Archive for April, 2008

Wake up and keep it real!

The Story of StuffHave you ever noticed how people forget about their childhood dreams, aspirations and beliefs as they grow older? It's a gradual process that seems to happen to almost everyone whether they notice or not.

Is it just me, or when you were younger, could you see obvious solution to problems? Did you wonder why we put up with things that were blatantly wrong or ill-conceived? Did you wonder why it took us years or decades to implement simple ideas and still they weren't done as well as they should have been?

Too much rubbish!Recycling facilities for paper, glass, plastic and aluminium. Proper school dinners. Energy-efficient housing. Renewable energy plants. Alternatives to petrol and diesel. Affordable and reliable public transport. No smoking in public places.

Most of these great ideas are still waiting to happen, yet thinking people (particularly children) thought of them 10, 20, 30 or more years ago. I use the expression thinking people because it seems that when we get a job and then a better job and then a house and a husband/wife and a family, we forget to really think. We just go with the flow. We get into a comfort zone and are easily influenced by the media and advertising. We begin to forget those great ideas we once had and we lose the ambition to actually make them happen.

Let's not forget them. Let's nurture them and grow them through action. Let's keep our brains and spirits alive and kicking.

Now here is what prompted this post – The Story of Stuff – the latest outstanding video from Free Range Studios.

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Darth Vadar being a smartass

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Next-generation sports cars

I just found a new vehicle while surfing.

Here are the specs…

  • Price: $108,000 (£55,000)
  • Weight: 3000+ lb (1360+ kg)
  • 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h): 4 seconds
  • ¼ mile (0.4 km): 12 seconds @ 120 mph (193 km/h)
  • Top speed: 150 mph (240 km/h)

Now visualise what a car with such high performance would look like.

Now go and see what the car is.

If you enjoyed that, you might also like this great looking car and this space age one.

Both the Tesla and Aptera are in production now but have a seriously long waiting lists and can only be purchased in the USA. The Tango has not yet reached mass production.

Update: The Tango is already in production and you can order one from the UK. I just received this email from their President, Rick Woodbury:

Hi Jake,

Thanks for your enquiry:

Yes, you can certainly pre-order one for the UK.

We are shipping one to London with a few months.

The T600 is available now. It is made to order. Orders placed now will take approximately 6 months to deliver. The price is $108,000 in USD, fully equipped including a 10-year unlimited-mileage parts warranty. We can customize the Tango or remove items at cost if so desired.

Lead-acid batteries that have a range of 40 to 80 miles depending on speed and terrain come standard. Li-Ion batteries are also available with a range of 100 to 200 miles or more of freeway driving with prices ranging from approximately $25,000 to $50,000 depending on type and capacity. We are expecting a final quotation and warranty shortly. The Li-Ion batteries promise much more power than even the lead-acid.

We are also taking deposits on less-expensive models which will be designed and built as funding becomes available from profits or investment capital.

There is more detailed information on our web page under the "Ordering" button.

If you have further questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Best wishes,

Rick

So you can order a T600 now ($108,000 with $10,000 deposit) and receive it in 6 months, or you can pre-order a Tango T100 ($18,700 with $500 deposit) and wait 2-3 years.

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Cyclists banned from trains

Bicycles - but not on trains thank youI was thrown off a train at Marylebone Station 4.58pm today because I had a bike. I argued with the railway staff, including the station manager, but they enforced a rule that would not let me on their trains between 4.30pm and 7.30pm.

The train was ready to depart and there were plenty of spare seats. But they forced me to wait in London for 2 and a half hours before I could use my ticket.

People should be commended for choosing to cycle, not thrown off and prevented from travelling. Cycling, instead of driving, reduces CO2 emissions and gives people exercise. Climate change and obesity are two of our greatest challenges – cycling to work helps solve two problems in one go.

Encouraging cycling is clearly a good policy, so let's not prevent people from doing a good thing. Let's make more space for bikes on trains or just increase the frequency of trains. It's as simple as that. Yes it might mean refitting some trains or adding a carriage here or there, but if we're serious about climate change and obesity, having bikes on trains is a no-brainer.

The station manager told me that the ban was 'governments rules'. I questioned his judgement and rightly so. From what I've since read online, only some train companies ban bikes on trains, though it is an increasing trend.

The Labour Government harps on about 'integrated transport' and tackling climate but as usual, it is hype and rhetoric. Labour was petitioned 14 months ago to allow bicycles on trains but they declined to help, saying it was up to the train companies. We didn't elect our Government to pass the buck.

