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My Blog

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Blog for April

Posted on 15 May, 2021 at 6:05 Comments comments (0)

Many apologies to my avid readers for missing my posting for March. The company that hosts this website changed the way you update your blog and coupled with an influx of work I didn’t have a chance to do anything about it.


So within the past few weeks I have had my final Covid jab and been tested a few times, so all looking good so far.


I did a few days training in St Edmunds Hall College (known as “Teddy Hall”, Oxford in March and totalled up the other Oxford Colleges I have trained staff in: Christchurch, St Catherine’s and Jesus. At this rate I shall end up a suspect in “Lewis”, but as I am the soul of discretion I shall never reveal who dunnit.


So throughout the course of March and April I have been to Oxford, Barnstaple, Stratford on Avon (twice), Chelmsford, Bristol (twice) and Glastonbury.


The world, well at least the UK, seems to be taking off again let’s hope we don’t lurch off into another disaster.


And I know I may have mentioned it briefly before but when is this global warming going to start? I’m fed up with all this bloody rain and cold.


Now I’m not afraid to say where I went wrong or admit my failings (and I have made the odd error I will bashfully admit) but on an electrical issue I didn’t know that those new-fangled push-fit joint boxes appear to be more highly rated that the traditional screw terminal type. If you had an inspection by a very picky inspector he could pull you up on not having “readily available access” to a screw-type joint box under a floor. However, a push-fit type is fine as it is classed as “maintenance-free”. What I would add to this though, is just make sure you have the right current rating connector for the job and it does form a complete enclosure.


With regard to motorcycling, I will readily admit to being a fair-weather biker only. When it warms up a bit more I shall take my two-wheeled, petrol driven steed for a bit of a canter. I particularly like to cruise around the villages of Oxfordshire, on a sunny day there is nothing finer.


If you’ve been following my blog for some time now you’ll be aware that my alter-ego (otherwise known as Ted Voice 2) is a more adventurous version of myself and would probably find a motorbike ride around the villages of Oxfordshire rather tedious.


Ted Voice 2: “Tedious! My God, I’ve seen more action in a knitting circle.”


Ted Voice 1: “So you’re back then”.


Ted Voice 2: “Yeah, can’t stop though. Gotta pick up my gear and shoot down to Troyes in France where one of my mates has found a manuscript with a clue to the mystery of Rennes le Chateau”.


Ted Voice 1: “We stayed in Troyes a couple of years ago while driving down to Spain”.


Ted Voice 2: “Oh very interesting. Lend us twenty quid will yuh”.


Ted Voice 1: “Here’s thirty, now bugger off to Rennes le wotsit”.


Right, he’s gone now thank the lord. He’s a likable chap but he’s always bouncing from one adventure to another. He’ll never make anything of himself, I just wish he’d find a nice girl and settle down. On the other hand, that would probably cost me a bloody fortune.


I’m very pleased to see the fashion for saying “Be kind” has disappeared from Facebook. I think if you have to tell an adult to “be kind” it’s a bit late. I bet the majority of those who posted it would step over somebody collapsed in the street. “Be kind”, bullshit, they’re just saying it so they can appear to be kind.


All that remains now is to say goodbye from me and goodbye from him (Ted Voice 2 says “Ciao Baby”).


Happy trails until we meet again.


Adios mi amigos e amagas.

 

Blog for February

Posted on 1 March, 2021 at 11:43 Comments comments (2)
Well howdy-doody folks, its that time again. Don’t the time go quick when you’re enjoying yourself.


I had my first Covid jab a few weeks back and can’t say I suffered any adverse reaction to it.


Don't know what all the fuss is about.


Anyway, that’s us into March now then. They’ve had Easter eggs in the shops since Halloween so they must be pretty dried out by now.

I hope to get back out on the garden before too long, if it ever dries out.

I was thinking about when I was an apprentice the other day and what an absolute shitbag of a bloke I had to work with. When we were working in Oxford he liked to go home for his lunch, so what he would do was drop me off in an empty garage/lockup the company owned about half a mile from his house for me to eat my sandwiches in. No heat, no light, nothing to sit on, no toilet or handwashing facilities, Nada. He would come back and pick me up about an hour and a half later. Sometimes I was so cold I could hardly speak. I was 15 years old. I wouldn’t treat an animal like that, how could he sit in his warm house at his dining table knowing I was sat on the floor in that freezing cold garage? Funny thing was I never queried it, I didn’t like it but just accepted it as I thought it was normal, I didn’t even complain to my mum and dad about it.

If you know me, you will know I have an intense hatred for liars and bullshitters. You will also know that I have no time for selfish people. I am also a big believer in karma, I just hope this guy had some sort of payback.

Thank God apprentices aren’t treated like that anymore. If you are, or know somebody who is, let me know, I will sort it out.

Talking of apprenticeships, we were on the 14th Edition regulations when I started out. Green sleeving was a new thing and we were just changing over from imperial wire sizes like 3/029 (which means 3 strands of wire with a diameter of 0.029 of an inch) to metric 1.5² and 7/029 became 2.5 mm². 

The funny thing is, this was a change in metrication that led to wire sizes being rounded down so the customer got slightly less copper. I bet the price of wire never went down to reflect that.

We are now on the 18th Edition and the constitution for the regulations states that there can only be three amendments per edition. We have already had one amendment and Amendment 2 is now open for consultation! I reckon we will change over to the 19th in around 2029.

I think it was Shakespeare who said “The future is an undiscovered country” or something like that. He wasn’t wrong there.

