (4 of them, remember) would have put him in a really strong position. Having spent roll after roll bringing pieces back into play off the bar, his concentration had lapsed, and he'd picked up his dice without making a move.

Magnanimously, Ron accepted that he'd made an error, and play passed to me. I went on to win the game, and eventually, the match.

Played 4. Won 3. Lost 1. Because I was right up at the top of the bracket, my putative opponent had also won 3 matches, so we didn't have to play the final match.

I'm through to the main tournament tomorrow. That will be 11 point matches. 32 players will be in the main tourney. Straightforward knockout. I anticipate losing hard and early, and that's fine. In football terms I'd put myself mid-table, given the opposition. I've finished day one either 7th or 8th out of a field of 64. So I've already punched well above my weight ragardless of what comes tomorrow.

Somewhere along the line I also ended up in the last 16 of the 1 point tourney. I also bet on myself in the Tote. One of the Liverpool players is an ex-bookie, so he ran a tote thing. Without the slightest clue about who is a strong or weak player, I wagered £2 on myself.

It's been fun. If it also turns out to be profitable, that's a bonus.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

What next after this one?

In order to do my job, I need a car. How often do you hear that? But in my case, as a driving instructor, it's pretty much indispensible.

Some driving instructors buy a car. I choose to lease mine. Generally on a two year lease. I extended the lease on my previous car by an extra year, but I will not be doing so on the car I have now. It's a perfectly good car, but it's starting to show it's miles. The last car was pretty rough by the time I returned it to the leasing company. Also the car I have now is pretty basic. Just a standard diesel 1.4 litre Ford Fiesta. It does it's job but it's nothing flashy. When I chose it I was working for someone who gave me pupils in exchange for money. I didn't need an above spec vehicle to attract customers.

So it goes back towards the end of next month. What do I replace it with?

Well first of all, I guess I want to continue leasing, and to do so from the company I currently lease from. So my choice is constrained by what they offer, and their range is limited to a fairly small number of brands and models.

After some thought and research, I've narrowed my choice to two cars. The Ford Fiesta 1.6 tdci zetec and the Citroen DS3 1.6 HDi Dstyle Airdream. On the two year, 60,000 mile contract I'd be getting both are exactly the same price. £70.99 per week before VAT. The DS3 is being promoted. The leasing company are also promoting a couple of 1.4 litre diesel Fiestas for about £6 a week less but I want a 1.6. They're easier to drive, and, a little bit counterintuitively, tend to use less fuel than a 1.4.

Here's the skinny on the two models...


Ford Fiesta
Citroen DS3
GEARBOX
5 SPEED MANUAL
GEARBOX
5 SPEED MANUAL
ACCELERATION (0 - 62 MPH)
11.8 SECONDS
ACCELERATION (0 - 62 MPH)
12.5 SECONDS
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT
1540 Kg
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT
1602 Kg
WARRANTY
3 YEAR / 60000 MILES
WARRANTY
3 YEAR / 60000 MILES
FUEL ECONOMY
67.2 MPG
FUEL ECONOMY
76.3 MPG
EMISSIONS
107 g/km BAND B
EMISSIONS
98 g/km BAND A
TAX COSTS
£20.00 / Year (V.E.D)
TAX COSTS
£0.00 / Year (V.E.D)
FIRST YEAR COSTS
£917 YEAR ONE
FIRST YEAR COSTS
£808 YEAR ONE


I can't say it matters too much that one gets from 0-60 in 0.7 seconds less than the other. The Tax Costs are irrelevent because the tax disc comes as part of the package.

So from that, I'm tending towards the DS3. It's also a cooler car. That cachet could generate a few extra pupils for me.

There are a couple of downsides too. Firstly, the Fiesta is available as a 5 door (at an extra cost of £2.00 per week+VAT) but the DS3 isn't. Secondly, there would be continuity for my pupils if I replace my current car with the same model.

