Dancing – 16 October 2019

Unlike yesterday, we woke to rain.

However, as the morning progressed, so the weather improved and by midday the sun was shining. Time to go out and do some dancing.

No Michael today, so we had Anne Marie. Today we went over Somewhere Over The Rainbow again, and again we wore away some of the rough edges of the routine. I think it’s about as good as it’s going to get. I just hope we can remember:

a. The sequence of the moves.
b. The little tweaks we learned today.

If we can do that, I think we can progress on to the moves we learned today. New moves for an, as yet unnamed, Jive routine. One of the moves we’d done before, but the name evades Scamp and I and the second one we’re calling Knee, 3 kicks, because that’s a basic description of it. That was all Jive. We didn’t have time to do any waltz, but we did cover a new routine we’re learning for Quickstep. As with all quickstep routines, it’s the combination of Slow and Quick that cause me the most of my problems. Scamp seems to have no difficulty with them at all. It ’s just the way her brain works I think. Wired differently from mine.

Back home there was just enough time for a quick walk over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks on the remains of my loaf and some other bread that was as dry as a bone in the kitchen. The ducks didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. I got today’s PoD walking in the woods. I’d have liked to have used the 9mm lens, but I hadn’t brought it. The 14mm did a fairly good job and I was happy with the result.

Today’s sketch task was “A Frog”. I tried a quick sketch in the morning of Kermit who holds some lavender in the back bedroom. It wasn’t very successful and Scamp told me the head was the wrong shape. This confirmed what I already thought. After dinner I had another go and took more time to get the proportions of the poor frog’s head a bit better. Yes, it worked better this time. The only problem is the poor soul looks a bit sad. It’s hard to get Kermit’s quizzical expression just the way he looks on TV. Never mind, it’s a fair likeness. Tomorrow it’s “Crumpled Paper”. Inktober brings loads of that!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to be up and out early because the weather looks better in the morning.

Just another dancing fool – 9 October 2019

Driving through the driving rain to dance our hearts out to Michael’s tune.

Just another Wednesday. Weather was almost as bad as yesterday with more high winds blowing more rain clouds our way. Managed to avoid most of the rain on our walk down to Blackfriars. Stood and watched some brave souls abseiling down the City Chambers to give the statues a but of a wash and brush up. Thought it was Extinction Rebellion protesters at first, then realised they were wearing hi-vis jackets with a company logo on them, so they were legit. Below them they seemed to be giving away “Boris Bikes”, but on closer inspection it was just a photo opportunity to show off the new “Electric Boris Bikes”. I can’t imagine what an Electric Boris would be like. Probably he’d short circuit the National Grid.

Even further down the road there were a film crew setting up. We used to get excited when we saw film crews in Glasgow, but now it’s just par for the course and we’ve learned to ignore them. Glasgow is built on an orthogonal grid with roads running North / South and East / West, so with it’s old turn of the last century buildings it makes a decent look alike for some of the older parts of American cities. It must be a lot cheaper to seal off a portion of Glasgow that, say, Chicago. Couldn’t see what or who was being filmed today.

Dancing was quite good, but although the room is fine for Jive, it’s really too small for ballroom. We leaders keep getting told to take bigger steps in Waltz and Quickstep, but when we do, there’s so much clutter in the room we can’t fit in all the steps. Pillars in the way don’t help either. However, today we reprised the entire Over the Rainbow set and we got to dance with some of the advanced dancers which is always good, because they are so exact and so quick. We eventually gave up trying to dance round the room because people would stop and discuss who was right and who was wrong and, coupled with the two speaker stacks, the piano and the pillars there were too many obstacles in the way. Instead, we practised the short routines we’d been learning.

Coffee afterwards for our usual debrief, then back up to the car park. We weren’t so lucky on the way back and got fairly well soaked. In addition I wanted some shots to use for today’s sketch. My Inktober list for today wanted “A bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view”. In view of the strong winds, I decided that a bird’s eye view was out of the question. Also because of the heavy rain showers, I had to give up on an in-situ sketch, so instead I took some shots to use as reference material for today’s sketch.  It’s the Cranberry’s [sic] Restaurant in Glasgow.  Interesting building with a sort of tower breaking out of the corner of it.

