E3231962- blog

Feeling Refreshed – 23 March 2018

Scamp was going out for coffee with Shona, so I had all morning to swear at the Toshiba or to do some painting.

I chose painting, but there was no gesso. Gesso is a thick, sometimes textured base coat you put on the card, canvas or wood you’re going to paint on with oils or acrylic. It can almost be replaced with acrylic paint or even emulsion paint these days. I chose acrylic and slapped a muddy brown layer on both sides of the card, then hung the card up to dry. That was about 10am. I think it’s still damp tonight at 11.25pm. So, it was back to swearing at the Tosh.

Actually there was very little swearing involved because I’d found an obscure website where one member claimed that it was possible to ‘refresh’ Windows 10 without losing any data or apps. Everyone else said it was impossible. I like a challenge, so I followed the blokes instructions, downloaded the ‘media creation tool’ from the Mickysoft site which took about an hour and a half, unpacked it and found I needed an 8gb memory stick. I didn’t have one that size that wasn’t being used so as it was lunchtime I called a halt to the computer nonsense and Scamp and I had lunch.

Set off to Sunny Coatbridge to see if I could get my hands on a Linx 12×64, because according to the Currys website, they had them in stock. I wandered round the lovely, selection of laptops. Some too big 17”. Some too small 10”. None just right 12”. So, feeling a bit like Goldilocks I went looking for an assistant who wasn’t checking his Facebook status to ask if they had the elusive Linx. The bloke I asked didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but thankfully the youngster beside him who was just putting his phone away said he thought the had run out of them, but he’d check. He did and they had one left in the store, but it was in a box and he couldn’t open it. Bummer. But at least they had them. Maybe Stirling would have one, but that would be another day. Got a cheap memory stick and left.

Drove up to a dead end road at the back of Cumbersheugh Airport that cuts across the Antonine Wall and that’s where I got PoD. Looking North across Banknock, not to be confused with Bangkok. Sounds similar, different planet!

Came home via The Works to get some gesso, so over the weekend, I can paint, if not a masterpiece, at least something to take my mind of the failure of this wee drive to refresh my old PC laptop.

What a surprise! It took about five hours, but at the end of that I have a working Window’s 10 laptop. The ‘media creation tool’ and the memory stick did their work flawlessly. Not only that, the re-install did not touch any of my apps. Fantastic. Give that man on the obscure website a coconut. The laptop will still need to be reset properly and securely before I trade it in, but that was a ‘Wee Challenge’ that worked out well.

Speaking about coconuts, Scamp made Coconut and Fish Curry for dinner and it was really, really nice. Didn’t sound nice, I know, but it worked so well. The flavours blended beautifully.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a sunny day for someone’s birthday and a trip down to Troon for lunch.

E3231962- blog

Wednesday is Dancing day – 21 March 2018

I struggled with the Toshiba Windows 10 laptop for an hour or so in the morning, by which time it had loaded windows, but not so far that it would actually do anything. The desktop wallpaper had loaded and the ‘quick start’ icons were there, but the trackpad didn’t respond and neither did the keyboard. I eventually gave up and switched on the Mac. Ten seconds later I was in business. Same processor. Same memory. Different planet. I don’t actually use the laptop any more and am beginning to think that I’ll securely wipe the drive, reinstall Win10 and trade it in for a new Linx 12×64 to use as a holiday laptop. Windows 10 is a disaster for me.

After lunch we drove in to town for the first two dance classes. The first one was Waltz and we did quite well at it, which was especially satisfying because we hadn’t practised in the three weeks since our last lesson. Next class was Jive and although we were just reprising the routine we’ve been learning, it began to flow much more smoothly than it had. Heavens, we even managed the Boston Hitch … without a hitch. Cup of coffee and then home, but not before I grabbed my one shot of the day. Except, when I got it home and into the computer, I found that the camera had chosen a shutter speed of 1/8sec when it should really have been about 1/40th. Why it did that, I do not know, but I have now reset the camera to factory settings and then re-programmed all my previous settings. Unfortunately, by the time I did all that, it was dark outside, so I couldn’t test it to see if my drastic measure had cured the problem or not. It’s still under warranty, so worst case, I can send it for repair.

