Author Archive for Chris Aylward

Ikea – a double disappointment

I admit this may be an unusual situation, but just wanted 2 replacement T-legs from Ikea – a simply requirement considering they sell them separately on their website. So on the 12th August 2013 I contacted them with this:

Easy question, but Article Number : 200.569.15 (T-Legs), can they be pulled apart or are they fixed in a  T  position?

Reason being is that I wanted to collect them on the motorcycle using a rucksack, as it’s easier/quicker – life is about saving time right?

By the 17th August 2013 they graced me with a response:

Unfortunately the GALANT T-Legs are fixed in the T position and cannot be separated.

By chance, I then found a friend had some, had a look and found two screws on the base – so they could be taken apart. I’m afraid sarcasm took over and I responded to their email with this:

I’m so glad you know your products so well. In fact by chance I got hold of some Galant T-legs and you wouldn’t believe it, there’s actually two screws on the bottom of the legs. These have  ‘threads’ and can actually be un-done with an “allen key”, this results in the leg being separated into two pieces – contradicting your professional advice. Having recently experienced the poorest in website and customer services from Ikea, your the lack of knowledge about the products your employer sells, is of no surprise to me. 

This sarcasm was motivated by this fact. Their website claimed there was over 120 units available at Lakeside. I did the 80 mile round trip and a member of staff said there wasn’t – wasted journey. Even the day after, the website still claims there’s still well 119. I can’t contact the store directly, ‘live chat’ is rarely available, and emails are answered when they feel like it (probably poorly treated employees, or a lack of them).

So other than go elsewhere, what am I supposed to do? Anyway, thought I’d share this with the world.

24 Hours in A&E – Why do we watch it?

24 Hours in A&EI caught a glimpse of this programme shortly after it came out, and I see it’s still on, which in this digital age means it must be popular. I refer to the digital age, because unlike the old analogue which provided no statistics, the new wave of digital broadcasting is like a statistical wet dream for the bean counters. They don’t have to ask test groups, they just know what you’re watching and when, then decide what stays and what doesn’t.

Keeping on track though, I’m not personally keen on these programmes for the obvious reason I’ve endured A&E to a great extent. Nearly 3 years on from my own definition of trauma, I still don’t like the sound of the machines I hear on this programme, as well as the reminder of smells. Of course I was too ‘out of it’ to recall the sights, due to the pain, medication and general disorientation. I even recall how staff were risking my life, but I was powerless to do anything about. On the plus side I recall the doctors who made decisions that probably saved my life.

My main point about writing this is because I can’t understand the human reason for wishing to watch a programme like this. If I’m a benchmark, anyone that’s experienced a severe medical trauma and been in A&E, won’t want to watch it. If they do, they may just want to process what they went through, or see it from another angle (one of hundreds of cameras apparently). That leaves those that haven’t experienced it – why would you wish to watch something that you would hope never happened to you?

Let’s get this straight, I don’t know you, the you that’s reading this, and I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you (unless you’re evil of course). But the laws of probability are that you will suffer some fate, whether it’s a cycling accident, public transport crash or even falling off your roof adjusting the aerial. So why spend your precious time on this earth, as you, observing the worst that could happen, to you. It’s bizarre really, we seem to have an addiction to viewing situations that start badly and then improve. Sometimes they don’t improve – this evening’s episode shows a person who fell from a great height and had probable brain damage. What are we supposed to gain from this information? Are we supposed to sympathise for the parents/children, those that we haven’t even met or have any social interaction with? What function is carried out by disconnected compassion?

Before you say it, yes of course I can chose not to watch it, and I use that choice and chose not too. All I’d say is if you have time on your side and you must watch some flickering light creating moving images, watch something funny or educational. Make the most of your life, not the least.

Polish tyre company Oponeo delivering vehicle tyres to the UK (Positive Review)

oponeo_tyres_website_screenshotA friend told me about this strangely named company called www.oponeo.co.uk , he oddly thought they were from Holland, but they weren’t. So I wondered over to there website and had a butchers.

Website

Very nicely laid out and easy to use.

I gave them a punt and for £194 (inc. delivery, VAT and all extras – not hidden at all), I got one of each of the following:

Bridgestone BT 023 120/70ZR17 (58 W) Front TL M/C
Bridgestone BT 023 180/55ZR17 (73 W) Rear TL M/C

Communication

After the usual email notification, I received other emails stating delivery tracking links. Has to be said, these sent me to a very Polish website which google had to translate for me, but it was obvious enough with time and dates.

I also received a text message (SMS) at 8am on the day of the delivery, stating the estimated delivery time slot of between 3-4pm that day. It included the drivers name and ‘text back’ options to re-arrange delivery to a neighbour or deliver the following day, or day after.

Delivery:

A friendly pole’ in a large white transit van, nearly just left a card in my door, before deciding to venture into the back garden where I was sitting patiently in the sun (having taken the day off for the delivery). Nice round black things successfully delivered 🙂

Timescale:

Paid for them late on a Friday afternoon, received them on the following Wednesday afternoon. So I received them on technically the 3rd working day, that’s not bad at all.

