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No Fish Today – 12 April 2018

A drive around Falkirk and Stirling was on the cards today.

In the morning, Scamp was having coffee with Isobel. I cleaned out a file on the new Linx. It’s named Windows.old and on the ‘new’ computer, it holds 12.5GB of data. That’s data that I’m not going to use again. That’s data that takes up almost 19% of the 64GB storage on the Linx. I did the sensible thing first, of course. I backed up the whole 64GB earlier in the week. I should say that I tried to just simply delete the folder last night, but I kept on hitting blocks where some files were locked and others needed approval by the ‘administrator’ i.e. me. It wasn’t just the simple fire-and-forget deletion that my Windows Explorer replacement, Directory Opus, can usually be relied upon to supply. However, after a bit of searching on the Interweb, I found an elegant solution that Microsoft actually supply. Admittedly it’s hidden deep in the pages within pages of the ‘system’. It does a good job though. 12GB of useless crap surgically removed. I may say this only once: Thank you Microsoft! Oh yes, and I did today’s Sudoku too.

When she got back, Scamp suggested we go to the fish shop in Linlithgow. We’d been planning to go for a couple of weeks now. Seemed like a plan, so off we went. Drove along the traffic jam and assault course that is a Main Street in Linlithgow only for Scamp to cry out that the shop was shut. I couldn’t look myself for the simple reason that I’d have driven into a bus or a tractor coming the other way or run one of the amazing amount of red lights on that street. You really have to have driven there to realise just what I’m talking about. I took her word for it and drove on out the other side. I could have turned at the roundabout at the end of the Main Street, but that would have meant running the gauntlet a second time and I wasn’t up for that. That took us the long road down past Grangemouth and from there along the M9 to Stirling. It gave me the opportunity to stock up on breakfast muesli and beer at Morrisons. Both essentials. It also gave Scamp a chance to buy up their entire stock of ‘cheap wine’ (her words, not mine). We also had a cheap lunch (my words). Bowl of chips (S), Roll ’n’ Sausage (me) and two cups of reasonable coffee for just over £6. That’s a good deal.

On the way home was a plant nursery Isobel had been telling Scamp about. How convenient. She got a Ladybird Poppy there and she’d also got a wee Acer in Morrisons, so she was a happy bunny. When we got home I found a confirmation email from the shop to confirm that just short of £100 would be in our account soon. I was a happy bunny.

Back home I put on my walking trousers. That’s the pair of cords with holes in the pockets and muck splattered all the way up the legs. Went for a walk round St Mo’s. Found two of the Orange 16 Spot Ladybirds I’ve been keeping tabs on since December. One looked as if it was laying eggs, but was in a really awkward place in the moss at the bottom of an ash tree, so it was difficult to be sure. PoD went to the Gorse flower. Lovely and bright.  Notice the yellow theme!

Tomorrow looks like it will be wet. Don’t know what we’ll do. Maybe go for lunch, that would be good. Not going for fish.

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Two left feet again – 11 April 2018

Today it was waltz that was causing more problems than the jive, but really neither was perfect.

Drove in to a monochrome, cold Glasgow. There was nothing interesting to photograph. I tried some shots of the demolition of Queen Street Station, but it just looked like the bomb site it is. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do and you’ve just got to realise it.

Ok, let’s start with the waltz. I got really fed up with the teacher nit picking about not turning quickly enough, or my hand not being quite right on Scamp’s back. Yes, I know that you need to know these things, but constantly stopping us isn’t the right way to do it. Sometimes you just have to let people get through the bit they know they’re not doing right and allow them to attempt the next part. I know he’s the teacher, but so was I and I probably taught for longer than he has. It was really getting me angry and the angrier I got, the more mistakes I made. I was beginning to regret spending money on a tutorial weekend we’d booked for next January. I know I need practise, but I can only get that practise once a week, in this class and then I have it interrupted because I’m not turning while I’m walking backwards or some other minor detail. It doesn’t help that the room is too small, there’s a piano and speakers in the far end where we’re trying to learn to turn and the other couples just seem to wander across the line of dance when we’re dancing down it … badly in my case.

