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Thursday, June 30, 2005

 

Glastonbury, nothing to offer but fun and ……mud?

A couple of our younger team members have just come back from the Glastonbury festival full of beans. Despite the torrential downpours which are pretty much traditional at this time of year which turn the whole site into a quagmire, everyone seems to have a pretty good time. Truth be told, the mud is part of the good time. Seasoned festivalgoers expect it and go prepared.

Now we learn that festivalgoers are selling real, genuine Glastonbury mud on E-bay to those who couldn’t get tickets / time off this year. Should pay for a really good time in 2007 then. (Sigh) I remember camping out in muddy fields, listening to the rock bands of my day. Of course, a few years back (A few!?) didn’t have the problem of clogging up Mums washing machine with the Glastonbury mud – didn’t wear much in the way of clothes the years I went. Showing my age again.

Never mind. Nostalgia may not be what it used to be, but it will be again one day.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 

Summer and lightning

When the storms hit today we all got pulled off patrol and back to base for ‘Bad weather’ duties. This means car parks, either the three multi stories, or working out of the van. Asif, my oppo for the day and I, went round checking and clearing drains to try and prevent flooding. Not the most pleasant of tasks, but we just got on with it, trying to ignore the odd dead rat (and occasional live one).

Now Asif and I have been buddies since the day we both started. We crack the same silly jokes and take the piss out of each other unmercifully. Some of the stuff we say to each other might be classed ‘racist’ if an outsider heard our banter. Nonetheless, we are brothers in arms and that more than eliminates any historical / religious / racial differences. He is as welcome in my house as I am in his. I can even crack irreverent remarks in front of him without hurt, even though I know he is a deeply religious man. In return, Asif is usually the first to give me stick first thing before we go out on patrol. We are friends. No more need be said.

So this afternoon, when the rain was a-raining and the hail was hammering down, I stood watching large pea size hailstones bouncing off the concrete from my sheltered vantage point. Asif was farting around like he’d never been in a storm before. I just drank my tea and watched nature’s light show.
“Hey, Bill.” Says Asif. “Race you to the entrance.”
“Nah.” I replied phlegmatically, whereupon Asif steps out (in shirtsleeves) into rain that is more like being under a waterfall than just a shower. In two seconds, the daft beggar is wet through.
“Stuffin’ hell.” Remarks Asif. “That’s not very nice.”
“It’s wet too.” I remarked.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Sometimes I worry about him. Nice lad, shame about the brain.
“Think of it as a learning experience. If I’d just told you, you wouldn’t have believed me. Trust me mate, it’s better this way.”
“That hurt.” He was referring to a number of direct hits he’d suffered with hailstones on his shirt. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Because Asif me old mucker, you wouldn’t have believed me. I learned not to go out into thunderstorms a long time ago.”
“Right. That’s a big help.”
“Because I did exactly what you just did and found out for myself.”
“Ah, right.”
“Kettles boiled.”
“Good idea.”

So we skived off for another cup of tea and I lent him my towel. You’d do as much for a mate wouldn’t you?.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

 

New road signs! Yippee!

There seems to be an established idea amongst politicians of all parties that technology is the answer to every question. In order to prize the votes out of Mrs / Mrs / Ms Joe(sephine) Public they come out with wonderful ideas produced by marvellous (& highly expensive) consultants which will be the answer to every problem. Read this article in the Guardian about the Highways Agency to see an outline of the politicians thought processes.

Sorry guys. Great IT is only useful with good and prudent management practices. Whilst there is a lot of good (ish) IT out there, the management practices are so way behind they are at the red shifted end of the spectrum. Not that this is a head in the sand situation, far from it, it’s just that the techies and the managers speak distinctly differing languages.

To add to the confusion, the politicians and decision makers, to whom the managers’ report; can’t really understand either the technical or the managerial side of things as these are so specialised. Lobby groups (Tending to be vociferous minorities or commercial vested interests), who understand even less than the politicians, make a lot of noise that ‘something must be done’ and make like they are the voice of the electorate. Instead of telling the lobby groups to shut up and go and get lives so that they can look at the real issues (Whatever they are), in their ignorance the politicians panic and make broad brushstroke decisions which fail to address any of the real issues at all. The lobby group then goes away happy or not with the compromise fudge the politicians came up with, leaving the managers to say “Do this.” To the techies, whose response is often; “Okay. If you want us to be enthusiastic about this, show us the money.” before wandering back to their closed little code world shaking their heads at the futility of it all, just glad to be gainfully employed.

Of course, this is only a thumbnail sketch of the whole process, but it’s a one-time insiders thumbnail sketch of how big IT projects are doomed to failure before a single line of code is written. Mrs Sticker calls the politicians and their answers ‘One step judgement junkies’. In other words, their proposed solutions are not properly thought through, with little consideration of how the whizzy flashy stuff will be managed and maintained, or where the money for this will come from.

