Why does travelling to Sunderland by public transport take so damn long?

Tyneside Map

If you live in Tyneside area you’ll know that its a real pain to get anywhere south of the river using public transport. Your only options are to sit on the Metro for 45-90 minutes as it stops at every stop going around the system before you finally get to your destination in Sunderland; worse still if you happen to want to go further south to Middlesborough or further afield.

Sure, we have services like buses and the North Shields ferry; but to be honest these are really slow and not suited to regular, commuter passenger journeys. In the end, Metros or changing buses are the only option; and to be frank the journey times are joke.

Journey’s take should 30-40 mins end up taking anywhere between 1-2 hours by public transport.

For the past ten or so years I’ve tried to find quicker, faster routes to go south from anywhere East of Newcastle; bus hubs like Four Lane Ends offers no southern bus routes and the only irregular bus services are in North Shields which travels via the Tyne Tunnel to Jarrow; thereafter you are needing to change again for another service.

In the past there used to be the 319 bus service that ran from Cramlington to Sunderland; and for me I found this journey was faster and cheaper than the Metros.

Getting limited stop, express buses from Sunderland to Newcastle are also a pain. There used to be the X4; but sadly this no longer exists and the so-called express buses from Sunderland are nothing of the kind, stopping at virtually every stop.

Of course one could use the National express bus service; these are dedicated services, but these are not practical for regular commuting.

So what’s the answer? For me, for a quick win would be this:

Put on more bus services that run through the Tyne Tunnel

With the duelling and upgrades the A19/A1056 roundabout system, I see why services cannot start running through the tunnel, servicing the south using a limited stop service.

But a more bolder approach would be;

Build another rail station in East Newcastle, nearer to Whitley Bay

This would mean creating a new Tyne Tunnel for rail services. Why not a bridge? The river is used regularly for maritime industries and the space is required for large vessels to traverse the River Tyne.

I’m not sure if its logistically possible, or if the foundational bedrock under the River Tyne would support such a tunnel, but when I look at the Billion pounds invested in London’s cross-rail services; one can easily think — why can’t we have that?

My own crappy drawing relies on the old rail lines that existed in the area; most of this is now walking areas and perhaps is impractical or unrealistic or would cause a local uproar to re-appropriate this for rail lines.

A new rail station in the East would do so much to reduce traffic, and create a hub for public transport and cut journey times by half.

Perhaps I’ve played Transport Tycoon too much, perhaps I look at the CrossRail services in London wondering if the North East will ever rebuild its networks; but regardless, I still believe a better infrastructure, even if its with direct, limited stop buses that traverse the Tyne Tunnel would be still be a better option than sitting on the Metro or forcing all public transit through the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Just my two cents.

Fixing Blofeld

blofeld

“Spectre”, the 24th installment of the James Bond movie franchise movies saw the re-introduction of Ernst Stravo Blofeld. The noted arch-vile and mainstay villain of the classic 1960’s Sean Connery James Bond movies was rebooted for a modern era and audience.

However, as many reviewers and commentators have stated; this version of Blofeld, played by Christoph Waltz, had very little to do in the movie; and that his character was in-developed or lacked any menace.

Indeed, I’m struggling to remember what Blofeld’s plan was in Spectre; only upon reading on Wikipedia I was able to find out that his overall goal was to standardize and monopolized the spying sharing network “Nine Eyes” for monetary reasons.

Many reviewers, including myself hated the reveal that “Franz Oberhauser” was a step-brother relative of James Bond.

Amazingly, this reveal of being step-brothers (or relatives) was used earlier in the Austin Powers’ movies; and the irony of this was not lost on many IMDB reviwers; considering how many within the Bond franchise had complained that Austin Powers’ had effectively emasculated and parodied any serious attempt to recreate Blofeld even before the thought of rebooting him came about.

A further blow came when Blofeld revealed “I was behind everything” force-patching the villain in every previous Daniel Craig James Bond movie was forced and, on the whole, didn’t make sense and again lazy.

Perhaps it was the writers need to patch everything together, the producers desire to make a cinematic universe to rival the on-going Marvel super-hero movies; or perhaps the Sony hack back in 2014 where the leaked script had to force writers down another path had lead to a poorly drafted Blofeld and a poor addition to the continuing James Bond series of movies.

