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

Just a Monday – 19 March 2018

Today was just a Monday.

After lunch Scamp went to collect some of the Gems ladies and reported that it was a lovely day.  I had been considering an afternoon at the gym, but it looked so good with blue skies, sunshine and light winds that I changed my mind and took the car out to Bishopbriggs to have a look at the Linx 12×64 2 ‘n’ 1 laptop.  Unfortunately in contradiction to their website, they didn’t have one.  Allegedly they had one in Coatbridge, but I wasn’t in the mood for a run out there and anyway, a walk would be much better, so that’s what I did.

I drove back to Cumbersheugh and parked down by the station then went for a walk along the Luggie Water which is where I got today’s PoD, a bunch of Snowdrops.  Thankfully most of the real show is going fast.  Warm breezes and some direct sunshine is doing the good work.  Got talking to a bloke walking an enormous Alsatian.  It started off with us complaining about  the state of the Luggie and the dearth of fish in it these days and finished with him telling me his life story.  Eventually I did manage to get away.  I felt kind of sorry for him because he just seemed to ramble on from one thing to another.  It was almost as if he had nobody to talk to and didn’t want to let you go.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I had to get home to make the dinner before we went out dancing.

Dinner on a Monday is pasta.  At my mum’s it was always mince ‘n’ tatties on a Monday.  Here it’s pasta.  Today, for a change, I thought I’d make a version of one of Scamp’s favourites, Spaghetti dello Chef which is spaghetti with vegetables and cheese.  Mine was spaghetti with onions, mushroons, tomatoes, peppers and capers.  Finished with parmesan shavings, fresh ground pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil.  It was a success.

Salsa tonight was the usual chaos in the first class with lots of old moves and a few new ones.  Second class was equally chaotic with a few old moves and a few new ones.  Can’t remember the names of them all, but today’s new move was Stormtrooper 2.  We also went over Stormtrooper 1 and the one that’s still called ‘The New One’.  Apparently the cost of a block is going up for the first time in 10 years, from £35 to £40.  Nobody objected.  It’s still good value.

Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again.  Scamp wants to go into  the garden.  I might get my bike out.

E3231962- blog

Oh no! More snow – 18 March 2018

Looked out this morning and the snow was still falling.

The snow continued all day, it may still be falling, I haven’t the heart to check. It did put a bit of a dampener on the day. Having said that, it did tail off for a while in the afternoon, and tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer.

On Friday night, or to be more exact, Saturday morning when we got back from Larky, the kitchen fluorescent light wouldn’t work, so we suspect it needed a new tube. This morning I got the steps out, took the bulb out, cleaned the contacts and plugged it back in and it worked. Either a dirty contact was the problem or, more likely, the spider who usually maintains the light was dead. Its poor wee desiccated carcass was lying on the diffuser. It had had a hard life, poor thing.

With the light sorted, I started restoring my Linx to a previous incarnation. After a few false starts, I finally got it done and it has screwed up Windows Update, because there’s not enough room on the C:\ drive for it to download the latest update. Two fingers up to you Mr Windows 10! Now I just have to remember the sequence of operations to fool Lightroom into believing that the TZ70 is actually a TZ60. Don’t worry Scamp and JIC, I’m not going into details, it would be gobbledegook to you, and Hazy only speaks IOS now.

After lunch Scamp and I had a discussion and decided to make a final decision about the Sunday Social later in the afternoon. I went out for a walk around St Mo’s to get some last pictures of the snow before it disappears until December (ever hopeful). There weren’t many animal tracks to be seen. I did see some frog spawn in the ponds, but no sign of their creators. I was reading last year’s blog (You can too, there’s a link from this page if you’re reading on a tablet or a computer. Can’t remember how to access it on a phone) and read that the larch trees were pushing out their little ‘shaving brush’ needles, but there were none in evidence today. I won’t be sure that the bad weather is past until I see the larch trees showing some green and the deciduous trees showing some leaf. Trees know more than you think they do. Read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben if you don’t believe me. This man knows a thing or two about trees.

When I came back, not exactly frozen because I had layer upon layer of clothes on, we made the decision to stay put today and leave the Sunday Social to the warmer weather that’s coming. You could see that neither of us really wanted to cancel, but it was the sensible thing to do and sometimes, just sometimes we are sensible.

Today’s PoD is the Cladonia shot on the right.

Hopefully everything will be better in the morning and the snow will be on its way to some other more deserving recipients. That will mean it will be a normal Monday with all that that entails.

E3231962- blog

Today’s disaster – 23 February 2018

The good news was Scamp was much better when we woke.

