Wednesday 31 March 2021

Day 380 of self-isolation - Weight report, 15 stone 3 pounds

Weight report, 15 stone 3 pounds

My previous low point was 15-2, so I'm getting close. And some great news - according to the NHS BMI calculator, I am overweight, which sounds bad until you remember that above that is "obese" and "morbidly obese". It recommends that I lose 5% of my weight, which is ten pounds.

Deaths today were down to 56, new cases 4040, and that's on a non-weekend day. Great news!



Tuesday 30 March 2021

Day 379 of self-isolation - More blood

More blood

Since the first flood, I've had two more minor nosebleeds. Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

So I've made an appointment to get my blood INR tested, and a telephone appointment with my doctor. By the time I do the doctor phone call, I'll have my latest INR reading. I also took my blood pressure, so I can tell the doctor.

I don't think I have a big problem; the minor nosebleeds are just a slight annoyance. But let's hear the professional opinions.

The combination of new cases being under 4000, deaths down well under 100, hospitalisations really low and the "rule of six" loosening up, has made us optimistic about the next several weeks, and we're starting to open things up also.

Today, I unleashed the vacuuming robot (Vicky) and the mopping robot (Percy) at the same time, but in different areas. But then they met in the kitchen, and had a fight.

It's funny watching two cleaning robots fighting. They bump into each other, and back off, and bump again. Eventually, Vicky trundled off for a recharge. So Percy was the winner.


Monday 29 March 2021

Day 378 of self-isolation - Looking good

Looking good

Deaths on Saturday were 19 , new cases 3862. That's a good result, although the death numbers are atypical because it's the weekend. But the new cases number tends not to be affected by the weekend, so that's all good.

The clocks went forward on Sunday. This biennial ritual is really stupid, I wish they'd stop doing it. It doesn't mislead anyone. If farmers want to get up early, they can without fooling around with the clocks.

Also good - I just saw a video of Grandson.2 doing mental arithmetic. Some of what he did was recitation, but there was also some calculation going on there, for example with the 2+2+2 question. He'll be on calculus soon!


Sunday 28 March 2021

Day 377 of self-isolation - Rule of six

Rule of six

From Monday, we are going to the rule of six, So, you can meet up to six people from six different households, or a larger group if that's only two households. Outdoors.

So I put it to ladysolly; we could have Visitations. But she thinks the weather isn't up to it yet.

If anyone reading this blog could add their persuasive power on this ...


Saturday 27 March 2021

Day 376 of self-isolation - Dominion and Fox

Dominion and Fox

Fox News, part of Rupert Murdoch's empire, has been making a lot of noise promoting Trumps bogus claims of electoral fraud. In particular, along with Sidney Powell and Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, they have been making dramatic (although baseless and evidence-free) claims that the fraud was enabled by the vote counting machines of Dominion voting.

Powell has been served a $1.3 billion libel suit. She's been making these claims wherever she can, including in court. She's been threatening to release the evidence. And, of course, nothing. And her first defence to the libel case, is "No reasonable person would have actually believed me".

I doubt if it was ever going to be possible to extract $1.3 billion from Powell. But Dominion had to defend their good name. And likewise the My Pillow guy. $1.3 billion is a LOT of pillows.

But Fox? Dominion are now suing for $1.6 billion.

They've certainly been making lots of noise about Dominion, and, of course, they have no actual evidence. Just people with unsupported opinions. And Murdoch has a net worth of $6.5 billion. Fox Corp has a market capitalisation of $21.9 billion. So yes, maybe Fox could cough up $1.6 billion.

Smartmatic, another voting machine company, got their lawsuit up and running in February. That's for $2.7 billion.

There could be more to come. Trump tweeted on 12 November “REPORT: DOMINION DELETED 2.7 MILLION TRUMP VOTES NATIONWIDE.”

Freedom of speech comes with consequences. If you damage someone with lies, they can sue for defamation.


Friday 26 March 2021

Day 375 of self-isolation - The claret flows

The claret flows

Wednesday night, I had a nose bleed. Usually, it's just a spot or so, and that only happens occasionally. Last night, a dam was breached and a flood ensued.

It was dripping out fast. I managed to get to the bathroom without dripping on the carpet, but then the claret flowed and the toilet bowl ran scarlet. I used most of a roll of toilet paper trying to stop the bleeding. I held my head high, and pressed my nose. It took two hours before it finally stopped, and then I sat up in a chair for three more hours, in case it restarted. I read most of a book.

