Tuesday, May 31, 2011

On flying with easyJet

The list of folk who view me as “one of those people” is growing and probably now includes Bernice in easyJet’s Customer Care Department.

I used to enjoy flying with easyJet, but as those of you who keep a keen eye on Twitter will know, my most recent flight with them caused me to tweet prolifically. In fact, things didn’t get off to the best of starts when I was charged £8 just for the privilege of paying, although I had forgotten about that when I arrived at the airport.

The incoming plane was late (which is not necessarily easyJet’s fault) but rather than make up time we were delayed yet further by someone’s inability to count the passengers on board.  Still, this gave me time to appreciate the fact that easyJet have updated the interiors of their planes since I last flew with them.  Not that there was much appreciation going on, because I found it horribly cramped.  How do people over 6’ survive the longer routes they fly, I wonder?

Anyway, we did eventually take-off and, to be fair, the flight was smooth and uneventful.  But we didn’t make up much time, and – to make matters worse – had to park at the North Terminal and wait for a bus to take us back to the South Terminal.  Although the cabin crew did apologise, they had the cheek to refer to it as a “short delay.”  We arrived at the terminal over an hour late, and on a 1h35min flight I’m not sure that “short” is the word I would use.  As a friend on Facebook pointed out, “on this basis, a 66% refund would be considered small.”

The nice people at @easyJetCare did respond to my torrent of tweets and sent me a link to an online form which I used to ask for compensation for the significant delay.  The good news is that they do – apparently – offer compensation for delays over an hour.  The bad news is that because the flight only took off 47 minutes late, I don’t qualify.  So this is why I am subjecting you to my tales of a flight delay.  I mean, if you got held up in traffic would you arrive and say “I’m not late, I left on time?”  And the railway industry would rightly be crucified more than usual for telling passengers on a late train that “it was on time because it didn’t leave late.”

There.  Point made.  My nervous twitches are subsiding again.  For those of you who may actually be interested in my ramblings, I’ll let you know when I’ve had another response from easyJet…

On having the wrong number

The phone at my desk rang this morning.  This rarely happens, and so it was a brief moment of excitement.  In case you were worried, however, this is not the dullest blog in the world and so there is more to the story than that.  I answered the phone, for a start.

The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hello?”

Woman at other end: “Have I got the wrong number?”

Me: “I don’t know, that depends on who you want to speak to.”

Woman: “I was hoping to speak to someone at the University.”

Me: “This is the University Transport Research Group.”

Woman: “Oh, I wanted the temp bank.”

If I’m honest, this was not a great demonstration of the sort of skill-set someone trying to get a temporary job might be expected to possess.

I don’t want to leave you feeling disappointed, so if you didn’t find this little ‘wrong number’ anecdote as funny as you’d hoped, or are still in need of further post-Bank Holiday procrastination, may I recommend a bit of Michael MacIntyre on YouTube.

 

 

 

Friday, May 27, 2011

More Braille Fun

In response to yesterday’s post, I have just been sent a link to an image which was posted with the title “I don’t think my university knows how the braille system works…

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Toilet Humour

Now I am back at my computer, I am able to enjoy looking through the photographs from my recent trip.  As I am quite ‘snap happy,’ there are lots of them.

Although I could find some nice scenery for you, I am going to start with a photo I didn’t even take in Shetland.  In fact, I took it ‘in the facilities’ on a train.  But as is so often the case, I have no rhyme nor reason beyond ‘not being able to resist’…

If you’ll pardon the pun and look carefully, you will see that First ScotRail* have kindly provided the door instructions in braille.  Presumably so that when someone who is blind sees that the light is lit they also know to press the button.

