22 March 2008

Nissan Micra K11 water pump drive belt

I scoured the internet for guidance this morning, and having found nothing that answered my questions thought it worth sharing my new knowledge, exiguous though it is, with the world at large.

Tor picked me up from the station on Thursday evening and the engine was over-revving and running very hot. We topped it up with water at a filling station on the way home, and it took a fair bit of water, but the problems persisted. Yesterday I tied squeezing various hoses to try to get any airlock out of the system, noting particularly that the heater hoses were cold but warmed up when I squeezed them a few times. It didn't provide a permanent fix, though, and I concluded that it was probably a minute leak in the radiator or one of the hoses.

Google led me to the suggestion that airlocks are better cleared if the car is jacked up so the radiator is a little higher than usual, but all I managed to do was get the temperature up to boiling point - which led to spectactular results when I removed the radiator cap. I was reconciled to adding K-seal to the system and hoping that it would block the invisible hole, when I noticed first a small shaft protruding from the end of the engine by the alternator drive belt, and then a couple of pulleys with no belt on them. My imagination quickly led me to the conclusion that one of these would be on the water pump, and there was a corresponding pulley on the end of the crankshaft, unfortunately behind the alternator drive belt.

Interpart provided a Haynes Manual to add to my extensive collection, along with a replacement belt. Between snow flurries, and with frequent stops to scrub my hands clean (forgot to buy latex gloves when I bought the manual) and warm them up I got the new belt on. Mr Haynes suggested taking off the front offside road wheel and then removing some of the plastic inner body parts to get access to the pulleys, but with a bit of fiddling and a few minutes on my back under the car I managed to loosen off the alternator belt without dismantling half the car - there is not space to get it right off, not easily anyway, but with it loose I could infiltrate the replacement water pump belt into place behind it. The bottom alternator fixing bolt was hard to get to, and very, very tight - eventually shifted by putting the trolley jack handle over the ratchet drive for the socket (14mm incidentally) which I managed to get onto it by feel alone, and using it as an extension bar. The pulley wheel by the water pump also proved challenging, with just enough clearance between it and the bodywork to get a 17 mm ring spanner over it - which then required the application of the jack handle to the other end of the tool to get enough torque to shift it.

It was good to see the belts and pulleys turning as they should once I had tightened everything up again, and reassuring to find that I can still fix things sometimes - so long as they are't too complicated ...

I couldn't see when it started snowing ...

I've been listening to some old Dylan material on my journeys to work recently: there's so much to those great mid-sixties electric pieces, such as "One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)". And it provides me with an appropriate title for this posting ...

I had looked forward to the Compton Downland Challenge for two years, ever since I failed to get past 25 miles on my initial attempt at it. I failed to put in an advance entry this year (it didn't take place last year), but thought I might enter on the day. The weather forecast did not make running today sound like it would be much fun, though, and it doesn't take particularly bad weather to make the Berkshire Downs a bad place to be for three or more hours, although I never intended to try the "Full Fat 40" this year - the "Bare Bones 20" would have been enough, and indeed a good step up from the Banbury 15 the other week.

I was still entertaining the idea of entering on the day when the day dawned, and at first - as we lay in bed drinking coffee and tea - it looked as if it might be a reasonable day. But it started to snow before I'd have had to be on my way, and it showed little sign of letting up, which was enough for me. Through the day we have had hail, sleet and snow showers, and pretty constant high winds, with occasional sunny intervals, but I haven't felt too bad about sitting this one out.

Two marshalls were posted at the end of the road most of the day, as the race passes through the village at about 25 miles. I saw no runners, though. It is a great shame for the organisers, for whom I know it is a major exercise, and for the marshalls who had to stand around for long cold hours, but I do not wish to go down with pneumonia let alone suffer the discomfort of running about as far as I feel capable at the moment.

Next year, definitely.

