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Thunder and Lightning – 9 June 2018

Thankfully, it brought some rain too.

The day started out as it has done for the last month, with white skies, then the sun broke through. We hadn’t settled on anywhere in particular to go, but Stirling was on the cards as a possible. Drove in to the town, or should I say the City as it achieved city status in 2000. Wandered round the Thistle Centre (but didn’t see any thistles). Got a pair of chinos and a short sleeved shirt. Scamp was impressed that they colour matched. Me, I knew they would, I’ve seen the colour wheel, you know. I can even recite the colours primary and secondary in their correct sequence. Tertiary, that’s a bit more tricky. Had lunch in Nero and then came home, becoming more and more concerned about the heavy, lumpy, dark grey clouds.

We were just leaving the car park when the first drops hit the windscreen. By the time we were entering Cumbersheugh, the rain was heavy and it looked as if it had been heavy for some time. There were occasional flashes of lightning, and a few rumbles of distant thunder. Not long after we got home it started to roll all around us. Just to emphasise the point, the rain started in earnest, creating a nice wee river down past the house.

It took about three hours for the thunderstorm to completely subside and then the sun came out and shone as if there had been no rain, no thunder and no lightning. I got today’s PoD from the kitchen door, looking at a rose leaf with a neat little droplet of water creating a lens.

Went to start working again on the Linx, but it told me that Windows wants to complete the upgrade and it may take some time. At present it’s doing a backup that will hopefully allow me to undo all the bad work it is planning. Devious bastards Microsoft.

Knee is getting a bit painful. I’m going to get the results of my blood test on Monday and I think I’ll ask the sister if there’s anything I can do about it. If all else fails I’ll go and see David the Physio for some torture Oops, I meant treatment. Paracetamol isn’t working all that well on it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow except dancing in a new venue in Glasgow – Maracas. It’s a new cafe in Cambridge Street. Not sure how much I’ll be able to dance, but I’ll give it a whirl, I hope.

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Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

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Dull, dull, dull – 20 May 2018

Just in case you didn’t guess, today was a bit dull.

In the morning we drove in to Glasgow because Scamp had an appointment with M&S to spend some money. I was looking for photos. We both got what we intended to get. Scamp completed her swimsuit ensemble and I got a few photos I’d been looking for. My favourite and PoD is above.

<Technospeak>
When we got home I resumed my work on trying to figure out what was wrong with Scamp’s computer which wouldn’t respond properly to Autoplay any more. I eventually found the problem and the solution in an old post on the internet. It involved a complicated bit of deletion using the registry editor Regedit, also known as “The Hand Grenade” (what happens if I pull this little pin out?). Luckily I was very careful which pins I pulled out and nothing went bang afterwards, but what did happen was that Autoplay now plays nice. Not perfect, just nice. Perfectly may mean more work tomorrow or some other day. For now, it nearly works.
</Technospeak>

I made dinner tonight which was the complicated and not very successful Aloo Saag. Not as good as last time. The spinach sauce was too thick and there was a taste in there that just didn’t gel. I might water it down slightly tomorrow for lunch. I also baked another sourdough loaf which was slightly more successful than the first, but not as good as the last one.  Middling.  Still some work to be done on consistency of the dough and baking time.

It being such a dull day, I couldn’t even be bothered going over to St Mo’s to get more photos. I’d got the ones I wanted. This is the photo I went to take. The candelabra its twin are in an alley just off Queen Street and I’ve often wondered why these ornate lights are there in an alley that just hold dustbins. Maybe there’s a story there waiting to be unearthed. It didn’t win PoD because the group discussing The Duke (not to be confused with The Red Juke) was more interesting.

Did a bit of sketching while watching a boring Jools Holland, but I really need to do more, and before Wednesday. That may be the plan for tomorrow. Some decent sketching. Scamp’s going out to meet Isobel in the morning. Busy week this week, something on every day.

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Maybe that was summer – 6 May 2018

It was sunshine and blue skies when we woke today and it more or less stayed that way all day for a change.

Just on the off chance that today WAS summer, we made the most of it. Scamp was doing the most in the garden, of course. Putting up sweet pea netting, although I did the structural part and fixed the high bits. Pruning the blackcurrant bush. Repotting everything she could find. Cutting the front grass and having great fun blowing the cuttings into the trees. Generally being the gardener. Me? Well, apart from being the designer of the sweet pea frame, I wandered round looking at things and taking photos of the tulips, one of which became PoD. Oh yes and I planted the first batch of Charlotte potatoes.

After lunch I took a load of junk and garden waste to the council tip. There were signs on all the skips to the effect that you weren’t allowed to put soil in them. Why not, and if you’re not to put them in a skip in the tip, where are you meant to dump the soil? If you can’t dump it legally then illegally is the only other option. Then they wonder why people are fly-tipping. Joined up thinking is a step too far for NLC. Anyway, I joined everyone else by emptying the contents of my bag in the skip. “Honest mister, it wasn’t soil, it was compost.”

