My Retirement Week (3)

I was caught up in books this week which is always a good way of passing the hours. The main one I was reading was The Boys in the Boat, one of these occasional books about sport that turn out to be about so much more. This is about personal character, teamwork and the drive to achieve an ambition. But it’s also about the fall out from the United States depression, the portent of war in Europe, the rise of Hitler and Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. It becomes an analogy about a team, and a country, pulling together in tough times.  It’s been a great read.

Reading books means less time for other things. I always wish I could listen to more podcasts, and Kevin Kelly (author and journalist at Wired) posted his Top Fifty Factual Podcasts list via Twitter this week. It’s heavily biased toward the US, but good to see a couple of British ones in there. I can certainly attest for his top three picks, all of which I’ve listened to over the years, on and off. (If you are unaware of Kevin Kelly, I can thoroughly recommend his book, What Technology Wants, which I read last year.) I did manage to listen to a fascinating Radiolab podcast about surveillance techniques, Eye in the Sky, which I can recommend. I will set a goal to try and listen to a few of the others on his list.

Talking about books on technology, I found this interesting list via a podcast. In the interests of frugality, I’ve managed to reserve three of them via my local library.

As I perused my bank statements this week (almost a daily routine for me!) I noticed that my car insurance company had nipped in and direct debited an amount for the forthcoming year. Fair enough, I was dimly aware of this, but maybe an advance e-mail would have been nice? I was therefore interested to see this article posted in The Spectator, entitled The Car Insurance Industry is a Disgusting Racket. I bet almost everyone reading this has had a similar experience to that of the columnist. I know I have.

I see there was a kerfuffle about whether or not Germaine Greer was going to be allowed to speak at a University debate. As many of you will know, all of life is encapsulated in The Simpsons (Series 1-9 only!) so Germaine should take comfort from the fact that Lisa Simpson has been there and got the exclusion T Shirt.

I noticed that the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow visited my neighbourhood this week. Seemingly they discovered their “most valuable item” at the show. I’m not surprised, Harrogate is full of very quietly rich Yorkshire folk. It made me think of what I have in terms of “collectables” that could be a worthwhile “investment”. I didn’t have to think long: sod all.

Finally, in the week that saw Talk Talk give us all the shivers about web security and with both Amazon and Trip Advisor struggling with the problem of fake reviews, our regional paper highlighted a review written by a man about his stay in a local hotel:

“Everything about the hotel was great.
Except in the morning, I was unable to get access to the wife”.

11 thoughts on “My Retirement Week (3)

  1. Thanks for highlighting podcasts again. I used to have a few subscriptions years ago and somehow got out of the habit of listening. Have downloaded gPodder now and started listening to back episodes of ‘This is Your Life’, which I find really crammed with useful tips.

    Have a great weekend Jim!

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  2. hi Jim. Thanks for the post. I have had the exact same experience with car insurance in the last two years – think it’s got to be standard practice that they automatically renew – but they make a lot of money from repeat customers as they give their best deals to new customers (which I’m sure you know) so in both cases I saw them off – in one case (Churchill) they were nice about it and said that’s fine, we’ll just refund you the full amount, and in the other (Diamond) they kicked up a bit nasty, insisting it was in the small print that they were allowed to do that, but then backed down. It might be worth seeing if you can get rid of yours and having a look round as there are bound to be cheaper deals out there. They rely on customers thinking “oh well they’ve already charged me, nothing I can do then”.

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    • To be fair, I did get a good deal on a multi car policy which I switched to. I have in the past been hit with the “ambulance chaser” calls following a claim. I hate the assumption behind these calls that you should “try it on” with a whiplash injury or similar, whether you’re suffering or not.

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  3. They did the same to me after I’d sold my car and gone travelling overseas! I got it back as well, I threatened court action against them. I’m pretty sure there is also an Ombudsman you can complain to, which would force them to back down.

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  4. I think you have 14 days to cancel any remote transaction that you haven’t ‘used’. I normally check every year – you can always ask your current provider to match any other offers you find. Mine will refund the difference after a call.

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  5. Hey Jim

    A Wrinkle in Time and Fahrenheit 451 have been on my to-read list for a while – I must get round to reading them. Of the others on your list, I’ve only read Ender’s Game which I enjoyed. I may just check out a couple of those others, see if they’re in the local library!

    I would have thought you would have received a renewal notice from your insurance company before the DD was taken out? This is when I usually inform them that I’m not renewing so that I can get a cheaper quote elsewhere, although it appears that insurance is about to get a lot more expensive for everyone with a new tax on insurance introduced tomorrow – maybe the DD has meant that you’ve missed the increase!

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    • Hi Weenie, I liked that list because I hadn’t read one book on it, and hadn’t heard of a few others. My insurance wasn’t a renewal, it was a multi-car deal, so the payments come off as the old policies from other companies expire. They had sent me the schedule, but not any reminders. Fortunately the cash was in the bank.

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      • Interesting – I have just renewed my car insurance – note that the new tax is charged based on the date the insurance starts. I guess this will be incorporated in the multi-car policy payments already.
        I managed to find a cheaper insurance quotation for this year, but compared to last year it is still up by £15.
        It never seems to get cheaper regardless of what they say. I will check out the reading list, now that the weather has changed the opportunities to go outside are reducing so some reading to increase my knowledge or just escape into something different will be great. I used to read a lot then work took over, now I am trying to get my own list together and vary it with a mix of fact and fiction topics.
        Happy reading!

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