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About rxe

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  1. I don’t think they were a bad deal at all. My wife took one out in 1996 to cover a £30k mortgage on her first house. It was a £60k house, she had a decent deposit having worked for a few years while living at home. Her payments have been absolutely sod all. I think they were something like £50 a month. It missed by about £10k, but I paid the mortgage off when we got married, and we kept the payments up. We could not argue that we were uninformed about the miss, we got about 15 years of letters (some of them in red) telling us it would miss.
  2. Don’t laugh. Chainsaws. When I used to live in London, I needed something mechanical to fiddle with, and as a bit of a wood junkie, I started fixing old chainsaws. None of the modern small stuff - it was all 30 year old Stihl 070s, 090s, 075/6s etc. You’d get a “fixer upper” for £60 on eBay, my limit was £100. If you were lucky it simply needed a new carb diaphragm, and a throrough strip down and rebuild. If you were unlucky, the piston had melted and you needed a new one for £100 or so. 10 years later, a busted 070 on eBay goes for about £300, and 090s tend to go for about £600. Nicely sorted out ones (not bad resprays and a load of Chinese parts) can be double that. I’ve got a container half full of the things!
  3. Given Uber's market penetration, these figures suggest you are safer in an Uber than in the other forms of transport where 122 attacks were committed.
  4. Oh dear god, this. It's not just Greenwich, its bloody everywhere. Being open about it, we're in the private system, but we've looked at the local school for the youngest, as he has a bit of a problem with boarding. Local school is good, gets good results, extra-curricular facilities are crap, but we can do that bit. So, based on an assumption that if you live 600 yards from the school, it's probably going to be the school you go to, we had a look round. The assumption was entirely wrong. There is one place per year allocated geographically. The rest are allocated on some bizarre formula based on poverty, need, ethnicity and god knows what else. Most kids come in from 20 miles away - every day. A simple change that said "all kids will go to the geographically closest school" would improve rush hour traffic no end. We're sticking with the private system, and he's just going to have to man up about boarding.
  5. I do a lot of recruiting, both at the graddy level and "experienced hire" - people with a few years experience in the industry (technology). The filters for me are fairly simple. If a candidate has done a moderately technical degree (pure science, engineering, comp Sci, maths etc) at a decent institution, they are either clever enough to do the job, or dedicated enough to do the job. Either way, they get an interview. This is where most of them fall down - basic interview skills. I've even had one who took a call in the middle of an interview. Experienced hire is more interesting. I don't even read as far as the education section in the CV. I look at what they have done for the last 5 years and see if that is relevant to what we do. If it is, they get an interview. At the interview, I hand them a pen and tell them to explain what they've been doing on a whiteboard. No trick questions, get them talking about something they have done. Then I give then the hard technical questions that separates the people who have actually done it, from the people who have watched someone else do it. We have a great hit rate with experienced hire - most are still with us years after being hired. My advice would be - if you're going to do a decent degree at a decent location, it is probably worth it, especially if you are interested in the subject. Anything else, forget it. I also do a lot with recruitment consultants. To a man (they are all blokes) they bemoan the attitude out there today. They work on a graduate position - a decent one, say 24 - 34K starting. They get people to apply. Loads of applications. They follow up to ask questions and arrange interviews - no answer from about 75% of them. One said to me yesterday "if I send them two emails and call them twice, I'm done". It all seems very odd. Basic life skills seem to be missing - this is more important than qualification.
  6. Cars are no indicator of wealth at all. A very flash merc on your drive just says "I can pay £1000 a month". If you can scrape together £1700 a month, you can have a Bentley...
  7. Yes, if you live in walking distance of Reading station. For everyone else, you can't get into Reading in the morning without sitting in traffic for ages, and even when you get there, you can't park. If you live in central-ish Reading, then bus is possible, but once you get to the outskirts, it is all a bit hard.
