Sunday, October 31, 2010


This was yesterday

It’s 1050, I’ve toured the estate and secured a few wind blown items and have now settled for a cup of Aromatic Thai Lemon Grass packet soup, the last one of any left you’ll understand. This hot Asian dishwater experience has been supplemented by a much needed and long looked forward to boiled ham roll c/w mango chutney. Late breakfast or early lunch? Who cares. My thoughts then returned to the real but fictional Bob Servant; winning a computer in the ‘Booling Club’ raffle and only ever getting Spam emails and thereby constructing credible email conversations with the idiot spammers is a wonderful premise but is also worryingly realistic and possible. For me most emails are work related, captured and watertight in the work system they are relentless, continuous and generally low on humour or anything joyous and funny. The health & safety tomes are by far worst…that aside my personal emails are a different tin of processed meat and corn syrup. Like Bob my emails are high on Spam content also with those self generating ones from suppliers you’ve used once for on line purchases. That one transaction comes crashing back to torment as they see that point of sale moment as a regular opportunity to tell you of their dull wares and offers. Then there are the Freecycle people who offer used mattresses, soiled baby clothes and CRT monitors, rather than just cart them back to the landfill site they email in the hope you‘ll collect their trash and give them a token bottle of wine or a box of Maltesers out of eternal gratitude, oh and they get some woolly karma plus points also…so that’s about it.

I often wonder (when I watch mobile phone commercials about glossy people in street cafes chatting, texting and surfing in some stream of consciousness way to their many friends in Milan, Monte Carlo and Los Angeles) about the grim reality of my normal experience of these things. I can go weeks without a decent “friends” email and few days without a family text and maybe a whole day without a Twitbook update or bit of sharing. The thing is I’m perfectly happy with that, much of this stuff, rather than give your life some glamorous functionality that escaped your parents is just an intrusion. That’s a word you don’t hear much when mobile devices are being hawked, “this superb device will take your life to a whole new level of intrusion - and not the good kind either.”

So I’m settled in this paradox, the hours when my phone sits idle with the barrage of texts when a loved one needs lift or we’re low on milk, balancing the deletion of Spam with the once in a blue moon bargain that intrigues and leads somewhere constructive, the hilarious clips posted on Facer with tedious “just woke up” updates and the wonderful family holiday/birthday/just mucking around photos with, well nothing really. I’m just grateful to the boys at Star Trek for designing and building this brave new chattering world, now if only I could find a place to park and a drop off zone that doesn’t charge you a pound for the privilege (you wait, it’s coming to your high street and mall). Finally on connectivity and plugging into the heartbeat of the universe did I mention those guys you see grazing and shopping in Tescos with silver gunmetal Bluetooth headsets wrapped around their ears? “You look like feckin’ sad eedjits by the way!”

Black Tie etc.

Night time stranded tram.

Black Tie

On average I don the black tie rig out about half a dozen times a year whilst attending the quasi religious rites, Academy Awards and drunken ceremonies that demand their wearing. It’s either the Scottish kilted version or the tuxedo and usually 50/50 between the two. The thing is “black tie” is, when viewed from a safe distance a fairly peculiar set of archaic and frankly silly fashion conventions that result in some strange results as we try to maintain a level of smartness and sophistication. First of all (for blokes here) neither thing is comfortable. Wearing a kilt is tolerable standing up, sitting down it’s like wearing a roll of corrugated iron that’s coated with spiky rust inside. Sporrans are also daft, ok if you were going into clan battle or marching from Kirkintiloch to Campbeltown; it was the perfect place to store your porridge back in the day, now it’s just a nuisance. The other things with kilts are that you cant drive a car easily, take a steady pee or perch on stool in one and Prince Charles appears to like them, that tells you something. A tux isn’t quite as awkward, it’s just a jacket and trousers after all. I’ve abandoned the cummerbund thing though, that’s like wearing a tiny elusive apron that wants to crawl across your lap and round your waist. Clothing with a life of it’s own is never a good thing. The worst part of either set of this socially acceptable bondage gear is the bow tie and winged collar, devices that combine to give the wearer a true red-neck and an uncontrollable urge to burst the button’s stranglehold by nine thirty or earlier if possible. It’s also at about this time when after a few red wines you wonder how we ever got to this place; why not clown suits or battledress? why not spandex or knitted pullovers? We are where we are and I wasn’t the person who defined normal. The ladies of course make all the real effort, do all the planning, smile as their outfits and undergarments restrain and contain them and maintain a quiet composure whilst tortured and tottering in high heels, maybe the kilt’s not so bad.


