Meryl O’Rourke ~ not to be watched by people who do not think women are funny

Someone recommended this female comedienne to me – they know how my mind works

I thought she was very funny.

Would you Interview someone who contacted you like this

I know it must be annoying for people looking for work when they hear no reply.  We get too many unsolicited enquires to be replying to everyone.  I don’t think I will make special exception for the person who sent us this email:

“Hello I am just enquiring to see if you have any apprenticeship vacancies available to start as soon as possible, I have heard a lot of good things about your company and I would love to be part of that, I am very interested in the plumbing sector and always have been I am Available for a trial and a interview as soon as possible also a CV can be sent if needed. I can either be contacted through this email address or my mobile number xxxxxx

Posted from my iPhone”

That was it. No name, no information, no separate paragraphs.  I’d quite like to see a better attempt at punctuation too.  I guess this sort of communication passes for acceptable among the youth who have grown up in the TexT message age.

I would not know where to begin but the honest answer is If this is the best you can I doubt if plumbing is the right career for you.

Which? consumer magazine now checks out plumbers

The which trusted trader scheme is still just a baby, less than one year old.  This week they launch radio ads to advertise the scheme, to let the public know that Which? endorsed business are scrutinised.

They say approved businesses are “not rated” and “not checked” they are “assessed and then endorsed.”

Here is the ad that explains it


Come With Me If You Want To Live & Horizon Longitude Prize A Vegan Solution

I am often in a minority with my view points on many things, for example, the world could be a better place if more people spent time watching science fiction films.

Just over two hundred years ago Malthus published a famous book expressing the concern that the world’s resources would be insufficient to sustain the growing population of the world.  At that time the population of Europe was 150,000,000 and the world population is estimated to have been less than a billion (about 910 million, 9,100,000).

Two hundred years later and here we are, over 7 billion people alive so how wrong was he?

When I say a billion I am talking about a thousand million, a number with nine zeros.  When I was much younger and started to learn the names of big numbers a billion was a million million, it had 12 zeros.  In 1974 Britain moved towards doing things the American way and knocked loads of zeros off all the big numbers, a thousand million was promoted to a billion and a trillion no longer needed eighteen noughts a mere twelve would suffice.

Trillian also became a girl’s name in 1978, invented by Douglas Adams for a character in The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Note to people interested in politics, do you see how easy it is to change the numbers and make things seem so much bigger or smaller by the use of words when people do not really know what the actual numbers mean.  The use of fractions and percentages are also very effective weapons in your arsenal for causing confusion.

In 220 years the population has grown by 769%, approximately.

There are now seven billion people on the planet now and within the next 35 years the population will grow by another third, there will be more than 9 billion on the planet in 2050 but I am getting ahead of myself.

In the 1980s an unknown writer/film maker sells the rights to his original story for the price of a pint of beer so that he can direct it as a low budget film.  It is arguably among the most successful science fiction films ever made along with its sequel, Terminator 2.  The director, James Cameron, went on to make many award winning films such as The Abyss Titanic and Avatar.

In the Terminator films the protagonists aim to prevent an imminent nuclear war because if that historical path is taken most people are destroyed and we are given a figure and a date:

“3 billion human lives ended on August 29th 1997.”

With the benefit of hindsight we now know that by then the world population was six billion so the nuclear war only killed half of us that day, many more would have died in the aftermath and I think James Cameron had in mind that our species was almost wiped out, almost extinct because of the nuclear war, the event was called Judgement Day in the Terminator films.

Why judgement day? It is not a religious reference.  A superior intelligence is given the opportunity to look after our planet it quickly calculates and concludes that humans do not generally act in the interest of the greater good, we do not have world interests at our heart – so the superior intelligence in the film comes to the logical conclusion.  This is a common theme in science fiction and perhaps justifiable when you consider our population growth, the way we treat each other, our history of wars and atrocities, our depletion of the world’s natural resources.  It stands to good reason that those of far superior intelligence, for example, would see us as we view rats, cockroaches and termites or germs and viruses.  We destroy pests.

If the security of the world is ever in the hands of artificial intelligence or superior beings in the future then our species really needs to impress them with better behaviour and rational decision making compared to our history.

