Starting skiing, altruism and motorway signs

I am being a nursemaid, together with Mrs D, for our daughter who is recovering from an op. She is getting better slowly and doing really very well. While doing my nursing she has been showing me lots of web curiosities. One was particularly evocative and I would like to share it. It is an excerpt from a documentary about beginner skiers in Soll, Austria, one of the first ski resorts I visited years ago. I reckon that I have never really enjoyed skiing as much as when I was first learning. The shared experience of a ski class was priceless, where everyone was gauche, out of control and desperately trying to coax two planks on one’s feet to do something sensible, coupled with the general shared hilarity. And this video clip just brought it all back to me. I hope that it might do so for others.

Whilst shopping in Tesco the other day, with Mrs D, We were standing in a checkout  queue when a woman approached us and said, “Would you like this £5-cash-off voucher? You have to spend more than £40 and it looks like you have at least that in your trolley. We have two vouchers which expire today and we can’t use both of them.” The two of us were taken aback, such random generosity is quite rare, but we took it with thanks. Then immediately thought we would not be able to use it because the voucher was not on our Tesco clubcard. We guiltily owned up at the checkout but were told the voucher was valid! So thank you very much to the mystery giver.

I often find motorway signs to be bewildering. The one that proudly claims “This sign is not in operation” seems to be just about the most useless waste of resource going. (I am reminded of a photo with the most puzzling and useless sign I have seen. It was in the middle of pond and read, “Do not throw stones at this sign”.) I also feel that signs like “J4 20 miles 19 minutes” are not very helpful and certainly not worth the millions of pounds that must have gone into their production. While on the M4 last week, near the M5 junction, I saw a new sign saying something like “Developing Managed Motorways” and I wondered what on earth a managed motorway was. Well now I know, thanks to the website

http://www.highways.gov.uk/news/25754.aspx

which says that,

A managed motorway has two main elements to it: variable speed limits and hard shoulder running.

We all know what variable speed limits are. “Hard shoulder running” is allowing traffic to use the hard shoulder when there is congestion. I was amazed to read that the “Managed Motorway concept builds upon the success of the Active Traffic Management Pilot on the M42 where dynamic use of the hard shoulder” led to a decrease in the accident rate from an average of 5.1 a month to 1.8 a month, a decrease in estimated fuel consumption and reduced journey times. So, despite the management speak it seems as though these developments really do have an effect.

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