Don’t Vote, it just encourages the bastards! Why are my current crop of favourites a peculiar mix of real and fictional people? Malcolm Tucker, P J O’Rourke, Bob Servant, Neil Young, Steve Jobs, Sherlock Holmes, Lupin III, Ang Lee, probably because that reflects the ratio between reality and fantasy that currently prevails - in some places.

Climate Change

Climate change: Relax, there’s not a single thing you can do about it. There are 1.4 billion people in China and they all want a Ford Ranger.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Big gardens in Dundee

As a late developer it's never too late apparently and your next new discovery may be up the next close or down the next set of neglected road works, anyhow I've just discovering the wondrous wisdom and insanity of Bob Servant, a fellow from Dundee by all accounts. It's a city where some lucky folks have big gardens. I hear that potted versions of Bob's exploits may have made it as far as remote parts of Fife or even beyond.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


I’m struggling to find a replacement TV show for the long running and misunderstood epic that was LOST. There is nothing on the horizon and I am a TV disciple without a cause of any kind. The Event has of course appeared in the same Channel 4 slot that spawned LOST many moons ago. This show is a contrived but well produced combination of a number of popular and now familiar modern script elements complete with mysteries shrouded in enigmas and a few aliens thrown in for good measure. LOST/Heroes/Flash Forward/24 all together in an unholy marriage ready for a box set or adoption by Sky if the ratings are good, will any of it go anywhere? Doubtful but it’s on series link on the box.


Tumble driers are marvellous things. They tumble your clothes and towels etc. in a jocular way and then after a period of time and some peculiar noises dry them. We now have two of the great white beasts, we are ready for a long wet winter spent in nice clean and un-fluffy clothes. One is old and at the moment broken however it will rise from the dead once the repairman finds a slot in our diaries and declutters it’s innards. The other is a newby, non-condenser type with a great wiry phallic hose and an action as silent as a Charlie Chaplin two realer. We installed it, after some effort and even more discussion in a confined space but at a height that minimises kinetic strains for the (over 50s) regular operators and members of the household. Our contingency plans are therefore almost complete for the winter laundry cycle and should it be required we can take in some - at a fair price of course.

Live don't learn

I’m not a good recipient of training at work. I freeze and daydream and often retain little of the hard delivered information. The classroom’s not for me. Web based training offers other alternatives: do it in your own time, at your desk, no interaction with other idiots, no coffee breaks in theory it should work. Of course for somebody as lazy, devious and an undeniable know it all it fails. Today I had two course outstanding they’ve been on my training agenda since summer, the due date is this Friday. I’m not leaving anything to the last minute so I decide today’s the day. The pipeline time for both courses totals about seven and a half hours - I’m not sure I can stomach that either. A cursory glance at the two courses (one’s on “finance” and the other on “information“ - loose topics really) and it’s snap decision time. Ignore the actual modules and head straight for the final test and assessment screens. By the laws of averages, statistics, luck and general knowledge the odds are that any multichoice assessment should be a dawdle, or at least yield a decent percentage score avoiding the tedium and …err hard work involved in actually learning anything. Did it work? Well almost, I busked a load of complex audit and governance stuff and spun out a 55% in finance. In Information I was coasting to an 80% outcome. So two boxes ticked and five of your earth hours saved for better things, whatever they may be and I’ve learned nothing.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Steak 'n cake

More hysterically peaceful landscapes frae the weather challenged waterfront of Bonnie Scotland and it's various annexed states.

Tea tonight was the unexpected steak n cake, not the American steak n shake version either with it's innocent but temping jar of chilies perched upon every unwitting diner's table. You unscrew the top, pull out one and insert into your mouth as you await the steak or burger you just ordered. Then the chillies explode in your mouth. At this point you swallow the entire shake (which you hope has arrived to rescue you from this fiery trial), then you get the beef and are seduced and rendered prostrate by the bloody meat experience. Anyway tonight we had beautifully prepared steak (from the Co-op) and cake, the remains of a fine 55th Formula 1 birthday cake almost a week old but none the worse despite the relentless passage of time and the erosion and strange persistence of lapsed memory...a bit like me.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich as the sun goes down (not too far from the A9).

