Archive for Hopefully Regular Features

Euphemism of the Day #1

Posted in Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day with tags , , , , on October 14, 2010 by awickerman

Today’s euphemism is brought to you by the loveable funsters at Volkswagen and is;

Entfeinerungor in English  “derefinement”

Derefinement is the new way of saying decontenting, now that everyone has worked out decontenting means ‘taking out the good bits and making something rubbish’

This is used in a context such as “We are going to derefine Skoda as everyone has worked out they are better and cheaper than the equivalent Volkswagen they are based on”.  So for any Skoda owners who were enjoying the fact the brand has finally emerged as respectable I can only say bad luck, it’s back to the depths for Skoda.

Today’s bonus euphemism is also from VW and describes the situation where instead of sacking someone you wait till they die or retire. In VW speak this is ““die biologische Lösung”, “the biological solution.” Almost as if the company had a shady history in such terminal solutions…..  wait a minute..


Why Germans Can’t Tunnel #1

Posted in And thus the Mystery was solved Watson!, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , on September 13, 2010 by awickerman

An occasional series looking at why the Germans are the last people I would ask to build a tunnel. Today’s lesson was prompted by the on-going archiving at work which dug up this fun project from the vaults;


Today’s triumph of German precision and efficiency is the 1994 Munich U-Bahn collapse. Essentially while using the world’s least reliable tunnelling system they managed to bugger up construction of the U2 line tunnel so badly the road above collapsed under the weight of a passing bus. Hilarity failed to ensue when several of the passengers failed to escape in time.

This is bad enough but it’s not like they weren’t warned; there had been a very similar (if non-fatal) collapse while building the U1 line. German tunnelling collapses is the gift that keeps on giving, so this series should run and run.

The Hero Complex

Posted in Irregular Features, Tenuous Link of the Day, Your cut-out-and-keep Guide with tags , , , on August 22, 2010 by awickerman

After watching the quite excellent ‘Lie to Me’ recently one of the characters mentioned a ‘Hero complex’ among American fire-fighters which meant they were almost eight times more likely to die on the job than other first world firemen.

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A Day In The Life of a Tunnel Engineer #4

Posted in Irregular Features, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , on May 7, 2010 by awickerman

Today was an unusual one as it involved grappling with the question ‘Does that tunnel need closing?’

Technically I’ve done this many times before, every tunnel inspection ends with someone ticking the box marked ‘Tunnel is safe’ on their big compliance sheet, however as you may have guessed from that description of the it’s normally as much for form’s sake as anything else. Certainly it’s very rare to actually find anything of note, all the old Victorian tunnels that were built badly have long since fallen down (leaving only the good ones) and the newer stuff just doesn’t go wrong as there is so little to go wrong.

This time however we received a nice report saying a tunnel had moved a worrying large amount, hasn’t actually stopped moving and is right on the edge of the trigger level marked “COLLAPSE”. The question therefore was should the client close the tunnel or should they throw a load of realtime monitoring at it to try and work out exactly what is going on. We did in the end recommend the latter, if the client had in fact closed this tunnel I suspect it would have made the national news. In fact given the site and it’s history it may even have made it further afield, though who can fathom the world of the news editor’s priority list?

As always with these bits of news I feel I probably can’t go into detail as the company involved would not be impressed, which is something of a shame as it’s the kind of story I just know would make a nice splash in the tabloids and thus get me my few minutes of blogging fame. Ah well.

Another Day In The Life of a Tunnel Engineer

Posted in Irregular Features, Tunnels with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2010 by awickerman

Today was varied and, as someone recently mentioned they liked the earlier Day in the life post I thought I’d do another.

The morning began with the vexed question ‘How do you stop a 20 tonne mobile crane smashing into a different fixed gantry crane?’ The simple answer to this conundrum is ‘Build a bigger fixed crane so you don’t need the mobile one’, those of you who thought that are henceforth banned from ever working with a certain large water company for being too logical. The correct answer is, of course, crash barriers, or more technically anti-terrorist rated crash bollards, which gives me another excuse for this outstanding link. (And if anyone knows what the name of that song playing at the start is, please put it in the comments as it is really bugging me.)

So after a morning of crash bollards and anti-terrorism standards I spent the afternoon sorting out the Network Rail tunnel inspections for the rail link to a well known London airport. This would have been a fairly standard job were it not for the recent change that now requires a ‘surface walkover’ of the route. While I’m sure this is OK for most rail tunnels in the UK (most rail tunnels being very old and so built in the days when the firm would just buy the entire hill in case something went wrong and they had to resort to an open cut) this is something of a bugger for tunnels in urban areas. In my case this meant working out who one had to talk to in order to wander around a gravel pit, several private farms, the A4 Bath Road, a major hotel complex, the M4, several Terminals and the runways.

This is in fact even harder than you would think as the first questions asked are normally “Why now after all these years? Is something wrong?”, a conversation that never goes well as people refuse to accept things are in fact OK. Given the history of the site you can hardly blame them, but still.

So there you are, a day in the life of a tunnel engineer that only peripherally involved tunnels, a sadly not uncommon occurrence.

And to the visitor who came here searching for “eurythmics sex crime” I have to ask; How many pages of results did you go through to get here? And why? I’m not expecting an answer, I just feel the question should be asked.

Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding #8

Posted in Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding with tags on March 21, 2010 by awickerman

Thanks to the joys of automatic possibly related post generation this link appeared at the end of last weeks inappropriate song post. Frankly I wasn’t aware there were that many special wedding music moments and wondered which band could provide that many songs that shouldn’t be played. While there are many candidates this week’s winners are AC/DC who can inappropriately score your entire wedding should you so desire;

  • Prelude – Hell’s Bells
  • Processional – Highway to Hell
  • Bridal Processional – Sink the Pink
  • Interlude – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  • Recessional – Are You Ready?
  • First Dance – Shake Your Foundations
  • Cutting the Cake – T.N.T.
  • Garter and Bouquet Toss – Satellite Blues
  • Last Dance – You Shook Me All Night Long
  • Getaway – For Those About to Rock

A bit patchy in terms of inappropriateness but frankly who wouldn’t enjoy that wedding?

Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding #7

Posted in Inappropriate Songs for a Wedding with tags , on March 14, 2010 by awickerman

It’s the very end of the weekend so it’s that time again, time for us to consider those songs that almost certainly do not grace your local wedding venue’s musical collection. This week we are continuing the psychological warfare theme but changing our target to the guests. Those of a weak disposition should look away and definitely not click more.

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