Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

‘Pick-up artist’ Addy A-Game (Adnan Ahmed) has convictions quashed

A number of points are raised by this sorry tale, and give the opportunity to let the ‘faithful few’ some hints as to why there have been few posts here for almost one year.

This particular case illustrates the problem of blogging responsibly about any subject, particularly if it involves legal aspects, identifiable individuals, court, convictions and the like.

Unless you are happy to be included with the activists, the trolls, the single issue activists, those with an agenda, and similar morons, then you are obliged to maintain a reasonably objective and neutral stance on items, and update them. That means looking at numerous news feeds on a daily basis, and I’ve given that up for the foreseeable future since they nearly all concentrate on one subject at the moment. If you’ve ever heard that the one definition of insanity is ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result’, then that probably describes how I feel about looking at news feeds. They’re effectively all just regurgitations of the same news over, and over, and over again, all day long. That can only be endured for so long if you are actually trying to read each feed in the search for relevant material. In a similar way to that in which I eventually had to give up reading local news from the coastal towns of the ‘Clyde Resorts’ I used to enjoy visiting – the media, intentionally or otherwise, began to feature/headline only stories relating to drugs, violence, and crime – mainstream news has become dismal reading, and largely irrelevant to the individual.

I can easily go for a month without seeing any news headlines (I no longer waste time watching live TV, only watch recorded programs through which I can skip all the moronic ads), and see little new when I do remember to take a look at the news.

Fortunately, the title subject of this post was at the top of the list when I fired things up recently, so I can (hopefully) conclude this.

If you look at the (thankfully) few posts I’ve made regarding court cases, you’ll find quite a few have come with my own warning NOT to take the news content at face value, and draw any conclusions from the limited (and maybe even biased) accounts they give. A few paragraphs from a hack just don’t represent the fine detail of exchanges between legal representatives, or the real meaning of fiscal language, as opposed to back room lawyers’ interpretation. Having had to endure a little taste of legal training, I generally avoid legal debates with uneducated people who think THEIR interpretation of legal words is correct, can be taken into court, and take precedence.

In this particular case, there’s also the question of behaviour of those involved, and what they do, and can have consequences:

Adnan Ahmed – who called himself Addy A-game – secretly filmed himself approaching women in Glasgow and South Lanarkshire.
The 39-year-old was convicted last October of threatening and abusive behaviour towards five women.
But three judges at the Court of Criminal Appeal have now ruled the verdict was a miscarriage of justice.

I don’t want to spend yet more time on this, having already made two posts (here and here) before this one, so one more quote hopefully ends this:

In a written judgement issued on Friday, the three judges agreed.
Lord Turnbull wrote: “The trial sheriff engaged in an exercise which could only be described as cross-examination.
“The informed and impartial observer would readily have concluded that the sheriff had formed an adverse view on the credibility of the appellant’s evidence.
“The result was a miscarriage of justice and the appeal against conviction on each charge must be upheld on this ground.”
This arose from:
Mr Ahmed’s legal team also told the appeal court that Sheriff Wood failed to properly explain the rules of corroboration to jurors in the case.
Ms Mitchell also told the court that the sheriff was wrong to reject a defence motion to have some of the charges thrown out on the basis that there wasn’t enough evidence to allow jurors to return guilty verdicts.

‘Unacceptable’

In his report to the appeal court, Sheriff Wood said he believed there was enough evidence on these charges to be considered by the jurors.
But the judges disagreed and said the evidence did not show that Mr Ahmed was guilty of threatening behaviour.
Lord Turnbull wrote: “It does not seem to us that a polite conversational request or compliment can be construed as threatening merely because it is uninvited or unwelcome.”
The appeal judges also criticised Sheriff Wood for his actions when Mr Ahmed’s lawyers attempted to object to the questions asked by the judge.
Sheriff Wood told Mr Ahmed’s representative to sit down.
Lord Turnbull wrote: “In the present case counsel was correct to object to the sheriff’s questioning when she did.
“It is unacceptable for a judicial office holder to address a responsible practitioner by telling her to sit down.
“Such behaviour carries the risk of demeaning the standing of the judiciary in the eyes of both the legal profession and of the public.”
‘Pick-up artist’ Addy A-Game has convictions quashed
Hopefully, not to be seen again…
Adnan Ahmed - Police Scotland image

