White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

The dug’s away tae Hamilton – 12 January 2019

Tae buy the wean a bell.

It was a dull morning, but it didn’t matter.  We were off to Hamilton.  Not “Tae buy the wean a bell”, but to have a curry in the Bombay Cottage.  We hadn’t been there for years and then my brother mentioned that he and his wife were going there and we decided we’d try it again to see if it still retained its former high place in our memory.  It did, and it still does.  Surprisingly, even after twenty odd years some of the original staff are still there!

After that, we were driving home when I suggested we go for a coffee at Robroyston, and that’s what we did.  Two flat whites and two pieces of sweet stuff, because it was the weekend.  When we were driving home from there I could see the light on the hills starting to shape up nicely, but knew that if I chased it, I’d be too late.  Sometimes it’s better just to watch it than try to capture something that doesn’t represent it at all.

Back home, Scamp started to tidy out the “Towel Cupboard”,  although it holds more electronic bits and pieces now than towels.  That’s where we found the film canister with some processed slide film.  Three short 12 exposure strips which I’ve now scanned and stored in Lightroom.  Lots of memories.  Some of places that are no longer there.  Some of people who are no longer there.  Some of people who’ve grown up.  All of them interesting to us.  Glad I found them.  One of the images found its way into today’s PoD, along with the film strips and an old Zenit 12 SLR.  Quite a lot of work creating the finished image, but I won’t bore you with the details.

I used the small Manfrotto tripod to shoot the basic shot.  I had to make myself a new tripod screw because I lost the last one during the week down the Luggie Water.  Tonight’s was made from a 1/4″ Whitworth bolt and a small piece of a brush handle.  Quite proud of my work!

Tonight’s entertainment was “Sing” from Netflix, because there was nothing else worth watching on terrestrial TV.  What a find it was.  Just a bit of fluff, really but the animation was quite excellent, much better than some of  the crap that was on over Christmas.  Really enjoyed the music too.  It’s not often we both laugh out loud at something on TV, but we did tonight!

Tomorrow if the weather is bad (and it’s forecast to be) we are booked to tidy out the entire “Towel Cupboard”.  That will be a difficult one.

 

New hair, Old friends

We drove in to Glasgow today, just to get out of Cumbersheugh, but we came back.

My hair badly needed cut. If I did it myself it would just be cut badly. If we went to Glasgow, it would be cut properly. No contest. For a change we parked up at Cowcaddens and for the umpteenth time, we didn’t see even one cow. Why do they insist in giving places these confusing names. While Scamp wandered round the shops, I walked down to West Nile Street (which, it turned out, is not even near the Nile), sat down and had my locks cropped by a nice Polish lady. She did a very good job and I was happy to give her a tip. I told her not to visit Cowcaddens if she was at all interested in dairy farming.

Met Scamp back on Sauchiehall Street and we decided that lunch time was approaching so we headed down to Charcoals where I had Chicken Bhuna and Scamp had Aloo Saag. Mine was fine, but Scamp’s Aloo (potatoes) were nearly black. We didn’t pay that much for the lunch, so we couldn’t really complain. £20 for two starters, two mains, rice, a naan bread and two drinks is a very small price to pay.

Walked back up to Sauchiehall Street for Scamp to visit some more shops while I wandered round Waterstones. After that we went for a coffee in Costa where we met an old salsa friend. We sat and talked for an hour or so, just catching up. It was really good to see her again, I think it must be about three years since we’d last spoken to Elsie. We both felt she seemed quite lonely, having finally broken up with her once boyfriend George, and I think we both felt quite sorry for her.

Drove home and I built a new boot disk for the old Raspberry Pi that Val gave me more than four years ago. Booted it up and it ran just the same as ever! Not got a lot of use for it because it doesn’t have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth. It was just a wee challenge.

Watched the start of the new dance program on BBC. About ten minutes in, we both decided it was too dire to be bothered with and removed it from our recording schedule. Afterwards, we watched an episode of Marie Kondo’s series on Netflix (yes Hazy, I did watch it.) Interesting, but “Oh my God” <sic> that repetitive and superfluous phrase from the american woman became really annoying. I might watch another episode, but maybe with the sound turned down or preferably off.

PoD was from Sauchiehall Street. The woman was singing Tracy Chapman songs while accompanying herself on guitar and drum. Very entertaining and it brought a bit of sunshine into a very dull day.