I see that ELECSA is withdrawing from the field of certification and passing contractors over to the NICEIC. I’m not really sure what the driver behind this is but I’m sure there will be a few disenchanted contractors out there who are not keen on NICEIC. I know that cost is a major factor in guys taking this point of view, so I hope NICEIC will be sensible about pricing and not cause a stampede to NAPIT.

For the uninitiated, the above organisations are responsible for maintaining standards in the electrical installation industry. If as a customer you are thinking about any electrical work (Domestic, Commercial or Industrial) you need to make sure your contractor is registered with one of those bodies. If your contractor is NICEIC approved and they became ill or bankrupt during the course of any job, NICEIC will appoint another contractor to finish the job for you at minimal cost or none at all if you have paid upfront. You can easily check on the NICEIC website to see if your contractor is registered with them. 

Having NICEIC approval is so important to contractors they will often claim to be a member even if they have been suspended so please check on the website before you get caught out.

The world of training and consultancy is starting to warm up again, enquiries are starting to ramp up and I’m back on the road again this month. Bloody good job I got all that decorating and DIY done.

I made contact with one of my old biker chums from years ago through Facebook last year only to find that he passed away this month due to Covid. Rest in peace Jammy, I’m still struggling to take it in.

Sometimes we can’t always have happy trails.

Adios por ahora.






Blog for January 21

Posted on 1 February, 2021 at 10:23 Comments comments (3)

Greetings pop-pickers. My last report was to mark the sunset of 2020, as we are now at the sunrise of 2021 let’s see what Ted currently has on his mind.

Now, as you know, I’m not one to gossip. But you might remember me telling you about a relation of my wife’s that was carrying on with “tatty old bit”. 

Well I am now going to reveal his name – on Botley Notice Board and several others in the area. I do like a bit of drama and a chase, so I was tempted to put a clue under the shelf in a phone box, but then remembered that we don’t have phone boxes anymore. Never mind, just have a look on the notice board in our local library, co-op, church, chemists etc etc. You’ll soon find his name revealed in full.   

Can’t seem to see any effects of that “Climate Emergency” that we’re been told about. It looks like it was still cold over December and January with frost and snow. I actually think we could do with raising the temperature in the UK a bit. God knows what the Romans wanted to conquer this bloody cold wet hole for. I can just imagine them coming ashore at the Isle of Dogs:

Claudius > “Ere’ Tonius”

Tonius > “Yes Claudius”

Claudius > “Have you noticed what a bleeding cold and wet hole this is!”

Tonius > “Yesius. And have you seen the women? Bloody scary great big things with tits down to their bellies and covered in blue gunge”

Claudius > “And my bleeding feetius are freezing in these sandals that I had made in Milan. Not only that but some weaselly looking prat just tried to sell me a barbecued rat for 2500 Dinarios! ”

Tonius > “Twisting git! Talk about a nation of shop-keepers. At times like this do you ever miss your villa on the Italian coast. Laying back in the old current bun, knocking back a glass of vino and your hot-blooded beautiful wife peeling olives for you?”

Claudius > “Quick, back in the boat”

I think I would have filed a report saying “We looked but didn’t find anything useful”.

With this latest lockdown we have taken to having a daily stroll around our local area, I hope we will continue to keep this up even after the world returns to some sort of reality (just so long as it doesn’t rain).

And it goes without saying that I hope we can get back to Spain asap. Although this bloody Covid business is going on so long now it could still bugger us up this year. I’m beginning to think that we might have to have the entire year of 2022 on holiday to make up for it.

If you would have asked me, when I were a lad (go on, say it in a northern accent), what we would be doing in 2021, I would have replied “wearing silver suits and whizzing around in flying cars”. Whoever thought we would be fighting a plague.

Talking of cars, I bought a new one a few months back. It is very nice but I have had to turn off a few features. I don’t use cruise control very much anyway as I don’t like that feeling that I’m not in control. But I have now turned off the feature that corrects your steering and wants to fight you for control of the steering wheel. I have also turned off that bloody annoying auto-stop doo-dah. And just for fun, I’m still trying to work out the communications centre and voice control to play Herb Alpert instead of phoning Halfords.

I shall have to get some new headlight deflectors for European driving and I suppose I’ll have to get a “GB” sticker for the ferry as the new number plates no longer have the EU flag and marked “GB EU”.

I am glad we are out of the EU, I voted to go into the EU in 1975 when it was presented to us as simply a trade agreement, in no way were we told it would completely control our country.

The BBC tried to manipulate us to vote against Brexit and squealed with horror when we didn’t. If they loved the EU so much, in all the years we were in the Common Market why didn’t they transmit language classes and in-depth studies of France, Italy and Spain etc? I suppose that reveals how much they think of their audience, we are obviously too stupid to take any of that in. Even if they had have done, they would have put their usual multi-ethnic, multi–multi babble, upper class guilt trip spin on it.

As I understand it the brief of the BBC is to “Educate and Entertain”. I do not see imposing a political viewpoint on the masses as part of that brief.

Now following on from that, and as far as I am aware, our separation from the EU will not affect wiring colours or our electrical regulations. You must remember that our regulations became a full British Standard (BS7671) in 1992 and even though we changed over to continental colours in 2006 (due to pressure from the EU), we will not be changing back for the foreseeable future.

So we are now 1/12 into 2021, I’d like to say we’ll all be vaccinated before too long and we can get back to normal fairly soon,but I don’t think its going to be quite that easy. However, I’m not going to let that get me down, I’ve nearly always been able to turn a situation round so here’s a few keywords to think about if you are furloughed or laid off: Retrain, Refurbish, Repair and Relax. You might want to add get Ready, for the Rush when the world comes back (talk about rolling your Rs).