13 March 2008

Blowin' in the wind

It has moderated a little during the morning, but the start of this month's Bridges Race is bleak and cold and a gale-force wind, gusting up to 43 mph, drives the competitors into a huddle in a corner formed by two walls. No-one is prepared to be the first to take off a layer of clothing.
John, who remarks that he has never seen me arrive early for a race before, points out that the wind will be in our faces over Vauxhall Bridge but behind us crossing Lambeth Bridge. I chat to Chris, who benefitted from our run last Friday lunchtime and set a PB in his half Marathon on Sunday - by 5 minutes! I tell Julia I've been running around Cropredy, looking out for flour in the road but refraining from shouting "On! On!", in the Banbury 15. And I nearly miss my start, so engrossed am I in talking to others, so that I haven't zeroed my watch when I have to go. So no time on my watch today.
In fact, I find that the wind helps me along the first couple of hundred yards then swirls round and brings me almost to a halt - or so it seems. Out on the water, that yellow DUKW is floundering along against the tide, which is almost out, and the wind. I wonder idly whether it can outrun the flow of the water, and if it does will it be trying to get out of the river when we reach its ramp? In fact, not by a long way.
I pass Julia just where the tailwind ends, and set off in pursuit of the next runner in front of me. The wind catches us again by the MI5 building, then there is a welcome haven between there and Vauxhall Bridge where the stairs lead up to the road level. I catch Guy and a young lady competitor there, but my next target remains tantalisingly ahead of me until the end.
Down Millbank the wind lifts me and carries me almost effortlessly towards Lambeth Bridge. By Millbank Tower it swirls again, creating another invisible wall, but then it gets behind me once more and sweeps me up the bridge approach and across to the other bank.
The runner in front is just too far away to do anything about, although I pass another competitor on the way off the bridge and another (plus the young lady I passed earlier, who takes a wrong rurning and gets ahead of me again) on the sprint to the line. John's bright hat is visible but out of range, and Richard has already finished - though we learn later that he went off two minutes early, and this month the trophy therefore goes to John, who awarded it in the first place.
Not a great time, but adequate (16'24" running time, a couple of seconds slower than Chris), though I have blown my special low handicap: and Guy has now announced a rule change, whereby you can't take more than 30 seconds off your handicap by having a bad day.

11 March 2008

Sounds great when you're dead (continued)

I am instinctively opposed to increasing the duration of copyright in sound recordings, which seems to me likely to work only in favour of the record industry. The big companies probably need the money, but that doesn't amount to a compelling argument for change. However, if I were wrong on this score and in fact the benefit would be felt by the artists, that would be another matter. And I think my views are shifting.

I asked Mike Tobin if he could enlighten me, being as he is the manager of the most important and brilliant group of musicians currently practising in this country. He suggested I contact Peter Purnell of Angel Air Records (http://www.angelair.co.uk/), who has rereleased the entire Stackridge back catalogue (along with lots of other good stuff, and probably some that I wouldn't consider so good, although I'm sure that the dictum "there's no such thing as bad music ...", while suspect as a universal statement, certainly holds true for the Angel Air catalogue).

So, on a quiet afternoon when the office email system was defunct (it has been down for nearly five days now) I pinged an email to him using the enquiry form on the web site - and within about a minute he had phoned me, justifying all the good things I had heard about him and creating a very favourable impression. He confirmed that recording contracts are highly variable but that often they are for a term of twenty or thirty years, so once that period has expired the rights are available for the artists to exploit. Moreover, he is clearly very keen on longer protection for recordings as a means of providing for impecunious musicians.

Sounds reasonable to me. I'm still thinking that the better solution would be to extend rights in performances, but there seems to be merit in the argument that a sound recording should not be regarded simply as the creation of the record company (the ancient common law copyright problem of following the money): the performers are the people who create it, and in the case of what might broadly be called popular music as opposed to classical the recording has an existance separate from the musical work. For example, if I want a CD of (say) Finzi's clarinet concerto I will consult the books and magazines and find the best one (which in fact I picked up by accident in a bargain bin, but that's another story), but if it's a recording of a classic Beatles or Stones song, it's a recording by The Beatles or The Rolling Stones that I almost certainly want.

But will the proposed legislation deal with this issue, and ensure that the rights do find their way to the people who need them?

