Pasta Joke – 29 January 2019

Well, the predicted snow didn’t come to much. A few millimetres of manky grey sludge doesn’t constitute a snowfall.

I offered to do the shopping and returned with plain bread, milk and a dozen eggs. All will become clear.

I mixed two of the eggs with some special 00 flour that Scamp had bought last week and then kneaded the resulting mess for the required 10 minutes, wrapped it in cling film and let it cool its heels in the fridge for an hour or two, or three or five as it turned out.

We’d intended cleaning out a cupboard today, but it was a lovely bright cold day although the temperature was above zero because some of the snow was melting. Time enough to go out and get some photos and still get the cupboard cleared.

It’s never that simple. I found a few good places to shoot, mainly landscapes, but then I discovered the fruiting bodies of some moss on a few rocks. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting, but the light was so good, I had to take a few shots, quite a few shots. By the time I got back, we agreed that it was far too late to start on the cupboard, so we’re leaving it for another day, a less photogenic one. One of the moss shots made PoD.

I assembled my pasta machine and started rolling out the pasta dough from the fridge into decreasing thicknesses. It’s not nearly as easy as they show you in Masterchef. I think my dough was too wet and sticky. It seemed to want to cling to the rollers even after they had been dusted with flour. Eventually after a few tries, a lot of swearing and tantrums, we managed to make some spaghetti.

We cooked the spaghetti in boiling water just like the stuff you get in the deli at the supermarket, but it was a bit doughy and chewy. More practise needed and next time I’ll leave the dough to rest in the kitchen, not in the fridge. It’s a learning curve. However, I know this Italian bloke who might be able to show me how to cut a few corners! Tonight’s dinner was Spaghetti with olive oil for starter, then Minestrone soup and the main course was a haggis, neeps and tatties pie.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go out for dinner. 30th January.

A day in the toon – 10 January 2019

Went for coffee with the boys and then decided to wander round Glasgow.

Finished off Colin’s calendar and with the ink barely dry, set off for the town centre. For once we were all there and the chat was good for an hour and a half until Jeanette arrived to drag Val away to do the shopping. That seemed to signal a breakup in the group and we all went our merry way.

I’d half intended going in to Glasgow for a walk and a bit of window shopping and as the day was still fairly light and almost dry, that’s what I did. Parked deliberately on level 5 of the multi so I could walk straight in to the ‘toyshop’ level of JL. However, there weren’t many toys at a price I was willing to consider, far less spend, but that was ok, because I was only window shopping. I think it’s true what the pundits on the news have been saying, there’s so many cut price weekends and end of season sales now, the January Sales haven’t the bargains they used to have. They’re just a means to ditching the Xmas tat they were selling full price a month ago. The great thing about them is the silence. No longer do we have to be assailed by xmas musak. Wizzard and Cliff Richard have now been put back in their box along with the mistletoe and wine.

Down Bucky Street and along Argyle Street looking for a PoD. I eventually got it in the form of the back of the St Enoch’s subway entrance. I joked with a couple of students who were also photographing it that it looked as if there was a queue forming to take the best shot. They agreed that it was an interesting building, but not as good as the old sandstone entrance to the station that’s now a Nero. I had to disagree with them when they said the cafe spoiled it. At least the cafe had changed the building only very slightly. It could have been a lot worse. We agreed to differ and went our separate ways.

That was about the extent of my Glasgow walk. I did buy myself a pair of bluetooth headphones just because they were cheap and looked better than the other ones I’d bought last week. I was right, they were fine. Got two songs out of them before the battery died.

Finally found out how to retrieve the call list on the Juke. If you delete the phone from the Juke’s system, then plug it in using a USB cable, it installs it again and the call list reappears fully loaded with its previous numbers. Why you need to connect it with a cable when it’s a Bluetooth system, only Nissan knows. Also, it’s only the iPhone that needs this connection.

There was a slight patter of tiny rodent feet tonight and there had been the same on Tuesday night. Certainly not as much as before, but it will be reported to the “Rat Man”when he returns tomorrow.