Today, I checked my blood pressure145/85, pulse 66. That is at the low end of hypertension, although one of the readings was 124/82/62, which is only just above normal. I also checked the oximeter, and got 99%, which is top-notch. My self-medication for high blood pressure consists of losing weight, and if you've been following this blog, you'll know it's working. That will also ward off possible future diabetes, heart problems and Covid complications, but leave me with the problem of fending off the hordes of women trying to get into my pants. If it isn't one thing, it's another.

My INR, last test, was 2.0 - I'm on Warfarin, and the target range is 2 to 3.  Normal is 1.0, so my blood should take twice as long to clot as normal. Which means, a nose bleed would take longer to stop than in an unmedicated person.

It's now 12 hours later, and the flow is staunched. My clotting worked as per standard, although it took longer than I would have liked.

I reckon I lost nearly an armful. I'm not bothered by that, I can make more blood. The main outcome was the loss of five hours sleep, so I'm going to feel sleepy this afternoon.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Day 373 of self-isolation - One year of lockdown

One year of lockdown

March 23, 2020, the UK went into lockdown. That was a week after House Solly went into lockdown, and two weeks after we should have.

My comment on March 23, 2020 was:

We won't see a vaccine for at least a year. People making optimistic noises about "a few months" are basing this on hopes and prayers. We have to live with this until some time in 2021.

Today, we are eighth in deaths per million population, and those eight include three countries with a population under a million. We have done worse than France, Spain, Italy, Brazil and the USA.

But we're near the best in vaccinations, and that has brought our daily death rate down to around 100 per day. with a seven day average of 85.

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Day 372 of self-isolation - Vaccine wars

Vaccine wars

61% of French adults think that the AstraZeneca vaccine is unsafe. More than half of Germans, and 43% of Italians the same.

Meanwhile in a US-led trial, the AZ vaccine is 79% effective at preventing Covid and 100% effective at stopping severe disease.

Confidence in AZ is high in the UK. Probably because our political leadership has not been slinging doubt at the vaccine. And partly because of our trust in the NHS.

And the EU leadership is now moaning that we aren't exporting to them the vaccine that they don't want.

They're right. We haven't.

Several million doses of AZ have been sitting in EU warehouses. 30 million are sitting in the USA unused - the FDA hasn't yet approved it.

Well - if they don't want it - can we have it? Please?

Should countries start fighting over vaccine doses, which are, at the moment, a rare and valuable commodity? The problem is, it's not like oil. Oil is in the ground, you dig a hole and out it comes. Vaccines are manufactured, and the factory isn't in one place.

There are multiple factories for each vaccine, and those factories need supplies of various things that come from other countries. If countries start playing silly games with export bans, that will slow down the whole manufacturing process.

Vaccines are manufactured, but not like cars are. Cars are honking great metal constructs. Vaccines are delicate biological molecules, with a lipid coating th protect them. When a car factory starts turning out cars with three whells, you know at once. When a vaccine factory turns out a duff batch, you don't know until you've tested it.

It's not rocket science. It's genetic science, which is a lot more difficult. We've been shooting off rockets for hundreds of years, but genetically modified proteins that resemble the spike of a virus?  Very recent.

Let's hope that our idiotic politicians don't start a war over this.

Monday 22 March 2021

Day 371 of self-isolation - Another good day

Another good day

844,285 vaccinations were done on Saturday. Another record, well done NHS!

Pressure to lift the lockdown is increasing. Should we keep the Covid laws in place until October? MPs will vote on this, this week.

We will soon have vaccinated everyone who is vulnerable and willing to accept the vaccine.

On the down side - I'm still wrestling with setting up a mesh network of Raspberry PIs.


Sunday 21 March 2021

Day 370 of self-isolation - 711,000


711,000 vaccinations yesterday. More than half of adults have been vaccinated.

It's going great. And today daughter.1 got a dose of AstroZeneca vaccine.

People are getting a bit worried about the noises that Ursula vdL is making. It really wouldn't be a good idea to play piggy-in-the-middle with vaccines, but that's what she's talking about. Her problem is that vaccines aren't made in one country - there's a supply chain. If you interrupt it on one place, it screws up in unexpected ways.

