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Just another dull Sunday – 15 October 2017

It was a dull day when we woke and it didn’t improve much throughout the day.

The highlight was a phone call from JIC.

Went for a walk to St Mo’s and got the three photos above. Quite liked the shot of Mr Grey standing in the greenery. I’d promised not to post pics of the autumn leaves, but that was never going to stand, was it? That’s why the pic of the tree was there. Sometimes I can see the title of the shot before I take it. That’s the reason for the photo of the bloke with the dog. The John Hiatt song just played in my head when I saw the dog turn and look at me.

Sorry to say, that’s about it, apart from a less than helpful email from Vodafone to tell me that my phone won’t be delivered after all. When will it be delivered? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Apparently Apple haven’t delivered them because of the weekend. Does the weekend last from Thursday night to Sunday now? Are Vodafone so strapped for cash that they buy their phones in ‘penny numbers’? Not impressed.
Tonight I went online and did a text chat with ‘Omrar’ who said I MIGHT get it tomorrow and then finally that I will get a confirmation of delivery tomorrow. We’ll see. Strangely enough this is exactly the same as happened when I got Mambo No 5 two years ago.

Tomorrow is batten down the hatches day as ex-hurricane Ophelia makes landfall across northern Britain. We tied up the sweetpea frame this afternoon, just in case.

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Today I became a Windows Hater – 14 October 2017

The day started well. The wee tickle in the back of my throat had gone. Partly this was due to me taking a fairly big slug of Benylin and partly due to me taking an extra dose of vitamin C tablets with some honey, both just before I went to bed. I don’t know if the Benylin helped with the cough, but it did certainly get me to sleep double quick and I had the longest and best sleep I’ve had in weeks.

That was the good news. The weather outside was grim. When I woke it was light and there was just the hint of some sun, but that gradually faded to the usual grey. We couldn’t decide what to do and I think we were both waiting for the weather to improve. It didn’t and as we had nowhere we needed to be and nothing we needed to do, we went out of a run to that awkwardly named Chatelherault. Thank goodness for Ctrl V. Scamp chose the top route this time and I suggested we walk to the Green Bridge. It’s many, many years since I’ve been to the Green Bridge at Maryhoses. Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought the walking poles with us and the path down the hill to the river was really steep and slippery with muck. Scamp decided she wasn’t going to risk it and I agreed, so we walked back along the path to Chatelherault and had coffee and a pineapple cake (pure indulgence) for our efforts.

I got a couple of photos at Chatelherault and then we came home.

I’ve got a 2TB desktop HD. It’s got two partitions (Don’t worry. Not too much technospeak) Tonight I planned to use the PC to copy files from one partition to the other to free up space to make a backup drive for the iMac. I set the PC to copy the 300GB of photos (copies, of course). It reported that it would take about 4 hours. That was ok, I used a program that would allow ‘unattended copying’. To do that you just specify what to do on certain occasions and the program does the rest. No problem then? After about two hours I went to check how it was progressing, only to find that Windows 10 had installed an update and restarted the machine, halting the copying and switching off the drive in the process. The upshot is that the drive is now unreadable. I read so many tirades on the net about Windows being unmanageable these days since Windows 10 has taken over, but until tonight I didn’t really believe them. I do now. The iMac may have cost a lot of money and I know that Apple too has its flaws, but tonight’s escapade was pure vandalism by a company that expects us to trust them. I am now a fully paid up Windows Hater.

Tonight’s sketch is of riverside apartments beside the River Clyde at Glasgow Green. It was done from a photo, but that’s ok by me. It’s done and on time.

I’m going to bed now to prevent me from having another rant about Windows fuckin’ Updates.

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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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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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One in, One out – 3 October 2017

Today started with Scamp driving the Juke to Tesco with me in the co-pilot’s seat. I searched all morning, but I couldn’t find my Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. You know, the ones that go completely dark when danger threatens! It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Apart from the seat being too close to the steering wheel (wooden blocks for the pedals I think) and the mirrors being in the wrong place it went fine. No hissy fits from either of us, and we came home without any scratches (on us or the car).