Because we need to wait for the “Rat Man” tomorrow we have no other plans. If he comes early, which we suspect he will, we may go out to lunch.

Me and my big mouth – 24 December 2018

I said I thought I’d sidestepped Scamp’s cold. Me and my big mouth.

Last night I was lying choking in bed with that sore throat that always tells you the cold is just waiting in the wings for you to fall asleep and then it’ll announce itself with a sickly cough that will bring you back awake again until you start to fall asleep and then the cycle will begin again. Woke this morning with a terrible taste in my mouth and a nose that was totally clogged. Still think you sidestepped it Mr C?

Felt better when I got up. It’s always better when you’re vertical. Had a shower and felt almost human again. Maybe it’s the hot damp atmosphere that does it, but it seems to loosen the gunk that clogs my nose and dampens my throat too. I even brushed my teeth to get rid of the horrible taste in there. That makes three times this year. That must be a record for me. The brushing helped, but I won’t make a habit of it.

Scamp went off to visit June and while she was away I set up the Naturewatch camera with the Raspberry Pi. It was a bit fiddly, but I got everything set up and everything fitted nicely into an old Tupperware box. Fixed it to the tree near the bird feeder and got some fairly decent shots of a selection of birds. For something this tiny it produces great pictures. When Scamp returned from her visit and announced that June was much better. I decided I’d go for a walk. I was well warned to get well wrapped up which I did.

Walked round St Mo’s which was still covered in hoar frost in the mid afternoon.  Some signs that it might be thawing, but by the time it got started properly the sun would be setting and the temperature would plummet again.  For once I got some of the good light. What’s sometimes called the “Golden Hour”. Well named today. The PoD is one of the best ones. No fakery needed here, the light was just so good.

I forgot to mention that Scamp got a text from Michael our dance teacher to say that we had won the hamper in the annual Christmas raffle. Would we be in to collect it, because he could deliver. We originally said we’d meet him in Glasgow, around 2pm to get it. However he texted to say that he was running late and it would be after 5pm before he’d be there, could he get his brother do deliver it instead. We agreed to that because his brother lived in Cumbersheugh, so it would be on his way. He arrived with it tonight. A big plastic box crammed full of chocolate and sweets and with a voucher for £20 off a pair of dance shoes which I’m sure Scamp will claim. I’ll have the Liquorice Allsorts.

Scamp spoke to the woman next door today who confirmed that she has a rodent problem too, as do the couple on the other side of us. So, we are not alone. So far our rodents are in the loft or under the floor, but not in the house, but Angela said she had seen two in her house. It’s a long time since we had mice in the house, but I phoned NLC environmental health and explained the situation. The girl I spoke to said she’d pass on the information to the sub-contractor who would contact us in a few days. Feel better now that it’s official and something is being done even if the wheels will be turning even slower than normal at this time of year.

That’s about it for now. Hope you all have a happy Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you’re with. G’night.

Bored to abstraction – 21 December 2018

Full on dull dreary day. Needed some sunshine. Made my own.

Out early, well, early for me and out to Muirhead to get some meat for my Christmas Day dinner. Scamp was still in bed nursing her cold that doesn’t seem to have gotten any better overnight. An extra hour or so in bed wouldn’t do any harm.

Got to the butchers just after 10am and the queue was already the full length of the shop and it’s a fairly big shop. Lots of women serving and lots of butchers butchering and lugging great bags of different meats around. Not a place for vegans I fear. Despite the length of the queue, I was served quickly and soon I was out the door with my carnivore’s delights.

Drove home by the scenic route, but the low cloud, the poor light and the heavy rain put paid to any chance of a quick photo. So be it, maybe there would be a break in the clouds later. By the time I was home, Scamp was up and ready to go and buy what was left in Tesco. I had a coffee and started to work on using my old Samsung tablet as a screen for the Pi. Finally got it working, but it’s not the swiftest of cobbled together technology. It will do for now because it means I’m not hogging the TV.

I’d just finished squeezing my steaks and sausages into the freezer when Scamp returned with Tesco in two or three carrier bags. Lunch was a roll ’n’ sausage for me and a roll ’n’ egg for Scamp. We do eat well! Messed around with the new Toy in the afternoon because there wasn’t a hope of getting an outdoors photo.

