Monday, October 31, 2016

Blue Moon

Once upon  time there was a blue moon. People everywhere looked up and stared, they could not believe that their piece of sky had been visited by a moon so blue, but there it was, clear for everyone to see. A strange, beautiful omen in the night sky which  they watched, wondered at, stared at and talked about it for hours and hours. 

So time passed and the moon shone down steadily through the night time and twilight hours on them and they just carried on with their own business peacefully. Some would be asleep whilst others worked and some, unsure as to how they should be just dreamed moonlit dreams neither fully awake nor deeply asleep. I'm not completely certain but I believe that many of them went on, simply and carefully, to live happily ever after. 

I'm no expert either but I think that it could all be down to the effect of living under the blue moon. Perhaps it's all just another fairy tale but you'll have to check that out for yourself.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Extra Hour

No I don't understand what this means either but I put it together and I like it.

View from the non-office this morning; seems time has moved backwards for me and everyone else as I slept. Very useful and quite convenient. For no clear reason, other than it was in my mind to do so I decided to have a quick listen to Grievous Angel by Gram Parsons, such was my befuddled state of consciousness. So that's pretty much how I spent my extra self indulgent hour, well doing that, drinking tea and freshening up in the shower.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The cruel devil robbing our imaginations

Some clever artist somewhere has been able to turn the cartoon Cruella Deville into  a real (?) person without using an actress. Strange thought really, turning cartoons into real people, presumably it's been well explored elsewhere but it strikes me as a kind of Halloween horror scenario. Loose cartoons running around the world like in Roger Rabbit. When I was a kid I was fascinated by the cartoon Cruella; her rich bitch, slutty look and her evil intentions. I also liked her demonic car. Of course it makes no sense now but who cares, she was only every visible to me via one rare trip to the cinema and the odd appearance on Disney Time. All this material was carefully rationed by the corporations back then, before the days of piracy and constant feeds and streaming. Funny how the lack of content and the image starvation I felt only added to the intensity of the experience. The images were sharper and more imagined, now in the deconstructed present day all the mystery and proper magic  is gone and only cynical exploitation and exhausted, digitised messages remain. Our imaginations fail to get the exercise they need if it's all put on a plate in front of you.

P.S. I must stop spelling prostate as prostrate or prostitute or whatever it is I'm doing wrong.

At least a year

Me: It's confirmed that I'm at least a year behind the times, this lady from Aberdeen, Kathryn Joseph won Scottish Album of the year 2015 and I've only just heard of her thanks to a few minutes trawling around the BBC iPlayer. I sometimes wonder how much of anything I take in or absorb. She's a strangely talented and striking lady, 40+ and enjoying some commercial success and all that goes with it, now a little later in life. Her music is a bit dark and heavily piano driven and in my view a bit intense and disturbing (doesn't make it bad). So not for her the normal route to stardom. She has a strong back story, is a mum, waiting 17 years, being a barmaid in Aberdeen's Lemon Tree and something of a reluctant performer but it's all changed now for her. Website etc. here.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Favourite Tweet

Whilst I quite enjoy using Twitter, though mostly reading the tweets of others, seldom sending my own, I rather liked the one I sent the other day.

! Stop telling me I've been away when I've been here all the time!

You see Twitter keeps repeating tweets and tells me that all this stuff happened "while I was away". Well I wasn't away, I just wasn't giving 100% of my attention to Twitter like I'm supposed to, so that's not how I see my relationship with it. Neither do I care if I may have missed something from yesterday but still I find my feed full of regurgitated tweets that in all probability I've already seen because (shock, horror) Twitter doesn't really know what's going on anyway. It just assumes things because of bloody algorithms, settings or IP addresses or the like. Of course there will be no reply or acknowledgement, robots don't care.

In other news I actually finished this guitar after a long struggle and lot of bad soldering, unnecessary fiddling and the switching of switches. So that'll be the end of this series of tedious photographs.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

It was all going so well

Pyro'd, polished and the shielding paint applied. 
Pickups, bridge and scratch plate, just a few odd wires to tie together, so I thought.
I actually thought that I'd finish this guitar today, it was going well. Then I hit a wall soldering together the electrical components, probably the simplest part of the job. It seems that there is some gremlin in the pots or switch or inside my head that is well and truly catching me out at every turn. Soldering, then unsoldering, replacing components and fiddling with a variety of wires (there are about eight altogether, how many combinations can I get wrong?) has got me exactly nowhere in particular. So I quit. Another day, a decent sleep and  the world and this project may seem more logical and cooperative. Basically it's a matter of trolling around the internet for help and trying to decode the various non standard wiring colours that I seem to be confronted with.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Headstock shot

