Main menu:

Site search

Categories

May 2024
M T W T F S S
« Apr    
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Tags

Blogroll

Economies of scale

We moved house on a Friday, largely because that was the day my husband got back from Saudi from a business trip.

On the Sunday morning, as I was unpacking boxes, I noticed a small group of people waiting on opposite side of the road from us; then I noticed some properly classic cars going by. That’s interesting I thought, and continued unpacking.

The next year, the Sunday of the first May bank holiday, I noticed the same thing. 2014 we had our first barbeque and “watch the cars going by” get together.

Whatever…

The first few, we bought in much of the food.

Since Covid, it’s been a home-made do. Of course, this doesn’t stop there being more food left over than the mind can comfortably contemplate, but at least you know what.

It’s not cheaper, not by any means and that’s without the whole time piece: I made 8 beef and venison burgers in around 45 minutes from getting the beef out of the fridge to putting the burgers into the fridge and ignoring the washing up.

Is it tastier? It’s more to my taste. But that’s a different answer to the question.

I made Home made venison burgers, Lamb chilli burgers, Shepherd’s salad, Soured cream and chive dip,
Hummus, Coleslaw, and Home yogurt for the coleslaw. Technically, I made rolls but by Sunday, only two remained out of a batch of eight.

It might be easier to say what I didn’t make: relish, ketchup, salsa, and the soft white baps.

Whatever…

This what I learned.

  1. Do not cook home made rolls while hungry. They are delicious and will not last more than 1 hour after coming out of the oven. I wasn’t the only eater.
  2. Clean at least the day before. If you are cooking from scratch, there is not time to do everything and stay sane! Do ensure there is spare loo roll in the guest toilets.
  3. Burgers for nine take around ninety minutes to make the first time of the year – practice at least one weekend before hand! Even if it’s rainy.
  4. Beef burgers can be shaped using a large pastry cutter and spatulas, both of which go in the dishwasher or take seconds to wash-up.
  5. Lamb burgers do need the end of a rolling pin to shape, the spatula is not going to cut the mustard.
  6. Red onions go through the dicer on the Kenwood, regular onions do not.
  7. Cabbage is tough, makes great slaw, but the food processor is not up to the job! Use the continuous slicer.
  8. Making slaw makes a big mess.
  9. Use the dishwasher, have a bowl full of hot water and soapy suds.
  10. Keep the bin at hand.

Same for next year? Maybe. No shame in buying the food in.

An air source design

I swear, this April has been one of the coolest I can remember, not helped by the fact we currently have no central heating!

The boiler, rest in peace from 28th March, has been switched off, with all our water heating happening via our Solar iBoost. We’re spending 130kWh on heating the water on a planned timer ( 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening) a week. Whenever it is sunny, power is provided to the hot water tank, too.

This is compared to 400kWh a week on both heating and water last year. Quite a difference! And that’s not looking at the fact that heat exchangers (heat pumps to you and me) are typically much more efficient that other forms of heating.

But as we’re busy paying off the mortgage, there’s a big pause – thank goodness the weather is begining to warm up.

Is it cold down south, then?

There have been odd days this April, when it has been a little chilly. Oil filled electric radiators and lighting the fire has kept the chill at bay. Now the sun is shinning, despite outside being 16°C, our rooms have reached >20°C on average thanks to solar gain.

Our insulation means once the rooms have got that hot, they take more than 10 days to cool down. It’s not quite a passive house, but it is making the most of what it has.

All this is helping reduce our carbon footprint and that’s really the point of the air sourced heat pump. The the moment, though, it is nowhere near as cheap as a boiler for this sized house! Our scale is not helping at this precise moment.

Electricity is typically 0.20707kg CO2e per kWh in the UK. Gas is about 0.18293kg CO2e per kWh – so why switch to electrical heating?

Well, Gas heating is about 80% efficient, so for each kWh, we get 0.8kWh of heat.

Heat pumps are about 350% efficient, so for each kWh, you get 3.5kWh of heat.

That efficiency reduces the CO2 footprint while in use. In practice, a kWh in heat is 0.06kWh in CO2e per kWh. Which is why everyone is so keen on the idea. Our 30kW boiler is being swapped for the 10kW heat pump to give a similar performance. Teamed with the heat retention of the house, it should all be good.

We just have to pull our fingers out and get the installation booked. To avoid expensive costs, we’re waiting for my bonus to come through and the mortgage to be settled. No point in doing this on credit.

Costs of switching off the gas?

We still have our gas meter connected, although we’re not using anything. That means we’re just paying the “standing charge” – at our current tariff, that’s about £10 a month, or just under £120 per annum.