A company in Yorkshire manufactures one of the key ingredients for the Pfizer vaccine. If UvdL blocks exports of the Pfizer vaccine, then Bojo the Clown could block exports of this key ingredient, which I think is extracted from Yorkshire puddings, which can only be made in Yorkshire. Once people start reaching for the heavy hammer, a lot of things can get broken.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Day 369 of self-isolation - Bojo got jabbed

Bojo got jabbed

Boris, and 660,000 other people, got vaccinated today. That's more than 1% of the UK population in one day! Very good. 

Boris said it was "painless and quick". On the other hand, a year ago Boris bravely volunteered to test the hypothesis that Covid-19 isn't infectious. Fortunately the NHS was able to save his life after a while in the Intensive Care Unit.

Germany and France have started using the AZ vaccine again, and French President Mr Moron got his jab today. But the French have a very bad case of "vaccine hesitancy", and his remarks in the last week or so haven't helped. It's almost as if a vaccine developed in the UK is something that the French really don't want.

The USA, however, has not approved the AZ vaccine, and they have 30 million doses sitting in a warehouse in Ohio. But even with that, the US vaccination program is running well, with a third of the population vaccinated. And even Trump has recommended getting the vaccine, which will have confused the Trumpsters who believed his previous claims.

France is going into a major lockdown. Italy is going into a total shutdown over Easter (3 April). Hamburg is going into full lockdown.

In the UK, the latest new deaths number is down to 101, infections 4802. This is much better than in recent weeks, and I think it will continue to improve. The number of infections might not come down by a lot, but the most important numbers are hospitalisations and deaths. We have now vaccinated everyone over 60, which is where the main death rate was, and we're now going for people with significant factors that Covid hurts badly. So the infections in future, will more and more be of the non-hospitalisation kind, and I think the death date will continue to fall.

Europe is now getting another wave, but because we've been so efficient at vaccinations (40% of British people have had a jab), our death rate isn't going to go up again. I hope.

This is tough on the rest of Europe. They should have gotten their act together at least as well as the UK and the USA.

Friday 19 March 2021

Day 368 of self-isolation - One fing 'n' anuvver

One fing 'n' anuvver

If it isn't one thing, it's another.

The government of India is blocking export of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Boris is telling is that's not so, it's a technical issue. I don't believe Boris.

India has a problem right now - cases are rising again. It makes sense to me that if they put the lives of British ahead of their own citizens, they'll get a hammering from.

As a result, for whichever reason, deliveries in April will be scarce. 

Especially now that the European Medicines Agency has concluded that the AZ vaccine is safe and effective. So everyone loves AZ again.

But our oven-ready government says that we're still on track to offer the vaccine to everyone over 50, by April 15. And 12 million people will get their second dose.

And daughter.1 gets her first jab on Saturday.

Thursday 18 March 2021

Day 367 of self-isolation - the AstraZeneca situation

The AstraZeneca situation

Curiouser and curiouser.

The EU is angry that they aren't getting as much vaccine as they wanted.

But 1) they haven't used most of what they have, and 2) they've suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine. and 3) they won't allow Australia to receive the AZ vaccine that they contracted for.

It's a case of "We don't want it, but you can't have it either".

 It's insane. UK new deaths are down to 2.1 per million, about half of that in the EU. And a large part of the reason must be the fact that we have vaccinated 39% of our population (and it's the people who were most vulnerable got the jab earliest) while the EU average is a third of that. We've vaccinated the people most likely to get serious Covid. Deadly Covid.

And now the EU is complaining that the UK rollout has been very efficient. Well, yes, it has, thanks to our NHS. But while the EU have tons of vaccines in stock unused, they shouldn't pretend they have a vaccine shortage. What they have, is a logistical problem.

Have there been people reporting blood clots with the AZ? Yes. But so do people not getting the vaccine. It seems to me, as if the vaccine has nothing to do with the blood clots issue, and the European Medicines Agency has said there is "no indication" that Oxford-AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine is the cause of reported blood clots. And today (March 18) they will be meeting to give their conclusion.

I think they will say something like "We suspended to vaccine while we investigated, but now we find no problem, so carry on jabbing".

But a lot of damage has now been done - people will have heard about the suspension, and will be even more nervous about getting the AZ than they were before, when the French President Mr Moron said that it was "Quasi-ineffective". So what do you think that will do to vaccine hesitancy, already high in France?

The EU have received 30 million doses. 15 million are sitting in refrigerators, unused. Meanwhile, the pandemic spreads.

 The thing is, even one dose of the vaccine means that even if you do get infected, you very probably won't need hospital.