After Scamp brought the car back home. I changed cars and drove her car down to the Village to get new tyres. Yes, they had tyres to fit it, but were too busy and would be for a while. Could I come back around 3pm. No problem, I could go back and then take the Juke to Stirling to sort out the lights problem, so drove home and picked up Scamp and drove the Juke to Stirling.

The salesman was a bit bemused and told me that Yes, I had been using the correct lights and Yes, the dipped headlight was working properly. He then took it into the garage so the ‘Techies’ could have a look at it. He came back and told us that everything was fine and the Techies couldn’t find anything wrong. However, the lights looked brighter to us now. I thought I had a winner when I remembered the dash cam had been on all the time so I had a record of what had happened. Then when I checked, I couldn’t see much of what had happened because by the time we got home, the camera had overwritten part of the recording, mainly because it had filled the ‘Protected’ folder of the camera with pointless videos, each one protected so it couldn’t be overwritten. Also, I couldn’t hear anything that was being said behind our backs because Christine and The Queens was playing at full blast. Ok, problem not explained, but probably solved. Drove home.

Dropped the Duke off and drove the Micra down to the tyre place. It was empty. Bloke asked me what I wanted done and when I told him two new front tyres, he said he only had one. Could I bring it back tomorrow. Oh well, what’s one more day, one more journey.

Drove home. You can guess the rest. Yes, dropped off the Micra and picked up my camera and took the Duke down to Auchinstarry which is where I got all of today’s pics and a sketch as well.  Bathtime for the Ducks got PoD.

Tomorrow I’ll take the Micra for new tyres. Hopefully they will have tyres and staff to fit them. Oh yes, tried the lights tonight and they are much brighter than yesterday. I still wonder what they did in the garage!

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Inktober begins – 1 October 2017

Today is the 1st of October. For sketchers throughout the world, it’s the first of 31 days of inky fingers and that occasional sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach that tells them it’s 11pm and they haven’t done a sketch that day. On the other hand, as they reach day 31 with a complete folio, it’s a great feeling of achievement. Inktober was started by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. In 2015 I signed up, but only managed five or six sketches. Last year, in 2016, I was more determined and completed all 31 sketches. I know Inktober isn’t for everyone, but the regime of a daily sketch helps keep the mind and the hand active. Some people have hosts of rules and a theme for each day of October. I try to keep it simple:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can add a little watercolour if you want to).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat next day

That’s enough of Inktober. What of the day? We were up and dressed early today, that is just after 8am to have breakfast watching the last ever Malaysian GP. It looked like shooty in for Hamilton starting from pole, and with Vettel starting from the back of the pack, but it wasn’t as simple as that. It rarely is. For the second time this season, it was an interesting race, even the parade lap after the chequered flag had its moments with Vettel crashing into Lance Stroll. What a numpty.

I had intended going out for a walk to clear my head after that, but I did my first Inktober sketch instead. It was a really dreadful day weatherwise. Rain, drizzle, smir, torrential. All words for rain and each of them had a place in our weather map today. You’ll notice sunshine wasn’t mentioned. It was there, but its presence was measured in seconds, not minutes and certainly not hours. A dull, dreich day.

The bright spot was Salsa at night. It should have been on in the afternoon, but after a double booking we were sidelined to Ad Lib which is actually a very nice venue. I’d go there again, mainly because I got a nice parking spot almost right outside. Well, I deserve it, having a nice new motor.

Swallow Watch:  This week I saw some swallows, on Monday I think, and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? It’s going to be windy and wet. I may go in to Glasgow to get fixative for the pastels and some watercolour half pans. If I’ve got time I might go swimming. Oh, and I need a sketch!

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Back to School – 4 September 2017

Today was a ‘Back to School’ day for Gems.

The day started with rain that gradually got heavier as the day wore on. Since Gems were coming back from their holidays, I had to find something to do or somewhere to go after lunch. Lunch was the second helping of Thai Green Chicken Curry. I’d made the paste on Saturday and we had the first helping for dinner yesterday. I’d intended this to be a smaller portion, to use up some chicken that was languishing in the fridge and also to use up the rest of the curry paste.