As we don’t use gas for anything else, we can lose that meter and that charge. Of course, that isn’t for free. The fee for removing the meter is £106 and it needs to be performed by the “gas supplier” – who are not the people who produce your bill each month!

Complicated, but should be worth the effort.

Life is pretty cheap round here

Of course, that’s compared to three professionals living in a single house. We do our own cleaning, keep extravagances down to a minimum, and do most of our own cooking.

If you weren’t already aware, and this has made several news channels, last year’s cocoa crop fell well short of expected quantities and quality. That means, chocolate is going to be much more expensive.

But it always was a luxury. I bought a bunch of bananas earlier today, with far more nutritional value that the equivalently priced chocolate bar, including potassium.

Of course, the weather has always made a huge difference in farming. With levies likely to be coming in for air and freight to ensure climate warming doesn’t progress at its current rate, food is going to be much more difficult to grow. Farmers fields in my part of Britain have been underwater for most of this calendar year, robbing it of vital minerals that help our food give us the nutrition we expect.

Oh, you can take a pill to make up the shortfall!

Sorry, but where do the vitamin tablets get the digestable forms of minerals from, please?

Even if it is completely manufactured, the sources still need to be found. Unused produce is a really easy way of doing that.

The joy of movement…

There was a great article on BBC’s Look East last night, discussing disabled accessibility when it came to sports.

I have found many gyms, pools, tracks, etc, really difficult to navigate as time has passed. The “anti-sugar” lobyists mean I have to carry suitable hypo treatments – lucozade has been off the menu since they started putting aspartame in it. I mean, why are you drinking lucozade if not for the sugar content? It tastes horrible. As my leisure drinking options have decreased, so too have my emergency sugar options.

Although, I have to say I was impressed in Pizza Express yesterday when our espressos arrived with no sugar free sweetners – it has been a long time since that has happened, not that I have…

Back to the point, please!

Sorry.

The food thing is a biggy. Getting plain food, that’s easy to guess at bolus values and absorption patterns is also tricky – what is the obsession with putting mayonaise on everything? It’s fat, pure fat. The stuff that stops carbohydrates being absorbed. Why?

Of course, I need to travel places to get to do the activity. Since the fire at our local gym, they have stopped having water available (actually, that could have been post Covid), but as much as sugar is useful when I’m hypo, water is vital if my blood sugar goes above 9mmol/l and I’m exercising. Along with the ketones I’m burning to generate energy from the exercise, I’m now flusing that with the ones that my body is screaming for as my blood sugar is high.

Showers are not great as a cabled pump user. At home, every shower has a shelf or at least a hook for a bag, so I can keep wearing my pump. Those are non-existant in most facilities.

I use gentle shower washes and shampoos that I know I’m not going to react too. The missing shelf for my pump, means these are often on the floor. Lovely.

I haven’t spoken about parking. My car, for work and play, is an extension of my carrying capacity. If I’m high, it’s carrying spare injection equipment. When I’m low, it has safe, measured, or injectable, means of recovery. Paid car parks are a nightmare. Say I’m doing something for the first time, the chances are, I’m going to be low. A car gives me somewhere safe to treat the hypo. But only if the parking isn’t charged. Tickets are difficult to assess – how long will it be before I can safely drive?

That’s without all the fuss of figuring out how to shower safely and effectively and protect my equipment in the lockers – did you many are now air-conditioned in some places? Think of the precious liquid, a fragile protein being heat or cooled while you’re showing or getting dressed. A warm coke is less tasty, insulin becomes useless. The pump may be carrying a week’s worth.

Then there’s the aftermath. An hour’s exercise has repercussions: a 100 mile cycle ride the impact wasn’t just the next couple of days. Muscle filling can lead to sudden lowering of insulin requirements. Perfect job for a hybrid loop pump, but of course, it shuts off my insulin to protect agaisnt a hypo, which can then lead to a high. I certainly can’t just go do and forget.

I love exercise: I ski, cycle, motorcycle (270 kCal per hour!), walk, play badminton and tennis, I’ve been known to canoe and dance. Me doing any of these is not just packing my trainers and going to a place where it’s happening.


Prograstination is the thief of time

It could be said, as I am writing this, I am not sitting here doing nothing. But this is a poor substitute for being utterly lazy.

I normally find the winter is my busy time, both physically and mentally. But that just hasn’t happened this year.

Normally, I plan to do things – but that hasn’t really happened as the goal has been to clear the mortgage, so life has felt a little, well, paused.

