Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Uh-oh...is the day starting out like it means it...?

Well... it started like it wanted to go on, this morning... I hit every red light on the way to the depot, then hit every red light to the eastern stand, and... well... you get the idea. Today's theme is, it would appear, red.

And just to add insult to injury, the vending machine at the eastern stand was out of order, meaning NO COFFEE!!!!!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A new fuel price campaign idea - and it's got merit!

This was sent to me by a mate the other day. having mulled it over a little, I think it deserves a wider audience - and you may want to actually adopt the idea too. It's a damn good one.

The price of oil is as low as it has been for a while, the oil companies have simply jacked their prices up and the government will not do anything as they rake in extra VAT for every increase.

See what you think and pass it on if you agree with it...

We are hitting £114.9 a litre in some areas now, soon we will be faced with paying £1.50 a litre. Philip Hollsworth offered this good idea:

This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the 'don't buy petrol on a certain day campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to hurt ourselves by refusing to buy petrol. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT,whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join in!

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre is CHEAP, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the market place not sellers.

With the price of petrol going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of petrol come down is if we hit someone in the pocket by not purchasing their Petrol! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. Here's the idea:

For the rest of this year DON'T purchase ANY petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one), ESSO and BP.

If they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers. It's really simple to do!!

Now, don't wimp out at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to a lot of people. If each of you send it to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)... and those 300 send it to at least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it... ..


Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all.(and not buy at ESSO/BP) How long would all that take? If each of us sends this email out to ten more people within one day of receipt,all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the next 8days!!! Acting together we can make a difference . If this makes sense to you, please pass this message on.


It's easy to make this happen. Just join this group and get all your FaceBook friends to join or forward as an email to everyone in your address book, and buy your petrol at Shell, Asda,Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons Jet etc. i.e.. boycott BP and Esso

OK, so the grammar needs a little work, but the idea seems to be sound enough: Don't buy your fuel from Esso or PB. Fine, you'll loose out on Nectar Points from BP, but that's small potatoes, when you consider how much you're paying for fuel right now.

It's doable for most of us, too. And if you want to find the cheapest fuel in your area, there's always http://www.petrolprices.com/... just ignore the Esso and BP results that come up

Thursday, 25 March 2010

People who know everything...

So... here I am, at the eastern end of the route, between buses, in my first (short, only time for a coffee) break... this last trip was entertaining, for a few moments, anyhow... finding myself ahead of schedule for a change (hardly any traffic or passengers, odd for the rush hour), I was killing a couple of minutes at a bus stop, when with a rumbling of heavy footfalls on the stairs, this middle-aged punter comes roaring up to my cab, and almost spitting venom, demands that as he pays a rather large amount of money on his Gold Season Ticket, I should be driving the bus, not parking it. trying to point out why we were stopped fell on deaf ears, as did trying to show him the route card with the schedule on it. The man obviously knew it all, and wanted no enlightenment from a mere driver.

he then stamped back upstairs and presumably resumed fuming in his seat.

As it was, I was about to carry on down the route when he first started ranting, so I'm assuming he thought he'd put the fear of God in me or something.

Nothing could be further from the truth - I was trying hard not to wet myself laughing!

I'd fathom a wild guess that he's right lonely up there on Mount Know-it-all...!

Monday, 22 March 2010

Army troops cuts - while the Army's at overstretch yet again.

Once again, the government of the day is being a bunch of hypocritical wotsits again. I can't write what I want to say - I'd probably be done for a public order offence or something!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: You cannot trust a politician - not even as far as you might throw one.


Troops axed in Army cutback plan

Up to 500 soldiers are to lose their jobs in the Army as the Ministry of Defence "rebalances" troop numbers.

Good Lord, they're fighting hard in Afghanistan, they're trying to keep the peace in Iraq, and they're deployed in countless places around the globe.

Their numbers have been cut more and more since the end of the Cold War (and strangely, the Armed Forces are involved in more conflicts now that's over - so much for a "Peace Dividend").

So, now the bloody bean-counting morons at the Ministry of Limp Wringing Hands wants to cut their numbers still further?!

Will someone PLEASE force some common bloody sense into those gits in the government?