So what has this rant got to do with parking enforcement? In a nutshell, signage; the lines, signs and Traffic Regulation Orders which tell you where and when you may stop and for how long etc. The politicians tend to go for whatever is new, forgetting that a simple maintenance regime, properly managed and funded (Costing a tenth of the proposed new high tech kit) will more than adequately do the job. Our own high tech car park signs being a case in point. They cost several million pounds to install but they are constantly going wrong and have never ever worked properly.

As Parking Enforcement Officers, our biggest gripe is about the state of the road markings, which can make our job next to impossible in some areas. The solutions we need aren’t high tech, they are low tech and proven. Just bits of alloy with plastic lettering on and some thermoplastic paint properly applied.

High tech is great if you have a clear and uncluttered idea of what is to be achieved and how much it will cost to run properly, but here is my point. What is the point of spending gazillions on new, whizzy high tech road signs if most of the motoring dyslexic can’t or won’t pay attention to the ones we’ve got already?

Sunday, June 26, 2005

 

Tell me again - how will it help?

If you believe the powers that be; ID cards will prevent terrorism, cut organised crime, stop benefit fraud, prevent illegal immigration, relieve bad breath, sexually transmitted diseases and athletes foot.

Er…. Who else, apart from Mrs Sticker and I, believe that the above is all utter bollocks?

The government, in clear breach of the data protection act, is already talking about selling ID cardholders information to commercial enterprises to fund this nonsense.

All I’ve got to say on the subject is this. Come on. Own up all you new labour voters. Put your hands up and repeat after me;
“I’m truly sorry I voted new labour, this is all my fault and I’m very, very sorry to the rest of the people of England. As an act of contrition I will write to Tony Blair and tell him it’s a really bad idea, even though my letter will be totally ignored because he doesn’t really care about the voters at all.”
Did you say it out loud? Did you mean it? Promise? Well all right then. I’ll believe you just this once. Next time you will get a Penalty Charge Notice for believing a dishonest, self-serving egotist of a greasy lawyer.

Seriously guys; anyone who believes that ID cards are a good idea needs their head read. In IT terms it’s a disaster waiting to happen. For the money wasting bureaucrats it's a dream come true. For the rest of us a nightmare.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

 

Resident’s evil

Sheltering under an archway from the heavy rain yesterday (First day back on duty – wouldn’t you just know it?), I ran into PC49 on one of his rare foot patrols. I had seen the downpour coming and ducked under cover before it hit, while he hadn’t been quite quick enough.
“Hello. Enjoying the weather?”
“Not a lot.” Was his rejoinder as he shook some water off his kit.
While the downpour increased and the son et lumière thunderstorm went into high gear, we stepped back out of range of the torrent and nattered about this and that. Not unnaturally, we fell to talking about parking problems and obstruction. There’s a bit of a dichotomy here. I can book people for parking illegally only on yellow lines and red routes, while he can book for obstruction and a whole raft of things my employers won’t take on, like out of date / forged tax discs etc. So there’s a fair bit of common ground.

“Here, you know that residents parking scheme up on Quick Street you lot have had trouble with?” He said. I nodded. Quick Street implemented a new residents permit scheme last year, which has caused all sorts of aggro.
“Riiight.” Says I cautiously. “The new visitors permit scheme. I know. That’s on my beat today.”
“We’ve had a lot of calls from there recently. Chap three nights ago had his friend’s car trashed by one of his neighbours. They’d bought several of those new temporary permits so that their friends could stay overnight for a boozy barbeque. Unfortunately, this meant a number of the other residents couldn’t park in their own street.” He told me with more than a hint of relish in his voice. Did I tell you old 49 has an evil streak? “His friend goes out to find his next door but two neighbour and a couple of others knocking hell out of all the cars in the street with the new visitors permits on. There were broken glass and windscreens all over the place. One almighty punch up ensues and we had to go in mob handed. Worse than closing time in the High Street.”
“Have you passed this back to our office?” I asked. “They set up the scheme after all.”
“Oh yeah. First thing your office said was that it was a small group of residents who had campaigned for the scheme in the first place. Management went ballistic. Blamed your lot for the mini-riot.”

I creased up. I couldn’t help it. There are some times when you can’t help laughing at the stupidity of people and this was one of them. People are so damned precious about their vehicles, and any perceived threat leads to a major casus belli, which can blight an area, sometimes for years.