Back home I decided there was enough light to warrant a walk to St Mo’s where I got today’s PoD which is a toadstool I saw emerging on Saturday. It’s grown a fair bit since then. I thought I’d get home dry, but that wasn’t going to happen. I got soaked, but at least it was on the way back.

Tomorrow I go to see the nurse about my blood results and Isobel is coming to lunch.

Just another Monday – 7 October 2019

You know how it is when you dream a strange dream and the feeling of it stays with you all day? I had that today.

Drove down to Jim Dickson’s tyre emporium and got a couple of new front tyres put on the Juke. Not the best quality Michelins that were on it from new, but hopefully good winter boots. Only time will tell. Just managed to get back for a quick lunch before Gems descended. Sat and talked to Margie about drawing while she showed me her drawings and I showed mine. Both sets were admired by both parties. And that was the morning gone.

Took the newly booted Juke out for a run to get some inspiration for today’s Inktober sketch which was to be “A Stone”. Drove to Auchinstarry and stopped at the flooded quarry. Lots of stone there, but nothing that inspired me. Walked over the bridge that spans the infantile Kelvin and thought about drawing some of the stones that cap the upstand of the bridge. Took some photos, but without really expecting them to be useful. Further on at the edge of the canal I found a short dry stane dyke and took some photos of it, because that would make a decent sketch.

Walked along the towpath and got the first part of PoD when I took a landscape format shot along the canal with a wee lucky of a cyclist coming the other way. Took another for good measure. Walked along a bit further, but the sun was quite low and blinding, so I turned back. Because the sun was much brighter now I took a few shots from the same place as the first one and the colours in the trees were much better now. Sadly no cyclist for a point of interest.

Back home I isolated the cyclist from the earlier shots and placed him in the better landscape shots from later. After a bit of jiggery pokery he blended is well enough, and that is how you make a PoD! Photographers don’t take photos, they make them.

Salsa tonight was a bit hectic and quite good fun. A weird progressive rueda group of moves with a name that escapes me. New Move 3 from three weeks ago and Chop from a couple of years ago at least, probably nearer five! Only one class and that suited me fine.

Watched, or rather, listened to University Challenge tonight, sketched the dry stane dyke and answered a few of the questions at the same time. Who says men can’t multitask?

Dorothy’s funeral tomorrow.

Rain, Rebellion and Revolution – 6 October 2019

Woke to rain and hope JIC and Sim were having better weather for their 10k.

It continued to rain all morning, but by early afternoon there was the odd glimpse of sunshine. Not enough to tempt me out to take some foties, but there was the prospect of a dry hour later in the day.

I did manage to get a sketch done, though. After some soul searching I’d decided to rebel against the ‘Official’ Inktober prompts as being too vague and open ended, airy fairy even. However I still liked the idea of a prompt list, so I used a list for Every Day In May (EDiM) which I’d truncated to 30 topics and intended using for June (EDiJ), but then the trip to Wales made that impractical, so it’s languished on one of the wallpapers of the iMac. It was simplicity itself to chop the first five days off the list then add one on to the end to achieve the full quota of days. Yes, I know there are simpler ways to do it, but this one worked for me. That meant that today was “Something metallic and shiny”. I looked like I’d fallen into the trap I was trying to avoid, then I found the teaspoon drying on the draining board. It was metallic and shiny, and so today’s Inktober sketch was born.

With one in the bag, and the rain going off, I took my camera bag and walked around St Mo’s for a while and found today’s PoD. Actually I found it walking to St Mo’s rather than in the park. I was fed up taking dull autumn shots and set myself the task of shooting something colourful and the Berberis leaves were certainly that. Brightened up my mood too. I got a few other shots in St Mo’s, but the berberis was easily the winner of PoD.

