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Addictively Checking

It doesn't sound like fun when you really think about it. Loading up a webpage to see that it says the exact same thing as the last time you looked at it. But that is what I find myself doing. It is what many folk end up doing.

Sure ...

Cold Mornings

The mornings are cold
So I cycle with my coat
And melt going home

Where are the Members of the IChemE Scottish Members Group?

The Institute of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) has two local members groups in Scotland, Aberdeen Members Group, which covers Aberdeen itself and the north of the country and the Scottish Members Group which covers everywhere else.

Historically that has meant that the Scottish Members Group has ended up being primarily focused ...

Empty House

The kids are in bed.

My wife has gone out for the evening.

I have the house to myself, what should I do?

So much choice. So much freedom. So many options.

Of course what I actually do is spend an hour tidying the house and then write some code ...

Two Hours: 4 Characters

Productivity can be difficult to measure at the best of times. Even more so when you are programing. This afternoon, I wanted to add a feature to a webapp I had been working on. The first step was to import some data. How hard could it be?

I wrote what ...

A Frustrating Phrase

Once you have been doing a job for a while, you end up seeing some problems that have been fixed before. In most cases this is a good thing because it makes it easy to fix it the subsequent times. But occasionally a long period of time has passed between ...

Clearly I am Doing This Wrong

I was recently shared a blog post by someone who was celebrating a streak of posting every day for 11 years. This is an impressive feat. My own attempt at posting daily has had several occasions where I have failed (six days so far this year). How does he think ...

Being Irritated with Good Weather

As mentioned in yesterday's post, we cancelled the party that we had planned for today. The reason that we had cancelled was because one of the kids had been ill yesterday, nothing to do with the weather. Our parties are rain or shine. We have gotten a good run ...

Waste of a Tidy House

This weekend, to celebrate my wife's birthday, we invited lots of friends and family over for a pizza party. To get ready for this, we both took the week off of work and have been using the days that the boys are in nursery to prepare toppings and clean ...

Onion Hack

Much of today was spent preparing food. I started with slicing several red onions, but after starting the first one, my eyes were already in pain. I hadn't even finished the first one and wasn't sure how I could continue to finish that on let alone do four ...

Thoughts on FIRE

Last year I attended a pensions workshop at work. After this, I have spent more time reading up about pensions and other financial matters. You don't need to do much reading before you come across the FIRE movement.


FIRE stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Essentially, people live ...

Trial and Error Cooking

Earlier this year, I attempted to make some pies. The first batch had a good pastry, but the filling was a bit dry. Since then I have had about three other attempts at improving the recipe, making small tweaks each time. I can now say that I have managed to ...

An Unusual Day

Today was a day without kids. Well we still had them around at breakfast time but as is normal for a Monday morning my wife took them to nursery. What was not normal was us not going on to work.

Instead we have taken the week of work to prepare ...


The best thing about thunderstorms is watching the really heavy rain from the comfort of your home. Watching the water bounce off the ground and the street turn into a river while I am inside and dry.

That is until I notice that our pizza oven is still outside and ...

Learning to Freewheel

This morning I went to the park with my eldest son and had him practice cycling his bike while I trotted along beside him. He has only recently learnt how to cycle (with pedals and without stabilisers) and hasn’t had that many opportunities to practice.

As we made our ...

Positive Unpopular Opinions

Today’s XKCD comic poses the following challenge

Name a movie that…

  1. You genuinely like (not ‘so bad it’s good’)
  2. Came out in your adult life post-2000, and
  3. Is rated below 50% on rotten tomatoes.

It is easy to think of a film that most folk liked but you ...

Missing Mobile Phone Feature

I have worked out what feature mobile phones are missing that they all really ought to have:

Hardware Brightness Buttons

How many times do you turn in a phone in a dark room only to get blinded?

How many times do you turn in a phone in bright daylight and ...

Science Fiction to Fantasy

science fiction is something that could happen - but usually you wouldn't want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn't happen - though often you only wish that it could.

Arthur C. Clarke

By the above definition, many works would have been classed as science fiction when they were published ...


One of the kids books that we have is Wow! Said the Owl. We have ended up with a little debate about how the title is pronounced.

The rest of the world (my wife, mum and anyone else I have talked to) all seem to agree that Wow should actually ...

Progress After a Pause

Last week I attempted to restart work that I had been working on a couple of months ago. I had thought that I could return where I left off and get going again. If only.

It took us two and a half days to get the system working again as ...

Lost to Time

I remember watching an online satirical video in 2004 and a recent conversation brought it to mind. I wanted to find and share that video with the other participants but I had a slight problem. I couldn't find it.

I have now had several attempts to find the video ...

Game Theory with Parents

When I was younger, I remember facing a dilemma more often than I would like.

If I have lost something, how long do I wait before telling my parents?

If I tell them immediately, I will probably be in trouble for not looking after my possessions. If I wait a ...

Misjudging Food

My journey times were pretty quick today and so I made it home with the boys earlier than I expected. I thought I would go for maximum dad points and get food on for when my wife got home.

I did pretty well at playing referee while the boys played ...

Disastrous Dinners: Imperial Sugar

The following is roughly what I intended to say during last nights Disastrous Dinners talk.

I didn't stick too strictly to the script, but you get the idea. There was a good discussion after the talk with extra questions.

If you want to attend the next talk in September ...

Another Talk Down

I am just in from presenting my second disastrous dinner. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • It doesn't seem to matter how many presentations I give, I always get ridiculously nervous before the event.
  • I always forget how nervous I get when I am organising before hand and only remember ...