For the reasons behind my mirth, a little history lesson is in order. A year ago a couple (literally, two.) of the residents got a bee in their bonnet about two or three other people in that street ‘abusing’ the yearly visitors permits by regularly lending them to mates and workmen who worked nearby during the day. They campaigned mightily to get the old visitors permit scheme revoked and the replacement scheme activated. In the process, we got our ears badly bent on a daily basis by said campaigners. Originally, each household could only buy one yearly ‘visitor’ permit per household. Now they can buy as many ‘daily’ permits as they like at a time. So there’s not much we can do if one household has a party and five or six cars need parking nearby (Dearie me. Perish the thought that some people would have to walk more than fifty yards.). This has led to a lot of friction between neighbours, meaning what was once a friendly little street to patrol has, at times, become almost a no-go area.

Do you know what amazes me most of all? Most of this stuff never gets a mention in the local papers. Those guys must be fast asleep.

As far as I am concerned, the current standing orders for Quick Street are to leg it if more than two people challenge you, as threats of serious violence to Parking Enforcement Officers have been made in that area. Therefore, I did the sensible thing and gave Quick Street a miss.

There goes the neighbourhood.

Friday, June 24, 2005

 

FYI










Your Political Profile



Overall: 70% Conservative, 30% Liberal

Social Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Personal Responsibility: 50% Conservative, 50% Liberal

Fiscal Issues: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Ethics: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal

Defense and Crime: 75% Conservative, 25% Liberal


Wednesday, June 22, 2005

 

BBC brainwashing

For the first time in three months, I sat down and watched the BBC news this afternoon. Big mistake. It just made me angry. A simple item about the Royal families accounts was nothing short of poorly disguised republican propaganda. A piece on Grouse moors preparing for August 12th was turned into a ‘green’ propaganda piece. Another report about some stupid child managing to get impaled on iron railings was similarly slanted. Almost as if the newsreaders were telling the viewer how they should be thinking.

My objections to the slanted falsehoods are based on the following facts. The Royal family pays a lot more into the exchequer than it gets paid, so the ‘news’ item was more anti royalist propaganda than ‘news’. Grouse moors are privately managed institutions that have been stable environments for over a century, to the benefit of wildlife and Grouse, so the criticism levelled at them is ultimately self-defeating. If the Grouse moors are allowed to 'revert', the environment the Grouse and other wildlife rely on will disappear. The stupid child was swinging over some old Victorian spiked railings and let go. Then the council were held to be at fault for not removing them sooner. WTF! I’m sorry, but if anyone is that dumb, tough. If they die, think of it as evolution in action. See the link for the Darwin Awards.

My kids, brainwashed by the current ‘health & safety’ culture of course, disagreed vehemently. Mrs Sticker and I sighed heavily, remarking, “They’ll learn the hard way.” That’s if they’re lucky. My major concern is if my two are unlucky, they won’t learn anything ever again. You try to teach them a little carefulness, a little responsibility. Trouble is, in your teens, death and serious injury are relative strangers, so a little sensible life-preserving caution is not considered ‘cool’.

I just pray they learn, along with a little self-preserving caution, that blaming others for the consequences of your own actions (A mental illness too prevalent today) is not wise.

Oh what the hell, there’s beer in the fridge, my last day off tomorrow is going to be characterised by vitamin D conversion and plenty of fluids. The TV stays off in future. It's mostly lowbrow crap anyway.

Monday, June 20, 2005

 

It’s too damned hot

It’s too hot to sit indoors blogging. I have four days off, cold beer to drink and a barbeque to tend.

The rest of the damn silly world can go hang.

Friday, June 17, 2005

 

Public Transport pontificating

I’m often baffled by the complete lack of imagination shown by the powers that be when it comes down to public transport. No one (Of my acquaintance) really likes travelling on the current modes of public transport currently available; e.g. Trains, Trams and Buses. Okay some of the more centralist minded might say – use a taxi. Hmm. Doesn’t exactly address the core issues of limited road space though does it?

Taking a leaf out of Mrs Stickers notebook I elected to compile a brief list of why public transport is so unpopular.

  • Using public transport means being crammed in with strangers whose personal habits may not be to your overall approval.
  • Using public transport means not being able to get on a public transport system and go from work to home in one journey without changing vehicles or a significant (Over 400m) walk at either end.
  • Using public transport means having to suffer the slings and arrows of other peoples work issues (Industrial action, driver being ill; mechanical breakdown)


Your own car / motorcycle etc means;

    • Personal space / privacy
    • End to end journey convenience & flexibility
    • Reliability (Depending upon your vehicles state of repair)
    • Safety (Dependant upon drivers ability)

Question: what do we really want and need from public transport that buses, trains and trams can never give us?
Answer: Personal space, safety, convenience and reliability.

