Latest posts

Why Guard?

In the UK, most equipment is guarded. Moving parts that could crush or amputate are covered up. Hot surfaces get lagged or caging applied to avoid burns. Why do we bother?

Because the government forces us?

Well yes, we do have legislation in the uk1 that require organisations to ...

Green Waves can be Tiring

A green wave is when you manage to travel through a built up area arriving at junctions just after the lights have turned green to let you continue. In some places the lights are actually engineered to work like that for the majority of traffic. If they are traveling at ...

Back in a Boat

My dad likes kayaking. He offered to take my son out in a two person boat (K2) and I decided to have another go myself.

I can't remember the last time I was in a K1 (a one person boat). I am talking about flat water racing kayaks. Unlike ...

Playing in the Park

Rather than rushing off on any big adventures today, we kept it simple and stopped by a local park. It was nice to get out on the bike without feeling like there was a need to get anywhere quickly.

The kids got to get out and run free for a ...

Another Energy Supply Problem

Almost as soon as I published yesterday's post, I ran into a different energy supply issue.

We had been cooking dinner in our pizza oven when the gas canister ran out. Not to worry I smugly thought to myself. I knew it was low and a couple of months ...

Proof that Distributed Control Works

Today we had a perfect example of distributed control working.

The way our DCS is set up is with individual plants on their own local networks and these are connected to a central network that runs to the control room where the operators and the advanced control schemes that work ...

An Unexpected Visit

As I am about to pack up and head home, I received a message from my sister saying that she was in the area, and asked if it would be ok for a visit. This worked out well. She made it to our house before me and was able to ...

Past Performance

I realise that I graduated university over 10 years ago now. Earlier today I wanted to check the exact date so I looked out a copy of my certificate. Sure enough, the 10 year anniversary was at some point last month. What was also stored with the certificate was my ...

This is an Automated Post

I have decided to try and help myself to maintain regular publishing posts. In the last year, the days that I missed tended to be busy days either playing host, traveling or working nightshift.

So to try and help, I want to be able to quickly write a post in ...

Kids Eating Preferences

It is no surprise that we have struggled to convince our kids to consume their vegetables. On child seems determined to only eat things that are cream or white in colour (rice, pasta, bread, yogurt). Anything that looks like it may have touched a tomato or anything green gets a ...

4th of July Picnic - on the 6th

So today was our annual "4th of July Picnic" held on the closest Saturday to the 4th. As usual we invited lots of friends over and had the grill on doing burgers and sausages for most of the day.

Grass and bench in foreground. Patio in background with tables chairs and a green shelter.
Patio's ready
Grass and bench in foreground. Patio in background with tables chairs and a green shelter.
Patio's ready
Close

An addition this year ...

A Year of Blogging

On this day, one year ago, I started posting (almost) daily. In the last year I have published 358 posts, so clearly I didn't manage to publish every day. Prior to this past year, my posts have been very irregular and infrequent.

In fact my first ‘streak’ only lasted ...

Happy 4th of July

Today is the one day that Americans manage to get the date correct. To celebrate independence, they call the put the day of the month first just like everyone else.

Happy 4th of July to all my American friends and family.

Thanks to Randolph Lalonde

Randolph Lalonde is a self published author who has written my current favourite sci-fi series Spinward Fringe. Yesterday he posted that he has now had more than 1 million downloads and is celebrating this achievement and 10 years of self publishing with a sale on all his books.

I have ...

Easy Gym

I made it back to the circuits session for the first time in a while. I was expecting to find it hard, but there was a different trainer taking the session. While the half hour was fully utilised (it overran by a few minutes) it was actually easier than normal ...

Back in the Office

Today was my first day back in the office after a week long break. So I wasn't able to enjoy the sunshine as I walked or cycled through the park. Instead I was inside a blast resistant building with little connection to the outside world.

And it was brilliant ...

Fakeaway Cooking

Now that our house is a mostly vegan one1, we have been getting takeaway much less than before. There are a few takeaway places that do have vegan options but not covering all cuisines. One that we have been missing on is the Chinese takeaway.

We have now gotten ...

Parenting Slight of Hand Win

For tonight's dessert, the kids had some frozen berries (thawed out in the microwave) with some yogurt. As far as the kids were concerned, their parents were eating the same thing.

Of course we had managed to communicate with each other and organised that we actually had ice-cream with ...

Flagchaser Spotting

Yesterday, on my way home from collecting the boys I spotted some equipment getting set up in calendar park. This morning I saw more equipment and people in the park along with a sign directing 'Adventure Show Crew'.

I didn't think any mor about it but on the way ...

I just can't win

On Monday, it was raining all day and I was unable to get any work in the garden done.

Today the weather was so hot and my hayfever was so bad, I was unable to get any work in the garden done.

Just as well my day job is based ...

I Gave In & Bought a New Watch

I have been nursing my fitbit surge watch for the last year, ever hopeful that I could delay buying another piece of technology that I can’t use most of the time1, but at last I have admitted defeat and accepted that I need a new watch.

ABB Presentations

Despite being on holiday this week, I attended a seminar by ABB on energy efficiency and smart sensors.

There were two presentations, the second presentation was about permanent condition monitoring devices that remain in place on each piece of equipment and gather data every hour. Then the data is collected ...

Games Reflect Reality

Over the weekend we had some friends over who brought a new boardgame over. The game was a very strategy focused game and I had to make the first move. I was struggling to decide what move to make and said something along the following:

It is difficult to make ...

International Women in Engineering Day

So today is ​International Women in Engineering Day. A day to celebrate the many women who work in engineering and try to promote the profession to the future generation.

I have not been involved with any events but have spent the day with a friend who happens to be a ...