Curiously sunny weather allowed me to get out, generate some sawdust  and hack at a few pieces of wood on the B&D workbench, that's guitar building. Best done outside to minimise mess and keep me clean and breathing. First time out also for the Dremel routing bits I purchased in the USA during the summer. They really worked well, I also sculpted a pick guard and a pickup holder and corrected one or two pyrography mistakes made along the way. The photo above shows another take on the Viking raven design (the bird that took messages between the gods) that I've added onto the headstock. Still a lot to do but getting closer to some kind of finish.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cats, guitars and mystery fruit

AM: So just embarking on a project that sees a Creamery hand wound single coil pickup mated with a Bare-knuckle humbucker in a Telecaster body. This guitar may well be the ultimate of noisy, raw power ultimates (or a complete fizzled out flop). At this point it goes under the working title of "Raven". That is because I'm currently drawing a Viking style raven on it. Somehow the dragons don't get a name check.
Cat guards windfall mystery fruit.
We suspect that they are quinces but we're not quite sure. A bit of a naming crisis really. No idea quite what to do with them either.
PM - OK: about 33% through the first stage of pyrography so lots to do, a bit of carving and wood butchery, then routing (for that non-standard pickup), then sanding, then oils and on and on. Oh and maybe a bit of border burning with the heat gun.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Zen and the tube

When you have temporary drainage tube burrowed inside your tummy it's a) hard to ignore and b) hard not to be intrigued by it and it's mechanics. The human body is strange, disgusting and wonderful and I'm currently appreciating those facts. My tube has now been in place for two weeks, like some now familiar alien parasite poking through my stomach and somehow now, neatly fitting into my slightly stilted lifestyle. The inconvenience and occasional discomfort has normalised as has the creeping, restricted movement and the slow and steady pace at which I try to do things. Stumbling or bumping into things or animals and small children jumping on the tummy are glaring moments of immediate danger that spark mild panic and clumsy body language reactions. But I am learning to cope and remain relaxed (?) and adopting some Zen-like processes of patience  in my concerns over my place in the great NHS queue that I find myself invisibly in. One day the buff or possibly white envelope will arrive and the great creaking gears of hope and recovery will grind slowly into motion. In the mean time I just drink more cranberry juice and sleep all night unless the cats start a fight, nothing to complain about really.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Subliminal Messages

Due the high volume of sales calls that I'm not experiencing I've decided to faff around with various half-baked ideas, post them here using Blogger's reasonably resilient upload method and then stick them elsewhere on the web for future use. Generations of the yet to be born will thank me in due course. I therefore apologise for the complete lack of meaningful content contained in this post (even worse than usual) but it's all a means to an end.

Reverse golden dawn

So, here's yesterday's golden pre-sundown spectacular glowing onto the nearby trees. Doesn't happen every day or even every week but when it does happen then it really happens and it was only me who saw and captured it as far as I can tell.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Attack of the robots

One of those days when the blog gets 795 hits in a very short period of time, I presume this amounts to some kind of bot attack from Soviet Russia (if it's still around) or some stray Play Station with stuck button. So far no damage done or actual interest shown. It could actually be a sort of attack of indifference, the kind of thing that hurts at a more emotional than physical level, lots of stats and numbers to buoy you up but no actual human interest or comment. You stroll away from the battle field feeling empty but still able to whistle a marching anthem, glazed over eyes and mind numb without the pleasure of having won anything. That's the wonderful randomness of the internet, like walking around blindfolded in a darkened room and just bumping into things that you can't possibly recognise and making no sound. 

Back on the Etsy trail  I've been trying format a better (?) image for the shop. As usual my lack of wherewithall lets be down, turns out that PicMonkey, though entertaining enough isn't quite flexible enough to deliver.

Friday, October 21, 2016

In a garden of mushrooms

Today's been a nice day, up at the crack of sometime and headed out in the calm and almost warm weather to Loch Leven for an LLL breakfast, taken at a leisurely, even elderly pace (it was my birthday yesterday). A brief, educational tour of Fife followed and then home where I found these chaps popping up through the grass.  Quite neat little 'scrooms, perfectly formed, damp and...well I'm not sure what they are really useful for. Maybe the squirrels or sparrows will eat them in due course or perhaps I'll absentmindedly step on them and that will be that. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Not too difficult

Birthday: It's that time of year when you're a whole year older and I guess you reflect on things etc. etc. Well I probably will in good time but actually I've been busy (waiting on things to upload mostly) sticking stuff into my glorious new shop that has popped up here on Etsy, here's the link.  Of course Etsy is much more classy than eBay, a bit like comparing John Lewis to a car boot sale so I'm pleased to be there at last. Having said that if Etsy fails me then it's a slow descent into oblivion.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Etsy and me

