Out on the town – 30 January 2020

Today was the anniversary of the day we first met. A much more sensible anniversary than the day we married.

Simply put, if we hadn’t ever met, we wouldn’t ever have married, but if we’d met and never married, it would have made little difference to us. To other people it would have been important, but to us it would have simple have been a convenience.

We got the bus in to Glasgow today. Not the slow X3, but the much quicker X28 from Condorrat. True, we had to walk over to Condorrat, but it was worth it not to have the bus stop at every one of the 5,000 stops all the way to Glasgow. Well, it seemed like that anyway.

We went for coffee in Nero before we walked down through the town. I watched an older woman struggling with a smartphone until a young bloke helped her to dial her friend on it. After a couple of attempts she managed to complete the connection and asked the bloke the name of the coffee shop she was in. She then relayed this information to her friend who told her he/she would meet her outside the Concert Hall. Again she asked for help from the young bloke, but this time he couldn’t help as he didn’t come from Glasgow, so another couple provided directions (it was actually just next door). We take technology like smartphones for granted and for those of us who are adept at using it, we can find all the information we need at the touch of a button. For others it’s a bit of a trial. It’s easy to forget how bamboozling modern technology can be. I hope she found her friend.

We walked down Bucky Street and I grabbed today’s PoD outside the Apple shop. I wonder how much business SimplyFixIt gets from this sign? Walked further along Argyll Street an up past the old fruit market for lunch in Gandolfi Fish. Lunch was Smoked Haddock Goujons as starter for both of us followed by Oven Baked Cod with Pomme Anna and Kale for Scamp. For me it was Sea Bass and Prawn Risotto. Washed down with a bottle of Italian red. For once we had a pudding: Panna cotta with Strawberries and Basil for Scamp. All of it absolutely brilliant. Service too was done with a smile which always helps. Had a drink in the Gandolfi Bar next door, but it was a dull, cold and uninteresting place. We wouldn’t go back there, but Gandolfi Fish is on our list now.

Bus back to Condorrat and then walked home in a gathering gale with splashes of rain. It didn’t matter, because we’d had a great day.

Tomorrow we’re cooking for six!

Coffee with the Cynics – 14 January 2020

You can’t beat the auld guys for cynicism. Don’t even try.

Out in the morning to get some chicken for tonight’s dinner, some chilli for an, as yet undisclosed, purpose and some photo paper to make a calendar for the three auld guys. Then it was down to work printing them and fitting them into their combs. Have way through the second calendar, the printer took a ‘wee flaky’ in other words, it ejected a sheet of unprinted paper and started flashing all the lights it had at its disposal. I swore at it and that didn’t help. I switched it off and back on again and that didn’t help either. Finally I resorted to the Val technique and switched it off, counted to 10 and switched it on again. That’s supposed to flush the printer’s capacitors and return it to something like factory settings. It worked. My technique would have worked too, but Scamp doesn’t like me kicking things. She says it does more harm than good. I say it doesn’t as long as you’ve got good strong boots on. We agree to disagree on that (but it would have worked). Calendars printed and assembled and in their bags, I headed out to pick up Colin. Scamp was an hour ahead of me, going to the same coffee place, going to meet Annette.

Picked up Colin at his house. He’s not too keen on driving except in bright sunshine because he needs a cataract op which should have been done a week ago, but was postponed until next week. I assured him it was nothing to worry about and everything would be so much brighter after that.

Val was buying the coffees when we arrived and Scamp with Annette were sitting just behind us, so I was on my best behaviour for a while. Topics under discussion today were The Who’s new album, Val’s Raspberry Pi adventures, The Young Royals and finally Mr Trump. We did go over other old ground, but that’s quite usual for us. Nostalgia is not what it used to be. Finally when we were all talked out we went our separate ways with me thinking “Is this the beginning of the end of the Auld Guys?” Have we talked ourselves out and need a rest for a while. Or do we just need to find a new outlet, or even a new coffee shop. Maybe next time we should adjourn to Tim Hortons to see if a change of scenery helps.

Drove back through the gathering gloom and that was only around 3pm. Daylight is at a premium in these dark January days. Hadn’t even taken the camera out of the bag today and on the way back from Colin’s, the rain started in earnest. By the time I reached home it had turned into sleet. Isn’t Scotland a lovely place at times?

PoD is of one of Scamp’s geraniums that sit flowering through the winter gloom on the bedroom window sill. This one is really past its best and should be having a rest, really, but it doesn’t seem to know how.