Energy Credits

After attending the Royal Highland Show on Thursday, I had expected to be exhausted. But that evening and on Friday I felt fine. Actually I had more energy than I had had recently. I was surprised but this.

But now I know that I must have been living on borrowed ...

Simple and Silly Pleasures

There are some simple things that can bring more pleasure than they probably ought to. During a meeting today, we were working out what the next steps were. My manager was mid way through assigning some tasks for me to do on Monday morning when I pointed out:

Except I ...

Attending the Royal Highland Show

Today we spent the day at the Royal Highland Show. I remember going with my dad when I was a kid, but couldn't remember too much.

We timed things well, arriving just after 07:30 and leaving at 17:00, we missed the worst of the traffic. We also ...

A Message to IChemE Scottish Group Members

Last night I became the chair of the IChemE Scottish Members Group. I have just submitted an email to the members and I am placing a copy here.


This is a quick email in three parts:

  • An Introduction
  • A Request
  • An Event

An Introduction

My name is Alistair Marshall and ...

The First Tuesday After the Second Thursday in June

Happy Marches

Not Such a Busy Week

Back in February we planned a dry 4un testing week to run through different parts of a migration to help answer what will happen during the changeover.

Since the Dade was put in the calendar, I have been invited to lots of other events which have all been scheduled for ...

Father's Day

For father's day, my wife and her friend decided that it would be a good idea to organise something something to do together leaving the kids with their respective fathers all day. How thoughtful of them.

Weddings are Weird

I have just gotten in after attending a friend's wedding. The groom pointed something out during his speech that I will paraphrase1 here:

Weddings are a weird occasion. They are essentially a very expensive and public way to say to the bride's family, "hey, I am getting ...

Holiday Booked

I have ay last actually booked some days off work. I had great plans at the start of the year to work out when we would take time off as a family, but never actually did so. Earlier this week I realised that we are now nearly half way through ...

A Cheat's Guide to Making Vegan* Cupcakes

* See ingredient footnotes

First I am going to apologize, I didn't take any photographs. This was a mistake. But you can assume that they look like any other cupcakes.

A couple of weeks ago I brought in two cupcakes to work that my wife had made1 and put ...

IChemE Group in Trouble

The IChemE Scottish Members Group is in trouble. Next week is our AGM and we currently have no one willing to take on the positions of Chair, Treasurer or Secretary.

As a result, it is looking increasingly likely that we may no longer have a local members group by the ...

Well That Didn't Work

The ploy a couple of weeks ago to encourage better security has clearly failed. The person who unwillingly sent an email to the rest of our team, offering to buy pies, sent another one today.

This was followed up about an hour later by a different team member offering to ...

Suspicious Weather

I have gotten soaked every time I have cycled home over the last two weeks. The day that I used the car because it was supposed to rain turned out to be lovely. Today was the most suspicious yet. Glorious sunshine all day then pouring rain just as I was ...

Taking Them Down With Me

Today I was taking care of the two boys on my own. Rather than keeping ourselves in the house, we went on an adventure to Deep Sea World1. It was a very tiring day, I now have a headache and my legs are screaming at me.

The one good ...

Our Adventure Book

Last year, some friends came to visit and we went out to a local park, then stopped in a cafe for some food. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, our friends got out their adventure book. This is a notebook which they write in when they go ...

A Really Frustrating Afternoon

This afternoon, I attempted to merge two graphics together including all the custom code that makes them work behind the scenes. I had thought it would be pretty easy but in the end I failed. I did manage to get some problems fixed but never at the rate that it ...

Being a Unit of Measurement Part 2

Last month I wrote about a challenge at work where one of my colleagues had decided that he was going to weigh the same as myself by the end of the shutdown. Today was declared the last day and our weights were compared.

  • He started weighing 1.508 Alistairs
  • He ...

Never Trust Someone Who...

The topic of discussion on the radio while I was driving home this evening was asking what traits indicate an untrustworthy person. There were plenty of suggestions:

Never trust a person who:

  • doesn't clear away thir coffee cups at the end of a meeting
  • wears their watch on the ...

The UK Home Office Has Renamed The Country

Last night we sat down to try and fill out the paperwork for Denise to apply for UK citizenship. Assuming she gets it, I will be the only member of my family who doesn't have two citizenships.

I say paperwork but this time it is a multi stage online ...

Bloody Shocking

I went to give blood tonight. It was nice to see that they have changed their minds again and something that we were previously forbidden to do is now encouraged (in this case it was crossing our legs while donating).

I was in for a shock once I had finished ...

Attributing to Mallace

Apparently there was a hit and run right at the end of our road earlier this evening. I didn’t hear or see anything. The only reason I know anything about it is that there is a discussion about it on the local facebook group1. The general consensus is ...

Assembling Furniture Around Kids

We spent a lot of time today building some flat pack furniture. This was some shelves that we bought quite a while ago, but never got around to building because it required time, effort and patience. Three things that we rarely had on their own, let alone at the same ...

Signup for July’s Disastrous Dinners

You can now sign up for July’s Disastrous Dinners Event.

I have decided not to host one during June due to a couple of other IChemE events including our AGM. The next talk will be by myself and will cover how sugar managed to blow up a factory. My ...

One Job, Multiple Professions

One of the things I like about my job is that I get to cover tasks that could be considered multiple different professions.

For example, today I was in a meeting discussing how to implement an upcoming project. We were particularly interested in how to upgrade the various parts of ...

Two Tasks

I started the day with two tasks that I wanted to complete. One, I thought would be very simple, it is done so many times, all I would need to do is find an example online and copy it, possibly with a couple of minor tweeks. The second task involved ...

Same Road, Different Journey

Today I needed to go back to our supplier's factory to do some more testing, but I also had a meeting first thing at our own site first. As a result, I drove over to the other factory at 10:15 rather than the usual 07:15.

What a ...