240520111385

 

*sorry, Mr Salmond, I mean “Scotland’s Railways (operated by First)

On returning to civilisation

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Last time I checked in to this corner of the Blogosphere I was back in an empty airport terminal having just been for a wander to a nice beach.  Having done the maths, I was actually starting to look forward to another night in the northern isles.  I was envisaging a nice evening meal, and perhaps the chance to see some more puffins.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, as there were a number of ‘no shows’ for the Aberdeen flight after all.  So I found myself hurrying through Departures (carrying my own case to security, you will note) and out to the waiting plane to be whisked back to the Scottish Mainland.  In all honesty, it was very much for the best and we were able to make it to Inverness for a superb meal at The Kitchen and a pint in Hootananny's.  Great times.

So now I am back to earth with a bump.  I have a cold, and I have work to do.  Sad times.  Still, once again Shetland proved to be a place of awesome scenes and stories to tell.  Stay tuned…

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sumburgh 2 (or 'On why waiting for flight news isn't stressful')


Sumburgh (or 'On feeling a bit of deja vu')

Those of you who have been through my archives from July 2006 will know that I blogged about my experiences of being stuck in Sumburgh airport.  When I arrived at lunch time today, things were looking quite good. Unlike last time, we could see the runway as we drove across it. I didn't get thrown out of the terminal for trying to go in before the airport was open. Flights are actually operating...

...but not my one.  The ash cloud (the 'mythical ash cloud' if you believe Michael O'Leary) has led to Loganair/Flybe not providing an aircraft. So I am second in line for a space on an Aberdeen flight should one of the other passengers not turn up. But with only 34 seats on the plane, the maths isn't looking good. Still, I've enjoyed the good weather I prayed for against the odds, so it's not over yet. And at least I can see out of the windows in the terminal this time...


Sunday, May 22, 2011

One more thing...

I know, I know, I'm not meant to be rambling. I should be kicking back with my cuppa and my book. But I need to share the fact that my brother has turned the TV on and is watching some people giving birth on More4.  All I'll say is that I am very thankful that my housemate declined the offer of being filmed.

Free Wifi...

Shetland is an interesting place, for many reasons which I shall doubtless bore you with at some point. But one observation I shall make now is that along with bus shelters and 'public conveniences,' free wifi is fairly ubiquitous in this part of the world. Mobile phone reception, however, isn't. Even compared to O2's usual standards. So in this Remote Part, I can watch iPlayer, renew my library books and reach the world via this blog. But the world can't reach me.

Still, a period of abstinence from textual relations is probably no bad thing...

Muckle Flugga

Despite the severe weather warnings, I'm pleased to announce that I made it to the Northern most point in the British Isles earlier today. And not only that, but I enjoyed some blue sky and sunshine in the process. So it would seem that some prayers have been answered.

This post comes to you courtesy of my Motorola Xoom, which I adore. However, it is not ideal for typing copious amounts. So if you have also been praying that I'll stop rambling, those prayers have also been answered. For now.


Friday, May 20, 2011

On going to Shetland

As some of you know, I have been struggling to control my excitement about the fact that tomorrow I am setting off to visit the Shetland Isles again.

For those of you who are new to these parts of the Blogosphere, you can go back almost five (five!) years in the archive to when I announced my first visit to Shetland, in a post entitled Naked Women (and other things).*

You can then make up for the fact that I may not be posting anything for a few days, by reading about the adventures and the music I documented last time.  I hope that there will be some more stories upon my return.

I am pleased to inform you that my grandmother’s cousins are still alive** and am very much looking forward to spending a day or so with them as part of an itinerary which will also hopefully include some puffins and the famous bus-stop with the TV.  There will also be some tunes – I will be ensuring Baker St is on my MP3 player (no trip to Shetland, or anywhere, in fact would be complete without it) but my current top tip for the upcoming adventure is Gran Turismo (The Cardigans).  It has a good combination of haunting melodies, driving beats and is suitably Scandinavian.  Plus, I bought it for £2 in a CD sale so if it’s completely rubbish it’s not as big a mistake as the Wham! CD I once bought for £18.***

Of course, the weather will play a huge factor in all of this.  Having not been able to fly home last time I’ve taken the sensible decision to fly both ways this time.  And the forecast is not ideal.  So if you’re a praying person, do please be asking God for some nice weather for this trip.  Thanks!