Dinner was the same as yesterday for both of us which was good because it was quick to prepare and of course Rats or Chilli always tastes better on the second day. Salsa was ok, but I could happily do without the Wednesday beginners classes. Yes, we’re helping the beginners, but we get very little out of it. I know Scamp likes to help, so for the time being I’m happy to go along.

Tomorrow I’m planning a sketching day in Glasgow if the rain stays away. If it rains I’ll still go in and hopefully get today’s aborted shot. Today’s PoD is tomatoes on the draining board!

E3231962- blog

First Full Day – 4 March 2018

P1040266Woke early again, or to be more precise, were woken early by the weans next door running up and down the apartment.  Glad we did wake early because the sun was already shining and the sea was sparkling.

Went down for breakfast and after that sat outside at the pool to let it slide down.  Saw a dragonfly, a big green one.  It was on a mission and flying a circuit with no opportunity to land anywhere that I could get to, so I just watched.  Butterflies too, loads of them.  Some I’d seen in Trinidad last year and others that looked like cabbage whites. 

After we’d rested for a while we went for a walk along the front in the direction of Caleta de Fuste (AKA the town).  Loads of folk out walking, some swimming in the sea, yet more sunbathing.  Sunbathing?  A couple of days ago you were thought mad to be out without a waterproof, lined jacket, woolly hat, gloves and heavy duty boots.  Now it was tee shirt and shorts.  We only walked along to the end of the hotel section, past the posh Sheraton.  Scamp decided that was enough for a Sunday morning stroll and I agreed.  Anyway, by the time we got back it would be nearly lunch. 

Got a safe key and pool towels after lunch and went down to the pool again.  Both of us had a swim in the slightly heated pool.  Actually it’s warm enough once you’re in.  Sat a while longer to dry off before we went back to the room because it was nearly dinner time (everything revolves around food, you see).  Spent an hour trying to get a regime set up for WIndows to work with Lightroom so I could get my photos processed.  I think I’ve finally worked that out.  What is it about Win 10 that means it cannot take NO for an answer.  It still persists in trying to download the latest version.  It doesn’t seem to understand that my C: drive is only 32GB.  It persists in telling me to free up 8GB.  It doesn’t seem to understand the simple two word answer:   FUCK OFF.

After dinner entertainment was Pepe of course, followed by a magician.  Doves from up his sleeve, escapology and lady pierced by swords.  Hmm, seen it before.  Less alcohol tonight before going to bed.

Today’s PoD is of reflections and angular lines.  Very esoteric and ethereal.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go for a walk in to town.

E3231962- blog

Dancing and procrastination – 21 February 2018

Computers, especially when connected to the internet (are any computers not connected these days) are the ultimate procrastinator’s tool.

I sat down to write today’s blog almost 45 minutes ago.  In the intervening time I’ve read what Trump is up to this week, checked the status of my latest 28 Drawings Later sketch on FB, written an email to one of the coffee-drinkers, drunk a cup of tea and eaten two biscuits AND, only now started to write the blog.  The procrastinator’s delight.

Dancing today and for once I think I am making progress with the Waltz.  I even managed the rise ‘n’ fall for a while before it all went to pieces.  Jive was another story.  Not a good story.  I recited the words Knee, Step, Kick, Hitch, Back Step, but none of them were delivered quickly enough to my legs.  Maybe they should be connected to the internet. Maybe that would help.  No, it would just give me another excuse to procrastinate.  We couldn’t get in to the dance studio which is downstairs in a pub basement.  Two blokes were laying carpet on the newly screeded stairs, so we went for a walk until the contact adhesive they were using cured.  That’s when I found today’s photos.  Two pieces of graffiti and one ‘ghost sign’.  A ghost sign is an old sign that has been covered up for years and only recently been revealed again.  That or an old piece of signage that’s been painted on (usually) a brick wall.  That’s what today’s was.  It’s a bit of urban archeology.  Today’s PoD was the sketch of King Smiley.  Rough and ready, I was hoping it was a sketch that the artist would return to later to paint, but I think that is a bit unlikely.   We finally got down the part finished stairs to the dance studio where we did our version of the waltz and the jive then found we couldn’t get out again an hour later at the end of the class because they were laying a much bigger piece of flooring on the landing and there was no way of crossing the wet adhesive without getting firmly stuck.  We finally exited through the Fire Exit, although if H&S ever check that fire exit, the pub will be condemned with immediate effect.