When I came home I made some soup under Scam’s careful tutelage. I’ve made soup before, of course, but this was broth and made with a leek, a few carrots and a handful of broth mix. I’m a time and temperature person. I like to measure things accurately so that I can replicate them. Soup making by Scamp’s method (and my mum’s) is nothing like that. It’s “about that amount of water” and “just a pinch of this”. Very different to my careful weighing and reading the meniscus of water in a measuring jug. However, it worked, as I knew it would.

With the PoD done, the sketch also online and a plate of good soup in us we were ready to go dancing. A new venue tonight was Revolution in Mitchell Street. Big dance floor, but everywhere was just oh, so sticky. Once Shannon had dusted it with copious amounts of talc it was useable. Unfortunately we’d chosen to sit right under a speaker and by the time the music started properly, there were no other seats left. We’ll choose more wisely next time.

Back to have a baked potato each with Lamb Rack (for me) and Salmon Fillet (for Scamp). Not a bad day.

Spoke to JIC and found out the 10k had gone well with both of them achieving good times, but I think Scamp was disappointed that although Sim was ready for a Half Marathon, JIC wasn’t that keen.  Best to know your limits is my tuppence worth.  Know how far to push it but no further.

Tomorrow I’m intending going to see how much a pair of front tyres will cost me at Jim Dickson’s in the Village and try to get tomorrow’s sketch of “A Stone” done fairly early.

Jag in the morning for my flu jag. What a way to start a Saturday – 5 October 2019

Flu jag on a dull day then problems solved.

At least 10 folk before me in the queue to get their flu jag, but I’d barely had time to fill in the form before I was called. No problems with it so far and if it keeps the flu away from me, I’ll be a happy bunny.

What to do with the rest of the day on such lovely afternoon with threatening rain that would soon be more than a threat? We went to lunch, that’s what we did. Drove to the Cotton House which has been completely renovated. No big fish tank taking up half the width of the restaurant, just a skimpy wee narrow one as you walk in. It looks like there are now fewer tables too with discrete little booths dotted around. Actually, I preferred the old style. However the one thing they haven’t changed is the menu or the chef. Thank goodness for that. Still got Spring Rolls and Chicken Noodle Soup as starters for Scamp and me. Scamp went for Chicken Mushroom which looked very like Chicken Chop Suey and I had the traditional Chicken Chow Mien. Both delicious. Slightly smaller portions than before, but quite adequate as a lunch. We hadn’t booked, so were given a one hour time slot which meant we had to forego coffee. We’ll be back again, hopefully soon.

I offered to drive to Robroyston so that we could have the coffee we’d missed and Scamp could browse Watt Bros and I could browse B&M. Slumming it today you see. I found the tablet support I’d inadvertently dumped in a skip last week for the same price as the Ikea version, but it appeared that the tills were down and judging by the vacant look on the cashier’s face, his brain was down too. Oh dear, I should have known that it was just too good to be true. Gave up after five minutes and no sign of the meltdown ending, so I left to find Scamp in Watt Bros looking a bit worried as half the displays were empty. Surely Watt Bros weren’t going to the wall too. We’ll accept some things, but Watt Bros failing is a step too far. Where will she go for Christmas prezzies now? Maybe it’s just a re-stocking exercise and everything will be glittery, red and green for Christmas soon. Hopefully.

The coffee in Costa gave us a chance to unburden ourselves. We were tentatively booked for three Christmas Balls. I love the Salsa Christmas Ball, but I hate the venue which is the Classic Grand. It’s a glorified bingo hall. It’s manky with a capital M. It’s dark and I reckon it’s also a fire hazard with those narrow exit stairs. Basically it gives me the creeps. Strangely, Scamp felt the same, she also complained that there weren’t enough seats, so we scrubbed that one off the list.
Michael’s Christmas Ball is in the Redhurst Hotel which is out on the southern edge of Glasgow and is a nightmare to park at. I don’t mind that, but he, being a drag artist, is always wanting to drag (no pun intended) that into the night somewhere. It gives me the creeps. Scamp doesn’t really mind that, she just doesn’t like the venue. Agreed, we scrub that one too.
Finally we’ve been offered a place at a table at the Christmas Ball hosted by Stuart and Jane (our good dance teachers from the cruise). We are both agreed that we should accept that one. So Scamp said she’d confirm that as soon as we got home. All that sorted out over a Flat White and a Latte and a pastry each. Two minds set at rest. Two balls cancelled. One ball accepted and, Scamp being as good as her word, texted the confirmation to Stuart and Jane when we got back home. Done and Sorted!

