Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Maltese Falcon

Today's quirky adventures have mainly consisted of attending a job interview and "are you reasonable person" assessment (quite interesting and generally good fun), cleaning out the garage and watching the Maltese Falcon in a kind of stop/go piecemeal fashion. Black and white, film noire films are a bit of a guilty pleasure and my knowledge on them is...incomplete. Anyway you can see from the poster above that this story is as "explosive as his blazing automatics", not sure how strong a sales strap line that is but it proved to be an interesting diversion and an excuse to quaff some mid-afternoon red wine.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Last days of summer

Limekilns and Charlestown, the tide's out and all is still as the sun sinks slowly in the West. Warm and peaceful and we've just had a big meal of fish and chips at the nearby Ship Inn.
Sunny afternoon in Dunfermline Glen rose garden. A solitary and amorous pigeon is perched on a bench awaiting his ladylove who is over in the trees. She appears to be experiencing mood swings of some sort and is unwilling to join him. I'm just killing time waiting on as new exhaust pipe being fitted to my car. 

Monday, August 29, 2016


It seems we broke a bit of the internet and drank a lot of beer and wine this weekend. It's all a bit of a blur to me. Perhaps I'm just getting things a bit out of proportion. I thought it went rather well. Good photos here...

Friday, August 26, 2016


Porridge for breakfast again this morning, generally speaking a small tub topped up with a banana and syrup keeps me going all day. This graphic pretty much covers the effect.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Minor modifications

Control cavity as was, note there's no shielding here at all.

On a more practical and less artistic note ( no pyrography) I changed the pickups in an old lightweight (Korean?) bass today. I've had these Jazz Bass pickups lying around for a while and having not got round to using them anywhere else a transplant operation seemed in order. First trick is to photo the wiring as is, just in case there's some weird thing going on to trip me up. Turns out there wasn't so after a small amount of screwing, rewiring and soldering (with no burned finger tips) it was good to go.  Actually it sounds fine now, it was a bit thin and dull previously. I had also changed the bridge and so improved the action a few weeks ago, now it's time to leave it alone, that is unless I get some strange desire to use it.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Unfortunate situations with contractors

Staring into the void i.e. the black hole of a redundant firefighter's pole trap door (rapid descent for the use of). The fire station is now a cafe and arts lab.
Few things in life go smoothly, transactions get mixed up or delayed, messages are lost or failed to be relayed or a phone remains unanswered or an email never arrives. Just trying to get a wooden garden gate built to size via eBay probably wasn't the best idea ever ... maybe the best method would be to just plant a tree, watch it grow, chop it down, cut it up into pieces and then slowly, over time, fabricate a useful gate of sorts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

You are at position one

Apparently I'm currently at position one in "this queue" and I must wait to be connected. This has gone on for a while, like some strange test of wills, patience and stamina but I'm still at position one. Call centres present a bleak version of modern life, long and mechanised, scripted and unbreakable with the key outcome being frustration. Designed by those seeking the most economic contact solution with the minimum of possible interaction, a doomsday pill to fix the problem no one is free to discuss. The queue and the music drone on and imagination takes over. Perhaps there is only one position and it is one and many others are also here or there, bundled awaiting connection but bound to fail.  We are the callers, trying to call those too busy to listen, so we languish at position one for long periods of time and eventually a single noted tone rings out ominously and we are all disconnected with no new options - until the next attempt comes around.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Difficult child revisited

Regards yesterday's troublesome guitar, the simple answer was to change the neck. In retrospect I was using a neck that fitted and looked ok but was damaged or warped enough to screw up everything, when you're beat you are just plain beat sometimes. The new, lighter neck immediately resolved all the problems and niggles I had and the guitar is now much more playable and there's still some room for further, finer adjustment. Fine adjustment is not my strong point, patience and care being required and sometimes my stamina in those areas wears thin but I guess I'm learning and each instrument I've now put together has given me valuable experiences that I must remember not to forget. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A difficult child.

The "Lone Wolf" single Seymour Duncan Humbucker Strat is proving to be a hard guitar to complete. The neck simply isn't right and I'm getting more and more frustrated over trying every possible thing to adjust it all correctly. At the moment it's playable but only within a certain limited tolerance. I've done all the fiddling and balancing  I can to the bridge, tremolo settings and truss rod but I just can't get the correct result between all the possible options. A new or different neck looks to be the best solution at the moment; more time wasted but more lessons learned. This is one difficult child to deal with and the only answer may well be to start again with another neck.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ben Vrackie

The Ben from a safe distance. 
Lunch stop loch.
It's a steep and rocky 700m climb and 6 mile hike  to the top but it's not a Munro it's a Corbet. Ben Vrackie east of Pitlochry was today's outdoor challenge and it fairly puggled me out. The weather was great almost all the way to the top but on arrival the top suddenly became a near icy, blasted place; amazing how the weather changes so suddenly. Anyway back home safe now, a shower and some rehydration makes all the difference...headed for the couch.