Adnan Ahmed – Police Scotland image

 

20/09/2020 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Philips 5890 restoration – Part 1 of 2

I have a Philips 5890 rechargeable shaver which I tried to restore to operation a few years ago, after the original NiMh cells expired. While I thought this (relatively) simple task had gone well, it didn’t take long for things to go wrong, and I fell out with the designer of its guts. Not least because this moron had used a microcontroller, programmed such that the shaver would not simply work from mains alone if the cells died – when they died… the shaver died! This even had a switch to detect if you removed the head (the display said when to clean it), but I ignored it (I cleaned it sooner).

While the rotary shaver is not my choice (unlike foil shavers, they don’t do edges, or just under the nose), I’ve come to respect it because the heads are robust and, if not abused, apparently last forever.

This is in stark contrast to the linear foil shaver, which has now become so fragile and delicate (as each manufacturer tries to make theirs the thinnest) its foil heads quickly develop fatigue cracks in the fine mesh the form over the cutters, and can begin to fall apart in little over a year, regardless of how well they are nursed.

That said, I recently resurrected a decades old, mains only, Remington foil shaver. This comes from the time when the foil was thicker than a mere few molecules and did not self-destruct after a year or so. In fact, after inspecting this original foil closely, I’ve found it actually has a single crack (probably more waiting), but has continued to work smoothly. This is in marked contrast to current examples of the same type, where the appearance of such a single crack signals imminent failure of the foil during the next few shaves (which hurts!).

Foil replacement becomes expensive (especially compared to the zero cost of rotary heads), and I have gone through two expensive Braun foil shavers (each of which has eaten 2 sets of foils at around £20 each), and more recently 2 Aldi foil shavers. The latter were bought in sales, and while they were cheap enough, I was still appalled to see that Aldi Service wanted almost £20 for a set of cutters and foils for each –  more than I paid for each shaver! Bear in mind each shaver came with a charger plus accessories – for LESS than the cost of a head replacement set.

Sad to say, despite being ultra careful with both of these (to make sure they lasted, and the foils were not even bumped), each only lasted about 18 months before the foils began to crack up all on their own, fatigue cracks appeared, and bits began to fall out, rendering them useless.

Back to the Philips and its ‘everlasting’ heads.

Although one of the Braun foil shavers had a case designed to allow the user to replace the rechargeable cells, the short-lived heads meant that never happened. It’s still in use years later (with the original cells), thanks to its excellent trimmer,

The Philips is not so quite so friendly, although the case is at least secured by screws, and not clipped or glued shut.

Inside, I found a pair of AA NiMh cells, irritatingly spot-welded together and soldered into a PCB.

Since I don’t have a mini spot welder, I had to solder two single AA NiMhs together, plus leads to connect them to the PCB.

This appeared to be fine at first, the display even showed more shaves per charge (cell capacity had increased over the years), while the rest of the clever things the microcontroller looked after all worked as before.

BUT…

After a few weeks, cell capacity began to fall off, the number of shaves per charge shown in the display began to show silly numbers, and the thing would reportedly charge fully (taking the usual time) but would then just go from full to zero when the button was pressed. Mains operation also stopped, even though the indicator showed power was connected.

I couldn’t be bothered doing anything else with it at the time, and wished they hadn’t tried to be so clever and, rather than using the silly microcontroller and digital display, had simply fitted two AA cells and a switch, which would have lasted as long as the rotary heads – by simply fitting two new cells when the old ones died. Obviously too simple, and not worth the £150 retail price charged for this shaver when new. RELAX, I paid nothing like that when I bought mine in a sale. Never would have either.

I put it away, thinking I’d fix it ‘properly’ one day, ditching the guts totally, and fitting those two cells and switch.

Fast-forward some years, and now I have TWO Aldi foil shavers with disintegrating foil heads, but nice new, fully functional electronics with relatively new Li-Ion cells.

