Monday, April 06, 2020

No, the world is not "F***ed"

I've been reading a few articles recently with predictably dire warnings about the economic impact of the Corona shutdown.

Now, of course, I'm not making light of the situation; businesses will fail, people will lose jobs and government and personal debt will soar.  There will be a lot of short-term pain.

However, where this differs from, for example, the financial crisis of 2008 which was precipitated by the Sub-prime Mortgage situation and the collateralisation of risk - which turned out to be nothing of the kind - is that this is not an intrinsic economic failure.  The 2008 financial crisis was caused by failures in the financial system; abuse, ignorance, greed and incompetence.  Cleaning up that mess was long and protracted; for a long time, most of the banks viewed others' assets as near worthless which, in turn, meant that all the CDOs were, by implication, also near worthless.  Governments had to act to shore up the Financial System itself.

The Corona-precipitated financial crisis is severe but it's also external.  What it highlights is the speed with which value can dissipate.  What's a jet airliner worth when you can't fly it ?  What's a hotel worth when no guests are allowed to check in ?  Clearly, a lot less that before.  However, once you can fly them and welcome back guests ... much of the value returns very quickly.  The issue with the 2008 financial crisis was that we were forced, quite suddenly, to realise that the underlying assets were worthless and the value was never going to return.  And this, I think, is reason to conclude that whilst there will be a severe impact from Covid-19 in the short-term the world's economy will return a lot faster than the doom-mongers predict.  We'll see in due course ...

Corona Musings

I've had it; my Covid diary

So, first things first, I've had it and recovered.  I can't say that with absolute certainty since I wasn't tested but I was remotely diagnosed by a doctor who said that, with the symptoms I was exhibiting, I was 99% likely.

It started with a temperature (and chills), aching muscles and debilitating tiredness which lasted for about 48 hours.  I woke up in the middle of the night to feel that the fever had abated and was, prematurely as it turned out, then feeling grateful that it was over.

About ten hours later the dry cough started.  And continued.  And continued.  I reached the point, as others have also reported, of starting to dry retch simply down to the continual cough.  That lasted for about three days.  Fortunately, whilst my chest felt tight (and very sore from the coughing) I never reached the point of feeling unable to breathe.  Eventually, the cough started to abate and over the next couple of days I recovered quite quickly.

However, I then discovered that I was still very weak and even a walk up a couple of flights of stairs would leave me feeling tired.  Fortunately, now, two weeks later I'm back on my bike and exercising and feeling fine.  So, very thankful that it wasn't worse and happy to be recovered and, hopefully for a while at least, immune.

In summary, I think I had nearly all the symptoms except the severe headaches and diarrhoea but fortunately not so severely.  The aching and the coughing were probably the worst symptoms and made me unable to sleep and exhausted.

Wishing everyone else either a complete avoidance of the unpleasant bug or a swift recovery and mild symptoms.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Name Change ?

So, I've had the online avatar Blackblade for a long time now.

The origins, as you can probably guess from the picture, are motorbike related.  One of the very first forums I joined was all about bikes and, at the time, I was riding a black Honda Fireblade.  Hence Blackblade.

Since that time I've had many bikes ... all Fireblades ... and all with sufficient noir in their colour schemes to just about qualify as Blackblades.

However, now, I've gone and done something unthinkable.  After over 25 years of a series of Fireblades I've bought a Ducati.

Now, this is a wonderful thing.  The new bike is astounding; ridiculously powerful (definitely track only for any attempt at exploiting its capabilities), amazing suspension, brakes that pop your eyeballs and it looks spectacular .... in RED !

So, can I keep Blackblade or do I need to change ?

Guess who's back ?

Time certainly flies.

Sitting at my desk, wondering when I last wrote a blog post ... and realised that it was years ago !

Why haven't I written anything in the interim ?

Well, I guess life gets in the way and laziness does the rest.

Let's see if I can get the next one out in less than a year !


Friday, July 26, 2013

An atypical letter to my son's school



Dear Mrs Teacher,

I write on a very serious matter regarding my son, David.  He appears to have contracted the highly debilitating condition known as HARS (Homework Allergic Reaction Syndrome).  This condition manifests itself, as I’m sure you’re aware, in extreme behaviours when presented with homework.  David is willing to do almost anything to avoid doing homework; with the exception of other work I have noticed – I kindly offered to write him a note if he agreed to tidy up the garden but this treatment programme did not appeal and was unsuccessful (and the garden is still a mess).

David is, as you know, a very lazy hard-working boy so I, naturally, believe his statements regarding the palpitations, sweaty palms and extreme psychic shock that he suffers when presented with homework.  I have, indeed, observed the local contact dermatitis which makes him unable to sit still whilst working on his homework.

