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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.

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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.

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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.

Sketching

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

<Technospeak>
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.
</Technospeak>

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.

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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!

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We went for a swim – 22 December 2017

The day dawned dull and wet, but no fog.

However, by about 11am the fog van had arrived and was dumping its grey load on Cumbersheugh. We sat discussing what to do, and it was me who suggested going for a swim. It turned out to be a great idea. There were two people in the jacuzzi and one woman swimming in the pool when we arrived. Unprecedented room in the pool. We were only going to the pool, because we weren’t feeling energetic enough to attempt the gym. We spent just over half an hour enjoying the freedom of the facilities before we headed for home and lunch.

After lunch I drove to B&Q to get some silicone to reseal the shower cabinet in the bathroom and to get some photos of the statue of Arria which stands above the M80 and at the back of the graveyard. It was getting dark by that time and I was surprised at the number of people out walking dogs in the grey gloaming.

Came home and noticed when I was getting the fish out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner (simple fish stew) that the meat I’d put in yesterday wasn’t frozen. I think I might not have closed the freezer door properly and so we had to set the machine to fast freeze just to make sure that everything was frozen properly. I think we’ve managed to catch it in time. It was mainly the meat in the upper compartment that was affected and most of it is either needing to be chucked out anyway, or it was only just put in. It’s still on fast freeze now and will remain at that setting until I go to bed.

The picture of Arria made PoD as there wasn’t much else to compete with it. Like yesterday, I’d hoped for more fog to give it that etherial quality, but by the time I got there, the fog had turned to rain.

Watched JIC and Sim’s flight cross the Atlantic and stop over in St Lucia and then carry on to Trinidad, all on Flight Radar 24. Amazing use of technology. Hope you pair enjoy the upgrade in temperature from our 10ºc to your 29ºc.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow and we may go to Embra or we may not go anywhere at all. It all depends on the weather.

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Coffee and Beta testing – 20 December 2017

Today revolved around Coffee and Salsa. I also managed a few moments to take a some photos and a few hours to edit them into some semblance of a landscape. That’s what computers do in this house, well, my computer anyway.

<RANT>
The day started with an email from the developer of a piece of software I am presently evaluating asking for a couple of files and more information about a problem I’m having with it. It’s the second problem I’ve had. The first problem was simply fixed with an update, but the update seems to have caused the second problem. Those who work in problem solving will understand this as a daily situation One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back. However, this software is being sold as a full price item just now and it patently hasn’t been tested properly. Don’t these people beta test before taking folk’s hard earned cash? Or, are the first users expected to, not only pay for the software, but also beta test as they go? Then when all the bugs have been squished the company feels obliged to issue an updated version which said customers will have to shell out more money to own. It’s companies with attitudes like this that encourage piracy. Anyway, I tried to send the files he asked for, but as they amounted to just over 280MB, they would have broken the Internet, so he got a couple of smaller files that still exhibited the problem. I don’t think I’ll be buying the software because it doesn’t do anything that my present editor Lightroom can do anyway. Don’t get me started on Lightroom and Adobe who make it, though. That’s another can of worms!
</RANT>

After all that technospeak and computery stuff I made a couple of CDs of music I’d found on my old HP computer. The most interesting, but very Lo Fi, music was from 1991 and was of Frank Zappa being given the chance to be a DJ on Radio 1. I do not know whose it was, but whoever it was, was taking a big chance. Two other things I’d taped from the radio were of Nicky Campbell interviewing Mr Zappa and are extremely thought provoking. Anyone who thought that Zappa was just an airhead would be amazed at the logical arguments this man put forth on radio. It appears that at the time he was considering running for president. Who would you rather have as president? An absolutely out-of-his-box airhead or Frank Zappa. I’d go for Zappa every time. Better hair and he can play guitar.

The CDs were for Val and Fred. Our last coffee meeting before Christmas and probably the New Year. It was an interesting meeting with sketches reviewed, books and CDs exchanged. Arguments argued and laughs laughed. A brilliant way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. On the way home I grabbed those few minutes to take some photos of the sunset from the top of the Whinedge Brae above Mollinsburn. When I got them home, the hours of tweaking and massaging them into some form of acceptable landscape began. I think that’s when I realised that Lightroom is Lightyears ahead of the new program (Picktorial). It did exactly what was needed with the minimum of fuss. It’s not got all the bells and whistles, but it produces the goods. A time will come when I will need to leave it behind, but not yet.

Went to Salsa to find that Jamie G was not in the building, he was off ‘darn sarf’ somewhere. Class was being taken by Irene who is quite good, but seriously lacks confidence and some young guy who can dance, but it years behind Scamp, Roy or I in experience or range of moves. We stayed to help out, but thankfully made an excuse and took off after the class finished. Leaving the pair to teach the next class themselves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch, but not anywhere near shops.

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Redacted – 18 December 2017

This shouldn’t take too long today.

It shouldn’t take long because most of today’s activities have been redacted by the Santa Club. That means I was parcelling stuff up while Scamp and here sister were off having lunch with Nancy at the Fort. Not the most salubrious of places to have lunch, but who am I to argue. It gave me some time to get stuff done for Santa.
Earlier I’d decided not to travel to Perf to get some coffee and tea. What’s the point in driving for two hours when I could click a few buttons and buy the same coffee and tea online with a delivery charge of only £3. As Scamp said, it would cost more than that for the parking.

Took some time out to take today’s PoD. It was a very dull day, so I made the decision to take a tabletop shot. It’s a box of soft, crumbly pastel chalks.

Tonight was the last Advanced class of the year and it was a good one, with:

  • The Hat Game (it would take too long to describe, but let’s say it always ends in chaos).
  • The Antlers Game (this is a new one, but just as chaotic and prone to cheating as The Hat Game)
  • Leaders Choice (designed to cause panic among the leaders, where they have to call out the next move – Panic and Chaos.
  • Dancing in the Dark (with Glow Sticks). This is becoming a holiday standard. Any excuse to wear glow sticks and dance a rueda in the dark.

Not happy with doing it once, we did it all over again in the next class. Brilliant fun and free chocolate to boot. What’s not to like. There never has been a teacher like Jamie Gal and there never will be his equal. A legend.

Tomorrow, the coffee is delivered and if there’s time we’ll go to Linlithgow to get fish.