Yup – you KNOW what’s coming (but that will be Part 2)

I decided, at best, to either use the guts from the Aldi shavers to get the Philips working or, at worst, to empty the body and fit two cells and plain old switch.

In opening the shaver, I was fairly shocked to see the state of the (fairly new) AA NiMhs I’d fitted.

Admittedly it had lain for a year (or maybe two) since I fitted them (after it died again), but I was amazed to see how rusty they were. They looked as if they had lain outdoors for years.

I can only guess that the need to remove the nickel plating on the steel casing had left them vulnerable.

Over the years I’ve fitted quite a few rechargeable cells that had to be soldered in place and, not having easy access to tagged cells had prepared them in exactly the same way, removing the nickel plating and soldering to the steel below. But I’ve NEVER seen such a repair rust as totally as these cells. In fact, I’ve never even seen them show rust when revisited years later.

This chapter ends with the pic below (there aren’t any earlier pics), which shows what’s left of the original Philips guts.

Philips 5890 guts

Philips 5890 guts

The original LCD lies at top right – all I’ll be keeping from that is the zebra strip, a special flexible edge connector, can come in handy for other fixes.

The PCB on the left was for the display and silly, overly complicated controller.

To its right is the power PCB which carried the cells and mains dropper/regulating circuitry for the charger, and motor control/switching (useful parts already removed).

Some assorted hardware and screws lie to the right, such as the trimmer drive, evicted from the gearbox since I never used it.

One surprise came out of this – the service manual, complete with exploded views of the mechanical parts AND a circuit diagram, is available for free download online.

Found on this Hungarian web site which I have not come across before, but seems to contain quite a lot of goodies…

ElektroTanya – E-Waste Recycling – Consumer Electronics Repair Platform (2005-2020)

https://elektrotanya.com/

(Oops – hope Part 2 is shorter 🙂 ).

19/09/2020 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

So, knowledge IS evaporating from the web

I was saddened by the chance confirmation of a thought I’ve been mulling over in recent years.

That, while the web, or Internet (or whatever you like to call it), may be a convenient source of knowledge/information, that knowledge/information is being lost if it’s not popular, trending, cool, or deemed important (by which I probably mean not related to ‘celebrities’).

The first indication I noted regarding this was the gradual erosion of many of the pages which I had referred to over the years when assembling and writing pages in the Secret Scotland Wiki. Whenever I looked back at a page, I began to notice that checking the sources where older or more obscure material had been found, showed these links were dead or no longer available.

The worrying factor was that a search for the same, or similar material often failed to find anything similar, or that the original had just been moved.

Now I find that information I know I referred to in the past is also evaporation.

I recently wanted to check over the precise definition of some words I had researched in the past, while looking at the history of explosive manufacture, together with the construction and operation of bomb fuzes and detonators in relation to bomb disposal during World War II.

Almost two decades have passed since the first discussion I had on this subject, and one of the subjects which stuck in my mind was ‘gains’, as I had no idea what these were at the time, and thought I had misheard the term, which I was familiar with only from my education in electronics and amplification – the gain refers to the increase an amplifier can provide for a signal.

Back then, it was easy to find out that an explosive gain provided a similar amplification function when added to an explosive, and provided a means for increasing the yield of an explosive.

While I now have to rely on memory (so will probably not be accurate), this could be achieved by the addition of chemicals to the explosive mix, thereby boosting the yield by producing a more violent reaction, or by fitting a component to a detonator, intended to increase the effectiveness of the detonator, ensuring that the bomb detonated. A bomb might fail if a detonator did not provide enough energy to initiate the explosive reaction. A high yield, but insensitive, explosive may not always be triggered reliably by a more sensitive, but less energetic detonator, so a gain would act as a safe bridge between the two.

It’s some years since I learned of explosive gains, but at the time I did, I was initially educated in their principles by people involved in the field, and was able to go online and read more about them, what they were, what they were made of, and how they were used.

Today, I can find nothing similar when I look up ‘gain’ or gains’ (or even ‘gaines’, as it sometimes spelt) online.