I guessed she would be after a good night’s sleep, but was relieved to hear that she hadn’t been shouting down the ceramic telephone during the night. Had breakfast and sat in the living room soaking up the early spring/late winter sunshine when Scamp asked if the WiFi was off. I was doing my daily sudoku at the time and hadn’t noticed, so I checked the modem and both send and receive lights were off. I unplugged it to reset it and only when I was plugging it back in again, noticed that the light on the multipoint connector was off, so was the standby light on the TV. Oh dear, looks like there was a power outage. However, when I checked the junction box, I found that the RCD (Residual Current Device) had tripped. That usually means that some electrical item has gone faulty. I started pulling fuses from the box to try to find what was causing the fault and soon discovered it was the downstairs sockets. Went round switching them all off and then found that the culprit seemed to be the one connected to the fridge. That’s when the RCD tripped again. So it wasn’t just the fridge. Switched everything off and reset the RCD. It didn’t trigger. Started switching everything on again and unbelievably with everything on including the fridge, the RCD didn’t trip. Weird. Five minutes later the RCD tripped again. Weirder still.

Phoned Fred P who used to do PAT testing in the school to get his take on things and he told me not to just switch things off, but to physically unplug them. Did that and then plugged one thing on at a time. With nothing plugged in the RCD was fine. As soon as I plugged something in it tripped. Then it would trip with nothing plugged in. Fred phoned with the number for an emergency electrician he’d used in the past. I phoned and he came out in the afternoon. His first question was when I’d last tested the RCD. I told him I didn’t know you had to test them. Well, apparently you have to. There’s a note on the junction box to say so and he showed it to me and also showed me how to do the test … properly. Once every month or two he said. He waited while I connected everything up and gave it a good 15 to 20 minutes with everything powered before he left us. It cost £30 for the call-out, but it was worth it for the peace of mind. So the moral of the story is if you have a RCD switch and a test button, and if you have a little label on it telling you to test it regularly, do what it tells you. That way you won’t be staggering round the house like a loony trying to find all the sockets to pull.

After that I went for a walk to calm down and got a few pics of a young buck (PoD). Also got some of a goosander and a torn bit of a tree. Don’t ask why that last one. I just liked it. Saw the little white spot ladybird again, nestled in some moss. Stay where you are little ladybird, cold days are coming back.

Today’s sketch is just a bit of pencil rendering. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, let’s hope there are no more disasters. We have no plans.

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

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

Travelling on the ‘leccy – 6 January 2018

Today we got up early and drove to Croy to catch the train to Embra, but a surprise was in store!

This wasn’t a noisy old diesel train, this was a silent ‘leccy train, travelling by electricity! The future had arrived. It was seventy coaches long too, well, probably only about seven, but much longer than the usual three units. The future had arrived at last.

I’d like to say that the coaches were shining, sparkling and new, but they weren’t. They were someone else’s castoffs. You can’t expect Scotrail to pay for new platforms, new overhead power lines AND new carriages, be fair. Still the journey was smooth, comfortable and slightly slower than the old fashioned diesels. They did however get us to Haymarket much quieter than the old ones did.

I’m always a bit disappointed when I come out of the station at Haymarket. There is never a market there and very little evidence of hay. Is it like a Farmers Market which only arrives one or two days a month and we’re just not in Embra on those days? Perhaps it’s a sort of hidden, secret market that’s down an alleyway or round a corner and you need to know the password to be allowed entrance. Not that I’m at all interested in buying hay, it’s just that I hate the thought of missing out on something.

We walked up for coffee at Nero and on the way I saw today’s PoD just sitting there in front of me. The softness of the child’s bright pink woollen glove stood out so well against the clinical lines of the architecture, I just knew it would be PoD. I’d earlier taken the shot of the reflection of buildings, but the pink glove was the winner, by a mile.

After Nero, we walked down to Princes Street (No princes in evidence today) and on through a few shoe shops with no resulting purchases by Scamp, then up on to the Mound and across the Royal Mile to the Grassmarket heading for Tony Singh’s restaurant there. That was the cryptic message on yesterday’s blog. Not Ravi Shankar’s, but Tony Singh’s. However, it looked as if it was Under New Management because there was little evidence of Mr Singh’s sense of humour in the menu. It all looked very bland. Disappointed we crossed the road to Petit Paris where we knew from experience there was good wholesome French fare available, and so it turned out. Scamp had Courgette Soup and Poisson de Jour (Coley) and I had French Onion Soup and Plat de Jour (Toulouse Sausage) washed down with a glass or red wine, risking the wrath of the Scottish drink driving laws.

After lunch we wandered back down to Princes Street and walked through what used to be called the German Christmas Market, but which is now more likely to be the Polish folk selling Chinese copies of German artefacts. However, it was bright and cheery and everything was half price which must be a sickener for those who bought their Chinese knock-offs last week at full price. We didn’t buy anything, we were getting cold, so we just went for the rain home.

What a disappointment. It wasn’t a ‘leccy train, it was an old noisy diesel. What was worse was that it wasn’t seventy coaches long, just three. I felt we’d been sold short. However, the up side was that it was warm and it was a faster journey that the one in the morning.

Tomorrow it’s a Sunday Social Day, so we’re hoping to be dancing!