Tomorrow Scamp is out first for coffee with Isobel and I’m out next to go to the dentist for my six monthly checkup. Anything else is a bonus. Hoping for some free photons to light the scenery.

Rain, rain, rain – 11 January 2020

It was wet today, in fact it never stopped.

It was obvious from early today that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as the last three or four days. We’d intended going out for lunch, but I’d ordered a new battery for the MBP and it was supposed to be delivered today. It was, but the delivery bloke didn’t even knock the door, he just left the parcel in the bin shed. That said, it was absolutely tipping it down when he came, so I couldn’t really blame him for not waiting at a possibly locked door.

It must have taken me at least ten minutes to disconnect the old battery, remove it, replace it with the new one and reconnect it. Then it took about two hours to charge it. The best advice I had from the ‘net was to leave it charging for at least a further two hours, which I did. In the meantime I tested and tasted my bacon, haggis, pork and whisky sausages. They were good, and an interesting taste. That’s as much as I’m saying just now. Had some of Hazy’s Columbian coffee too. It was much sharper and more bitter than my usual drink but, again, worth trying a second or third cup tomorrow.

After lunch we decided we’d eat in tonight and Fish Curry was on the menu. It should really be Egg Curry, but if you substitute fish for eggs it works equally well. It’s really a dhal with a lot of red lentils in it and also some coconut milk. We’ve been making it for years. It originated from a recipe book we bought in Woolworths. Remember them? I drove up to Tesco to try to post some of the calendars, but the post office closed at 12.30 and it was now past 2.30, so I missed it by a mile. Came home with rice for the curry and a couple of bottles of alcoholic beverages.

Time for laptop phase 2. Unplugged it and it started. The guide said to run it until it shut down. That took just over four hours, during which time we made the curry and ate half of it, leaving the remainder for tomorrow’s dinner (it was still raining by the way). We also watched an hilarious episode of Bake Off with The Derry Girls. Not something I’d have considered funny, but it just worked.

The laptop is now on phase 3 of its calibration cycle. It’s switched off and will remain switched off for at least five hours. That means it should be switched on about 2am. That’s where the “at least” factor kicks in. It may get switched on around 9am tomorrow, but not before.

Scamp and I had fun trying to fill a beanbag with polystyrene beads (does that make it a beadbag?). Eventually these beads with minds of their own were safely ensconced in their little bag and sewn in. I used it to prop up the camera which produced tonight’s PoD which is the Weemen ‘helping’ to swap out the new battery for the old one.

Tomorrow, on paper, looks better than today, but that wouldn’t be difficult. We’ll wait and see. No definite plans.

What a dull day for the first day of the decade – 1 January 2020

Dull, but at least it was dry.

As predicted, bedtime was early this morning rather than late last night, and drink was taken. Therefore, it was a late rise this morning. After that a rather lazy start to the day with no attempt to achieve the required 10,000 steps or even the 250 steps per hour. The fact that I was moving at all was an achievement in itself. Scamp, however, was much better today with very little sign of the pains that had been bothering her for the last couple of days.

After a frugal lunch (piece ’n’ bacon for me and a piece ’n’ egg for Scamp), we went for a leisurely walk around ‘easy’ St Mo’s. We stuck to the new path and I took a few photos, but only a few were worth considering as PoD. The best of a bad lot was the swan’s head. Even that was poor. Hopefully there will be better light tomorrow, but I’m not too confident about that.

<Technospeak>
On the computer front, the bastardised macOS Sierra was still working on the old MBP, but it took a terrible time to boot up and I’m still not sure what exactly that patched OS is doing in the background. With that in mind I decided to do a clean install of El Capitan and to remove the ancient hard drive that’s been draining the battery for years. The reset worked well and the boot time to El Capitan is much reduced from that of the slightly illegal Sierra.

My Lightroom 6 is an upgrade version and needs proof of purchase of a previous version to install. That proof is the serial number for the original version, in my case, version 1! Today I found it at the back of a cupboard, so I can have Lightroom on my old MBP and a legal version too, because Adobe are very aggressive in their searches for illegal software. That’s tomorrow’s job, as is what someone once called “the tracery of free and shareware programs that constantly run in the background”.
</Technospeak>

Dinner was a bit of a mishmash. My steak pie was overcooked because I forgot that the Le Creuset pot holds the heat and therefore keeps cooking long after the heat has been turned off. Still it was edible and we had a civilised dinner sitting at the table as befits a New Year’s Day dinner. Scamp’s salmon seemed to fair much better than my stew. We had a bottle of Prosecco courtesy of Clive back in September, and it was one of the best bottles of prosecco I’ve had.