Logic dictates that another means of transport must be developed to provide another layer of transport infrastructure. A means that does provide the passenger with the three main points outlined above. A means that does not need much human supervision / intervention during it’s operating cycle apart from the instruction “I want to go there”.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

 

Close shaves

It happens every single day. The driver returns just as you are giving their wrongly parked vehicle the once over. Some guys “carry on booking” regardless and hand out the ticket. Me, I only do that on Taxi Ranks, Bus Stops or Disabled Bays. Where the five minute observation rule applies, say in car parks, double or single yellows, unless these guys are well and truly taking the piss, they get moved on with a stern admonition “Don’t let me catch you again”. Funnily enough, most of them don’t.

Some of course, will push the envelope and we do book them. They have broken Bill Stickers golden rule, which reads, “Don’t take the mickey.” Others however, apologise, make excuses, whine, whinge and generally make a 14th century beggar look like a rank amateur. These generally get moved on with a ribald statement indicating our disbelief, say “I’d wear a mac if I were you sir, the flying pigs are murder at this time of year.”

Such an incident took place last night in one of the car parks. I found two cars, side by side who had not paid for their parking. So I dutifully began the process of double check for permit / ticket before punching details into my rinky dinky little hand held computer prior to handing out parking ticket. Just as I start punching in the registration, both drivers appear, huge gaggle of kids in tow, apologising profusely for not purchasing a pay and display ticket. “Well.” Says I. “If you buy one for each vehicle right now, we’ll call it quits.” Which they duly did, all the time saying “Thank you.”

Revenue was thusly obtained for use of parking space – job done. I’d just rather they had bought one in the first place.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

 

Comings and goings

It’s been rather quiet of late on the work front. Town has been quiet and we’ve been hard pushed to book anyone. The local chavs have finally got wise to us, and actually move on when one of our number rolls into view.

A Couple of new guys started last week. They seem okay, willing to pitch in and do the job. They can’t be worse than the guys who have left. Shift Supervisor has moved on to new job thank goodness, and Phil, one of our ex-squaddies has resigned.

I was never very comfortable with Phil around. At one point when some of us knew he was leaving we were all praying, “Please God, let him get the bloody job.” The guy is a loose cannon.

Working nights means you are the last to catch up with the gossip. This in some ways is no bad thing. Senior Manager is out of sight and out of mind, me and my oppo just get on with the our duties and hope for the best. I’m sure I’ll be bollocked for something, but I’m just going to tough it out for the moment until something better pops over the horizon.

Monday, June 13, 2005

 

You know…….When you’ve been Quangoed.

Just been having a nose through the news in the Scotsman (See title link), which I’ve generally found to be more impartial than many other news sources (The BBC, or any Murdoch owned news company). Whilst doing so, I came across this article about the state of Quango’s (QUasi-Autonomous National Governmental Associations) in Scotland and the huge amounts of money paid to members for as little as two to three days work a month.

I have several questions;
Why do we need these people?
Why do some of them need to be paid more than the Prime Minister for less than three days work a week?
Would we notice if they simply ceased to exist?

My answers are in order;
We don’t really need them – their ‘jobs’ are little more than sinecures.
They don’t need to be paid that much – Especially taxpayers money.
Not really.
My personal view; Too much public bread is used to soak up these particular gravy trains.

My very last question; Could I please be included on the next Quango to appraise the state of UK Parking Restrictions and enforcement, pretty please with sugar on it. Please. I promise I’ll be good. Please.
 

Beat the Traffic Warden

Okay, this blog would never support the idea that it is okay to offer violence to anyone in law enforcement - but how about this game?

Beat the Traffic Warden. Go on - it's for charity. Which one? CancerBACUP helping people live with Cancer.

This blogs support is purely unofficial and does not in any way imply that I'm going to let you get away with it if I catch you.

Regards

Bill Sticker
 

We’re all doomed, we’re all dooooooomed!!!

Check out this link – it’s hilarious.

The real live end of the world show. Whoop te flamin’ do…. One question; so where’s the Parking Enforcement Officer of the apocalypse then?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

 

Street Presence

Today's mini essay comes from my upbringing. My father always wanted me to join the forces when I was a boy. You know, travel the world, learn a trade, meet interesting people and occasionally kill them. For one reason or another (Failed medicals, lack of enthusiasm for outright mayhem), I never did. For all that he brought me up (With much arguing and fighting) under a fairly strict regime, leaving me with the habit of standing up straight (Lovely shoulders there boy) and looking people in the eyes when they are talking to me. To my mind, not to look at someone when they are talking to you is a calculated insult, as it implies you don’t think much of what they are saying. On the other hand, old friends have told me that sitting under the Bill Sticker patented steely gaze can be rather unsettling. My habit of standing quite still just watching, I have been told, is quite unnerving.

