Random thoughts and ideas about general annoyances and little ways in which the world could be made better
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Observations on cyclists ignoring red lights The post Cyclists – Red Lights Apply to You Too! appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
Cycling is popular in my home town, which has many dedicated cycle lanes and off-road cycle paths. Indeed I like to cycle myself whenever I can. Of course sometimes there is no option but to cycle on the roads amidst the busy city traffic.
I am often shocked these days how many cyclists completely disregard red traffic lights. This is something you used to see very occasionally, often accompanied by tuts from nearby pedestrians. But now you see it most days in the town centre.
Many cases are understandable (though still not right). Like when all the pedestrians have crossed at a pedestrian crossing, and the cyclist knows the light are about to go green. Or at a crossroad where the cyclist is turning left and not actually crossing any flow of traffic – especially when there is no traffic in sight.
More and more though I see cases that are completely blatant. I have seen high-speed cyclists who have made no attempt to slow down whatsoever go hurtling straight through red lights. I have even seen cyclists weaving through pedestrians at a pedestrian crossing because they can’t be bothered to stop.
This is selfish and dangerous – for the cyclist as much as anyone else. If there is a junction ahead and a driver at that junction sees the red light, you can understand why the driver will not be expecting anything to be coming and pull out. The same applies to someone wanting to cross the road – they see the red light and assume it is safe to cross.
The cyclist might assume that anyone ahead will see them coming, but people have their minds on other things. The red light registers, and they don’t look further. After all, the cyclist shouldn’t be there.
Even in cases like the ones above where it seems reasonable for the cyclist to carry on, a red light means “STOP“. End of. And that applies to everyone using the road.
Thoughts on why we should make the most of the life we are living now, and not assume that things will be better in the future The post Make the Most of Special Moments appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
A while ago I read a terrible story which really stuck in my mind.
A couple of business men were walking down a busy street, discussing their plans for the weekend. Then one of them stumbled, fell into the road, and a lorry ran over his head.
I suppose for the person involved it would have happened so quickly that they would have had little awareness of what was happening. Though the same would not be true for the colleague and anyone else who witnessed the event.
What really shocked me was that a life could be ended so suddenly for such a trivial reason. It wasn’t a fatal illness, or a brutal attack by some thug, or a terrible road accident – the chap was just walking to work.
It made me think about all the things we think we will do one day. All the things that we hope will be better in the future. All the things we put off.
I am not suggesting for a moment that we should all start living as though there is no tomorrow, or stop planning for the future.
But perhaps we should take time to appreciate the things we have and do right now. To make the most of special little moments, and not just assume that there will be better or more important times to come.
I often find that the moments I look back on with the most fondness are moments that seemed quite insignificant at the time.
For many of us the life we have right now is very special and precious – perhaps we should take the time to appreciate it more, and not take the future for granted.
Angry thoughts about cold callers - on the doorstep and on the phone The post Cold Calling – More Than Just a Nuisance appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
Here’s a great sign I saw when out for a stroll the other day:
What a good idea – I wish there was one on my street!
As you have probably reaslised, I don’t like cold calling – at all. Either at my door or on my phone.
I think it is more than just an annoyance. It is an invasion of my home – my personal space. When I close my door, I expect to close the rest of the world out. I don’t want uninvited intrusions.
I don’t particularly mind advertising, whether it is flyers, junk mail (though that is a dreadful waste) or email. With these I can choose whether I want to read them or just ignore them.
But strangers knocking on my door, and people phoning me when I am very busy or expecting an important call….. That really makes my blood boil. I’m afraid I am often not too polite when telling them that I am ‘Not Interested’.
And for some people it is more than an annoyance.
Many elderly and disabled people live alone and feel vulnerable. Calls from strangers telling them things they don’t understand and being pushy and insistent can be confusing, disturbing or downright frightening.
When my Mother was in the early stages of dementia, she had a phone call about making a claim for missold PPI. She had absolutely no idea what PPI was, but the person on the phone told her that her bank may have made unlawful charges. After this she was convinced that her bank had swindled her out of some of her money.
This really bothered her – she told me about it every time I saw her for the next few months. Every time I had to try to convince her that she had not been swindled, but she was sure there had been some sort of conspiracy. With all the problems we had at that time, this was one worry we could really have done without.
The fact that the practice of cold calling continues implies that it must sometimes be successful. If nobody ever took up any offers from strangers on their phone or knocking at their door, the practice would die out – there would be no point. So don’t be afraid to put the phone down, close the door and just say “No!”.