Spoke to JIC who was on his way with Sim to Toronto hopefully if the drone that’s buzzing Gatwick runs out of battery power for an hour or so.

Tonight I cut a tangerine in half, then made another cut across the base. Sat the whole thing on a wee LED lamp and photographed it. That’s today’s PoD. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s at least two hours of post-processing and a fair bit of swearing too. However, it did bring a bit of artificial sunshine into the day, the shortest day.  From now on the light will be returning to our dark and gloomy land.

Scamp’s sister got out of hospital tonight and is back in the caring arms of her family. I thInk Scamp may go and visit with the mandatory black grapes tomorrow. Otherwise, we have no plans for tomorrow.

A ‘lovely’ day – 20 December 2018

Woke to rain, and that set the theme for the day.

Scamp was still suffering from a heavy cold, but was determined to meet Nancy at The Fort (our second home this week, it seems). I stayed in to wait for a parcel for the new Toy Off The Rack. It didn’t come. However I did get some other things parcelled up, things that had been lingering in the back bedroom for weeks. Hope they haven’t gone mouldy in that time. Anyway, they’re under the tree now, under the watchful eyes of Fairy and Fairy Nuff.

With a bit of peace and quiet to myself, I set to and made a couple of videos on One Point and Two Point Perspective for Margie, one of Scamp’s Gems singers who does a lot of sketching and painting, but has never mastered perspective. Hopefully they should help. Links at the bottom of the page in case you’re interested. I say I made a couple of videos. In actual fact I made about half a dozen, but most of them showed the bald patch on the top of my head, rather than any drawing. I just couldn’t get the camera in the right position, even when I was using the big Manfrotto tripod behind me in its most inelegant yoga position with one leg pressed horizontally against the wall while resting on the chest of drawers and the other two legs at various angles and extensions on the floor. I eventually gave up and used a neat little iPhone holder that Hazy gave me years ago and fixed it on the small Manfrotto tripod, sitting on the tabletop and filmed the whole thing on the iPhone. That worked perfectly. Simplest is sometimes best.

When Scamp returned I went out to get stuff for dinner and to take some photos. Today’s PoD is of part of the Antonine Wall at the east of Cumbersheugh. It was taken in the last of the afternoon light and in what turned out to be a fifteen minute window in the rain that persisted the rest of the day. Tried processing it in Lightroom and On1 and the latter won hands down. Ok, it’s not perfect, but neither was the weather. Dinner was chicken curry made with the excellent Patak’s Paste Pots.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go to the butchers to get my Christmas steak.

Link 1: One Point Perspective

Link 2: Two Point Perspective

Driving, driving all the day – 19 December 2018

Today began with the alarm at 7.45am and I finally parked the car tonight at about 9.15pm.  Ok, I wasn’t driving for all that time, but it felt like it.

Out for a podiatrist appointment at 9am after scraping the thick ice that had appeared overnight from the windscreen. I’d forgotten that some people still have to get up at this and earlier ungodly hour to go to work.

The nice lady podiatrist poked and prodded my feet and told me my feet were scoring 4/5 for health. I tried not to laugh when she told me I should try to improve my flat feet by standing on tiptoes when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. “Brushing my teeth? What’s that?” It only happens twice a year when I’m due to visit the dentist. That’s not going to help my poor fallen arches much.

Home for a coffee and then it was Ho Ho tee shirt on and out to Michael’s Christmas Party. It was great fun with some Samba (loved the Samba Walk) and a bit of Charleston before we finished off with an almost perfect couple of waltz patterns. Left with a smile on my face. Got today’s PoD in George Square in Glasgow on the way to the car. It looked ok on the camera screen, but it was a bit untidy on the computer. However it was a record of the day.

Scamp’s sister is in hospital and I trusted the satnav to find Monklands Hospital for me. It did find it, but took me through the busiest parts of Coatbridge at the busiest time of day. I’ll use Google next time on my phone. That will lower my blood pressure significantly. With Scamp reassured that June was being well looked after, we drove home (without satnav directions).

