Monday, September 30, 2013

Coconut Dance

Cake weekend

The whole weekend was incredibly warm and busy. There were long drives to and fro, grandchildren to feed, football to watch, the days of the "Cycling Kings of Dirt", the zombie graveyard, the cats and the trampolines, the Vines, more Vines, sunshine and tray bakes, swimming and blubbing, saunas and steams, French toast, traffic jams, Lego, universities to visit, chicken nuggets and swans on the fore shore, the Agents of Shield, the Forth Bridge, furniture inspired by Tim Burton, rhubarb crumble and custard, Asian Pears and cakes, many kinds of cake.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Express lane

A helpful little sticker. 
The giant spiders of Stratford Upon Avon. 
The Avon 
Ticket stub art.
Some unpleasant chaos was experienced by many travelling folks today at that lively house of fun aka Birmingham Airport. Apparently FlyBe has reduced  their check in staff here by four souls and a form of human chaos seemed to ensue shortly thereafter. This event was also coupled up with the failure of those naughty machines that you try to check in with (via passports and numbers) and end up swearing at as they stubbornly refuse to give you a boarding pass. Long lines were formed...After some standing in line and people shouting and me running across the airport and puffing and pushing my way through security I made it to my flight with not a lot of time to spare. My only comfort was the tiny plain sticker added to my handmade boarding pass, "Express Lane" it mischievously whispered. I never did find that lane.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mouse in a jar

I was awoken a 6am this morning by a cat's triumphant meow from the stairway, clearly a mouse had been caught. The mouse was looking pretty healthy and was away from the cat so, after a brief bit of tussling with a jar and paper I caught it and was ready to set it free. The mouse had other ideas and scuttled out of my trap like pocket rocket and disappeared downstairs. "The cat will get him next time" I thought. Sure enough the cat came in a few minutes later and deposited a (very dead) mouse at my feet, of course it was a different mouse.  Cats 1 - Mice 1 : 12+ hours of extra time is currently being played. Ho-hum, maybe if I hadn't stopped to take a photo of the mouse it would have all been so different.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A brief selection

The grapes of (not wrath) the borders. 
An everyday  doorway in Dundee.
Indie the dog in Aberdeen. 
Yet another project in the making.
So here we are with a brief selection of photos that completely fail to cover the many and various activities we got up to this weekend. Busy as usual with many more miles on the clock, takeaways eaten,  wine quaffed, dogs walked, sketching lessons given, ice cream eaten and parks and shops and houses visited in the unexpected and warm September sunshine.  Now I need to sleep it all off...till next weekend.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Before I shoot the crow

Blond on blond on battered and bruised.
I get some strange satisfaction and inner validation from sanding down old, worn and badly painted Strat bodies in order to expose the wood finish that's hidden below (I've said this many times). I also like to connect with the wood; something primal and positive about working with natural materials and so on. Every so often a decent instrument emerges kicking and screaming from the life affirming dust and smoke. Having said this and posted that it's now time to shoot the crow...

Friday, September 20, 2013

Desktop Gifs

Perhaps you're one of the lucky few who doesn't save random .gif files to their desktop. If so then you won't understand the problem of what you do with these fleeting, peripheral, temporary and ultimately boring moving images (other than post them on your blog), they really mean something for at least a few seconds. Just another waste of the great and bloated Internet and all that stuff I suppose.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Neurodiversity and me

A few problem people from my past.
Neurodiversity is a term that is used to refer to a range of conditions such as those along the Autism spectrum (ie Autism, Asperger's Syndrome), Attention Deficit Disorders (ADHD/ADD), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia. People with neurodiverse conditions have a different way of processing information, whether this is written or spoken language, visual imagery, understanding body language, facial expressions or tone of voice. It may also be about how someone interprets and makes sense of visual and spatial information i.e. the world.

Many neurodiverse people still remain undiagnosed, despite a better understanding of these conditions. Neurodiverse conditions will manifest differently in different people, and there are often overlaps in some of the symptoms. For a description of each of the conditions, err...go online somewhere.
So just like anyone else, people with neurodiverse conditions have strengths and difficulties, which will manifest themselves at times. Although there will be differences in each individual, some of the strengths and difficulties which may be displayed in life are set out below, so how do I do in this (?):

Strengths (Yes meaning I have this)

enthusiasm, creativity and originality - yes
accuracy - no
a good eye for detail  - yes
reliability, conscientiousness and persistence - yes
an excellent memory for facts and figures -yes
high levels of concentration - no
lateral thinking, seeing the "whole picture" - yes
high levels of technical ability, e.g. in IT – err…no
the ability to thrive in a structured, well-organised work environment - no

Difficulties (Yes meaning I have this)

short-term memory - yes
difficulties in following instructions or keeping up with oral discussions - yes
maintaining concentration –yes
organisation, prioritising, time management - no
cluttered desks, filing problems – yes
reading, writing and spelling – yes
coordination, e.g. typing or handwriting –yes
communication problems - yes
judging distance, time etc - no
over or under-sensitivity to touch, light, temperature, noise - no

End Result? - inconclusive but there are a few significant signs.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Things of little consequence

Funny how good it feels to strip the paint and gunk from an old black Stratocaster body with a power tool and slowly reveal the wood grain hidden underneath it all.  I found it strangely satisfying pruning it all back but there still remains a lot of work to be done to get the body ready for a natural finish and some pyrographical nonsense.  All day at work I was looking forward to doing this job, getting lung fulls of dust, filthy clothes and sore hands and arms - before the pleasant reveal of the wood pattern.