So despite my various infirmities and having had baked potato and beans for lunch, a late lunch that is, I decided to get on with the Etsy project. This has remained on the back burner for a number of months but now that my stockpile of modified guitars is increasing to a silly size I need to get the shop open. Of course until you do it (open the shop) you don't really understand the work involved. So it was all about taking lots of photographs (as above, logs seem to make a good background), trying to edit them and then, along with scripts, descriptions and prices get them all uploaded on Etsy. Nothing really difficult here, just time consuming but hopefully it will all be worthwhile when the customers come rolling along.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Little Botch #2

Nearly finished this now, just waiting on the correct jack socket arriving from eBayland any day now. The botch factor has thankfully diminished for the time being, some furious sandpapering and planing this morning finally allowed the neck to fit the neck pocket at just about the right height. So no coins or shims hidden under the bridge or neck. One of the problems with assembling these partscasters being that dimensions, between part to part from various sources and guitars are seldom consistent. This often means serious adjustment and (hopefully) invisible bodging going on to get everything to fit and most importantly be playable with good action and intonation. It can be a laborious process that seems never ending. Thankfully this one's turned out OK, octaves seem good and the fretboard has most of the buzzes ironed out. As it warms up and gets used to the string tension all the little bugs should clear up. Any day now.

Post Political

"From a US Air Force Base near Las Vegas an operator flying a drone takes out the lead vehicle in a convoy carrying Col Gaddafi and his entourage through rebel held roads. Following the attack Gaddafi tries to hide in a road side drain culvert. His fate is already sealed." 

Sunny warm day
At an Air Force Base
Near Las Vegas
No time for a shave this morning
Pickup trucks in the lot
A Drone is being guided
Flying across the Libyan desert
The operator obeys the order
Sipping an ice cold cola
The target's offered up
Lead vehicle in the convoy
The drone's systems lock on
And fire
Take a break

Repeat "Pakistan"

Repeat "Afganistan"

Repeat "Syria"

Repeat "Call of Duty"

And so on we go...

Monday, October 17, 2016


0745: I stumbled upon this when I mistakenly opening up BBC iPlayer early in the morning. There it was, a title and some scrapbook style images that looked intriguing and right on the very first screen, clearly an engineered promotion. Little did I know as I fired up the box that it was a three hour epic of reverse brainwashing docu/propaganda filming determined to explain and make sense of recent history from 1975 onwards; through the eyes of Adam Curtis.  Annoyed that I'd somehow missed the (likely) Guardian write up that preceded it I entered this doomsday epic ignorant of it's origins. So it's both disturbing and annoying at the same time and best watched in 60 minute chunks because of it's stilted and repetitive style. I did say reverse brainwashing but maybe it's simply in a new genre called  "I told you so" even though you might have heard a good deal of it before down the pub, via twitter or on one of those days when paper aeroplanes are flying around in your office. 

So stitch up, sound bite driven blog TV is here but if you've the stamina it's as meaningful an "all our yesterdays" session as you'll get anywhere without any happy ending. Here we are, now in a post-political world where you can't expect politicians and leaders to have the answer to global problems because nobody does, unless they happen to be a machine.

"How we got to this strange time of great uncertainty and
 confusion where those who are supposed to be in power are paralysed and have no idea what to do".

Evolve or be consumed

In the hard edged world of hard edged business if you don't adopt some flexible strategies and add in bits of innovation from time to time then you will be thrown to the wolves, be exposed as a loser or have some kind of bad experience or other. So in my hard edged and not yet fully formed guitar up-cycling business I'm pulling all the stops out now in order to survive the current economic fox's paw that so threatens young schemers like me as we try to launch ill conceived business models towards the dimwitted general public. So I've now learned that, in serious cases where pyrography is not a realistic option, that there are alternative methods to place a unique and bespoke design (something of a trademark of mine) upon the glossy parts of a refurbished guitar. Ta Da!

So more wee, fiddly designs can be added using this (secret) technique which also allows the addition of a modicum of colour to really funk up the whole piece. One fine day in the distant future well spoken and sensitive customers will be beating the door down, metaphorically I hope. They will also be waving large wads of spending's all a foolish dream you might say...I certainly would.

