Posts – Page 2

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 …


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

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 …

Encouraging Meetings

IChemE Members Groups are organised by volunteers. People give up their spare time to try and organise events for other members. Regular committee meetings are held to help co-ordinate what everyone is working on.

The Scottish Members Group covers a large geographic area, not quite all Scotland but not far …

2019 Spending Review

It seems to be a common feature of financial blogs to review their spending at regular intervals1 usually monthly or quarterly. I am not about to try and become a financial blogger, offering saving and investment advice, but I do think it is worth keeping an eye on our …

Enforced Breaks

Tags: Work

I spent most of today working on a remote computer. I have spent many days working on this remote computer, usually without issue. Today that was not the case. Every so often the connection would drop. Sometimes for 30 seconds. Sometimes for 5 minutes.

Each time the connection …

Necessary Naps

I took my kids for a walk to the supermarket this morning mostly to get them out of the house. In the way there, the younger one asked to be carried. That's unusual. Then walking around the shop, he decided one but of floor made an awesome bed.

He didn't …

Running Badly and Getting Lucky

So today was my first parkrun in almost exactly three months. What happens when I don't run for three months? I managed a personal worst. My time was 22 seconds slower than my very first parkrun which was after nearly 10 years of no racing.

Never mind, I can't change …

One Day Work Week

It may have been a Friday, but after two days off, it definitely felt like a Monday. I actually found it a bit disorientation. Luckily, I don't think I have to worry about the week getting shortened to one day for a while yet.

How I Track Our Money

In the deep distant past when I was fresh out of university and had just entered the workforce, I kept a very close eye on my spending. This was partly due to the fact that my reserve funds had all been depleted during my final summer before starting work and …

It Wasn't All Bad

I am noticing lots of people complaining about the state of the world, good riddance to 2019, hopefully the next year will be better. I fear that we are too quick to dismiss the progress that has been made. This could be progress on a personal level, as a society …

A Summer's Morning in Winter

This morning, I was up and ready to go to work with time to spare. I started looking for an excuse, some reason to avoid the bike and take the car instead.

It was dark outside and I was expecting the journey to be cold wet and horrible. I am …

A Visit to Blackness Castle

One of our Christmas gifts was a set of annual memberships to Historic Scotland that allows us to visit a large number of historical sites for no additional cost. This is useful when with kids that might get board after 10 minutes and want to go home. This would not …

Safety Systems Definitions

For my final Simple Saturday post of the year/decade I will cover terms and acronyms used as part of shutdown systems.

ESD: Emergency ShutDown. This is the generic name given to a system that trips the plant if it detects a problem. This generic name could refer to simple …

Making the Most of My Time: Learning a Language

Tags: Personal, Dyslexia, Esperanto

Following an earlier post, I have decided to review the activities I spent my time on and consider whether these activities add true value.

Today's post will look at spending time to learn a new language.

Why learn a language?

I have liked the idea of …

An Unexpected Gift

I got an unexpected gift on Christmas morning from Samsung. There was an android update waiting for me when I woke up. This update claimed to "improve call stability" as well as update to the latest security patches.

It appears that they also managed to fix the chrome cast function …

You Did Ask for a White Christmas

Though this is probably not what you meant...

A view of a foggy valley.
It is white!
A view of a foggy valley.
It is white!

Sorry kids, no sledging today.

Thanks for Keeping the Lights On

It is amazing the amount of effort required to keep things simply running. The huge variety of jobs that need to have someone doing them at all times of the day and night, every day of the year.

Ten Years ago, I was about to spend my first Christmas away …

More Smug

I was already feeling smug enough at getting our Christmas grocery shopping done first thing on s Sunday morning when the shop was quite. It just doubled when I went past another shop this morning about 9am. The queues were ridiculously long and I was really glad that I didn't …

An Advantage of Early Risers

On of the advantages of having young kids is that they don't understand the concept of sleeping in on a Sunday. They get up early regardless of the day of the week.

Normally this is a cause of frustration, but today we made the most of it and got our …


Since starting work after leaving university, I have found several terms thrown around when talking about the control system. In every factory I have worked in, they have had a DCS, though some parts of it were controlled by PLCs. In some documents or training courses, I have seen references …

State of the World

Tags: Politics

Last year I read Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker which explains how much better the world has been getting, is continuing to get and why. I have met a lot of folk that really dislike this book and Pinker because he is seen as an optimist who is …