Back home, I roasted my mutton and put it in the slow cooker for it to do its magic for four hours or so. By then the sun had gone behind a cloud and I sat for an hour struggling with Keyboard Maestro, a really clever piece of Mac magic that allows you to create macros to do clever stuff once you’ve written the code. It was the writing of the code, or to be more exact, the syntax of the code that was messing me about. I gave up after a while and joined Scamp with a G ’n’ T and a book in the garden. It was really lovely for a while, although the sun kept disappearing behind the odd cloud. Veg to go with my mutton (or hogget) was carrot and fennel, sliced thin, fried in butter and then put into the slow cooker to stew in the juices from the hogget. (It tasted lovely by the way. Quite like fennel now.

After dinner and a glass of wine I sat down again, determined to work out how to fix the syntax of the code. Finally I cracked it and this is what it does if you hold down Control + Option + Command and press the ‘3’ key:

Y6 – 365/126 – Photo1952

That means that this is the 6th year of my 365s. The picture at the top of the page is the 126th of this year’s 365 and it’s photo 1,952 to be given the title PoD. There, don’t you feel better for knowing that?

Tomorrow looks like it will be much the same as today, if not better, but after that it’s the downward slope into rain and ‘seasonal average’ temperatures. It’s coats-on time again, so we should make the best of it.

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What a difference a day makes – 22 April 2018

When we woke this morning it was dry and with a touch of sun. It didn’t last.

The rain started just before we got up and remained for most of the morning. It was indeed going to be a stay at home day.

<Technospeak>
Last night was another technological nightmare. While I was writing the blog I was restoring a backup from just over a week ago on to the Linx 12. I’d unfortunately decided to have it verified before I installed it. It was only after it was started, and the ‘cancel’ button had become greyed out, that I realised that it was going to take a long time to check the backup. In fact, it took as long as the actual restore to check it. Rather than go to bed and leave the ‘puter churning through this process, I sat and read another few pages of my book. Eventually it did complete around 1am and just as I was shutting it down, up came the inevitable message “Configuring updates. Don’t switch the computer off”. Too late mate, It’s switching itself off. I went to bed. Well, it was worth the loss of sleep, because when I started the Linx this morning, everything was there. Not only that, the bluetooth mouse that started off this drudgery worked perfectly after I made the change noted in yesterday’s blog. I spent an hour or so adding some stuff and subtracting others until I was happy that what I had was serviceable system. I then made a backup of the up to date system. This time I made sure that I set it to check the backup after it made it. That process, conducted under Windows and utilising a USB 3 connection to the backup drive took just under 20 minutes to backup and check. A far cry from last night’s three hour marathon.
Note to self: When you use Macrium to backup a 64Gig drive, do it uncompressed! It takes a fraction of the time the compressed backup takes!
</Technospeak>

Ok, now that Scamp and JIC at least have returned, here’s the rest of the day. By the way, I made a resolution to get to bed the same day I got up, so this blog and probably others in the next week or so will be written in blocks during the day when I’ve nothing better to do and they blocks will be seamlessly welded into a complete page.

It was a dreich day but I did manage to get out for a walk in the afternoon and it stayed dry all the time. Just a walk through St Mo’s and with the ‘Big Dog’ to look for something that wanted its photo taken. Mr Grey was the first customer. I did see a couple of deer, but they fled too quickly. The rest was all macros. My first hoverfly photo of the year and some neat closeups of catkins. Sometimes you’re lucky if you get one decent subject, sometimes you’re overwhelmed and struggling to refine it down to one photo. I also dragged back some bracken fronds to paint on. Not paint as a subject, but to stick on the canvas and paint over for added texture! Hopefully!

Had a quick practise of the waltz for Wednesday and am much more satisfied with it. Jive? Now that’s another kettle of fish.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Potatoes and Broccoli. Scamp made it of course. She’s the fish master. Much nicer than last night’s fish supper.

Tomorrow is Gems day and hopefully a better day all round than today.

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A glass of vino in the garden – 21 April 2018

I was up early (for a Saturday), but not to go anywhere, although the sun was shining.

No, today was baking day for my third sourdough loaf. I started it on Thursday evening when I made the Leaven, the preparation of active yeast. Then yesterday was making the dough which had cooled in the fridge and increased its size overnight and today it would be baked in a very hot oven that I put on just before 9.00 this morning. I left it for half an hour with a pizza stone in it, then I carefully slid the oversize dough on to the stone and shut the door. Left it for 30 mins before I had a quick look and it seemed ok. I was in two minds whether to give it the full hour or do what seemed right. I settled on staying with the recipe and gave it the full hour. Then turned the oven down and let it have an extra 15 mins at the lower temp, all as the instructions said. When it came out, it really looked the part and when it was sitting cooling on the wire rack it started crackling which is a sign of a nice crispy crust. Ok, time to have breakfast.