When we got home, I decided to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some foties. Luckily there were some fungi pushing up from the forest floor and the little umbrellas became PoD.

Topic for today’s Inktober was ‘Build’, so my answer was an Escher-like impossible stair.

Tomorrow I was thinking of going for a walk along Glasgow Green, but that may depend on the weather. It’s raining now.

Today was dancing day – 2 October 2019

It was cold this morning. Temperature when I was making breakfast was 1.7ºc, which was around the 2ºc they predicted last night. There was even frost on the roofs out the back of the house. Winter is Coming. Hmm, that sounds like a good title for a TV series or something!

Flew around on X-Plane for a while trying to find out how autopilots work and then attempting to make a working flight plan using an amazingly easy to use piece of (legally) free software. Amazingly easy to use at the lowest level (my present level) but quite sophisticated as you get deeper into it. It’s called Little Nav Map in case you’re interested.

Just before I got started someone knocked on the front door and delivered a big box of flowers, a box of chocolates and a bottle of Prosecco. All from Clive, our visitor from last week. It was a lovely surprise. The flowers are beautiful and are arranged in one of my mum’s vases sitting on a little table. We had to test the chocolates tonight just to check that they were ok 😉. We’re leaving the Prosecco until the weekend! If you’re reading this, thank you very much Clive it was really kind of you. I apologise for the arm wrestling in the restaurant!

Off to Glasgow to dance for an hour with Anne Marie. Went over the entire “Over The Rainbow” Jive routine with slight variations from Michael’s moves. Tidied up the ‘new step’ from the Waltz and the Promenade from Quickstep. Rather a full hour!

Coffee and Debenhams to look for a new pair of dark trousers for me for next week. When we were going in, the Bowie / Bolan bloke was hammering out a version of one of their songs, so I took his photo. He’s annoyed me with his singing for ages, now was the time to pay for it with a PoD. He sings Marc Bolan. He sings David Bowie. He’s versatile because he sometimes sings Bowie songs with a Bolan voice and vice versa. This is him on his favourite pitch on Argyle Street in Glasgow. I liked his choice of backdrop. No trousers that I liked in a size that fitted. Maybe try Debenhams in Stirling later in the week.

Back home I made Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto for dinner. Dead easy, because it’s all made in the oven. That’s the best type of cooking, the easy type.

Today’s Inktober prompt was ‘Mindless’. I was indeed mindless and didn’t want to do what most people were doing “Saving the Planet from the Mindless Ones”. Eventually I gave up and sketched and scrapped a coffee bar, then noticed my keys sitting next to me. They didn’t fit the prompt, but I thought the shapes looked interesting and doable, so today’s sketch is Keys!

Tomorrow we may go on a trouser search in Stirling, or maybe we’ll do something else.

Another lazy day – 29 September 2019

This one won’t take long to write.

Talked to Hazy on Skype this morning to get the updates on all things down south. After that we timed a walk to the ‘new shops’. Just around 10mins since you’re asking. Official reason was to get the makings of tonight’s dinner which was Braised Peas with Bacon, Lentils and Cod. We substituted Haddock for Cod, but other than that, stuck closely to the recipe. Also for once I got my act together and started some bread dough before lunch, which meant it was almost ready for dinner.

Went out in the afternoon to get some photos and got today’s PoD which is a ‘take one, get one free’ of two flies on a grass stem. Made the dinner as described above, watched the Russian GP where karma took Vettel out of the race. That’s what you get when you think you’re better than everyone else.

Spoke to Jamie after that, and basically, that was the day in a nutshell.

No salsa tomorrow and no Gems either because it’s September Weekend here. Scamp would like to visit a garden centre to get bulbs for next year, so we may do that, all being well.