The end is indeed drawing nigh, in three months time, we should have made the last payment. Reasonably, my husband asked what I was going to do with the spare money in July?

Good question. The thing is, I don’t know. I’ve stopped wasteful spending and, to be honest, like the fact I’m not buying more clutter to fill up our home. I enjoy my home cooking having got the basics mastered and that has made a stunning difference to my blood glucose levels, waist line, as well as our wallets.

The house is well cared for; yes, the windows that were put in do need replacing – we’re considering triple glazing. Not cheap, so not a rush out and do the second the mortgage is paid off. The kitchen units could also do with laying out differently. The bathroom has the same issue. In price order, the bathroom is the cheapest, then the windows, then the kitchen. So that is likely to be the order.

Of course, planning things in helps. I did that on Sunday. Monday, I stuck to the plan. Tuesday, I rested. Up to a point, that’s the aim of this break: to gently catch up on the house hold chores, take stock, and chill.

But it is such hard work!

And the lesson for today is…

We have to go back a couple of years now, to when the “energy crisis” first hit. Our electricity was locked but the smart meter reader we had in the house didn’t even have that latest report on it, so the price doubling per unit had no reflection to what our “smart meter” was reporting to us.

I’d tried various forums looking at how to update the device. To no avail.

Today is my first day off for a long while and I’m having a bit of a decluttering day today (tomorrow and Wednesday to be honest, I’ve got a bit behind…)…

Are you going anywhere useful with this?!

OK, so first things first, I start to move the useful electrical devices we have in an open shelving unit. The first of these being our smart meter reader (also called a IHDU). Now, the batteries have obviously died, so unplugging it cause the power supply to “reboot” the device. And when it came back up, it had the right tariff for both Gas and Electric.

Doh!

Wait a *ing minute, this is more than my bill says the charge is per unit?

Agreed, but then the bill is pre-VAT. Add the VAT at 5% (for fuel charges) and the price is what it should be.

Price per unit, including VAT.

Doh!

Catching up March 2024

I was a little quiet last week, my apologies. Now, no-one died or found out some terrible news, but while at my diabetic screening, I left my phone behind and someone took it with them.

Thankfully, I realised within 30 minutes and had all my financial business sorted out not much later.  I keep a spare phone, while not fully functional, it meant my CGMS only dropped a few hours of data (old phone had a completely flat battery).

One of the things I lose as a type 1 diabetic is the ability to trade in my old phone.  Thankfully, this doesn’t happen to me that often, but I cannot be without the communication device.  Having a phone that my CGMS software is happy to run on is invaluable, worth considerably more than £450.

Unfortunately, while I’d only had my S23 Ultra 9 months, it is no longer available 🙁  More over, the obvious replacement is not yet available.

That wasn’t the only loss that week – my husband managed to drop my ancient Kenwood Chef and it very much looked like it couldn’t be resurrected.  I did very well, I did not cry or shout, but it did feel very much like losing a trusted confidant – this robot had helped me through Covid and beyond, enabling us to enjoy simple food when all we could get were the raw ingredients.

With the focus on shifting the mortgage, I was not planning on replacing the old one any time soon and it is not a decision to be made lightly, so when my husband said, I’ll cough-up and cover it, the decision took 45 minutes to make and that was with some consultation.

Of course, salvaging the parts that could be reused freed the mechanisms and it sprang back to life the next day.  Ooops.

As I said, no-one has died, this has all just been a massive waste of effort trying to get back where we were.  (Can I say the new mixer is really good, so much quicker and quieter than the old one.  If the bread maker ever dies, it could directly replace it too, albeit with significantly more hassle).

I have the next two weeks off work, and that home cooking thing is what I love doing.

Getting a new phone is not going to be anything like as straightforward…

Where do I fit in?

For many, I don’t count as being disabled. The fact I lost use of my beta cells that mean, without subcutaneously delivered insulin, I would die.

Now, my insulin is not delivered in the same way as a non-type 1 diabetic. I programme in my basal to make use of the stores in my body I release to power my body – just as those stores would be released if I wasn’t type 1. When I eat, I have to give extra insulin to make use of the energy – whether that energy comes from protein, fat, or carbohydrates (that’s sugars in common parlance).

Like anyone else’s body, I am not fussy about what I convert into usable blood glucose – what’s different about me is the fact I am getting my insulin in a form that lasts a long time. Which means, if I get it wrong, I have no safety net – the numbers are big enough that my body can’t necessarily do everything I need to pull me back out of trouble.

