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.

Will it stay or will it go? – 21 May 2019

Remember the big green plant with the spotty leaves Scamp bought yesterday? Well today it was going back … or was it?

To start the day I wanted to create order from the chaos of my painting room. It needed a good clean out and today was going to be the day for it, despite the blue skies outside and the sunshine outside and partly because Scamp was outside, planning!

After about an hour putting stuff away where it should have been and failing utterly to throw anything out except my old bike boots, and even they are not certain to find their way to the tip, the room did look better. I found the top of the chest of drawers again after a it had been reported missing a few weeks ago. That’s when Scamp came up and told me she was taking the big green plant back. According to the website you had 28 days to take things back. It was too big and was not going to fit in the place under the window she’d intended putting it in. I told her perhaps that 28 day rule didn’t apply to plants and was intended for hardware. She wasn’t to be turned from her path, so she phoned the garden centre and was assured that, Yes you could return plants. So it was settled the big green spotty plant was going back. We stood and looked at the place it was sitting among the other plants she’d arranged in the new space. I didn’t think it looked all that out of place, but we’d forgotten that there was a large unmovable Magnolia Stellata standing in the corner and perhaps she was right the green plant was too big. That’s the I had the light bulb moment. We were looking at the plant, in its pot, standing on the ground. When it was planted it would drop in height by about 200mm (8” in old money). Ah, that made a big difference. Hmm, I could see a sea change happening. Maybe, just maybe it would be alright after all. Her final decision was that we should plant it and revise our decision after a year, or at least a few months. Of course we couldn’t take it back then, but we could just dig it up and dispose of it.

The rest of the day was spent gardening. We put up the pea netting and planted the half a dozen pea plants in the raised bed. I think that’s the raised bed effectively full. The leeks are thickening up nicely, the calabrese is growing well not that we’re killing off the slugs that were attacking it and the kale is settling in nicely. The whole garden is looking good. We even measured out the area for the proposed raised bed / planter for the front garden. It’s probably too big for one single planter and I’m suggesting two beds, each 2m long by about 1.5m wide. It’s still in the sketchy ‘back of a fag packet’ stage. When we move on to Inventor and AutoCad it will become more ‘real’.

We were watching the BBC news at lunchtime when the picture froze on the TV and after a few seconds showed the ‘fault’ screen with a number to call if the program did not return. I phoned. Apparently they were “… receiving more calls than normal and the waiting time is 20 minutes”. The recording went on to suggest we phone back at the quiet time between 2pm and 4pm. It was 2.15 at this point. Not only was the TV disrupted, the broadband was dead too. Without broadband we are helpless these days. You need it to get the number to phone to report that your broadband isn’t working. Also, as we live in a ‘shadow area’ not very well covered by 4G we have to go outside to use the mobile phone to check what’s wrong. Eventually, after half an hour, service was resumed. You never miss the water ‘till the well runs dry!

Went out to St Mo’s for a walk in the sun and to take some photos later in the afternoon. Took a few macro shots, but that’s all. The best one of the buttercup got PoD. Saw two dragonflies, not damselflies, but dragonflies while I was out.  That’s most unusual in May. While I was out Scamp cut the back and front grass and also hoovered the downstairs. I know she reads this, so that’s why I’m saying “Leave some of it for me”. Delegation is the name of the game.

Today’s sketch topic was Something You Collect. So, Weemen (Minifigs) or cameras? Why not both? So that’s what I did. Not my best, but maybe I just need to settle down with it for a few days. That’s what’s happening with the liquorice allsorts sketch from yesterday. It’s growing on me.

Tomorrow, of course, is hopefully dancing in the afternoon and also perhaps at night.

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.

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.

Coffee – 1 November 2018

Coffee with the boys. That’s enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Met Fred and Val for coffee this afternoon and sorted the world out again, discussed spying on bird feeders with Val and received critical acclaim for my Inktober sketches from both, but mainly Fred. While the other two had Cortados, I chose to have a Luxury Hot Chocolate, also know as Diabetes in a Glass. Super sweet chocolate syrup and just a hint of milk to water it down a bit.

We had to split up after an hour or so because Val was meeting his wife and Fred was edgy wondering how long we were allowed to park on in the Green carpark. NLC don’t seem to post a notice of waiting times, so they will argue that the didn’t actually state that you could park there for two hours. That was your supposition, not their stated limit. I think that’s how their mind works. Guilty until proven innocent.

