Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Buchanan Street water tap – seen at last

It’s a while since I mentioned the installation of a public water tap in Buchanan Street, hopefully a first step in reducing the ever piles of disgusting plastic water bottles discarded all over the place by trendies with too much money, and who appear to take one mouthful out of the bottle, apparently find the non-alcoholic contents not to their liking, and toss the almost full bottle away.

That was way back in December, but with my great memory I’ve only just remembered to make the diversion and get a pic to prove it’s there.

Sadly, I didn’t see anyone use it, but the dribble of water on the ground either means it is getting used… or it leaks!

This isn’t actually a proper selective colour pic, but it seems to be close enough to work, and highlight the tap.

The scheme should probably be given repeat publicity, to remind people of its existence.

Buchanan Street Water Point

Buchanan Street Water Point

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11/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dennistoun is getting interesting shops

What can I say?

I hope they’re still there if/when the weather gets better and I can wander along for a look.

Pear will be opening its doors this weekend.

The super trendy Dennistoun shop, located at 434 Duke Street offers a wide selection of cacti and succulents that you can artfully display in your home.

Glasgow’s first cactus shop is opening in Dennistoun this weekend

I used to have some cacti, on the basis they were pretty hard to kill, and often came up with surprises every few years, like when they suddenly produced some nice looking flowers

I used to like this one, which I always referred to as ‘Mickey Mouse’ 🙂

Mickey Mouse Cactus

Mickey Mouse Cactus

Next…

A new plastic-free shop which looks to help people reduce the amount of waste they are putting into the environment is opening in Dennistoun.

Zero Waste Market supplies reusable products like bamboo toothbrushes, metal straws, shampoo bars and reusable sanitary products.

Zero Waste Market will open in Dennistoun in mid-March.

Check out their website to buy products and to keep up to date with news here.

You can also donate to the Zero Waste Market crowdfunding page and help support the new shop here.

Zero waste shop selling plastic-free reusable items to open in Dennistoun

I’ll probably sound like a ‘miserable sod’ for this next comment, but I just don’t buy disposable stuff (other than toilet paper – I find it really hard to wash and dry after I’ve used it once).

I’ll be interested to see what’s on offer as reusable, as there’s lots of stuff that is already ‘reusable’, but most people just don’t bother, or even care, as per the classic example of bottled water, which I see many people buy, take a few swallies, then just toss away, unfinished!

 

01/02/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Glasgow first for recycling single-use cups

I can say I’ve NEVER had a single-use cup from any of the disgusting so-called ‘fast food’ franchises, since I’ve never crossed their thresholds, or given them a penny of my hard-earned.

In fact, I simply cannot understand how anyone with two brain cells or more would even consider handing certain outlets £2.50 or more for a (paper) cup of hot water with the run-off from some burnt beans in it, which probably cost around 5 pence (not counting the wages of the unnecessary staff, expensive location, and whopping franchise payments.

But then again, I have tossed more than my fair share of paper cups from coffee vending machines into the bin – even if some of the factories I worked in actually did have recycling containers from them, and that was 20 years ago.

It’s taken the rest of the world a LONG time to catch up.

Glasgow will be the first Scottish city to launch a campaign to stop single-use cups either going to landfill or ending up as litter.

In response to growing public concern about the environmental impact of single-use items, environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has launched the Cup Movement in Glasgow.

With an estimated 95 million single-use cups being used in the Greater Glasgow area every year, the pioneering project will tackle this issue head on by transforming recycling infrastructure and encouraging people to adopt more sustainable behaviours.

Contrary to popular belief, hot and cold drinks cups can be recycled, and the Cup Movement aims to collect and recycle as many as possible in Glasgow. The initiative will encourage all sectors and organisations of all types and sizes across the city to support the Cup Movement and help solve the problem.

Throughout 2019, the Cup Movement will also be working with partners to encourage Glasgow’s thousands of regular cup users to think carefully about their everyday choices. Over the longer term, the initiative will also focus on inspiring people to move to re-usable cups and encouraging behaviour change.