Conclusion:

As you can imagine, they get 10/10 in my books.

Summer Riders – have fun, but don’t ruin it for the rest of us

May Day Bikers crowd

I recently tweeted about the annual return of summer riders, because as we all know, they’ll wobble the bike out of the garage once more and wreck havoc on British roads round about now. Before I go on, I’m no angel, I do have fun from time to time when the conditions permit – but by riding through the worst weather this country can throw at us, I inevitably have the control and competence to deal with it. If I were able to speak to summer riders before they don their showroom condition leathers, I’d just ask them to give themselves time to warm up a bit, after many months in a cage performing their mundane slow speed commute to work. May be even take some sort of refresher course, there are plenty available – with some you only need to pay for someone elses’ petrol and surprisingly you WILL have fun.

All through the year, I try to be considerate to car drivers, waving when they move over, letting them know if they have a puncture, etc. Every time I do this, they link motorcycling to being a positive force. But any sort of biker experience is cancelled out when, for instance, a biker does 80mph+ through a busy shopping/pedestrian area. It sounds harsh, but putting aside connotations of injuring an innocent bystander, think of what that does to the reputation of biking. It’s the reason that every so often a speed limit is reduced, or getting a bike licence either becomes harder to get, or to provide. It’s inevitable that if this continues, getting a motorcycle licence will be so difficult, future would-be riders will give up and drive a Ford Focus instead,  without experience of the unique freedom and pleasures of two wheels. Gradually the few riders remaining will become too old to ride and slowly die out (hopefully by natural causes), the reminiscing will peter out and museums will be the only place to see a bike. May be I’m thinking too far ahead – may be I should act like everyone else and only consider the future in 2 year chunks? But eventually the future does happen, and the consequences of our actions today catch up.

Of course, anyone connected to the motorcycle industry isn’t going to support telling their most lucrative customers anything, as they smile all the way to the bank. Why would they? Who is going to damage their potential income by objecting to hobbie riders, we all have bills to pay after all. I may be wrong, but one of the reasons the CBT test was introduced, was because the motorcycle industry complained that they had no repeat business due to the death rate. So when a kid came in, instead of selling him a safer/slower bike, the dealer preferred to sell the more profitable/faster bike instead. There is no forethought into the future – the ‘big picture’ we hate any reference to. When a biker dies, he can’t buy that bike mag’, he can’t buy that shiny new white Gixer, and he leaves his family and friends with the worst attitude towards biking possible. Even if it was totally his (or her) fault, they will still refuse to blame the rider for his actions. Ride at 90mph in a 40 zone and other road users won’t be expecting a bike that genuinely  ‘appears from no-where’. I’m not denying at all that fault is never other road users, other people do make mistakes. But we are now at a point in human history where the existence of objects that cause harm to the innocent, are being questioned. For some reason those that are in control of them, are not. This happens in all areas of society, from food being the cause of obesity (instead of the actual hand, mouth and personal choices), to the biking culture as a collective being to blame, and not individual riders of varying levels of skill.

I’m not denying it, riding a bike is awesome, applying the original meaning of the word. I love the freedom it gives, the cheap acceleration it provides and the traffic efficiency you get as a bonus.

As a bare minimum, I just wish riders would adhere to these basic and common sense rules when riding:

  • Slow down when you’re going to pass a junction
  • Keep the speed down in built up areas (it won’t kill you)
  • Don’t ride really fast in rural areas that MP’s live
  • Ride slow at first (despite your testosterone), and gradually build up the speed.
  • Don’t be pier pressured into riding beyond your skill set.
  • Don’t surprise car drivers, they don’t like it
  • Buy a bike that YOU ride, not one that rides YOU
  • Remember what and who you leave behind by riding like a tit.

Other than that, I wish you another great summer, keep the rubber side down ya’ll 🙂

Let’s have the roads destroyed or maintained, either way is good

I was riding at around midnight last night via Rotherfield, through Frant and onto Tunbridge Wells when I saw a branch that had fallen on the road, right of the centre of the lane. I missed it by having good observation and a highbeam on, and thought it was the right thing to do, to turn around and take it off the road. As I parked up, to the left of the branch and within the normal tyre tracks of cars were two massive potholes at least 3 inches deep and over 3-4 feet long and a minimum of a foot wide. I was in complete disbelief that something like that could be forgotten or ignored and here are my immediate thoughts (please note this is not words for children’s eyes).

Well done for reading this, even though it doesn’t have a picture or some video to keep you mentally occupied. Yes I’m afraid you’ll have cope with those word things, that when put in a row are supposed to make some sort of sense. Please, bare with me if you can.

Don’t you fucking dare take this as another “Angry from Tunbridge Wells”, you should be ashamed of yourselves if you work for the council in ANY department. Yes you do your job because it pays for your families existence and all the shit that’s required of us these days. It should be more than that and if I worked for the council, I would hide my face in public if I was even vaguely in a position to easily report problems I see on PUBLIC roads paid with PUBLIC money.

