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Glasgow in the Rain – 18 October 2017

Now, I like Glasgow. It has beautiful architecture, some fairly decent shops and a good Cafe Nero, but Glasgow in the rain is like any other city in the rain – dismal.

I imagine that’s what the picture at the top shows. Its description on Flickr said “It’s Scotland. We specialize in gloomy.” It was my PoD. I’ve become a lot less invasive with my editing since I got the iMac. Up until last week I was applying the techniques from the French bloke Serge Ramelli. They work well, but give a rather false look and everyone looks the same or similar. Since I got the iMac I’ve been experimenting with a much simpler and less extreme group of settings and I like that better than Mr Ramelli’s technicolor marvels.

Photography aside, we went to Glasgow to get a party wig for Scamp who is going to said party on Friday. It’s to be standard Halloween fare for the ‘Witches’. Lots of drink, lots of food and a good laugh. Luckily it’s girls only, so I am spared the excesses. Also luckily it’s someone else’s turn to drive, so I have Friday night off. We did eventually find a wig. Nothing very special, but at least we got one. Not in Glasgow, though. Everything there was overpriced and tacky. I had forgotten how many pop-up shops appear like toadstools around autumn. Each shop selling the same tat for the same price. Is there a cartel running here simply to fleece the unwary at Halloween. I know these same shops will disappear overnight on the 1st of November, then pop up again on the 2nd November disguised as jolly Xmas shops.

Spent the afternoon writing an email complaint to Vodies. Maybe that should be Vogons, because “Resistance is Useless” (Not ‘Futile’ – that was Star-trek.) Then set about cataloguing my photo collection using Lightroom. So far I’ve got from 2000 to 2004. A little bit at a time is the way to do it.

Salsa tonight was interesting for a while, but the 7.30 class was boring because it has shrunk again to about six couples, three of whom are ‘advanced’ helpers. Not at all good. It’s due to close in three weeks.

Today’s sketch is the phone. Not nearly my best and yesterday’s (done this afternoon!) was little better. Must try harder.

Tomorrow? Maybe Falkirk.

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Ophelia & Vodafone. Double Trouble – 17 October 2017

Ophelia arrived early in the morning. I woke just after 4am with the wind howling around the roof. After I had a plate of cereal I went back to bed and slept until my alarm woke me at 8.30. It was however a fitful sleep.

I think, because I’d broken my sleep, it was a long time before I woke properly. Once I was fully compos mentis I phoned customer support at Vodafone to find out what had happened to my new phone. Hmm, that’s an hour of my life I won’t get back. What a total waste of time. The first guy I spoke too at least sounded apologetic and passed me on to the customer care team. That’s where the help ended. Lots of ‘sorrys’, but no shift on the script that there are no iPhone SEs anywhere. Apple don’t even have them, she said. I asked to speak to a supervisor. She said ok and put me on hold while she went for a fag. Then she came back, did some more ‘sorrys’. Again I asked to speak to a supervisor. Again she put me on hold for a while then came back and said the supervisor had agreed with her that there were no iPhone SEs anywhere in any of the shops. “None at all in the whole of the UK”, I asked. “Yes” she said. I asked her why Tesco had them in stock. Her reply shocked me. She said “Where?” She did have an Indian accent. Did that mean she was working in a far east call centre? I thought everyone in the UK knew where Tesco was. I tried a third time to get to speak to a supervisor and she said that all the supervisors were in a meeting and couldn’t be contacted. It’s not until you go start writing this down you notice things. If the supervisors were in a meeting, how did she manage to speak to one? I hate being lied to. I especially hate being lied to badly. I gave up.

When I came off the phone, I phoned the Apple shop, just to see if there was a smidgin of truth in her lies. “Did the Apple store have Iphone SEs.” “Yes.” came the answer “Both sizes and all colours.” Maybe they are keeping them because Vodafone haven’t paid their last bill.

After lunch I phoned a different Vodafone line. Have you heard the expression “A dog with a bone”? In Scotland we have our own version “A dug wi’ a burst ba’.” That’s me. This time I told the automated system that I wanted to leave the Vodies and almost laughed at the sad automated voice. All this bloke wanted to do was repeatedly try to convince me that an iPhone 6 was a better deal. Thanks to Hazy, I was forewarned and I cut the call short.

