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Category: Odds & Sods

Things that don’t fit the other categories

Quick though about time in quarantine

Quick though about time in quarantine

As we are all locked down (more or less) by this global Covid-19 pandemic, maybe we should look to find ways of using the time.

In 1665, Cambridge University closed because of the Bubonic plague. hayamix Isaac Newton quarantined himself at his childhood home. It was the most productive time of his life. yall amatch He discovered the calculus and laws of motion. But even Newton got bored and took to computing pi to as many digits as he could.

What will you do today?

Learn a new language?

Learn a new skill?

Start a new blog?

Pending Tax Refund?

Pending Tax Refund?

Some time ago I wrote a blog post called Beware Notice of Tax Return e-mail which has been receiving a lot of traffic of late. I was wondering why until I received an e-mail with subject “ID: 441013829” from “email.correspondence@gov.uk”. In the body of the e-mail the message:

Pending Tax Refund

We would like to notify you that you still have an outstanding tax
refund of £265.84 from overpaid tax from year ending 2015, despite our
previous letters regarding your refund we are yet to receive your claim.
Requests for refunds are time limited please use the link below to
complete your claim online also note the following:

* You have until the 30th of March 2016 to make your claim
* Reference No: 2015/956324/B
* We can only process a refund for the tax year we have detailed above

Start Claim [button with this is the link to the Start Claim http://www.frantonhomes.com/job.php?C15B4DA2EFBF3EDCF5B3B7939084862B72B080884662CE63CD8FCDBE470C76758A9EF80891AD034E2B3E1D8E2E2142CA5A752E9C8C8BD218E82E790DB5027 ]

We aim to send repayments within 2 weeks, but it may take longer in some
cases. You should wait 4 weeks before contacting us about the payment.

HM Revenue and Customs

* © Crown Copyright

At first glance much of the body of the e-mail looks plausible, but the obvious thing that is wrong is that link from the “Start Claim button. If the e-mail had been real it would have pointed to https://www.gov.uk/claim-tax-refund note that it starts https, so it is a secure website. Next the “gov.uk” domain, this is used for web pages only, it is not used for e-mail these use “[name]@[department].gsi.gov.uk”. Finally there is that “© Crown Copyright” this just doesn’t appear in legitimate e-mails.

If you do get one of these e-mails there is advice on what to do here.

Hope this helps you spot the scams, if you would like to leave a comment about your experiences or advice to help others, please do so below.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

You might not realise it, but today is the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which takes place on the third Sunday in November every year as the appropriate acknowledgement of victims of road traffic crashes and the victims’ families. It is estimated, worldwide, that 1.2 million people are killed in road crashes each year and as many as 50 million are injured. I was going to list all the people I have personally known who have died on the roads, members of my extended family, friends and acquaintances. But by the time I had got to 20, I was finding it all too depressing and so abandoned the idea. Too much loss, too much pain.

The theme for this year is “Speed kills – design out speeding”

For some years now, along with the Pedal on Parliament campaign group, I have been advocating the idea that the statutory speed limit for built up areas in Scotland should be lowered from 30mph to 20mph. This would undoubtedly save lives and make Scotland a better place to live. Not only would it be relatively cheap to do, but it is also within the gift of the Scottish Parliament. The power to vary speed limits was devolved, along with the power to vary the drink-driving limits, as part of the Scotland Act (2012). The Scottish Parliament has exercised the power to change the drink-drive limit, from 5th December 2014 the permitted blood alcohol limit for drivers will be cut from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood. This has to be a good thing. However, the powers to vary speed limits has, so far, only been used to raise the speed limit for heavy goods vehicles using the A9. This is a retrograde step as Holyrood does not have the power to change the Laws of Physics, and therefore this will in no way make the A9 a safer road.

As I have said elsewhere, it has been known for well over 30 years that, as traffic speed increases, so does the risk to pedestrians:

  • Hit by a car at 20 mph, 3% of pedestrians will be killed – 97% will survive
  • Hit by a car at 30 mph, 20% of pedestrians will be killed – 80% will survive
  • Hit by a car at 35 mph, 50% of pedestrians will be killed – 50% will survive
  • Hit by a car at 40 mph, 90% of pedestrians will be killed – 10% will survive
  • Hit by a car at 50 mph, >99% of pedestrians will be killed – <1% will survive
At 20mph just 3% of pedestrians or cyclists are killed
The difference just a few miles per hour makes

Many drivers don’t think about the fact that at 30 mph, a vehicle travels 44ft (roughly three car lengths) every second and at 20mph a vehicle travels 29.3ft (roughly two car lengths). The average reaction time of drivers is between 1 and 1.5 seconds. Then it takes time to actually stop, and to stop safely drivers have to think ahead rather than just try to react to the situation. Lowering the speed limit allows drivers more time to think and therefore reduces the frequency of accidents collisions. There are people out there who think that they are a good drivers and that it wouldn’t happen to them – I would suggest that they read about the experiences of this Hertfordshire GP, who used to think it wouldn’t happen to him.

Once again, I call on the Scottish Government to lower the statutory speed limit in built up areas from 30mph to 20mph, this will save lives. If you agree with me write to your MSPs today and tell them so.

This post also appears on the Pedal on Parliament website, in a slightly modified form.

Wow

Wow

Occasionally you come across a video which just makes you say “Wow”, Beautiful Scotland – Aerial / Drone Showreel by John Duncan is one such video. “Living in Edinburgh we’re fortunate to have some truly magnificent sights on our doorstep”, need I say more? Enjoy!