On reddit, the rumors that the next James Bond movie will see a returning Blofeld and will follow plot points from the original Ian Fleming novel of “You only live twice”; that being Blofeld takes the pseduoname of “Dr. Guntram Shatterhand” and Daniel Craig’s James Bond is on a revenge mission to finally kill him.

And yet, I believe Blofeld can be fixed; albeit my idea of Blofeld’s background could have been better.

Make Blofeld a product of the CIA that went wrong

Fundamentally, I’d preface Blofeld a product of the CIA with the vision to ask; can the power of a state in an individual become a danger to the state?

I’d have written Blofeld as a product of the CIA, and a child of the CIA MK-Ultra project; the codename given to a series of illegal human and child experiments undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency, used to manipulate people’s mental states, altering brain functions, and the usage of drugs, sensory deprivation, isolation and verbal abuse, as well as other forms of psychological torture.

Imagine the relationship we saw in the James Bond movie “A View to a Kill (1985)” where Max Zorin had a subtle relationship with “Dr. Carl Mortner”; but on steroids.

I imagine that Blofeld would have fallen into a psychological trap of Stockholm syndrome with a domineering CIA “father” figure.

Similar to how in the movie 1978 movie, “The Boys of Brazil”; I believe that Blofeld’s background could be moulded by an “Dr. Josef Mengele” type individual, whom has a mind-set of creating a world figure; that they themselves controlled ten, twenty years prior.

Perhaps taking cues from the “The Parallax View” (1974); James Bond could investigate the historical routes of
a multinational corporation that has links to Blofeld; and its found that a former majority shareholder was the principal architect behind Blofeld’s rise on the world stage.

These tactics of Gaslighting, and “Divide and conqueror” would explain SPECTRE’s own tactics and where the formualised ideas and strategies came from.

TLDR;

In short, I see Blofeld as a troubled child that turned psychotic and twisted after realising he was remoulded by a shadowy CIA MK ultra project to craft him as a world leader; a Maitreya-esque figure, “a teacher” that created a SPECTRE in order to shape world opinion; as a reaction, a measure to take revenge on the world that blighted and a life stole from him.

I would ignore all ideas that Blofeld was related to James Bond; and perhaps “Franz Oberhauser” was indeed Blofeld’s original name; but Oberhauser took his “father’s” name, the name of Ernst Stravo Blofeld from his CIA handlers.

I believe that creating a solid foundation of what, who and why Blofeld exists and what his reason for being can be crafted; then his subsequent villainy, and evil can be treat the character as as serious comment on whether enemies in the mirror are any different to enemies in the shadows.

Throw away your metal Indian club bells

metal club bells

Often hyped as “Indian clubs”, the metal club bells found on the Internet and some retail shops are often used for swinging motions to help strengthen, build and improve stability issues in the shoulder; such as the rotator cuff.

However, having spent some time using the Wooden indian clubs, I can say that the metal power club bells are horribly designed and should not be used. Ever.

The ones I have are small 2KG metal ones and find them very heavy and cause pain and pressure on the wrists; they are not designed to be swung at all.

Indeed, I’ve decided to throw away my metal club bells in favour of the Wooden Indian clubs.

Why? To put it simply, they are not indian clubs and they are poorly designed, the weight distribution is incorrect and even the 2KG ones are too heavy and bulky for anything other than simple curls and forward motion swings.

I find that the wooden Indian clubs have the weight distribution correctly placed in the head of the club and more motion, swings and yes; even tricks can be used — further, they have a strong historical pedigree of being used throughout the Indian sub-continent, Victorian Britain and a lineage in the British Navy and other, related armed forces.

In short, throw away your metal indian club bells or at the very least try and compare them to Wooden ones and you’ll agree that well designed and formed wooden ones beats the metal club bells any day of the week.

Swift 3 – Using .map to walk through and create an array of items with offset

Sometimes I want to create a quick way to add a number of items with a name; such as creating 10 decks with an offset number.

Usually this can be done like this;

Code:

// usual way;
var decks : [Deck] = [Deck]()
for idx in 1...10 {
decks.append( Deck.init(name: "#\(idx)") )
}

But I find this functional way a bit better

Code:

// functional way
let decks = (1...10).enumerated().map({ (offset, element) in
return (Deck.init(name: "Deck.\(offset)"))
})

Although my usual way is memorable, I like the functional one as its a bit cleaner and uses less code.