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Next in the continuing saga of one office's struggle to maintain a comfortable ambient temperature about its working climes...

One of the guys from Estates has just come into the office to tell me that the radiators were going off 'now, as we were told'.


It transpires that all the radiators are to be fitted with thermostatic valves, which, given the sweltering thermal onslaught we had to endure yesterday, can only be a good thing. Would've been nice to have had some kind of warning, but it's still good news.
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It has bugged me for a while that I've had the fridge at Castle Fox positioned in almost the worst place possible, from an energy efficiency point of view: vis, next to the radiator and immediately beneath the boiler.

So I've shifted it to the other end of the kitchen. However, this meant that the door now opened the wrong way - from being a right-hinged door that ensured that the fridge was accessible from within the kitchen as it were, shifting it to the other end meant that the door opened to create a barrier, and you had to practically exit the kitchen (at the opposite end) to be able to reach the milk.

Now, when I bought said domestic appliance, I remember flicking through the instructions (admit it, we all read the instruction manuals for white goods when they arrive) those 9 years past and seeing a subsection headed 'reversing the door hinge' or some such. Despite all the resources available to me courtesy of the highly structured filing environment that is Castle Fox's archives, I was unable to locate the fridge's Book of Words to seek further guidance, but in the end the rough hint proved enough.

First off, you need to lay the beast (carefully) on its back, remove the front feet, unscrew the lower bolt holding the door on and slide the whole door assembly downwards, so it disengages the upper pin.

It then lifts off, and you can extricate the upper bolt from the door casing and transfer it to the opposite (top left) corner of the body. Likewise, the lower hinge bolt and its dummy partner can dosey-do and swap positions, whereupon everything gets reassembled in reverse order (you just swear in different places).

All this would be so much easier if I actually possessed a non-stripped posidrive screwdriver, or a 6mm spanner. Lacking both, I had to use the needlenose pliers from my Leatherman, and also its cross-head driver. But believe me, trying to torque up fixings with that device was not easy on the hands. Ouch.

Anyway, with luck, the upshot of this transformation will be that the fridge will no longer be fighting a cooling battle against the wall of heat roiling off the kitchen radiator, and instead will be able to chug merrily along, sipping far less elctrickery than in the past. Will I notice the difference? Probably not, but at least that's one less thing to keep me awake at night.
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I've always thought that the wattage-equivalent ratings on low-energy CF light bulbs are somewhat over-optimistic, and the (until today) latest acquisition, deemed to be a 60W equivalent, proved the point rather nicely.

I won't say that the room got dimmer when I turned the light on, just that it failed to get any darker when I turned it off...

So I've now replaced the living/dining room lights in Castle Fox with 20W CF bulbs, labelled this time as 100W equivalent, but I'm not convinced. Still, it's a marked improvement over the purported 60W pair.

Actually, these bulbs are also supposed to have a 10,000hr lifespan. I doubt that highly, and remain unsettled over the disposal issues once they do expire. But the dining room light (which was replaced first with the 60Weq and now with the 100Weq) managed to die in most peculiar fashion (for a light bulb): I turned it on, and it started to warm up, then flickered. Thinking that this might be a signal of some kind of power surge, I initially dismissed it, but then the light settled into a steady rhythm of blinking about once every two seconds, before it finally flickered out for the last time.

Yes, I do realise that I've just written a post about CF light bulbs, thanks.
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Back at Castle Fox, briefly, before heading out to the KC Stadium to watch Hull take on the might Portsmouth in a six-pointer this afternoon.

Back from, this morning, a UN conference on Climate Change being held at the Guildhall. John Prescott, croquet-playing former Deputy Prime Minister, was due to be speaking at 12, but we got a call at about that time from his car (one of the notorious two Jags, no doubt) to say that he was mired in traffic on the motorway (so, evidently, some fair way off), and necessitates meant that I had to leave before our most honoured guest arrived.

Dianne Johnson, my current constituency MP was there to show her face... quite literally, as far as I could tell, in that she arrived, sat down and read a couple of papers before, but by the time I next looked across, she'd vanished. Ah, but She Was There, and that's the important thing to note, of course.

As for the conference itself, well, there were maybe 40 personages drawn from this fine city present. Most were, I feel, waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too optimistic about human nature, and weren't willing to follow through the implications of what they were suggestion in terms of its impacts upon day to day life for us all.

I make no bones about this; with world population projected to hit 9bn people by mid-century, conventional oil production most likely having peaked in 2005, and the impact of increasing water stress across different areas of the globe, lifestyles are going to have to change drastically. Climate Change ups the challenge of feeding those 9bn people without the aid of petrochemical fertilisers and weedkillers, without the oil-driven mechanisation of industrial farming, struggling with the diminishing resources of fossil aquifers...

It's singularly ironic, methinks, that the 'greens' are constantly pilloried for wanting to sacrifice 'lifestyle' for the sake of the planet. From my perspective, that assessment is fundamentally flawed: the 'greens' are, for want of a better description, attempting to wrest what elements of a sustainable lifestyle can be wrung from the mess that's coming - it's naked self-interest for humanity's sake. Don't worry about Earth - we can pretty much do what we want, and it'll endure regardless.

But this fragile project of civilisation that we've got going here? That's something else.

On the bright side, True Blood S1 arrived in today's post :-P
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I haven't renewed the parking permit for the car this year (where 'year' corresponds to 'academic year'), in a bid to force myself to either walk or ride to work rather than be lazy and drive.

The second bonus is that if I walk, then I get to listen to the podcasts on the Shuffle on the commute as well as whilst walking Mali.

Whether this .plan will look as inspired in January, in the howling wind and sleet is, of course, another matter, but ambling into work in dry, mild autumnal weather is not exactly one of life's great hardships. ;-)


Jul. 17th, 2009 08:08 am
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It's pouring.

So I walked in this morning, with Radio 4's Americana on the Shuffle.

This week's cast had three topics - Al Franken joining the US Senate, Mountain Top Removal Mining in West Virginia and how the CIA's morale's bearing up In These Times.

The Mountain Top Removal Mining thing is something I've read about on and off for a while, now. It stuns me that people can think that there are two sides to the issue: permanent destruction of nature to mine a non-renewable* resource to maintain unsustainable levels of consumption versus... erm, money.

* well, technically coal, gas and oil are renewable - just not on any kind of timescale that's of use to us humans...


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