09 March 2008

Banbury 15

I reckon I need to increase my mileage quite dramatically, and the Banbury 15 seemed the perfect way to supplement last week's Reading half. Especially as I hadn't been out running again until Friday, when I did an ill-advised blast round the Parks - all of them - almost racing Chris Brolley. We agreed it had been a good run, but also that (both of us having races today) it really hadn't been one of the most sensible things we'd ever done. But when you get into a rhythm along Rotten Row there's nothing will stop you.

The Banbury race turned out to be a trip out to Cropredy, then a big loop through the countryside to the north and back the way we'd come. Four significant hills, and while they weren't very welcome they weren't in the same league as the Henley half M hill, and the whole event was a great deal less arduous than Marlow. Having said that, 15 miles is a step up from a half - though that's exactly what I wanted from it.

Rather like Wokingham, I ran a good race up to a few miles from the end. At Wokingham, My 11 miler was impressive: here, I ran out of steam a bit at around 12 miles, just as we climbed up from Cropredy prior to the descent into Banbury. I walked a bit up the hill, and then some more a little later, though my running legs came back into operation on the way down to the town. The last mile or so, on paths through town centre parkland and on pavements (a particularly unwelcome climb following a sharp left turn at a roundabout, so you couldn't see it coming - and of course you didn't notice on the way out that you were going down and would have to go up in the opposite direction in due course) seemed endless, but when you emerge from the undergrowth onto the playing field that hosts the start and finish, the end was pretty close - close enough that I could go hell for leather for it.

I'd settled on a target time of 2 hours, which seemed commensurate with my Reading time and didn't pose any insuperable mathematical problems (15 miles is so much better than 13.1 or 26.2), and despite slacking in the closing stages made it with 19 seconds to spare. I ran much of the way with Dave and another Ambler behind me, but they got away when the hill after Cropredy proved too much for me and I never caught them, but it was the time that mattered (of course!).

Next week, Dave told me, they are off to the Oakley 20, long an ambition of mine - we lived on the route when it was run the first time, and I well remember watching the runners go by and thinking, perhaps even saying, "you'll never get me doing anything as stupid as that". Not this year, though - it's too early to add another 5 miles to the distance: that can wait until Easter, and the Compton Challenge. With the hill ...

06 March 2008

Chelyabinsk

The room I occupy at the office wa previously designated for a corporate tax partner, and only assigned to me when no corporate tax parter materialised. One story surrounding this is not suitable for publication, but Nancy pointed out when I moved to this part of Siberia (I think we decided that, as her desk had been deemed to be in the Urals, so not quite Siberia, my room should be Chelyabinsk, just the other side of the mountains which is why Stalin relocated so much of the munitions industry there and it became known as Tankograd) that I would have to do corporate tax now as well as IP.
Yesterday one of my favourite clients summoned me to a meeting, at about four hours' notice, to discuss the disposal of some IP assets to a new holding company in order to obtain relief from capital gains tax before the government reduce it - part of their assault on private equity. So the proposed arrangements would have to be put in place by 5 April, which on the face of it is not a particularly demanding timetable.
The disposal ("disposal" being a term of art for capital gains tax CGT, purposes) is to take the form of an exclusive licence, limited to specified territories and to certain fields of activity. The client's accountant and an IP valuer were to be present at the meeting, so I assumed I would be called upon only to consider whether he actually owned the assets over which he was now going to grant a licence, and to advise on the detail of the licence. In fact, we barely touched on these points, but I was party to a fascinating discussion about the accounting and tax treatment of the arrangements and how the client might take his money - material, perhaps, to be worked into a piece of fiction one day. But then my opinion on whether the proposed licence would suffice was canvassed. I was being asked to justify my room in the office.
Worse still, the other professionals present had had more warning of this meeting. I hadn't had time, eve if I had thought it necessary, to find out who at the office would know the answer to such a question or where I might get hold of them if the question arose. HM Revenue and Customs will look very hard at the arrangements, so it is important that the rights are indeed owned by the client and it is of fundamental importance that the licence be completely watertight. We have a couple of days in which to sort out whether the proposal stands a chance of working, and then a few days in which the valuation will be prepared and submitted to the Revenue.
The client (who is a law graduate) had in front of him a printout of the judgment in Evans Medical Supplies Ltd v Moriarty (HM Inspector of Taxes). How could someone called Moriarty infiltrate the civil service and rise to so high a position? It seemed to be a House of Lords case, and although I couldn't read the date it emerged in discussion that it was 1957. It was presented as authority for the proposition that the grant of an exclusive licence over intellectual property was a disposal - though the case predated CGT, and the point at issue was whether the lump sum proceeds were rightly chraged to tax as trading income.
I am now confused, because (a) the case concerned the disclosure of know-how and a non-compete covenant, which functionally looks similar to an exclusive licence of a patent or copyright but legally is something very different, and (b) in the House of Lords the appeal was allowed on other grounds, so comments on whether it was income or capital look obiter to me: two Lords of Appeal thought it was income, but one of them was Lord Denning so perhaps (despite his legendary status among law students of my generation) that will have to be slightly discounted, two thought it was capita and one thought it was a bit of both, which was also what the Court of Appeal had thought. So a couple of hours into my new career as a tax lawyer, I don't think I'm getting the support from the case law that I'd hoped for.When I studied for my MA, just a few years ago, I enjoyed the tax option. I forget why I chose it, but I do recall that my first year choices were made in consultation with my employers, who were paying the bill. I think the course cost about £100 a year, and I remember signing up for it one evening and immediately departing for Party Conference in Brighton. Those were the days.
Of courses, it was the choice of IP as one of the two courses in the first year that set me on the course I had followed until I moved to Chelyabinsk and became a tax lawyer, and I have always thought it a good thing that I took that path.