And it’s not censorship of explosives, bombs, or detonator information, as there’s plenty of that still to be found.

There’s just no mention of, links, or even references to… ‘gains’.

After looking at diagrams of various fuzes, it seems that the ‘gain’ is referred to as a ‘booster’, and is generally installed around the detonator, and buried within the main charge.

Just to prove I’m not making this up, you will find a series of pics of a German Type 15 fuze  on the linked page, which also includes a description which refers to the gain:

An early (15) impact fuze – used early in the war, this example taken from the Reigate area. This fuze is complete with the steel gain pot screwed into the bottom of the fuze.

Not only does refer to the gain (pot) screwed onto the bottom of the fuze, one of the pics in the series even shows the contents – a packet of chemical powder which was folded into the pot before it was screwed onto the bottom of the fuze.

The powder would have been mercury fulminate, or Hg(CNO)2, a primary explosive. The material is highly sensitive to friction, heat, and shock, and is now  mainly used as a trigger for other explosives in percussion caps and blasting caps.

Although the diagram below is actually for a mine (M4), it still shows the relative locations of the detonator, gain (marked ‘booster’), and the main charge.

M4 Mine

M4 Mine

I would have used a proper World War II German bomb fuze, but it’s getting harder and harder to find images without dire copyright warnings (within a reasonable time),7 so I’m leaning towards the nearest public domain option, rather than waste hours looking for the right thing, or wait weeks for someone to reply with permission – if they ever do.

13/09/2020 Posted by | Lost, World War II | , , | 1 Comment

Combination lock mystery solved (NOT!)

Between the various lockdowns and restrictions, plus what even a Scot considers to be a miserable and cold, wet, summer in 2020, I’ve had a little more spare time than usual.

It’s given me the opportunity to revive my long-standing (as in decades) interest in lock picking. There’s even been time to study and bring myself up to date with more recent developments too.

I’ve got a few old combination locks which catch my eye occasionally, and are generally frustrating as they don’t seem to be susceptible to the usual (non-destructive) methods of picking or decoding., so I keep trying new methods on them whenever I come across them.

This pair of cheap’n’cheerful (or nasty) 3-digit blue items has been bugging me for years. They’re so crappy they offer almost no ‘feel’ as to what’s happening inside when you spin the rings.

Now, while one still spins freely, the other has almost seized completely, and the rings barely even turn.

First, the working one – I’m not sure what has changed inside it, but when I had a go at it recently, as you can see from the pic, I had it open in less than a minute. I honestly don’t know how I did it, but it betrayed the position of its gates as I rotated the rings. Maybe I HAVE earned something new recently.

As the second had almost seized completely, and it took two hand just to make the rings move, I decided it was on its last chance.

With only three dials I decided to allocate the time to open it by working through all the combinations, which shouldn’t take that long, but it did, since the rings could not be spun quickly.

I was less than amuse after completing this to find that the lock would not open, even after trying every combination.

Before deciding to destructively dismantle it (the body is held together by a swaged joint in the end, where part f the casting is formed into an expanded section), I forced a gap between the rings, so I could see where the gates were located on each. I tried lining these up with the cutouts in the shackle, but even then this lock refused to open.

I drilled out the swaged fixing and took the thing apart, but all this did was provide more of a mystery.

Blue Combination Lock gutted

Blue Combination Lock gutted

As should be clear above, a central core provides a support for the discs containing the gates to rotate around, and these discs are press-fitted into the rings carrying the numbers, so the number for each ring is fixed when it is installed. Two steel washers provide further support and gating for the shackle.

Line up the three cutouts/gates in the disc/ring combination with those in the steel washers,, and the shackle can be lifted. If the gates are not lined up, then the shackle is prevented from being lifted as cutouts will bind against the gate discs.

What’s not obvious is why the gate discs were almost seized solid around the lock core, and could not be turned without great effort.

I also suspect at least one may not have been turning at all, being stuck on the core, so the number ring was spinning around it, rather than spinning it around the core, making it impossible to open the lock at all.

Perhaps the shackle was pulled too hard or roughly in the past, distorting the disc, which is only made of aluminium and quite soft. Even so, while that might have made the action rough, I can’t see it resulting in the inner diameter of a disc being reduced to the extent it seized or jammed completely.