After we came home I sat down to doodle something for today’s entry and started sketching my foot, then my leg then me sketching my foot, then my …  Well, you get the idea.  I thought it was a clever idea and was pleased with the final drawing.

Salsa tonight was helping with two beginners classes.  I’m much happier helping with these classes, even Shannon’s class, than with Jamie’s grumpy Thursday class.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and maybe get an outdoor sketch done.  Depends on the weather, and the state of the procrastination, of course.


E3231962- blog

Walking, Dancing and Backups – 19 February 2018

I’d fully intended going to the gym today, but although there was a smir of rain in the air this morning, I decided that to avoid Gems, I’d go for a walk instead. It was the right decision.

<Technospeak Alert>
In the morning I finally got my wee 2-in-1 tablet computer sorted out by using an old memory stick to boot into Windows PE and from there run a backup program to restore a backup I’d made way back in 2016. I thought it might be a bit basic, but all the apps I need are on it and I’ve even worked out how to use Microsoft Gallery to import my RAW pics. I got truly fed up with having to manipulate the EXIF data on the photos to allow Lightroom 5 to work with the RAW files from the Teazer (Panasonic TZ 70) so now I’m going to use the free and very good RawTherapee to do the heavy lifting of the RAW processing. I’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks. Right JIC you can come back in again.
</Technospeak Alert>

After successfully got rid of the baggage that Win10 leaves behind, and after lunch too, I went for a walk down by the canal.  The weather had cleared up nicely and the air was much warmer than I’d anticipated.  It actually felt like spring was in the air.  I know, there another cold snap due in a few days, but it’s Scotland.  There’s always another cold snap due in a couple of days, even in June … Especially in June!!  I even saw a hairy caterpillar, but it wasn’t caterpillaring around, it was just sitting there.  Maybe it was sunbathing, yes, that’s it.  It was sunbathing in its fur coat.  I took its photo anyway, just for the record.  Caterpillars in February!  Who knew?!  The photo at the top was my favourite of the lot I took, so that’s why it made PoD.

We went dancing at night and just for fun I asked Alexa what the travel time was to the STUC just before we left the house.  She (it?) said 25 minutes.  Twenty five minutes later I was walking along Woodlands Road looking for a parking meter that actually worked.  Glasgow council, you do realise that it’s not enough to plonk new parking meters by the side of the road?  You know you have to maintain them too, and occasionally empty the coins we commuters cram into them every time we need to park?  Duh!  So Alexa translated my speech into text, sent the text to somewhere in California accessed a database from there, checked my commute and returned the data which was turned back into speech and spoken to me in a very human sounding voice, and got it spot on right!  All of that within about five seconds.  Brilliant waste of technology, but still Glasgow council doesn’t seem to know how to operate its parking meters.  If it was up to them, high speed internet connections would be done with two shiny tin cans and a piece of coloured string.
Dancing was ‘interesting’.  We did one rueda move that didn’t have a name and seemed to confuse everyone.  Tonight’s move was ‘Stormtrooper’  Great name.  I hated it.  Then as I saw how it was working, I began to like it and later  in the night when I’d almost perfected it, I thought it was great too, just like its name.  That’s what a good teacher can achieve.

Just my glasses

Tonight’s sketch was just a 15minute shot.  A placemarker of a pencil sketch.  It’s a bit rough, but I don’t have a lot of time on a Monday.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re off to Embra, to Leith in fact to go for a fancy lunch.

E3231962- blog

All Gone – 23 January 2018

The last of the snow had disappeared overnight. We were back to grey skies and rain.