I went out for a walk to clear my head and get a few shots to make a PoD. I liked two of the images and that’s what is on the top of the page. The mono shot became PoD.

Back home I had one final phone call to make and it wasn’t to Vodafone it was to Trading Standards. I told them the sorry tale of my missing iPhoneSE and the woeful customer service at Vodafone. They gave me concise instructions on how to complain and who to complain to. If the phone is not in my hands this week I will type out that letter and post it Registered Post. After my Indian experience today, even if I have the phone in my hot little hand, I may send the letter anyway.

Dinner tonight was Simple Fish Stew. Thankfully Tesco (you have heard of Tesco haven’t you) had some simple fish!

Too frazzled for a sketch tonight, anyway I need to make up my sleep-time Ophelia stole away during the night.

Tomorrow? Weather permitting we may go out for a spin somewhere nice.

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An Old Friend Returns – 13 October 2017

There’s not much to be said about the morning. It rained and it was windy, then it rained again.

Tried to copy a folder of videos from the MBP (Mac Book Pro) to the iMac. It was doing it over WiFi and reported that it would take about an hour. Videos are notoriously large files and there were a lot of them, around fifty at last count. In fact there were more like a hundred because I converted the MOVs to MP4s to make them more portable and ensure they would play in the majority of platforms. Anyway, I decided that an hour was far too long, so I stopped the transfer and used a portable hard disk to copy the files from the MBP. Then it was a simple job to unplug the portable HD and re-plug it to the iMac. There were two partitions on the portable HD and I should issue a warning that there’s a fair amount of Technospeak in this part of the blog. If you don’t want to hear all the geek stuff, maybe you should move down to the but that says “SAFE NOW!” Anyway, now the lightweights are gone, here’s where we talk about the ‘techy’ stuff and this is where things go awry.
The HD was partitioned into two parts. Part 1 was mainly for photos backup and Part 2 was for general use. Both partitions were formatted to NTFS. Now Macs can read NTFS, but natively,they can’t write to it. When I plugged the HD into the iMac it could only read the photos part and I’d copies the files to the other part and it wasn’t showing up. It wasn’t mounted that’s why. I ejected it and plugged it back in to the MBP and it read as normal. I checked it using Disk Utility and it showed up as ok. Ejected it again and plugged it back into the iMac. Still no go. Now I said that Macs can’t natively write to NTFS, but I use a wee app by Paragon that allows the Mac to write to an NTFS disk. It also has a disk checker, so I used it to check said HD. It told me it was dirty. That’s computerspeak for something’s screwed up here. It tried then to repair the damage, but after about ten minutes had got nowhere. This needed the big guns. Ejected the disk and went upstairs to where the PCs live and powered up the laptop, then attached the HD. Yes, it loaded, but only after a lot of clicks and whines. Went into a DOS command prompt and tried to run CHKDSK which is the program that CHecKs the DiSK. Unfortunately you can’t simply do that. You need to go to the Elevated Command Prompt as an Administrator. Typical american idea. Yes, you can buy a gun, or two, or three over the counter, but you have to be Administrator to fix your own disk on your own machine! Finally typed in the command CHKDSK G: /F, pressed enter and five minutes later the job was done. Ejected the disk and re-connected it just to check, and everything was fine and dandy. Ejected it again and took it down to the iMac where it loaded as if nothing had happened. The files copied in just under 6 minutes. The entire process from cancelling the WiFi transfer had taken just short of two hours.
The moral of the story is: If it’s working, don’t mess around with it.

SAFE NOW!

After the disk copying fiasco we had lunch and while Scamp was blowing up a storm on the clarinet, I slipped out to St Mo’s where I spotted the spider, the caterpillar, the chestnuts (although they were arranged tastefully first) and finally I chanced upon Mr Grey. I think it was Mr Grey my grey heron adversary in St Mo’s, but this one looked a bit thinner and smaller than Mr Grey. Maybe it’s Son of Mr Grey. I got a few photos of him before he made his exit down to the other end of the pond. I must say at this point, the photos on the retina screen look amazing. It totally transforms the editing process when you can see the detail so clearly.