05 March 2008

Blood on the tracks again?

If "fatality" sounds euphemistic, "a person under a train" is several degrees more indirect. That's what is causing "severe delays" today on the Circle Line, while on the main line it's a brick through the driver's window of a Swansea train - a horrible thing, and I have had it happen to a train on which I was travelling. I hope the driver is OK, but even if he or she has escaped physical injury they will be very badly shaken up indeed.
I took the 1821 from Paddington, thinking it a clever thing to do, but found that Didcot does not feature on its itinerary. At Reading - a very slow trip, no doubt on account of the attack on the Swansea train - there was a train waiting at Platform 8 for which Didcot would be the next station stop. I dived down the stairs to the subway that connects the platforms, sprinted through the tunnel and up the stairs to Platform 8 where I noted that the train was already seriously late. I climbed aboard and found a seat in Coach B, near the front for a shorter walk to the car park at Didcot - but a longer walk back to the subway entrance when it transpired that this train was not going to be leaving in the near future.
When that became clear, the required train was standing at Platform 4 and the announcements gave no clue about how long it would remain there, so another dash through the subway was called for. It took its time before getting under way, then halted just past the old abattoir at a red signal.
One of the laws of commuting, the natural principles governing this unnatural activity, that dictates that for any unusually early start to a journey there will be a countervailing delay, so as to make the time of arrival at one's destination no earlier than usual. For every early start there is an equal and opposite delay, I suppose. What other laws are there?
Of course, no-one can complain about a delay occasioned by an attack on a fast-moving train with a half-brick. One cannot moan about a trackside fire, as it is generally the fire service who determine what exclusion zone is necessary. One cannot blame the rail operator for a "fatality" or "person under a train", unless they drove the unfortunate to suicide, which is by no means impossible.

02 March 2008

Reading half

Just got home after the Reading Half Marathon, and I made one of those timekeeping errors to which I am prone - pressed the button as I crossed the line and managed to zero it! I think it will have said about 1:45, though the official results will say longer as I paused the watch for a lengthy pit stop. That time does include two stops to drink, too, at the first of which my asthma was causing me a few problems. The Red Cross staff there told me they didn't have inhalers to administer to sufferers, so I should ensure I always carry mine - actually, if I'd used it before the start that would have avoided the problem. There's a long steep hill around mile 2 to 3 and that did for me: it took me a mile or so to get over it, then I had a great run for most of the distance, though at a fairly modest pace.