There are a handful of people I wish I had never met or had to deal with. On the other hand, there are more people who I have good memories of and would really love to hear from, so if you are among that number, don’t be shy, please drop me a line or friend me on Facebook.

In closing, here is a question that I have been pondering for some time now; If Antipasti and a Cornish Pasty make contact would it create a bigger bang than the one at the beginning of time, a small black hole, or could it be safely contained in a Schrodinger Containment Field? 

While your considering that, I’m going to send another Bacardi and coke down the hatch to see what the last one I sent down there is buggering about at.

Anyway, adios until next month mi Amigos y Amigas.

Happy Trails until we meet again. 


Blog for December

Posted on 31 December, 2020 at 9:15 Comments comments (4)
Hello to all my multi-wotsit, multi-doodah chums.

First off, let’s have a rant, so put the kettle on and have a cuppa and chocolate hob-nob while you let me splutter away like colonel blimp.

I don’t know when the TV advertisers became the guardians of our morals and how we should fit into society or if its just a sign of them doing too much acid back in the 70’s coupled with upper-class guilt.

Lets face it’ these TV land advert families look nothing like the majority of families in the UK and that is all of the same type, whether they be Asian, Caucasian or what. It seems that most adverts nowadays look like the cast of the Disney channel, we’ve even had adverts with blokes kissing each other.  

I would also say change over the term “Virtue-Signalling” to “Arse-Creeping” for a better description. I also think its demeaning for the actors who are parachuted in for these “token” roles.

And talking about TV, what a pile of crap. Lack of imagination or what? “Let’s make another remake of the Three Musketeers” or “Whisky Galore”. It seems suspiciously like we get programmes that would appeal to the old queens – Cooking, Dancing, Gardening and Antiques. Alternatively, “let’s do another Dickensian period piece and put a Venusian in it” that should make all the art teachers and social workers squeal with delight.

And another thing, there must be hundreds if not thousands of people go into the acting profession each year. Are they all so piss-poor that we only ever see the same old faces on TV? You would have thought that production companies would have realised that overexposure makes an audience lose interest.

Another thing that niggles me is TV advertising on a paid-for platform! Why should I pay for a channel and then have to watch adverts that are supposed to pay for the channel? That means you are paying to watch adverts! What a con that is.

And then we have the begging adverts; “Can you give £20 a month to support a cuckoo/whale/aardvark” talk about charity-fatigue. My fear is that if they keep it up we will all become hardened to good causes and not give anything at all.   

Until smaller groups start to produce TV over the internet it will remain crap for some time now. I would love to see amateur dramatic groups switch over to delivering content on Youtube. We might also get advertising that simply sells a product and not tells us what our family should look like.

Ah, that’s better, does you good to vent your spleen. If you don’t you’ll get spots.

Anyway, I did have rather a nice Christmas with all the traditional stuff apart from not being able to get to church and bloody annoyed that we couldn’t have the usual family gathering.

I do think though that Christmas is a time of mixed emotions and can be quite poignant anyway when we think of all those we have lost along the way and think of empty chairs around our tables, but we gain hope from seeing our children and grandchildren growing and making us proud.

With regard to electrical engineering I am about to get into electric vehicle charging points as a qualification. I have been involved in this field for some time now and have worked with companies developing smart charging points so this is something I have been involved with for a few years and can see a considerable demand for training, so watch this space.

Getting back to Christmas Day, I must confess I am not a Royalist. I support our Queen and think she has done a fantastic job but I never watch “The Queens Speech”. However, when they make me a knight of the realm, I will probably adjust my view a little.

If I was doing “The Ted’s Speech” it might go something like this:
“This year was one that was particularly unpleasant, I hope we can get this blasted virus behind us and get back to normality as soon as possible. Spare a thought for all the Sparkies on site in the freezing bleeding cold or those scrabbling about trying to line up the sprockets on a ten-ton motor. Bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea don’t come cheap so try to slide a few tenners into the pocket of the next electrician you see. Failing that, don’t send your family fortune to that nice man in Nigeria, but send a donation to Tedsvillainspain.com and I will send you a model of my villa (chalk model house from St Giles Fair rifle range) along with a T Shirt bearing an image of me in a deckchair and a monthly report bound to get lost in the post.”

Remember, this is my blog and I can be as nutty as I want.

Speaking of which I received another text from Ted voice 2 on his wind-up Motorola just a few days ago where he has informed me that unfortunately, he didn’t find that lost city of gold in the Amazon but has undergone some form of marriage ceremony with a member of a tribe of head-hunters. This was apparently under some duress after been caught in-flagrante with the chief’s daughter. I’m hoping I won’t see him for some time now, but he usually manages to reappear smelling of roses.

Oh well, time to ride off into the sunset of 2020 now.

Happy trails folks.

 

Blog for November

Posted on 2 December, 2020 at 9:39 Comments comments (2)
Ok Folks, so here we are at the end of November.

Well I didn’t go very far this month apart from more gardening, which mostly consisted of picking up leaves and fence fixing.

Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth though, I have now completely updated my training material for PAT 5 (COPISITEE) and am completely ready to go with this. I have already published a brief summary of the changes on my Ted Barrett Services Facebook page.

I must say I was surprised how quickly the examining body updated their exams so I couldn’t afford to hang about anyway. The upshot of this of course means that if you train for COPISITEE with me, you will get the very latest training.

