Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don't drop the Dyson

Modern life (here in the whatever it is) can be seen as a series of encounters with domestic appliances and mechanical and electrical devices. Everyone comes in at a different level on this; the early adopters, the don't care about the details, the use it up wear it out, the avoider, the wrecker and so on. I also see that some families/individuals are prone to equipment failures on a common range of items. For some it will be washing machine failure, kettle burn out, car trouble, phones with rubbish batteries, hard disk failure, irons consuming their own cords etc. Anyway for us it seems to be hoovers, they come, work for a period of time and then give up the ghost, choked by gunge and fluff and that weird cosmic dust that just appears from nowhere but is deadly to any hoover around here. We're in Dyson mode at the moment and despite all the design sophistication and hype it seems to me a fragile and ungainly beast. It does however work quite well.

Yesterday it seemed that it's suction, when applied to imbedded cat hair in a carpet was a little less than desirable. Had one of those dreaded vacuum bowel blockages occurred? I carried the ill machine downstairs for further investigation and possible surgery. It was during the carrying process that I began to realise the nature of the problem. The main dirt compartment parted company with the Dyson's chassis and somersaulted down the stairs. In doing so it created an artistic and complex pattern of dust and debris that covered the staircarpet, wall, windowsill and the downstairs hall. I stood back and admired the stoorie devastation for a few moments and swore colourfully. Then I put the Dyson back together and Dysoned back up all the mess. It works fine and the stair is clean but I know I'm never more than a mbar (suction measure) from the next episode. What's worse, stuck in a loop or trapped in a vacuum?

Anyway if you like "What if?" as opposed to "WFT?" questions this a useful slight diversion.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Escapes of energy

Well not if this zebra patterned balloon has anything to do with it. It irritates after about five seconds, then you think you see a frog, then you imagine what might be in the balloon making all the fuss, then you stop caring and click elsewhere. This is in fact a good example and summary of all things (well most things) that are web based. I'm still looking at it however and that mysterious energy seems to be trapped in there well and truly.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Other people's lists

Three of my chosen albums; cosmic, twee and pish. Appropriate enough really.
I'm perversely proud of the fact that of the top 100 most influential albums of all time I have (or have owned) a paltry 17. My tastes and those of the rest of the world are strangely out of kilter, in a pleasant enough way. In fact at least 50 of the albums listed here I don't like at all nor would I consider them to be seriously influential (and on whom?), but that's the whole point of lists I guess. I think I can now officially describe myself as rather cantankerous but quite good at building bonfires. Test yourself here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cat Flap Repairs

There's only one way to chase the unwelcome moisture from your malfunctioning electronic cat flap and that of course is to administer a healthy dose of hairdryer heat at full force, preferably late at night when it's raining heavily. This practice may well be above and beyond the manufacturer's instructions and to some extent beyond the laws of physics but what else can you do?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Haggis: The Photo Portrait Collection

There can't be too many haggis portrait photo blogs out here/there on the intertwerp. What's the chances of "Haggis: The Photo Portrait Collection" coming up as a Google search? I may have started something. Hopefully in a few hours I'll have also eaten something. Happy Burns Nicht or whatever you happen to call it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Search of the Aspirated Wh

The search for the justified and fully aspirated Wh goes on. I was rather pleased to hear than linguists and academics all across Scotland were concerned that the use of the aspirated W was diminishing. The situation has been recognised and help is at hand, I think. This tragic failure is taking place today along with the rampant use of the term Burns' Night rather than the totally correct Burns' Nicht. Anyway the expert witness in all this said he would be eating vegetarian haggis and reciting poems, but not necessarily those of of Burns, on Burns' Nicht. At that point he lost all credibility. But, never the less and yes indeed I now feel fully justified and technically approved of by the great and marvellous bodies of Pictish education and science with seats of learning in such places as Glasgow, Aberdeen and Lochgelly. More blethers about the problem, (demonstrating the aspirated W or Wh as some would have it and the associated problems) are to be found here.