Drove round to B&M for peanuts and fat balls for the bird feeder, then drove to B&Q where I bumped into Fred again who was just leaving. Left there with a picture frame for £2.50 and went to Tesco for a bottle of wine and a magazine for Scamp. Got petrol on the way out and again watched Fred drive past on his way home. I must tell him to stop stalking me, or am I stalking him? Who knows.

Later I went to pick up Isobel and bring her out for her dinner before we went to pick up June and take them to the concert they were going to. For some reason, Scamp decided it would be better (safer?) to park at the badly lit bus stop and decant everybody on to the roadside, then escort them across the road to the hall, rather than park in the carpark for the hall and let them get out there. Women’s logic. I’ll never understand it. Surprisingly, nobody was injured in this road safety nightmare.

Came home and shot tonight’s PoD after having to consult the InterWeb to find out how to get out of the complicated and overcrowded information screen I’d never seen before on the back of the D7000. Not the finest picture in the world, but it’s done. Noticed that Flickr is now going to limit the amount of photos the free account can have to 1,000. Not really surprised, the 1TB was a ridiculous amount of space. I may have to buy a Pro account to keep using it.

Really missing the routine of posting a picture of my sketches every day. I think after a few days of ‘freedom’ I’ll start to fill my ‘Sketches’ album in Flickr again.

Got the phone call to pick up the concert goers at 9.30 and drove Isobel back home. June decided to walk. Driving at that time of night is a delight. No traffic to speak of and no rush. Just driving.

So no sketch tonight, but tomorrow is another day. No plans for it yet, but I’m sure we’ll fill up our time somehow.

More problems – 21 October 2018

Just when I thought I was ahead of the game, the game overtook me!

I was just getting myself organised last night (This was written on Monday) and tried to send an email to my brother when the whole email system seemed to go belly up. I could receive on all my accounts, but could only send on blueyonder. Couldn’t work it out. Then I went online and tried there. Everything was fine, so the problem was at the computer end. Still tried like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ to fix it, but eventually, well after 12 I gave up and went to bed. This morning after our flu jags I worked out a plan of attack that seems to have worked. I think something has gone wrong with the automatic email setup script, so I tried setting up manually and it worked. Now I need to be a bit more brutal and remove some of my unused or little used accounts as they only clutter up the place.

<Sunday>
What happened today?

Dull day that promised it would brighten up later. Later was much later, however in the morning I did today’s sketch which is of the waste basket in the kitchen for all the veggie stuff that’s going in the compost bin. Not the prettiest of subjects, but I liked the colour and shapes in there.

After that I wrote half of the email to my brother and saved the draft that would cause so much trouble, (or reveal so much trouble) later.

In the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s and took the wee panda minifig for a photoshoot in the wild. Quite liked the finished article.

Went dancing to Maracas. It was ok, but far too many bachata tracks and far too few salsa ones. Still, met folk there we hadn’t seen for ages.

Came home and watched an interesting American GP. The pundits were wrong. Ferrari are not dead yet.

That’s when the problems started, and you know the rest.

Tomorrow flu jags and then maybe the gym.

Sorting out problems – 5 September 2018

As well as sorting problems, we also did a bit of dancing.

We were out fairly early and in Glasgow for a 12 o’ clock start. We started with waltz and picked up another few tips, just tweaks really. Some made little difference, others made things a lot easier. Next it was Quickstep to which we added a few more steps. Lastly a couple of runs through our Tango. In the second half there were two Jive classes running concurrently with two teachers again, now that Ann Marie had returned from Oz. Only three of us today, so it was almost a private lesson. We added to last week’s Lindy Hops and practised The Dance of the Seven Spins once more.

When we came back I phoned the plumber and ordered the fitting of the new kitchen tap. He’s coming tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we should have a shiny new tap that doesn’t drip. Problem one dealt with.

Later in the afternoon I took the panda on in the Dewdrop for a photoshoot and to get some more brambles (just over half a kilo). This was to be a simpler setup than yesterday. This would be a mountain climbing panda. Actually it’s a big boulder that somebody has hit with a van or a lorry. I know how that’s done now! The result was a big broken corner that made a lovely rock face of a mountain. The background was a sunset taken from the upstairs back window about a year ago. It’s amazing the lies you can tell with a computer, a decent bit of software and a bit of imagination.

