Category: Blogs

Why I’m building my own ebike

I’ve been cycling for years, and I enjoy it as a mode of transportation, as well as the fact that it’s pretty much kept me fit over the years.
Didn’t stop the usual hordes of friends and family telling me to buy a car.
My interest in ebikes started a few years ago, with me browsing forums, You Tube videos, and looking at different models of bikes online.

Never really took the plunge, as I am relatively fit, and was well used to cycling long distances.
As well as the general opinion that this form of cycling was somehow cheating. But more of that in a later post.
This year, I gave serious thought to buying a conversion kit for my Carerra Kraken (pictured below), bought from Halfords some years ago.

I was fully aware I could have bought an off the shelf ebike, but didn’t like the idea that while most of these bikes are for the most part well-built and functional, you are pretty much locked into that particular manufacturer.
I looked at the Carrera Crossfire E (from Halfords), but after hearing the comments of a lot of the owners (intermittent cut outs, frequent torque sensor failures and replacements), quickly backed away from that idea.

Also considered that when my nicely integrated battery (or other part) on my shop bought ebike inevitably needed replacing at some point down the line, I’d be at the mercy of the maker of that particular ebike, with the hope they are still producing that battery (or part) at reasonable cost. For the most part, they wouldn’t be, as their overall sales strategy is to get people to buy their latest model.
Additionally, in a lot of ebike builds I’ve seen, many are a mass of wires, with the motor controller (typically a large silver box) either mounted on the frame, or tucked into a bag. I really wanted a cleaner look than that.

I watched a LOT of YouTube videos, and joined a lot of ebike forums and Facebook groups, and eventually settled on Grin Technologies ( who have some excellent kit.

Grin Technologies stuff is a little pricey, and I’m fully aware I could have bought some less expensive gear online (Voilamart, Ebikeling, Reasejoy, Yose Power, Hallomotor, to name a few) – but you get what you pay for.
The kit I looked at had the motor controller (a baserunner) hidden in the battery cradle, a Cycle Analyst, one connection from battery to motor, without the typical bundle of wires.

So this week, I selected my kit, paid my money, and when it gets delivered, I will document everything on YouTube – installation, real-world testing, and overall thoughts.
Watch this space…

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2021.
All rights reserved.

Why Black Lives Matter

As I write this, a black man in America, Floyd George is dead.
Killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck until he passed out, and died.
As I read various opinions on Facebook, one of the questions is:
If black lives matter, does that mean white lives don’t?
The whole point of highlighting that Black Lives Matter is that for years, they didn’t.
And for the most part, they still really don’t, despite people telling me that racism is on the decline.
To the average black person, the sight of the police killing black people is no surprise.
Even if these cases went to court, inevitably the perpetrators nearly always never serve any prison time.
To the average black person – and males in particular – being harassed, stopped, searched and degraded by the police is nothing new.
It’s happened to me more times than I can remember – and I don’t have a criminal record, and have always been employed.
To the average black person, turning up to view an available rental property, to be told it’s already been let when you arrive (despite only making the call 20 minutes previously to view it) – is nothing new.
To the average black person, to be denied certain job opportunities is nothing new.
To the average black person, to have people cross the street because they think you’re going to mug them is nothing new.
To the average black person, to be followed by Security in a store is nothing new.

To the average black person, to be treated unequally, is nothing new.
So in closing, ALL lives matter. Don’t forget that black lives matter too.

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2020.
All rights reserved.


The Black Nod

Some years back, I was walking with a woman I used to date.

Another black guy approached.

I nodded at him, he nodded. We passed.

My woman looked at me, asked, “Do you know him?”

“Nope,” I said.

“Explain,” she said.

Here goes…..

Pretty much every Black guy (with a few quirky exceptions) has adopted what is commonly known as the “Black Nod.”

We don’t generally nod at Black Women (most have no idea what the nod means – sorry) and to balance this out, we NEVER nod at White guys either.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is. I didn’t make the rules.

I’ve lived in my current town for quite a long time. When I first got here, it wasn’t very racially diverse. I nodded at the only other black man here at the time.

Maybe I was just happy to see him.

At least if I got hassled by the police, he was going to be as well.


In the past, I’ve been in pubs and nightclubs at the same time as this person.

We have never spoken. That’s not the point.

It’s a nod of extremely vague brotherhood, which I’m pretty sure wouldn’t help me if I cut him up at the lights, but it is what it is.

There are a few black guys who haven’t mastered The Nod.

One person may nod, and be left hanging.

This can be likened to your wife leaving you, and taking every games console and PC game in the house with her.