Talking of training, I remember reading somewhere that there is a basic human body type and appearance that falls within about 187 sub-sets. Now you might think that sounds a bit of a rash statement but after a lifetime of meeting people both professionally and socially I am beginning to warm to this idea.

If you are in the teaching/training profession this goes some way to explain why we often see the same bloke in classes across the country. Unless he’s the bleeding Count St Germain who never ages, he keeps popping up in my class.

One particular type I’m thinking of is the weasel-like bod with a scrawny moustache, lank hair and incessantly smokes roll-ups – Ah, I see you recognise him now.

Now then, this guy is usually one of life’s great tragedies. He is actually quite smart but (for various reasons) was never really able to apply himself to study and develop that brain to a higher level. Couple this with the fact that he married far too early to somebody who was just looking for a husband and turned him into factory fodder. His function in life is therefore simply to be a means of bringing money in to provide for a housewife and children.

There are of course, other characters that keep popping up, and I often find myself asking “weren’t you in Somerset last week?” On the other hand, perhaps it’s just me going loopy.

When I was doing my teacher training we studied quite a few aspects of how the brain functions such as cognitive development along with Freud and Jung etc which I found absolutely fascinating in as much as it explained many things that I had often wondered about.

Thank god that bloody election is over, one day the media will realise that the everyday people of one country are not really interested in the politics of another country. But there again, that would strip away another cheap TV trick wouldn’t it. The next one they’ll try is to tell us we are all fascinated by Baseball and try to get us hooked on the “World Series” (it’s a funny “World” though cos its only in the states!).

I belong to a club that meets at Woodstock and I am most upset that for the first time in what must be at least twenty-five years we will not be having a Christmas get-together. What a bloody swine that is. The heart-breaking part is that many members are of senior years and will not be able to have that last Christmas with friends. My old friend Harold Taylor was a member of this same club, Joanne and I miss him daily.

Even more heart-breaking is that we won’t be able to have a family Christmas dinner at our house as the numbers will probably be too great, so we need to break up the festivities between households over a couple of days instead. All things considered though, I’ll just be grateful if we are all still alive by then. To be quite honest, I’m grateful to be alive every day.

On a different note but still concerning Christmas, I love a good ghost story on Christmas Eve. I’m not really that keen on “Scrooge” but to my mind “The Dead Sexton” by J. Sheridan Le Fanu is the ultimate Christmas ghost story.

Talking about stories, they generally tend to follow previously defined plots, such as boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy meets girl again. The books my wife read all seem to start off with a divorcee or widow starting life again in a seaside town and often involves a cake shop.

However, lets consider Scrooge again. See if you can identify where this plot has been used so many times since. Lets kick off with “Back to the Future” (this remains one of my favourite films). So what’s happening? Well, George McFly cocked up his life because he didn’t like “confrontation” and ended up living on a trailer park. When Marty goes back to good old 1955 (what a great year) he has the chance to change George’s future, and does. So again, like Scrooge, it is a morality tale and shows we have different paths available to us if we so choose or push ourselves. Interestingly, in BtF II, we again see the results of disastrous life choices and a rare chance to change those events.

So, if we had the chance to change those events in life would we? (beginning to sound like Barbara Streisand now) I know some things I would certainly like to change in my history, but I can’t help but feel there was a reason for all the stupid as well as the occasional smart things I did. I also agree with my old mate and fellow college lecturer Gerry, (an Afrikaner who’s surname name I could never pronounce) Gerry believed that everything we do and everyone we meet is for a reason. I couldn’t agree more.

Now because I publish my blog at the end of each month, that means this will be the last you’ll hear from me until 2021. So I’m going to take this opportunity to wish all my readers (even the secret ones) a Merry Christmas and a very Cool Yule.

Ted voice 2 reckons he found the diary of a Spanish priest from 1536 in the Biblioteca Maria Zambrano in Madrid, which had a hidden message revealing the location of a lost Inca city of gold (yeah, right) so he’s currently hacking through the Amazon with an hyper excited gold gland. However, he has texted in to wish all our readers a “Fair dinkum Crimbo”. I wouldn’t quite put it like that, but he means well. 
   

Blog for October

Posted on 2 November, 2020 at 9:05 Comments comments (30)
Ok Folks, so here we are at the end of October.

Halloween has been and gone, thank God. I hate to be a spoilsport, hold on a minute, no I don’t.

Anyway, I don’t really like this American import, but I wouldn’t want to take the fun away from the kids. I suppose its safer than Bonfire Night but a part of me will always miss the bonfire, fireworks, sparklers and potatoes in their jackets.

So where has Ted been this month? Well, I started off at Witney (Oxfordshire) and then went on to Lymington, Camberley, Exeter and Truro (and just in case you're wondering, I do go home between assignments as well!)

For my electrically-centred chums PAT Edition 5 is being rolled out and yes, I know we let out a yawn at the mention of PAT, and I know I’ve mentioned it before but it is an area that contractors and even trainers can underestimate if we are not careful. If a job’s worth doing etc. 

Nevertheless, it can be a thankless task. Professional testing companies are looking to test around 350 items per day. Well, Mr Slow here could help you out with about 35 a day. But can you imagine doing that every day of your working life? If you are, and you are doing it properly, I salute you.

With further regard to PAT Edition 5, I can give you a brief update: the changes are significant and not to be taken lightly. I will publish a summary before the year end but I am having to completely revise my training material. For example; The term “PAT” itself has gone, it should now be referred to as COPISITEE. It clearly defines ALL equipment, not just portable appliances and that’s just for starters.