See, I told you it wouldn’t take long to write. Some days are like that.

Dancing day four of four – 18 September 2019

But before we go dancing, some blood must be donated.

Drove up to the health centre for my 9.10am appointment with the blood taker. Not the cleanest or most painless donation ever, leaving me with a fairly large bruise. However maybe it was her first blood letting of the day. Nobody is perfect.

On to the rest of the day and more importantly, the ongoing saga of the NAS drive. Today I managed to get into the control page of the WD MyCloud and it told me after a fair amount of time wasting that my firmware was up to date. This I find hard to believe when I’ve had warning after warning that the firmware needs to be updated. In fact I have had Fourteen such warnings now, the last one being this morning! I downloaded the most up to date version and tried connecting the MBP to the drive directly using a cable but when I tried to install the new update I got the message that there wasn’t enough space on the device to install. There is only about 700GB of space on the drive, but I’d have thought that would have been enough. I checked to see if I was misreading the instructions, but no, for once, I’d done everything I was asked. After this last attempt, the drive seemed to go on a go-slow and wouldn’t do anything without a ten minute wait. I gave up and got ready for today’s dancing.

Today we were back in Blackfriars and I was in a Black Mood. However, my mood brighten when I heard the music. That’s one of the reasons I keep going. The music is bright and cheerful. Not so bright and cheerful were the other couple who had returned to the class after about a six month lay-off, apparently because of illness, as yet undisclosed. A new start today when all us beginners were partnered with an advanced dancer. Quite a revelation to me. It was good to be guided by an expert. Not that Scamp isn’t a great guide, but these ladies have many years of dancing experience over us. Really good idea, Michael.

Today we were going over what we’ve been taught for the last three or four weeks and trying to clean it up and get out of bad habits, so no new moves in Jive, Waltz or Quickstep. A good chance to consolidate.

On the way to Blackfriars I grabbed today’s PoD. One of the protesters who have now become a fixture outside the City Chambers on George Square. Every day, one of them is sitting with a loud hailer spouting their demands to anyone who will listen. Come rain or shine they are there. It wasn’t rain today, nor was it really shiny, but this bloke was sitting there playing his pre-recorded spiel.

Back home I got fed up and performed a restart on the NAS and left it to get on with it.

After dinner we went to Salsa. We knew that the 6.30pm class was closing and that Jamie G was giving up teaching on Wednesdays. Personally, I think this is the thin end of the wedge and the next announcement will be that he’s giving up teaching salsa completely for perhaps a year, to devote more time to his ‘day job’, but we’ll have to wait and see. What we didn’t know was that the STUC building is to be demolished to build houses. Where will we go on a Monday night now? Didn’t learn anything new here either but went over some old favourites.

Came home to find the drive running like new. For how long, I’m not willing to say. It works, for now.

Tomorrow I may get my hair cut.

Big Dancefloor & Hill Walking – 17 September 2019

Easily achieved my 10,000 steps and my 8 active hours today!

Out to Milton of Campsie to a fairly new church hall for an extra dance class today. Big hall, but only three couples again. We went through our paces with Quickstep and Waltz, then had a go at the Over the Rainbow set for Jive. I think we were slightly further ahead than the other two, but not by much and the size of the hall was a bit off-putting to start with. We still managed to get in folks way when dancing, but not as much as at Blackfriars. I think we’ll go back again.

Back home, Scamp was gardening as usual, but the sun was shining, so why not. I grabbed my wee camera bag and took it for a walk up Croy Hill. I’ve been meaning to climb it for a few weeks now and, as the weather was kind today, that seemed like the ideal opportunity. I made the mistake of parking at Auchinstarry which meant I had to walk up the path to the start of the real assault on the hill, but I will remember that I can park nearer to the interesting part of the hill and forego the slog up from the car park.