I like to call it ‘Street presence’. On patrol it’s meant as a deterrent for those tempted to lapse into poor parking habits and comes in three distinct phases;


    1. Passive. Watching (Scanning mode), making eye
      contact with drivers.
    2. Active. Locate erring vehicle, (Target
      Aquisition mode) prime hand held computer.
    3. Targeted. (Launch mode) Purposefully head towards errant
      vehicle(s).
At points 2 & 3, drivers can often be seen physically running to their wrongly parked vehicles. On one particular occasion it was like watching a Le Mans style start to a Grand Prix. A firm and unequivocal “Not on double yellows” answering the plaintive cries of “But where do we park!”

This tactic is very effective and comes in quite handy when you need to clear an entire street in a hurry. The purposeful stride, the ‘fistful of dollars’ stance and the ‘Doc Holliday’ style flip of your coat back from your hand held computers belt pouch followed by the scanning gaze which says “Which one of you punks wants to be first?” are all good tools. It’s quite amazing; the merest hint of a parking ticket is enough to start car engines at almost a hundred metres. Harry Potter – step aside.

Power. Don’t you just love it?

Saturday, June 11, 2005

 

Which Dead Russian Composer am I?

If I were a Dead Russian Composer, I would be Aleksandr Borodin.

Son of a 19th Century Russian prince and a...non-royal...mother, I went to medical school and became a biochemist. Most people, however, (and probably my twenty cats as well) agree that they'd trade all of my scientific discoveries for another set of "Polovetsian Dances."

Who would you be? Dead Russian Composer Personality Test


Credits:
Via Silly Humans,Majikthise and Vomiting Confetti
 

Travellers

Last week, several examples of the particular hominid subspecies generally grouped together under the genus ‘Travellers’ invaded one of our car parks. You know the sort of thing, Caravans, unlicensed white vans, low-level criminal activity (Petty vandalism, theft, behaviour likely to poorly re tarmac your drive etc.). Our orders were “Hands off until the warrants are issued.” Fine by me, because if you do book one of their vehicles you can’t get a parking ticket to stick because there’s no address to send it to; so it’s not really worth the trouble. Although just threatening to issue can produce interesting behaviour, for a perverse value of ‘interesting’.

Up until last year I never used to have an opinion about travellers. Before I became a Parking Enforcement Officer I never gave them a second thought. Now they are just another bit of grit in life’s ointment.

There is a school of thought that claims travelling like this is a ‘free’ lifestyle, but who wants ‘freedom’ stuck at the bottom of the pile, despised and moved on everywhere you go? Furthermore, having spent some truly miserable rain drenched caravanning holidays in Wales, I find myself baffled as to why anyone would wish to spend their entire lives in what appears to me little better than a plastic toilet on wheels.

Oh well, at least it gives the local Chavs someone to look down upon.

Friday, June 10, 2005

 

Typical lawyers solution

The government proposes new legislation to clamp down on ‘Drink fuelled violence’. What?

Why do we need these new laws? The offences of ‘Assault’ and ‘Drunk and Disorderly’ should be quite adequate for the Police to arrest and detain those who can’t hold their booze without going off the deep end shouldn’t they? Or have the lawyers devalued those offences to the point where they are unenforceable?

These new laws won’t mean dick without the manpower and powers to enforce them. Same as road markings mean nothing if the Traffic Regulation Order hasn’t been signed off properly or the signage isn’t right. We’ve got far too much of that in our little corner of Chavland already.

This strikes me as a typical lawyers solution, pass legislation without a clue as to how it will be enforced or upheld. Then say; “The law isn’t working” before coming up with another set of even more bizarre and Byzantine legislation. Whatever planet these guys live on, it ain’t this one.

Any Police officers out there are invited to comment.

Speaking of different planets; whichever one Bob Geldof’s on must be a strange and wonderful place. I mean invoking the spirit of Dunkirk with regard to the Live8 protest. Does this mean re-enacting the bombing, panic and slaughter on the Dunkirk beaches? Stuka’s bombing the destroyers and machine-gunning the small craft perchance? Great idea! I’ll have an E-Boat and four ME109E’s to go please, extra rockets. Revenge for all the crap we get from smug cyclists and hippies who think razzing Parking Enforcement Officers is a socially worthwhile pastime.

Wonder if Senior Manager could be persuaded to go as well?

Think of it as social engineering.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

 

Late shifts and shopping

If I were asked what my favourite working pattern was, I would say that I really like working the late evening shifts. Some of you might think I’m daft because what with the drunks & chavs etc. it’s the riskiest part of the day from a personal safety viewpoint. Besides, what about having a drink with the rest of the lads when you finish work?

Risky? Not so, say I. The rules say you can work in pairs in the evenings after 8 p.m. so if you get into trouble, one of you can run interference while your oppo does a bunk to safety. This is what we usually do, so it’s very rarely an issue. Even if CCTV cover gets a little patchy in the evenings.

