My bug-out kit

As some of you know, I may need to go to the parental abode with very little notice. So here’s what I have with me almost all the time.

In my pouch/bumbag

In my pannier or rucksack

  • tobacco, cigarette papers and at least one lighter
  • passport
  • iPhone with attached short USB to lighting cable
  • wallet
  • regular medications
    • fast-acting insulin
    • long-lasting insulin
    • glucose tablets
    • amitriptyline
    • aspirin
    • atorvastatin
    • sertraline
  • irregular medicines
    • nicotine patches
    • e-cigarette
    • ibuprofen
  • pens
  • spork
  • tooth-brush
  • Napier ID and business cards
  • waterproofs
  • laptop and power-cable
  • paper notebook
  • electronica pouch
    • laser-pointer [1]
    • USB 2/3 to ethernet adaptor
    • miniDisplayPort to VGA, HDMI, DVI adaptor
    • USB-C to USB-2/3, VGA, HDMI adaptor [2]
    • two USB-C to USB 2/3 adaptors
    • USB 2/3 power plug
    • HDMI cable
    • car cigarette-lighter to USB2/3 power adaptor
    • two pairs of Bluetooth headphones
    • high-capacity USB battery
    • bluetooth mouse
    • 2-meter USB to lightning cable
    • UK to EU, Australia, US power adaptor [3]

Before you ask, I have spare clothes at the parental abode.

[1] because I’m an academic, not necessarily to aid bug-out

[2] because a visiting lecturer once needed such an adaptor to connect his laptop to a Napier projector

[3] mostly because it also has 4 USB 2/3 power-ports

A boy and his new bicycle!

This post is to say why I’ve been more or less off-line for a while, to thank people for their support and most importantly to thank my family for a fabulous birthday present.

Thank you!

As some of my reader might know, I’ve been in Worcester since late January, because my mother is in hospital and so she and my sister need support. It’s not been fun, but it has been made much easier by my ever-wonderful wife, eleanor.scot (aka @corrieshore). Huge thanks are also due to my colleagues at Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Social Informatics, LeithChooses, Leith Central CC, Leith Harbour & Newhaven CC and New Town & Broughton CC for their patience and support – thank you all!

Travel woes

I’ve been quite dependent on public transport to visit my mum. Journeys take a minimum of 90 minutes: bus to Worcester city centre, then an hour by bus directly to the hospital – or over an hour by train (with two changes) to Redditch, then another bus to the hospital. Coming back is complicated – and made more expensive – by direct buses not running after 4pm and buses from Worcester city centre to the house not running after 6:30pm. (They don’t run at all on Sundays!) And of course it’s all been made much less fun by the flooding.

I need to thank eleanor.scot and my brother for many lifts, especially when the hospital called me and him in at 1am one morning. Hairy in several ways!

But there is a point to this post!

eleanor.scot understood that I need an easy way to travel in Worcester that doesn’t involve bringing Lev Davidovitch Bikestein here. His home is Edinburgh, although he does love European jaunts and he has been known to take me from Birmingham New St station to Worcester. Add to that it’s just a PITA to book bike-spaces on trains. So ever-wonderful eleanor.scot has bought me a folding bike for my birthday! Accessories are from my mother, sister and brother.

‘Nikita’ is a Raleigh Evo-2 with 20″ wheels and 7 derailleur gears. (He gets his name because Mr Kruschev folded under pressure from Mr Kennedy.) Here are photos of unboxing to final assembled beast, and a video of our first ride.

The box

undo first layer

contents

contents unboxed

the bike bits

beware – small parts

nearly there

checking gear-changes

decorated

with lock and cary-bag

first ride! (movie)

second ride (movie)

Family misfortunes encore

Some of my reader might know that my mother has been in hospital. She was taken into Worcester Royal hospital on Friday 24 January due to severe abdominal pain, and had some procedures on Friday 31 January. These had to be delayed while various routine medications were still active. She was then transferred to the Alexandra hospital in Redditch. The Alex is the home of the specialist unit in Worcestershire that is best placed to handle my mother’s conditions.

I’ve been in Worcester since the afternoon of Monday 27 January. I’ve had to leave a lot of work in the very capable hands of colleagues at Napier, £eithChooses, Leith Central Community Council, Leith Harbour & Newhaven Community Council, New Town & Broughton Community Council and Community Councils Together on Trams. (I am doing some CC work remotely as I get snippets of time.) Huge thanks to all concerned! Continue reading

What has Bruce been up to this weekend?

I’m not quite sure why I wanted to record this. Perhaps it’s to assuage some of my guilt at not being in the peoples’ vote/anti-brexit march yesterday. Anyway, this has been a relaxing weekend so far.

My reward for all of this is nut roast with roasted potatoes, onions, sprouts and carrots. You have been warned!

Saturday morning

  • Spinning at LifesCycle. We cheated slightly by travelling by bus, due to the rain. I usually prefer to cycle there and back, as warm-up and cool-down from the lovely madness. (Elly and I are on the front-left bikes of that Facebook video.)