And blood clots? One of the worst effects of Covid-19 is blood clots. So how is stopping use of the vaccine, going to reduce the frequency of blood clots?

Medications are all about balance of risk and benefit. If you have any common medication, such as paracetamol, take a moment and read the little leaflet that came with it. You'll find that possible side effects are: allergic reactions such as skin rash, mouth sores, fever, difficulty breathing, you may become more prone to bleeding, bruising, fever and infections, sore throat and ulcers, nausea, sudden weight loss, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes and skin. That's all on the leaflet that came with my Boots packet of paracetamol. And the pills also include maize starch, croscarmellose sodium, soduim laurilsulfate and magnesium stearate, Also titanium dioxide, indigo carmine and erythrosine, and I have no idea what most of those are.

Yes, there can be side effects. But they are rare, and people still take paracetamol.


Wednesday 17 March 2021

Day 366 of self-isolation - One year later

One year later

Who would have thought that, one year later, we would still be fighting this pandemic?

I made a satirical post a year ago "Day 97 of isolation" about food and toilet paper, and that's when ladysolly and I went into isolation. We weren't going to wait for our world-beating government to get a clue.

My last contact with the World Outside, was a trip to the dentist on the 16th to remove a broken tooth. After that, it was "shields up!".

The UV idea didn't work, because the UV lamps that I bought, weren't actually UV. But the alcohol spray idea worked.

I was 233 pounds - 16 stone 9. I'm now 215 pounds - 15 stone 5, I lost 18 pounds. That's good, but I need to lose more.


Tuesday 16 March 2021

Day 365 of self-isolation - AstraZeneca suspended

AstraZeneca suspended

 The major European countries have suspended the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, because of worries about blood clots. Blood clots can lead to deep vein thrombosis - or worse.

AstraZeneca have denied that there is a problem (they would say that, wouldn't they?) and so has the WHO.

The company had said the 15 incidences of deep vein thrombosis and 22 events of pulmonary embolism reported among those given the vaccine, was “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population”.

Blood clots do happen naturally. I had one a couple of decades ago; my knee joint was under so much blood pressure because of that, I couldn't bend the knee. The upshot was that I got tested, and it turns out that I have genetic factors that make my blood clotting better than average. That's good if you're chasing down mammoths for food, but not so good is you live a sedentary modern life.

One thing that is important, is to notice that vaccine testing doesn't end with the phase three trials, but continues during the vaccine use.

So is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe? I'm not going to guess. All I can do, is follow the research on this. But this is a real shot in the arm for the anti-vaxxers.

Also - the EU has launched a legal action against the UK on Northern Ireland. They are claiming that we are breaching the agreement that Boris signed.

This because we have, unilaterally, extended the "grace period".

Monday 15 March 2021

Day 364 of self-isolation - Setting up a Pi as a Wifi access point, part 1

Setting up a Pi as a Wifi access point

Part 1

First, why am I doing this? The simple answer is, it's fun A better answer is, I can set up a mesh wifi, so that any device can access the wifi without having to choose which access point to use. I can do that by purchasing mesh wifi routers, at a couple of hundred pounds each, or I can use a Pi3 costing £30, and several Pi Zero Ws, costing £10 each. Plus, it's more fun.

You'll need a Raspberry pi. I used a 3B, but I think you can do it with any Pi.

First, download the OpenWrt image from here. I downloaded 19.07.7, because it was the latest one at the time. For a Pi, you want  I had a Pi 3B. I don't know whether to use "Install" or "Upgrade" so I used "Upgrade". I think you're supposed to use "Upgrade" if you upgrade your version, "Install" for a new install.

I gunziped the download. That gave me an image, which I "burned" onto an SD card. I used the smallest card I have, 8gb, because the whole image is way less than that. I use dcfldd for this, which is like dd, but nicer.

I put the SD card into the Pi, and started it up. That worked. But the IP was, and my network is 10.x.x.x. I could either set up a computer that was in the 192.168 range, or ... you'll see. So I set up an old Windows Vista laptop in the 192.168 range, and pointed the browser at, and the OpenWrt  user interface popped up. But whether I used Safari or Internet Explorer, it wouldn't accept as permanent, any changes I made to OpenWrt.