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere for a walk or a look in the shops. It all depends on the weather. As usual.

Sunshine! – 30 December 2019

The sky was clearing when we woke, but it took a while for it to clear completely.

Scamp was feeling a lot better today. Good enough to go for the messages. Rather than face the crowds and the traffic jams, we chose to shop locally in Tesco. I think we nearly emptied the place, judging by the amount of stuff in the trolley we wheeled to Scamp’s car. She had decided to give the Juke the day off because it had worked hard these last few weeks.

After lunch I took the ‘old’ E-M1 out for a spin round St Mo’s and got some lovely light because the clouds had all cleared away and the low sun was warming everything up. Not actual temperature ‘warming’, but colour temperature warming. The Mired value, but you don’t need, or want to know that, do you? Let’s just say it was lovely light during what’s know to photogs as the Golden Hour. Today it was macros again and my favourite and therefore the PoD was one of some moss on the limb of a tree.

By the time I was heading home, Scamp was getting ready for a Gems Christmas/New Year party at Carol’s. A good name to have for this time of year. I wasn’t invited, of course as this was a girls only night, but I was the nominated driver for Scamp and Margie. I was even getting the privilege of driving Scamp’s car, probably to extend the Juke’s holiday. Dropped the ladies off and headed home to do battle with the MacBook Pro again.

This time I was ready. I’d read the script and the the different pieces of software. The first attempt didn’t work. Apparently the secret is to change the system date of the MBP to something about two years ago and try again. I did, and it worked. Panicked after that because although the screen looked right, I had no mouse, no keyboard and no way of progressing with the install. Back to the ‘big’ computer and read the ‘Problems’ section. It was a know problem with a solution. I did a reboot and edited one small tick box before I lost control and voila! MacOS Sierra running on a 2009 MBP. You PC owners may be saying “So?”, but this is a big deal. Apple control what can and can’t be installed on their hardware, but one clever bloke has stymied that. Well done to him. Tomorrow I’ll populate it.

Got the message just about 11pm that a taxi was required. Checked the temperature (actual temperature, not Mired!) and it was -1ºc. Had to scrape Scamp’s car, inside and out!!

When we got back, Scamp was feeling sick. I suspected self-inflicted alcohol induced poisoning, but she said that wasn’t the case. She did look a bit under the weather and went to bed just before midnight. Hope she feels better tomorrow.

If Scamp is feeling better I may go in to Glasgow tomorrow to source some ink for the printer, or then again, I may not. It’s that certain.

Busy going nowhere – 28 December 2019

Usually on a Saturday we have plans. Today we just wanted to chill out.

Woke late and took our time approaching the day. We needed some shopping, but not so much that we had to rush out and get it done. Scamp and I were feeling a bit queasy. Maybe it was just overeating and possibly a bit of over drinking too. Nothing serious, just the change of water again or something like that.

After a light lunch we walked down to the shops and bought the basics for dinner tonight. Actually, when we got back I just made a pot of soup and earmarked that as dinner. It’s not as if we need a big meal after the feasts we’ve had down south.

Scamp spent the afternoon catching up on the TV recordings we’d made while I tried to work out why we were getting 5Mb/s download speed instead of the 75Mb/s we should have. I was about to phone Virgin and vent my anger at them when I gave them one last try by doing a restore to factory settings on the modem. Amazingly, it worked! I think our bandwidth has been gradually decreasing over the months and it’s only when we got back home we’ve noticed just how bad it is. Also, it being Christmas the tree is causing an obstruction between the modem and the iMac. It’s probably a combination of factors. I hadn’t realised that a modem works better with line-of-sight. You live and learn.

Not much time for a photo today, so the best I did was the flowering cactus which is looking very pretty.

Tomorrow if we’re feeling up to it and the weather isn’t too bad, we may go dancing.

Lost in Coatbridge – 3 December 2019

Not the place to get lost really.

Jackie left early to go for the bus home from Glasgow. As usual she booked herself a taxi, because she didn’t want to bother us. It was good to see her. We must visit Skye soon.

