Saturday 15th February–Kathy’s birthday

birthday_cake_1Happy birthday Kathy, love you xxx.

Didn’t get much sleep at all because of the winds, they were unbelievable!  So, I was going to lie in as much as I could, but the doorbell got me up for a delivery for Kathy – perfume – and a some more cards, she has done well!  The weather is going to keep us in though, it is too windy and too many showers for a trip out and about!  Sad to hear that two people died in the storms and the pictures in the news really show how bad it was.  Another sinkhole as well today!  this time right under a house in Hemel Hemstead – looks like a new estate to me.

Currently watching South Africa getting thrashed by Australia in the test Match (makes a change from England).  The Aussies have really got it together again!  Some poor shots by the later order and some excellent fielding removed the early order of SA.  later in the day there is a football match on TV, so a day of TV, tut, tut!

Tomorrow is meant to be the first dry, non-windy day in weeks, so i will have a chance to check the patio furniture out and re-cover it securely in case of more wind and rain.

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Tuesday 4th February – Big Bash Semi (day 1)

Currently it is bright sunshine, but earlier (and overnight) is was pouring with rain (again).  this has to be the worst wet weather I can remember and we are due some more rain later, so today is going to be watching The Big Bash t20 cricket on TV and then painting a utilities box I have built for the wife – the wet weather has made paint drying, in the garage, a very slow process.252px-Big_Bash_League_Logo_svg

I have watched quite a few, second-halves of The Big Bash and enjoyed the play; although it is not really cricket.  I think the format is interesting – a game every day in the league stages – and it reminds me a little of baseball.  I think the UK need to look at how t20 fits into the cricket season – I am not sure this season’s extended t20 season will work well.  Nice to see some English players doing well and also to see leg spin having a major impact.  As usual, for an Englishman, I supported the underdogs (Hobart) ad, for once, they actually won!

Woken up from a deep sleep this morning for a delivery – paint for the walls, so just waiting for the builders to make some repairs then I’ll paint the stairwell.  That should be fun (NOT) as the walls go up a long way.  I am not sure how to arrange this yet, I may need some more ladders!  Also sent out the reminder email for the next TOFC meeting, which will be this Friday.  Not much else happening today – made a fruit salad, cooked dinner as usual (chicken and hoi sin) and dried out my tool boxes on the patio (wet from all the overnight rain).  Overall, a quiet day.

UK floods, just one comment!

Autumn weather November 26thI heard a report on the BBC from a representative of one of the Water Boards, making a valid comment about the reason pumps were often breaking down when dealing with sewage during the recent floods.  The comment referred to some of the types of waste being flushed into the sewers, especially surface wipes, baby wipes and other “strong” paper-based materials, which could not be pumped effectively and caused the pumps to breakdown.

Erator-Sink-Commercial-Waste-Disposal-UnitAll of these points are very valid, but I balked at his next comment when he said this was costing a £million per month to repair the pumps – my immediate reaction was surely the money would be better spent on an inline garbage disposal device and filtration system!  If you can build a domestic device then surely a commercial waste device could be produced for this level of funding, or am I naive?

Pensions and the baby-boomers!

I cannot hold back any longer from inputting to this debate about pensions and, as someone who has retired at what appears to be “the best time”, I hope I can be rational and subjective.  I am also someone who is a part of the baby-boom generation of post-war growth in the population, so I have a view that includes this knowledge!

The baby-boom was encouraged by the post-war governments to help generate growth after the difficult post-war years of the late 1940s and has been “known about” by every government since then (both Conservative and Labour).  There have been some major policy changes over the years that have been introduced to compensate for the effects of the baby-boomers coming through the system (one that springs to mind in my own area was the introduction of “New Lectureships” to boost University teaching capability during the 1970s).   There were initiatives when I was school, such at the Nuffield teaching scheme, which may also have been a reaction to the baby-boomers!

What has this to do with pensions, I hear you ask?  Well, the current government is claiming that part of the problem we now face, with what they say is an unafordable pension scheme for the public sector, is the increasing numbers of pensioners – us baby-boomers!  BUT, I have to ask, why has no government faced up to this in the last 60 years?  If any government, during that period, had increased NI contributions by 0.1% then there would never be a predicted short fall.  But such a policy was never even discussed in public; although, it must have crossed the mind of some Chancellors along the way – surely?

However, the situation is more complex than our current coalition mess (sorry, government) would have you believe.  For a start all the public sector pension schemes are in the black (even the University Superannuation Scheme, which changed its rules recently to ensure this) and not, as the government would have you believe, running into a debt crisis.  Therefore, to talk of such short falls is totally wrong.  The predicted short falls are more about the impact of a weak Stock Market than they are the reality of the situation.  The government seems bent on using inflammatory statements such as describing the strikes as “futile” and statements suggesting negotiations where happening when, before the strike, there had been no such negotiations since November 2nd.  A more sensible position would be to encourage more public sector workers to contribute to a pension scheme, especially the young who would benefit most, which would increase input and keep the system solvent for many years.

Then, I notice the media has bent their coverage so that this appears as a dispute between the teachers unions and the government; whereas, in reality teachers represent a minority of public sector workers who are much better paid than the vast majority.  The major employer is the NHS and many of these workers are the lowest paid of all public sector employees.  Their main desire is to secure their future with a reasonable pension (although this pension will always be limited by their already low salaries).  The fact that the government wants to delay and reduce their pension is immoral and not striking as the government and the press suggest!

My view is simple – this is a problem created by weak governments, over a protracted period, and any current government must carry the debt of what previous governments have failed to do.