Glasgow to be first city in Scotland to lead single-use cup recycling campaign

“behaviour change”?

Good luck with that!

People can’t even be convinced to leave social media, or put their mobile phones down, and the dangers of those are seen almost daily.

Interestingly, I always do a little background reading before making a post or finding an image, and it was a little alarming to see just how many pics and other sites continue to use alarmist images with ‘Paper cups cannot be recycled’ pasted over them.

Old paper cups

Old paper cups

31/01/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian, council | , , | Leave a comment

Bottled water is beyond me, but this is noteworthy

If I first say that there’s no issue where bottled water is the ONLY solution to getting, or having, clean drinking water at some place, that’s out of the way.

I simply can’t understand why ANYBODY would choose to pay money (and it’s often silly money for some overpriced ‘brand names’) for bottled water.

Even less understandable since it comes in highly polluting, single use, plastic bottles, often not recycled or disposed of responsibly, but merely thrown away in the street, even more worryingly is the fact that many have had only a mouthful consumed, and are nearly full if examined.

There’s just no reason for it, especially in Scotland where we can have as much as we want on tap, since it’s a fixed cost in our rates, and not (usually) metered. And it’s good clean water too, probably better than most of the unregulated muck found in bottles, not subject to legislation and monitoring.

I’ve never found the need to carry a bottle of water anywhere in Scotland.

The worst sad case I met was in a supermarket late one night – a (young) woman was in serious distress as she didn’t know which bottled water to buy, and asked me for advice.

Ironically, she had just been given a flat by the council as her home had just been flooded!

Yet she was more worried about buying water than moving.

Could’ve tried this for free, had it not been a few years ago…

A new top-up water tap was switched on in Glasgow’s bustling Buchanan Street today to keep festive shoppers hydrated in the countdown to Christmas.

TV personality Jennifer Reoch was the first to fill her reusable bottle from the Style Mile Top up Tap, handily located at the junction with St Vincent Place.

Glasgow City Council Leader Susan Aitken welcomed the switch on, as she announced the Council’s intention to introduce further Top up Taps in the future to complement the city’s Avenue’s Programme.

The latest high-tech unit – the third to be installed since Scottish Water announced its intention to create a network of 30 across the country – will offer people of Glasgow access to fresh, clean drinking water at the push of a button.

Free water tap fitted in busy city centre street

For further information visit yourwateryourlife.co.uk

I stayed in today, and stayed dry.

This opening pic from Buchanan Street suggests I was right to stay in – it looks as wet outside the tap as it is inside!

Buchanan Street Tap Pic Credit GlasgowLive

Buchanan Street Tap Pic Credit GlasgowLive

Has to be a good plan if it cuts down on plastic bottles being dumped all over the place.

 

As I said, I’ve never found the need carry any sort of drink (or even a bike bottle), but I have some collapsible touring cups that can be slipped into a pocket or bag, and I just might do that now.

After all, I’ve already paid for the water going into these so-called ‘free water taps’, so I might as well use them if I’m passing.

Maybe they should have scanners on them, so they only work for Scots/residents who have actually PAID their rates, and are deactivated for non-payers, and tourists 😉

Of course, there is another problem…

There are no (or virtually no) public toilets!

19/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , | Leave a comment

When writers forget the idea is to attract readers

ruinI would LOVE to have read this article in detail…

The town that disappeared

The subject is one of my favourites, Soviet/Russian towns and villages which now lie abandoned, and often preserved in freezing and isolated locations which few can reach. I used to write and post material found on this subject (in another forum,  not in this blog).

It’s also a BBC article, so in theory at least, should be well written and readable.

So why have I NOT read it?

Not for lack of trying – I think I started three times before giving up.

But for someone like me who want to read it seriously and pay attention to the content, it’s just TOO distracting.

Little chunks of text move around from side to side on the page as it scrolls.

Some images scroll with the text, and reveal different images behind (but both remain, overlapping and discordant to the eye).

Background images change as the page scrolls.