Broke a cap on one of my front teeth tonight.  That’s what happens when you eat too many sticky caramels.  Luckily(?) I have an appointment with the dentist booked for a week on Monday.  Oh what fun!

Tomorrow? No plans as yet. Maybe taking Marie Kondo’s advice and tackling another cupboard.

Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.

The Plan – 3 January 2019

The plan was to get up early and fix the kitchen light. It didn’t work out that way, neither did the kitchen light.

Ok, we did get up fairly early. Before 10am is fairly early these days. Started the fix on the kitchen light, with limited success. That translates as it didn’t work. It looked like the fluorescent tube was a goner. So, it was time to have a coffee, start to solve today’s sudoku and take stock. In the mean time I got a text to say that my pills were ready in Boots. Scamp suggested we go to Tesco (surprise!) where she could get milk and stuff and post the calendars.  At the same time I could go to Boots to get my pills. Then we’d go to B&Q to get a new lamp for the kitchen. On the way we could drop the old HP computer off at the dump. That sounded like a solid Plan B.

Tesco and Boots were no problem, nor was the council dump, it was when we got to B&Q that the problems started. We’d had the old fluorescent light for so long we’d forgotten that they are no longer made or to be more accurate, they’ve been superseded by LED units. The LED lamps seem to have no user replaceable parts in them any more, are simpler to fit and are more expensive, of course. No problem, we got one.

Got home and fitting was simpler than the previous one, once I’d drilled the fitting holes in the right place (second time lucky). Also lucky not to electrocute myself when I accidentally crossed two live wires. Silly bugger. Turn the power off at the box before doing anything with ‘lecky. Those tiny little LEDs don’t half provide a powerful light. Nice white light too. Apparently they have a five year lifespan. We’ll see.

Today’s PoD was taken in the front garden and processed in ON1 2019 where it did a magic trick called Focus Stacking. To prevent your eyes glazing over I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know any more Google it. Green shoots in the first week of January. Maybe Hazy is right and spring is just round the corner. We’ll see.

Lady from the pest control company phoned to say that someone will be here tomorrow to set down some poison outside the house in the hope that the rodents will take it to their nest and kill off the whole lot of them. Now last night the rodents were running around like mad thing right above my head and I was getting a bit upset, so Scamp suggested we email our MSP and see if he could do anything. Suddenly today we get a call from the pest control company suggesting their own Plan B. Coincidence?

It wasn’t the brightest of days today, in fact it was pretty dull all day so we didn’t get very far, but we do have a bright new sun in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get out somewhere nice, after the “Rat Man” has been.

Bored to abstraction – 21 December 2018

Full on dull dreary day. Needed some sunshine. Made my own.

Out early, well, early for me and out to Muirhead to get some meat for my Christmas Day dinner. Scamp was still in bed nursing her cold that doesn’t seem to have gotten any better overnight. An extra hour or so in bed wouldn’t do any harm.

Got to the butchers just after 10am and the queue was already the full length of the shop and it’s a fairly big shop. Lots of women serving and lots of butchers butchering and lugging great bags of different meats around. Not a place for vegans I fear. Despite the length of the queue, I was served quickly and soon I was out the door with my carnivore’s delights.

Drove home by the scenic route, but the low cloud, the poor light and the heavy rain put paid to any chance of a quick photo. So be it, maybe there would be a break in the clouds later. By the time I was home, Scamp was up and ready to go and buy what was left in Tesco. I had a coffee and started to work on using my old Samsung tablet as a screen for the Pi. Finally got it working, but it’s not the swiftest of cobbled together technology. It will do for now because it means I’m not hogging the TV.

I’d just finished squeezing my steaks and sausages into the freezer when Scamp returned with Tesco in two or three carrier bags. Lunch was a roll ’n’ sausage for me and a roll ’n’ egg for Scamp. We do eat well! Messed around with the new Toy in the afternoon because there wasn’t a hope of getting an outdoors photo.

Spoke to JIC who was on his way with Sim to Toronto hopefully if the drone that’s buzzing Gatwick runs out of battery power for an hour or so.

Tonight I cut a tangerine in half, then made another cut across the base. Sat the whole thing on a wee LED lamp and photographed it. That’s today’s PoD. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s at least two hours of post-processing and a fair bit of swearing too. However, it did bring a bit of artificial sunshine into the day, the shortest day.  From now on the light will be returning to our dark and gloomy land.

