Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mytholmroyd and Calder Valley flooding

Spent Wednesday 30 Dec as a volunteer with Calder Valley Flood Support in Mytholmroyd, helping to deliver cleaning gear to flooded homes, packing bedding for a person flooded out of her home who had secured rented accommodation and then helping to clean up at the Dusty Miller pub, which had been badly affected by flooding from the river Calder on Boxing Day. One theme that recurred throughout the day, from conversations with those affected by the flooding - and this was the third bout in a month - and from other volunteers, was the number of uninsured properties in the village. Some people had simply found that no insurer would offer cover for their homes, while others felt that premiums and excesses had been hiked beyond their reach to deter them from even bothering. A prime example were the couple I met who were forced from their small cottage on Burnley Road, the main road running through the village, on Boxing Day night. Their home has one room downstairs and a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. From their bedroom window, which was then partially under water, they had watched mature trees and other large pieces of debris being swept downstream with such force that they were amazed there had not been loss of life. They are friends of the Dusty Miller's landlord and are currently staying at the pub as the guest accommodation has not been affected. For their small home, the most recent premium quoted was £1,800 per year, with a £5,000 excess. They had not bothered to insure and now, along with a sizeable proportion of other village residents, now face a costly clean up and repair bill. Calder Valley Flood Appeal - please donate now.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Short arms and deep pockets at Christmas

Last act of the day before finishing for the holiday? Checking to see if a very large corporate customer has paid an overdue invoice. The answer is, they haven't (despite an 'assurance' from an accounts wonk that it would be in my account by yesterday). So I'll be starting the new year in full on credit control/small claims threatening mode. Bah humbug. Happy Christmas - 'cheques in the post'

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

e-cards: pressies on planks

Received two business-type e-cards in past couple of days, one from customer, the other from a trade body - both using the image of either presents or holly superimposed on a background of planking. See both as evidence of lazy design that tends to creep in to certain images or products - think back a couple of years and there was a sudden plethora of book covers showing solitary figures in long overcoats standing amidst incomplete/fog-bound city scapes. This became so dominant that spawned a Private Eye feature that still occasionally runs in the Books/Library news section. So, designers, take some time off this Christmas, recharge the old batteries and stop looking over other peoples' shoulders in the studio. And please, no more planks...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Romanian sheepdogs and the rule of law

This story intrigued me. It seems the Romanian Government has passed a law that limits the number of sheepdogs that can work with a shepherd in some places during the hunting season. The law was passed after, what we would call 'lobbying', by hunters, who are concerned that the dogs frighten away bears. That's right, Romanian sheepdogs go after bears. And now the hunters and politicians have decided enough is enough. But the shepherds, and presumably their four-legged friends (dogs, not sheep), aren't happy about it. They're so pissed-off, in fact, that the shepherds flocked (sorry, couldn't resist) to protest outside the Romanian parliament. Now, while the rule of law is absolute - ie law should be upheld and respected everywhere by all - there are times when legislators need to realise there have to be limits to the laws they enact. Taking on a group of canine employees who embody a work ethic that is so developed as to be almost a death wish seems to me to be just one of those limits. Perhaps the Romanian parliament ought to try another tack - how about outlawing the Ursine practice of woodland defecation, see how far that gets them... PS: apparently there are 10 million sheep and 1.5 million goats in Romania, so the dogs are kept pretty busy. PPS: BBC Radio 4 Crossing Continents (or Cross Incontinents) has now taken an interest!