So I went the other way. On the Pi, I did this:

# uci set network.lan.ipaddr=''
# uci set network.lan.netmask=''
# uci set network.lan.proto='static'
# uci commit

# /etc/init.d/network restart

That changed the IP address to be in the 10 range, and that meant I could access the Pi from any of my computers. And then I could, using the OpenWrt configuration interface, give it a DNS server and a gateway, which would thus allow the Pi to access the whole of the internet.

By default, there is no password. So I created one - I don't want strangers to be able to log in to my Wifi router to change the configuration.

Sunday 14 March 2021

Day 363 of self-isolation - 15 stone, 5 pounds

15 stone, 5 pounds

And the number of new cases per day has also dropped, to 5534.

At 1845 deaths per million, over the last year, we're still the worst. Part of the reason for that, goes back a year; Cheltenham 2020 was on March 10th to 13th and gave the virus a big kick-start.

That was only the first of many blunders. I've listed them before.

Anyway. I did my weight check this morning, and I'm down again. That's 97.5 kilos. The BMI calculator tells me to lose 11 pounds.






Saturday 13 March 2021

Day 362 of self-isolation - Yeah, right.

Yeah, right

I got spam


Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2021 09:48:23
From: G.O.V. U.K. <>
Subject: The current tax status of your vehicle - Untaxed ID: 1752756773

It would be really easy for them to forge the from-address so that it didn't come from Tunisia, which isn't an email address that I'd expect our oven-ready government to use.

Spammers aren't as good as they used to be.


Friday 12 March 2021

Day 361 of self-isolation - Mixed vax messages from Europe

Mixed vax messages from Europe

The EU has vaccinated 10.1% of population. The UK has vaccinated 35.5%.

And EU people are angry. If the UK can vaccinate three times faster than the EU (and even the USA with it's chaotic healthcare system is at 28.6%), what is going wrong?

You'd think it's a simple matter of distributing supplies, and jabbing needles into arms. I'd think that too. This isn't some complex medical procedure. It's something that first year student nurses can do.

So what has the EU done about this? Well, try to imagine the worst reaction possible. Ursula von der Leyen, accused AstroZeneca of not meeting their contractual obligations. Yes - blame someone else.

Then U von der L and President Macron of France, threw doubts on the efficacy of the vaccine. Hey - if the vaccine doesn't work, then they were right not to secure supplies, and right not to use the supplies that they have.

Macron said that the vaccine was “quasi-ineffective” for those over 65.And that's pure fiction. What he could have said is that "at the time, the results for over-65s were unclear, but antibody studies and general principles suggested that the vaccine was very likely to be effective".

In Germany,  a senior civil servant was quoted by the press that the vaccine was only 8% effective on older people

So guess what - people in Europe heard these messages, and became doubtful about whether the vaccines worked. And false rumours were spread about side-effects.

And as a result, only 20% or so of the vaccines available in the EU, have been used. So the problem isn't shortage of vaccine, it's idiotic statements made by politicians, based on zero science.

And badmouthing one vaccine doesn't stay with one vaccine. You might think you're saying "The AstroZenica vaccine is quasi-effective on over 65s" but what people hear is "vaccines don't work".

France has changed its tune - the vaccine is now approved for all adult age groups (except France is still "under 75s", a plain attempt to save face).

Whoever is responsible for the poor performance of vaccination in the EU, has now successfully muddied the waters and saved their own jobs. The price is that EU citizens are now chary of all vaccines. 

And the vaccination rate is still only 10%.


Thursday 11 March 2021

Day 360 of self-isolation - Great inventors

Great inventors

Grandson.1 has been putting together a Powerpoint as a school project on inventors, and I'm delighted to say that he chose me as his example.

I'm no Edison or Tesla, but I have done some stuff. I had a Meccano Number Five when I was a lad, and I made many inventions with that. For example, I used it to build logic gates which I then put together into an adding machine. Which was not in the instruction book!

More of this later, I hope - my sister has gifted me with a large collection of Meccano (mine rusted away a long time ago) which I plan to use to introduce grandson.[1-3] to the delights of making things.

And then a crystal radio, a transistor radio, an analogue computer, a valve tester, a multimeter, a white line follower, and many others.

I think that my best invention was Virtran. Virtran meant that I could describe in that language, where to go in a file to find a virus (for each different virus), what to expect to find when you got there, how to do an exact identification, and how to repair the file. And it meant that I didn't have to rewrite the engine for each virus. It made the time spent for dealing with each virus, shrink from several hours, to a few minutes.