I hope you enjoyed my investigation of the Ashmoleum art theft last month. I have plenty more. I could mention the extremely well-planned job in Antwerp that went off the rails due to a very simple mistake. Or did it? I might investigate it for your entertainment in a future blog.

In case you’re wondering, my interest in a well-executed heist is entirely professional and stems from my working background, that for many years of my life I was involved in security systems. If ever I publish my memoirs - I would probably get locked up in the tower.

Now then, thinking of being locked up, I didn’t think I would miss not going to Spain this year but we all have to make sacrifices…

Ted Voice Number 2: You greedy bleeding git. You went round the Caribbean for 5 weeks at the beginning of the year!

Ted Voice 1: Well, yes I know but that was educational.

Ted Voice 2: What, to see how many rums it took to render you insensible?

Ted Voice 1: No. Look, I’ll have you know I was undertaking a review of socio-economic development in relation to a result-oriented electrical engineering infrastructure approach

Ted Voice 2: So what was your conclusion?

Ted Voice 1: Umm, well, probably that most electrical contractors have extremely long liquid lunches and leave lots of wires on poles. Oh look, just bugger off and get on with your latest get rich quick scheme whatever that is.

Ted Voice 2: Huh, well I’m not staying where I’m not welcome. I was prepared to cut you in seeing as I’ve just come into possession of a map of a lost gold mine in Montana.

Ted Voice 1: Thank heavens for that. Bloody map! That bloke has had more maps of lost treasure than I don’t know what. Still, I suppose one day he might get lucky.

Anyway, now he’s gone we can crack on.

While teaching at Oxford, I once said that to a class whilst having a lesson observation. The “dyke on a bike” who was the observer said that was not an appropriate comment for a class. She obviously had cracks on her mind.

She then went on to downgrade me because I did not get any aspect of “multiculturalism” into the lesson. For background, this was a lesson on electro-magnetism. When I queried this, she said I could have mentioned the effects of pumping water into African villages. You might be surprised at this, but I really would have liked to have double-tapped her with the Glock but realised at that point all was lost. The hippies had won. I handed in my notice a few weeks later.

It was then I decided to go freelance, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Now, I need to confess that I was always moderately good at Science and Technology so it was never that difficult for me to keep up with latest developments, but sometimes, and more out of cussedness, I have buried my head in the sand. For instance “Twitter”. I think David Cameron actually had it right when he was overheard talking about “Twittering Twats”.

Facebook has proved really useful to me in linking up with old friends, and in one very sad case I found an old friend from college only to lose him again. I still mourn his loss. Nonetheless, I was privileged to have made contact in that space of time rather than never having made contact again.

However I digress, with regard to all this new-fangled technical stuff I was determined not to cough up for I Tunes. No way. Not me.

But when they start making cars without CD players in them how am I supposed to play my Herb Alpert stuff? As it happens, I have found the whole I Tunes process quite straightforward and very easy to put a playlist of your favourites together. The only thing I would say is do it on your phone not your PC so you can play your stuff anywhere.

So without further ado here is a small sample of my varied Playlist: Rise (Herb Alpert!), Islands in the Stream, Agolo, Walking in Rhythm (just love the Brazilian flute sequence in this), Sweet home Alabama, Orinoco Flow Etc Etc.

Well, that’s my report for October just about complete, if we ignore the eco-nerks and the world doesn’t come to an end next Friday, I hope that November will be about the same as usual with lovely crisp, dry, freezing cold days.

From previous posts you may have guessed by now that I don’t like the rain very much. Here are the first few lines of “You make me feel” (and I like Aretha Franklin’s 1967 version best):

Looking out on the morning rain
I used to feel so uninspired
And when I knew I had to face another day
Lord, it made me feel so tired
 
Now perhaps you’ll get my drift. Come to think of it, add a pinch of Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s talking at me” and a twist of “Midnight Cowboy” and you’ve just about got me in a nutshell.

So until next month, happy trails folks.

Blog for September

Posted on 5 October, 2020 at 5:12 Comments comments (31)
Greetings folks, it’s the end of September so time to see where Ted has been and what he’s got to say about this month. In fact it’s a belter, so put the kettle on and make a cup of tea, put your feet up and slip away into my world for a short while.

And I know I’ve said it before but any old friends, please, please don’t be afraid to get in touch, I would love to hear from you (and I really don’t care what your spelling or grammar is like, I’m not that hot myself).

This month, I have been to Lymington, Lyndhurst, Twickenham and Witney delivering training courses.

And now, for something completely different. When thinking about skills in the workplace, I believe it is really important to back up our core skills with transferable skills. A good example of an easily transferable skill is Project Management. If you can break down a task into a series of safe, efficient and achievable operations you can apply that to other disciplines. For example, a Building Services Project Engineer can usually take on any non-building related operation and put it into a realistic schedule. To do this he or she is aware that they will need to take advice from installers/suppliers and perhaps specialist contractors. Above all other traits they will realise that they need to talk to personnel, study existing processes and learn from past failures where possible.

So, if you are a school-leaver or if you are in the early stages of your working life try to remember about the transferable skills. You may have landed that dream job of surf board polisher, but will it offer regular employment and a great wage for the next few decades?

Even if you are lucky enough to become an electrician, we occasionally do come to periods where employment becomes more scarce. So it makes sense to check your employability from a prospective employer’s point of view. Make sure your core qualifications are up to date, and if your existing employer offers training, any training, go for it. It might be PASMA, First Aid, Asbestos, Health & Safety, anything, take it with open arms (and mind). BUT, make sure you keep a record of it, without that it means nothing. AND don’t wait until you need a job, put your CV and training record together NOW, so you know where to find it in a hurry.