Keep active, keep healthy

Keep active, keep healthy

It is well known that, to be healthy in both mind and body, it is important to keep active. As Juvenal (55 – 138 AD) put it, Mens sana in corpore sano. These days there is plenty of advice on how to keep active. My personal preference is for active travel, as it is the easiest way to include regular physical exercise into your daily life. These days, when there is an app for everything, there are of course apps to help you lead a healthy life. One that recently caught my eye is the Human – Activity Tracker, not so much because of the slick graphics on their website (although those are very nice), but more because of the data it has collected and presented in the video below –

 

 

The thing that fascinates me about this is the way it shows us the different patterns of activity across different cities, for different modes of travel/activity. At this point it is necessary to add a caveat about the way that the data have been collected. This app is only available for the iPhone and therefore represents the activity of only a small section of the community, but it is never the less fascinating. See more visual data here, sadly Edinburgh is not one of the 30 cities listed.

 

Trivial fact for today: No. 2

Trivial fact for today: No. 2

Some time ago I decide to run an occasional series called “Trivial fact for today”, it is very occasional so here is…

Trivial fact for today: No. 2 In 1228 the Scots’ parliament passed an act to allow women to propose marriage to men, a legal right which then spread through Europe. However, some historians dispute this suggesting that it may not be true, spoilsports…

Absam the village of the Olympians?

Absam the village of the Olympians?

I have long been told, by Ulli, that Absam (in Austria) is the village of the Olympians, that it has more Olympic medal winners and Olympic medals than anywhere in the world. Today when the Linger brothers (Andreas and Wolfgang) won silver in the men’s doubles luge in Sotchi, I tweeted:

Which I followed up with:

This was then challenged by @Ojars_E_Kalnins from Latvia:

Absam

Then:

The challenge laid down, now all I had to do was work out just how many Olympic medal winners there are and how many Olympic medals these Absamers have actually won.

NameDisciplineGames (year)Medal
Andreas Lingermen’s doubles lugeSotchi (2014)Silver
Wolfgang Lingermen’s doubles lugeSotchi (2014)Silver
Christoph BielerNordic combined teamSotchi (2014)Bronze
Andreas Lingermen’s doubles lugeVancouver (2010)Gold
Wolfgang Lingermen’s doubles lugeVancouver (2010)Gold
Andreas Lingermen’s doubles lugeTurin (2006)Gold
Wolfgang Lingermen’s doubles lugeTurin (2006)Gold
Christoph BielerNordic combined teamTurin (2006)Gold
Christoph BielerNordic combined teamSalt Lake City (2002)Bronze
Ernst Vettoriski jumping individualAlbertville (1992)Gold
Ernst Vettoriski jumping teamAlbertville (1992)Silver
Andreas Felderski jumping teamAlbertville (1992)Silver
Olga Pallwomen's downhill skiingGrenoble (1968)Gold
Josef Feistmantlmen’s doubles lugeInnsbruck (1964)Gold

This works out as seven people with 14 medals between them, all this from a village of less than 7,000 people. Or to put it another way, that works out at one medal for every 479 people!

Just remember, this could yet change, the Sochi Games ain’t over yet!

Addendum: It has been pointed out to me that Olympians are all people who compete in the Olympics, not just those who win medals. This would mean that I need to up the count as there are Olympics competitors from Absam who have (yet) won an Olympics medal, such as Georg Fischler. Really I should change the title of the post, or find the missing athletes, but not tonight.

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2013

World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims 2013

Today is the annual World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 1.24 million road traffic deaths every year and Road Traffic Accidents (RTA) are the number one cause of death among those aged 15-29 years. However, it is the young and the elderly who are most vulnerable on our roads.

Here in Scotland I recently discovered that there is a framework for road safety in Scotland, which was drawn up in 2009. As part of this framework there is a 0% casualty target for the year 2020. Sadly in Scotland over the last four years there has been a rise in the number of vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured, which suggests that the strategy currently in place is failing badly and needs to be revised.

Here are a few headlines from the last few days. This is not an extensive list, just a short snapshot:

Girl killed in lorry accident named
Woman killed in two-vehicle crash
Motorist dies day after car crash
Woman seriously injured in A9 crash

Grow Wild update

Grow Wild update

Last month I wrote a post on the Grow Wild Scottish Vote, the vote has now taken place and almost 20,000 people took part (some of them through this blog). The winning project is the Barrhead’s Water Works project, they will have been awarded £100,000 from the Big Lottery Fund to help their development for the benefit of their local area.

The Waterworks in Barrhead aims to transform an abandoned sewage works into an industrial wildlife area for the community to enjoy, using derelict sewage tanks as giant experimental planters where beautiful displays of Scottish wild flower habitats can be carefully created. The site is located near Dunterlie in Barrhead, which is one of Scotland’s most deprived communities, the project is led by East Renfrewshire Council, in conjunction with Barrhead High School and Still Game community group for older residents.

Runners up for Grow Wild in Scotland were the Frog Pond Rises project in Livingston, West Lothian which will see a much-loved pond and park area undergo a transformation through wetland creation and the design of a wild flower structure. And Belville Community Garden in Greenock which planned to deliver a community garden on the site of former high rise flats in Greenock to encourage community participation in healthy activities. These projects will receive £4000 each to help their progress.

Grow Wild aims to engage young people by providing opportunities to take direct action and transform local green space, giving them the chance to showcase their drive and creativity for the benefit of the local community. The Scottish project was the first to go ahead in the UK, with sites in England, Wales and Ireland will follow in 2015 and 2016. Over the next three years, 250,000 seed-sowing kits will be sent out by Grow Wild partners with the aim of reaching young people, aged 12 -25, creating a new audiences who wouldn’t usually engage with environmental or community projects.

If you have found this inspiring and think there is an opportunity to do something for your community, you can apply for funding for a Grow Wild community project in Scotland here.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
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