But after putting them head to head here, I find I've made my mind up.
 
driving lessons in Wallasey?

Sunday, 8 July 2012

autism

My wife thinks I'm probably somewhere at the mild end of the autistic spectrum. Infra red, rather than ultra violet. I've never been diagnosed as such, but that does make some sense to me. It goes some way to explaining why I really didn't get things until really very late in life. I still don't get stuff from time to time, and I even occasionally lose pupils because I'll say or do something, and will be blithely unaware of the consequences.

But social skills can be learned to some extent, andthings are better now than they used to be for sure.

Some observations:

  • When I was a child, my teachers were concerned, and I had to have an EEG
  • People often misread shyness for arrogance.
  • I'm really bad at dealing with when people wrong me. Instead it festers and comes out weeks or months or years later in unexpected ways.
  • I think my Dad may also occupy a similar position on the spectrum.
  • Obsessively maintaining certain behaviours, even when such behaviours seem from outside to be self destructive or extremely boring may also relate back to this.
  • I have a very short attention span if something doesn't interest me.
  • I'm inherently self absorbed, to the point of selfishness or self obsession at times.
  • Although I can talk intellectually about my emotions, I find it far more difficult to talk emotionally.
  • Some of the above is just part of being human, and in particular, being male, particularly the last one.
The medical person who did the EEG told me that it stood for ElectroEncephaloGraphy. I could spell it and pronounce it after a bit of practice. My teachers were concerned because I was in a world of my own, well away from the classroom. The EEG consisted of them taping a thing like a hairnet, that had a load of electrodes in it, firmly to my head. They did all sorts of things, some of which were boring, and others quite pleasant. The best bit was looking, with my eyes closed, at a strobe light that pulsed in a way that sort of made me high. I could have watched the patterns all day. The result of all this, if I recall correctly, was inconclusive. I remembered the exact phrasing of the diagnosis for years, but I don't remember now. "Non specific abnormalities" or something similar.

I once worked in a factory with a guy who was extremely quiet and shy. Half the people I worked with seemed to hate him. then, one day, in the canteen, one girl explained that she didn't like him because she found him arrogant. This was totally at odds with my impression of him but it did give me the insight made in the first point. If you don't know how to fit in or talk, people think you're deliberately being stuck up. this helps to explain some of the beatings I recieved in adolescence from my peers.

I would also say that arrogance is sometimes the nearest I can get to self-confidence. It's a poor substitute. Self confident people don't need to brag.

I've actually got one of those situations where I need to do something that may lead to confrontation happening at the moment. A cheque was paid to me as payment for work, then the cheque was returned by the bank as their account has been closed. I don't think it was a deliberate way of avoiding paying out £60. The people concerned live in a big posh house with two mercedes parked in the driveway. Closing your bank account is a drastic way of avoiding paying something that's probably small change to them. So it's probably something much bigger like a divorce or something.

Anyway, I need to contact them to explain that the cheque has been returned, and that they need to find some alternative means of paying me what they owe me. Yet I'm uncomfortable. I forsee bad vibes from it all, and I shy away from dealing with it. Instead, I feel like an injustice had been done.

This is a pattern of behaviour. It occurs in response to everything from the trivial to the life changing.

From my mid teens to my late 20's I really didn't get on with my Dad. We've belatedly realised that we actually like and respect each other, and that we have a lot in common, but for many years, our relationship was characterised by anger and suppressed confrontation. One of the first steps to repairing this was when I realised that my Dad is actually quite a shy person. Neither of us wanted things to be the way they were. Both of us felt a sense of frustration and injustice. Neither of us could find a way to make things different.

I don't actually rock backwards and forwards, but I will keep going back to the same things. Weeks stretch into months, which become years, and I'm still doing the same things. This is more complex than OCD or autism. It's also a form of existential escapism. A refusal to grow and change.