So, talking of project management, here’s a corker. Let me take you back in time to the Ashmoleum Museum, Oxford, New Year’s Eve 1999.

If you are going to steal a painting this is the perfect time.

In fact, lets get specific. Lets go for a Cezanne. Now I’m no art expert but that’s a name even I recognise.

So we’ll zoom right in now. The painting we have set our sights on is Cezanne’s Auvers-sur-Oise, valued in the region of £3 million.

So, back to New Year’s Eve 1999, just after midnight. We would be on the roof of the museum as there are building works taking place that involved the use of a ground to roof scaffolding, this was adjacent to a quiet side entrance to the museum and easily facilitated your ascent. Some of the key equipment about your person is a small jemmy, scalpel, smoke bomb, small rope-ladder and hand-held battery-operated fan.

It’s now gone midnight and fireworks are going off everywhere. Remember, it’s the Millennium.

There are two security guards on duty. You don’t know if they are patrolling or sat watching a bank of video monitors. As it’s New Years Eve and the next one like this will be in a thousand years’ time, the guards may have decided to meet up for a quick snifter, who knows?

Time has moved on as you patiently waited, it’s now 01:25 and time to move. You jemmy the open the skylight almost directly above your target. You secure the rope-ladder and toss in the smoke bomb. As you descend the ladder you activate the hand-held fan to waft the smoke around even more.

If the vibration sensor on the skylight hasn’t activated the intruder alarm, the passive infra-red sensor in the gallery should have picked up your heat signature, so the alarm should now be sounding.

So let’s stop and consider: Its New Year’s Eve, Who’s going to break into a museum on New Year’s Eve? It’s dark, there are fireworks and its noisy. But let’s not forget Y2K, this was where it was predicted that all sorts of systems would crash and planes would fall out of the sky.

So if you were watching on a video monitor and clouds of smoke suddenly appeared along with the intruder alarm sounding you could have easily assumed that the air conditioning plant and Building Management System (BMS) had crashed.

So now, all the elements of perfect planning have come together.                     
What the planner has achieved is confusion.

So, put all of the above factors into the mix and it takes you just a few moment to get to the painting, use the scalpel to cut it from the frame, roll it down your trouser leg and climb back up the rope-ladder.

You clamber carefully back down the scaffold, take a deep breath and walk slowly down St John’s street towards Wellington Square and fade into the night. You now have (in theory) 3 Million quid in your pocket.

With regard to details, in researching this incident I found the “Oxford Mail” next to useless. I think they have decided their future lies with appeasing academics and eco-nerks. The most exciting story you’ll find in there will be about the new cycle lane installed outside the “pop-up multi-ethnic shop”. You won’t find any investigative journalism in this paper.

So where did I find a good source of information for this crime? The New York Times! What a sad state we are in. 

Nevertheless, I can’t close this account without a few personal comments:

1)      Whoever planned this operation was a smart person. It certainly reveals an excellent Project Planner.

2)      All great inventions are simple, as was this plan.

3)      But, (and as they say, it is a big but) Why? Where can you sell this painting? You can’t go to Sotheby’s or Christies for a public auction. It’s been estimated that it’s black market value would be about £20K. Still a good profit for one night’s work, but not enough for me to risk a few years at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

4)      Its not even a particularly attractive painting (perhaps that’s just me though).

5)      It wasn’t me. I was at a Millenium party at West Oxford where I have plenty of witnesses to confirm I was there the whole time. Well at least most of it.

6)      It can’t have been a dry-run for a similar operation because this plan relied heavily on the Y2K aspect.

7)      The idea of a “Raffles” type “Gentleman-thief” has endured through the years but is not very often accurate. Most crooks who engage in this type of activity are violent opportunistic characters who rely on blackmail, bribery and kidnapping to gain access to vaults and strong-rooms etc. And the image of the painting changing hands on a yacht in Monte Carlo for a suitcase full of diamonds is very appealing but not very realistic.

8)      I get the feeling there is more drama than reality about this incident. I did from the first moment I heard about it and I remain with the same feeling. The police have said they believe it was stolen to order and was probably out of the country within 24 hours. That’s a nice idea from the police point of view – it shifts the problem off their patch. I’m not so sure.

For my money, I reckon the painting is still in Oxford. It could well be stashed inside the frame of another painting in the Junior Common Room of some much respected College. Stolen by students to prove a point or win a dare.

I hope I’ve given you something to think about, particularly with regard to transferable skills.

And now, like all good cowboys, its time to saddle up and ride off into the sunset until next month. Hasta la proxima!