The main hill was fine, although it was hard going when you haven’t done this sort of thing for a few years. Great view from the top, all the way along the valley and across to Glasgow too. The light was lovely on the Campsie. Took a couple of groups of shots for an extended panorama, but Lightroom baulked at it, so I had to use Autopano Giga which apparently has been bought out and discontinued by another company. Such a pity as it was an expensive, but really useful panorama maker. It was based on a free program, but the company who developed it added lots of bits and pieces that made it far more user friendly. That’s the way of things these days. After all that, I wasn’t that impressed with my pano, much preferring the view across to Bar Hill, the next Roman fort on the line of the Antonine Wall. That’s the one that got PoD.

Tonight I tried to update the firmware on our NAS drive, but it was a complete disaster from start to finish. It’s a Western Digital MyCloud and it’s as slow as treacle on a Mac. On a PC it’s no problem. I thought the ‘automatic updater’ had ‘bricked’ it, but it came back on line again after a cold restart. Might have a go at a manual install tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to give some blood for my PSA test and for a diabetic check. Best to get them both done at the same time.

When a plan goes awry and Mickysoft get it right – 16 September 2019

It was one of those days where I’d planned what I wanted to do and how to do it.

It was one of those days when the planning went to pot right from the start. I had an idea that I could install an old version of AutoCad that I got, legally, years ago in the Linx. The installation went well after a shaky start when Windows 10 kept interrupting to tell me it was time to “Get back on track”. This happens occasionally and if I tell it to go ahead, it just clears the screen and displays the annoying message again, and again, ad nauseam. I finally clicked “Update and Restart”. It didn’t update, just restarted, but when I looked the “Update and Restart” message had gone, so for once, Win 10 was satisfied that I was back on track. Now I could settle down to installing AutoCad. The installation went well and then when I clicked the icon the spinning wheel spun for a while, stopped spinning and so did AutoCad. Tried again with even less success. Not even a spinning wheel to infer that something was happening. I closed the laptop and went upstairs to avoid Gems.

I had been intending posting a parcel to Hazy and driving in to Glasgow in the morning. It was now early afternoon, there was no point in going in to Glasgow now and a black cloud had descended on me, but I did get the parcel posted Hazy! Outside the sun was shining, but I couldn’t be bothered to take any of the cameras with me for a walk, so I just went for a drive instead.

It was a good idea to take the laptop upstairs, because when I was out, I remembered that if you right click on a recalcitrant app on Win 10, you can sometimes encourage it to work by coaxing it into believing it’s running on an older OS. That’s what I did and after some number crunching it decided that the old AutoCad would work better in Windows XP, probably the most resilient and trustworthy OS Mickysoft has made. Tried it and it worked. How amazing. Everyone said that AutoCad 6 wouldn’t run on anything newer than Windows XP, even Microsoft said so. Then they make it believe it’s running on Windows XP and it works!! Sometimes Mickysoft do get it right. After that I struggled for a good hour trying to remember the commands and tweaks to draw in AutoCad. Just in case you’re wondering what I’m drawing, it’s a portable, One Size Fits All, foldable lens hood for the Oly and Panasonic lenses. Yes, I could have drawn it old-style on paper, on a drawing board, with instruments, but where’s the fun in that?!

By the time I’d managed to draw circles and straight lines properly it was time for Salsa, the black cloud had gone. In the last night of the intermediate class we covered an old move, Elliem which I should know, but couldn’t get right tonight. Also a new move which was much more complicated, but I got right every time. Don’t know how that happened. In our advanced class we did three new moves called New Move 1, New Move 2 and New Move 3. How we’re going to remember which one is 1 and which one is 3 next week I do not know. Also found out that Jamie G is not going to be teaching on Wednesdays after the end of September, due to pressure of work. That’s a pity. A vacuum that will need to be filled.

It may be partly filled by a new ballroom class we’re hopefully testing out tomorrow in Milton of Campsie, which is a bit of a trek for us. We’ll have to see what it’s like.

PoD was a grab shot of a cactus that’s been growing happily in the downstairs toilet for about 30 years. It’s a fair size now, but the original plant is still there, growing in an ice cream tub that came from Netherburn! I really should replant it.

Tomorrow hopefully dancing in a new venue and more AutoCad tutorials to read.