Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Lead Pipes are good for you expert claims

I went into an Aberystwyth Plumbers merchants this afternoon to get some bits to replace a boiler filter. As we are in the quite period for the trade, only one of the lads was serving which is fair enough. I waited while the chap (hard to tell age for reasons I am about to explain, but looked about 60) being served tried to find a solution to a lead pipe which had cracked as a result of the recent frost and thaw. As I understand it the joint had split and he wanted to cut the lead back an inch and put a new fitting. The branch manager who drew the short straw to work today suggested that maybe the lead pipe was better replaced on account of its well known health problems and commented that there is not much call for lead fittings these days as the vast majority of customers replace it with blue plastic rather than slowly poison themselves or there customers.

The customer then started off with "thats rubbish, I have always drunk water from lead pipes, never did me any harm. 1/2 the pipes in Aberystwyth are lead. Its all modern rubbish it needs replacing". While the manager went off shaking his head to check if he had an other lead fitting, the customer said to me by way of justification "When I was a child I used to play in an Asbestos shed. Don't want to spend time replacing a lead pipe that goes under a wall". I made a comment that lead fillings went out of fashion some time ago.

Personally, I would take the branch managers advice and replace the pipe with nice blue plastic, but I guess if you have had lead pipes for long enough then you won't be able to remember what you went into the plumbers merchants for in the 1st place.

Did make me think what a challenge working in public health must be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Has the internet replaced drugs?

I watched part of Festivals Britannia last night. Having been to a fair range myself from small folk festivals, middle sized & middle class festivals on a race course sponsored by Waitrose, Glastonbury, Donnington, Knebworth and a fair range between over the last 20 years, I guess I am an interested party. My 1st festival had Metallica as 3rd on the bill, probably about 1988. 3 years later I found I still enjoyed the music and the event, but disliked a subset of the people and took a long break to about 1999 and Glastonbury. Now we might do 2 small (10,000-ish) festivals with Beautiful Days being the main stay. We like the whole feel of how its run, the atmosphere and that it really works for small children, even if it tips down with rain.

One aspect of Festivals Britannia was how festivals nurtured the seeds of change among the young and disaffected. Being 42 and growing more disaffected by the day, I also have 2 small people to fund sufficiently so that they avoid a life of debt, I won't be going out and protesting on the streets. I currently also feeling quite apathetic about trying to engage with local political actors about simple improvements included Broadband, a reasonable level of clearing snow from road and getting bins emptied when they say they will. I know if I try to engage constructively I will either be ignored silently or with political sleaze. (note here I feel that my elected AM and MP do actually engage with me, no slight on Elin or Mark). I feel complete distrust of the police, a change in the last 6 months. I feel let down by the elected and the unelected of at all levels from Community Council to Westminister. For someone 20 years younger, I can see why they protest and why they are angry. The Internet is now the catalyst for sowing the seeds of change rather than music (I may just be out of touch on this, but other than the King Blues and Mr Bragg, I don't see any other musical involvement in the student debt protests).

This change is probably a good thing as festivals should just be about having fun.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

4 days in Dublin

This is probably my 10th visit to Dublin in 14 years. It is probably also the visit where I have paid most attention to get some insight into the nature of politics here. I have spent more time reading the paper and talking to people about politics. So here are some random quotes from people I have spoken to

  • One of the main qualities of a politician here is to attend all the funerals in their constituency
  • Some of the ministers that Ireland sends to the EU are so 2 faces they considered that Peter Mandleson was the only UK politician they could learn a trick from
  • The population of the Irish Republic consider being corrupt a necessary attribute in a politician
  • One representative said something along the lines of "who cares about a budget deficit when they are potholes in the road in Cork"
I have a few books it has been suggested I read on Irish politics, but it has been a fascinating insight just by tuning in a little more into what is going on here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Initial reflection on the Irish financial crisis

I am over in Dublin teaching a course in problem solving, decision making and risk management for various test groups in Oracle. Clearly the financial crisis in Ireland is a big deal, but the flavor of the people I have spoken to and the papers I have read so far demonstrate a high degree of being resigned to things being tighter than tight for a few years. The people I spoke to so far work in Oracle engineering, so in employment terms they are more effected by the global economy than local issues, which may have distorted my perspective a little.

The Hotel I am staying in however had no hint of recession. In addition to paying guests, it also hosts xmas parties. I got up yesterday at 5.30am to get the ferry over. So I went to bed about 10pm. At 10.30pm I was woken by a Van Halan cross Gun & Roses covers band playing to one the the parties a few floors below. I wondered down to the reception and the guy said "you don't have your happy face on, let me put you in an other room now" before I even opened my mouth.