Blog for August

Posted on 4 September, 2020 at 12:14 Comments comments (26)
Well spank my rear and call me Charlie, that’s August done and dusted. Now only 15 Saturdays to Christmas!
And at the risk of repeating myself, wasn’t it bloody hot for a week or so! I am so glad we have an AC unit in the bedroom. And related to that is an important tip if you are booking your holidays online (we got such a good deal on the internet blah blah blah). Make sure that bargain room you booked in Italy has got air con otherwise you will melt.
Training jobs are coming in slowly with some being cancelled, I reckon this area will be very touch and go for a while until confidence is restored. I must say I’m not too worried as I’m semi-retired anyway and I’ve enjoyed been at home and catching up on projects generally.
Talking of confidence been restored, if you travel regularly to Spain, Brittany Ferries have just opened up bookings for next year and some cabins are already sold out, so don’t leave it too late.
If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that I have been threatening to get a new motorbike for some time now. I’m not going to mention any names but salesmen at three different dealerships in Oxfordshire and Wiltshire have so far proved to be next to useless. If they get commission on sales, I’d be surprised if they got a pair of socks at Christmas. A typical exchange would go like this:
Ted: I like this one, can I have test ride?
Salesman: No. We haven’t got a demonstrator for that one.
Ted: Look, I’m a cash buyer and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy this bike but I’m not going to do that unless I can have a test drive.
Salesman: No, people don’t usually buy that bike so we don’t have a demonstrator.
Ted (No dialogue) Pulls out Glock and double-taps salesman in chest.
Ted (To CO): Come on sweetie, lets go to Wickes and get some white spirit.
I’m afraid I don’t suffer fools gladly.
Anyway, I’ve been watching these riots in America with a mixture of revulsion and fascination. I hate bullies and that what we are seeing there in spades. This “Antifa” business, which I assume is Anti-Fascist is a great laugh because these people are the closest thing to Nazis I can imagine. Their ignorant rendering of history is abysmal. And I think that people of all colours should simply comply with any reasonable request from a police officer such as “can I see your licence please”. If you are placed under arrest, behave like a civilised person and do not thrash around as if a possessed savage. If you do that the conclusion is that you are jacked up on PCBs or other shit and need serious restraint. You are also in danger of injuring yourself in the process. Not only that, what could have been a simple warning back at the station will turn into at least 6 months wearing a stupid orange suit and sharing a cell with Gorgeous George. Nobody wants to be arrested, so remember, if you can’t do the time…
I’m also  amazed how many cars stopped for these zombies, there’s no way I would have stopped for a blood thirsty mob. What’s more the script was nearly always the same – Woman or woman-looking thing stops car by standing in road. Woman-thing then jumps up and down while screeching abuse at occupants (I think this is some kind of tribal thing like a Haka). As occupants have by now locked the doors, savages can not get into vehicle. Woman-thing then jumps up and down on bonnet, windscreen and/or sunroof trying to get at evil occupants of car. Mostly, occupants come to senses at this point and drive off. Car is then hotly pursued by morons with their little back-packs on.
And I bet most of these have got the nerve to put “Be kind” on Facebook.
Talking of idiots, the most polished I saw recently was a white dickhead screaming at a coloured lady “I’m more black than you are”.
I feel that the problem in the states is very similar to that in the UK, in that too many anarchist and left-wing teachers/tutors/lecturers are allowed to contaminate young minds. In the UK many people get taken in by the ideology of the Junior Common Room at college and never get out of it. These are mostly the types we refer to as “Champagne Socialists”.
Unfortunately, most media people have come through this route and this is why the media is always interested in issues that working people couldn’t give a fig about.
I firmly believe that places of education and communication  (particularly TV stations) should be completely neutral. I think an Ombudsman should be appointed to regularly sample these areas and ensure that tutors views are not imposed on students.
Well, that was a good old rant wasn’t it?  
My electrical tip for this month is in a not dissimilar vein, in that if you are doing electrical inspections (EICRs) your job is to simply report on the condition of the installation. I have seen some sparkies taking on the mantle of electrician/safety officer/small god etc etc. It is not our job to say “a child might get a knitting needle up the back of the service cut-out” or “you could get an extension lead up to those first floor sockets”. You Observe, Test and Record from an unbiased stance, you use your training and skill to identify dangers if they exist, you also need to apply good old common sense.
With regard to motorbikes, in the end I bought this one.





Well, I’m just about to saddle up and ride off into the sunset, so until next month, Adiós, amigos y amigas.

Blog for July

Posted on 1 August, 2020 at 9:52 Comments comments (39)
Greetings pop-pickers, well that was another super-charged month wasn’t it! Had my big fat birthday and numerous friends’ as well. No weddings but a funeral on the last day of the month.

I think by now a lot of us have recognised that 2020 was the year to write off. Whoever would have thought that as we dreamt about the future where we were all wearing silver suits and in flying cars that the frigging Chinese would bring the world to its knees with an escaped bio-weapon?

However, it is in my character not to look on the bleak side but try to find the silk purse out of the wotsit…

Ted voice No 2: “Not to look on the bleak side” You’re kidding right?

Ted voice No 1: Sorry about that folks but voice number 2 is my alter-ego who has an annoying habit of popping up when I don’t want him.

Ted voice 2: You only want to supress my point of view, you’ve never liked me.

Ted voice 1: For those of you that are not regular readers of my blog Ted voice 1 is my normal, practical, good-natured self. Ted voice 2 is my, lets say, more adventurous side. He is the version of me that is the genie in the bottle. He is the free-spirited romantic who wants to go searching for lost gold in the Yukon and find the fabled lost city of Eldorado.

Ted voice 2: Ha, did you say “good-natured”! Every time I have bright idea you shoot me down.

Ted voice 1: I suppose that’s true to some extent. Lets see what your last bright idea was, Oh yes I remember, was that when you wanted to salvage propellers from the Nazi fleet that was sunken in Scapa Flow? Or was it that time you were going to drag a metal detector through every Cornish lake in search of Excalibur?

Ted voice 2: There’s good money in brass propellers.

Ted voice 1: Look just bugger off for a while and let me get on with this blog, some of us have work to do.

Ted voice 2: Bossy. I’m not staying where I’m not wanted. Anyway, I’ve got an old parchment with a secret message that I need to decode.