We set off ourselves a bit later in search of a walk in the fresh air at Drumpellier Park on the edge of Coatbridge. It was a fine day, not sunny, not bitterly cold and dry into the bargain. A comfortable walk around an essentially dull big pond, watching the ducks and swans being ice-breakers and cutting through the thin surface layer of ice. Had a coffee and shared a muffin in the cafe and gazed out over the pond. Great view across the water and although I said it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t too warm either, so a heat in the cafe was ideal.

Drove out of the gates of the park and turned right. After about half a mile I got a bit worried, because I couldn’t remember seeing those buildings when we came in. Turned at a school, I definitely couldn’t remember that. Lost, we switched on the sat nav and asked it to find the Fort. It directed us back the way we’d come. I didn’t think that was right either, but followed its instructions for a while before I went my own way again. Nope, that wasn’t right either. Finally after checking with Google Maps, I agreed that we had to go back the way we’d come and found the proper road. Trick was to turn left on exiting the park THEN turn right. Dumplin’! ( A “dumplin’ “ is like a “numpty”, but not as stupid. )

Found the Fort and got a few things for making parcels for Christmas. Then Scamp suggested we drive in to Glasgow because Santa was going halfers with me on my Christmas Prezzy. It’s (yet) another camera. This one is new. My first new camera for a month and before that? About ten years, maybe more. So, don’t start you pair! You know who you are.

Back home it was soup and Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner. Best I’ve made for ages, although Scamp’s Lentil Soup came a close second.

Testing the camera tonight, I found a big dust bunny on the sensor. This is a new camera and the sensor has dust on it and not just a microscopic particle, this one was bit. I was tempted to take it back, but then I tried my trusty blower on it and that did the trick. It’s a nice bit of kit this. It’s a bit smaller than the rest of my M43 cameras, but has that magic 4K Post Focus trick up its sleeve. Hopefully the best of both worlds. Even better, it came with a 12-32mm lens which I loved until it fell apart on me when we were down in Wales. Hopefully this one will last longer.

PoD was a Convolvulus stem making a neat helix on a cow parsley. Taken at Drumpellier before we got lost in darkest Coatbridge.

Tomorrow, hopefully we’re dancing again and I think I’ve worked out how to do that bloody spin 4 properly.

Coffee – 26 November 2019

Three auld guys moaning.

The three auld guys in question were Fred, Val and myself. It was more of a discussion than a moan today. We hadn’t met for quite some time, so there was a lot to discuss. Books exchanged, new tech demonstrated and coffee drunk. Even made plans for a bite to eat and a possible pint in Glasgow soon. Thankfully no politics muddied the the waters.

Drove home and found that my much needed tea and always needed coffee had been delivered by the DPD man. Such a clever and useful delivery service, flexible too. Worth the three quid I paid for it.

Scamp wasn’t feeling too great but she was still having lunch when I got back. It was too wet to go back out again and I had no notion of what I could photograph in the dull, dark landscape, and anyway it was raining, so I settled for an inside ‘flooer’ photo instead. When Scamp came back she got a phone call from the doc’s to say that there was a prescription for antibiotics waiting for her. I volunteered to go for it as it was getting dark now. I didn’t even bother to take a camera. Flooers it was then.

When I got back from the chemist and after a quick raid of Tesco, I made some soup along the lines of Scamp’s Just Soup and that was dinner with a couple of slices of good bread. Not home made bread, but good all the same.

<Technospeak>
Thought I could do the fancy 4K Post Focus trick with the new camera but then realised if I was going to use room lighting with low ISO it wouldn’t work. The Post Focus trick takes about twenty odd shots in 1-2 seconds. To get them all taken in that short time, it needs to use electronic shutter and the electronic shutter don’t work with exposure times greater than 1/30th of a second. Basically, this is a bright daylight only trick. Bummer.
</Technospeak>

Got the shot done using the E-M1 and it’s a rose from some cut flowers. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it works, and it’s PoD.

I was playing around with a trial version of a new prog called Luminar4. It has the amazing ability to change the sky in a landscape instantly to any one of about 40 different ones. It apparently uses AI to accomplish it. It really is a brilliant trick, but where’s the fun in doing it instantly when you can take an hour or so in Lightroom and ON1 to do it with a lot of swearing? AI? Not for me I prefer LOI. Lack Of Intelligence.  Typical result below.  Original sky on the left.

Tomorrow if we’re fit we’re hoping to go dancing.

They brought a tank – 11 November 2019

I made my decision this morning and packed up the Sony RX 100iii.