If you want to reduce unsolicited phone calls you can register free for the Telephone Preference Service (just click on the link) which acts as an opt-out register. You can use it for both landlines and mobile numbers. It doesn’t prevent all calls, but I can vouch for the fact that it does significantly reduce the number of calls that get through.
Thoughts on why we should be embracing wind power instead of protesting against it The post What’s So Wrong With Wind Turbines? appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
Whenever new wind turbine projects are proposed, at least in the UK, there seems to be very strong public opposition. Personally I find this rather strange.
After all, many of the people protesting are environmentally aware, and concerned about clean sources of energy that do not damage our world and the species in it.
We Need Energy
Let’s face it – we need energy. We all use a lot of it. Almost every aspect of modern life depends on it. Very few of us could even survive without it.
Whichever way we choose to produce this energy there are going to be costs – this is an unavoidable fact. We all know that burning fossil fuels has already done immense harm to our environment. The extent of this harm is not yet fully understood, but I suspect it is underestimated by many.
Nuclear power can provide a very large, reliable supply of energy, but it is feared by many. With good reason. If, heaven forbid, something does go wrong the consequences are extremely serious for a wide area and for a long time. And then there is the waste issue. And the potential terrorist threat.
Speaking of terrorist threats, any very large, central source of energy is always going to be vulnerable. And not just to terrorism, but to malfunctions, environmental disasters, supply issues, etc.
So surely it makes more sense to have a disseminated network of smaller energy sources. Then if a problem puts one source out of action, the consequences are not so drastic – there are many alternatives.
And if you are going to have a large network of sources, each making a small but valuable contribution, wind , along with solar, wave, tidal, biofuel, etc., has an important role to play.
At least here in the UK, the weather is frequently windy.
So What are the Objections?
I have heard many objections. Here are a few of the common ones, though I am sure there are many more.
Wind Turbines Spoil the Landscape
This seems to be one of the major objections. Wind turbines are, by necessity, usually situated in open countryside on high land. They can therefore be seen for a long distance around, and many feel they spoil the view.
Though perhaps not everybody feels that way. I think they are quite majestic and beautiful – like modern sculptures whose appearance changes with the light and weather conditions. I would love to look out on a view like the one above. The first thing I would do each day would be to look how fast they were turning to judge how windy it was.
Would you rather look at a power station? Or a motorway? Or urban sprawl? Many of us have far less interesting and attractive views than the one above.
Wind Turbines Only Work When it is Windy
This is of course true. The day I took the photo above it was calm, and only two of the five turbines were turning.
But technology is improving all the time, and what is needed is reliable energy storage. Then during the times when more electricity is being produced than is needed, it can be stored for later use. The same applies to solar – obviously this produces energy during daylight hours, but household use is higher in the evenings.
Many companies are currently working on this issue, and storage technology will improve drastically within the coming years, ensuring that energy can be available when it is needed, not just when it is produced.
Wind Turbines are Noisy
Some people who live very close to turbines have complained about the constant ‘whooshing’ noise as the blades turn. I can understand that this is annoying and stressful for someone who has lived in the countryside for a long time and been used to hearing only birds and sheep.
But it is surprising how we adapt. Very many more people live near major motorways, railway lines, flight paths, and in city centres – often by choice.
Wind Turbines Kill Birds
As a biologist and bird lover, this one particularly interests me. There is no doubt that some birds (and bats) are killed by turbines. It is impossible to get definitive figures as to how many – studies and reports vary. But as an example, a study published in 2013 estimated that the number of birds killed by turbines in a year in the USA was between 20,000 and 570,000.
That’s a lot of birds – right?
But the report included (among others) the following estimated figures for causes of bird deaths:
- Communication towers (e.g for phones) 4—50 million
- Fossil fuel power plants 14 million
- Road kills 50—100 million
- Agriculture and pesticides 130 million
- Hunting 100—120 million
- Power lines 175 million
- Buildings and windows 350—950 million
- Domestic and feral cats 210—3500 million
Yes – you read that correctly – cats kill up to 3500 million birds each year in the US. The number in the UK has been estimated to be around 55 million.
I wonder how many of the people protesting on these grounds own a cat.
I am sure they all have windows, drive a vehicle and use a mobile phone. You get the gist.
Of course these figures are only estimates, but even if they are very significantly wrong, the number of birds killed by wind turbines is tiny compared to other man-made causes.
As with all technologies, we learn as we go along. Much can be done to site wind farms away from migration routes and make them highly visible to birds to minimise tragic deaths.