In 1993, my colleagues put this invention forward for a Queen's Award for Technology. Only five are awarded each year. And we got one of them. We sent two of our staff to the Palace to the ceremony, and we had our own company-wide celebration in the Town Hall, where the Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire (wearing a sword) presented the award again.

And here it is.



Wednesday 10 March 2021

Day 359 of self-isolation - Wifi


This is a big house. To get wifi in all the rooms, I'm using six routers, all different brands. All different names. If you go from one room to another, and the router you're connected to doesn't reach that far, the iphone or ipad automatically switches to a working router. But if the connection is poor, it stays with the poor connection, even though there is a good one available.

The other problem, is the sweeper robot. It can only connect to one router, and when it's too far from that, it can't connect.

The solution to this, is mesh wifi. With mesh, all the routers work together, acting like  one single router. The problem with that solution, is cost. Mesh routers can be quite expensive, more than £100, and I'll probably need several.

The solution to the problem above, is to use very cheap mesh routers. But mesh routers are expensive.

Except the Raspberry Pi Zero W, which is a very cheap device, about £10. And I can use openwrt, with a Pi 3 and as many pi zeros as necessry.

I've ordered a pi 3 and three Zeros. We'll see how it goes.

And there was a statement from Buckingham palace. I wonder if they have mesh wifi?

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Day 358 of self-isolation - Back in the Jug Agane

Back in the Jug Agane

Schools are open again!

New case numbers down below 5000. And deaths below 100, but that's a "weekend number" and those are always low.

A large box full of Meccano has arrived.

 We're hoping that we'll be able to visit the daughters and grandsons again soon.

Harry and Meghan ... zzzzz. Sorry, I fell asleep.

And ... 15 stone, 6 pounds!


Monday 8 March 2021

Day 357 of self-isolation - Bye Bye Nigel

Bye Bye Nigel

Nigel Farage has quit the "Reform UK" party, and he's getting out of active politics.

I have no idea what the "Reform UK" party is. Presumably, they want to reform the UK, but other than the possibliity of joining a large trading bloc of countries, I don't know what reform he has in mind.

He won't be missed. I was pleased whem LBC sacked him. I was pleased that his seven attempts to get elected as an MP failed. And I'm pleased that he's going gentle into that good night.

Sunday 7 March 2021

Day 356 of self-isolation - 1%


We offered the NHS nurses 1%, plus a weekly clap for eight weeks.This is completely inadequate - it should have been at least nine weeks.

Seriously, though. a 1% increase, adjusted for inflation, is approximately Fanny Adams. By the way, I saw her grave once.

These people have been working all hours, at great personal risk, and we're offering them bupkis. A lot of people are up in arms about this. My prediction is that this is going to lead to another U-turn by our oven-ready government.

The Tory government is all about U-turns. I doubt if they're doing it on purpose, I think they genuinely are clueless.

Saturday 6 March 2021

Day 355 of self-isolation - Michelangelo's birthday and 15-7

Michelangelo's birthday and 15-7

Today is Michelangelo's birthday. I learned that 30 years ago. You learn many interesting and unimportant facts when you work in the antivirus field.

Also, I'm down to 15 stone seven.


Friday 5 March 2021

Day 354 of self-isolation - Scary German VAT letter

Scary German VAT letter

I got another scary VAT letter from Germany. All VAT letters are scary, but the German ones are the worst, because they're in German. But after I translated this one, it wasn't scary.

Here's what happened.

Last October, I paid my VAT as usual (every three months). I pay VAT to the UK Vatman, and I pay VAT to the other 27 EU countries via a system called the "Union VAT Moss scheme". I work out the VAT, they believe me, and then I pay it. This system only works because everyone is honest.

My mistake was to pay to the UK VAT account, instead of the the UK VAT Moss account.  And I didn't realise it until I got a scary French VAT letter \(in French) demanding payment. So I paid them, then contacted the UK VAT Moss people to find out what had gone wrong - and that was when I found I'd paid the wrong account.

No big deal - I think this must happen a lot. And so they transferred the payment from UK VAT to UK VAT Moss, and paid the EU-27 countries (except France, because I paid them separately).

So then I got a scary German VAT letter, demanding payment. So I paid them. Then I asked the UK VAT Moss people about it, and they said that's also paid them. So I gave the UK VAT Moss people my bank details so they could refund me as required.

And I thought, that's drawn a line under that.

So, today I got another scary German VAT letter. On translation, I think they were asking for my bank details, so they can do a refund. I hope that's what it says. So I gave them my details, except that this is all being done by snail mail, so nothing will happen for a while.