Dinner was fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli and it was lovely, then it was back in the Juke and in to town for the second dance class of the day and the second Salsa class of the week. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, I was fed up with driving. Having said that, it too was great fun with almost all the games we’d played on Monday being played again. This time Jamie G managed to film part of the proceedings from his drone. Now, that’s just showing off, or was it one of the reasons he gave himself for buying it? “But it could be useful for filming a Rueda from above, couldn’t it??!!”

Oh yes, and I finally managed to get Python to play nice with the Blinkt board that’s the LED output from the Raspberry Pi. I even wrote my own little program to reset all the lights to zero. I was well impressed.

Three parcels arrived today. One big parcel and another clinking parcel, both from somewhere near Cambridge and one extremely long parcel from near Chessington! Wonder what’s in them?

Tomorrow Scamp meets Nancy for the re-scheduled lunch and I am hoping to make a video, but not with a drone!

A Toy off the Rack – 18 December 2018

The toy in question was a Raspberry Pi zero W

It arrived by post just around midday on a dull, rainy day. I hoped it would brighten my day as the sun seemed to having a holiday somewhere nice. It was a tiny little thing, as you can see from the PoD which is of the Weemen helping me to build it. Actually it was more that they were there to supervise the soldering of the 40 pins that help the Pi connect to the outside world. I was really pleased with my soldering. I only had to resort to the de-soldering braid twice and didn’t manage to burn myself once which must be a world record for me. I usually manage to pick up the soldering iron at least once by the ‘business end’. This time, ultra-careful I did not need to resort to Elastoplast or buckets of water. I think all the pins are soldered correctly, I’ll give them a test tomorrow once I master the vagaries of the Python language that is used to program the board.

Other than photographing the Weemen and assembling the computer module, it was a dull day. Coffee arrived from Perth right on time too. £3 for the delivery of about 3kg of coffee by DPD rather than about a 100 mile round trip is a bargain in anyone’s money. Keeps a driver in a job and saves me two or three hours. Yes, I know it increases my carbon footprint, but its the footprint of a very small shoe, a baby shoe.

That was the excitement for the day. A tiny little computer and a tiny little baby carbon footprint. A toy off the rack and a few bags of coffee. Now I have to learn to program in Python. I’ve been at it now for an hour and a half and I still can’t get the syntax right. I’ve tried the usual method of swearing at it, restarting the Pi and actually reading the instructions, but nothing seems to work. I’m going to bed now. What use is a toy of the rack if you can’t make it turn cartwheels across the living room floor? I’m told a nine year old can program it. Unfortunately I don’t have a nine year old child handy to get him or her to explain it to me. I’ll leave it until tomorrow. It will be better tomorrow. It will work tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m going to get my feet looked at and prodded by a nice lady podiatrist. I may even ask her what’s going wrong with my left knee. I think knees are just within her jurisdiction. All of that, and dancin’ too, hopefully.

Talking Technology

Scamp was out early to meet Isobel, I was out later to meet Val. All of us risking a dose of the cold sitting in the freezing draft in Costa Cumbernauld.

I wanted to pick Val’s brains about the new Raspberry Pi which has come a long way since the last time I played around with one back in 2014.
<Technospeak Warning>
Then it was simply a tiny bare bones computer on a PCB. Now it holds much more memory and has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and the Italian hardware genius has already played around a lot with it. I wanted it as a monitor for my bird table, and just to play around with if I’m being honest (which I sometimes am.). A “toy off the rack if you like” off the Technology Rack, that is. The idea of building and having a small, portable computer that can be run from a battery pack is very 21st century. Because it runs Linux or a compact subset of it, its OS is free, all you’re paying for is the components. With the basic model you even have to solder in some of those components! Maybe I should order some Elastoplast as a preventative measure. I’m sure there will be a lot of swearing, cursing my stupidity and also fun in this project, but at present, my imagination is doing overtime thinking about what I can do with it.
<Technospeak Complete>

Walked with Val to Tesco to get some cod for our dinner. We parted, hoping to meet again before Christmas. We did meet again because we both came out of Tesco at the same time a half hour or so later! As a result I gave Val a run home then carried on up to the back of Fannyside Moor and got today’s PoD there. Well, I got the makings of the PoD. It took a fair bit of post processing to get from what I took to what you see here. However, what you see here is what I wanted to see through the viewfinder.