The mix is just too much, and instead of concentrating on the text/content, time has to be spent matching images to text, and then background to text – or in this case, just guessing where the next paragraph is going to start appearing from.

I’ve NEVER liked this format in any of its variations, usually seen in blogs (which I just leave as soon as the content starts to break up and scroll), but in this case it is so bad I just have to point an accusing finger at the source and call…

UTTERLY RUINED ARTICLE!

18/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , | Leave a comment

Crazy road repairs are a reality

Various hassles are getting in the way of blog entries, but I had to stop for a moment and capture this bit of Glasgow City Council silliness.

There’s a piece of road in Ardgay Street that is no longer actually road since it was converted into Sandyhills Park (back in the late 1970s, I think), so it’s only used by pedestrian.

It’s falling apart, and is better described as a collection of holes than either footpath or road, and has been breaking up for years.

This morning, on my way for the train,I passed a guy shovelling tarmac into one of the holes and another running a petrol-powered tamper over it.

When I went passed again on my way back home in the evening – the team had filled ONE hole, and left.

A pointless and futile effort, as there is at least a dozen (or more) remaining, and the whole area is breaking up as cars, vans, and lorries turn here in order to stop at the nearby shop.

It’s hard to see the extent of the holes in the pic below, they don’t show up well, but you can see the single patch on the right.

Crazy, pointless, and really just a waste of effort, material, and money, as the turning traffic will soon break the patch up.

Ardgay St Crazy Road Repair

Ardgay St Crazy Road Repair

12/06/2014 Posted by | council, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Postie should have been given a medal rather than unpaid work order

Postie

While I don’t need to be reminded or taught the legalities of the incident, and the responsibility entrusted to those who deliver our mail is to deliver without regard to its content, it’s hard not to sympathise with the postie who binned the ‘junk mail’ he had been loaded down with, rather than delivering to the intended addresses.

While what he really deserved for his initiative was a medal, the rules meant he got an unpaid work order of 135 hours.

Via Postal worker ‘weighed down with junk mail’ caught binning items | News | Edinburgh | STV

After all, I suspect there are few households where such material comes through the letterbox and is not lifted with little more than a glance to see if it has a genuine address to the named resident and address, or is merely bound for ‘The Householder’, or does not even carry an address – and is then transferred summarily to the nearest blue bin for waste paper.

One has to wonder how environmentally sound all this waste paper is, given that much of it comes in envelopes with plastic windows, which are not easy to recycle as the plastic contaminates the paper if not separated at an early stage.

While the mass-mailers claim they keep many postal workers in a job, one might also wonder how much more efficient and better employed our postal service would be if it was not handling tonnes of junk mail, and delivering countless thousands of mail items that become waste the moment they are delivered.

I would be quite happy if my postie binned all the junk mail and leaflets that arrives at my door (he or she actually walks past mu blue bin every time he walks to my letterbox), I have absolutely no interest in it, and never look at it other than to identify it as junk.

It is 100% waste, both in material terms, and in terms of the energy wasted in producing it, transporting it to my door, and then disposing of it.

While I pay a horrendous amount of tax on the basis that my cars pollute, junk mailers get off absolutely free, while we pick up the tab in our Council Tax for dealing with their waste.

Time to tax junk mail

I propose a 100% tax (whatever they cost equals the tax) be levied on all junk mail and leaflets pushed through our doors.

Doubling the cost to companies that insist on dumping huge colour catalogues through our doors (IKEA), or full colour glossy local directories, might help stem the flow.

And any junk mail delivered without being tax paid should result in a fine equivalent to the 100 times the tax on each offending item.

Well…

I can dream 🙂

Mail Preference Service

One of the main frustrations that the sort of junk being referred to here arises from the fact that it is not addressed to the house it is delivered to, so the Mail Preference Service cannot stop this rubbish arriving.

Although I had heard a number of detractors claim the MPS did not work, I registered for it, and took the trouble to send every piece of offending mail that continued to arrive to the MPS.

They cannot deal with offenders if not told about them, which I suspect most people do not bother to do after they have signed up, and merely complain that “MPS does not work”.