In the afternoon Scamp drove us to the gym. She was eager to use her new gym card, but the computer was not feeling well so she couldn’t log in. As one of the regulars said “Every week there’s something else broken in here”. Did my usual rounds of the torture machines and added in an extra five minutes on the cross trainer. It was supposed to be ten minutes, but I considered I’d been cross trained enough in those five minutes. After the gym I went for a leisurely swim interspersed with ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the steam room. Scamp was so impressed with her new card that she booked another afternoon of torture (with an instructor) for later in the week. I think I’ll just stay un-instructed and just keep well away from the cross trainer. Maybe it was having a bad day and was a really cross trainer today, who knows.

After we got back and after undoing all that good work with two rolls ’n’ sausage, the sun broke through the clouds, so I grabbed the Olys and went for a walk over St Mo’s. With the snow all washed down the hills, the water in the pond was a lot higher than normal and so was the water coming out the overflow. That’s where I got my PoD. It’s a slow shutters speed shot of the wee burn in spate. Quite impressed with it after about six attempts at different shutter speeds. This one was 1/8th sec.

Did a wee bit more painting of trees before dinner (risotto with peas and prawns, since you asked) in the style of Paul Bailey.  Google him.  I like his style.  Very rough, not a lot of detail.  Scamp isn’t impressed.

Sitting watching my old Nexus 7 rebuild itself after a full factory reset as I type this. Sometimes it’s the only way to get them working properly again.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Hopefully Jive and Ballroom in the afternoon and then Salsa at night.

E3231962- blog

Snow Begone – 22 January 2018

Well, the thaw started last night and seemed to have continued its good work through the night.

Green grass was revealed in the garden, front and back as the temperature rose. It continued to rise throughout the day and even now as I’m writing this the outdoor thermometer is showing 6.1ºc. That said, it was a bit of a dull day, overcast with grey cloud. We shouldn’t complain, though, because that’s what was keeping the temperature up.

We dusted the last of the snow off both cars and then I drove us to the dump to toss the old microwave into the skip. It joined at least eight others in the ‘Small Electrical Items’ skip. Had they all been hit by some electronic lurgi at the same time or had everyone got new microwaves for Christmas? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

After lunch I did consider going to the gym and the steam room for half an hour as I had a crick in my back that just wouldn’t go away. However, it seemed a shame to waste a silent Monday as Gems had been cancelled today because the paths, although thawing, were still quite slippery. It gave me a chance to just sit and finish today’s ‘mild’ Sudoku. After that I set to, to copy a painting I’ve got sitting on my cork board wallpaper on the iMac. Instructions for making a cork board are down here. I wasn’t all that happy with the first attempt, but then chopped a piece of corrugated card from the microwave box and painted a much better one. Well, it looked good at the time, but it may look different in the harsh light of another day.

Salsa tonight was good and we were back to Gorila again, then Jamie G changed the ending and, in my opinion totally destroyed it. He took out the lovely tricky twisty bit and put in a bland enchufé as a finish. He even gave it a ridiculous name ‘Monkey’. Possibly because he’d made a monkey out of it. His other new one is called ‘The New One’. Nothing new there. We did one more new move called Enchufé Clap which is just silly. Enchufé then clap in the air, clap behind your back, clap below your left knee, clap behind your right knee. Hmmm.

PoD was a grab shot in the dull afternoon and is possibly the worst PoD this year.

Hopefully we’ll get out somewhere interesting tomorrow and get some photos took!

Make A Corkboard

The idea of a cork board as a wallpaper came to me some time ago and it’s an easy one to implement. I downloaded a cork board image from the net and tiled it up to cover the iMac’s enormous screen. That it the base.

Now whenever I see an interesting picture or sketch I use Cmd + Shift + 4 to create a clipping tool to grab the image or part of the image as a .PNG file and save it to the desktop. To add the image to the cork board I just open the cork board image in my photo editor, (I use Pixelmator, although Photoshop does the same thing) and drag the picture into the cork board image in the photo editor, then resize it and position it. It’s on a new layer, so it floats above the cork board image.