Although pointless (since I had drilled out the swaged fixing in the base of the lock), I filed out the centres of the discs until they rotated freely around the central core, then refitted them inside the number rings. By simply holding the lock parts together, it was possible to prove its operation.

While I could drill the centre of the swaged section out and fit some other fixing, it would be pointless, so I’ll just keep this one as it is now, as something to look at and show the interior of one of these locks, which is quite common in these types, so it’s been ‘reborn’ as a demonstration lock.

On to the next – a pair of much higher quality (but still just cheap) 4-digit locks, identical, and with a weird action which spins freely in one instance, or locks tightly into detents on each digit.

Either way, each of these action eliminates any of the usual ‘feel’ used to pick such locks by manipulation, and I haven’t been able to feel anything inside by probing, so I think I’ll have to keep staring at them in the hope of spotting some alternative exploit.

11/09/2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Abercromby Street finally gets a mural

It seems to be quite some time since I learned of a new mural being proposed for Abercromby Street, only to be informed (unfortunately with no source or authority cited) shortly afterwards that the idea had been quashed (look below the original post, in the comments). Although I had a quick look, I couldn’t find any more details (online).

Over a year later, and Abercromby Street DOES have a new mural, albeit a different one, and on a different gable end.

I had intended to get a pic of the work in progress, but my plans were cut short when some kind person left an extremely jagged and dangerous chunk on metal in the cycle path on London Road.

This took out my rear tyre (how it didn’t get the front tyre first is a mystery), put at least three tears in the tube, and then the spare tube which I tried to fix the tyre with as a ‘limp home’ fix.

I only managed to roll about half a mile closer to home before the hole in the tyre proved to be so big that the replacement tube blew out as well, leaving me to walk home since there was no point in using another tube, which would eventually just have done the same.

Since I didn’t have any plans to be in the same area for a while, sheer bloody-mindedness meant I collected another bike when I got home, and still headed out to get the pic. After all, it had already cost my one tyre, and one inner tube, as both had been damaged beyond repair. At least the second tube had just made a pinhole when it blew out, so could be patched,

The only downside was that I couldn’t take a dSLR and get a decent pic, and had to rely on the compact, which was also not tweaked for low light shooting, so I just had to make the best of what I had.

I suppose the positive thing is that I did get a pic, and that it was possible to get it using a camera set up only for hand held shots. I really didn’t expect it to stabilise such a low light scene, so low that the autofocus had to be tricked into functioning as the basic scene was too dark for it to operate. It is coloured, but the place was so dark by the time I finally got there, there wasn’t enough light to show any of them.

Guess I’ll have to organise another trip as soon as possible.

Abercromby Street Mural

Abercromby Street Mural

10/09/2020 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Convicted predator Addy A-Game claims ‘Miscarriage of justice’

Back in January of 2019, Glasgow was revealed as the hunting ground for a lovely fellow when the media reported that:

“The details of the case against a man arrested in connected with video ‘guides’ for men showing them how to approach women, have now been released and made public, and the subject was indeed the lovely Addy ‘agame’ or Adnan ‘agame’ Ahmed.

Once it went public, the story could be told…

YouTube pick-up ‘artist’ chooses Glasgow for his nasty games

Busy day after predatory pick-up ‘artist’ outed in Glasgow

Charges and identity finally revealed in pick-up ‘artist’ video case

Back then, this gift to the human race was already defending his activities thus:

Mr Ahmed, known to his YouTube followers as “Addy Agame”, has defended his videos, which he said were nothing more than a “bunch of guys talking to a bunch of girls”.

It seems he’s been telling himself that ever since being found guilty of five charges of threatening and abusive behaviour following a Glasgow Sheriff Court trial last year, when Sheriff Lindsay Wood sent Ahmed, of Maryhill, Glasgow, to prison for two years and put him on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.

It seems the poor man:

… believes he has fallen victim to a miscarriage of justice and has instructed lawyers to go to the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh on his behalf.