And lets not forget that the birds also learn – a study in Lincolnshire showed that pink footed geese changed their migration route slightly to avoid a wind farm. Let’s not underestimate them.
The RSPB supports wind farms because the threat to birds from habitat loss caused by climate change is very much greater than the threat caused by the turbines. In fact they have a turbine of their own.
The Contribution from Wind Turbines is Very Small
Perhaps this is because we haven’t really embraced them? I see far more turbines when driving in other countries.
And nobody is suggesting that they will supply all, or even most, of our energy needs. The point is to have many different ways of producing energy, each contributing in its own way and helping to prevent over-reliance on any one source.
We Need to Get Real
As I mentioned above, we need energy.
If we don’t want to keep burning fossil fuels, and we don’t want to build lots of nuclear power stations, and we don’t want to rely too heavily on vulnerable supplies from faraway countries, then we need to embrace the opportunities that are available to us.
Surely we should be putting our efforts into making wind power (and other renewable technologies) as efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly as we possibly can.
Thoughts about the behaviour of cyclists and pedestrians on shared paths The post Shared Pathways – Using Them Responsibly appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
I am very lucky in that near where I live there is a lovely path affectionately known as “The Cycle Path”. It’s a great resource – with wild flowers in the spring, colourful leaves in the autumn, birdsong all year round and lovely open views of the surrounding fields.
The Cycle Path is indeed part of the National Cycle Network, and is used by many cyclists, both for leisure and commuting.
But it isn’t just a cycle path – it is a shared resource. It is used by people walking their dogs, people with small children, disabled people in mobility scooters, joggers, etc., etc.
Indeed I regularly use the path as both a walker and as a cyclist.
Most people are very responsible, but I am always surprised that some cyclists seem to be either totally unaware of the people and animals around them, or are just plain aggressive.
Walking along the path I am often startled by a cyclist overtaking me at high speed just inches from my arm, when I had no idea they were approaching. Or they will ring their bell, or shout at me to ‘be careful’ when they are already almost on top of me. It’s dangerous – when something startles you and makes you jump you can easily step the wrong way or stumble.
As a cyclist myself, I do know that it is frustrating when pedestrians are blocking the path. Or letting their dogs run around. Or don’t respond to the sound of your bell.
But there is a very good chance that they are unaware of your approach. And as I mentioned, the path is there for everybody – not just for cyclists.
Let’s face it, children and dogs are always going to be unpredictable. Joggers are often using earphones. Elderly people are likely to have hearing difficulties. And people of all ages are likely to be engrossed in their thoughts or conversations, and not always aware of approaching bikes.
Surely it is just common sense to slow down when approaching people, and to make sure that they are aware of your approach. Ring your bell in good time, and if there is no response, ring it again and slow down more.
Remember that people chatting, people with dogs and kids, and people with mobility problems have just as much right to be there as you do. Not just on paths like this one, but anywhere where cyclists and pedestrians are in close proximity.
Just think – if there is an accident, does it really matter whose fault it is? People will get hurt – possibly seriously, and possibly you.
Observations on how people swear as a matter of course The post What is the Point of Swearing? appeared first on Thoughts of Dawn.
It seems that whenever you walk down a street, or go into shops or restaurants, or are anywhere in close proximity to other people, you hear people swearing.
Not the odd gentle curse – real obscenities.
No matter that they can obviously be heard by anyone and everyone around.
And its not just when people are angry…….
Many people seem to be unable to complete a sentence without including at least one expletive – often more.
So why is this?
Why is it acceptable to swear loudly in public – often in the presence of families with children.
Do people think it makes them look cool? Is it peer pressure? Is it an act of rebellion? Do people even realise they are doing it?
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not averse to the odd outbreak myself. In fact a perfume bottle fell on my foot the other day, and I certainly wouldn’t publish what came out of my mouth.
But that’s partly the point – if you only swear in rare and extreme circumstances, it can be a mechanism of letting off steam. Relieving pressure. Diffusing tension.
It can effectively act as a form of safety valve.
If, however, you do it all the time, this effect is lost.
Who knows – if people swore less often the safety valve effect might actually make them less likely to lash out with violence. They would have an outlet to let off steam that is not currently available to them. Just a thought……
Whether this is the case or not, there are still many of us around who find foul language unpleasant and offensive.
And I, for one, do not want to be bombarded with obscenities when I stroll through the town centre, or sit down for a quiet Americano in my local coffee shop.
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