I would therefore request that you assist me in employing a highly intensive form of aversion therapy; I would like you to make sure that he is completely overwhelmed with homework, every day.  Our counsellor (also known as his Mum) thinks that five hours per day should be sufficient to make the treatment effective.

Yours sincerely,

David’s Dad

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Swiftcover Dishonourable

Am, right now, burning with indignation. 

After five years with Swiftcover, during which I have paid thousands in premiums and never claimed for a single thing, I finally had cause to require insurance.

My car was stolen just before Christmas ... the house broken into to secure the car keys ... and the car then driven away.

Hiscox and Barclays, the two companies covering damage to the house and contents, were fantastic.  Helpful, reassuring and they got things fixed fast and efficiently.  I was impressed and it certainly made a stressful situation much easier.

Swiftcover, on the other hand, referred me to a company called Sims Claims who, it now appears, fulfill the function of trying to help Swiftcover avoid paying out by any means.

Their story has changed repeatedly, but always with the aim of trying to manipulate different clauses of the contract to try and reject the claim.  I'm referring them to the Financial Services Ombudsman and will blog on further developments as they occur.

However, I still can't really believe that a major insurer (they are part of the AXA group) would think this an appropriate way to behave.  No one wants to pay out money, of course, but the paroxysms and contortions they have employed to try and evade their liability reminds me of the very worst of shyster lawyers.  If it was on TV people would think it too incredible.

I am, unfortunately, stuck with them since I have a protected No Claims Bonus and don't think I can migrate this to another insurer having now made a claim.  However, failing this, I would be cancelling and off somewhere else.  I would strongly recommend anyone NOT to deal with Swiftcover.  The online service and ease of use is good; but what use is that if they won't actually pay out when you need them ??  Beware !!!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guess who's back

The return of the King

It has been a long, long time since I updated this Blog.  I realised this when I suggested to someone else that they should setup a blog and they asked me whether I had one.  "Yes", I responded and then wondered when I had last updated it.  Suffice to say that it took me more than a little time to find my password and to actually get back in but, anyway, here I am with the strong intention to write some more ... in a while.  Procrastination is such an under-rated skill isn't it ?

Back soon (ish)

Matt.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Eating your own cookie

I really should have done this long, long ago. My only excuse is .... well, give me time on that one, I can't think of one right now.

The reality is that I have never been a blogger. A commenter, most definitely, a blogger ... not really.

Anyway, I've been promoting coComment's tools for ages now, of course, without actually implementing it on my own blog. I've finally taken the plunge and, to my delight, it really is as easy as my team promised me it would be. I managed to get conversations, including video, up and running in about 5 minutes and I added in the external comments tracking widget, customised so that it only shows my comments, in another 8.

So, here it is, my newly coComment enabled blog. Not a great looking one, I'll concede, but proof that the technology really does work for the web novice :-)

Racing tyres are wonderful

I've always eschewed pure race tyres on roadbikes. I like riding in the wet, not least because the roads tend to be fairly empty, and therefore I've always had tyres that would work reasonably well on the road in such conditions AND the track too.

However, I was recently persuaded of the advantages of going onto Pirelli Supercorsas and, despite minimal tread on the shoulder of the tyre, they proved much better on the track and tolerable in the road despite near monsoon conditions when Richard and I arranged a rideout. One which, as an aside, everyone else bailed on.



















At Snetterton recently though they had definitely 'gone off' and I urgently needed new ones before a trip to the kitty litter and medical centre beckoned. Unfortunately, the tyre guy only had the Supercorsa Pro SC2s. These are the control tyres for many Superstock championships.

Well, my eyes have been opened. The grip is truly amazing. At Oulton Park recently I managed to lap faster than ever and achieve angles of lean that, on the standard Supercorsas, would have seen me on the deck.

All I can say is .... "Yee ha !!"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Re:Publica Day 2

Despite my distinctly poor German Re:Publica has been an excellent conference that I've enjoyed hugely.

Three presentations in two days is quite a lot but the last one, under the aegis of the truly inspired and brilliant 'Powerpoint Karaoke', was so funny that I still haven't stopped laughing. That said, several people are giving me some distinctly knowing grins this morning after my lecture on the evils of European Bread (Remember - say no to bread).

Jan Schmidt, who gave, I thought, one of the most insightful presentations of the conference on day one excelled at the less serious topics too and my understanding of the oversized female shoe market has been well, if not actually extended, certainly tickled !

Looking forward to Day 3 and the chance to go back to work getting feedback on the proposed new version of coComment.