Later in the morning we deemed it to be cool enough and I cut the traditional slice from the fat end, spread it with butter and halved it between us. It was the best so far. Still a bit heavy at the bottom, but a definite improvement on what had gone before.

It had turned into a beautiful day, but neither of us really wanted to go anywhere. The roads would be mobbed on this the first really hot day of the year and we didn’t want to spend it sitting in a traffic jam so Scamp sat and read for a while and I completed two days worth of Sudoku while the sun shone in through the open window. Part of Buddhist meditation is called ‘just sitting’ and that’s what we were doing.

However, things were needing done and Scamp went off to plant out her sweet peas while I fiddled with the computer. Then we decided to go our for a light lunch, so we drove to Robroyston and had reasonable Costa coffee. Better than burnt water, but not as good as mine or Nero’s. Went in to Glasgow and got a bluetooth mouse for the new Linx. Got it home and it kept making the ‘puter crash. It worked on the Mac, but everything does, it was just the Windows 10 PCs that crashed. Gave up and went outside to have a glass of vino with Scamp sitting in the back garden in the sun. That’s where I saw today’s PoD. I can’t remember the name of the plant but it simply takes over the border by the back door. Dies down to nothing in the winter then sprouts up merrily the next spring. My mum called it Spirea, but that’s not its real name. Anyway, a macro shot of one of the sprouting buds made PoD.

Finally found a solution to the bluetooth problem. You just find the bluetooth radio in Device Manager and go to power options and set it to not shut down the radio. Just unticking the box does it. Simple.
<That note was for me for the next time I have the problem. I’ll remember that I wrote it down here … I hope!>

Dinner was a fish supper from the chip shop in Condorrat. Delicious, but I’m suffering for it now.

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A stay at home day – 20 April 2018

A day to get things done. That was the intention today and it worked … sort of.

It was an incredibly late start to the day and we probably lost the best of the day as a result, but The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an exasperatingly gripping story and one you just can’t lay down, especially when you’ve just worked out who’s talking and who they’re talking too. Just under 70% through the story and I still haven’t a clue who’s doing the murdering and even if there IS a murder. I’ll just have to wait another 30% to find out. It’s a bit like The Bone Clocks and a bit like Inception, but with Hercule Poirot type characters on each page.

When I eventually gave up, closed the Kindle and had my shower it was nearly 10.30! So much to do today. Most of it I achieved. Some I shelved for later, that indeterminate place in the future. Some things I hadn’t intended doing, I completed too. But first there had to be coffee!

After coffee I started on the bread making. Bread making used to consist of chucking the ingredients into the mixer, switching it on for 10 minutes. Then halving the dough. One half went in the freezer to be used in the future and half went to prove to make a loaf. If I was organised I’d get the dough made in the morning and the bread ready for the table by dinner time. Not so with Sourdough bread. Last night I made the ‘Leaven’ which is an extra-energetic form of the starter. Today I’d make the dough which has to be turned four times every fifteen minutes for an hour total. See? It’s quite complicated. After that it has to rest (so has the baker) before it’s tucked up in a basket and put in the fridge to sleep and dream of the nice warm oven it’s going into the next day. Three days seems to be the norm for a loaf. This is definitely not ‘fast food’. Anyway, I missed out the faff of turning it four times every fifteen minutes and went straight to dumping it in the fridge. Tomorrow we’ll see if I ever attempt another Sourdough loaf.

In between nursing and nurturing my dough, I washed the car to remove the rook crap from yesterday and even did a bit of planting in the garden. Basil (two kinds), kale and rocket were planted today. Some went out into the mini greenhouse to celebrate its first birthday and the basil went up into the front bedroom window sill to catch some rays and some heat (hopefully).

Dinner tonight was Butter Chicken from the Spice Tailor range. Lovely stuff. After that I struggled with Windows 10 trying to get it to do what it was told. Like a precocious child it did the exact opposite. Macs may be expensive, but they just work. Even the ones running El Capitan just work when compared with Windoze 10. Such a waste of time. In the later afternoon light I got my PoD which is a crocus stamen among some crocus leaves. I liked it right away.

Now I’m trying desperately to get the photos uploaded and the blog written so that I can go to bed the same day I got up. That would be another thing done!

Tomorrow? Thought of going to Embra, but Hibs are playing host to Sellic and that means loads of drunks on the train, so perhaps not. In other words, “Don’t know.”

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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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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.