It was a pretty little thing, but in the end it was overpriced, even considering what I paid for it and it didn’t do what I intended it to. It had to go. Drove into Glasgow and returned it. I got my money back and also had the JL points deducted from my account, which is only fair. I then bought a Panasonic TZ 90. Not nearly as pretty as the Sony, but a lot more useful I hope. I wanted a camera with a large sensor, a long zoom and a tilting rear screen with a viewfinder if possible, Santa. The TZ 90 doesn’t have the large sensor but it does have a long zoom, a tilting screen and a viewfinder. Actually the Sony had ticks in all but one of my boxes too, but I just didn’t like it. It’s as simple as that. The TZ 90 is to replace a hard worked TZ70, so most of the controls are in familiar places. The fact that it was £100 cheaper was of no consequence.

Came home and Scamp was just going out to get Gems. After a quick lunch and a cursory glance at the users manual, I plugged the camera in and let it charge and charge and charge for about four hours. In the meantime I took the Oly out for a run. I needed petrol and a run in the country would lift my spirits, I thought. Drove up onto Fannyside Moss and that’s where today’s PoD came from. Lovely cloudscape over the far hills. They had been covered with a light dusting of snow this morning, but now almost all of it was gone.

Came back just as Gems were leaving. After some discussion, Scamp and I decided that we’d miss out on Salsa tonight, because we both had a lot to do.

On the way back from my photo trip, I took a run past the school and, oh dear. It looks like they brought in a tank after all. The glazing panels down the side of the Techy block are gone and part of T1 drawing room has gone. It won’t be long until it’s just a memory. Goodbye T4. I had some good days and some bad days there, but mostly good.

No great plans for tomorrow. We’ll see where the day takes us.

The Highs and the Lows – 8 November 2019

Cameras. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Panasonic Lumix TZ70 which is a wonderful pocket camera. Long, Long zoom, shoots in the malleable RAW format, nice comfortable grip and an ideal form factor. Its big drawbacks are the small sensor (the digital “film”) and its habit of sucking in dust to the lens and ultimately to the sensor. A tiny bit of dust on a DSLR sensor is a bit of a pain, as is a tiny hair. On a sensor that’s smaller than your pinkie nail, that tiny bit of dust is a great black blob. My Teazer has a host of those blobs and now has a hair to keep them company. That’s my reasoning for looking for a replacement. Not ‘another’ camera as JIC will have it, but a replacement. One in, one regretfully out.

I’ve been charting the price fluctuations of a Sony RX100iii for the past few weeks and had a look at the camera in Jessops which was the cheapest of the local shops and Amazon too. Today when I checked, the price had risen by £30 from £449 to £479. The price hike, I presume is so they can ‘reduce’ the price again for Black Friday at the end of the month. It looked like it was out of the question, but I had a second runner in the race and thought I’d have a look at it. Went to JL and they had it in stock it was a Panasonic LX10 (I knew you’d want to know that JIC), but although it had a viewfinder, it didn’t have tilting screen which I now use a lot on my Olys. Bummer! Then I noticed in the reduced section in JL, the Sony I’d been denied by Jessops false price hike. Better than that, it was a kit, complete with a finger grip and a leather case. Best of all, it was about £100 below even the original asking price for the kit in Jessops! I took it. Things were on the up, perhaps. Scamp had got herself ‘another’ pair of jeans in M&S, so she was a happy bunny too.

Came home and went to lunch at Milano Express at Old Inns. Pizzas were a bit of a disappointment, lovely light, well-fired base, but far too heavy on the cheese. Must ask for less cheese next time. Had a relaxing lunch and Scamp was driving on a beautiful sunny day.

By the time we got home there was hardly any time to grab a photo and I did want to unpack this small miracle camera. It was small, it is tiny. Without the finger grip it’s very difficult to hold. Quite slippery. The controls, too are tiny and the menu is a labyrinth of jargon filled abbreviations. You can control the camera using NFC which is great, but the software is a bit clumsy and doesn’t always work. Also, the ‘control’ you have is whether to shoot with a time delay or not. No chance to change aperture or shutter speed. No clue what you’re focusing on. It’s all a bit hit or miss, but mostly miss. Long story short, although the camera is perfect and looks like it’s never been used, I think it may go back on JL’s shelf soon.

Today’s PoD is a slice of pomegranate, but could equally well be a slice through my befuddled brain!

Tomorrow we have no plans.