However, I found that after a few months, and a few repeats of the offending mailing, the last of them ended after about 6 months’ worth of forwarding them to MPS – and they have not returned after many years of being registered.

It does work, but only if you use it correctly and see it through.

But, it can’t do anything about the junk that the postie brings, and which is merely an anonymous drop without the house address on it.

21/02/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Charity pollution and plastic bags

Tied sackBefore venturing into the detail, I have to clarify the use of the word ‘Charity’ in the title. Unfortunately, it’s unavoidable in this case, since the problem does arise from the way legitimate charities keep pushing plastic bags, or sacks – appealing for old clothes and unwanted goods – through our doors, and how their initiative has been hijacked by crooks out to steal their donations by following the legitimate appeals with collections intended to collect the same items, with a sham claim of being part of some charitable operation, or just openly collecting the items for resale and profit.

The problem is the number of these appeals, and the amount of plastic bags, or sacks, that they produce which are just discarded in most cases.

One or two such appeals, perhaps made once or twice per year might be acceptable, but one has to wonder at the amount the average home is being expected to put in these sacks, as I counted 19 last year.

That’s a sack from some clothes or goods appeal arriving once every THREE weeks on average – and I suspect the number was greater in the past.

Each usually arrives folded in a small plastic bag printed with the details of the appeal, and this is waste and discarded.

While I keep the larger sack inside the small one (and say ‘Thank you’ for the free sack), I suspect most households just throw the whole lot in the bin, so wasting the material, inks, and energy consumed in manufacturing them. Not very ‘Green’, or environmentally friendly.

The table below shows the name of the organisation pushing these sacks through my door, and the number of time they did this during 2012:

CHAS 3
Coping with cancer 3
British Heart Foundation 2
Ronald McDonald 2
Cancer Research & Genetics 2
Kidney Kids Scotland 2
British Red Cross 1
Childline 1
Tree of Hope 1
Cancer Recovery 1
Clothing Collection 1
TOTAL 19

I’m sure some will choose to misread this post, and take it as attack of some sort on the real charities that at listed, but all I am doing is pointing out the waste.

It could be done in a better way.

For example, there’s no good reason for delivering these sacks heat sealed into a little plastic bag (some arrive rolled up, with a rubber band holding a printed paper note, but that’s probably not much better) – the sacks could be folded in such a way that they formed a self-closing rectangle, and the organisation’s details and the details of the appeal could be printed on the area that remains visible after folding. This would remove the need for the plastic bag used for delivery, eliminating the waste of material and need for a packing and heat-sealing machine – the latter being replaced by the folding machine.

I haven’t bothered to look at the organisations dropping these sacks off, to see which are genuine and which are bogus, or merely profit oriented (and I am not giving anyone like that my stuff for free if they are going to make an unshared profit from it!), but as they arrive this year, I might have a closer look at them, and repeat this ‘End of Year’ summary next year, with a bit more detail.

07/01/2013 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Web page bloat

This recent article seems to completely miss its own point:

It is not just humans that are steadily growing in girth, webpages are going the same way too.

The average page is now about 965 kilobytes in size, reveals a study of top sites by the HTTP Archive.

The figure is 33% up on the same period in 2010 when the average webpage was a svelte 726 kilobytes.

Keeping webpages small is likely to become more important as increasing numbers of people browse the web on the move.

Analysis suggests the bloat is down to user demands for more interactivity, as well as the tools used to watch what happens when people visit a site.

via BBC News – Webpages showing sharp growth in girth.

I wonder if the author was worried about offending somebody – and losing income?

I run a browser that allows me to block all adverts completely and absolutely.

I have not seen an online advert – other than by accident – for more than six years.

When I do, it’s because I am forced to fire up Internet Explorer because some poorly written web page will not work in another browser.

And when I do this, I am appalled at what I am presented with on most pages…

The time taken for pages to load also climbs, as all those animations have to be delivered as well as the legitimate page content.

They’re generally unreadable as the are scattered with various animated adverts trying to draw my eyes away from the static text I actually want to read.