Each morning, I make some fundamental choices on my pump, forming a base plan on which I base the rest of my decisions – if I get that right, I don’t have do much other than get my boluses right. If not, my foundation is a disaster and it’s very much like living in an active earthquake zone…

Yesterday, I got it pretty much perfect – 24 hours in zone. Today, was not so easy. I’m only 5% out of range, but as a result, everything hurts, including my head and it has been a battle to get that good a result.

Why not use a hybrid loop pump, is that better than you?

To be honest, yesterday, I didn’t use the control loop at all – 100% in range. Today I did and at least one high and one low were caused by the hybrid loop. It leaves me to pick up the mess.

Despite that, not everyone sees me as being disabled. In fact, the tech makes people believe “type 1 isn’t really a problem anymore” is something I hear many times a month.

Grrr…

We don’t say to migrane sufferers that have painkillers or have identified their triggers. So why do we say this about type 1 diabetes that is a complex condition that expects the people who have it to replace a highly difficult function in the body to mimic?

While there’s moonlight and music and love

let’s face the music and dance. As the song goes.

The past financial year has seen many companies look at their books and make some key investments in AI and future proofing their industries.  America and Europe have seen a similar climb to the UK, leading to wage increases unseen for nearly fifteen years, when the banking crises hit the global economy bank in 2008.

Redundancy rates are rife in many industries, while vacancies are looking for people who can hit the ground running.  Companies are struggling to protect work forces and customers.  Times are still tough and likely to remain so entering the new financial year.

All companies are looking at their costs and seeking ways to ensure they can maintain growth in a smaller and harsher economic environment.

So it seems odd that the UK government is choosing now to lower national insurance rates.  This weird tax in the UK was designed to fund the NHS and the welfare pot.  You had insurance, while working, to pay for health-care, etc.

No-one enjoys paying tax, but many in the UK feel a bit cheated as the government is funding less and life is harder, while not asking the rich to pay.  More importantly, by maintaining income tax thresholds where they were three years ago, is moving the tax burden more on to the young and less comfortable in society.

Economically, I’m right wing: I would like the government to own natural monopolies and maintain infrastructure and provide welfare and opportunities for education.  That means the people most able, need to pay taxes.   What I’d really like is an honest and morally incorputable government making the best decisions of the world country.

Times may be tough, but is not that how it should be?

Sitting, looking out on the rain, waiting for it to get better…

I’m sitting watching the rain come to a stop on a cold March day in the UK. The sun is making an appearance and, for the time being, I am waiting for the miracle that is fiasp insulin to work its magic.

I’d had a good day yesterday with the insulin I’d programmed in a few months ago for this stage in my menstrual cycle, and the bolus decisions I’d made for the food I’d eaten all came to fruition. I was a little heavy handed for my evening bolux but on spotting that early still scored a respectable 99% time in range.

The night was even better, little variance over the period. I’d cleaned up the house and walked into town. The exertions meant I was a little low, but no biggy, I had emergency rations with me and treated appriotely. The low hid the fact that my cannula had stopped functioning about 10am in the morning. My blood sugar started soaring at 12:27 and by 12:57 it was obvious walking back home was not an option.

I’m lucky, I could afford to take a taxi back home, I stripped off my rain soaked outer clothing and less than 4 minutes later was admistering insulin through a newly inserted cannula. Of course, even an insulin analague takes time to lower blood glucose down from 3 hours worth of missed insulin doses, but 90 minutes later it is all looking good. I wait until we’re back down to 10mmol/l before working out how much I’ve potentially over treated and then compensate with the minimal amount of carbohydrates to ensure I won’t be hypo the rest of the afternoon.

I’m often told that as a “good diabetic”, a compliant diabetic, a diabetic who is “really well controlled” that I am not disabled. I do not incur costs related to my disability and I do not have anything “holding me back”. Technology is going to make my “burden less”.

Do not get me wrong, the fact I could see my blood sugar rise from 3.4 to 16 mmol/l in less than 45 minutes meant I knew what was happening, but given the cannula had failed, nothing was going to stop that happening.
I’m still disabled. I still have to wait for the subcutaneous insulin to do its thang and because this is an “unexpected event” this is not something I can leave to the hybrid loop to sort out. If it sees too much insulin on board, it will shut off the temporary correction I need to bed in the new cannula for a few hours and I cannot have it work out that is not a good thing.

So, please stop telling me it is going to be so much better because of the technology. I have a splitting headache caused by interrupted insulin infusion and a blood sugar 4.3 times higher than a none diabetic and it isn’t because “I’ve done the wrong thing”. My cannula should have been good until 9am tomorrow.

I’m still disabled, life is still not the same as it would be with type 1 diabetes.  I do incur monetary costs because of that disability.