Jive. This was much better than last week. I think I mastered the basic leaders step and almost mastered the ‘Loop’. I think that’s its name. If I’m wrong, I’m sure Scamp will correct me. Actually enjoyed it. The more I think about it, the more I believe that it IS the hall that’s the problem as you’re not travelling in the jive. It, like salsa is done almost on the spot. Anyway, at least that was an improvement. Just at the end of the class, I got a phone call from the shop I took the laptop to, to tell me that the price had been set for it and it was more than I was expecting. Sale complete, money should be in the bank by the weekend!

Salsa was good fun. Relaxing and just plain enjoyable.

Today’s PoD turned out to be a Poinsettia leaf that’s still attached to the plant Scamp got from one of Gems early in December last year. The plant’s still growing although there are only a few leaves left now.

Scamp’s going for coffee with Isobel tomorrow morning, so I may paint.

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Waving goodbye to an old work friend – 10 April 2018

Today was one of those Scottish days. Dull, damp and dreary.

Slow to get started today, but I’d decided to reformat the old school laptop taking with it the last vestiges of me. Full deletion. This took a much shorter time than the last one, only about two hours which is reasonable for a 750GB drive and installation of the abominable Windows 10.

Scamp was out for coffee with a Witch friend, so I found the box for the laptop and took it up to the town centre to see what they’d give me for it. The shop was empty when I went in, but as soon as they sniffed fresh meat being delivered, all the Carbrain dead-heads were circling. Basically I handed over the machine. They confirmed the spec and told me I’d get an offer by phone or email, probably by Friday and gave me a receipt so they could do a ‘Three hour burn in test’. I didn’t want to tell them I’d done at least 30 hours of burn out test in the last week. Anyway, it’s gone and I’ll get something for it. How much I don’t know.

Next, when I came home I loaded more progs into the Linx and successfully secured the serial numbers for two of them. The rest were just Freeware – Real freeware I hasten to add. All legal and above board. Finally tonight I managed to get the email working. That was the worst struggle of all, but now it’s done.

You’ll notice I’ve said nothing about photos or food, which is unusual for me. I’d made a loaf last night and baked it today. It worked, but only just. It was a bit flat, so I let my sourdough starter go – down the pan. Somewhere the fishes are saying “What the F*** is that?” I’ll start a new batch tomorrow. Different recipe. Scamp made dinner. Mince ’n’ Tatties (with beetroot JIC!). Simply superb!

It wasn’t a day for photos. Today I just wanted to get the laptop off my hands, so today’s PoD is Hi Ho Silver. A funny weeman I treated myself to on Saturday. I quite liked him. Yes, I know the horse should be white and the rider should have a mask, but you get the idea!

Tomorrow is Dancing day. No time for anything else.

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You’ve NOT got mail – 9 April 2018

Wasted an hour today trying to get Windows 10 Mail to work with my blog account.

Mickysoft, here’s an idea: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Windows 7 worked superbly. Still does on Scamp’s laptop. Microsoft fixed it with Windows 8.
Windows 8, the great white wonder was a great white disaster. People just went back to Windows 7, supported or not.
Windows 10 was the biggest con in technology. It was free, but you now no longer own or control your computer, Microsoft does. Big, buggy, bloatware.
Windows Live Writer was a great little piece of blogging software. Windows 10 killed it.
Windows Live Mail was an ok email program until the latest Windows 10 upgrade killed it.
Now we are stuck with Windows Mail. It’s an absolute bastard to work with. It simply does not work. It tells you you are connected and everything is ok, then it decides that your password is wrong. It’s not wrong, the software is wrong. Will they fix it? I doubt it. Going back to Gmail on the Linx. Windows Mail isn’t worth the effort.

Went out for a walk down the Luggie to clear my head after the technology overload. Found some toads making more toads in a pond besides the bridge and that’s what became PoD. It was a lovely day with warm sunshine and just a gentle breeze. Daffies are flowering and it feels like spring.