Dancing tonight was a mixed lot. Far too many men, so I sat out for a while, only for more folk to join. That’s when I started writing this blog. Then I got fed up and danced for the last twenty minutes of the class.

When we came home, in fact just five minutes ago, I finally signed up for AppleCare. I think their website was having a bad day the last time I tried to sign up. So now I have two extra years insurance on the iMac, another weight off my mind. Problem two sorted.

Hopefully I’ll get my knee sorted tomorrow at the physio and that will be another tick in another box. Always hopeful. Totally unlike me!  Oh yes, and fingers still crossed, but the leeks survived the day.  The bird keeper outer is working DV.

Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.

Goodbye July – 31 July 2018

Not Flaming June, but Toasty July.

It’s certainly been a July to remember with temperatures into and above the mid twenties here in relatively cool Scotland. Hints of hosepipe bans and serious warnings of the dangers of the “Taps Aff” culture. When will we see your likes again?

After scanning Facebook and the InterWeb, we decided that the fish shop in Linlithgow was indeed still in business and had been closed the last time we went because they were on holiday. We were wrong. The shop was closed as we drove past unless they have changed their window display to soft furnishings to dissuade some customers and so avoid crowding out the shop. Disappointed, we drove as far as the Coop carpark, squeezed our way past the abandoned cars and went to Aldi instead. Came home and checked again on FB and on the InterWeb and although it does say that the shop is still there, it makes no mention of soft furnishings. Maybe it’s just a front.

After lunch Scamp started ‘sorting out’ another cupboard while I just mooched around. The weather had taken a down turn since the morning and it now looked like rain. My weather app said rain was likely at 2.15 and when Scamp took a break from her reorganisation at 2.25 she reported that it was indeed raining. Amazingly accurate, but ultimately disappointing. No cycling today.

Today’s PoD nearly never appeared. Sometimes I think I’m only taking photos to complete the 365 for that day. Sometimes that IS the case. That’s not the way photography should be. Maybe I need a break from it. Anyway, today’s PoD was one I’d been considering for a week or so. The ‘Spiny Alien’ is actually an early chestnut I found near the People’s Palace in Glasgow.
<Technospeak>
The photo was taken with my new macro lens and this lens doesn’t have enough depth of field (DOF) to cover both the chestnut and the minifig, so the best way to achieve the full depth is to take two photos. One focusing on the chestnut and the other focusing on the minifig. Then combine the two in Photoshop. Unfortunately it’s really difficult to get them both into the old version of PS I have. I was watching an ON1 video of a similar problem last week and used that method to fix this one. It worked perfectly mainly because the camera was firmly fixed on a tripod for both shots, so alignment wasn’t an issue. That pleased me.
</Technospeak>

Tomorrow we have no dancing in the afternoon, but we are still dancing at night. Unless Michael changes it again tomorrow morning. He’s already changed it from Friday to Thursday. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow.

Getting Cooler – 17 July 2018

It was cooler today, but we didn’t notice.

The weather machine and the forecasts were saying that it was cooler today, but we were working inside all morning. Lots to be done before August. Maybe it was JIC’s phone call last night that brought everything into sharper focus, but we both realised that time is marching on and we’ve two rooms to make liveable. Scamp was doing sterling work in the front room, even managing to get the bed down to air it. I was doing some restoration work to an old painting of mine that I gave to my dad. The painting was attached to the mat (frame) with masking tape and over the years the tape had vulcanised and allowed the picture to slip out of place. I’ve been meaning to fix it for ages, so today was the day. It’s now back hanging on the wall with the painting fixed with old fashioned gummed tape and the frame re-assembled. I’ve also got a big bag of rubbish to go to the tip this week. Progress!

While I was in a painting mood, I took today’s PoD which uses a tiny wee canvas and easel I got from Jackie in Skye. It took ages to do as I couldn’t find either of my two tripods. Eventually I settled for the big Manfrotto which I knew was in the car. It’s a bit clumsy for the little E-PL5, but it does the job and is very stable. I liked the result.

After lunch, things took a down turn and not a lot of work was done. I read a couple more chapters of The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. Quite a strange story Hazy. One you might enjoy. No good for you JIC.

Dinner was simply tortelloni from the Giovanni Rana range served with parmesan and olive oil. Tortelloni, by the way, is just like tortellini but larger.

Busy day tomorrow with a visit to the physio in the morning, ballroom dancing in the afternoon and salsa at night. The latter two on the premise that the physio gives them his blessing.