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IChemE Scottish Members Group - What now?

The email below was sent to the members of the IChemE Scottish Members Group


Hi Everyone,

As you may be aware, the Scottish Members Group have cancelled two events and we have no future events currently scheduled. To rectify this, the committee are now trying to make some plans in …

Two Different Experiences

As we are nearing the end of our first week of lockdown, I notice that people will be having one of two very different experiences. Many people will be finding themselves with much more time on their hands. Perhaps they are unable to work or even if they can still …

A Different Type of Haircut

Last night I shaved off my winter beard. It has certainly been a noticeable difference, feeling the cool air on my skin as I walk about.

This morning, when I joined the kids at breakfast time, the older one asked 'Daddy, have you had a haircut?'. I tried to explain …

COVID-19 vs Disastrous Dinners

We1 have a couple of IChemE events planned for later this month, or rather had. Today we have postponed our Troubleshooting Distillation and Absorption Column Internals event that was scheduled to be held in Glasgow on the 19th. Many businesses are cancelling all but essential meetings and the presenter …

Getting Warmer

I had an interesting interaction with my son this morning. He offered me a pretend cup of tea, I took it, made a comment about how hot it was and put it aside to let it cool down. He then took the cup, blew on it and told me he …

Reflections of a Pause

I decided to stop posting daily and use the extra time to work on other things in the evening. I wanted to see the effect of changing how I use my limited resources of time and focus.

The first night was very successful. At the time when I would normally …

Pressing Pause

Towards the tail end of last year I spent a number of days considering how I spend my time and asking if I am truly getting value for it. For example, I don't spend time watching the news or any other TV shows. I do go to a gym class …

Synchronising Wants and Commitments

There are times when I want to do all sorts of extra activities, write about this, program something to do that or fix some other thing. Sometimes these activities are based on the computer others are physical tasks around the house or garden.

Unfortunately of late, I have found that …

Not so Different

On Tuesday night I bemoaned that I was unable to borrow my wifes brompton fold up bike because it has been out of service for several months. One nut had fallen off and we had never gotten round to getting it fixed. For some reason I had gotten it into …

Cooking with Science

Last night, the IChemE Scottish Members Group hosted a Cooking with Science workshop. Our presenter, Kostas, has hosted this kind of workshop at a few of the local science festivals.

The event was hosted in one of the classrooms at the University of Edinburgh; I believe that the last time …

Life Without Two Wheels

I am attending an event at n Edinburgh tonight, a fair distance from the city centre. In the past when going to this venue, I would take a train, with my wife's Brompton, then cycle the rest of the way out.

Unfortunately my wife's Brompton is out of service just …

Vampire Overalls

I was asked to join some others on a site visit today to look at an upcoming job. As a control engineer, it is very rare that I have to ware overalls and do site visits, most of my time is at my desk, in the control room or in …

Over Consumption

In the past I have commented that I have limited a lot of my general consumption. I have mostly stopped using social media and after a week when our TV broke, I noticed that I didn't miss anything and have not watched much since then [ref] With the exception of …

What I Don’t Know.txt

One of the problems with trying to improve is that you don’t know what you don’t know. I don’t have any solution to this problem (if you do have a solution, please let me know). But there are sometimes clues, occasions when you realise that there is …

You don't live once

You have probably heard the quip

You only live once

It is usually used as an excuse to justify doing something that is unwise.

On a podcast today, I heard a brilliant response:

No. You only die once. You live every day.

Stuck in Traffic

Recently, with the Queensferry Bridge being closed there has been a lot of people getting stuck in their vehicles longer than normal. Even people who would normally go nowhere near the bridge are getting feeling disruption because all the bridge traffic is now clogging up their normal route. Then there …

Sugar Toxicity

I looked up the physical properties of sugar to answer a question, and while I was reading, I noticed the LD50 value.

