Snow Havoc

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Today was a very bizarre day, it seemed to me that the whole country ground to a halt (electronically too). I got a text message at 0630 this morning telling me to stay in bed as the school I work at is closed. After a slightly more gentle wake up than usual, I discovered that the local bus company had suspended services, twitter was going mad with snow reports from the UK, someone even came up with a Twitter & Google Maps mash up.

As it turns out Brighton and Hove was not alone London also had its bus service suspended. It seems that much of Brighton and Hove wasn’t gritted because it was too cold. In the end my driving lesson was canceled because they roads were just not safe.

Why is it the whole of the south-east of England ground to a halt? we weren’t prepared! Brighton and Hove’s reasoning for not gritting the roads was it was too cold, what does the temperate have to do with it? the answer is that a 1:9 salt to water solution lowers the freezing point of water to -6c whereas a 1:4 solution lowers the freezing point to -16c (Source). Why this wonder of modern physics escaped those responsible for salting roads I do not know.

So the council not gritting the roads is the reason for the havoc caused by snow flakes, no probably not, I suspect the lack of preparedness stretches from the biggest to the largest. How many people in the country have supplies of water, heat and light in their house. A couple of large bottles (say 2 x 4 liters) of water will typically last one person about 4 days, have you got that much water at home… I don’t think I have. Have you got enough candles or glow sticks to allow you to move safely round your house after dark? How long will it take your house to get dangerously cold when there is no heating and it is -6 outside? Do you have any way of generating heat, cooking stoves candles can these be safely used inside? Can you prepare any food without power, do you have an non electric can opener any more? I have glow sticks and a manual can opener, not sure how much food I have in the house – cold baked beans would work but you can’t survive on them.

What would happen if it was more serious than snow, what would happen if you were in New Orleans on August 29th 2005 would money do you any good. What would happen if you only had a £20 note, would anyone accept it – would anyone have change. I am taking it to extremes now, however today has taught me a lesson there are some things you don’t think about until it is too late.

On a cheerful note, Catherine and I spent a nice day together we built a snow rabbit (or perhaps cat) went for a walk and spent some time together. As far as I’m concerned today was a free day, a gift, and I enjoyed it.

Driving Lesson #26

Monday, January 5th, 2009

Today was a day for gear changes and roundabouts, some dual carriageways and national speed limit single carriageways in the pitch black freezing cold. Kev was trying to get me more confident and less slightly dangerous on roundabouts which is good as I find them shockingly confusing, particularly if I need to do a gear change coming up to them.

Lifehack has an article on making decisions under preasure, which I think probably covers the broad techniques I should be using to make sure I am better at roundabouts than I am at the moment.

Specifically – know the situation, know the outcomes and commit to the task at hand.