Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Boxes ticked

Yes, my census form is now complete. I only had a few problems.

As promised, my ethnic background is "human".

There was a box to explain briefly what I did at work. That is impossible, and patent attorneys are notoriously bad at explaining anything briefly. I had just enough room in the box to put "Explaining things at much greater le", though.

My form had a printing error; there was a bit missing. So I've been helpful; I wrote in for them "No, I don't speak Welsh".

Finally, they wanted a phone number in case they had any problems. Again, I've tried to be helpful. There was a note on the front of the form giving details of a helpline in case you had problems with the census form, so I wrote that in for them.

Job done, I think.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Preparations continue...

... for the Caterham.

I've been reading the Caterham Assembly Guide, which Caterham very kindly allow you to download in advance to help you decide whether you can do it yourself, together with Tim Skipper's very good book written from his own Caterham 7 build diary.  I've also been googling for other build diaries, and reckon that I now have a pretty comprehensive list of the tools needed in order to get the job done (set out at the end of this post, if you're interested).

This has been carefully tabulated as an excel spreadsheet (geek? Moi?) and the tools I already own have been checked off.  That left a somewhat shorter list that I expected, which I forwarded to Rolson Tools, a client of mine who heard that I was thinking of this and immediately offered to help.  True to form, they supplied this box of goodies for a very reasonable price:

Someone will be getting a discount from their next bill, I think.

That leaves a much shorter list of tools, which I may suggest to any relatives who are wondering what to get me for my birthday.

Anyway, if anyone wants to know what I think is the complete list of tools needed to build a Caterham 7, here it is:

Standard Tool List
Socket set Metric
Socket set Imperial
Deep socket set Metric
Deep socket set Imperial
Spanner set Metric
Spanner set Imperial
Screwdrivers - Flat/philips/posidrive
Soft faced hammer - Rubber/plastic/copper/hide
Circlip pliers
Torque wrench 8-60Nm
Torque wrench 60-300 Nm
Allen keys Metric
Allen keys Imperial
Metric Hex bit set
Imperial Hex bit set (Note - Tim Skipper's book explains how to make these if necessary)
Measuring tape
Rivet gun
Twist drill bits Metric
Twist drill bits Imperial incl 5/32"
Crimp pliers
Axle stands x4
Mixing jug
Eye protection

Special Tools
Engine hoist SWL 150Kg
Large socket 41mm
Allen key 10mm or 3/8", cut down to 10-15mm height (the Assembly Guide explains this)

Recommended Tools
Dremel or equivalent
Small files
Metric Tap & Die Set
Jerry can
Centre punch
Foot pump
Tyre pressure gauge
Brake bleeding kit
Breaker bar
Side cutting Pliers
Brake line bending tool
Oil suction tool
Grease gun
Drive adaptor Set
Latex gloves

Rubber lubricant
Loctite Threadlock
Silicone Sealant
Bell housing cover sealant (e.g. Loctite Quick gasket)
Masking tape
Bearing grease

Engine oil
Running-in oil
Gearbox oil
Differential oil
Brake fluid
Tea (copious quantities)

Saturday, 12 March 2011


Today, I have been mainly outdoors.  A new gate is installed, two cars have been cleaned, one of them has been polished and waxed, a dog has been played with and has been walked.

Spring is coming.  Winter is receding.  This is good.

(Yes, we'll get hit by snow next week now that I've typed the above... mark my words)

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Sit Down and be Counted

Yes, our census forms have arrived.

Two, in fact - one arrived for my office, which highlighted that one of the few things it doesn't ask is "Is this a residential property at all?".  Thus, there is in fact no valid answer for this form.  Tempted as I am to write back and refuse to respond, so as to trigger a prosecution for failing to answer a census that offers no valid options for response, we are returning it with a brief note.

Anyway, I have issues with four questions, as follows, in reverse order of seriousness.

First, there is no question about how many dogs we have, or any personal questions for the dog.  How will we know how many dogs there are?  How?  What if government needs this information??  HOW WILL WE KNOW???!!

Second, I am being discriminated against in the form of question 17.  Apparently, question 17 for those in Wales is to ask whether or not they speak Welsh.  It is illegal to speak Welsh outside Wales?  What if I spoke Welsh and was proud of it?  How well do I need to speak it? (I can pronounce Dolgellau* half-decently - is that enough?)  I want to be asked whether or not I speak Welsh.  I may write in the answer "No, not really, if I'm honest".

Third, there is the religion question.  I'm not embarrassed about it or anything, I just think it's none of their business.  But the question is optional, so I won't be answering it.  Of course, if the question will not be answered by all, what is its value?  How will we know...? (etc)

Finally, the question asks for my ethnic group.  Now I have a real problem.  My approach to racial equality is quite simple; I don't care what colour you are.  I care whether you are a decent human being.  If you're rude, or offensive, or boring, or untrustworthy, then I won't wish to be friends.  If you're lazy, or incompetent, or untrustworthy, then I won't be employing you.  Whether you are white, black, yellow, brown, red, pink or green** makes not a jot of difference.  So as soon as I am asked what my ethnic group is, I am suspicious; the person asking is interested in it, in a way that I am not.

There is also a practical issue.  As you go back in my family tree, it becomes distinctly vague, and it does so very quickly.  I seem to be mainly light-skinned, but not as light as others.  Maybe that's because I prefer to be outdoors where possible, and because my preferred driving style is "with the roof down".  Or maybe there is a genetic reason.  I (literally) don't know.

In addition, there is the simple scientific fact that, ultimately, my ethnic background is from the Rift Valley in Africa.  Just like all of you, whether you like it or not.

So my answer to this question will be "Human".

*Doll -geth -lee

**OK, I might object if you're green

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Who said romance is dead?

Googledigook doesn't think so. Go & read his tale of social media romance.

Some things change.  Some never do.

BBC Harrassment

I have had a letter at work from the BBC, or at least the arm of the Beeb that trades as "TV Licensing".

It seems that they have assumed that, as an office, we have web access.  This at least is true.  Therefore, they reason,  as it is now possible to view live TV programs on the web, we must need a TV licence for our office.  Unless we prove otherwise...

Now that is odd, because the (very) little bit of legal training that I have did mention something called the burden of proof.  Something about the person who wishes to assert something being the one who has to prove their case.  Yet there is nothing in the BBC's letter which contains even the remotest indication that anyone in our office has been watching live TV via the web.

Instead, there is a form for me to fill out, which looks very like a witness statement, being rather legalish and with a space for my name, address, and so on, in which I can tick one or more boxes to explain on what basis I think I don't need a licence.  There is a stern warning that if this is not complied with and a licence is not purchased, then they will commence an investigation into us.  Indeed, it warns that an investigation is likely even if we return the witness statement, in order to ensure that our statement is true.

That is odd, as well.  I do not recall the BBC having any power of entry into my office.  So presumably the investigation will consist of a man with a yellow jacket and a clipboard standing at my door, angling for an invitation in, and haranguing me until I admit something.

The whole letter is threatening in tone; it is written from an assumption that we have broken the law, that I am an habitual liar, and that we need to be brought into line.  The references to investigations following if we do not buy a licence are horribly close to demanding money with menaces.

I was sufficiently insulted by the letter that I declined to respond using their form.  Instead, I have written a curt letter back to them in the name of the firm, stating that a licence is not necessary for the premises.  We shall see what happens.  My staff have been briefed that if an investigator turns up, he is not to be invited in and that I will speak to him outside.

If he insists on taking my time looking round the office, I will ask for him billing details and give him a client care letter setting out my hourly rate.