It was while I was deciding where to go and while I was listening to Scamp running through some songs with them that I began to wonder … Many years ago, before we were married Scamp was working in Glasgow libraries and she sang on a recording for an LP. Yes, and LP. This was long before CDs, far less digital downloads. I wondered if the album was lying somewhere in Spotify. As I typed in the title, the associated list became shorter and shorter until it disappeared. However, I pressed the search button and Lo and Behold, there it was. I promptly downloaded it and showed it to her. Not only is the album there, but Scamp gets a name check on her track! I’ll send you both the title so you can listen to it. Needless to say it is also available on iTunes and was promptly downloaded. Isn’t technology wonderful.
Some technology isn’t so good. Today I cancelled my Amazon Prime subscription. I wasn’t using Prime. Also Prime wasn’t available for more and more items, so it made sense to cancel it.

After my search through the musical archives, I had intended going to Stirling to make sure I was happy with the Juke, but one look at the weather and the queues on the M80 made me defer that until tomorrow. Instead, I went to get some glue to repair a painting. Imagine a techy teacher having to BUY glue! Unfortunately B&Q were reorganising their stock and today was the adhesive section’s chance to be revamped, so it was blocked off and I wasn’t going to get any glue today. I went in to Halfords and bought a dashcam instead. I think it will be a useful accessory after hearing about Sim’s accident. It’s busy charging as I write this. Hopefully it will go into the Megane tomorrow. After that I went to the boggin’ Antonine Centre and in The Works, I got a little bottle of PVA for £1. Bargain. I’d just spent around £100 on a dashcam, but felt really good at getting my glue for a quid!

After the heavy lunch, we didn’t feel like having dinner so it was just scrambled eggs on toast. Absolutely fine. Salsa tonight wasn’t as bad as last week. For one thing, I remembered how to do Caltec! Tonight’s moves were Caltec, Disco, Prado and Machucho.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot out the open back door during a little respite from the rain.  Watching blue tits and coal tits scrambling over the peanut feeder always makes me smile.

Oh yes, if you get a chance, search Spotify for The Streets of Glasgow.  The track you are looking for is ‘Bottling Songs‘.  Listen carefully and you should hear a familiar voice!

Tomorrow we may make that run to Stirling.

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The Android – 4 July 2017

This morning we were off to the hospital – nothing serious. The doc had arranged for Scamp to have an ambulatory blood pressure monitor because her BP has been fluctuating a bit recently. I had one away back fifteen years or so ago. You have to wear it for 24 hours. It beeps every half hour and then the wrap on your arm starts to inflate and then releases. During the day it’s a pain in the … arm, but it’s much more annoying at night. I didn’t tell her that! I’m sure she’ll find out.

After bringing back the android with the battery pack on her hip and what looks like a cable round the back of her neck, we settled down to lunch. Before that we’d gone to Aldi to get some messages. When we were going out, the ABPM must have set off the alarm that checks if you’ve nicked anything. We did as we usually do when we’re out shoplifting oops, shopping, and ignored it. Does anyone bother with these things? The answer is yes. At the weekend, I saw a poor woman with her trolley full of goodies, being escorted back into ASDA at Robroyston by two security guards. However, we got away without even a warning, but that was it! Scamp wasn’t going anywhere with that thing attached to her arm if it was going to trigger alarms everywhere. She was staying put at home!

I, on the other hand, didn’t have a photo for today, so I drove to Auchinstarry and went a walk along the canal. That’s where I got my PoD. This is almost as I saw it. I’ve done some levels work, but very little and it’s not been cropped. It was just a lucky shaft of sunlight that lit up the little bunch of Cow Parsley flowers turning into seeds. Further on I chanced upon this happy bunch of cygnets out for a paddle. Just thought they looked so cute, they had to be included.

That was about as much as we did today. Scamp’s off to bed now and counting the hours until 11am tomorrow when she is released from the bondage of the ABPM. Hope she gets some sleep!

Tomorrow? That depends on the mood of the android. I wonder if she will dream of electric sheep?