Friday, August 19, 2016

French Onion Soup

It seems I've reached that peculiar stage of life where I'm prone to strong cravings for French Onion Soup. This has been going on for a few days growing slowly stronger. At first I ignored it as if was an invasive religious type of experience or possibly some weird and unpleasant sexual deviation arriving from nowhere. It however has persisted and thankfully at the moment seems related to neither of the possible causes mentioned. It may be I'm just feeling a little sympathy for the French, something to do with own rejection of any Brexit thinking and French comfort behaviours coming to the surface. Perhaps I'm just in need of a big dose of onions and a good dousing in their magical healing and restorative properties, facts the Romans knew all about. The other odd thing is rather than buy a tub of it or get some in one of those foodie influenced designer cartons I've decided to make it myself, from scratch and even consulted a recipe book. This is something I never do; recipe books gather large amounts of dust in this house despite being freely available to read and even consult. So I've got the ingredients, all I need to do is take my time and get on with it. I just hope it fills this nagging, empty void in my....someplace.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Living a small part of the dream

Whilst exploring the exhibits at NASA Cape Canaveral I touched a piece of Moon rock a few weeks ago little realising that if you want to touch Mars (and there's no need to queue) all you do is visit the shopping mall in Orlando airport. Easy done, so that's saved me x Billion $  and added three years to my life. How did they get that rock back from Mars or is there some dark mystery here? The volunteer form has been ritually torn up. 

I bought these tools a couple of years ago whilst in a speculative kind of irrational or possibly stupid mood. They served no purpose then and they still don't but they might soon but just to clarify things I hope that I never need to use them either in anger or good humour. It's a bit like that.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to the bench

A welcome return to some guitar fiddling and making final corrections. I did some adjustments and added an ashtray to #Smaug2. The ashtray does actually help a bit, it's been years since I played any Telecaster with one, they simply didn't look cool so were generally discarded by players. They still aren't cool but it's a useful hand rest and kinda makes the guitar look a bit different.

Masked and protectively taped for some final sanding along with wood dye and teak oil touch up. 

This (Dragon) Tele needed the neck height changed so it was unceremoniously removed and built up again using about 1/8" of veneer. Basically a thin wood and glue sandwich to push up the neck (due to neck-pocket damage) so that the bridge could be let down and so that the pickup clearance increased (what you get when you use recycled and battered guitar bodies). This took a lot of strain from the bridge adjustment and has made the action better. Sometimes it's good to build a guitar and then just leave it a while to consider what extra help it may need as it settles, none of them ever turn out right first time, it's always down to the last little pieces of tinkering.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Not a doughnut

A sliced apple topped with peanut butter and chocolate is not a doughnut.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday's Post

Life skill hacks: Lovely and useful mash up based on good advice from NASA at Cape Canaveral and a Harry Potter / Professor Snape fridge magnet.
The best recovery method from possible jet-lag appears to be a) stay up all day after your return b) be distracted (go out, lark about etc.) c) eat a hearty meal and drink a bottle of red wine then d) go to bed around your normal time and then wake up as if quickly recovering from a car crash the next day. Result so far, no headache, chronic tiredness or irritable old bastard syndrome. What I didn't consider was the headache potential created by the strain of trying to recall how the TV remote works, what kitchen cupboards contain what items and how to drive a manual car.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Marker Post

Just back, jet lagged and tired but being well looked after. Head too fuzzy to type much so this is really no more than a marker post. I was on here today but conscious only briefly. More amusing and far reaching takes on the Charles Atlas "insult" here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Last Post

A hastily prepared mock collage completely fails to sum up the last couple of months in the US. Or maybe be it does a little but just not very well. I'm too strung out to tell with only a few hours to departure and that thought of home and getting back with loved ones is now calling pretty loudly. It does show a map, car keys and park tickets and then some random items purchased or encountered. In other words it all meant something before I put most of this stuff in the bin, apart from the car keys. I seem to have missed the beer and pancake contingent out.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Two dollar repair job