This problem won't happen again, because we left the EU. However - even though we left the EU, it looks like I still have to pay EU Vat, which I don't comprehend. Why am I paying taxes to a foreign country, about which we know nothing?

Because we left the EU, I can't use the UK VAT Moss scheme - I have to sign up for a non-union VAT Moss scheme in a foreign country. I chose Ireland, because I think they'll be using English for communications. My next VAT payment, therefore, will be to Ireland, an in future, I'll be paying VAT to Ireland in Euros (and anything I buy will be in England, so I'll be reclaiming VAT from our own dear HMRC).

Why is it all so complicated?

Thursday 4 March 2021

Day 353 of self-isolation - Sturgeon versus Salmond

Sturgeon versus Salmond

There's some sort of fight going on in Scotland, between the leader of the Scots Nationalists, and the former leader. Nicola Sturgeon verses Alex Salmond.

I don't know the details.

I don't want to know the details.

I don't know which of them is in the right.

I don't want know which of them is in the right.

This is as interesting to me as the frequent spats in East Enders. 

But I suspect that this is also a turn-off for Scottish voters.


Wednesday 3 March 2021

Day 352 of self-isolation - Eurovax


The  European Medicines Agency has authorised three vaccines; Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/AstraZeneca and Modern. But the inoculation program has only given 5.5% of Europeans their fist jab (in the UK, that's 31%).

It isn't good enough.

So Denmark and Austria are looking to get more doses outside the EU auspices. And Hungary and Slovakia have authorised the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.

The problem seems to be the Brussels bureaucracy, which isn't agile enough for the fast response that a pandemic requires.

And then there's the attitude to the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. France said "Only for under 65s"; now it's "under 75s".

The EU has dismally failed in the vaccine rollout. 

Must do better.


Tuesday 2 March 2021

Day 351 of self-isolation - Vaccines are effective

Vaccines are effective

It turns out that the Covid vaccines cut risk of serious illness by 80% in over-80s. And it cuts the risk of people over 70 developing any Covid symptoms by around 60%. But 25% of us are still vaccine-hesitant.

When I cracked my ribs a couple of years ago, my first reaction was to do nothing; it didn't hurt that much. A few days later, I could barely move. So I went to A & E. And the medical people there, did things. What things did they do? They did the things that they thought would be best for me. 

I didn't diagnose or prescribe the treatment. I just trusted the NHS doctors that they'd do their best.

I didn't "do my own research" on how to treat broken ribs, because learning to be a medical doctor takes years, and I'm certainly not going to take the advice of Frank on Facebook. What I did, was trust the expertise of peoeple who have spent years learning what to do for broken ribs.

Same with the vaccine.

If you trust the NHS, then you take their recommendations. If you don't trust the NHS, then I hope you never come off your bicycle like I did. Because you won't even know exactly what's wrong with you, let alone how to treat it.


Monday 1 March 2021

Day 350 of self-isolation - The economic consequences of the pandemic

The economic consequences of the pandemic

Our "world-beating" government is planning a new budget on Wednesday.  I'll take a long view.

We spent a HUGE amount of money because of the pandemic. Where will that money come from?

In the short term, we can borrow it, but I'm looking long term. And longer term, there are three ways to fund this.

1. Higher taxes. That's going to be unpopular, but raising corporate taxes will be possible, especially on internet companies

2. Lower public spending. That will be highly unpopular.

3. Inflation. This is really a hidden form of taxation, but it's hidden so well that it can be blamed on foreigners. The EU is a likely scapegoat.

 In 1971 to 1973, there was a huge increase in the money supply. This was followed in the rest of the seventies by a big leap in inflation. It isn't surprising that if you have twice as much money chasing the same amount of goods, that prices would tend to double.

I remember that inflation very well. Each time you went to the shops, the price of bread and other staples, had changed - upwards. The inflation was such that what cost £100 in 1971, went up to £365 in 1981. The annual rate of inflation peaked at 24%.

When inflation was 24%, then interest rates had to rise also. Mortgage rates hit 18%.

I'm not saying that inflation and interest rates will go that high in the near future, but the current mortgate rate of 4% will not be sustainable if inflation rates climb. And if inflation hits 10%, mortgage rates could easily double, and that's going to cause a lot of pain.

The pandemic cost a lot of money, as well as human life. We have only just started paying that monetary cost.