Salsa tonight was hard work. I don’t know why, it just was. It should have been fairly easy in the level 4 class, but the heat was building as it usually does in that small room and there was no fan tonight. Advanced class wasn’t just as bad as we were in the big hall with greater air flow. However, I still felt it was a drag. We discussed it on the way home and maybe Scamp is right that Jamie is trying too hard to come up with new moves every week. Maybe we should be going back to older, more polished moves that really work. Maybe too, he has too much going on in his life to devote all his time to salsa. Who knows. Glad we’ve got ballroom dancing to fall back on too. It’s new, but there seems to be a progression that works. One of the girls from the advanced class was in a ballroom competition and we were watching the video of her waltz and it looked very swish. That’s what we are aiming for. Aye Right!

Scamp is out tomorrow for coffee with one of her witches. I think I’ll try to do a final clean out of the Tosh laptop and take it up to the second hand shop and sell it. May even find time to go for a run on the Dewdrop!

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Another day older – 8 April 2018

Hopefully not (too much) deeper in debt.

Yesterday I got to bed just before I became 68. Today I woke to the reality of it. We had intended going in to a food festival in Glasgow, but after due consideration and the fact that the rain had stopped, I decided to go out and cycle. Scamp decided to work in the garden. Very satisfactory decisions for both of us.

While I was getting dressed for cycling, Scamp had been giving the back garden the once over and she’d found an old clay flowerpot which was being used by about forty, yes FORTY (I did a rough count) slugs. Big fat Irish Yellow Slugs. I’d post the picture, but it would put you off your breakfast … lunch …. and dinner. We could have salted them, but the resulting slime is even more disgusting than the molluscs. The more humane option was to put the pot, complete with slugs in a poly bag and take it into the country and release them there. Now I’d heard that slugs are homing creatures and will easily find their way back to their home garden if it’s half a mile away. This lot were going five miles away and they went there in a poly bag in my back pack and they couldn’t see where we went. I released them after turning the bag round three or four times so they wouldn’t know which way was home. Also they’d have to cross three main roads to get back here. I think we’re safe. They’re gone.

Got some pics there the PoD was the monochrome shot of the brambles.

Had a lovely day. Thank you JIC, Sim, Hazy and Neil. Most of all, thank you Scamp for planning my day. You said you didn’t, but I know you did.

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Saturday in the Toon – 7 April 2018

Today Scamp had booked lunch for us in Chaophraya Thai restaurant.

Got the bus in to town and went for a wander up Sausage Roll Street. Stood gaping with the others at the demolition of the New City Palace restaurant, Greggs, The Works and who knows what else? They might even have to demolish Lauders! It will have a lot of smoke damage from the fire next door, but will any of the clientele notice? Probably not. It will just add to the ambience.

While Scamp looked for holiday stuff, I went to Waterstones. Found a book I was looking for, but didn’t buy it until I’d consulted Amazon. Glad I did. Waterstones price for the ‘real book’ £12.50. Amazon price for the kindle version £0.99! No contest. Did buy myself a ‘paintery and painterly’ book with some very interesting techniques in it. May try them out this week. Got a bargain of two posh rugby shirts for less than half price in M&S. Walked down the town looking for somewhere to get a drink. Found Drury Street Bar where Scamp had a G ’n’ T and I had a pint of draught Joker IPA, except it tasted exactly like the bottled version. Not real ale then. Quite a young person’s pub with everyone playing games :-/ Can’t imagine what the members of the UBI club would think about Dungeons & Dragons! Then it was time for lunch.

Pork Dumplings and then Thai Green Chicken Curry for me and Veg Tempura and Thai Red Prawn Curry for Scamp. Both served with Jasmine Rice. Starters and mains were the usual exceptional quality.  Only slight disappointment was Scamp’s Coconut Ice Cream and my Moroccan Mint Tea. Scamp’s complaint was that it was just ice cream with a bit of coconut – as she said, we’ve tasted the REAL stuff in Trinidad and in Tobago. My complaint was the MMT was advertised as Loose Tea and what I got was a tea bag in hot water. Not the same thing. Foodies, what can you do to satisfy them?