Ahmed’s hearing will take place in September 2020. The date was fixed following a procedural hearing at the Court of Criminal Appeal on Thursday.

His legal team will address a panel of judges and will ask them to quash his conviction. They will also appeal against his sentence.

Delusion is a powerful drug, as this was the summary of his trial last year:

Passing sentence, Sheriff Lindsay Wood said Ahmed had shown a lack of remorse.

He told him: “You gave evidence and said that the victims were lying or mistaken, but the jury thought otherwise.

“It was very obvious when they gave evidence how they were affected.

“You have acquired notoriety and an unenviable reputation, the public will be wise to such inappropriate behaviour by you and others like you.”

Evidence given during the trial revealed:

Ahmed approached dozens of women in the Glasgow and Lanarkshire areas.

He described himself as being a “lifestyle coach”. A BBC investigation into Ahmed’s activities revealed he was part of a global network of “pick-up artists” who practise what they call “game”.

YouTube has since removed hundreds of videos and deactivated two channels run by Addy A-Game and another group called Street Attraction.

In his videos, Ahmed could be seen approaching women in the street. He then posted clips online offering advice to other men.

In the videos – which he claimed were “educational”- he offered tips on how to overcome “last-minute resistance” to sex. One clip included audio of a woman apparently recorded during intercourse.

Five young women, aged between 16 and 21, gave evidence at his trial about how they had been intimidated by Ahmed in Glasgow city centre and in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire.

The trial heard how Ahmed approached two schoolgirls in a secluded lane in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, in 2016, when they were aged 16 and 17.

He called one of them “pretty”, tried to get her phone number and made her feel “uncomfortable” but she walked away.

Another woman broke down in court as she described how Ahmed followed her through Glasgow city centre and grabbed her head as he tried to kiss her.

I have to confess to not seeing much news these days (why bother, there’s sod all to see these days), and I only saw this story on the one day I randomly hit my list of news services, and it happened to be the one story highlighted at the top of the page at that moment:

‘Pick-up artist’ Addy A-game wins bid to appeal conviction

I suppose I’ll have to make some effort now, and file a reminder somewhere, as I’d like to read the details of what the court says when it throws out his appeal.

If there was any good lick floating around, or they were having a bad day, they might even increase his sentence since that is being appealed too – as he clearly has unresoved issues and needs to be kept off the streets.

Addy 'agame' Internet pic

Addy ‘agame’ Internet pic

How he looks now:

Adnan Ahmed - Police Scotland image

Adnan Ahmed – Police Scotland image

05/07/2020 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

October is Black Cat Awareness Month

October is Black Cat Awareness Month.

A whole month dedicated to one of the best cat colours around.

Although all the rest are equally good 🙂

How?

Think of it like quantum physics and infinite universes – where every possibility exists somewhere, so even though there is a ‘best’ in each universe, overall, the probability is the same for them all, so they’re all… equal.

Black Cat crossing

Many superstitions surrounding the feline with sable fur, and if you’re daft enough to believe in such things, then there is good news. If you thought this event meant bad luck – all you have to do is look elsewhere and take your pick of superstitions, since different cultures assign different meaning.

Different cultures across the world have superstitious beliefs which claim either good or bad luck when a black cat crosses one’s path. Some sayings implicate good luck when black cat crosses: “Black cat, cross my path – good fortune bring to home and hearth. When I am away from home, bring me luck wherever I roam” (an old English one). “Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack” (an English proverb). Some say crossing a black cat could mean Saturn is not favourable for you. Folklore from Sussex claims that black cats are suspected to be witches, so crossing their path would mean bad luck. In China, they are believed to bring famine and poverty. On the other hand, Latvian farmers believe black cats are the spirit of Rungis, the god of harvest, and when they find black cats in their granary, they become overjoyed.

Good Luck

  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses left to right, then good luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked away from someone, it meant good luck.