This is made worse as desperate advertisers repeat the same irritating adverts two or more time on the same page, and even have different version made to fit into different spaces on the page.

It wouldn’t be quite as bad if they allowed the reader to halt the animation, but when you right-click for the options, this is never possible.

It’s a relief to gat back to my browser of choice – and freedom from those irritating adverts.

Fortunately for me, the stuff these ads are for are generally tat, so I can easily choose not to buy any of them – not that I have to, as most of them have ‘names, labels, and celebrities’ to pay for, so are overpriced anyway, and can be replaced by generics.

But the bottom line has to be the shameful way the article above blames the web content for the bloat it mentions, rather than the unnecessary adverts loaded into those pages.

I don’t have any problem with one ad to sell or inform buyers, but the high pressure campaigns and brainwashing marketing exercises are things we don’t need, and in these days of ever increasing prices, can do without.

If you buy such products – rather than an unbranded generic – you are funding yet more adverts, and these waste electricity, time, paper, cardboard, ink etc, and lead to more CO2 emissions for no useful purpose. And we are forever being told that CO2 is bad for the planet, aren’t we?

23/12/2011 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

More Health & Safety nutters

Elephant on bikeAt least when I relate tales like this, it’s not because I’ve spent hours trawling the net, but have merely glanced over the articles that a few selected feeds have deemed interesting, and offered to me for consideration. A few minutes can dispatch 20-3o stories to history.

For those who like to crusade mad Health & Safety causes though, I’m beginning to think there’s a bunch of folk out there who have nothing better to do than sit for hours and work how they can complain about something, and claim that other people’s Health & Safety is compromised by something that those of us who live in the real world have no problem with – probably because we haven’t lost touch with reality – yet.

I seem to recall a recent Barnardo’s advert came in for their attention, because the behaviour depicted – a girl being beaten about the head repeatedly and descending into addiction – could result in brain damage. (Somehow, I think that might have been the message).

Now they’ve had a go at a Coke advert, which depicts a singer called Duffy cycling through a supermarket. Personally, I can’t stand the noise she makes (some call it singing apparently, but that’s not the issue), and you won’t find me paying for a name stuck on some overpriced sweet water, but once again, poor old Health & Safety is being trotted out by self-appointed experts, as 18 people complained the singer was not wearing reflective clothing and her bicycle had no lights in the advert.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also said four viewers worried children could copy her behaviour.

Coca-Cola argued the ad was supposed to reflect “Duffy’s fantasy”, and shows the singer coming offstage before sipping from a can and then  cycling through dark streets and into the store, before returning to her concert in time to perform an encore. The drinks company argued that the commercial depicted the singer’s escape from the pressures of stardom and was “far removed from the real world”.

It also said they had gone through a “vigorous” production process to ensure the scenes met Highway Code criteria for riding a bicycle on public roads. The regulations recommend cyclists wear reflective clothing in the dark, and the company pointed out that the singer had worn a black and white sparkly top that stood out, while the bicycle she was riding had lights on the front and rear in each shot.

Following its investigation, the ASA did not uphold the complaints, noting the “fantasy context” and deciding that older children would understand cycling round a supermarket was not a realistic situation.

These people who have nothing better to do really don’t deserve the time of day, and are offered far too much tolerance.

I would propose that our Health & Safety would be better served if time was not wasted in the obligatory process of giving their stupid opinions credibility.

As with the insane legal claims for fat payouts which the “No Win No Fee” mentality has promoted – and led to a preliminary review stage to weed out claims such as the classic claim made for sore because a shopping centre’s floor was “too hard” – maybe someone with should be appointed to review the Health and Safety claims from time-wasters.

I expect I’ll now hear from the animal cruelty brigade because I have an elephant riding a penny farthing bicycle in this post, and the Health & Safety lot because it has no helmet, reflective jacket, armbands, or lights, and is probably overloading its bike as well, just for good measure. Maybe it should both have, and be insured as well, in case it falls off and lands on somebody, and they injure it!