Bus home afterwards and although the weather had been warm and dry, just got in and  the rain came on and stayed on all evening.  Watched the qualifying for the F1 GP in Bahrain and then the final portrait of some american actress, Kim Cattrall, painted by the winner of Portrait Artist 2018. The portrait, to our eyes, was poor with only a passing resemblance to the actress. Having said that, she got what she deserved. She was so full of herself and her love for Liverpool (which she left when she was three months old according to Wikipedia). Who knew what she actually looked like.

Still plugging software into the new Linx. It’s still holding a good charge and joy of joys, Lightroom 6 on it reads the problematic Panasonic TZ70 raw files. You don’t need to know what that is. Just accept it that it’s a very good thing!

PoD, in fact almost the only picture of the day is of some bloke looking really lost and alone in Buchanan Street. Almost feel sorry to post it!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. May go to a food fair in Glasgow. Foodies? Us? May go cycling if the weather stays warm (9ºc just now at 11.30pm). Who knows. I get to decide, apparently.

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Biting the bullet – 6 April 2018

Today wasn’t as bright as yesterday. Maybe that was summer and we’re into autumn?

My old, not excessively old, maybe seven years old Toshiba laptop had been backing up my ‘Data’ partition overnight. I don’t know exactly how long it took, but when I woke this morning it was finished. I woke it, ejected the backup drive and, as someone on the net described it, pressed the ‘Kill button’. A couple of hours later the ‘quick reinstall’ had completed. The Data partition had been deleted and probably formatted. The C: drive had also been cleaned out and a new version of Windows had been installed. Everything seemed ok and everything seemed to move with the same sluggishness as before. Welcome to Windows 10 (this may take some time). I think that’s the full name of Windoze 10. I had a friend in Australia who always referred to Windows as Windoze. Then, ten or so years ago we didn’t know how lucky we were. Now we really have a Win Doze. The most sluggish OS in the galaxy.

We went out for a late lunch at the Torwood Garden Centre after my technology overload. I think it must have been Greyhairs’ Day today. We may have been the only ones with our own teeth. (Oops, sorry H!). After our repast, we went for a walk through the plants. Scamp bought me an early birthday prezzy of a Buddleia. It’s the plant you see flowering on spare ground and beside rail tracks. Unfortunately it doesn’t flower for me in the garden. I’ve been trying to grow them for years without success. Maybe this time will be different. Scamp also got some plants for herself and a couple of big pots to put them in. Packing them in to the car wasn’t a problem as I’d discovered the versatility of the boot which converts from a flat floor to a deep pit. Very smart. You have to see it, I’m not going to try to explain how it works. Believe me it does.

On the way home I bit the bullet and told Scamp I was going to but a Linx 12×64. I was going to buy it from the bastard Curry’s too, because they were the cheapest. Drove to Coatbridge to do the deed and as usual, went in and recited the name of the tablet. “No, we don’t have any.” was the reply. I told the bloke that they had them last week. He checked the system while telling me that “That was last week. Maybe we’ve sold it since then”, but he did it with a smile and was multitasking, so I knew he was an AI, not a Sales Droid. Turned out they had one and I grabbed it before they could tell me they’d need to set it up for me and that would cost another forty quid, but I’d get a setup USB stick. I also said no to the usual offer of an insurance money pit. To be fare to the Droid who’d taken over the selling of the device, he didn’t push it. Well, it was a Friday afternoon and his sights were on a Buckfast bottle chilling nicely for him in the fridge at home. A fridge not bought from Curry’s I’d guess.

Drove home and went out for a walk round St Mo’s while the laptop was charging up and downloading the 3Gb updates. 3Gb! That’s massive. Anyway, St Mo’s provided today’s PoD which is the pic of the seat with a view over the BMX track. Nice.