But to think that with all the people working for the council, using the roads in council vehicles along with everyone else, not one lazy fucker made a quick note of the location of the potholes and let the right department know. What the hell is wrong with you people, do the rest of us have to pick up your fucking slack? So maybe you don’t get the credit, can you just let your ego let that slide just a few times?!? Don’t trick us into a false sense of security by having miles of quality tarmac, to then either fuck us or our vehicles. Either keep all the roads in good condition or fuck them all up, just give us all some consistency!

Yes it costs money to maintain the roads, and yes it might only save a few lives, but do we really have to wait for deaths before we do something? Are preventative measures not acceptable these days, can the budget not cope and are there acceptable losses? I’m not going to try the “what if it were your kids/parents/brothers that got killed because of a pothole, because you clearly don’t give a fuck about them. But with your limited imagination, try to picture a police officer going to a house and telling a spouse, “Oh yeah they died because it was going to cost £2,000 to erect the traffic lights and get the workers to fill that hole”. Plus you hear rumours about how the budget is maintained, you know, just near the end of whatever deranged year they work to, they suddenly spank the money like there’s no tomorrow. Because? Because otherwise they can’t ask for more next year…what the fuck is going on here?!? Are there not surely more roads year on year? Are there not more vehicles using these roads year on year? Is some backwards inbred fuckwit making all the decisions year on year? Someone higher up making these decisions that’s so distanced from the reality, that they probably don’t know what a road is actually made of?

And YES roadcraft supporters, I was riding within the speed limit (60mph) and ‘appropriately for the conditions’, or at least to the point to make it worthwhile riding a vehicle, and not running really fast. But think about it, really think about it – there are two main types of people using a stretch of road, locals and non-locals. Locals will get used to the bumps, and strangely they’ll be going to work and don’t really want to stop and record location and depths of these craters. Then you’ve got the non-locals, it’s not their regular area and therefore not their problem, so they won’t be reporting them either. So who does that leave us with? Who can do something? Maybe, just maybe the people actually working for the council? They travel the roads all the time, funded by us AND themselves.

If I was in control of the council, I would create a simple test. On the way to the interview, I would place put several bricks and blocks on the road that they would would use. If they picked them up, the job would virtually be there’s. If they didn’t however, they could just fuck off and work for the private sector, where people give more of a shit for their income and displaying it, than the greater good of their fellow humans. I heard on the radio in February 2013 that insurance claims for vehicle damage BECAUSE of the poor road quality was on the increase. Ponder that for a minute, before you carry on with your selfish life.

Here it is, if anyone is bothered:

pothole-south-of-frant

Utilising Council resources properly

Yet again I receive a leaflet from a local political party wishing to have feedback on the general condition of the town I live in. Whether it’s clean and tidy, if there are suspension damaging or even accident causing potholes and so on. For many years I’ve had a simple solution for this – most public highways have council paid staff and vehicles navigating them every day of virtually every week. In these vehicles there are two sitting and not having to do anything other than look out the window. Perhaps these eyes could be used to identify these public nuisances, if you hadn’t already guessed, I’m referring to dustbin men, or ‘Refuse Collectors’ which sounds respectable.

You may have a similar thought process to me, you don’t just consider the benefits to yourself of your own ideas, but also think of anyone that might object to them. In this case I can, that must be the Refuse Collectors themselves. In their shoes I might be angry if I heard of this proposal, after all, when I’m not sitting in the truck, I’m expected to wheel hundreds of very heavy loads over uneven ground for unloading. If it were me proposing this, I would talk to those people first – those that are most likely to object and those that I’m adding extra tasks too. I would hope they could see the benefit and know that it would prevent damage to their own personal vehicles. If they had children, removing a pothole could avoid a vehicle swerving to avoid them and knocking their own kid off a bike. It shouldn’t be necessary to reach out to the selfish characteristics hard-wired within us all, but invariably it’s the only way good ideas can be adopted.

Now, will these Refuse Collectors want extra pay for this extra duty? I would hope not to be honest, I would hope the satisfaction that they’re improving the highways for their fellow residents and drivers would be thanks enough. In this case, I would suggest they’re provided with technology that allows them to accurately record the location of potholes with ease. As I’ve never been on a Refuse Collecting Unit, may be they do have a duty while they’re in transit. In this event, I’m positive that some form of technology that can detect road defects, can be attached to the vehicle.

You might say, “why don’t you record potholes or anything else and report it to your local authority?’. A completely fair suggestion, I’m not going to claim I’m so busy I can’t afford the time to do this, because I probably can. But hopefully like yourself, when I reach my destination, my mind is distracted by the reason I went to the destination in the first place. I don’t have the memory or inclination to write down where I saw a public problem – perhaps when I see a defect, I should pull over, get a pen and paper out or my mobile phone, and make a recording of it. How many people are really going to do that though?

How did I think of this? If you’re reading this, you know it already. It’s because I don’t spend my time in a parliament building, as far away from real public life as possible. My opinion is that MP’s governing UK residents is equivalent to a Plumber telling an Electrician how to do their job. Anyway, just another opinion to be stored on the internet, sorry about that.

Knocking it into shape

Well I thought I’d spend a little time making this website into a useful resource, but it does take a while. It’s also fairly dull, so bare with me, eventually there might actually be some content worth reading!