Ted voice 1: Thank God for that. We might get a bit of peace and quiet for a while now. To be fair, I secretly admire the guy cos he’s never boring. Last year he persuaded me and my CO to visit the Three-Sided Lodge in Northamptonshire, where there are many messages in the stonework that have never been deciphered. Well it really was fascinating, the whole building is about the number three and linked into the Holy Trinity when Catholicism was forbidden in this country.
 
 



But guess what? We couldn’t decipher any messages either.

Check it out for yourself here:


Anyway, onward and upward.

For those of you in the electrical trade, you might not be aware of it but a new Code of Practice for PAT will be issued in September (launch date variable due to Covid). From what I can make of it so far the emphasis seems to be removal of terms such as “Portable” and “Stationary” etc and the recognition of ALL appliances for testing, including those items of “Fixed” equipment that can be a grey area between PAT and EICR. Anyway, I’ll have my two penn'orth when my copy of the code arrives.

On another note, I took a test ride on a new motorbike the other day. I think the time has come to trade in the old bike and move on. Now my current bike has got front disc brakes but the one I took out for a test ride has 2 discs. My current bike has brake shoes on the rear and the test bike has a disc brake to the rear so all in all I was pretty impressed, a lot of power (650cc) but a lot of stopping power as well. I will keep you posted if I buy it.

On the work front I am starting to get bookings coming back in. My only fear is that we may face a surge in training due to the backlog now in place. I don’t like to disappoint clients and will try to help wherever possible.

So farewell until next month and to quote Bill & Ted – “be excellent to each other”.   

Blog for June

Posted on 2 July, 2020 at 12:13 Comments comments (62)

Well that’s June done and dusted then.

I resisted the urge to run “Skyclad” round Stonehenge at sunrise on the summer solstice for the longest day, nevertheless the days will gradually reduce now until the shortest day on December the 21st. 

It seems that we are beginning to come out of isolation now but its not over yet, I’m sure that random infections or waves of infections will bounce around for a while yet. Lets keep everything crossed.

As discussed in previous blogs, I’m fed up with so-called protesters and with a media system that feels it has a duty to whip up civil unrest. I’d like to see all those who want the BBC to be shut down come out and clap every Tuesday evening. I bet that wouldn’t get reported.

At this point I shall share with you my view that all “recreational” drugs should be decriminalised. I have several reasons for this:

1)      Prohibition of alcohol in 1930’s America did not work. It simply created an extremely profitable black market and the same applies today. If you make drugs illegal you create a certain cachet and desirability for that product.

2)      If you are a greedy prick that is not satisfied with beer, wine, spirits, tobacco, or life itself and you overdose then you are no loss to society. In fact, good riddance, so help yourself to as much as you fancy.

3)      Why generate so much cash for Colombian cartels for Afghan terrorists? let’s keep the revenue for ourselves and put it into the NHS.

4)      The image of drugs, cars and women that look like prostitutes seems to be a factor in certain music videos. Its going to be increasingly difficult to stop and search those who aspire to this lifestyle so let’s take one part out of that.

5)      The product available to junkies would be quality controlled and not cut with bleach and rat powder.

6)      Making “drugs” illegal is just plain stupid. If people want to do stupid things how can we protect them. I could walk into my garage right now and swallow or inject no end of toxic substances if I had a mind to.

7)      I think it was Orson Welles who foretold of television as an “Opiate of the masses” and this to a large extent is of course true. Similarly, if recreational drugs were freely available, a high percentage of those jerks who were recently protesting about nothing would have been too blitzed on good quality shit to move out of their squat.

To back this up, I’m simply saying decriminalise usage and make these drugs cheaply available at Chemists. We would still need to prosecute and punish driving offences and lock up those using in public and causing public order offences.

Now going off at a tangent for a while and as you know, I’m not one to gossip, but we know someone who carried on with a well-known old tart a while back. What made us crease up with laughter was the fact it was called his “affair” which I suppose is intended to give an air of elegance and mystique. As an established groper of whatever he can get his hands on this made us laugh even more. To give you a little background there used to be a cartoon strip in a British newspaper called “The Perishers”. Now, in this strip was a character (a dog) called “Tatty-oldbit” and that pretty much describes his bed-buddy. All will be revealed in a future episode. I think that’s enough information for the moment but we are still chuckling.

So moving on. It doesn’t matter what trade you are, be it Sparky, Plumber or whatever, we can all be guilty of not practicing what we preach. With this in mind, I have found these past few months extremely useful in catching up with all those jobs that I kept putting off. Apart from all the other DIY and gardening projects from an electrical point of view, this is what I have finally achieved:

·         Shed and Greenhouse now on split RCD board with independent earth electrode.

·         New DB (All RCBO) installed in Garage with circuits from main DB migrated into.

·         New Main DB (All RCBO) installed in house.

And for the purists, I have untwisted all the ring circuit CPCs at the DBs as well!

Talk about “Physician heal thyself”.

Looking forward to holidays next year, some places remain old favourites that we will certainly visit again but there are also some other locations that have caught our eye.

We like Cruises, Lodges and Hotels. We don’t really like staying with friends as we enjoy our freedom too much. The great thing nowadays is that with google earth you can drive around a venue and check it out in advance.

We also need to catch up on a few venues in this country when the world comes back again.

In closing, there is an old cowboy saying that goes something like “May your sunsets be long and your trails be happy”. I like that, what more could anyone ask for.

Adios until next month mi amigos y amigas. 


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