There something mad about driving on the A9, probably brought on by the mix of slow / fast / single / dual carriageway that confuses the average driver. When the dual carriageway eventually comes a feeding frenzy begins where cars jostle for positions frantically hoping to overtake anything that might be considered a slow moving threat to their opportunities to speed. Today I decided to avoid this type of behaviour and chug along at a steady and serene (and slightly illegal) 65 miles per hour maximum regardless of the other traffic. Truly the behaviour of a man no longer in a hurry and of a certain ripe old age and intellectual maturity. The fact that I think a speed camera may have clocked me (from a camouflaged flyover) moving at a steady 88mph last week on the M74 had nothing whatsoever to do with my new civilised driving style. So though the design of the A9 encourages bad driving that in itself is not an excuse. Time after time for some reason normal, sane people become unhinged in their cars and the A9 brings this out as they tailgate, misjudge, take risks and blatantly race one another. What to do? Bring back the old A9, choke the tourist towns, take the twists and put them back in, no overtaking from Perth all the way to Inverness and so manage the traffic back to a healthy 25mph. Everybody then drives a Morris 1100, wears a sensible pullover, carries a tartan flask and has a neatly folded travelling rug on their back seat...OK I've gone too far.

Many small birds munch their breakfast in a contrived but interesting and easily observed environment. As the birds eat seeds we eat cake on the other side of the window.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Chilly October afternoon, iconic piece of ironwork from the South East side. Flurries of tourists and elderly walkers in bright clothes, dogs, no decent skimmers, cold ears, coffee and cake at the usual place and the grand kids behaving themselves. Tomato soup and Hula Hoops?

Happy like a Yamazaki

I like the look of this...but I want to be sure that the Scottish whisky industry is protected...but I don't trust the government and I don't trust big business. Of course I don't trust myself in most normal circumstances and after a few three fingers worth of this I certainly wont be particularly trustworthy either.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

55 years of dreaming

Two earth days ago my 55th birthday dawned. A few hours before dawn I woke from a deep warm REM sleep still clinging onto the wreckage of a complex dream about sourcing and then enjoying a perfect breakfast. In the dream there was a lengthy outside pursuit through various farms and open eateries where people in tweed jackets prepared eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes and steaming hot drinks. Of course my efforts to actually get some breakfast were continually frustrated by queues, delays, unanswered questions and unresponsive servers. Obstructions popped up, people got in the way thwarting my purposes and hunger as the sun rose and a beautiful blue sky cleared and sparkled in that technicolour way that dream skies do. Then I regained consciousness, dealt with the breakfast angst and remembered that I was 55 and had now experienced 55 years of dreams, and of all off them I can only think of one...I was sourcing and then hoping to enjoy a perfect breakfast...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Danger Danger Warning Warning

It comes from planet Costa, it's milky and over priced, it makes you feel like you've drunk a cat's (warm) blanket, it tastes like a warm blanket, you can't understand a word that the sales person says, the price doubles if you buy a biscuit and triples if you buy a muffin, you get a penny back no matter how much you pay, the cup is unstable and unsafe at any speed, you drink it sitting by a table covered in crumbs, the people at the next table will be having a loud sales conference, you are brainwashed by quaint images of old Italy and portraits of ex-Mafia members, there are no free newspapers and there is a nagging "green-wash" feel about the whole coffee experience. Yes I am supping a latte and feeling unsafe and exploited - slightly.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Snow Angel Sleep

A brief return to the old chestnut of both assumed and unplanned sleeping positions, it's still being explored but in no particular order:

a) I fell from 30000ft without a parachute, fall broken by trees and landed in snow.
b) Collapsed statue.
c) The well and truly embalmed mummy.
d) Ophelia.
e) Cartoon rabbit falls down a cartoon rabbit hole.
f) "I've overeaten."
g) Polar bear hibernates.
h) Polar bear dozes.

There's more work to be done on this...