  8. I've been on those horrible trains rather too much. That journey was the reason I stayed in London as long as did. In the time I was doing it, there was one properly fast train an hour - it was rammed. The 6:37 was mine, and most days you struggled to actually get on the thing. At least it got you to Paddington in 20 minutes, brilliant. And then what? I worked near Liverpool St, so you had to fight your way onto the tube, and hope the circle line was working for about 15 stops. I would allow at least an hour and a half for the journey, two if I really had to be on time for something. I am assuming that with Crossrail, two things will happen: 1) There will be far more capacity on the line - more trains, less overcrowding. I think it will have a material impact on the traffic on the M4 if they get it right. 2) There will be plenty of trains per hour that get into Liverpool St in 45 minutes, so leaving home early enough to make absolutely sure you get the 6:37 will be a thing of the past, because if you miss it, there will be a 6:50 or whatever. My view is that cross rail will be bad for central london house prices - why live in a shoe box in Clapham that costs several million, when you can get a nice big house with 5 acres for the same money outside Maidenhead. Journey time into Central London will be about the same. One of my more astute buys in 1996 was a lockup garage 100 yards from the back entrance of Maidenhead station....stored my old car in it for years, had loads of people trying to buy it off me in the last 2 years, not interested.
  9. Though on the plus side, it is a bunch of computers, and they are generally pretty good at telling you what is going wrong. Sensors are unchanged, you can still test a temperature sensor by sticking a voltmeter on it and watching the voltage rise/fall as the temperature changes. Thanks to the internet, you will be able to find the person who has done it before, and has posted the "good graph" for comparison. You have to do a certain amount of diagnosis. My 04 plate CAN equipped car threw a wobbly last year - diagnostics said every lambda was dead. Didn't believe that, so went looking for the wiring fault - and found mouse damage. Soldered it all up, reset the computer, all good. An older car would have struggled on until MOT time and then promptly failed. On PCP - the key issue is the hand back price. At the moment the industry seems to be taking a lot of pain, by setting these to unrealistic levels. This is hidden - they make a bit out of the finance, and they make a bit out of the car, and take a bit of a bath on resale values. Hikes in IRs will kill this game stone dead. Basically they are getting the money for nothing, and charging 4% for 3 years. Technology is indeed a problem. See all the current adverts telling us that unless you car has 4G connectivity, it isn't worth driving. My 1981 Land Rover has perfect 4G connectivity when I am driving it, my phone is in my pocket. However, some people do fall for this, and thus are desperate to trade up. More fool them.
  10. Interesting reply, thank you. Just to be clear, I have no idea if the radiologists got it wrong or the oncologists - but he was told some very incorrect things over the last few weeks. You make an interesting point on specialisation - I remember trying to solve this several years ago. The "use case" then was stroke - you had a radiologist on call, but he was at one hospital (or at home) and patients were showing up all over the region. We had some technology that could put a full quality/lossless image on his screen in seconds, regardless of location. I remember demoing it with a CT on a train using 3G - worked perfectly. You could use something like that to say "this team does <insert body part or choice" in the UK, for everyone. Report the image, fire the report into the scanning hospitals RIS, job done. At the time, it cost less per year than the company car the trust chief exec was driving. It went nowhere - simply didn't fit the purchasing model, and required trusts to co-operate. I think the biggest sticking point was that they couldn't work out how trust x got paid to read trust y's images. I got frustrated with the politics and went off and did something else!
  11. I would imagine that the week end death data is very weak. Not many people die immediately from poor care. Say you arrive at hospital on Saturday night with stroke symptoms. The person that brought you in does not know how to get past triage, so you sit in A&E for 4 hours. Someone eventually realises and admits you. You would get scanned but there are no radiographers, and anyway the CT is off and will take 4 hours to warm up. So on Sunday morning you get scanned, but there is no radiologist available to read the image. So it gets read on Monday morning and treatment starts that afternoon. By that time your brain is toast and you are fed via a tube for the rest of your life. Did you die at the weekend - no. Were you completely destroyed by the fact that you showed up on Saturday night - yes. The above example is precisely what would have happened to my mother 3 years ago if I had not 1) Driven her to a teaching hospital which would have some chance of capable people being there and 2) Kicked her through the triage process, having worked in imaging (software side) for 5 years, I knew the right things to say.