LD50 or Lethal Dose 50 is the dosage required to deliver a 50% chance of death. Obviously we have limited data on this for most substances, it is …

Missing Training

I attended a training session today on compressors, turbines and how they are controlled. It was specifically looking at the advanced control schemes used to avoid surge, while maintaining smooth operation and maximising the operating range of the machines.

While the specifics of the algorithms used were interesting, it was …

Stuck in my Head

I have had a couple of occasions over the last few days when I have been left to my own thoughts, able to think freely without distraction for a prolonged period of time. During these occasions, I thought of lots it things that I want to write down, long flowing …

Just get on with it!

I have just caught myself trying to come up with excuses for not doing a job, looking for alternative "better" tasks to do instead. The thing is that the task wasn't that hard or unpleasant. I spent longer looking for a alternative than if I had just done the task …

Getting the Better of the Weather

Despite the forecast of Storm Ciara, we decided to risk it and go on an expedition today. This was not us being cleaver, only cheap. Denise had a spare train ticket that was about to expire. So we ventured into the city to make the most of the day.

While …

How Do You Know If You Understand Something?

The best way to find out if you really understand something is to explain it to someone else. I haven't found any other test that is as rigorous and certain to uncover the truth.

I was reminded of this today. I knew that I wasn't completely up to speed with …

Scottish IChemE Events and Survey

Below is an email sent to the members of the IChemE Scottish members group


Hi Everyone,

We have been busy organising the first few events of the year, but we haven’t really gotten around to publicising them. The events are now live on the Scottish Members Group events page …

Putting £26 million in Context

As part of the COP 26 push, the prime minister also highlighted the £2bn that the government has agreed to spend on meeting the net zero target, including up to £1bn to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles, £222m for research into nuclear fusion, and £26m for carbon capture technology …

Not so SMART Goals

Smart goals are defined as:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timed

Smart goals are often described as the "correct" way to set goals and if you don't set yourself smart goals, you won't achieve good results.

I don't particularly like smart goals.

My first issue is with the acronym. Specific and …

A Difficult Task

I was faced with a difficult task today. The task wasn't physically or technically difficult to carry out. I just had to go down stairs and help tidy up.

What made it difficult was that my youngest child had fallen asleep in my arms. It was very tempting just to …

Closing Time

Tonight we went out for a family dinner. We picked a local pub/restaurant that had a soft play room at the back.

For the first hour the kids had lots of fun running back and forward, up and down the play equipment. Then disaster struck, at 6pm, the staff …

Focusing on the Controllable

One of the main components of the Stoic philosophy is the dichotomy of control. The vast majority of things that happen are not under our control. We may be able to, at best, influence things. The things that are under our control are very limited and essentially boil down to …

No Longer Married to a Foreigner

Today, at a quiet private ceremony, my wife became british. I am now the only one in our family who is not a dual citizen. The ceremony was relatively short, included a bit of local history, pledging allegiance to the queen and country and finished up with everyone standing and …

No More No-Replies

I am getting more and more fed up with companies using no-reply email addresses. It is almost as if it is a trendy thing to do that all big businesses do. If you don't send emails via a no-reply email address, you are clearly just an amature outfit.

It is …

Typical Weather

I feel like I want to complain. Last weekend we were away for our winter trip. I remember going skiing during these trips when I was younger. But we haven't had anywhere near enough snow in recent years. This year, after the holiday, on my first day back at work …

Taxed Again

Earlier this month, I completed the (online) paperwork for the UK tax. All things considered, it was actually a pretty easy system. The online forms from HMRC did actually help you and did do most of the calculations for you.

Today we tackled the US tax paperwork. By the end …

The Power of the Railways

I spent the last weekend up at Nethybridge in the Highlands. While I have been there many times, I learnt something new this time.

Apparently 1 the village was originally called Abernethy, but when the railway station was built, this would have caused confusion with the other Abernethy near Perth …

Some Hae Meat

Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be Thankit!