 Grandaddy Volvo officially reached old-timer status last night somewhere between Aberdeen and Fife as we rolled past 100k fairly effortlessly, presumably we were going downhill rapidly at the time. This must be where the motoring Alzheimer's and general confusion kicks in. Note the dashboard photo was taken once I'd pulled up back home. This is my 4th 100k moment in a row.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Not everything is perfect

How can something work really well but still be imperfect? This is the best Partscaster home-built/Ebay/AxeRus/Gumtree sourced player to come from the production line so far has a bad earth somewhere and the wiring isn't quite right so the coil tap is out of phase (which gives it a great set of tones) and it pickup buzzes just occasionally but apart from that it's...perfect. The trouble is if I ever manage to fix it may well become...imperfect.

Conflict and worship

OK then it never did happen but here's two odd things coming together; possible conflict anyone?
There are so many conflicting and crazy ideologies out there at constant at odds with each other, some take an almost perverse delight in seeing themselves as completely correct in their understanding of god (in theology) and what he/she might require from his/her creation. Once in a while I wonder how, if I was god I'd want to be worshiped, what do gods really like and what might they expect? Here's a few options, none of which really make sense:

The lukewarm singing of religious songs accompanied by pipe organ.
A violent terrorist act that blows up innocent people and other folk's property.
Mad dancing followed by group sex and some ritualistic violence.
An oil painting of my (God's) crucifixion.
Dressing up elephants with paint, jewels and cloth and marching them down the street.
Invading somebody else's country, laying waste to it, enslaving the people and then ruling them.
Building big buildings and filling them full of gold.
Sitting in a pile of dung silently meditating.
Praying like mad for everything in the world only occasionally pausing to say thank you.
Trembling uncontrollably.
Not cutting your hair or fingernails or shaving.
Wearing your best clothes as a mark of respect.
Not having sex.
Having lots of sex.
Flagellation (self or otherwise).
Strumming an acoustic guitar and singing Hallelujah.
Covering your body with dye.
Never eating meat.
Carving images and idols in stone (or in wickerwork).
Doing everything that the scriptures tell you even when you don't understand.
Passing a % of your income to the church.
Denying yourself the things you might like because that's what god expects.
Subjugating women.
Casting spells and uttering curses.
Persecuting those who disagree with you.
Cutting yourself and bleeding.
Sacrificing animals.
Sacrificing people.

Hmm..the list could go on but frankly if I was any kind of god, even a pretty stupid one, I don't think that any of this mindless stuff would tickle me.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Determined rascal

This little guy regularly raids the bird feeders helping himself to as much seed or nuts as he can carry. From time to time he chews through the mesh or dislodges the feeder(s) altogether so they scatter all the bird food across the garden. The birds hop down for a look and then the cats make a strike. This has been going on here (and in our previous location) for ages and it's pretty much unstoppable. Today however we caught him in the act and does he care? Not a bit.

Doppelganger Blues

Here's me with new baby Florence, naturally she's stays beautiful and serene in my arms whilst I'm slowly morphing and changing into a situation comedy grandaddy. I'd not I ever planned this and really when it comes down to it there are few things you can properly plan and deliver on but, as I reflect upon my fate and life in general it's probably not too bad a situation.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


A big Hello to Florence Grace India T, a brand new grandchild born earlier today. I've yet to meet her but I'm sure she's beautiful. No sign of any Dougal just yet.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


In theory the Black & Decker Workmate is a formidable, versatile workhorse that can be used to hold a Jumbo Jet engine or the sarcophagus of Tutankhamen quite easily while you tinker with the damaged innards and make a triumphant repair. I wouldn't know, I've still to reach that stage. As with most things it's a self assembly object that comes with incomprehensible instructions and diagrams in fifteen obscure European languages - why did I give up on the Beltane-Celtic? The other snag is that you really need an already built and fully functioning B&D WM to build another, that and a reliable spanner. It's also made in China from an unknown metal finished in black gloss. I will persevere with this monster and I shall triumph, at least as soon as I find the tiny split pin I dropped on the garage floor. Meanwhile as a dull diversion here's a worthwhile list of the top five (I could give you fifty five) over rated guitar players in somebody's opinion.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Milk Bomb

OK, use fat milk half filling a glass, add a capsule of yogurt drink, any flavour you choose (but strawb and rasp seem to be the best), don't stir it and just  glug it down.  Three gulps and it's gone. Consider the significant health benefits; strong teeth and gums, clear complexion, shiny hair and a strange and welcome feeling of well being. Recommended.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