Some Things Don’t Change

Despite my best intentions, I have done it again. Back in February I swore that I was going to make sure that any future talks I give would be well planned in. Two weeks before the event, I would have my rough transcript finished, giving plenty of time for polishing ...

Sugar Manufacturing is Dangerous Stuff

I have just had the realisation tonight that my Disastrous Dinners series of events have, so far, been fairly sugar industry focused.

The very first talk was on the Boston Molasses Flood - Molasses being a byproduct of the sugar industry.

I then had 3 presentations that did not involve the ...

A different perspective of the moon landings

With the 50th anniversary of the moon landings this weekend, there have been a lot of different programs looking back at the event.

My favourite interview has to be the recollection from one of the astronaut's kids. While watching on TV, their main worry was that their dad was ...

My Little Monkey

My little monkey
I see you can climb well but,
Please don't climb up there.

Guilty Cuddles

I love getting cuddles from my kids.

I feel bad for enjoying the cuddles when they are feeling ill.

Cycling with a Trailer

The weather over the last few weeks has been lovely and has made the cycle commuting much more pleasant. In particular the cycling with the kids in the trailer on the way home from nursery has been a pleasure.

Yes it is tiring and hard work but, due to the ...

No Phone

Still out of breath having cycled up the hill, I sat down on the couch only to be immediately presented with a picture book by my one and a half year old.


Do I dutifully went through the book pointing out all the animals and encouraging him to repeat ...

Why Guard?

In the UK, most equipment is guarded. Moving parts that could crush or amputate are covered up. Hot surfaces get lagged or caging applied to avoid burns. Why do we bother?

Because the government forces us?

Well yes, we do have legislation in the uk1 that require organisations to ...

Green Waves can be Tiring

A green wave is when you manage to travel through a built up area arriving at junctions just after the lights have turned green to let you continue. In some places the lights are actually engineered to work like that for the majority of traffic. If they are traveling at ...

Back in a Boat

My dad likes kayaking. He offered to take my son out in a two person boat (K2) and I decided to have another go myself.

I can't remember the last time I was in a K1 (a one person boat). I am talking about flat water racing kayaks. Unlike ...

Playing in the Park

Rather than rushing off on any big adventures today, we kept it simple and stopped by a local park. It was nice to get out on the bike without feeling like there was a need to get anywhere quickly.

The kids got to get out and run free for a ...

Another Energy Supply Problem

Almost as soon as I published yesterday's post, I ran into a different energy supply issue.

We had been cooking dinner in our pizza oven when the gas canister ran out. Not to worry I smugly thought to myself. I knew it was low and a couple of months ...

Proof that Distributed Control Works

Today we had a perfect example of distributed control working.

The way our DCS is set up is with individual plants on their own local networks and these are connected to a central network that runs to the control room where the operators and the advanced control schemes that work ...

An Unexpected Visit

As I am about to pack up and head home, I received a message from my sister saying that she was in the area, and asked if it would be ok for a visit. This worked out well. She made it to our house before me and was able to ...

Past Performance

I realise that I graduated university over 10 years ago now. Earlier today I wanted to check the exact date so I looked out a copy of my certificate. Sure enough, the 10 year anniversary was at some point last month. What was also stored with the certificate was my ...

This is an Automated Post

I have decided to try and help myself to maintain regular publishing posts. In the last year, the days that I missed tended to be busy days either playing host, traveling or working nightshift.

So to try and help, I want to be able to quickly write a post in ...

Kids Eating Preferences

It is no surprise that we have struggled to convince our kids to consume their vegetables. On child seems determined to only eat things that are cream or white in colour (rice, pasta, bread, yogurt). Anything that looks like it may have touched a tomato or anything green gets a ...

4th of July Picnic - on the 6th

So today was our annual "4th of July Picnic" held on the closest Saturday to the 4th. As usual we invited lots of friends over and had the grill on doing burgers and sausages for most of the day.

Grass and bench in foreground. Patio in background with tables chairs and a green shelter.
Patio's ready
Grass and bench in foreground. Patio in background with tables chairs and a green shelter.
Patio's ready

An addition this year ...

A Year of Blogging

On this day, one year ago, I started posting (almost) daily. In the last year I have published 358 posts, so clearly I didn't manage to publish every day. Prior to this past year, my posts have been very irregular and infrequent.

In fact my first ‘streak’ only lasted ...

Happy 4th of July

Today is the one day that Americans manage to get the date correct. To celebrate independence, they call the put the day of the month first just like everyone else.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends and family.

Thanks to Randolph Lalonde

Randolph Lalonde is a self published author who has written my current favourite sci-fi series Spinward Fringe. Yesterday he posted that he has now had more than 1 million downloads and is celebrating this achievement and 10 years of self publishing with a sale on all his books.

I have ...

Easy Gym

I made it back to the circuits session for the first time in a while. I was expecting to find it hard, but there was a different trainer taking the session. While the half hour was fully utilised (it overran by a few minutes) it was actually easier than normal ...

Back in the Office

Today was my first day back in the office after a week long break. So I wasn't able to enjoy the sunshine as I walked or cycled through the park. Instead I was inside a blast resistant building with little connection to the outside world.

And it was brilliant ...

Fakeaway Cooking

Now that our house is a mostly vegan one1, we have been getting takeaway much less than before. There are a few takeaway places that do have vegan options but not covering all cuisines. One that we have been missing on is the Chinese takeaway.

We have now gotten ...

Parenting Slight of Hand Win

For tonight's dessert, the kids had some frozen berries (thawed out in the microwave) with some yogurt. As far as the kids were concerned, their parents were eating the same thing.

Of course we had managed to communicate with each other and organised that we actually had ice-cream with ...