The Selkirk Grace, Robert Burns

The above prayer is often recited before a burns supper. I expect that vegetarians (and vegans) would be …

Can't Blame the Kids

This morning we had to get ourselves ready for a trip. Rather than trying to ~~fight~~ pack with the kids, we sent them off to spend the morning in nursery like they normally would be.

So we had the house to ourselves, no kids and distraction free, for four hours …

Taxed

I think I have paid my tax for last year. This is the first time I have actually filled in a tax return for myself, in the past I have always just relied on the PAYE calculations.

Despite the website saying "you do not owe anything", I was still uncertain …

Racing to the Library

I have stated this before, but I am a slow reader. Couple that with commitments and life in general, reducing the amount of spare time I have, it takes me a while to get through a book.

I had borrowed a book from the library that was due to be …

A Walk in the Woods

I was on daddy daycare duty today. Rather than locking ourselves up in the house where I would be outnumbered all day, I organised meeting up with granny for a walk in the woods with her dog.

It was lots of fun watching the boys run down the paths with …

Physical Letters

Today we received a letter in the post from an old friend. Someone who we used to spend a lot of time with but now live far enough apart that we are lucky if we meet once every couple of years.

The letter was handwritten and only the size of …

Reading Aloud

One of the job requirements of being a parent is reading aloud to your kids. Unfortunately, it is something that I am not really competent at. I have tried reading silently but the kids are having none of it.

During my wedding, I had a short reading to deliver. As …

Coffee Cups

I like my coffee. When out and about, particularly in cold places, I find it difficult to resist buying a coffee (as long as they are selling anything that isn't instant). I do however get rather frustrated when they serve the coffee in semi-spherical cups.

A nearly empty coffee cup.
The offending item.
A nearly empty coffee cup.
The offending …

Who Wrote This?

Whenever I read something that I had previously written, I almost always end up cringing. Sometimes I don't remember writing it and I wonder which idiot it was that wrote it!

I am not just talking about the old blog posts, but almost any writing, old procedures I have written …

A Bad Bedtime Story

Tonight, like most nights, we listened to CBeebies Radio while the kids were falling asleep. It is a nice mix of gentle music and bedtime stories. One of tonight's stories was the tortoise and the hare. This was a fine story right up until the end, when the tortoise tells …

When You Know the Answer

There is phrase associated with quizzes: All questions are easy when you know the answer.

I noticed today that it can apply to many problems, not just quizzes. In quick succession, I ended up being presented with a number of problems, each one of which I had either come across …

You Know it was a Tough Workout When...

After the workout, the muscles in your arms are complaining that you are holding a cup of coffee.

No News

No news is good news except if your news source is broken. I use a series of RSS feeds to keep me up to date with whatever I am interested in. Rather than repeatedly going to someone's website (or following them on social media), I subscribe to their feed, then …

Putting a Roof on Linlithgow Palace

We spent this afternoon exploring Linlithgow Palace, a large ruin that is frequently mistaken for a castle. Only the stone structure remains, all the wooden floors and roofs were destroyed by fire hundreds of years ago.

The main hall of Linlithgow Palace.
The Grand Hall
The main hall of Linlithgow Palace.
The Grand Hall
Close

Occasionally a plan is mooted about restoring …

How Long Can You Gloat?

Last weekend, as we walked around a shopping centre we noticed a series of awards on the wall. Then we noticed the dates were all around 1995 and 1996. Is it something to be proud of, to have won a "family friendly" award over 20 years ago.

Sure, if it …

My Problem with My Ring

I have a problem with my wedding ring. No I haven’t lost it. I do like wearing it. My problem is that my fingers are not always the same size. I think this is true for most people, though most people just find that their rings get very tight …

Cycle In The Dark

I had my first long cycle in the dark tonight after a series of events that ment I had been using the car. It is amazing how much faster things seem when the path is lit only by the lights from the bike.

I am sure that it would be …