Tonight’s dinner was Cod and Sweetcorn Chowder but as usual I forgot to add the sweetcorn, so a spoonful of it was stirred into the thick soupy broth and it did no harm that it was just a wee bit cold. It’s a firm favourite now this chowder.

Tomorrow I’m meeting Colin for coffee in the same cold Costa. This time we’re meeting a bit earlier so perhaps, just perhaps we’ll get a warmer seat, or maybe we’ll abandon the cold Costa to the duller, but much warmer one at the other end of the boggin’ Antonine Centre. We’ll see.  Maybe snow tomorrow.  We’ve done not too bad getting to December before we got the white stuff.

A month until Christmas – 25 November 2018

A month from today it will be Christmas with all that brings!

Loaded the washing machine up with my dirty washing from last week and set it to go, then had a cup of coffee. The world always looks better over the brim of the coffee cup.

At least there was a bit of blue sky about today. That, and some encouragement from Scamp, got me going out for a walk around the pond at St Mo’s. From there I got today’s PoD. Processed partly in Lightroom and partly in On1 2019 which I bought today! Quite happy with the result.

Tried out the No Oil cooker hoping to make potato wedges. First try was a disaster. Second attempt was a bit better, but still not as good as cooking them under the grill. The instruction and recipe book (3 recipes) was no help at all. It seemed to give contradictory instructions. Maybe I should do what I usually do and ignore the instructions and go by my instinct. Finally after dinner I downloaded a proper instruction book from the InterWeb. Looks much more sensible, but only time and testing will tell.

Watched the final GP of the year. Found a flaw in the new prog that Technical may be able to solve, and that was Sunday.

Tomorrow it’s really back to normal with Gems in the afternoon and me out.

Back in the cold country – 23 November 2018

First things first, get rid of the egg!

Breakfast then a visit to the doc’s. Receptionist gave me an appointment for 3.15 THE SAME DAY!! Wow, it must be serious! You don’t usually get an appointment for at least a week in advance.

Back home and Scamp made a valiant attempt to buy Tesco. She almost managed it, I thought the trolley was going to collapse under the weight of the goods in it. Unloaded the car and had lunch then started writing up the blogs from the shorthand notes I’d made on my iPhone. It’s actually easier to write up the blog on my phone than on the PC laptop, but transferring them from the phone to a PC is almost impossible. I finally settled on emailing them from the phone to the iMac, cutting out the middle man of the PC. There’s got to be a simpler way than this Apple.

The big hand had reached 11 and the little hand was crawling towards 3 and it was time to go to the doc’s to see if they would simply chop off my left hand above the elbow or try to decontaminate it a different way. Nurse had a look and said “Wow!” I showed her the photo Scamp had taken on Thursday morning and she said “WOW!!”. She decided that a course of penicillin would do the trick, after questioning me if I’d fallen or banged my elbow. I could see her thinking that I’d probably been under the influence and had fallen without remembering it, but unfortunately I’d been (nearly) sober all the time. She finally agreed that it was probably an infected insect bite. I thought again about the mosquito’s doc asking it if it had taken any controlled substances in the last 24 hours, and it replying “Well, there was this one bloke who must have been taking some strange concoction of pills …”

I’d about 15 mins to wait for my prescription in the chemist so I took a walk into Tesco to see what was on the Black Friday sale. There seemed to be quite a buzz around the TV stand. Folk weren’t exactly fighting for them, but they were certainly going out the store at quite a lick. I spotted one of those No-Oil fryers and thought “Why not!” I don’t think Scamp was too impressed, but we’ll see how it works when I can get round to it tomorrow.

PoD was a flower a Lisianthus to be more exact. Flooers are never a good sign. Must get out tomorrow and get some photos.