The train companies don't get it. The government doesn't get it. So where do we go from here?

  1. We can lobby the Office of Rail Regulation.
  2. We can lobby the train companies.
  3. We can vote Labour out of power in 2 years time. And we will.

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Organ donation online

Transplants save livesIn the old days, you could tick an "organ donation" box when you filled in the registration form at your local GP surgery. If you ticked it, your organs would be made available to sick people needing organ transplants. But what would happen if you registered at a new doctors surgery when you moved house, but this time you didn't tick the box? Does that mean that you've now opted out?

Alternatively, you could register as a donor by carrying a donor card with you. But I'm 32 years old and have a life expectancy of another 54 years, so what's the point of padding out my wallet with another card?

Become a donorThankfully this is 2008 and some of the £zillions that the NHS has wasted spent on IT has found its way to this Organ Transplant website. I just registered as a donor in under 2 minutes. If I ever change my mind, I can go back to the website and amend my details or remove them.

The interweb saves the day again.

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Brick short of a load

My sister just sent me this and it made me larf 🙂

These builders are installing and setting solid steel pillars in concrete to stop vehicles from parking on the pavement outside a sports bar.

They are now cleaning up at the end of the day.

Builders box in their vehicle
How long do you think it will be before they realise where their vehicle is parked?

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HSBC knows customer service

HSBC parcel in the postA parcel just arrived out of the blue with my name on it. Everyone loves a surprise parcel. I opened the outer packaging and found a red box with a "Sorry" note.

It was from my bank, HSBC, and contained a bottle of white wine. It was their way of apologising for losing my replacement debit card.

HSBC no longer sends cards by post due to security concerns, so I had to pick it up from my local branch. I visited the branch 4 times but each time it was missing. Eventually, another new card was issued and posted to my home.

HSBC apologyI already rate HSBC highly for customer service, so a response like this on the rare occassion that they do mess up is very impressive.

Cheers folks!

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My new sunglasses, night time use only

Jake's new sunglassesOn Monday, I made the most extravagant purchase of my life. My new wraparound sunglasses cost a cool £4,620. There is no famous brand name etched on the frame and they are for night time use only. It's what's behind the glasses that counts.

Three days earlier I'd visited Sheraz Daya at the Centre For Sight to see if he could correct my eyesight through laser eye surgery. My infallible optometrist of 17 years, Nigel Burnett Hodd, was cautious about laser surgery, but he recommended that if I did have it, I must go to Mr Daya.

The results of my eye examination gave Mr Daya total confidence that he could fix my short sightedness and astigmatism. Not only could he return my sight to 20/20, he believed he might do even better.

Snellen chartI didn't know then that better than 20/20 was possible. But I do now. Just 24 hours after surgery, my eyes were tested again and I now had 20/20 vision in my right eye and at least 20/15 vision in my left. They might improve further still over the coming weeks. For comparison, my eyes had previously been around 20/100 while the best a human can see is about 20/10.

The operation itself took about 45 seconds per eye and was almost painless. I had been sedated but was still conscious. Mr Daya was pleased with the operation and my sister drove me home with my new sunglasses and a collection of eye drops. For 4 weeks I will wear the sunglasses while I sleep to prevent me from rubbing my eye and I shall administer eye drops regularly during the day.

The outcome is remarkable. My left eye sight is outstanding – better than I have ever experienced with glasses or lenses. My right eye sight is good enough for all daily tasks though my hunch is that I will need repeat laser surgery to improve it further. If so, that will happen in 3 months at no additional cost.

I'll update this post later with a review of my progress.

6 months later…

I can still see clearly and my vision has been stable since the operation 6 months ago. I had a check-up today at Centre For Sight, Queen Anne Street, London. My eyesight remains better than 20:20.

During the 6 months, my eyes have felt dry on perhaps 5 occasions late at night. This is a minor side effect of Lasik treatment and though the discomfort is minimal, it can be cured with eye drops. I experienced no other side effects.

IntraLasik surgery is life changing. No more contact lenses, solutions, glasses, irritated eyes – just crystal clear vision. It costs a few bob, but it is worth every penny. The results should last until middle-age when eyesight naturally deteriorates, at which point, further operations can assist.

If you are considering IntraLasik surgery, I highly recommend you discuss it with Sheraz Daya at Centre For Sight.

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Rock and rule

You rock, you rule!

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