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This exceptional streak of almost happy blog entries shows no sign of stopping. Today I've pictured the new lampshade that resides at the top of the stairs. It makes me smile I'll have you know.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


...use of a reconstructed cute cat in the lotus position, a photo that lured unwitting search engines to this blog, an exercise from which nobody benefits in any tangible way other than those that get a whiff of satisfaction from a picture they have never seen before and a few percentage points more endorphin(s) in the middle of their nodding heads. Some people will just ignore, others click on to Facebook or the Daily Mail, more folks push on some interesting and hopefully live link on the right as their journey away from this page continues. Meanwhile the yoga cat and I stay calm and serene and are at peace with things in general, here in our small corner of the shared space we call the universe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I made a good curry

Non-specific driftwood from the Forth.

A single chicken that feeds the family for four days, despite not being particularly big must be a good chicken. This one (you can't see it because we've eaten it) went through the full three days of Christmas phases starting with roast with veg and gravy, then stir fry with leftover greens and oranges and finally Korma and nan, with a little help from a jar of Coop sauce. I know that this is trivial and boring but in years to come folks will look back on this kind of cooking and marvel...

Meanwhile a site that caters for geeks, engineering drawing freaks and fans of tall buildings etc. There is something strangely compulsive about the lists, numbers, stats and diagrams.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Honestly Officer

"I was only testing the rope for an unreliable friend and checking to see how my new jolly rancher jacket dealt with the occasional passage of underarm friction and heat that occurs when arms and shoulders are stretched a little more than would be normal for a Sunday afternoon activity. If I look a little blurred in this photo then it is simply the effect of my non-prescription drugs, a cold bacon roll and a bottle of Dr Pepper I obtained from a reputable source earlier in the day (I paid cash). The dog shit on my shoe, the occasional burst of middle-aged competitive spirit and the wrist and leg abrasions I cannot however explain."

150 tons of sunflower seeds...

...scattered across the floor of the Turbine Hall in the Tate Modern. Each seed handcrafted by a member of the Chinese Secret Police or somebody in a Beijing ceramic sweat shop. God help us and save us from this madness and grant me the opportunity to take off my socks and shoes, drink a bottle of Buckfast and walk across this artificial porcelain landscape once in my lifetime. The artist Ai Weiwei is as mad as an unopened box of frogs and has a funny name.

"The seeds are the memory of communist times," Ai told The Sunday Times. "We would share them out with friends."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sting's last stand

My darling wife enjoyed the recent Sting concert in Edinburgh. Accompanied by the Royal Polyphonic, Syncopated and Symphony Orchestra I am assured that music was entertaining, energetic and at times sublime. However of most interest was his mike stand, used on this occasion in full boom mode and complete with a tambourine attachment. "Can you get the roadies to set one up like that for me?" she inquired. Well should we ever venture back out into the live music circuit I will ensure that this requirement is carried out in full.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Star Wars Pooh

This stuff is brilliant, see more here.

Columbia Icefields revisited

Spent a relaxing day with the grand kids building an exact scale replica of the Columbia Icefields from a variety of soft, makeshift but appropriate materials. This shot shows the glacier crawlers parked high on the freezing ice whilst the passengers disembark for a well deserved cup of coffee and a yummy portion of Rocky Road. Shortly they will be chugging back down the mountain via the seaplane airport and then headed for their garage in the Thomas the Tank engine sheds. All in all a good example of play and a geography and geology lesson combined.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Lukewarm latte

The opposite of factory flying.

This time it’s serious

Back to work again and travelling a little so I’m enjoying that marvellous early morning experience known as the airport security line up and departure lounge challenge. Hundreds of people, some zombies, some eager, some obvious Indie musicians, some clearly impatient and clutching their worldly goods, designer bags, titchy laptops and small children. Meekly queued in an endless and managed line for the pointless privilege of x-ray and search and processing in order to fly from A to B. Every time I find myself in this parade I promise myself “never again”, then a few weeks later I’m back for more sub-human humiliation and boundless evidence of international distrust. Everybody is a suspect, so don’t laugh, or make eye contact or make some witty quip, the senseless humour detection system will pickup your bad and disrespectful attitude and then it’s a small room, a stainless steel table and a two way mirror for you, you may even be barred from your bargain flight. Meanwhile the real criminals and terrorists are bouncing their Range Rovers and Mercs across the airport speed bumps as they rush to pick up the mule’s dirty luggage a few yards away in international arrivals. British passport and straight on to the Green Zone anybody?