Evening shifts have the benefit of being shorter than days and also because all our Managers, being local government types, have all gone home to beddy bye-byes, so we can do our own prioritising and cover the whole of the town from a van, which saves the old plates from continual beat pounding. Doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, but it just feels like the pressure is off and you work better because you’re more relaxed.

Currently, this working pattern suits me very nicely as Mrs Sticker is not very well and I can look after her during the day and do the shopping at the 24 hour hypermarket after I finish work. The result is domestic harmony, despite all our current problems; Sulky teenagers, insane dog, money (lack or it) and potential job instability.

Mrs Sticker likes me to do the shopping because (She says) I attack it like a military exercise. This is true. If I may enlighten you; Shopping to me is not a leisure pursuit but an unpleasant chore which has to be done, so my attitude is to get it out of the way quickly and efficiently. Target your essentials, do it at a time when the kids don’t want to tag along, get in and out fast. Mrs Sticker also likes me to do the shopping because I stick to what we need and keep within the budget. If you’re a bit canny this is no real problem and there’s often a bit left for the odd luxury item.

There is also the added benefit that the aisles aren’t clogged up with the human detritus of the day like screaming undisciplined kids, pensioners who block the way with their gossip groups and Mrs / Mr / Ms Dithering-Dolt and their misguided trolleys (Although the aisles do get impeded by the detritus of the night shelf stacking crew). Parking isn’t a problem and you’ve usually got customer service all to yourself. Even if the delicatessen and fresh fish counters are not open. If I want really fresh stuff I go to the local Deli / Butchers / Fishmongers / Bakers in the late morning before I go on shift. Supermarkets are just for the general grocery shop.

Finishing after 11:30pm at night means that you don’t get to socialise with the other ‘team’ members, but as regards socialising with Parking Enforcement Officers after work – well, would you?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

 

Staying anonymous

Anonymity is a problem in the blogging fraternity what with trying to keep ones job and sanity in these PC times. The problem is, because of its very makeup the Internet is not a secure environment.

For example; Anonymous comments on Haloscan are not anonymous at all. All visitors leave their IP address along with their posted comments. Say if someone posts comments on someone else’s blog that they find offensive or objectionable in any way it’s a pretty simple task to get hold of their IP address and run a trace on it. The tools are mainly text based, but it’s not rocket science, and most people can master it reasonably quickly. Now this is a bit of a grey area as far as the misuse of computers act is concerned. To track someone’s web activity once you have their IP address is relatively simple unless they take certain steps to protect themselves. To do so and introduce ‘malicious’ code or view private information is an offence, but just to track someone isn’t. This means you can easily block an IP address or location of a spammer once you’ve worked out where they are from.

So if someone you don’t care for is haunting your site or blog, ten seconds later you may be able to ping their firewall with the message “I know where you live”. But I wouldn’t do that because I’m not that kind of person. Very often.

In return my anonymity is not guaranteed, but safeguarded by my actions. First; I treat others views with politeness, even if I don’t entirely agree. Second; I take basic precautions, firewall, IP spoofing etc; even if these are not guaranteed means of protecting my location and identity. It’s a simple safeguard like locking your door when you leave the house.

It’s axiomatic that the most determined thief will crack your security. The tools are readily available and easy to use. The best thing you can do is make it not worth their time and effort to do so.

Oh yes, don’t ask me to provide links to the tools I’ve alluded to; do it yourself.
 

Farewell to Call Centre Guru - why?

Call Centre Guru has shut down his blog without saying why, apart from 'so long and thanks for all the fish'.

His loss diminishes the rest of us.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 

G8 fun

Well, thanks a bunch Mr Geldof! Summoning all those Dave Copperfield calls ‘soap-dodgers’ (Great adjective there Dave.) to descend on Edinburgh and protest against poverty in Africa. This means our Police cover here in our little corner of Chavland will be reduced to the point where if a Parking Enforcement Officer needs help on the streets, all they’ll get will be a recorded message such as; “Our systems are very busy right now as all of our operators are engaged, but please be aware that your screams of pain are important to us, please hold, or try again later.” Saturday night parking patrols are going to be fun, then.

From the Police perspective, it’s all overtime, so I don’t think many of them will be very worried. Upon further consideration; it might be the case that many of our low life friends will be going up for the fixture, so it might not be such a problem after all.

Thinking about the planned Live8 protest, cancelling debt to African nations is on the same intellectual level as fucking to save virginity. Whether the debt is cancelled or not, the same political problems will exist. Mugabe will still be selling out his own people and sucking up to the Chinese (Rather like a British politician we could mention.); refugees will still be pouring from the various war zones into squalid camps to die of disease and starvation; Ebola and HIV will still be ravaging the continent despite rumours of a cure; Nigeria will still be a dodgy place for Europeans to do business.