I now save two versions of the background file. The first file is in the native format of the photo editor. This will ensure that all the different layers are saved and it’s this one I’ll reload the next time I’m going to add another idea clip. The next file to be saved is a .JPG file that will be the actual wallpaper. Make sure you remember where each one is saved, because they are not interchangeable. Finally, I just right click on the background and select Change Desktop Background. That’s how it works on a Mac, but YMMV depending on your OS.

E3231962- blog

Chasing the Sunset – 9 January 2018

A bit of a nothing day. Not a lot to report other than the frost had all melted by about 10.30 this morning, but it was dull.

Finished off The Book of Dust. “A good read. A bit Boys Own Paper with some sweaty words”, sums it up for me.

Finally got round to posting the last calendar, JIC. Should slide through your letterbox in a day or two. Printed out another two last night and that will be the end of the calendar print for another year, unless I go the whole hog and print one for myself. Unlikely.

Driving back from Tesco I say the sky turn a golden pink colour from an already setting sun. It was just after 3pm, but that’s about the extent of the daylight at this time of the year up north. Drove round trying to find a suitable foreground for the sunset, but couldn’t find one. Eventually gave in and took a shot from behind Moodiesburn looking towards Muirhead. The resulting image that loaded into Lightroom wasn’t really what I saw, so I changed it a wee bit, and that’s what you see above as PoD.

Hazy, I had a problem with WordPress last night. The editing was restricted to text input and no Visual option was available. I got the blog written and posted, but knew this was some kind of screw-up. Slept on it and this morning investigated and found it could be caused by an update of themes and plugins. Since I’d upgraded both the theme and a few plugins yesterday morning, I suspected that was the culprit. So, this afternoon I deactivated all the plugins and tested with a new post. Yes, the input screen was normal with the text and visual tabs available again. Long story short, I found the culprit to be the upgraded Wordrpress(!) Markdown plugin. I’ve deactivated it and activated all the rest, then found another Markdown plugin that did the same job without the side effects. I hope you’re impressed, and thankful that I didn’t just automatically phone the ‘helpline’. I’m guessing you would have told me to do exactly what I found on the ‘net.

That about sums up the day. Dull and dank, but with a reasonable sunset thanks to Lightroom and Picktorial. A sort of Software Sunset.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. May take a trip to Perf, or may leave that until Thursday.

E3231962- blog

Coffee and Beta testing – 20 December 2017

Today revolved around Coffee and Salsa. I also managed a few moments to take a some photos and a few hours to edit them into some semblance of a landscape. That’s what computers do in this house, well, my computer anyway.

The day started with an email from the developer of a piece of software I am presently evaluating asking for a couple of files and more information about a problem I’m having with it. It’s the second problem I’ve had. The first problem was simply fixed with an update, but the update seems to have caused the second problem. Those who work in problem solving will understand this as a daily situation One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back. However, this software is being sold as a full price item just now and it patently hasn’t been tested properly. Don’t these people beta test before taking folk’s hard earned cash? Or, are the first users expected to, not only pay for the software, but also beta test as they go? Then when all the bugs have been squished the company feels obliged to issue an updated version which said customers will have to shell out more money to own. It’s companies with attitudes like this that encourage piracy. Anyway, I tried to send the files he asked for, but as they amounted to just over 280MB, they would have broken the Internet, so he got a couple of smaller files that still exhibited the problem. I don’t think I’ll be buying the software because it doesn’t do anything that my present editor Lightroom can do anyway. Don’t get me started on Lightroom and Adobe who make it, though. That’s another can of worms!

After all that technospeak and computery stuff I made a couple of CDs of music I’d found on my old HP computer. The most interesting, but very Lo Fi, music was from 1991 and was of Frank Zappa being given the chance to be a DJ on Radio 1. I do not know whose it was, but whoever it was, was taking a big chance. Two other things I’d taped from the radio were of Nicky Campbell interviewing Mr Zappa and are extremely thought provoking. Anyone who thought that Zappa was just an airhead would be amazed at the logical arguments this man put forth on radio. It appears that at the time he was considering running for president. Who would you rather have as president? An absolutely out-of-his-box airhead or Frank Zappa. I’d go for Zappa every time. Better hair and he can play guitar.