You’re going to miss playing those video games…..

Anyway, the next time you see two Black Dudes nodding at each other, bear in mind they could be complete strangers.

And probably are…..

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2019.

All rights reserved.

Never forget a face. Names on the other hand…..

Some years ago, I used Manage a Supported Living Scheme in Windsor, Berkshire, working with people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.
Given that the company I used to work for had their Head Office in the local area, it was impressed upon me that I should go to Head Office on a regular basis, to mingle, file paperwork and use their computers.
Now given the fact that at that time I was merely content to work at my little scheme, with no desire to network or mingle with the rich and powerful, it was with some reluctance I found myself at my Head Office on semi regular basis.
I wasn’t the chattiest, preferring to simply get the work done and making a graceful exit.
I’m pretty sure in those early days, half of my managerial colleagues had no idea who I was. They were a friendly bunch though.
I got on nodding terms with one particular individual (who will have to remain nameless).
We exchanged pleasantries on the rare occasion I made an appearance at Head Office, and this meet and greet went on for a number of years. He knew my name, asked how my little scheme was going.
It got to a certain point years down the line where, I realised I had completely

Not good after five years of snatched conversation.
I could perhaps ask someone in the office.
Only problem with that was they’d seen us talking on occasion, and that would seem a little odd. Asking him his name was clearly out of the question.
I’d left it far too long to go down that route.
And I don’t mean “ten minutes” kind of long.
I did what any sensible person would do, and simply avoided using his name in any conversation. Didn’t help that he used mine.
Because unlike me, he actually remembered people’s names…..
I’m a bad person.
And how was this particular problem resolved?

Did I ask him exactly how he spelt his name?

Rummage around in his bag in the hope he’d left his I.D badge in there?
Casually pickpocket his wallet and scrutinize his credit card?
Not quite.
We had a training course some years back, and we were all required to say our names, and where we worked.
He said his name, and from that moment on, I used it in every conversation I had with him…..
Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2017.
All rights reserved.


Religion – The Greatest Scam On Earth Part 2

Anyone who has followed my website will know that I used to be deeply religious.
Now, I’m not.
Recently, I found myself back in Church.
I was there for work, taking one of the people I support to worship. The priest strode to the stage, everyone stood up.
I didn’t.
I’d decided long before I got there that for me to stand up and pretend to mumble my way through the various hymns and bow my head in prayer would be somewhat hypocritical, given my scepticism about religion.
So I sat for the entire service.
It didn’t help that I was sat at the front, in full view of the entire congregation.
Who were glancing at me throughout.
But start as you mean to go on….
As the service went on, eventually we got to communion. The priest broke some wafers and passed around the cup of wine, which everyone came to drink from.
I couldn’t help thinking about the vast exchange of saliva between all those people….
The collection baskets came around, then ten minutes later, collection bags came around.
The Church always needs money – but twice?
At the end, the man next to me, turned to me and said,
“You were bored, weren’t you?”
I told him I wasn’t bored, I just wasn’t religious. Used to be, wasn’t any more.
At this point, he looked a little confused, and wanted to know why.
This is a conversation I’ve had with many people who go to Church. They seem to think that as I once used to be a Devout Christian, all I need is a little nudge to come back into the fold.
People seem to get very offended when I tell them that’s never going to happen.
My position is quite straightforward:
My life is going along very smoothly without religion. I haven’t killed anyone, robbed anyone, don’t engage in criminal acts, and haven’t stolen tiles off the Church roof.
And as much as they’d beg to differ, I don’t have an empty void where religion used to be.
I fully understand their persistence though.

That used to be me back in the day. I understand the faith is important for some, just not for me.

Free will, and all that.
I’m almost tempted to tell people that I’m not religious, without mentioning my Church background, which will probably shorten any subsequent discussion. We’ll see…..

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2017
All rights reserved.


The unfortunate rise of “Mumble Rap”

I was watching TV the other day, some MTV countdown chart on the Top Ten Best Rappers of today.
As I watched one of the videos, I realised I had no clue what the rapper was actually saying. Putting on the subtitles made no difference either.
All I heard was unintelligible, auto tuned, garbled nonsense.

And they called this Rap?
I grew up listening to Biggie, Tupac, Naughty By Nature, KRS One, NWA, Public Enemy, Ice T, and  many others.
All provided a social commentary on issues of the time: police brutality, injustice, racism, poverty, corruption.
I’m aware that from time to time, rappers of the era bragged about money or sex, and objectified women, and I’m clearly not excusing that.