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Perf – 16 June 2017

Drove to Perth today, mainly for coffee and tea for me, but also for a wee run.

Weather was fairly nice with warm temperatures and occasional sun. We were there fairly early, so we went for a walk down beside the river and on to the pedestrian path on the long, long railway bridge over the Tay and Moncreiff Island to the park and gardens on the far side. Beautifully laid out garden with lots of interesting plants and flowers. Also lots of not so interesting sculptures. Couldn’t make had nor tail of most of them, even with a description. Found a ford that takes you over to Moncreiff Island, but the water was too high today to attempt it, but a photo of it provided my PoD. The island itself seems to be basically a golf course with some allotments in the middle. According the the gazetteer it has a population of 3.

Saw some baby coots and moorhens in a lily pond, but it was mainly the plants that interested Scamp. Surprised to see some amaryllis flowering in the open air. Massive great thick stems on the plants. Crossed back over and went to a cafe for lunch. Somebody remind me not to have the cheese burger the next time we go. The burger was fine, but the cheese was determined to have a conversation with me all the way home.

Bought some dried fruit to try for breakfast. I’ve just finished boiling it to soften it and to make a syrup for it. A bit of a faff, but hopefully it’ll taste good tomorrow. Scamp fancied a pizza, so I made one while the fruit was steeping and it turned out very well.

Today’s sketch is a hotchpotch of different practise pieces. Some badly drawn figures and some better ones that were drawn blind. Not ‘eyes closed’ blind, drawn without looking at the paper, just staring really hard at your subject. The faces were from a book. I did try a sketch of Scamp working at the computer, but decided not to post it as it wasn’t very complementary. In fact it didn’t look like her at all.

Oh yes, almost forgot to mention Hazy.  The boxers had their first outing today and appear to have survived to tell the tale.  Ta!

Glasgow tomorrow.

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The Fitness Regime continues – 13 June 2017

This morning, I was swearing at the WiFi extender. It had to happen.

The WiFi extender was glowing green this morning and that means it’s in the perfect place. Not too near the modem/router and not too far away. The green glow lasted until I opened my first web page, then I got the ‘No Internet’ message. Either I’d broken the Internet or the green glow had turned to a red one. Thankfully it was the second one. It’s been a long time since I’ve broken the Internet and the problem is that you can’t just go on the Internet to find out how to fix it, because you’ve broken the Internet. See? Thankfully all that was needed was for the extender to be put in another place, closer to the modem and it worked. Internet restored to full health, I went to the gym.

I thought I was having a hard time with my recumbent bike, treadmill and various weight machines, but there was one poor bloke much worse off than me. He had a Personal Trainer shouting instructions and ‘encouragement’ at him while he lifted kettle bells, bar bells and even played at making waves with a big heavy rope. We used to call it making ‘snakes’ when the kids were wee. I say ‘playing’, but there seemed to be very little enjoyment in this exercise. Once I’d done my half hour or so, I left them to it and drove home for a shower. I was just loading the boot when I noticed my extra passenger hiding behind the aerial. A spider had found a nice wee shelter and had presumably come all the way from home tucked away from the wind. Pic on Flickr.

After lunch, Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel and I was going for a walk in the sunshine. Drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, intending to cross through the Plantation and on to the Railway path, but it was so nice and warm beside the canal that I just kept on going. About half a mile later, the rain started and from then on, it was on and off all the way. Didn’t see any kingfishers, but the swallows kept me entertained with their aerial gymnastics and one of Mr Grey’s cousins posed for a close-up. Stopped at Twechar to sketch the lift bridge that opens once, maybe twice a year. Such a waste of money.  Interesting though and the first real Urban sketch for ages.

Across the road there is an old garage, boarded up and dilapidated and ripe for a bit of fisheye magic and some HDR. After a bit of fiddling, that’s what happened.  You can see the results above..

Walked back in the rain and Scamp made dinner which was a fish fingers salad using our own spinach and lettuce. Good to use stuff we’ve grown ourselves again.

Tomorrow I got to see the doc to get the results of my blood test. Going fairly early so I can enjoy the rest of the day.