For example, at the current rate of use there will not be enough fresh water for the population of the world by 2050.  As you know there is already water poverty for many people in the world but on the other hand experts have suggested we could use the water more efficiently.

Water meters, sharing baths with my neighbours and A rated dishwashers are a drop in the ocean, so to speak, because globally 70% of human water usage is on agriculture but it is livestock that is using most of that fresh water  not just because of what the animals consume directly but because of the water that goes into growing crops to feed those animals

.“meat and dairy products are among the most water-intensive consumer products”

When you recognise that crops are grown, processed and transported to feed livestock instead of feeding people directly then there is an argument to look not at amount of water per crop but at final calories produced per crop.

There are more water efficient farming practices that can be adopted but it would seem obvious that livestock farming is a very inefficient use of water.  That is not the only big negative impact it has on our environment.

A report from the United Nation Environment Programme states:

“ Today, “the livestock sector emerges as one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems” (Steinfeld et al. 2006). This includes stresses such as deforestation, desertification, “excretion of polluting nutrients, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy, diverting food for use as feed and emission of GHGs” (Janzen 2011). Perhaps the most worrisome impact of industrial meat production, analyzed and discussed in many scientific publications in recent years, is the role of livestock in climate change.”

Roughly it takes about ten times as much land to produce meat as compared to vegetables when compared by calories.  Livestock production, including growing the food to feed the animals is blamed for using up water but also cutting back the rain forests and creating desserts.

Since the time of Malthus atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has risen by 40% due to human activities and we all know that greenhouse gas emissions has become a big concern.  About a quarter of greenhouse gas created annually by people is due to animal farming.

By contrast air traffic contributes less than 3% of CO2 emissions and all transport in the world, including aviation, accounts for slightly less anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions than livestock farming.

Europeans on average eat about 200 grams of meat per person per day, in the US they eat a lot lot more (more than 300 grams).  To keep greenhouse emissions within current targets and feed the growing population daily meat consumption must be below 90 grams (according to a UNEP report).

When many British people talk about a meal they define it in terms of the meat.

“We’ve got chicken or beef tonight.”

I will never forget my mum asking me what I was going to eat later and I replied that I was not sure but I have got some broccoli in the fridge.  She said she found that really odd as she would eat vegetables without naming them as central to the meal. But why not?

The Director James Cameron has been interested in environmental issues for many years and he has said that the reason he became a vegan is because

“The single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals because of the huge, huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture.”

Some people are vegan because they simply think it is wrong to eat animals. Other people give health reasons, such as ex President Bill Clinton, he wants to live way into the future and so do I.

The issue of fresh water, feeding the growing population and greenhouse gas emissions are all subjects in the BBC Horizon programme air tonight which I watched AFTER writing this.  We are given the chance to vote on a priority for scientific advancement to solve a big problem.  I highly recommend you watch this on iPlayer or when aired again on BBC2 Tue at 23.50


  • Stefan Schwarzera (et al) Growing greenhouse gas emissions due to meat production, United Nations Environment Programme GEAS October 2012
  • Compassion in World Farming: Water Footprint


The dreaded water bill and life with a Water Meter

I am interested in MY water bill and the use of water in my house, not the theoretical average house that I have read about.


It is said that only about 12% of the average household water use is within the shower and this is the sort of figure that I think is meaningless.  Some showers use 2 or 3 times as much water as others and the size of the household will also make a difference. I noted in my blogs last week that we could make considerable savings (hundreds of pounds per year) in our house by changing our shower head.

I can’t reduce the amount of water we use in the toilet so forget about that: then in our house I believe the shower is possibly our biggest single area of water use.   Our shower uses 14 litres of water per minute and there are 5 people in this house.  Many showers use 20 litres or more but around 15 is typical.  Our new one is on order it is a 9 litre per minute device, you can get lower than this.

In the future, when we are ready to invest in more than just a shower head (at less than £50) there are loads of super efficient showering options that could save more water and energy.

In my recent blogs I suggested that in my house we might shower for about 7 hours per week.  That was a guess.  Sometimes I am in and out of it in minutes but an hour a day is a nice round figure to work with.


If it flows for 30 minutes per day at a rate of about 14 litres per minute it will cost about £500 per year in water.  I don’t know how much it will cost to heat the water.