As a child, I was "into" things. Dinosaurs. Space. Aeroplanes. As I've grown older, the things that interest me have changed, but the underlying behaviour remains the same. I once read as example of autism that an autistic person may become interested in something - photography for example - They will be able to describe and list all sorts of different models of camera, and explain in detail the number of megapixels and the optical zoom range of each, without really being able to take a decent picture. This too is something I recongnise slightly in myself.For example being able to spell and recite words like "ElectroEncephaloGraphy" at a young age, without any real understanding of what it actually meant.

Anyway, night after night is spent up here in my room, farting around on the internet.

The years roll by.

As I come to the short attention span bit, I find I'm getting bored with writing this. It's becoming a bit of a chore. I shall move on to the next bit without further ado.

Well actually the next few points can sort of stand as they are. The last however, merits comment.

According to wikipedia, Boys are at higher risk for ASD than girls. The sex ratio averages 4.3:1 and is greatly modified by cognitive impairment: it may be close to 2:1 with mental retardation and more than 5.5:1 without

My impression is that the vast majority of tainspotters are male. So are the people you'll find outside airports with special band radios and binoculars.

While I was on one of my bikerides the other day, I was going along New Brighton Promenade. The tide was high, so the prom was lined with anglers. I could also say fishermen, because they were all, without exception, male. Each was wearing a light waterproof coat. Each had a blue tacklebox with the brand name, "Shakespeare" written on it. Each had a flask. Each had their own small section of promenade. Angling as Warholian Art Event.


 As seen on Google Earth: The prom, without anglers.

Right. Bored now. Publishing...


driving lessons in Wallasey?

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Ten miles and turbines.

Went out. Did work. Came home. Pumped up tyres. Went out on bike.

Cycled along the prom to Leasowe Lighthouse. A round trip of just over 10 miles. The first half was into a stiff breeze. The return journey, unsurprisingly was with the wind at my back.

There is a large offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay. It was visible to me as I cycled along the path next to the sea. This week's local rag featured a story that they intend to more than double the number of turbines, from 30 to 75. The development was opposed by (Conservative) Councillor for Hoylake, John Hale.

Hedescribed it as a visual blot, and suggested the money would be better spent elsewhere. I looked online and found that the story had moved on. Wirral Borough Council, which had originally supported the proposal, was now backing down in the face of opposition.

http://www.wirralnews.co.uk/wirral-news/local-wirral-news/2012/06/29/wirral-council-waters-down-burbo-bank-windfarm-expansion-backing-100252-31284988/

We risk being hemmed in by them apparently.

Anyway, I took a couple of pictures on my phone while on my ride today. This first one shows Liverpool Bay without turbines.




Then I moved my camera over a bit to where the wind farm is and took another picture. Neither picture has been processed or manipulated in any way.


Well OK. Crap cameraphone. I thought I'd missed them out of the first one, but you can see the effect by looking to the left of the first photograph. Perhaps you can cover the right half of the picture with your hand or a convenient rizla packet.

In the top of the picture is the sky. Then you get the sea, finally, you get a bit of land. Nature's majesty in all it's awe inspiring simplicity.

In the bottom picture however, these monstrous and huge constructions take centre stage. Utterly dominating the scene, they blight the lives of the people of Hoylake and New Brighton. And to think they want to put even more of them there.

driving lessons in Wallasey?

White Rabbits...

Last month, I went somewhat off the rails, aided and abetted by cheap and occasionally tasty alcohol. This month, I shall be attempting to get back onto them.

My goals are:
  •  To only get drunk once (as I was doing for the last few months)
  • To lose half a stone  (My weight has increased rapidly in the last month of sugar fuelled debauchery)
  • To cycle at least 5 miles every day, regardless of the weather and workload.
  • To get this bloody computer room tidied up. 



I would also like to apologise to my long suffering wife, for using one moment of bad behaviour on her part as an excuse for a protracted period of bad behaviour on my own. There's a difference between being treated like a child and being treated with concern and compassion, and I took full advantage of any ambiguity.

driving lessons in Wallasey?