I crossed the line and almost immediately Francis sent me an SMS: "Hi, you done?" So I phoned him and explained that I was done in more than one respect. I missed him where he told me he was waiting, because I made the elementary mistake of looking for someone in running gear - as he was well over 20 minutes ahead of me, he'd had time to change (just like two years ago!). Finding all our colleagues at the end was tricky, and people had different modes of transport, so by the time Francis, Nicola and I went for the bus back to town the queue was about 13.1 miles long. Bizarrely, they seemed to be loading one bus at a time, when I could see no reason for not loading three or four in parallel, so we concluded that we could walk back in less time than it would take to get a bus. Judging by the number of buses that passed us as we walked back, we were right.

By two o'clock when we caught up with the advance party at the bar (which had cunningly changed its name since our last visit, making it a less-than-perfect rendezvous) I only really wanted to take the train home, so we had a group photo (minus two) and I left them to it. They all seemed happy with the day, which is a great relief given that if they hadn't, the blame would have been mine.

I am pleased that I feel fine after the run, and was able to take stairs two at a time on the way to the bar while even Francis seemed to struggle a little. So I'm not fast at the moment, but there's something there to work on.

01 March 2008

Even serpents shine

Yesterday was the last Friday of the month, so ...

First, I made it to the start with time to spare. Tom was insistent that we should leave nice and early. Robbie drageed himself away. Ian joined us for the first time, meaning I was relegated to third place in the BDB team even before we'd laced up our running shoes - but still the senior member by some way.


Second, I went fully equipped. The green shoes, the red shorts, and just to be sure that I had done everything possible to guarantee a personal best (and perhaps salvage second place in the team rankings!) shades. Unfortunately this meant that I could see very little, as not only did I lost the corrective effect of my spectacles, but I also cut out what little daylight there was.

Thursday had been a perfect Hyde Park running day, and Huw, Andrew and I had made the most of it with a run over the Serpentine Bridge: rather further than was really clever the day before a race (and three days before another race!) but we didn't feel that it was too fast until we saw the time on my watch at the end, and it was pretty quick (though I forget now what it was). Friday was about as far removed as you could get. Cool, overcast, with a headwind on the first half of about Force 5 - I think I observed crested wavelets on an inland body of water.

I reached the first K with a little under 4 minutes on my watch, and it felt as if I might be able to sustain it. But from the 1K mark there's a long albeit slight ascent to the police station, and on the way up there I had to slow. I moved over to allow others to pass on the fastest line, and ended up doing little more than a jog round the sharp turn at the top and down to the side of the lake - where probably the last man in the A race came past.

I kept him in sight along the edge of the Serpentine, past 2K (about 4:40, so a dramatic slowing), under the bridge, round the end of the Long Water, past the obligatory van - one is always parked on the route at that point for some reason or another - then back under the bridge, down to the Lido, up the hill behind it (where I took several yards out of the lead he had pulled out) and finally down the long straight where the Force 5 was now at our backs - oddly, it had not changed direction as winds so often do, so as to remain in our faces.

A few B race participants came past, one going at a fantastic pace: after the left turn at the Dell another came past, and though I tried to attack the hill there wasn't enough in my legs to stay with him. But heading down to the finish I mustered a messy and noisy (lots of puffing and panting) sprint, and with fifty or so yards to go he was close enough to be a target so I really pushed myself and probably just pipped him, with my watch registering something and 58 seconds (I remembered later that I had failed to start it immediately at the off, so a couple of seconds had been stolen as far as my watch time was concerned). But was I on 22 or 23 minutes? Surely the latter, given my time at 2K. I'd looked at my watch at another intermediate point, but could not remember what it had said.

In fact, it was the former, so while it felt like my worst race for a long time it wasn't at all. I failed to reach the magic 70 per cent age-graded, but did manage 67.6, which has been my level several times over the time I have been running this race: and on that measure, I tied with Tom and beat the other two. (Or, put another way, for I think the first time Tom managed to match my percentage!)