Bad luck

  • If you believe in bad luck when black cat crosses your path, you may also believe that if you walk backwards ten steps, then turn around three times, then the bad luck will be repelled.
  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses right to left, then bad luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked towards someone, it meant good luck.
  • Gamblers believe that if a black cat crosses their path when are about to play, then means bad luck for them.
  • When driving, if a black cat crosses it is believed that one should turn around and go back to avoid bad luck.
  • In western and southern Europe, a black cat crossing one’s path is said to bring bad luck.

None of these choices is going to have an effect on your luck, one way or another, but your current happiness level might rise if the cat approaches you, and you get to pet it.

We would like to remind you that Groucho Marx was right. All it means when a black cat walks in front of you is that the animal is going somewhere, and should either be pet, fed treats, or left well enough alone.

 

Groucho Marx Black Cat

 

Bonus – History of International Black Cat Awareness Month

The creation of International Black Cat Awareness Month, founded back in 2013, came about after it’s creator, Layla Morgan Wilde, noticed that while there were two days dedicated to black cats, one in the UK and one in the US, there was nothing dedicated to them on a wider level. Such a dedication was (and still is) desperately needed, as superstitions surrounding black cats have become so out of control that shelters won’t have begun to suspend adopting them out during October. Too often the cats were being adopted as part of the Halloween holiday mystique, and were abandoned, or worse, after the holiday had passed.

Even for the rest of the year, it can be more difficult to get them adopted. How much more difficult? Black cats adoption rates are some 50% lower than any other colour of cat.

That’s just plain crazy, and we can’t understand this at all.

A sable furred cat is perhaps one of the most beautiful animals to walk the earth.

Black Cat Relaxes

Black Cat Relaxes

At the end of the day, this stupidity arising from superstition amounts to nothing less than (an excuse for) animal cruelty and abuse.

Chances are anyone who uses these ‘rules’ to mock you is a bully, a racist, or worse.

If you can do anything to dispel it, please do.

Black Cat Support Group

#BlackCatAwarenessMonth

Time to end black cat discrimination

I wasn’t fully aware of the discrimination or victimisation of black cats today, until I spotted this ‘Awareness Month’ some time ago.

Since then, I’ve been following the updates on LoveMeow, and been saddened to see that this is not only a fact, but current.

Over the time I’ve been getting their updates, I’ve seen the mother cats with black kittens being left in shelters while their coloured litters find ‘Forever Homes’.

Possibly the saddest part of this observation is that those leaving the black kittens behind are rescuers. They should know better.

Here’s one of the most recent, sad, examples:

Stray Cat Brought to Clinic in a Carrier – Staff are Surprised to Find Newborn Kittens Inside

Mama Tulip and her little panther kitty Violet are still available.

“Tulip is a talkative, affectionate girl and has a really sweet personality. She likes to knead the blanket I have in the room and she purrs the whole time! She and Violet love to play together,” Natalie told Love Meow.

Panther kitten left behind

Panther kitten left behind

01/10/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is International Coffee Day

01 October is International Coffee Day.

We drink coffee morning, day and night. You have only to walk down the nearest high street and note the number of rotten coffee chains selling a cup of coffee for a truly ridiculous £2 or more to realise the extent of our love affair with our favourite caffeinated beverage.

Discount supermarkets now sell pretty good ground coffee will provide 30 cups of freshly brewed coffee for a little more than £1, and if you’ll accept their cheapest instant, you’ll currently get around 60 cups for £1.49.

That’s LESS than the price of one those disgusting high street franchises.

Ask yourself where all the money being taken by those franchises goes.

Coffee Day marks the long history of the drink: the properties of coffee beans are thought to have first been discovered in Ethiopia. The beans are actually the pits found in the coffee berry or cherry, with the story being that a 9th century goat herder noticed their stimulating effects on his goats and began experimenting.

Coffee drinking was originally popularised in the Arab world from around the 15th century, spreading across Asia, then to Italy and across Europe and to the Americas – eventually reaching  your coffee cup.

Today, coffee is one of the world’s biggest crops so buying ethically grown coffee is all the more important – be sure to be selective in buying your cup of coffee and supporting ethical trade (and remember that franchise profiteering).

See also International Coffee Organisation

Although I’ve collected a few types of coffee maker (for ground coffee) over the years, I never found one I liked – apart from one with a milk frother, which worked quite well, but was ultimately just too much hassle to use regularly.