Long story short. The Linx 12×64 works well and those nice people at Adobe even allowed me to install Lightroom 6 on it for nothing. Legally too I hasten to add before you say ‘Hmm, all his software costs him nothing’. New leafs people, new leafs! Tomorrow I’ll probably find there’s another 3Gb download waiting for me! For today I’m a happy bunny who’s double formatting his old Tosh data drive one more time for luck. It goes on sale on Monday.

Tomorrow we’re going in to Glasgow not to look at laptops, but hopefully to have lunch in Chaophraya. Going in on the bus too because drink will be taken I think.

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The day I met HAL 9000 and lived to tell the tale – 5 April 2018

Today was a technology fest and more lies from Currys.

Scamp was out singing with Gems today, so I was off the leash! Started off in Glasgow at what was Val and my stamping ground at PC World in Finnieston. Oh dear, how this place has gone downhill. It used to be THE place for the PC aficionados. Now it sells washing machines and fridge-freezers and some PCs. I’d already checked before I left the house and the Linx 12×64 was in stock and on display. Despite all my checking I couldn’t see the little black plastic devil anywhere. Eventually one of the ‘assistants’ (AKA Sales Droids) asked if he could help. I told him I was looking for the elusive Linx and he seemed to know what I was talking about. He tried to check on one of the expensive laptops if they had them in stock, but couldn’t get the website to work. Warning bells were ringing. I told him I’d just have a wander around and see if I could locate one myself. He did eventually find that they had them in stock and even brought out the box, but agreed that there wasn’t one on display. I told him that’s not what the website said, but he had an answer for that. It’s a mistake on the website. I told him I wasn’t interested and went out.

I checked in Office Outlet next door. It used to be Staples – when it was a real shop. Now it’s a big partly empty barn with very little to recommend it. They had even fewer laptops than PCW. I couldn’t let it go. Back in to PCW, approached a group of Sales Droids and asked to speak to a manager. Every one of them turned in a different direction, then an assistant manager (apparently referred to as an AI or Programmer) said the manager was dealing with a customer (aren’t they always?) and could she help. I told her my story of the mistaken website and how the Sales Droid had found the box, but no displayed computer. She offered to get the Droid to open the box. Did he need the AI’s permission or did he need re-programming for this task. I told her she was missing the point, but the intense look in her eyes and the sweet smile didn’t falter and I was reminded of oh so many SF films. I just left before they started repeating “I’m sorry Dave I’m afraid I can’t do that …”. I was so glad when the automatic doors opened to allow me to exit.

Drove around for a while, but never saw a Linx 12×64 in any of the Curry’s PC World places I visited, but now I understand why the assistants are called Sales Droids. They’re pretty tame really. It’s the programmers that are the dangerous ones.

Today’s PoD is of the Campsie Fells under their snow covering. Not as dramatic as yesterday evening, but still quite pretty.

This is the sourdough loaf I made when I came back from my brush with HAL 9000. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. The photo makes it look better than reality. It was a bit heavy in the middle. Still not got the proportions of Production to flour and water. It’s a start and I’m hoping it will get better.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. If it’s as lovely a day as today, we’ll go somewhere nice for a walk. We can only hope.

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Two left feet – 4 April 2018

A case of on, off, on, why did I bother.

Scamp got a text this morning from the dance teacher to say that the class was cancelled today. She texted back “Disappointed, but OK.” Next text that came in was “Sorry, class back on again.” So we wrapped up warm and headed out into the blizzard that was blowing from the dreaded east again. Not snow this time, but more like sleet. Visibility was poor on the M80 and traffic was taking it nice and easy. Got down to the dance class in time though.

Started with Waltz and it wasn’t going well. I got half way through the routine and then started making it up! Eagle-eyed Michael (the teacher) saw it and pointed out what I was doing wrong and also how to fix it. Tried again and again and again and every time it was wrong. Eventually I think he gave up and said that I had most of it right. Then he showed me the next move which for some reason clicked right away. We’re still not sure exactly what it was called, but it was a turn of some sort and it felt quite natural, but it may not be the Natural Turn. With the mess I made of the routine up to there, it was probably the Unnatural Turn!

