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Glasgow in the Rain – 18 October 2017

Now, I like Glasgow. It has beautiful architecture, some fairly decent shops and a good Cafe Nero, but Glasgow in the rain is like any other city in the rain – dismal.

I imagine that’s what the picture at the top shows. Its description on Flickr said “It’s Scotland. We specialize in gloomy.” It was my PoD. I’ve become a lot less invasive with my editing since I got the iMac. Up until last week I was applying the techniques from the French bloke Serge Ramelli. They work well, but give a rather false look and everyone looks the same or similar. Since I got the iMac I’ve been experimenting with a much simpler and less extreme group of settings and I like that better than Mr Ramelli’s technicolor marvels.

Photography aside, we went to Glasgow to get a party wig for Scamp who is going to said party on Friday. It’s to be standard Halloween fare for the ‘Witches’. Lots of drink, lots of food and a good laugh. Luckily it’s girls only, so I am spared the excesses. Also luckily it’s someone else’s turn to drive, so I have Friday night off. We did eventually find a wig. Nothing very special, but at least we got one. Not in Glasgow, though. Everything there was overpriced and tacky. I had forgotten how many pop-up shops appear like toadstools around autumn. Each shop selling the same tat for the same price. Is there a cartel running here simply to fleece the unwary at Halloween. I know these same shops will disappear overnight on the 1st of November, then pop up again on the 2nd November disguised as jolly Xmas shops.

Spent the afternoon writing an email complaint to Vodies. Maybe that should be Vogons, because “Resistance is Useless” (Not ‘Futile’ – that was Star-trek.) Then set about cataloguing my photo collection using Lightroom. So far I’ve got from 2000 to 2004. A little bit at a time is the way to do it.

Salsa tonight was interesting for a while, but the 7.30 class was boring because it has shrunk again to about six couples, three of whom are ‘advanced’ helpers. Not at all good. It’s due to close in three weeks.

Today’s sketch is the phone. Not nearly my best and yesterday’s (done this afternoon!) was little better. Must try harder.

Tomorrow? Maybe Falkirk.

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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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The Journey starts here – 10 October 2017

Last night I emailed the help line at Journey about exporting my journal from Day One and importing into Journey. This morning I got a sample .zip file to try to import. I tried it and it worked. It was just a file with some text and a few pics, but it proved to me that the import dialog worked. I tried exporting about ten days of Day One and then importing. That worked too. Tried a month and that worked. Tried six months and that didn’t. Tried four months (a third of a year, easy to slice up) and that worked. Spent the rest of the morning chopping up my journal into four month pieces, exporting them from Day One and importing them into Journey. It took some time and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Virgin were working on the fibre line so access was sporadic. However, it’s now done and it looks like the Journey has begun.

We went to the leisure centre before lunch and hit the sweet spot in the pool, just after 1pm when all the spa punters have gone to stuff their faces in the restaurant. We almost had the pool to ourselves. I was there trying to ease my aching back, so although I swam for a wee while, I lounged in the jacuzzi and steam room for longer than I exercised. Maybe next time It’ll be the other way round. Heard that the leisure centre and presumably the hotel too has been sold. That will probably mean the fees for the leisure centre will increase soon.

After lunch I went for a walk over to St Mo’s in the rain. I didn’t expect to get much, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I did get was a few shots of the Cladonia lichens after I’d given my knees a workout crouching down to get them. Thanks to the really good sensor on the D7000 the ISO 8000 didn’t create too much digital noise.

Tonight’s sketch is of my wee Cotman watercolour box that usually lives in my camera bag with my sketchbook, just in case I need to add some colour to a sketch.

Coffee with Fred and Val tomorrow and the weather looks wet!

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Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

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When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

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Went out, lost the dog – 14 September 2017

Went to the Fort today in Easterhouse. For ages I’ve been saying that what they really needed to build in Easterhouse was a fort and finally someone listened to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of fort. It’s just a big collection of shops and cafes, but it does have a bookshop again.

Had a cup of brown water in Costa. I thought Cumbersheugh had the worst Costa. I was wrong the Fort version wins hands down. Someone should tell the ‘baristas’ that you have to refill the coffee filter for EACH customer. You don’t simply fill it in the morning and just keep using it again and again. Definitely having tea next time. Bought some Cerulean (other spellings are available) acrylic paint. Cheapest I could find was £1 for 75ml that sounds ok to me. It’s a useful sky colour.

Came home and grabbed the camera and the black dog and took them both to St Mo’s. Got some photos of a poor wee Jenny Long Legs untangling itself from a spider web, but wasn’t impressed with the results. Gave it a helping hand on its way. Turned round and the black dog had gone. The last I saw, it was following a couple out walking their Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Have fun with them Big Black Dog, people.  I won’t miss it.

Picked up JIC and Sim at Glasgow Airport and caught up over a few beers and a G ’n’ T.

Today’s PoD is of St Mo’s under a bright blue sky. A 9mm lens works wonders. So does watching the BBD disappearing over the hill.

Don’t know what tomorrow brings. A walk has been suggested. We can do that!

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Drawer No 2 – 8 September 2017

The task today was to clear up the second drawer of the four.

I thought this was going to be an easy job, but after an hour and another poly bag in the bin, I had a semblance of order in the second drawer. It has become my ‘paper drawer’. Watercolour paper, pastel paper, photo paper, even tracing paper. Now the top drawer looks a mess again by comparison.