Preferably before they cut the forces completely out of being able to field even one soldier with as much as a pea shooter?

Monday, 15 March 2010

Ye gods, that was CLOSE!

So... There I was, in the middle trip of todays' duty, driving down the 40mph dual carriageway at the western end of the route, doing about 35 mph or so... which was quite amazing, given that half the buses we have apparently won't rise above 30 mph even with a down hill slope and a back wind!

Anyhow, about half way along the dual carriageway, I was overtaken by a fast moving Astra-sized car, doing well over the odds - I estimated at least 60mph - and without any warning or signalling, dove into lane one, then without any apparent pause for thought, let alone mirror-signal-manoeuvre, in order, did the following:

  • Slammed his anchors on going from warp speed to dead slow, in what seemed like an instant,
  • Indicated left, and
  • Mounted the kerb to get to the off-road parking.

An aside while you get popcorn during the advertising break...

As any driving instructor will tell you, when the speed of the vehicle in front dramatically decreases through aggressive braking, the two-second rule tends to rapidly become the zero-second crash. Now, the two-second rule is fine and dandy, but I generally like having a bit more on dual carriageways - bus brakes tend to behave slightly differently at higher speeds - I know they shouldn't, but that's how it feels to me. Check this out: http://www.ukspeedtraps.co.uk/stopping.htm#4 on safe truck stopping distances. It's a good rule of thumb, I think, and I tend to follow that more than I do the car stopping distances guidelines. Just as well, given this incident.

Anyhow, by this point in time, I was:
  • Braking hard - cancel that, I was damn near standing on the brake pedal which by now was probably trying to gouge a foot-deep furrow in the tarmac - and
  • Trying not to defecate masonry, while
  • Conducting a rapid suicide avoidance glance in the offside mirror,
  • Indicating right,
  • Pulling into lane two,
  • Missing the sodding madman by millimetres, and
  • Indicating left and
  • Pulling back into lane one,
  • All while probably shouting something vaguely religious and profane at the same time...

I'm still amazed none of my passengers went flying out of their seats, or even complained. It meant one of two things:
  • That they were used to hard avoidance manoeuvres from watching the movies ("Speed" comes to mind), or
  • That they were all asleep at the time.

Frankly, I didn't much care, as long as none of them had been tossed about the bus like dice in a cup. Either way, that madman needs to buck his ideas up - especially as he was sporting a minicab licence lozenge in his back window.

I know, I know, minicabs LIKE cutting up messing with and generally peeing off Bus Drivers in general, but the manoeuvre that this muppit pulled was a whole order of magnitude more insane than the usual muck they pull.

Let's face it: Having the 18 fully laden tons of an Alexander Dennis Trident double-decker bus stuffed lengthways up ones' chuff is, after all is said and done, a pretty massively silly and embarrassing way to commit suicide...

Monday, 8 March 2010

Parcel Force - getting there, inch by screaming inch...

Ask anyone who knows me. Courier services over here tend to suck large - no, let's re-emphasise that - overwhelmingly large - lemons.

Parcel Force are a case in point. For the last few years, they should have been named Parcel FARCE, and a pretty sick joke it was too. None of their drivers could find my flat, let alone anywhere else it seemed, without the assistance of a GPS, map book, compass, knife, fork, spoon, and the obligatory bit of green string.

It was really really weird: The post office - sorry, Royal Mail - own Parcel Force. it's their baby, so to speak. They also run the Post Offices and Sub Post Offices (collectively, Post Office Counters Ltd), and the postal delivery service that's now known as "Royal Mail". Yet an arm of their business just couldn't find my flat. To say that this made my brain ache was putting it very mildly.

This all changed the other day. Although it didn't seem like it at the time...

I'd ordered something from the USA (doesn't matter what, it's not important, and as it was a pressie for someone, best I don't tell you what it was!), and was awaiting the tracing details from the supplier, expecting something like FexEx or UPS. To my horror, it was a USPS tracking number. Or, 13 digits from hell, as I have come to know those things.

So, I watched, every day, as the tracking regressed - I mean progressed.

