Friday, August 30, 2013

The last days of August

August and summer are burning out as the strong west winds blow more strange cloud shapes all across the country far above our heads.  The sky is a watchable spectacle that beats the BBC or iPlayer. It's been a good, stretched out and tiring season but one where little if any peace has been found. Still today we're (in the UK) not yet at war with Syria, meanwhile Twitter lunatics are quoting verses from Isaiah 17 all about the wanton destruction of Damascus and the Second Coming while the USA finds itself on the same side as Al Qaeda. In many influential minds the war against terror becomes another battle scarred memory that just proves how little our leaders ever learn from recent history. Tony Blair certainly poisoned the well of public trust for this generation.

I'm full of Chinese food and toothpaste and I've built four guitars and fixed the kitchen drawer (over quite a few weeks). Never let it be said that I'm siting around wasting time. Tomorrow it's Dundee and ... cake.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The flying, fickle finger of fate

The flying, fickle finger of fate recently seen over Fort William.
Despite wandering the Earth for nearly sixty years in a haphazard fashion it's never occurred to me until today that my name was made up of four fairly common nouns. I know it's not important really but in the grim tedium of random grimly tedious coffee break thoughts it seems significant if meaningless.

John - Colloquial noun for toilet, the willing client of a prostitute or an unnamed or unidentified body (dead) in the USA.

Wood - Useful construction and combustible material found inside trees. In fact trees are made of wood mostly, as far as I know. Also the collective noun for a small clump of trees.

Bar - Tavern or drinking den/shop. Also a length of iron or a handy chunk of soap, chocolate or toffee.

Clay - Useful, malleable  construction material used in bricks, china and ceramics once cured or fired in a kiln. Also found in raw form somewhere not so deep in the soil or in river beds, holds water  well therefore non-porous.

There you have it, the fickle finger from the hand of God points; how many other troubled four nouners are there out there?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Social Attitude Test

I undertook a Social Attitude Test, here's my scores and overall result:

Political Values

Radicalism 85.75
Socialism     56.25
Tenderness  28.125

"These scores indicate that you are a tough-minded progressive; this is the political profile one might associate with a liberated atheist. It appears that you are cynical towards religion, and have a suspicious and unsympathetic attitude towards humanity in general.

Your attitudes towards economics appear neither committedly capitalist nor socialist, and combined with your social attitudes this creates the picture of someone who would generally be described as a political centrist.

To round out the picture you appear to be, political preference aside, an idealist with several strong opinions.

This concludes our analysis; we hope you found your results accurate, useful, and interesting.

Unlike many other political tests found on the Internet which base themselves on untested (and usually ideologically motivated) ideas, this inventory is adapted from Hans Eysenck's own political inventory which was developed after extensive empirical investigations in the 20th Century."

Monday, August 26, 2013

A little piece on Islam

These happy, shiny but mostly stern faced (and glittered, glossed, nipped, and tucked) people's particular interpretation of Islam discourages Darwinism (as many religions do), Atheism (as most religions do) and Communism (well of course you’re going to say that- we can’t have the working class cutting into your Botox money!) The only thing (?) that really seems off is when they claim they’re against something called materialism. Hmm....The clip is stolen from the Dangerous Minds site so don't blame me. Anyway what a warm and attractive little cult Islam seems to be, who could resist this sincere message?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The trouble with evolution

After another small scale big breakfast I reviewed the debris, mostly dishes, pans and cutlery ready for a ravenous dishwasher (as above). The food, apart from a few crumbs was long gone. The rest of the day has been spent in buying cakes and removing stubborn nails from pallets and carefully chopping up the remains for fire wood. No serious injuries were sustained in the process but as usual it was a close call. For the next part of the afternoon I drank small amounts of beer and wine and became mesmerised by the movements of various bees flying in loose formations  across the sun kissed garden.  I was trying to figure out what they were doing but I failed to grasp their complex and somewhat stupid flight patterns, they need a bit coaching in garden navigation it seems. You have to wonder quite what is they are up to and if they are indeed bees or some other kind of new bee impersonating insect. That's the trouble with evolution and it's various evolving theories. I'm thinking this is because the media and popular culture are forever telling us that bees are now extinct or dying away but are they really?  And if they are have they all now been replaced by near exact non-bee replicas that will eventually be more successful?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Tough Muggles

Family participation in the 2013 Tough Mudder found me in a damp Dalkeith field at 10am this morning, I had some misgivings. £10 to spectate (and opt out and declare all sorts of things in the process) and £10 to park, this wasn't going to work for me. How wrong I was. This was a perfect rock and roll event, it was like the jungles of Vietnam, it was funky and mad, it was tough...and I was only spectating. Going through the first gate, the music on the PA was "Crossroads" by Cream, live, my foot started to tap and blood would surely flow. These guys know what they are doing and the day's soundtrack was Pixies, Rage Against the Machine, Led Zep, Metallica, The Stooges and so and burgers and good weather and organisation. It all comes at a price but it was worth it. Home by 4 via Krispy Kreme. A grand day out.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Earlier in the week...