Meanwhile I need to brush up on my Wh-hisky, Wh-heasel and Wh-hat the feck is this all about phonetics.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Photographic Odyssey

 And so the continuing and almost daily photographic odyssey gains more cosmic momentum with another two reflective pieces from today's less noteworthy and otherwise unnoticed events. The first (above) is simply and economically  entitled "Escaped cats stare sadly through a misty window whilst the artist almost drops the camera into the kitchen sink (with new rotation)". As the discerning viewer will detect, a number of tasteful effects have been added in order to provide a little more artistic gravitas to the piece.  Below I have included  the more accessible and conventional catering based "Cheese, tomato and toast torture." Signed prints are to be made available, I'm doing a limited run of 50  at £300 each. Hurry up with the cash you uncultured swine.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Square Eclipse 2

These worlds are probably very economical in their use of words due to the thinning air and the general serenity.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Chaos: all planned out

The local, chilly view.
I had it all planned out, then it snowed and became savagely cold. My only alternative was to retreat right back into the very back of my head and then take stock of things, lo and behold I saw it all so clearly, if a little distorted. "That's just what you get",  some might say.

I typed out ten thousand words. All bright and vivid, hard and poetic, chirpy with meaning and humour, lyrical and as perfectly crafted out as I could make them. They flowed and rolled, they turned corners, looped and danced around. These were sweet moments for me. I lost myself. They swirled and provoked, everywhere all around. They hurt and bound things tight, they contradicted and lied. They went deep. They bent the truth and described the hidden. They were there. It was revelation and I saw the bright light of understanding. I swear I did. Then I picked those words out, highlighted them and deleted them all. Just with the touch of a key and they were all gone. It was a strangely warm, wonderful, godlike feeling. Now they are no more and though I can't forget them I just can't remember any of them. I felt that I had to tell somebody about it. That person must be you.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Annoying Orange

What happens when an orange is left buried and abandoned in the bottom of a busy person's handbag for many a long year. It was at one time, a while ago, virile and at least three inches in juicy diameter. Now it is a shrivelled and dried out and useless relic (an angry inch?) and a husk of a bygone age of  one time citrus perfection. There may well be a lesson here, a universal lesson applicable to all or maybe just a few but who really knows? So squeeze my orange/lemon/pineapple etc. etc.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Towel Art

The ancient Japanese art of towel folding and arranging comes to Scotland at long last. Three not so easy pieces by Ali.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Seven for a secret

Tesco: I for one am quite prepared to believe that it's possible to get mixed up between the cows and the horses during a busy day at the abattoir. That's the food chain for you. I also don't understand the apparent outrage at mixing up bovine and equine meats, it happens every day in France and they are far more civilised than we'll ever be. As the vegetarian butcher once said "It all tastes the same to me, I just never swallow any of it".

Tax the poor: Twenty five million pension plans will go up the spout when they double the price of a Lottery ticket to £2 later in the year. Hours or even seconds of pointless amusement strangled for the masses. They'll be turning to religion next. I can't be bothered with the stupid games, quiz panels and rubbish that surrounds a ridiculous raffle with hopeless odds. Having said that the £25 for three numbers has a certain attraction.

Growing old gracefully: The eternal question at these difficult ages, which strategy or role model do you follow?

David Bowie: Geriatric reflections on 80s Berlin. Dressing as a stuffed teddy and looking sour with a Chinese pal. Dull synth dominated songs with mournful lyrics and dense drums. A backing band of anonymous session guys happy to take the money and run. Sense of humour failure (or so it seems).

Mick Jagger: Gangley, wrinkled, cocky blues boy at a fancy dress party in a silly hat. Still shouting rubbish  and strutting like you're 21 but not really meaning any of it. No new ideas for material, just reruns of years ago. Worn out riffs and a baffled and battered Keef fronting the ugliest looking band you ever saw.

I'm settling for the Groucho method - whisky, red meat and obscurity.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Tuesday: Traditionally not a day for reflection or anything of that sort but I did briefly wonder as I munched a dry sausage roll why January seems to be such a desolate little month? Why we are plunged into this cold and dreich winter experience, lost without the light and colour of December to help us along? Today it's -3C, cold but still not deeply cold. I'm assembling IKEA storage equipment, removing dead mice, recycling, listening for the tinkle of snow, looking out into the dark place that is the garden and reorganising a cupboard - and that's after a normal day's work.  Perhaps it's the recognition of the overwhelming threat of the weather turning really bad and all of our local bits of civilisation just breaking down. That's it, January anxiety, along with preparing for the Volvo's MOT.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life of CGI

Far away....
...a bit closer.
Here in the colourful land of the back of beyond, where the pothole is king, the scent of cabbages wafts in the breeze and cats grow confused we always allow the sun to drop down in the sky at least once a day. When this happens and we're aware of it we rush down to the seashore, disturb innocent birds that are minding their own perfect business and take out our mobile phones. Then we run up and down the stone and shingle beach, phones held high in the evening air as we focus, click and search for that elusive and perfect five megapixal shot. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes we just step in dog poo.