Anyway, now it was time for the Jive and that’s where things started to go downhill. Downhill and accelerating. Up to now we’ve been doing Ballroom Jive, but today we were doing the easier Glasgow Jive. Ballroom Jive is done to a count of eight and Glasgow Jive is done to a count of six … apparently. The waltz was just a case of me getting my steps mixed up. The jive was where the two left feet started taking over. It was bad enough trying to step through the routine, but when we came to dance it, it was impossible. I just had to stand there and laugh. This was going to take a long time and a lot of swearing!

I’d mixed up what’s called a Production Batch of sourdough before we left the house.  (The Production Batch is an extra strong version of the starter which you use in place of active yeast when making a sourdough loaf) It turned out far to claggy and thick and was impossible to stir, far less beat, so I added some more water to get a reasonable consistency. When we got home from the ballroom torture I discovered that it was quite a lively Production Batch. It was fizzing away nicely, so I stirred it up again and left it to sit until we came back from the next bit of dancing.

Salsa was good and although I like the idea of being able to waltz, salsa is so much more fun. However after an hour in the afternoon and then two and a half hours in the evening I was beginning to lag a bit when we finished our dancing day.

Back home the wild yeasts had been hard at work and the ‘head’ of the Production was up at the top of the jar. When I beat it back, there was a definite ‘boozy’ smell coming from it. Apparently a sign that it’s ready to go to work proper. Long story short, I’ve kneaded the dough and it’s now doing an overnight ‘prove’ (a first rise) and should be baked into a loaf tomorrow, all being well.

Today’s PoD was taken when we came out of the dance class. It has been a dull, wet, sleety day, but when we were driving in to salsa tonight, about 7pm there was beautiful light on the Campsie Fells. I would have stopped to take a few shots, but apparently the traffic police take a dim view of people who stop on the hard shoulder of the M80 with the excuse “But ah wis jist takin’ a few foties!”

Scamp is going singing with Gems tomorrow afternoon. I may be baking, or I may be going out looking for laptops and photos, but not necessarily in that order. I might even say bye bye to about six years of Windows 10 misery when I kill off my school Toshiba laptop and reinstall Win 10 before I sell it.

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Sunday on a Tuesday – 3 April 2018

Have you ever had the feeling that the calendar is wrong and the day it says is Tuesday, is really Sunday. That’s how it was for me today.

It was another lazy start to the day, but that’s what we usually do on a Sunday, I mean a Tuesday. The snow that was lying last night had all but gone by the time we hauled ourselves out of bed. We had intended going for a swim today, but Scamp got a message to say the pool was closed. No reason for it, Maybe somebody stole the water. More likely a Carbrainer snuck in and they’ll have to clean the filters now. Ok, so the gym has little to recommend it if there’s not a swim as the carrot, so we went to Tesco instead to get food for dinner tonight. We didn’t end up getting anything, but we decided on soup, and I volunteered to make it.

Went for a walk across to St Mo’s in the afternoon because the rain had eased. It was in the woods there I saw the sycamore seedling growing in the crevice of an ash tree and it became my PoD. A nice little bit of biodiversity I thought. With a shot in the bag, I walked on to Condorrat to get a cabbage to use in the minestrone. On my way back the rain came back with a vengeance and I was soaked by the time I got back home.

The soup wasn’t one of my best. I blame the poor quality Dutch cabbage from the Spar shop. Maybe it will taste better tomorrow.

After my clean out yesterday I came across a couple of books I’d forgotten about. I started reading one today and was surprised just how prophetic it was. Written by Rob Grant, ‘Incompetence’ is set in a near future Europe where no-one can be ”prejudiced from employment for reason of age, race, creed or incompitence.“ [sic]. As a result, much of the population demonstrates an extreme lack of competence in their occupations.

Tomorrow is dancing day and we’re hoping to go to the late classes at STUC in the evening, so I might be late in posting the blog. We’ll see what transpires. Let’s just hope it’s a Wednesday.