How to spend your life

The wonderful things that people seem to spend their lives doing: Painting garden gnomes, chit-chatting, piddling, building guitars, sucking on flavourless boilings, learning to cook, collecting handbags, fiddling about, understanding politics, pulling up the blinds, holidaying in hot climates etc. You wonder quite why some folks spend all their lives doing what they do, by that I actually mean doing things that really amount to nothing as opposed to vital things. Don't they have any sense of the value of their own lives, their place in the world and the mark they might leave? Maybe they do but they don't care, maybe they make their mark in secret, maybe they've not given any of this any thought as they are too busy just getting off on the things I'm high-mindedly and incorrectly describing as idling, procrastination or a wasting time. Of course there is no such thing as time. 

Time was invented by belligerent and uncompromising European rulers to try to give workers something to feel guilty about and to measure the long gaps between ritual events and the less predictable seasons in nature. The first stages of time measurement used coloured sand in cola bottles, then they tried candles made from lard wrapped in proper English string. That worked for while but was tricky to use in open boats and on horseback when in hand to hand combat. Then the Swiss got a hold of it and mechanised it into tiny impractical clocks that would have been better covered in rich milk chocolate that, let no one forget, pretty much comes out of a cow's arse (or udder I suppose). They also formed guilds, designed knives and invented sexual perversion (a term no longer understood by anyone). Anyway that same technology inadvertently invented the cult of miniaturisation which then resulted in a number of dodgy sci-fi plots, the rise of China, the industrial revolution and counter revolution and places called Silicon Something (Valley, Glen, Bay, Iceberg, Cess-pit, Tits) and so on. 

Thus we find ourselves stuck with bright blinking little malignant clock faces and glowing numbers plastered across every device we greedily consume and occasionally use. A constant and noisy reminder of our wasteful and fragile humanity, the frantic avoidance of ageing, the countdown to imminent nuclear winters, doomsdays, lottery deadlines, airport delays, polar caps melting and the extinction of all the little grey/brown cuddly (but aggressive to humans) animals and whales.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Dinosaur plays piano

After witnessing  yesterday's local whale tragedy and being burdened down with more Nantucket Sleighride guilt than is acceptable for anybody we decided that today was to be devoted to being creative and edgy. You can't get more edgy than a squeaky dinosaur playing the final note to Happy Birthday on a piano.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Some kind of media event

Some days this stuff just writes itself which certainly helps when you're a bad and clumsy hack like me. Today a Minke whale was washed up on the beach nearby, struggling for life, not quite dead and desperate. Lots of good folks, firefighters, experts, vets and the coastguard tried to save it but to no avail. They let it go about one o'clock and it was unceremoniously removed by lorry a few hours later. Crowds had gathered and press and TV crews arrived to hopefully get a good story, once the whale was dead the story was gone and so were they. We caught the poor thing's final journey...

Thursday, September 05, 2013


I saw this old timer Ford Anglia or Anglebox sitting bolt upright in the September sun in Dunfermline today. I never did want one (then) nor would I want one now but it looked good (as old, well maintained and interesting cars tend to) for a few moments. That's it then.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Guitar Shop 2

Partscaster 1, 80s Hohner neck and body, single Fender Atomic Humbucker, volume control,  Fender bridge,  tremolo and hardware, finished in a turquoise blue lacquer, also has a few tiny body dings. 
Partscaster 2, no known history, blank ash body finished in natural teak oil, Fender style neck with dolphin motif at the 12th fret, single G116 14k Alinco V Humbucker with coil tap, tone and volume/tone controls that  allow a wide range of clear sounds, Fender tremolo bridge and hardware. No marks or vices.
Partscaster 3, gloss black unknown copy body (jack socket on base, non-standard shape), hardtail, standard heavy pickups and Fender neck. Glossy black finish with a few minor dings but clean as a whistle otherwise Nice tone all round. 
Partscaster 4, 90s Korean Squier sunburst (very heavy, full size) body and pickups, hardtail,  overhauled with a new maple neck. Superbly playable guitar.
Ps OA.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Guitar Shop 1

OK, so it's a bit shaky and slightly out of time but how else do you showcase four guitars in six seconds?  Many thanks to the executive producer, director, editor, sound recordist and set designer.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Walking amongst the dead

We were out and about unusually early this morning, no family to cook for and the weather too poor for cycling so we hoofed it out to the old Crombie Church ruins. The promise of a bacon roll once we got home kept us going. Here the long forgotten dead of this corner of Fife are overgrown and at peace, apart from the noise of the nearby tree surgery taking place. The last burial looks to have been well over a hundred years ago and the oldest headstones go back to the mid eighteenth century, many are weathered and blurred beyond any recognition. For a dead place it's alive with brambles and wildlife and surprisingly little evidence of vandalism. File under some more evidence of our Abandoned Scotland.