The Life of Pi is a good film (and a good Kindle read no doubt), full of allegory, seascapes, tigers, humour, violence and high quality CGI that will burn out your retinas. In fact it's so trippy and far out that when I came out of the cinema I was convinced that it was still 1971. I had to be talked down from a high branch by a very understanding young social worker who bribed me with a sugar donut and the diluted threat of possible physical or sexual violence. Once down I was restrained by pipe cleaner handcuffs and Ovaltine but I escaped and made my way to Brazil in a Beechcraft Bonanza piloted by Sophia Loren who it turned out had cannibalistic tendencies. When I got  there I settled for a quite life on a brood mare ranch spending my time as an honest  plastic surgeon and part time Nazi hunter. I also found God and then promptly lost him in the post. Well that's one version of events, then of course there is the truth - which one makes the better story?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Favourite Pillbox

My current favourite ex-WW2 concrete artifact is this grand but slightly weather stained (jagged) little pillbox that presently stands guard over the recycling centre at Fyvie in Aberdeenshire.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Toilet doors and windows wide open

Today I stopped off for a coffee and caramel shortbread break at Peggy Scott's whilst headed north on the A90. Nice enough but for some reason they wedge the toilet doors open, both the Ladies and Gents and have all the toilet windows open wide's January. It may be that the odd OAP has a loo stop meltdown in there now and again but quite why they do this beats me. Strange.

Marmite and toast, or on toast to be precise. Strong memories of coming down the morning after, a hangover cure and mouth and digestion reviver, almost magical really...and the longing, rolling after taste. Mmmm.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Polar bears need meat

Do you ever just sit down and think?..."I could just eat a tin of minced beef right now." No neither do I.

Polar Bear Diaries: Saw a bit of this on BBC2. After  half an hour of watching the irritatingly grim host and his camera team moaning about how poorly the bears were doing and how hungry they must be I just thought..."go into the ship's freezer and throw them a few trout or mackerel or whatever you've got in there and walk away." It seems that nature's way and me just don't agree sometimes.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Exasperated Blackberry

Going from an old phone to a new one is fairly traumatic. This time it's from a whatever it was dumb phone to a sparkly and not so smart Blackberry (this is for business not pleasure). I never have been an early adopter of new technology so I'm always catching up and even my slim guitar stunted fingers seem a might too big for the tiny qwerty keys and trackball touch thing that wobbles like jelly on top of smoothie in a glass of Activia. I will persevere however and climb that hill. So what have I learned recently?

The wonders of e-book via the 3D Kindle, all apps, magazines and finger flicking good stuff.
Wav files are miles better than Mp3s.
Microwaves can be made to defrost chickens.
2 in 1 Nescafe is very good for you early in the morning.
I can live, survive and thrive using a Macbook.
In-car temperature controls and trip computers are good things.
Chips in cats will allow cat flaps to operate (?).
Smart TVs are not so smart.
Rewiring a dimmer switch.
My Sky password.
The Blackberry trackball touch.
Smoothie and Activia can successfully live in a shared glass if correctly chilled.
You can buy whisky on-line from on-line retailers.
Cheesy beans are good.
A Porsche doesn't need high octane fuel.

That's about it - but I still feel just a little uneasy and out of step with things...I imagine that's how David Bowie must feel all of the time.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

An error occurred

Entering a strange new world.
An error occurred when I was starting to type and I completely forgot what it was I was about to write. Thankfully the Blogger error appears not to be fatal and it may just be possible to slip into some parallel universe (as a cat might) and so avoid the tricky situations posed by life, a diet of Harry Potter films and parking in disabled spaces  - but only for a really short period of time and because I had to pop into the Post Office. Karma will punish me.