Guess I spent too much time in the real world of Health & Safety, in industry, where people stood to get killed, or lose bits of their bodies if things were not done right, and not in “fantasy world”.

17/06/2009 Posted by | Civilian | , , | 1 Comment

Whither the plug-in hybrid car?

Pious 2008 Prius

Pious 2008 Prius

One of the great mysteries which has preyed on my mind, for some years now, has been the lack of a charging socket on petrol-electric hybrid vehicles such as the Toyota Pious… what? oh, sorry, Toyota Prius. Widely touted as some sort of miracle, if driven normally (by which I simply mean someone not trying to eke every mile out of each tankful) , then the consumption matches that of any other car with the same size engine – not really a surprise to any engineer as the car’s petrol-electric system is a closed loop. The battery is charged by the engine, so battery mileage still comes out of the tank, and losses in the system account for any contribution that regenerative might make. Regen doesn’t count since anyone with a light foot on the brakes will get very little from that source.

The Prius is generally considered to be nothing more than a Fashion Statement by those who analyse it for themselves, and ignore the hype.

Don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of independent reports to be found on the web, prepared by people with no connection to Toyota, or any other manufacturer, but who have simply been disillusioned by the Pious. And, having to drive it a particular way is no excuse.

As I noted at the start, one of the stunning omissions from cars like the Prius, and all the other hybrids so far as I can recall, has been the complete absence of a charging socket. Instead of being able to plug the car in overnight and charge the battery, the only to charge the battery in a hybrid like the Prius has been to take the thing out for a run.

A BBC news report spotted today might provide the answer. While I can’t get a straight answer from the car’s data, the BBC reporter claims a Prius runs out of battery power after travelling about six miles. The car’s data for the most recent model with improved efficiency and a smaller and lighter NiMH battery shows it has a 200 volt, 1,300 Ah battery combined with a 50 kW electric motor. I’ve no idea what efficiency their control system has, so we have to make some guesses now. While the bare numbers suggest the batteries would run the motor for about half an hour, that assumes a flat discharge curve, and that the motor would run acceptably right up to the last minute, and we know that is wrong as the end of the discharge curve will tail off, leaving the motor running unacceptably slowly. There’s another twist in the data, as the battery is only charged to a maximum of 60% of capacity, in an attempt to extend its life. Without trying too hard, it looks as if we’ve managed to work out that a Pious will only run for 15 minutes, or less, on battery. And in the real world, with transmission and control losses, this will be even less.

If we’re remotely correct, it’s not hard to see why independent experts have christened it a Fashion Statement, and why they’ve never bothered to fit a charging socket. The Prius really is a sop to making a petrol car meet low emission regulations, not to the provision of an alternative power source or renewable power.

Toyota blurb may be hailing the “Prius with a plug” as some sort of miracle that will have everyone plugging in to use mains electricity to charge their Pious battery, and even going so far as to state that they are boosting renewable energy use and promoting wind farms and wave power (even nuclear if I read their claims properly) by creating demand for overnight electricity to charge their hybrids, but until they put a decent size battery in the car in the first place, it’s all pretty pointless – except to let them fiddle with petrol/electric numbers, and add in the electric miles to the petrol miles and calculate wonderful, but impractical, fuel consumption numbers.

I’m afraid I can only conclude that the past lack of a mains lead on the Prius was either because Toyota reckoned it would have been seen as a bit of a joke (for six miles), or that it would be something they could pull out of the box later, and score some green or environmental points with as a “great idea”.

Lest anyone dismiss me as a Toyota-basher, be clear I’m only questioning the claims around the Prius. I am a Toyota owner and like it, you’re not getting any details because I don’t like having to avoid assassins, but I will say it does 15 mpg and is good for getting away from assassins.

Of course, it doesn’t take any engineering analysis at all to work out that the Prius is “show” and not “go” – just look at the way celebrity vermin flock around it and hype their ownership, as if it makes up for all the energy waste their various entourages squander as they follow them about in SUVs, jets, etc etc.

11/09/2008 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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