But for the most part, Rap music told a story, wove a tale, showed off a lyrical dexterity.
Researching this new trend for “Mumble Rap” (which basically meant sitting through a LOT of awful songs on YouTube) I came across many names: Fetty Wap, Bankroll Fresh, Young Thug, YFN Lucci, Johnny Cinco, Rich Homie Quan, Chief Keef, Gucci Mane, Lil Yachty, the list went on.
All had the same thing in common. Lyrical dexterity clearly meant rhyming “cat” with “hat,” even if it made no sense in the context of the song.

I’d have more joy hearing a coherent song if I gave a random 5 year old a pen, paper and a microphone, and paid for some studio time.
If this is the future of Rap, then we are all doomed.
I’m off to listen to “Straight Outta Compton.”
Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2017
All rights reserved.


Privacy in the UK

With the recent passing of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016, all pretence of privacy in the UK was swept away.
Internet and phone companies are now required to store internet browsing histories and communication data for twelve months, and give a wide range of organizations access to this information.
Some people I’ve spoken to have said “so what?”
Their opinion being if you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide.
I am not a criminal, I am a law abiding citizen. And in view of that, does that give the government the right to spy on me?
They’ve probably been spying on the population for years anyway – now they’ve just made it official.

We have been de-sensitized to abuses and lies by our politicians over the years, our opinions given to us by mainstream media.

Lies and propaganda handed to us by our government, faithfully repeated by vast members of the population: “It must be true if it’s on the news….”
The irony of this situation is that a lot of people are willing to give away most of their information anyway.
Browse most genuine Facebook profiles and people will happily list where they work, their date of birth, phone number, their partners name, when and where they are going on holiday, their location at any given time, their favourite restaurant, the list goes on.
So apart from various government departments data mining Facebook profiles, this gives unscrupulous people the opportunity to socially engineer you.
For example…..
From the average Facebook profile, it is remarkably easy to uncover someone’s address, their next of kin, where they were born, and their pet’s name.
In conjunction with other information gleaned, a loan or credit card could be taken out in that person’s name.
Once you’ve built up a respectable credit history, more substantial gains could be had.
So while we are living here in the UK under the most intrusive laws in a generation, what people post on social media is not improving the situation…..
Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2016
All rights reserved.

How to brainwash a nation.

1. Declare that your country is a free and open democracy, even though there is only an illusion of choice, with all mainstream parties all following the same agenda.
Laugh at the public while they repeatedly vote between two major parties over the years, safe in the knowledge that nothing will really change.

2. As a Government, ensure that while you squander public money, direct the public to instead blame immigrants, the unemployed and the disabled for the state of public finances.

3. Make sure that if anyone rises to prominence to challenge the establishment, they are discredited. If the decision is made to assassinate them, ensure that all CCTV cameras that could have captured the event are mysteriously not working on day of event.
Ensure that a Public Inquiry to investigate the assassination will happily find that an unfortunate accident occurred, and no one was to blame.

4. Tell the public there is an “Imminent terror threat” and new laws have to be introduced to keep the public safe. If civil liberties have to be eroded, that can’t be helped.

5. In keeping with this new “terror” threat, a country – or organisation- has to be targeted. Ensure the fact that you have created and funded said organisation is deemed classified, and whistle-blowers are deemed an enemy of the state.         Direct the media to brand this country or organisation a threat to Western values, with an appalling Human Rights record.
Gloss over the fact that that Western governments have propped up and traded with countries with appalling Human Rights Records.

6. Invade said country, promising to “minimize civilian casualties,” while simultaneously keeping pictures of civilian devastation out of the mainstream media. If pictures do leak out, those civilians had links to a terrorist organisation, so there.

7. Ensure the country is busy being outraged by the sight of a naked breast at the Super Bowl, or the fact that someone is branded a benefits cheat. They won’t notice the millions being spent of blowing things up, thousands of people being slaughtered around the world, or the fact that you’ve bailed out the banks who are actually responsible for the economic downturn.

8. Ensure that the mainstream media continue to faithfully trot out the official government narrative without question.
A Knighthood may follow.

9. Allow a sufficient period of time to pass to convince the public that only new more restrictive laws have to be passed to keep them absolutely safe. Insist that spying on the public and intercepting all emails and phone calls is necessary to achieve this.
After all, if you’re not guilty, you have nothing to hide.
Smile to yourself, safe in the knowledge that the public can no longer legitimately protest at anything you wish to do in the future.

10. Invade some more countries. Because you can.

Copyright © Mark A. McPherson 2015.
All rights reserved.