Don’t ask me what the answer is; I very much suspect it lies in the hands of all the various African peoples. Check out this article from the Taipei times, or this one from Ghana Web for an Africans eye view. Live Aid raised just short of £80 million, but what real changes did it make?

On the flip side, there are parts of Africa where corruption, disease and war are not currently problems. For all its problems it is a tremendously rich and diverse continent. At best our (Western) ideas of what Africa is really like are highly coloured and two dimensional to say the least.

Here are some links to other information sources about African issues:

Somali.Net AllAfrica.com Reuters South Africa 1 Reuters South Africa 2 Vanguard Nigeria

You may find them enlightening.

Monday, June 06, 2005

 

Road Charging?

Sometime you wonder about what goes on in some people’s heads. This ‘mileage charge’ idea for example;

Having a ‘black box’ fitted to your vehicle is all very well, but how do the powers that be intend to;

1) Ensure everyone has one fitted to their vehicle without a huge enforcement programme.
2) Deal with the gargantuan data volumes required for vehicle tracking technology.
3) Ensure that this is not going to be another Government IT ‘white elephant’ project (Passport Office, CSA, compile your own lists).
4) Find the money with all these other grandiose schemes; such as Brown’s asinine “Relieve African Poverty” that they want to throw even more hard earned taxpayers money at.


As an issue, traffic volumes will not be manageable until the powers that be address the true problem which is based around people working 9 to 5 ‘Bankers hours’, which puts enormous demands on the transport infrastructure at given times of day. It’s just sheer weight of traffic (Ever seen an Oxford Street ‘People Jam around the six o’clock marker?) So without a huge cull, how do you spread the demand on the system?

The answer seems fairly simple given the rapidly altering pattern of our lives, more shift working and flexitime. Start school hours earlier (Or later) to begin with; thus shift the ‘school run’ and move 20% of peak hour traffic outside peak hours. Government offices might spread the load by having two start times, say 8am and 10am with finish times at 4:30 and 7pm respectively. The result of such changes would be better public service cover and a reduced burden on the system at peak times.

The reduced congestion would my life easier. It’ll never happen though. It’s too much like a common sense solution.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

 

A cry from the wilderness of life

Early evening on late day shift I was patrolling an area we don’t hit all that often at that time of day. I’d just booked three vehicles parked illegally and was just rounding the corner when I heard the following wail of frustrated rage;

“AAAAARGHHHHHHFOOOKINFOOKINPARKINBASSAR
FOOKINTRAFFICARSEHFOOKINWAAARDENS!”

Well that was what it sounded like to me. However, I was nearly a hundred metres away at the time, so I could be mistaken. I wonder what it meant? Some sort of territorial cry from a chav subspecies perchance? Had I interfered with some mating related activity? Very possibly.

Does it matter what the progenitor of that cry was trying to communicate? Not really; because as far as I’m concerned, double yellow lines mean “Don’t park here”.

I thank you.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

 

I have an answer…..

To all this political correctness stuff. The daily insanities one sees documented on Ken Frost’s “Nanny Knows Best” blog, or “PC Watch

How do we defeat this polluted tide of idiocy on the ocean of life? It’s very simple, just say “No. Thank you. Goodbye.” Or react with a quizzical look and the question. “Do you know how insane that sounds?”, “You are joking aren’t you?” Perchance “And whose brilliant idea was this then?” might wake the PC obsessed half-wit up. Even simply asking “Why?” Half a dozen times should be enough to pop the odd blood vessel or two. Maybe even insinuate that their PC sentiments may be open to accusations of inciting some sort of class or race hatred.

The point I’m making here is that all these unsupported politically correct assertions are clinically barking mad and must be challenged vigorously at every opportunity. Personally, moral coward that I can be, have elected to follow the “Nod and smile” routine. Listen politely, smile, nod, then sod off and carry on as before. It’s probably why one Senior Manager would dearly like to see my husky broad shoulders receding into the far distance, pronto. Fortunately with my Union to protect me, all this Manager can do is chew pencils, get graphite poisoning, high blood pressure or get some other stress related condition, which means they have to take three months sick leave. In which time some sort of sanity should have asserted itself.

This means of defeating PC is rather like the old Slavic folk tale of the condemned prisoner who gets a twelve month stay of execution because he claims he can teach the mad Kings horse to sing within that year. When his fellow condemned prisoners criticised his actions, saying it was pointless, he responded; “A lot can happen in a year. The King may die, I may die; and who knows, the horse may learn to sing.”

All we have to do is say “No.” In the meantime I shall just carry on regardless, walking the streets, doing my job the best way I can, and taking a pay packet home. Who knows? The fashion of Political Correctness may recede or a horse may indeed learn to sing.

Friday, June 03, 2005

 

I am not worthy! I am not worthy!