David Bowie has finally made a new record and created quite a fuss on the Twittersphere. Fortunately it had all passed over like a fresh January storm before I got home, I will give it a listen in due course.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Driller's Procrastination (DP)

Thirty five year old Black and Decker, still works up to a point despite numerous mishaps and bodged repairs.
Two holes and a pen mark.
Possibly the finest collection of blunt drill bits and chuck keys North of the Pentlands and South of the Ochils.
I'm a DP sufferer and I don't really care who knows about it. It's a whole new form of mental illness and I've diagnosed myself with it albeit in a mild and fairly nonthreatening form. It's all about fiddling in the margins, inventing delays, building obstacles, seeing technical deficiencies and generally messing about when you could just get on and do the drilling. Well today after a long period of self inflicted therapy, some rain and a garlic potato I broke through in way that would have made any average American comedy/reality audience whoop and holler with delight and admiration. Yes it's true I drilled about four easy holes into a simple piece of wood. Now all I have to do is get to the top of the step ladder.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Spirited away to Kelty

Unlikely doppelganger doorknob. 
The highest football pitch in Fife sits at a lofty 600ft above the level of the choppy North Sea and it was there that I spent the afternoon blasted, dazed and confused and entertained by some murky Sunday football, thanks to Kelty Hearts under 19s. As is the custom the final scoreline was less than flattering to us but the toilets, car parking and the confused coffee service were of a high calibre. The Soundtrack to the afternoon was provided by those jolly Scandinavians "First Aid Kit" (The Lion's Roar) and the oh so serious Texans "ZZ Top" (La Futura) with readings via Kindle from Call of the Wild and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. It was special on so many levels,  that kind of super cultured Kelty afternoon that's been missing from the not so sadly departed old nag that was 2012.

Earlier in the day we began with the traditional hangover bustin' Cowboy/Cowgirl breakfast; eggs, chilli egg bread, olive egg bread, flat Fife sausage, bacon, beans and tomatoes - works a treat. I started eating it and I'd no hangover, fifteen minutes later I had a head like a Townhill (Lochside) brick that's been blasted in the oven since Tuesday. Marvellous stuff really.

Funniest thing I've seen on TV in ages: Cuckoo "Grandfather's Cat Episode", oh yeah!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

The low road

The sole of a boot found on top of a dry stone dyke. 
An abandoned water pump, buried in rubble, unused for years.
I've been pounding the Fife Coastal Path, well the small part of it that runs close by the front door. There's a lot to see and a lot that's hidden and likely to stay that way. Out on the beach people dig fishing worms, gather up driftwood or logs and timber here and there, quad bikes rumble, some dogs run wild whilst  some walk obediently by their owners, kids play and muddy cyclists and hi-vis runners stay fit.  The light plays tricks and the chilly River Forth widens and narrows and then as night falls turns grey and invisible. Then the January winds kicks in, rain joins the winter party and it's time to head home for hot chocolate and seat by the warm stove.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

The loneliness of the long distance rubbish

So what about the applied mechanics of recycling, staying sane and staying greenish all year round? Half way out on the road to find a seasonally uncluttered drop off point I ask myself is it really good practice to take all your recycling material in the boot of your gas guzzling car to the recycling centre? By then you rinsed out the cans and bottles in the precious, maybe even hot soapy water. Folded flat the cardboard and taken all the windows out of envelopes and the cellophane from the ready meal boxes. Of course you've stored these items for a while somewhere within your valuable house space, tripped over them a few times and then finally stuffed them into the car in order to drop them into the appropriate bins at the recycling centre. That is assuming that the council have emptied the bins and that there's room in the bins. There is also a strong possibility that it's windy and pouring rain while you stuff the precious material into the deliberately too small container apertures. Trouble is, once you start you just can't stop.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Almost normal progress

I did prepare quite a lot of this food but I didn't eat as much of it as I thought I would, that's always a strange part of entertaining and general grub husbandry. Now we've a fridge full of tasty leftovers.
Headed back to the steady state of normal, Christmas tree surgically removed from the arse of the house, bright shiny things entrapped in dark boxes, sliver balls rubbed up and rolled into their shoe box beds, lights coiled and crammed into large plastic repositories and hot ashes hosed down and hoovered; the celebrations can be well and truly declared over. The trouble is I'm a bit fuzzy on what we were celebrating, possibly the fact that we can freely celebrate the passing of the shortest day, maybe new calender numbers or just being born into a country that has a fair amount of civilisation and healthy sanitation going on in it most of the time. All that and of course the art of ingenious pie making and stuffing. Most likely the Romans started it and the Picts pinched the idea and it's completely stuck with us now. So much that it's hard to celebrate anything without sticking a slice of pastry and savoury contents into your face at some point. Progress.

In other news we've gone straight in at the deep end and started watching the "Breaking Bad" box set. Already I can feel my life slipping away in a pleasant four-eyed trance. I may need more pie.