The CDs were for Val and Fred. Our last coffee meeting before Christmas and probably the New Year. It was an interesting meeting with sketches reviewed, books and CDs exchanged. Arguments argued and laughs laughed. A brilliant way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. On the way home I grabbed those few minutes to take some photos of the sunset from the top of the Whinedge Brae above Mollinsburn. When I got them home, the hours of tweaking and massaging them into some form of acceptable landscape began. I think that’s when I realised that Lightroom is Lightyears ahead of the new program (Picktorial). It did exactly what was needed with the minimum of fuss. It’s not got all the bells and whistles, but it produces the goods. A time will come when I will need to leave it behind, but not yet.

Went to Salsa to find that Jamie G was not in the building, he was off ‘darn sarf’ somewhere. Class was being taken by Irene who is quite good, but seriously lacks confidence and some young guy who can dance, but it years behind Scamp, Roy or I in experience or range of moves. We stayed to help out, but thankfully made an excuse and took off after the class finished. Leaving the pair to teach the next class themselves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch, but not anywhere near shops.

E3231962- blog

So Suite – 28 November 2017

Up early this morning. Phone rang at 7.14am to announce the imminent arrival of our new two piece suite.

The driver said he’d be arriving in about 15 minutes and just before 7.30am the gigantic lorry made its slow approach up the hill. Less than 30 minutes later, the two seater and three seater settees were in place and the van was gone to its next destination. I thought we had had an early rise until the bloke in charge told me his day starts at 5.30am. Those are just numbers and letters. That time doesn’t really exist. The new suite is quite different from the old one. Bigger than we had imagined it and quite solid feeling. Not uncomfortably so, but firm, yes, that’s the best way to describe it, firm.

Now that we were up, it seemed a good idea to get on with the day and get stuff done. Scamp had a skirt to take back to M&S and I had a head full of hair that needed controlling The hair, not the head, you understand. To solve both problems we drove in to Glasgow and went our separate ways, agreeing to meet up later in Cafe Nero. My haircut took longer than anticipated because the barber (the one from Larky) was telling me all sorts of tall tales of girlfriends, attempted murder and suicide pacts. Haircuts are such an education in this old-fashioned barbers shop. Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s tall tales, some times it’s just plain nonsense. It’s always entertaining.

When I eventually took my leave with the shearing done, I hurried up Sausage Roll Street to meet Scamp who had texted me to say she was waiting in Nero. After downing my coffee we made our way back to the car and then stopped off at Office World, an awful name for what used to be that Aladdin’s cave that used to be Staples. I was (still) looking for a printer. I didn’t see any of the photo printers that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for ink, but I did see an Epson that used bottles of ink. It looked like a good deal, but I wasn’t sure how good the photo quality would be. If it didn’t produce the quality I was looking for, it would certainly be much more economical than the HP that Scamp was using for her printing needs. We decided to look into it.

After lunch I had a look at the reviews and it seemed that it could indeed produce fairly decent quality photo printouts and the economy aspect was just as good as it seemed. We decided to go for it and found it was available in Argos. Quick trip to Bishopbriggs and brought the big box home in the Juke. I must say it’s a great car for carrying big boxes because you just slide them onto the raised bed in the back, not into the hold, so to speak. Even easier to get them out again. I came back the scenic route and that’s where today’s PoD came from. Half an hour of setting up and we were good to go. Text prints well and so, to my surprise do photos. Success. Of course, more testing and tweaking is necessary before I’ll be 100% sure (if I’m ever 100% sure!)

Out dancing tonight and the new(ish) move tonight was Hlar. I think it’s short for Hilarious. It’s the one where the leader balances on one foot while the follower drags him round in a circle. Don’t attempt it on a carpet, or on solid floor with ‘sticky’ shoes.

Came home and tested the new settee. It’s growing on me. Also, it smells New!

Tomorrow, taking stuff to the dump, that’s all that’s planned. Life will find a way to fill in the spaces.