Imagine my lack of surprise to find that they'd not only failed to deliver, they hadn't even left a note to say that they'd tried. That spoke volumes, based on previous experiences. At 13:24 I was out, at work, but one of my neighbours who was in all day confirmed that no-one even tried to call. She should know: She's in the flat at the entrance to my block, and can hear everyone who uses the buzzer entry phone system - it's rather loud, you see. Hacks her off no end at night after 10 pm when she's trying to get to sleep, but that's a completely different story...

Back to Parcel Force.

So, I call them that day, in the afternoon (I followed the tracking using mobile internet on my PDA Phone. Useful, that), and asked for them to either hold the package at Charlton for me to collect in person, or to deliver before midday the next day. They opted for the latter, so I gave detailed and easy-to-follow instructions on how to find the block.

Naturally, they failed to get there by midday. What a great big heaving hairy surprise. Not.

However, they did apparently find the block a few hours later, so that was a minor miracle in and of itself.

What they did next gobsmacked me.

Rather than taking it back to the Charlton depot, the delivery bloke left a note (through my front door's letter box - nice one, mate, someone obviously let you in, and she's got a box of chockies for her trouble now!), and left the package at a local sub post office, which saved me from having to undertake a bloody irritating 24 mile round-trip to Charlton via the south London rush hour car park (a.k.a. the A102(M) Northbound) and back the next morning.

I think they're learning, don't you?


'Course not.

They obviously remembered me from last time...

...And didn't want an irate punter at the front counter with the intention of ripping the arms off some poor sod and beating him about the head with the bloody ends, did they?

Sunday, 7 March 2010


This happened on my last trip before knocking off last night. Not much of a delay, I appear to have arrived perhaps half an hour or so after it happened, when there wasn't much traffic on the road, thankfully, or the situation might have been much worse.

It's probably just as well you can't see the mess these two vehicles made of each other. They had to be prized apart by the Fire Brigade (who left moments before I took this photo). The guys in the yellow truck are from TfL Streets, and are laying down 'Spilldry', which is used to soak up stuff like petrol, oil, and lubricants ( or "POL") at the scenes of road traffic collisions.

There were two ambulances on-scene when I got there. The last one, blocking my side of the road, shifted a couple of feet to allow us through about quarter of an hour after I got there.

Apparently, this was the result of someone forgetting what the colour "Red" means when displayed on traffic lights.

For those of you still in an alcoholic haze from last night, it means STOP.

Postscript. I should add that I was parked, service brake on, four-way hazard lights flashing, neutral gear selected, standing in the entranceway, not sat behind the wheel, at a bus stop before the lights, when I took that photo. Just in case you were wondering...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Oops... I let things lapse again!


Sorry about the break in posts - I've been a tad busy, and lacking, it must be said, in original inspiration... there are only so many things that can be said regarding idiot and retarded motorists, after all

Anyhow... I subscribe to Lockergnome, a site for those interested in all things geeky and techy (emphasis on the latter, OK? )... today, there was a posting about stuffing your mobile phone into your pockets, and the resulting broken screen problems that this can result in... here's the link...

Personally, I keep my large-touchscreen PDA/phone (reminder: It's an HTC Touch Pro 2) in a belt pouch. Why? I don't want to break the screen. Older phones that weren't large-format touch-screen capable, such as the older second generation cell phones (can you say Nokia 6210?), yeah, you could stick those in your pocket and not have to worry overly about the screen.

This new generation of PDA/phones though (OK, by new I mean most high-end phones from the last three to five years or so), that rely on the screen not only for dialling but for displaying all manner of data and accessing so many more features, demand a hell of a lot more respect, hence the belt pouch.

Modern phones (particularly PDA phones) are simply not rugged enough to merely stuff in a pocket - and that kind of behaviour is merely tempting fate and a broken screen!

Oh yeah - in the British Army, there's a couple of phrases used for the process of making kit and equipment rugged enough so that it will survive the harsh environment that is the modern soldier's daily grind...

The first one's called "Ruggedising". It wasn't an actual word per se, but come into fairly widespread use in the defence industry (who, truth be told, love nothing more than to make the editors at the Oxford English Dictionary curl up and cringe)... and now it's fairly recognisable use in many walks of life - go figure!

Anyhow, the other one's a personal favourite of mine, and is particularly popular with British troops: "Squaddie Proofing"