  12. If I thought it was about money, I'd be making a different argument. I have seen nothing in this experience that suggests throwing money at the problem would solve it. It seems to be a question of organisation and quite frankly at the bottom end, competence. All the times I have been in the hospital, I've not seen queues for expensive scanners, I've not seen crap equipment, I've not seen a shortage of doctors. I've seen catastrophic organisation, I've seen what appears to be incompetence, I've seen hospitals not talking and doctors not listening to patients and the relatives/family. When a patient with a diagnosed spinal secondary poles up with back pain, you'd think they'd listen - clearly in 2016 there is no chance of them accessing the notes from the hospital 32 miles away, or even using a telephone to talk to someone. But no, they start treatment for sciatica, and nearly kill him with an overdose of steroids - he's had a complaint upheld on that one, but didn't bother with going for compensation because there is no point. How is it that three (apparently qualified) doctors can look at the same picture and come to radically different conclusions? The last one to look at it was the consultant - he was spot on. The first two might as well have been pret managers for all the good they I did. I thought they had case conferences to discuss patients where grown ups were in attendance, but it would appear not. Thanks for the sympathy. At the moment I am just furious about the whole thing, and slightly numb to it.
  13. Another pair of examples: I've got a good friend being eaten alive by cancer right now. 6 months of fannying around, loads of scans, you've got a bladder infection, you've got <insert list of random stuff>. Eventually someone qualified looks at the (same) scans and points out there is cancer, which is now inoperable, but hey don't worry it's controllable, we can hit it with radiotherapy blah blah, you'll last years. Making progress has involved friends and family chasing the hospital for the appointment they promised etc. Finally someone really qualified looks at the same scans and gets on the phone to the hospice. He's there now, thankfully he's got pneumonia starting will probably get him before the cancer becomes agonising. Person 2, relative. Spent 3 months going to the GP complaining of bowel cancer symptoms. Got fobbed off. Eventually paid for a "camera where the sun don't shine" procedure, found cancer, activated private insurance and was on the table within 48 hours. Operated, massive follow up. Liver secondary found. Operated, again, massive follow up. Lung primary found as part of the follow up, operated. 10 years now elapsed since the start of the whole thing, been clear for the last 4. To say my views of the NHS are jaded don't even begin to describe it.
  14. I'm veering towards the leave camp. I don't see how you can say there are no borders between countries unless you have total economic union. As soon as there are arbitrage opportunities between countries, people will start to move around in hordes. Why would you scratch an existence in Romania when you can get free everything in the UK? I don't buy the idea that the EU will put up the trade barriers - they have far more to lose than us. The common agricultural policy is insanity, but no one will change it for fear of Pierre dumping a load of horse poop on the road. A lot of the sillier enviro ******** can go as well, and we can switch Drax back on. All good.
  15. Be a bit careful on the assumptions on the purchase price. Same thing happened our neighbours in London. From the front it looked a like a nice characterful flat fronted Victorian town house, but the rear wall was literally peeling off, and the interior was a wreck. It was owned by a (very nice) little old lady who lived in 2 rooms - she'd been born there, but now it was not really habitable. She tried to get if fixed herself, but the structural work alone was about £350K - conservation area, zero access to the back, all very hard. We offered her access through our garden (end of terrace, you could get lorries in) and that knocked the bill down by something like 100k, but she could not raise the cash. If I'd had the money to hand, I'd have bought a 50% interest and let her live there, but at the time we were stretched. Anyway a developer bought it for a song, did the structural work, gutted it, extended it, and it looks pretty similar to the OPs find. Sold in about 6 weeks for 1.3, this was about 3 years ago. Interior is vile to my tastes, but someone loves it.
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