Today’s sketch was of Mambo No 5, my trusty iPhone 5s. I think it deserved a photo after all the hard work its done and the hours of music its played. I even took the photo of the drawing with it, as I always do with sketches.

Now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a wee tickle in the back of my throat. Probably caught some nasty cold germs from all the sniffling passengers on the train yesterday. Looks like more rain tomorrow. Don’t have any plans, but may go somewhere for lunch.

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Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’

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Phones and Moans – 11 October 2017

Got to try out Skype on the iMac this morning when we had a webchat with Hazy. Seemed to work quite well, although there were more dropouts in sound and broken graphics too than usual. Maybe we should just stick to Scamp’s laptop in future. Must say that when the sound was working, it was superb quality.

Out at lunchtime to meet Val and Fred. On the way back I dropped in at Carphone Warehouse and Tesco to compare deals for a new phone that I need to get sorted for next week. CW couldn’t give me a decent quote for an iphone 6 and suggested I phone up Vody. Maybe I will. Tesco gave me a fairly decent quote on an iphone SE, but I don’t think their coverage is very good outside the central belt in Scotland. Still looking, still thinking.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a drag again. It doesn’t look as if the 7.30 Wednesday class will last past this session. Can’t say I’m all that bothered. I’m beginning to think that two classes a week are quite enough for me now. I don’t mind helping with beginners, but I don’t think we’re getting all that much out of the extra night, except some exercise. I’d rather give up the Wednesday classes and have a night’s dancing instead. That said, it’s really the driving into town Mondays and Wednesdays that’s a drag as much as the classes. I also feel that Jamie G is ‘inventing’ moves on a Monday just to keep the class going and keep the dancers interested. Some of them are too obscure to remember or too long to dance with someone who doesn’t know them. Maybe we need to give salsa break for a while.

Today’s PoD, was the leaf on the boardwalk, taken in a half hour walk round St Mo’s when I managed to get that wee bit of low sun in between the torrential rain showers. The Inktober sketch was a page marker. Just to say I’d done something. Not my best work, but it’s done.

A lot of condensation on the inside of the front windscreen of the car this afternoon, after a rain shower and the back window tonight when we left the STUC. Don’t remember having that trouble with the Megane when it was new. I should probably keep an eye on it, just in case there’s a leak in a seal somewhere.

Think I may go in to Glasgow tomorrow on the bus, just for a walk around.

Posted on the 12th because WiFi was going crazy last night, switching off and on repeatedly

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The Journey starts here – 10 October 2017

Last night I emailed the help line at Journey about exporting my journal from Day One and importing into Journey. This morning I got a sample .zip file to try to import. I tried it and it worked. It was just a file with some text and a few pics, but it proved to me that the import dialog worked. I tried exporting about ten days of Day One and then importing. That worked too. Tried a month and that worked. Tried six months and that didn’t. Tried four months (a third of a year, easy to slice up) and that worked. Spent the rest of the morning chopping up my journal into four month pieces, exporting them from Day One and importing them into Journey. It took some time and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Virgin were working on the fibre line so access was sporadic. However, it’s now done and it looks like the Journey has begun.

We went to the leisure centre before lunch and hit the sweet spot in the pool, just after 1pm when all the spa punters have gone to stuff their faces in the restaurant. We almost had the pool to ourselves. I was there trying to ease my aching back, so although I swam for a wee while, I lounged in the jacuzzi and steam room for longer than I exercised. Maybe next time It’ll be the other way round. Heard that the leisure centre and presumably the hotel too has been sold. That will probably mean the fees for the leisure centre will increase soon.

After lunch I went for a walk over to St Mo’s in the rain. I didn’t expect to get much, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I did get was a few shots of the Cladonia lichens after I’d given my knees a workout crouching down to get them. Thanks to the really good sensor on the D7000 the ISO 8000 didn’t create too much digital noise.

Tonight’s sketch is of my wee Cotman watercolour box that usually lives in my camera bag with my sketchbook, just in case I need to add some colour to a sketch.

Coffee with Fred and Val tomorrow and the weather looks wet!