Saturday afternoon

  • much-needed coffee and lunch
  • catching up with personal and family finances, sadly neglected for a couple of weeks due to work-pressures
  • washing our manky spinning gear. That’s the only downside!
  • tidying my desk area after weeks of needing to let rubbish build up

Saturday evening

  • avoiding watching Strictly Come Dancing
  • writing a presentation on a project I’m about to finish, so I can demonstrate the outcomes to a high-powered audience. (I think I should not say what the project is just now, but I will blow my own trumpet as hard as I can when the work goes live.)

Sunday morning

  • proofreading and commenting on a tender written by my ever-wonderful better half.
  • much-needed coffee and lunch

Sunday afternoon

Family fortunes?

You may remember my list of moans about the DWP and my sister’s claim for personal independence payments (PIP). You may remember that on 25 October of this year, 13 months after she was refused PIP, a tribunal set aside that decision.

On 4 December, HMRC restarted paying my sister working tax credits. (She qualifies for these because of her disabilities and because she works part-time. When PIP was refused, HMRC had to take the view that she was no longer disabled, even though her conditions are congenital and hence incurable.) HMRC’s letter to my sister was along the lines of ‘we now understand we need to start paying you tax credits, and make up for the time when we didn’t’. It almost felt like an apology. A few days later, the standard ‘this is what we will pay you’ letters arrived. Also on 4 December, HMRC sent my sister a certificate exempting her form NHS charges.

DWP didn’t get around to paying my sister PIP until 14 December, over 7 weeks after they were notified of the tribunal’s decision. There was not even a hint of an apology in their communication.

I’m still scared to think what would have become of my sister without support from me and other family and friends, and especially from Worcester Citizens’ Advice Bureau. And I’m bloody angry too, for the people who don’t have such support.

The good, the bad and the ugly

The good

Thursday’s tribunal decided that my sister qualifies for personal independence payments (PIP) at the standard rates for both ‘daily living’ and ‘mobility’. (These are explained here.) This qualification is backdated to the date that her disability living allowance payments ceased, and has no time limit. The tribunal judge stated that this is because her condition is unlikely to change. Continue reading

Why is Bruce grinding his teeth? update

Clearly there is a lot I’m not going to say in this public forum.

  • On-going foot-pain after travelling on many buses and trains in the past few days.
  • Today’s appointment with CAB advisor was postponed because she was off sick. She says she is likely to ‘drag herself in’ tomorrow. So I’m hopefully meeting with her to prepare my sister’s PIP appeal tomorrow lunchtime, then going to hospital to visit my mother.
    • Just now I feel very unprepared for the appeal.
  • She is still in a hospital over an hour away from her home by bus or train.
    • Treatment for her conditions has started, now that tests taken on Friday or Saturday of last week have filtered through to the relevant specialists.
    • However, understandably there’s no indication yet of when she might be allowed home or moved to a hospital in her home town. That brings up some fears.
    • However, she is lucid and chatty, and very much herself
    • Also the staff at her current hospital are clearly very caring, and have time to put this into practice.

Nighty-night!

Why is Bruce grinding his teeth?

  1. My sister’s appeal against not being awarded personal independence payments takes place on next week in Worcester. I have a meeting with the CAB staffer who has been advising us in Tuesday. So my current plans are to go to Worcester on Sunday, returning Saturday 27. While I’m away, a lot of other stuff is going to take a back seat.
  2. On the way to a community council meeting this evening, I was cycling around a roundabout. I wear a hi-viz helmet cover and wrist-bands, and my bike has reflectors on every other spoke. It was about 4:10pm, with no hindrances to visibility. And yet someone still drove onto the roundabout, into the space I would have been in if I hadn’t braked quite hard. To this person, I can only say Fuck you very much, you SMIDSY-sucking arsewipe. 
  3. While I was at the meeting, my brother phoned to tell me our mother has been taken into hospital, in a town 30 minutes’ drive from Worcester. This was about 5pm. As of 15 minutes ago, she was still waiting to be seen by an A&E doctor. The A&E sister told me that it’s not likely that there will be any news until 2 hours from now.

Graphic ‘bah!’

Online identity assurance programme: Scottish Government ‘show & tell’ (28 March 2018) #identityassurance @digitalscots

This post is my digital record of the Scottish Government’s Online Identity Assurance (OLA) ‘show and tell’. The day was very informative, and provided me the opportunity to catch up with friends in civil society circles. I’m especially interested because online identity is a natural precursor to online voting, another problematic area that greatly interests me.

The post starts with a recap of what was said at the event, then notes my input at the event. Next are my reactions to the event itself, followed by my thoughts on the whole OLA programme. In summary, while I think OLA is very worthwhile, and that the Scottish Government is trying to do it the right way, I have a lot of reservations about how useful it will be for those who most need government support. Continue reading