Scamp’s sister got out of hospital tonight and is back in the caring arms of her family. I thInk Scamp may go and visit with the mandatory black grapes tomorrow. Otherwise, we have no plans for tomorrow.

A Toy off the Rack – 18 December 2018

The toy in question was a Raspberry Pi zero W

It arrived by post just around midday on a dull, rainy day. I hoped it would brighten my day as the sun seemed to having a holiday somewhere nice. It was a tiny little thing, as you can see from the PoD which is of the Weemen helping me to build it. Actually it was more that they were there to supervise the soldering of the 40 pins that help the Pi connect to the outside world. I was really pleased with my soldering. I only had to resort to the de-soldering braid twice and didn’t manage to burn myself once which must be a world record for me. I usually manage to pick up the soldering iron at least once by the ‘business end’. This time, ultra-careful I did not need to resort to Elastoplast or buckets of water. I think all the pins are soldered correctly, I’ll give them a test tomorrow once I master the vagaries of the Python language that is used to program the board.

Other than photographing the Weemen and assembling the computer module, it was a dull day. Coffee arrived from Perth right on time too. £3 for the delivery of about 3kg of coffee by DPD rather than about a 100 mile round trip is a bargain in anyone’s money. Keeps a driver in a job and saves me two or three hours. Yes, I know it increases my carbon footprint, but its the footprint of a very small shoe, a baby shoe.

That was the excitement for the day. A tiny little computer and a tiny little baby carbon footprint. A toy off the rack and a few bags of coffee. Now I have to learn to program in Python. I’ve been at it now for an hour and a half and I still can’t get the syntax right. I’ve tried the usual method of swearing at it, restarting the Pi and actually reading the instructions, but nothing seems to work. I’m going to bed now. What use is a toy of the rack if you can’t make it turn cartwheels across the living room floor? I’m told a nine year old can program it. Unfortunately I don’t have a nine year old child handy to get him or her to explain it to me. I’ll leave it until tomorrow. It will be better tomorrow. It will work tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’m going to get my feet looked at and prodded by a nice lady podiatrist. I may even ask her what’s going wrong with my left knee. I think knees are just within her jurisdiction. All of that, and dancin’ too, hopefully.

So, this is Sunday, isn’t it? – 16 December 2018

Yes, it was Sunday, so why did it feel like Saturday?

Well, the simple answer is because Saturday felt like a Friday and therefore it was logical that Sunday would feel like Saturday. OK?

With that in mind, we set of on to visit Stirling, pretending that it was Saturday. One of the benefits of visiting Stirling on a Sunday is that there is no charge for parking. That saved us a whole £1.40! We walked to Waitrose and bought the whole shop, then packed it carefully into the Juke’s boot and drove home.

By the time we got home there was just enough light to allow me to go a walk over to St Mo’s to grab a few shots with “The Big Dog”, i.e. the Nikon. Low light means you need a bigger sensor to grab as many of those photons as possible without resorting to a higher ISO. Bigger sensors mean less digital noise, sometimes called grain. Smaller grains means smoother images. I could have put a <Technospeak> warning there, but I just thought some of you deserved a bit of a photographic education. So now you know that to get smoother gradations you need a lower ISO and if possible a bigger sensor. There, quote that and you’ll sound so much cleverer! Got the photos and took them home to look at more closely on the ‘puter.

Earlier in the day, even before we’d gone out to buy Waitrose, we’d spoke to Hazy who updated us on all the things going on down London way. It’s nice to know that other folk are suffering from dull weather too. It’s not just us.

After perusing today’s photos and settling on a PoD, a moody shot across the boardwalk at St Mo’s, I started to make the dinner which was a vegan Spag Bol. I’ve made it before but today’s effort seemed a bit bland. Too many mushrooms or too little salt? Not sure. Scamp said it was fine, so maybe just me.

Sat down to watch the final of The Apprentice. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you that it was one of the girls! Halfway through JIC which was a godsend really as two hours of TA without a break is more of a marathon than Mo Farah could withstand. Spoke for half an hour or so and got up to date on all the things going on down Cambridge way.

Finally watched the end of the epic journey to be Sugar’s next business partner. Slightly less interesting than a boring F1 GP.

Tomorrow will probably be a Monday. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, ice, plagues of frogs – 15 December 2018

We were amply warned about all of the above, except the plagues of frogs, but only the rain and a thin covering of snow appeared.

