Sunday, March 16, 2008

How do you feel about burning £5 notes?

I've spent a fair amount of time indoors in the past few days...
preparing some IT talks for the computer group I help run. I've
spent several days putting together a Powerpoint presentation
on Windows Vista, which I'm gradually getting used to on the
laptop I'm using at present.

I've got a very good book out of the library ... Harshad Kotecha's
"Windows Vista in Easy Steps" ... brilliantly put together and
well illustrated. It's so good that I'm thinking of buying a copy,
so I can refer to it from time to time for teaching purposes.

There's no doubt in my mind, that one of the best ways of learning
a new subject is to teach it ... I'm forced to look something up
that I'm "hazy" about, and to try out new things on the computer,
and do further reading around the subject in magazines, books, and
on the internet itself. I wouldn't like to put across info to
others that was inaccurate, or tell them about stuff I hadn't tried
out myself first.

I sometimes think about the time when my Maths teacher asked the
entire class to present something of general interest to everyone
in the class. It was my second year at one of the grammar schools
in Leeds, and the teacher gave us a few days' notice to prepare
our talks. My parents had 2 sets of encyclopaedias at home (Chambers
& the Oxford Junior), and I chose the British Coal industry for my
talk. The trouble was that I couldn't find out much about it in
the books at home or in the local library ... so I ended up with
bugger-all to present, and I was shit-scared of public speaking

Very luckily for me, the teacher chose 3 other lads in the class to
present their topics -- I wasn't chosen, but from then on, I've
tended to be very well prepared for any talks I give, and to
prepare them well in advance. My talk on Vista was going to be in
mid-April, but I've had to postpone it until June/July, owing to
baby-sitting duties.

Today I've more or less completed another talk on file management
(using Vista), including the simple method of dating all my stuff
with the current date written as YYMMDD and photo folders dated as
MMYY ... Windows does the rest of the work in stacking up files &
folders in date & alphabetical order. I've also included a section
on hiding files (password protected), and one on creating shortcuts
on the taskbar.

We've decided it's time to sell our car (a 1993 Peugeot 306 XRDT)
... it's in good condition mechanically, but like most old cars,
it's rusting badly. We're thinking about changing it for something
similar in engine size ... a Ford Focus, for example ... but I've
just been reading about how the Govt is going to tax more heavily
the more powerful cars (& older ones too) ... with view to all of
us progressively reducing our carbon dioxide emissions.

I'm generally in favour of the latter, though the Govt may just be
using green issues to levy more tax out of us.

Do some of you remember the old days, when we used to put gallons
rather than litres of petrol into our cars? It doesn't seem all
that long ago, when motorists were horrified by paying £1 a gallon
for petrol (perhaps that was in the 1970s when I come to think
about it).

Anyway ... SHOCK HORROR ... I've read in the press that petrol has
now reached the dizzy height of £5 for a gallon (that's about 4
litres, is it not?).

£5 for a gallon of petrol.

Just think what you could spend £5 on .... er ... er ... two large
cappuccinos in a coffee shop perhaps, or two pints of beer in a pub
... or two largish blocks of cheddar cheese, or a CD of cheerful
Xmas music (with dear old Bing singing "White Christmas"). I'd
rather listen to Bing singing, than pour a gallon of petrol into
a car.... just feels like burning £5 notes to me.

(17 March: I paid £1.12 per litre for diesel fuel for my car
today. I checked out the metric conversion tables, and 1 gallon
works out at 4.55 litres, and so costs £5.09. I put £24's worth
of diesel into a fairly empty fuel tank, and it's now less than half
full (or more than half empty for those of you who like to think that
way). Putting petrol into a car fuel tank is said to be one of the
Brits' least favourite activities ... perhaps we should all start to
think about the positive aspects of buying fuel for our cars ...we
could all start jumping up and down with joy, with thoughts of getting
out and about for picnics & walks in the countryside, and visiting
all our relations around the country ... YIPPEE!).


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