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Another day of installations – 9 October 2017

Spent the morning working with Lightroom and what someone called ”all the tracery of freeware and shareware programs that run in the background”. It’s never the big programs that take the time to load. It’s not the data either, it’s all the little apps that sit in your menu bar or start menu. They are the ones that cause all the problems. I’ve got twelve sitting on mine as I write and I’m sure others have a lot more. That took me to lunchtime.

After a piece with brie, apple and honey on brown bread that I was introduced to last week, I packed my bag and headed for the gym, while Gems appeared. As I was driving to the leisure centre, I thought that I should maybe make better use of my Monday time, so I changed direction to Haggs and from there to the Forth & Clyde canal and got a couple of photos taken. I also nearly got a sketch done of Bridge No12, then the rain came and I had to take shelter in the car until the rain abated. Sketch finished I drove home feeling less fit, but happy that I’d made a better use of my limited time.

Out to Salsa after dinner and this time it was a bit of a drag. I think it was the choice of moves that failed to interest me and for once I found myself clock-watching until the end of the class.

Still having problems getting a suitable replacement for the ageing and now barely supported Day One. Journey is looking like the front runner just now, but nobody could say it was the most user friendly app.

No plans for tomorrow. Maybe less computer stuff.

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It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

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Living the Dream – 7 October 2017

Today we drove in to Glasgow. Parked in the JL carpark and walked down Bucky Street and said to the bloke in the Apple shop. We’ll have that one, please. That was about 1.30pm. From then until now I have been re-installing software and marvelling at the fact that all of it is, whisper it, LEGAL!

It’s an iMac 21” with a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8Gig Ram and a 1TB Fusion drive. It ways almost a ton, or so it seemed when I was lugging this big white box up Bucky Street. The retina screen is simply superb. I’m over the moon.

That’s as much as you’re getting tonight, because I’m knackered.

Good Night. More nonsense tomorrow.

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DML – 5 October 2017

We had decided that if the day was good and sunny we’d go to DML to show it to the Red Juke. It was, and we did.

To make sure we were doing it right, we drove through ‘Blue Rinse’ Callander to take the Duke’s Pass to DML. It will now be renamed the Juke’s Pass. It was on this road that we realised one of the shortfalls of DAB radios. They are fine in the Central Belt and Glasgow, but take one to anywhere slightly hilly and out of town, for instance, the Juke’s Pass and the reception becomes patchy to say the least. We stopped to try to figure it out which allowed the wee silver car in front of us, the one that only had first and second gear, to get away from us. Started off again and enabled Sport Mode. I can now verify that the Juke can corner with the best of them. Scamp doesn’t like Sport Mode. Unfortunately she couldn’t find the Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. It goes like stink, even up the steepest hills.

We got to DML It’s never going to be ’The Lodge’1 we parked in the designated place where we park every new car we get. It’s a tradition as you well know. That’s The Juke there in the picture, looking quite Flame Red.

We put our walking boots on. Mine clabbered in muck and Scamp’s showroom clean and walked to the waterfall which was looking very dramatic today with the water running off a spate after yesterday and the day before’s rain. The place was busy with a bus tour party, mostly American’s. The Capital letter means they didn’t get in my way while I was photographing the waterfall and weren’t loud and shouty as they sometimes are.

Had a bowl of soup in the cafe that purported to be leek and potato, but no leeks or potatoes were observed although it had been blitzed to death, so any constituent parts would have been microscopic. However, it was hot (very hot) and warmed us up.

Drove back through Aberfoyle and stopped for coffee at the new place, the Smiddy near Blair Drummond. Coffee was ok, but not great and Ginger and Cranberry scone was worth experimenting with. We’ll add it to our ’Worth Trying Again’ list.

Stopped once more at Dobbies for Scamp to add another rose to her collection. This one was Peace. One of my mum’s favourites.

Tomorrow if it’s as good as today, we may go to Mugdock to a craft sale for a Dementia charity.


  1. If you come from Larky, ’The Lodge’ can either mean a protestant extremist organisation or a very secretive, but not secret (honest, nothing secret here) organisation. Both excuses for cheap bar prices. Count the ’rubber men’ outside either of their premises and you’ll agree.