Unrelated: Here's Clint the cat waking up slowly.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Little Botch

I've been working on this guitar in slow and irregular bursts for about three years. It was one of the first blank canvases I experimented upon, not altogether successfully. Recently progress has resumed after a long period of nothing. Somewhere along the way I just lost interest and even now I can't see this as a great piece of work, too many little botched bits, however it may well turn out to be a good player once assembled. That key point of test and measurement has yet to be reached but any day now it will hopefully make some musical sound without too many buzzes and nasty hums. In the mean time it's been christened "Little Botch" and some of the artwork efforts have been extended.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

His Bobness

All over 'tinternet today like a rash.
Dylan: Well I for one am quite happy to hear that Bob Dylan has been awarded this year's  Nobel Prize for Literature.  As a spotty teenager and then as a spotty adult I used to read his lyrics from the pages of actual paper paged books. This was primarily because I couldn't quite make out what he was saying when he was singing and spitting the words out quickly, as was/is his habit. He certainly had a lot to say and, looking back I'm surprised at how much of his verse I have retained onboard and can readily recall and I feel happy about that. His works gave me, in very simple terms, some level of assurance that I wasn't any more crazy than he was and that if he was crazy and seeing what he saw then maybe being a bit crazy isn't so bad. In fact it's clearly preferable to being the way most around me then (parents and teachers and authority figures) actually were. That is worthy of a literature prize because good literature is surely about changing the lives of ordinary readers like me for the better...and so on.

Illness: OK, I'm a bit ill, I pee into a bag via a tube, I'm extra tired at times, suffer some minor discomfort and I am anxious because the surgery needed to correct this has yet to happen. All this is new to me, a few days old and requires some adjustment in my own way of seeing myself. For 60 years I've been an energetic grumpy/cheerful lump of indestructible resilience, now I'm less than that, for the time being. I'm not comfortable with this altered state but I'm stoical and determined to be better soon and to get on with my various half baked (but meaningful to me) projects. Normal service will be resumed shortly.

Friday, October 14, 2016


A sweet drawing on an envelope by one of my granddaughters shows me unwell and on a hospital trolley. The Post Office have kindly added the word "stroke" in the postmark just to add extra drama and up the tension a notch or two.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

As good as it gets

OK, onto day 5 of the great waterworks repair project. Good news is that there is no pain, mediocre news is that there's just regular discomfort, inconvenience and a general slowing down in all operational activity as I get used to apparatus and evolving routines. Hygiene and care and control quarrel for first place now, movements are measured and steady and of course this isn't really me, it's a version I don't quite recognise and the couch has become my friend. Can I carry on like this indefinitely? Well yes, even this awkward little set of disciplines though annoying are far better than many things others worse off than me have to suffer. Simple answer? Just take a few "suck the fuck it up" pills every day.

Dystopian Meritocracy

There, I've said it and that's what we've got or at least what we're headed towards. The Mail and Express readers, the UKIP supporters and their bigoted allies, those who voted for Brexit 'cos it seemed like a bit of fun, the politically lost, older ex-liberals and staunch Tories who fail to see the writing on the UK wall that's collapsing onto their heads. Thank you all very much. Now there's no more reasonably priced Marmite for the time being.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Pink is not the colour

Dear Satan* (and also the Scottish Football Association),

Exactly what is it that you think is attractive about kitting out football players in pink strips? As a "national sporting colour" and that's a term I've come up with myself, it simply doesn't work. I'd also add that grey, purple, electric green and brown do not work either, so it's not that I've got anything against pink. I'm also not saying that the pink strip made a significant contribution to our defeat last night but I doubt it helped and it does colour yet another Scottish sporting tragedy in an unflattering manner. 

P.S. That team is pish as is their manager and they're going nowhere fast. However should they, by some miracle or act of god actually qualify for something, I'll gladly wear that daft pink strip for a week.

Here's an example of a good football strip for reference:

* I'm not saying that Satan sits at the helm of the SFA but you can never tell. He's certainly currently  doing well in the Conservative Party, the Daily Mail and in the fast food industry.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Robots in disguise

Oops, looks like they are back, on the run and possibly living locally.

View from the office

Prostrate Hypertrophy: Not a term that I was familiar with until yesterday when I woke up in hospital discovering I had it. All pretty common in a fellow of my age but still strange to discover you're a victim. So as it turns out the NHS is pretty good and the people who helped me were first class. I'm still not right but I'm not as wrong as I was when I was admitted to hospital on Sunday just a few hours after winning the Saturday night pop quiz in a local pub. First there's triumph then, just to keep the universe in balance it's followed by some tragedy, or at least an unpleasant experience. So I'm back home now, operating at a much slower pace and as ever being looked after and kept right by my dear wife. Further procedures are in the pipeline in order to clear the pipelines but that's not something I'm planning to worry about; I'm rejoicing in being in the system, eating bananas on toast and drinking plenty of liquid in order to flush out my radiators and oil filters. The future is as bright as ever and even a short stay in hospital (my first since the dark ages of 1963) has reminded how well off I am health wise and how valuable our free health care is.