I then daydream and imagine that we’ve all snuffed it (me and the other daily 420000), so the security queue is the entrance to eternal life, heaven or hell or whatever they have on offer and will you and your atrocious hand baggage stand up to scrutiny? What about the pathetic contents of your ragged pockets and the few coins and tissues therein? Then there are your evil thoughts, actions and deeds and of course, worst of all the good that you did not do. Bugger, no hope and less faith, I have taken strong drink, smoked the odd fag and I once voted Liberal Democrat and bought a Black Sabbath album. Just as well I checked in my excess baggage of extra strong original sin and in return received a sticky bar code receipt for it, let’s hope some mix up occurs and it’s shipped to Panama or Indo-China.

A worst picture is conjured up, this is the entrance to Belsen or Auschwitz and our rucksacks and duffle bags are being scoured for any small items of value, gold, silver, jewellery. We also have to open our mouths wide as we walk through the metal detector. Then we will be separated from possessions and our families and the curtain will fall. The officious security checkers are indifferent to our fate, writing on clip boards, they are just following orders, doing the business, making sure everything is in order for the cultural vacuum we are to be sealed in - the Flybe Lounge and series of dismal shopping and coffee experiences sound tracked by pop tunes from the 90s and sheathed by images of de-constructed lipstick red models who never were real people.

By now and despite these metaphysical challenges and bad thoughts we’ve made it to the wide oasis of the shops. WH Smith have triumphed with their shop design. The newspapers are skilfully hidden from early morning eyes behind piles of tartan rubbish and sinister looking S&M straps disguised as travel aids. Once your chosen daily rag is gathered and you’ve bumped into fat young insurance brokers mulling over the chocolate bargains then it’s back out of the shop and in again via a geometrically challenging route to the tills. This fenced and winding maze holds all sorts of wonderful impulse buys and offers, mostly batteries, shiny objects with no obvious use and chewing gum in at least two flavours, essential for the frequent flyer so they can meditate on, absorb and understand the economics of selling to jaded travellers offering little resistance. Once you get to the till the kindly assistant asks “Would you care for these two bags of mints, on special at only £1.50 today?” “No thank you, I’m saving my cash and hallowed PIN number so that I can buy £50 worth of tickets at the ‘win a white Audi’ display a little further into the mall, then I’ll get my magnums of lunch time Champagne in see-through bags and a few souvenir rugby shirts on my way to Gate 20 via Wetherspoons for my all day breakfast bap and a lukewarm Costa latte, so no thank you once again.” Next time I’m headed M74, M6; maybe.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Monopoly money to be won

OK, repeat after me, "I am a false prophet; God is a superstition!" ("And I drink your milkshake!")

$100 in Monopoly money and a Ritter Sport are on the table if you can name the film.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Goat on the highway

Monday: good day for a photo reminder of a lonely goat on the highway.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Not easy being a leader

Listen, squat (and ignore the Vancouver rain) as I tell you the story of Noggin the Nog...

Full time recovery mode is being experienced this weekend:

1 pot of curry, 2 fish pies and 3 Chinese carryouts.
Children, grandchildren and a successful operation.
No grass cut thanks to the inclement weather.
Apple pie, bacon rolls, copious amounts of red wine and a feline reunion.
Sleep, perchance to dream and recover in our own strange bed.
Shopping and a trip to Belgium.
Down the long, windswept M74 to Dumfries, the Queen of the Stone-Age South and a surprise 2 - 0 defeat for the mighty Pars thanks to two of the flookiest goals I've ever seen and I've seen a few. Nice (small) mince and onion bridie for £1.50 though.
I thought I saw X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing but I may have been mistaken, now it looks like REM and ELP in concert and in HD or is it Spooks?
Back up to a damp Cupar for 2- 2 draw in the mud, blood and incessant rain and thankfully no serious injuries.
Reading the Sunday paper - was I wrong about Donald Dewar?
Driving a white van from Arnold Clark through the battered streets of Edinburgh and moving what looked liked lots of furniture but proved not to be.
Reversing a white van down a long narrow street, as if in some recurring dream.
Bought the Oliver Stone Wall Street DVD on Amazon, now thinking of a sandwich I once bought and ate in that very place.
The history of the Yardbirds at Pro Guitar Shop, nostalgia is big again.

That'll do for today, tomorrow it's laundry (and return the van).