*In case you were wondering, Shetland comes under the “other things” category.  I’m sorry if that disappoints you.

**I did have to check before planning this trip.

***There’s no point in asking me why.  I don’t know.

 

Is one flying low?

image

This photographic clip is from the BBC News In Pictures covering the Queen’s four-day visit to Ireland (see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-13452328). 

I couldn’t resist, what with my juvenile sense of humour and all.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On (not) buying a French Car

I’ve often said that ‘Citroen’ should have an ‘h’ in it somewhere…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13447395

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On setting Ranges in VBA

This post is probably not going to appeal to many of you, but it’s my blog and I shall do what I want with it.  And what I want right now is some help with programming in VBA.  Someone out there must know the answer…

So, I have a spreadsheet which looks like this:

image

I would like to write code which selects the data set, like this:

image

But as I don’t always know the size of the data set, I cannot use this code:

Range("A4:F21").Select

I have therefore attempted to write something like this:

With Range(“A4”)

.Range(.Offset(0, 0), .End(xlDown).End _(xlToRight)).Name = "DataSet"

End With

Range(“DataSet”).Select

Unfortunately, even though .Offset(0, 0).Address is A4, and .End(xlDown).End(xlToRight).Address is F21 my code actually selects this:

image

Why?

(Incidentally, the following alternative does not compile):

With Range(“A4”)

.Range(“.Offset(0, 0) : .End(xlDown).End _(xlToRight)”).Name = "DataSet"

End With

Range(“DataSet”).Select

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

On not being so grateful for correspondence

I don’t get much post, so it’s been an exciting week because I’ve not only had something from Virgin Trains (see below) but I have also had something from Vanquis Bank.  Whoever they are.

Actually, it’s not that exciting at all, because the post from Vanquis Bank is unsolicited junk.  Like most civilised people, I don’t do junk mail.  And this particular piece of junk mail is worse than most, because rather than assume I’m stupid enough to believe that I’ve been singularly chosen for a free holiday, it appears to think that I have problems managing my money.  Not to worry, however, because I’ve been specially selected to apply for a card with a ‘manageable credit limit.’

If you work for Vanquis Bank, you should be ashamed of yourself.  Some of us are capable of having a credit card without helping to induce a recession (believe it or not).

If you know someone who works for Vanquis Bank, give them a hard stare from me and don’t talk to them for a while.

On being grateful for correspondence

I recently filled in a Virgin Trains Customer Comment Form (no surprises there - I am, after all, one of those people).  I have since received a letter thanking me for my correspondence and informing me that it was received safely.  This is all very polite, but it does beg a question.  Do I respond to them to assure them that their letter arrived safely?  How long does this sort of thing go on for?

On being dead trivial

As you may have seen, there is some discussion going on about on the spot fines for careless drivers.  In principle, I think that this is a good thing.  After all, we can probably all recall seeing someone driving and wondering how on earth they passed their test.  The caveat, I guess, is that it doesn’t become a money making scheme, like those speed cameras which get you for doing 31mph on a dual carriage-way through Reading at 2am.

Doubtless there will be some debate about what drivers should be busted for, and what is “trivial.”  I would imagine that your inclination would be to put anything you get stopped for in the latter category, and it’s interesting to see how far some people will stretch the definition of “trivial.”  One commentator on the aforementioned article (who goes by the name of anotherfakename) suggests that “compared to the population and use of roads 2000 dead is trivial.”  Statistically speaking, I guess they may have a point of sorts, but life (or in this case death) doesn’t work like that.  At least they had the nous to note the obvious caveat that being killed is not trivial for the people concerned…

Monday, May 09, 2011

It was acceptable in the 80’s

If you are a Londoner you will probably not be too enamoured with the news that the Underground workers are going on strike.  If you are ignorant you will probably unfairly blame Boris, whilst the word in the industry is that the strike is because a pay deal offered “falls well short of RMT’s claim for a substantial, above-inflation, pay rise in a one-year deal.”  It’s difficult to know if this is really the reason, because the Union have spouted some other excuses as well (a sure sign that there is no motivation other than selfish political gain) but I’m amazed that anyone has sympathy with Bob Crow and his cronies (especially when he already earns so much).  We’d all love a generous salary, let alone a pay rise, but most people accept that at this time you can ask for a substantial payrise but probably won’t get it.

