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Getting somewhere and going somewhere

Wednesday, Bec and I were going to go to try various cars. Unfortunately, a light downfall of snow was enough to grind half of Swansea to a halt and made Bec decide to do it later. So we went on Thursday.

Used car salesmen have quite a deserved reputation, but we can add a general incompetence to the list. We visited quite a few places. In most of these places, the salesmen didn't know where the car we wanted was, and didn't know anything about them. We wanted either a Ford Focus or a Civic hybrid. There was only one hybrid available in South Wales. At the place we went to, it took the guy 3 Hondas to find the car. He then suggested that he could start the engine for us, and if we took it for a test drive we might be committing to buy it (more a question than a suggestion, but surely no one would actually buy a car, particularly a used one, without taking it for a test drive?!). I sat in the front seat (with no commitment to do anythng other than get out at some point), and my knees hit the steering wheel. Given that, for our expected driving, the fuel efficiency is comparable to a diesel, we crossed that off the list.

We eventually settled on a Focus from a place which actually gave the same details as on the website, was well ordered, had no objection to us taking a test drive, and comes with the raft of tests and warranty which make us feel relatively secure.

Warning the following paragraph contains language which may be offensive to some readers. Worker guidance is recommended for some managers.

Friday, I initiated a meeting with the key stakeholders exploring the potential of my researchisations. We exchanged views regarding potential avenues for collaborative synergies to provide a win-win situation for all parties. With multi-skilling of key personnel, a high-performance cross-functionalised team to enable the delivery of KPI's and KQI's and CBA's.

Actually, the tone of the meeting was nothing like that at all. There was very little management speak-y bullshit whatsoever. I just thought it was funny.

Anyway, PR and I met with members of the inks and coatings group and members of the computational group. I had prepared a quick summary of capabilities and some ideas, and quickly described what the instrument could do, how they could use it and how we could work together. It was a very positive meeting, solving some of my problems in getting space to set it up, and identifying some very clear avenues for us to work together.

I had expected it to take an hour. Instead it was a productive 2 and a half. I then had to run home, as we were driving to Machynlleth to do a course called The Whole House at the Centre for Alternative Technology.

I was a little concerned that I would spend the weekend surrounded by hippies, both from the course administrators (they only served vegetarian fare!) and the co-course members (they are prepared to eat vegetarian fare for a whole weekend!), but there was not a dirty dreadlock to be seen. Everyone was very friendly, the food was quite nice and very filling, and the course was honest.

One of the things I really liked about both the course and the centre was the recognition of both practical considerations and the need for compromise (e.g. "cement is bad for this, this and this reason, but in this case it is your only real option" rather than "you shouldn't do this because it uses cement") as well as budget limitations. They were also fully prepared to say things don't work, or could be better, even if they were things they had done.

I learnt some interesting things, and found some areas, particularly in the heat areas, where my engineering will come in handy. Anyway, its time for bed. G'night.

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"Mark - the first week"

"Mark - part 2"

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The Head Heeb - Jonathan provides a balanced view on various Israeli and (former) colonial states in less developed regions of the world.

The Bladder - a sports satire site. Well worth a look.

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