It was rather warm after a while in that monkey suit, then the zip stuck.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More rural pyromania

Log store now filled with an extensive selection of bespoke hardwood logs fresh from the Amazonian Rainforest.  No rare creatures or restless natives were injured in the whole process I am told. The logs will be useful for our many seasonal ceremonial celebrations and occasional traditional winter witch burnings. 
As ever the cats welcome us home warmly from last night's Norman Lamont/Invisible Helpers gig. Clearly they are pleased to see us return safely to the house and are eager to share a late Monday evening supper.

Monday, August 19, 2013

After the fire

This is what you are left with when three full wheelie bins spontaneously combust a mile or so down a quiet country lane in rural Fifeshire.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Images from a weekend

B&W ropes and Champagne.
Meg the blackest of black cats throws a mean shape. 
Best mug and coffee of the weekend. 
When there's no room service this helps pass the time. 
Ancient masterwork from an ancient master (rediscovered). 
Allegedly and bunk bed in which my hero Shackleton allegedly slept, presumably quite badly. The typewriter seems to be an unrelated artefact.
Weekends keep coming as regular as country buses and then are spent like hot pound coins in a hungry slot machine, gone up in smoke before you or anyone else notices. Life is a moving feast made up of moving feasts but I still have the peeling sunburn and the heat spot scars with which to remember it all.

Now that I've put six strings on it and tightened the various dirty headed screws, the guitar featured in the previous entry is turning out to be a proper monster. The Fender Atomic Humbucker pickup is performing even better than I'd expected, not sure where to go next with this one.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Coil tap wiring

For various reasons I seemed to find wiring a single pick up to a coil tap pot pretty difficult, mainly due to the numerous conflicting bits of advice, designs, styles and options that there are in this guitar shaped universe. The web with it's forums and videos and tales of the unexpected can be crazy, somebody should edit and grade the avalanche of stuff out there, it's badly needing done, people's heads are spinning free from their shoulders. Then again it may all happen one day when all the big smoking servers in the cloud crack open and die like elephants under alien ray gun attack, it's a distinct possibility. So having sifted through dross and debris and inspiration I've settled for a simple enough, multiple earth option that looks neat (now that I've remastered the lost art of soldering without burning any useful fingers or the carpet), so now I can relax. Lots of other bits have been screwed together also.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Necks please

Tonight will be a long day's journey into ironing shirts via a slightly toasted smoke alarm diversion and marathon towel folding exercises. As I speak I'm typing and my mouth is moving silently with the rhythm of the words. It's all a little disturbing but at least Scotland are one up and the milk thumper is one down.  The good news is that the two mighty shredder Partscaster Atomics are coming along nicely, all I need to do now (and it's quite a lot actually) involves wires, measuring, lining up and screwing lots of screws into places to fix things firmly and of course applying the nail varnish.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Move over darling

Ode to a plastic cow (Atom Heart Mother tribute):

With your plastic udders and plastic ass,
Above the septic tanks on sewage fed grass,
I doubted your existence but had to ask,
Were you sent  from Switzerland for this task?
Because for a real cow you'll never pass,
You're not even plastic, just cheap fibreglass.

This real plastic/fibreglass cow can be seen in an imaginary field at Loch Leven's Larder any day from 0930 - 1730, weather permitting. Advance booking is not always necessary.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Projects 12 and 13

I'm going through the awkward learning process of wiring up guitar innards, creating looms and earths, discovering the coil tap options and the hot chips and resistors  that solve treble bleed problems; currently I'm at about Primary 4 level in this. There are many guys and geeks out there on the forums and help-sites who seem to know a lot more, or at least pretend to, so Im brain picking.  Now if I'd just invested in a decent set of screwdrivers and a soldering iron 40 years ago but I just didn't care what was lurking under the plastic and the foil. Now that I know what's there it is a bit baffling but not impossible, theses guitars will play eventually. Next it's the geometry and the set up.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Garden Centric