Sorry for the outburst, but was checking the webstats last night and found this humble (As in Uriah Heep) little blog, not only mentioned in the Guardian online, but in the same paragraph as the London Paramedic Tom Reynolds. Ever since I started this blog back in January, I have been an avid reader of Tom’s adventures, firstly as an Ambulance driving paramedic and more recently as a Rapid Response Unit down in the smoke.

Bit of a cheek to call this blog ‘a pretender to the throne’ though, surely that title should go to someone else, PC Dave Copperfield (Coppers Blog) or maybe Bystander (The Law West of Ealing Broadway) whose traffic rates I can only wonder at. Whereas Tom can blog on duty, Dave might be able to from his base, but by the very nature of my job I cannot. Too much to do, concentrating on checking rows and rows of cars, looking for duff or stolen (We get quite a few of these) permits and illegally parked vehicles. Besides, I can’t afford a Smartphone or Pocket PC like Tom’s got. Not to mention stopping every five minutes to deal with irate people who swear left is right and of course they are allowed to park on double yellows.

As for a one man manifesto, yerss… well maybe. You see; this blog is what comes out of my head after a long day at work dealing with people who wear blinkers all their lives and never notice. A kind of dump for all those non-PC thoughts you don’t want to voice in case they land you in trouble and get you fired. Saying the things you dearly want to scream out at the top of your lungs but dare not. Some of it stinks, of course, but that is what a dump is for. Maybe others find what some think is rubbish quite useful as in the “Hey, it looks the same way to me too.” Kind of dump, or should this blog be reclassified as a thought recycling unit?

Oh yes, re the new look. I did this after a number of comments that people found it difficult to read. Now you can read it – did you want to in the first place, hmm?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

 

Bullshit merchants

In my job I come across a lot of different people, but the ones who really tee me off are the bullshit merchants.

They’re the people who claim that just because they live somewhere, they have a god given right to ignore the parking rules and regulations. You know the sort of nonsense I mean; Deciding they don’t need to buy a parking permit when all their neighbours do, then getting all arsey when they get found out. “Well the last Traffic Warden said we could.” Is often their excuse, and my response is often. “They shouldn’t have told you that. Give me their patrol number and I’ll slap their ears for them.” Of course, there never was another Traffic Warden, or any ‘understanding’.

I hate bullshit merchants – whenever possible I make a point of nicking them. Just to make my point.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

 

Vive le Pays Real!

This little post isn’t about the French ‘Non’ to the EU constitution, or the coming G8 protest, it’s a general comment upon a trend in the thinking of the common (And occasionally uncommon) man (For the purposes of this item the word ‘man‘ is deemed to cover all humans belonging to the genus homo sapiens. Regardless of sex, religion, or skin pigmentation.)

Ever since I can remember, ‘experts’ have been poking their noses out of the self involved little world of academia, advising governments and telling people how to run their lives. Which, some persons have been heard to observe, is why we have some of the social problems prevalent today. Not unsurprisingly, there seems to be a quiet (And occasionally very noisy) little backlash against such ‘experts’ and the politicians who listen to their advice.

The latest piece of ‘expert’ advice is that children need ‘three types of play’ every day. On top of the body of opinion (Based no doubt on Rousseau’s premise of ‘perfect original nature’) that you should not correct your children when they step out of line, this and other, similar nonsense should be binned (Along with the funding for such studies). I’d like to see these ‘experts’ try it on their own children first.

I love the numbers these guys come up with. For example the dogma that everyone must eat ‘five portions’ of fruit and vegetables every day. Three questions; what the blue blazes is a ‘portion’ in terms of weight or measure? What about those brought up on high protein or high carbohydrate diets whose digestive systems have, during their upbringing, adapted to such regimens? Why so exact a figure, does this mean absolutely everybody without exception, regardless of health? Or have the vested interests got such a grip on the fruit and veg market that they need to offload surplus stock, fast?

As for the figure for ‘play’; three types? What are they? How are they defined? Oh and finally, does the child want to do the right kind of ‘play’ when it is told to? Do me a favour, that ain’t play - that’s hard work.

Sounds very much like the Miss Haversham approach to child rearing. “I have a fancy I wish to see children play.” - I hope that is a good approximation of the quotation – correct me if I’m wrong.

I know we need rules so that everyone isn’t at each other’s throats all the time but lets be realistic; the buck has to stop somewhere. What I say is; good for those rebelling against too much regimentation, be the source the EU commissioners, G8, or the local Residents Association. Down with the oppressors! Hooray for diversity, hooray for real people! Vive la difference, vive le pays real!
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Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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The Real Politically Incorrect Net Ring

This net ring exposes political correctness for the fraud that it is and advocates universal values of individual freedom, free speech, and equal rights for all.

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