Days: it’s a blog thing

Since August, 2001. Surely it can’t last…

Saturday, September 08, 2001 ↓


It seems that this day in 1930 saw the birth of that miracle of the 20th Century, sticky cellophane tape, invented by Dick Drew at the 3M company who christened it Scotch tape. That's the same Dick Drew who had earlier invented masking tape. I think I see a pattern here.

Posted at 9:59 PM


I only got back from Gothenburg last weekend, after examining some hardware being built by a Swedish space systems company for one of my clients, a US manufacturer of satellites — when just a few days later, at about 5:30 on Tuesday evening, I got a message from the client asking me if I could go back to Sweden on Wednesday morning.

This resulted in frantic activity for the rest of the evening; not only booking flights and accommodation (and wouldn't you know it, there were three big conferences on in Gothenburg this week, and all the major hotels were full), but also scrambling to finish a proposal that I had promised another client this week, then going out at about midnight and dashing across Edinburgh to drop it through their letter box. I got to bed around 1:00 a.m., to get up again just three hours later so I could catch a flight at 6:20.

Sometimes, there are days like this.

The good news is that KLM seem to have stopped overcharging me for tickets.

The bad news is that every time I fly back through Amsterdam, the KLM ground staff insist on taking my bag from me before I get on the plane, and putting it in the hold. This really pisses me off, because I bought this particular bag precisely because it's "certified" by all the major airlines, including KLM, to be of a size that complies with their requirements for cabin baggage. It pisses me off even more when I then watch them letting people get on the plane with

  • bags that are as big or bigger than mine
  • more than one bag, and the total volume they occupy is clearly bigger than mine
  • assorted polythene bags, huge suit carriers, enormous coats and other items of clothing, yadda yadda yadda.

Ah, but my bag is one of those trolley things. It has wheels. And it seems to me that that's what makes the difference to my Dutch friends. If it has wheels, then it doesn't matter what size or weight it is, or that the customer is being a good boy and only carrying one item of hand baggage (or indeed that the customer is paying them thousands of pounds in fares every month) — take it from him!

So we end up, as on my last return journey, with scenes reminiscent of a Laurel and Hardy movie. There's me, desperately holding on to my bag by one of its handles, and a KLM girl trying to wrest it from me with the other, while we conduct an impassioned discussion on whether or not I should be allowed on the plane with my bag.

"It's for your own safety, sir," she argued. I have to say, that one had me completely flummoxed. She had no answer when I asked her to explain why my bag had suddenly become a danger to me.

Anyway, she won in the end. (Hey, some of these Dutch girls are pretty big, you know.)

Posted at 9:45 PM

Monday, September 03, 2001 ↓


Having just returned from Gothenburg, it seems appropriate to recall that it was on this day in 1967 that Sweden changed from driving on the left hand side of the road, to driving on the right. I remember some years ago a Swedish friend, who had been ten or eleven years old at the time, recounting with some glee how chaotic the first day had been — with people driving into each other all over the country.

From time to time, some "visionaries" (whom I prefer simply to call "nutters") have suggested that Britain should fall into line with the rest of Europe and switch to driving on the right. It was difficult enough for Sweden, with a population in 1967 about one seventh of that of the UK. But with around 59 million of us, a high proportion of car ownership, and a spider's web of roads of all classifications all over the country, the prospect is too frightening to contemplate. Not least from the point of view of cost, which to cover changing millions of road signs, markings, traffic lights and other furniture, and moving them to the other side of the road, would run to something like the GDP of a small country.

And the insurance companies would take such a hit in the first few days...

Posted at 10:00 PM

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