Someone needs to follow Reagan’s example from 1981…

Friday, May 06, 2011

Run your own country–enjoy a free trial?

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that if I kept a list of people I don’t like, Alex Salmond would be on it.  Still, I do agree with the commentator on this article  who said:

Bring on our [Scottish] independence,i know some people might not think we would manage on our own but i say its our right to try,if we make a mess of it then its our fault not yours”

Fair enough, in principle.  But where is the guarantee that Westminster won’t put in any funding, and that English Taxpayers won’t be paying for any Scottish mistakes?

On “’AVing a beer”

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So, polls have closed, and what’s done is done.  We will find out later whether the UK will be adopting the AV system or not.

Whilst we all wait with baited breath, I thought I would pass comment on this “Yes to AV” poster I encountered yesterday.  I’d already voted by this point, but suffice to say it didn’t sway my decision.

At first glance, the logic of this poster may seem sound.  If there was a group of people casting votes on where they were all going to go and socialise, applying the First Past the Post (FPTP) system would have resulted in them going for coffee (in this scenario in which there are four pubs and one coffee shop).  Arguably though, if going for coffee is a bad thing, the flaw here is not necessarily the voting system but the question which was asked.  Personally I would have started by asking “coffee or beer?” 

Nonetheless, let’s bear with these people and look at what could have happened if they had adopted an AV system for choosing their social activity.  It is probable that equal numbers of people would have chosen two different pubs, or a pub and the coffee shop.  So whereas more people might enjoy their drink and venue of choice, it defeats the point of having a group social if folk go to different places.  And even if there was a consensus on a single venue, the number of people who didn’t get their first choice would still be very high – after all, it is only the voting system, and not the opinion of others, which has been changed.

I also think that there is an interesting underlying issue here, and that is the idea of being very self centred and prioritising one’s own individual views at the expense of what is actually best.  Personally, if I am going for a beer, I prefer to enjoy it with friends than sipping it alone in the corner of my favourite bar…

Cheers.

 

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Computer says no

So tomorrow is voting day.  AV or not to AV, that is the question…

It may not surprise some of you to learn that I shall be voting ‘no.’  But it may surprise you to learn that I have actually thought about it properly, and I’m not being conservative just for the sake of it.

I’m not a huge fan of the sensationalism and the mud-slinging, but I do think that the ‘No’ campaign makes some good points.

Although the threat of more coalitions may be seen as scaremongering, I think that it is a very real possibility, and I’m not sure that is what we want for the country.  In my current line of research I am often frustrated by the fact that decisions are often not able to be taken because there is a lack of political will.  Sometimes leaders must lead, and governments must be empowered to do so without resorting to the lowest common denominator.  Even with AV your one MP’s individual views are going to be no more representative of the populous than they are at the moment.

The other thing which is worth bearing in mind – and one of the things which has encouraged me to vote ‘no’ rather than ‘yes’ – is the fact that the constituency boundaries are going to be reviewed anyway, whatever tomorrow’s outcome.  So don’t vote ‘yes’ just because you think it is the only way of getting some reform…

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

So what’s new?

As has been well documented, I’m not generally the world’s biggest fan of The Guardian.  But this snippet is worth taking note of. It doesn’t actually do much more than state the obvious, but the notion that emissions reductions are cancelled out by important goods should wipe the smug smile off your face if you’ve just imported a Prius and are basking in its apparent eco-friendly glow.