It is said that approx 30% of water is flushed down the loo.  If you have an old loo then it could be using 13 litres per go, one of those FREE water saving devices you put in the cistern will save you a fortune.  Encouraging your children to be scared of the flush is also a money saving strategy, I sincerely believe that loud noise will awaken the monster that sleeps in the loft and it might come crashing through the ceiling to eat its favourite food: young children.

HOW MUCH WATER IS USED by a modern dual flush toilet?  4 or 6 litres per flush.

I’ve got no idea how many times we flush per day but it is the sort of thing that interests me so I might just start counting!


If you are buying a new washing machine then spending an extra £100 or two to buy a more efficient model could quickly pay for itself.  I based my previous calculations on doing 20 loads per week at 40 litres per load – I like round numbers.  I have checked the details of my model, it is a more efficient larger capacity model (8kg) and about 40 litres per load is a good estimate.  I have worked out that I can’t possibly be doing anything like 20 loads per week and for the sake of easy maths lets say it is about 10 loads per week.  I don’t think I can make any savings here.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RUN MY WASHING MACHINE? In my house the cost of water for laundry I estimate will be a little less than £90 per year.

HOW MUCH WATER DOES MY DISHWASHER USE? About 10 litres per wash – for a modern model.

I already do most washing up in the dishwasher, it is always full and I will be doing as much as possible in there in the future.


What have you got Next to Your Toilet?

Loo paper, of course, perhaps a wash basin and hand towel? Perhaps your bath towel, toothbrush, hair brush and some entertaining reading material are also near by?

I have always been fascinated by scientific research into anything toilet related so even as a teenager I knew germ-rich water particles shoot out in all directions every time we flush (based on research begun in the 1970s and repeated with similar results over and over by various scientists).

The best idea is to do the do, then wash hands, finally flush and run.  Don’t be tempted to loiter watching it all swirl away (even if there is some doubt whether that monster will go with just one flush).

Particles/germs travel several feet in all directions and land on whatever you have in the room. Is it wise to leave your toothbrush out of the cupboard or your damp bath towel hanging so close?

Speaking of hand towels…

if you were visiting my house, and used my loo would you use the hand towel? If I was using your toilet I probably would not use your towel.  I know the towels in my house are clean, new towels put out regularly.

& I know that is not true in other places.

The problem is not just that it is near the loo and being subjected to the flush cloud but also that other people with poor hand washing practices will have used it.  Many people do not wash their hands properly, so if we all use the same hand towel we are wiping our hands on a dirty rag sodden with bacteria? yuk!

If we could see poo on the towel we would not use it!

For this reason I change the hand towel AFTER any guest has used the little room!  Some people do not provide hand towels but a basket of small flannels for hand wiping, one use only and a bucket for putting them to be washed, a highly sensible practice IMHO. I really like using the Dyson Blade hand drier when I go to Pizza Express.

If you like fireworks or maths then you might like this clip and article about the direction particles travel after the flush

Hit and Run at Ramsgate Waitrose Friday Afternoon

The owner of a white car was dismayed to return to it at about 4.25 to discover a huge dent.  It was parked at the very back, near the entrance to the car park, adjacent to the loading bay. It would appear a vehicle parked next to it and swung a door open with great force.

If you realise that it was your car that did the damage – there are many good reasons why you might have driven off without leaving a note.

  • You had to rush off to attend a medical emergency?
  • You heard the bang but didn’t realise the other car was damaged?
  • You didn’t have pen and paper but had to rush to get to an appointment?
  • You were embarrassed, frightened, shocked, panicked but now feel remorseful.

Luckily I can give you the chance to do the right thing and apologise to the car owner.  I don’t know him personally having only ever spoke to him twice but he seems a very nice person.  He’s not local and he is the sort of person who you would see shopping in Waitrose.

Contact me by leaving a comment on this page (all comments are moderated by me) or email me and I will pass on your comments to the owner of the car.

Finally, of course, this sort of thing is easily done. I have had that awful experience of my door being caught by the wind and hitting the next car and I WAS really NOT aware that it happened because at the time I was distracted by the needs of my children – other people pointed it out to me.  It is embarrassing too.  Especially as I go to the same few places regularly and always see the same people in the car park.  Accidents happen, we have to sort them out and try to learn from our mistakes.

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