They are seen by some as the gateway to a chilly version of Hell, few under 50 venture there, the grey shadows pass across the sky and a cold wind blows between pale trees and dead stones, vampire purchases suck life in and spit the spirit, dried up and shrivelled back out; yes I'm in a garden centre. Actual the soup and scone were rather nice and we picked some apparently shade loving plants, bird food and compost, all useful in the grand plan. It's not us or the place it's everybody else - perhaps that's the simple  trouble with the world, everybody else is also in it and (in this case) they are dodging coffins like they were HGVs on the M6. So I say God bless the brittle and shuffling along oldies, I guess I'm just about one now and maybe I should accept my fate with good grace and just shoogle along the rocky road to...yet another garden centre.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Some other dimension

Another crack has appeared in that boring old chestnut the space time continuum has occurred, happens all the time you just don't see it often. Today an innocent cat was caught, wandering or browsing or maybe distracted on an impromptu  rodent hunt. We'll never know really, mystery is shrouded in mist and mirrors and smoke and that sort of thing. It's the way it works and it's what the general public expect and what the public want the public gets. As for me I suspect things are slowly churning in some other direction, deep and deeper down, out of frame, caught at the corner of your eye or in the hushed tone of a whispering, inner voice that just knows...

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

A (future) world of plastic corks


I'm not sure that a plastic cork or a synthetic cork is a cork at all, other than it functions as a cork but it's clearly not made of the natural substance known around the world as cork which is a type of wood from the cork tree. Now all wine between £5 and £10 comes either in an unsatisfying screw top (as Whitbread's Pale Ale used to come in - a festival favourite now doomed to drinking mythology) or the dreaded and frankly disappointing plastic cork. In other news that's season one (1) of Breaking Bad completed, only three or so more to go.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Turkish barber experience

Innocent enough looking shop front?
The walled garden opens on Wednesday, here's the gate.
When you're a little ragged and jaded, down on your luck, what better a pick me up than an encounter with a friendly Turkish barber? Yesterday's took place in Scotland's ancient capital and one time home of dark matter ale brewing, Alloa. Here for a mere £20 I was shorn, hot shaved, assaulted with a burning towel, had Orbis oil poured up my nose, my ears set on fire, bled from some minor facial cuts, was partly strangled and had my face rubbed in industrial and very nippy alcohol. After 45 minutes I left looking and feeling youthful and invigorated, I kid you not. I'll be back next month for another treatment once my face and head grow more nuisance hair and itchy, scratchy beards and so on.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Universe of lost objects

It just opens up, a tiny rip or tear, you cant see it, you cant detect it, it just happens. Then things simply slip through, out from this world and into that other world. A universe of lost things and objects; a place where thoughts and memories are floating away into an unreachable and uncharted place. Scarves and cameras, keys, phones and money, wallets and pencils all float on in a mad mayhem of lost and invisible indulgence. Over them soars a wide layer of plans and dreams and relationships, things forgotten now melting into the past or blending into the unwritten future. Far above them in the dark stratosphere of the lost it may be that even belief, faith and love spin endlessly on in ever increasing where's my cash line card and favourite T-shirt?

Friday, August 02, 2013

More structural decay

None of the expansion joints are the same, this is, for me a worrying defect on an otherwise beautiful building. Who did the snagging for the client? 
Roof, sky, palms. 
Roof, sky. 
The pleasant remains of afternoon drinks.
The basic truth is that there are very few things in life that are completely enjoyable in their own right. Many things are of course pretty good, occasionally exceptional or fantastic beyond simple description and so that leaves the rest of life's numerous tastes and experiences as mostly tolerable, passable, acceptable or OK time fillers and diversions for the time being etc. Or is that just how you get to be and see when of a certain grey bearded age? I'm not moaning here, I'm just taking stock. That's a thing that happens when I have some time on my hands and I am free to look out of a window.

So I'm watching from this hotel room window as anxious city smokers pad up and down outside a BT building's glass doorways, fumbling with cigarette packs covered in warnings I can read even at this distance, fumbling more to light the white poison and then eventually smoking some of the precious tobacco vapour as they (inevitably) play along with the various mechanical diktats of their gleaming smart phones. This is known as “taking a break” in certain circles. It is also a manifestation of a rich and diverse device based anarchy and slavery which exists hidden in plain sight all around. It can be exhausting and there is no break.

To try to understand this I'm constructing mental Venn diagrams of things, seeing the circles cross, filling in the text, scoring the points and tallying things up. Eventually it becomes a scribbled mental jumble, like all thoughts. I realise that I don't really know what despair is about or anything even like it, I'm too marooned in my own semi-smug and detached observations. I'm vanilla through and through but able to see the sense in points of view I don't hold and wont ever hold but still can empathise with. Everybody is just everybody else caught up in those petty wars and habits that we share and deny and everything outside this window remains busy as ever but brick by brick going nowhere.