Woke to a dull leaden sky and a thin scraping of snow and expected the worst. By midday the dull leaden sky was still there, but the snow was disappearing and it was raining. Still the weather fairies predicted rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain with roads and paths being reduced to treacherous skating rinks. It rained some more.

We had decided not to go to Embra today, not because of the weather fairies predictions, but because it was just so dull. What was the point when it would be equally dull in Embra. We could save money and do some work in the house instead. I volunteered to take apart the back bedroom in the search for the rodent that still evades us. I moved my art cupboard and lifted the carpet, found a convenient floorboard to lift and found no evidence of there ever having been a rodent in that area. Before I put everything back in place, I took the opportunity to fill a big IKEA bag with a load of unwanted painting canvases and also some odds and sods from the chest of drawers. The rain was getting heavier so I postponed the dumping of the rubbish until tomorrow … at least.

That was the high point of the day. By then it was about 2pm and we were almost at twilight. Tidied the room back to its usual chaotic level and had a cup of coffee. Realised I’d very little coffee left, so ordered some from the Perth shop. Also ordered a new Toy off the Rack. A Raspberry Pi Zero W. The ‘W’ stands for WiFi.

<Technospeak>
This is a miniature computer with a 1.2GHz processor half a gig of memory WiFi and Bluetooth for the princely sum of just under £10. Ok, you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse and also a TV to see what’s going on. I runs on Linux which is a Windows-like OS that is totally free. The best part is that the whole shebang can be powered by a battery pack and is smaller than a cigarette packet. Great for experimenting with and getting your fingers burned when you have to solder some connections but if it all goes off with a bang, you’ve only spent a tenner.
</Technospeak>

Dinner was a plate and a half of Scamp’s delicious soup which is officially called “Just Broth”. Later we had a second go with the ‘Air Fryer’ and this time it was a lot more successful. Made potato wedges that tasted just like my usual ones.

PoD is a wee Lego model of a snail, or maybe it’s a tortoise. It’s hard to tell with Lego. Anyway, I wasn’t going out today, so this was it.

Tomorrow we go searching for food for dinner, hopefully the rain will have stopped and the plagues of frogs will have dissipated by then.

Talking Technology

Scamp was out early to meet Isobel, I was out later to meet Val. All of us risking a dose of the cold sitting in the freezing draft in Costa Cumbernauld.

I wanted to pick Val’s brains about the new Raspberry Pi which has come a long way since the last time I played around with one back in 2014.
<Technospeak Warning>
Then it was simply a tiny bare bones computer on a PCB. Now it holds much more memory and has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth and the Italian hardware genius has already played around a lot with it. I wanted it as a monitor for my bird table, and just to play around with if I’m being honest (which I sometimes am.). A “toy off the rack if you like” off the Technology Rack, that is. The idea of building and having a small, portable computer that can be run from a battery pack is very 21st century. Because it runs Linux or a compact subset of it, its OS is free, all you’re paying for is the components. With the basic model you even have to solder in some of those components! Maybe I should order some Elastoplast as a preventative measure. I’m sure there will be a lot of swearing, cursing my stupidity and also fun in this project, but at present, my imagination is doing overtime thinking about what I can do with it.
<Technospeak Complete>

Walked with Val to Tesco to get some cod for our dinner. We parted, hoping to meet again before Christmas. We did meet again because we both came out of Tesco at the same time a half hour or so later! As a result I gave Val a run home then carried on up to the back of Fannyside Moor and got today’s PoD there. Well, I got the makings of the PoD. It took a fair bit of post processing to get from what I took to what you see here. However, what you see here is what I wanted to see through the viewfinder.

Tonight’s dinner was Cod and Sweetcorn Chowder but as usual I forgot to add the sweetcorn, so a spoonful of it was stirred into the thick soupy broth and it did no harm that it was just a wee bit cold. It’s a firm favourite now this chowder.

Tomorrow I’m meeting Colin for coffee in the same cold Costa. This time we’re meeting a bit earlier so perhaps, just perhaps we’ll get a warmer seat, or maybe we’ll abandon the cold Costa to the duller, but much warmer one at the other end of the boggin’ Antonine Centre. We’ll see.  Maybe snow tomorrow.  We’ve done not too bad getting to December before we got the white stuff.