Coffee with the guys today and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ve found the happy medium with Cumby Costa. Mocha Cortado to start and a double espresso after an hour or so. We talked a lot across a wide range of topics and finished discussing the start of construction of the new Cumbernauld Academy or Cumbernauld Atrocity as Fred will have it.

Because this was in my head when I drove away from Tesco, I just had to see what was happening to my old school. It appears that the concrete columns have been poured and there’s a bit of work on the concrete too. Basically it’s at the stage of being a quagmire with some concrete pillars poking out of it. One day it may come together, but for now, all I can say is that it’s in exactly the place that the architects intended it to be in.

Drove around looking for a subject for today’s PoD. It took me quite a while, but eventually I decided to have a look at the Falls of Luggie. That’s not its real name, but it’s a small waterfall on the Luggie Water, and Falls of Luggie makes it sound spectacular. A long shutter speed would have been good, but I didn’t bring a tripod. I’ve got two good tripods and I keep on telling myself to leave one in the car. I only need one at home. I made do with the slowish shutter. Slow enough to blur the water, but fast enough to hand hold. Couldn’t decide whether the 45mm or the 9mm worked better. The result is above.

Tomorrow we go to visit Dorothy and it’s supposed to be a better day, although today wasn’t all that bad.

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Musical Chairs – 22 August 2017

Today we chose not to go to the gym or the pool, but instead went looking for a new suite.

Scamp chose the Birkenshaw Trading Estate as the best place to browse for a suitable replacement for our sagging two and three seaters, but first we had to find the place. It’s no longer as simple as just scooting along the A/M8 and taking the first turnoff. Nope, since the new M8 superhighway was built, nothing is simple anymore. To get to the turnoff you have to drive on until you reach the Eurocentral exit, go round two roundabouts and then back the way you’ve come, but on the old A8 until you reach the turnoff for Birkenshaw. I suppose it made sense to someone when they were designing it, but it makes no sense to me. I was only glad I’d filled the tank before we left.

Eventually found the clutter of furniture shops all selling the same stuff, it seemed, at varying prices and with varying financial incentives. We finally settled on three front runners. Of which one was lagging behind. Scamp got fed up eventually and didn’t even bother going to Sofa King, something about the name apparently (“No need to swear.” she said!), but since she’d removed that one from the list, she substituted it with another. This was an easier drive, along London Road to DFS which is where we picked up the fourth possible contender for the Suite of the Year Award. So now we’ve got it whittled down to four suites in four different shops. She thinks we should leave it for a few days and then go again to make a final decision. I agree with that strategy, and in the mean time I’ll try to find a way round the roundabouts to get us to Birkenshaw.

We did try one more ‘shop’. This one only made bespoke suites. Yes, they did make leather suites, but it “depended on our budget!” we were told. A leather hide would cost in the region of £350 and a suite would need at least 5 hides. So, that was £1750 for the hides. God knows how much the frame would cost. We smiled and left.

Came home and calmed down with a Smokalies Base which was Skye weans talk for Spaghetti Bolognese, away back when the weans were wee. Then I declared that the afternoon would be devoted to slapping oil paint on a canvas, and very enjoyable it was too. After that and before dinner, I went for a walk in St Mo’s with the Nikon. Captured some interesting dragonfly shots, the most startling of which is headlining the blog. Prime macro lenses are such an eye opener. A must if you’re interested in nature subjects like what Scamp calls ‘Beasties’.

Dinner was a prawn and pea risotto and it was very nice, even if I say so myself. Pudding was an apple pie made by Scamp from our own apples. Even better than my risotto.

Tomorrow I’m going to skip the gym/swim thing again because I’m booked in for a coffee with Fred. May do some more painting in the morning, but I’m running low on the water base oils, so I need to get two or three somewhere. Oh yes, and it’s going to rain tonight and into tomorrow morning, so the weather pixies say.

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Here be Dragons – 9 August 2017

Well, the weather fairies were right again. Sorry to you folks down south, but we had another beautiful day. Not quite the wall to wall sunshine of yesterday, but not far off it.

We were headed for Devilla forest again today. We’d last been there in May and enjoyed the walk, but didn’t see any of the red squirrels that are supposed to inhabit the woodland. Didn’t see any today either, but we did see loads of dragonflies around the pond at the end of the walk. Mainly Black Darters, but there were also a couple of Emeralds that seemed to fly non-stop all the time we were there. Sometimes they’d hover almost motionless while they checked out what was happening around them. Unfortunately the Oly or its lens was unable to focus on them properly, despite the fact they were static for five or six seconds at a time. Also despite the fact that I was swearing at it the whole time. I did get some satisfactory shots of the male and female Black Darters and a nice one of an Emerald Damselfly playing hide and seek behind a reed and that became PoD.

After I’d had my fill of ‘beasties’, we drove to the Walled Garden for lunch. It was busy, but not so busy that we had to queue for a table which was better than I’d expected. After lunch we drove home.

Salsa tonight was the start of a beginners class and it was a gigantic class. Enjoyed helping, but in the 7.30pm class, I couldn’t get any of the moves right. Moves I knew well too. I think my brain must have been stuck on beginners level.

Hoping for just one more day of sunshine before it all collapses at the weekend.

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Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.