Discounting the ridiculously overpriced, to buy AND keep fed with hugely overpriced ‘pods’, I added the pair shown below in recent months.

Interestingly, the same ground coffee source does taste different from each, with each having a ‘best’ option. It seems the two methods of operation extracts a slightly different selection of flavours from the grounds.

That said, both work well (especially compared to some of my percolators, which just extracted too many odd flavours), although I have now settled on two Aldi roasts, one best in each of them, and providing a nice variation.

And, they avoid having to make a gallon of the stuff each time (which goes ‘off’ if kept hot), and provide just the right amount for one fresh cup/mug.

Coffee Makers

Coffee Makers

01/10/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Lorne Arcade murals

Falling firmly into the category of “OH! I didn’t see that last time I was here”…

Three murals spotted at the back of Ayr’s Lorne Arcade, as seen from Arthur Street.

Sadly, for me at least, there’s not much point in making the detour through the back streets to get here (the shops there are of no interest). So, it’s just as well wandering around the area means the arcade makes a handy shortcut through the buildings in order to get to the High Street.

Years ago, there were some ‘interesting’ shops in the arcade, the main one I recall being a model shop, both plastic kits and radio control, plus accessories needed for them. Unfortunately, none of the others come to mind (but I’m still pretty sure they were better than what’s in there now).

I’ve discovered they date only from the start of the year (2019), and surprisingly, given the different style of each, are down to the same artist, who formerly worked on interiors, but approached the owners of buildings, and found them receptive to his idea for the installation.

The only negatives I see are a crappy advertising banner, and sign for an adjacent car park, which obscure the octopus.

Lorne Arcade Murals

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is a Ask A Stupid Question Day

30 September 2019 is Ask A Stupid Question Day.

And, the first ‘Stupid Question’ has to be: “Why does the date of this day wander around the calendar”?

Apparently set for 28 September, it is usually observed on the last school day of September.

At least, that’s IF you are in the US – but this day has now made it across the pond, so just gets even more… ‘stupid’.

I’d say this day suffers from being poorly defined.

Beginning with the honourable intent of encouraging people to overcome their fear of sounding uneducated, it’s meant to opening opportunities for learning by asking the stupidest of questions.

I get the idea, I support the idea, but – in a world where genuinely stupid questions are allowed (by which I mean questions that really are stupid, as opposed to enquiring or searching), I can’t help but feel that the day could have been better named.

After all, it’s probably not too hard to label any day ‘Stupid Question Day’ if you consider many of the questions you may be asked – NONE of which are original, educational, informative, or enquiring.

Stupid Question Price List

Stupid Question Price List

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Thunderbirds Day

30 September is Thunderbirds Day.

Not noticed this before, but now I think is worth a mention just to remember the Anderson universe.

Thunderbirds Day is set on the date when the original Thunderbirds made its debut on British TV. Obviously an important date for all Thunderbirds enthusiasts and it means a lot to the people who want to recall the legacy of the show and what it means today.

The first episode was aired back in 1965 and it has reached all corners of the globe in that time. The values of bravery, selflessness and teamwork resonate with successive generations. It seems that still more people join together to celebrate the show on Thunderbirds Day with each passing year.

While I was still rather young at the time, today, I still find it odd that I was gathered up and sat in front of the TV to watch Thunderbirds as ‘something special’.

Unlike today, where there are horrible advance publicity presentations, and months of pre-publicity for shows which the networks want to shove down viewer’s throats, there was none of that back then. So, just how did the word get out prior to that first airing?

For what it’s worth, I’m NOT a fan of the later offerings tacked on to the name in recent years.

Thoroughly unsatisfying, and unoriginal, as are (for me at least) all the modern clones and reproductions of Anderson originals.

Much better have been those entirely NEW productions, made in the wake of Anderson’s methods.

The original worked brilliantly because it was made looking forward, and with the methods, of its day.

Trying to repackage that same material decades later is just a mess. Just repeat the originals if that’s all you can come up with.

Thunderbirds original

Thunderbirds original

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

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