In Walmart it's easy to lose yourself and then get truly lost. This huge and questionable emporium holds a baffling array of strange, useless and wonderful products. Things you thought didn't exist or that you'd never need and even on a casual walk around you become sucked into a bizarre world of tools, electronics, glues, fasteners, leisure goods, medicines and weapons. So when in there the other day stocking up on peanut butter based snacks and adhesive, what should I come across but a toilet cistern component for a mere $1.99. Having just busted a flush at the house and pondering calling it in for repair I thought for a moment and then splashed out (?) on the bubble packed Chinese built part. I rushed home (also with a fistful of Dremel routing and sanding bits ( $15 bargain!)) through the nightly thunderstorm and proceeded to fix the distressed loo. The total process took thirty seconds and the flush was again working perfectly. The feeling of hunting/gathering/fixing intoxicating pleasure was a supreme moment of ecstasy, like some white light of plumbing perfection had descended upon me and the whole house. A joyous feeling that I presume only DIY type alpha males can know and understand which I sustained as if in some drug induced state by repeated though pointless flushing - just to prove the quality of the repair. Now I can go back home in peace and hopefully fix something else.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A place in the country

Back to the mythical village of Celebration (think a quiet Hill Valley from Back to the Future) for an amble around the lake and lunch in a typical American diner. A loaded Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich served up at the counter by a busy and friendly Hispanic staff more than does the job. Normally you'd eat this by hand but a sandwich on the scale of things here needs to be carefully and surgically consumed with a fork and knife. Once eaten you know that it's all you really need to eat that day. I feel like a snake who has eaten a pig and then eaten another smaller pig for good measure. 

Even though it's hot outside a further wander around the clean white pavements is necessary to aid the struggles of the feeble human digestion process. Life for the residents (or patients?) seems like a strange lazy procession of choreographed dog walking, slow cycling, rhythmic exercise regimes and sitting in the sunshine staring into phones and other irritating devices whilst maintaining the look of having a sense of purpose. These androids in their silent electric buggies and sun visors don't fool me for a minute. This is the land of the hypnotised robot, shopping desperately and looking for meaning and value but blinded by the continuous sunshine and the prospect of a visit by Hillary Clinton, their brave new Messiah. I could happen any time soon, and of course one fine day she will rule and then Walt Disney will rise from his grave or cryogenic containment device and take them all, cast members and fully paid up millionaires, to a better, more promised and even cleaner land.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Geek day

 I've probably gone a bit too far with these slightly unconventional aircraft photos. You see an afternoon at the Florida Warbird museum and workshop can easily bring out the sleeping, inner geek. Two of my favourite planes were included in the display just to make things even better; those being a Chance Vaught F4U Corsair (arguably the greatest prop driven fighter ever) and a MiG17, (design icon and menace from the Korean and Cold War skies).  As it turned out to be a working workshop I had a good blether with the oh so cool mechanics all busy cutting and hammering things into place.  Who'd have thought that Rolls Royce Griffin engines and the contra-rotating props from the old RAF Shackletons were the mainstay of the power plants for the US aircraft racing fraternity? There was also loads of information and artefacts from Pearl Harbour, large and small weapons of all kinds and scrapped and unrestored aircraft and buggered up parts all across the hanger. They do proper flights also, up in old Harvards if you have the stomach but at $400 a pop I gave it a miss. Some other time maybe.

Getting under the skin a bit.

Must be either torque measures or tests for metal fatigue, forgot to ask.
A Shack' prop with the blades cut back, adds 60 mph to the top speed they tell me. Nuts.
No creature comforts in a MiG 17, you can't even see out, rough as a badger's bum.
Cockpit of the Corsair, a bit broken down at present but still able to fly. Superb.
Felix still figures here and there.
Big Head.

No longer here

I typed this title yesterday when I'm sure it meant something, possibly that I'm not longer in the place where these photos were taken (a Coca-Cola building). That is of course pretty obvious, the fine idea I had at the time has now escaped me and it's simply down now to sharing a couple of (in my view) interesting photographs taken yesterday. Must buy a notebook or use the recording device on my phone or take some memory pills.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

P.S. for today

On the blue trail

There's a real feeling of peace and stillness out at Louisa Lake Park. The air is hot and heavy but the woods are full of odd animal and bird noise and it truly seems a wild place (for a townie anyway). So after exploring the lake shore for a while I decided to try one of the trails, I started on the red trail. The red trail then turned into the blue and red trail which then turned into the blue trail. I was on the blue trail, checking out mushrooms, avoiding snakes and observing the diggings of wild pigs. I was also on the lookout for bobcats. I was also lost. Fortunately I have no natural sense of direction, I just retraced my steps, followed the guidance of the giant mushroom and eventually found myself, still on the blue trail but in a recognisable car park.

The actual, helpful mushroom.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Sunshine Skyway

There was precious little sunshine to accompany my crossing of the "Sunshine Skyway", a huge bridge and road system that spans Tampa Bay. Miserable driving rain and heavy traffic made the journey a chore however the road designers thoughtfully added a "fishing pier" and rest area on both sides of the bay so I took frequent breaks to park up and just stand and watch the clouds pass and witness the occasional fish actually get caught under these broody and disturbed skies.