Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Weekly round-up: 30 December 2017

(End of the year. Will this be back next year? Can I be bothered? Does anyone care?…)

2017 saw numerous notable people pass, but no fuss made this year, unlike 2016. Interesting that original drawing was ‘too  cute’. Many mistake animation of that period for today’s cartoons. Those originals were aimed at adult audiences, not kids.  Bob Givens: Bugs Bunny animator dies aged 99

2017 ends on at least one nice high note Trump Turnberry will no longer get business rates relief

Story not clear – if sign is unlawful (and it is clearly racist and discriminatory), why is money being spent on a private prosecution? Field Farm Fisheries’ ‘no Polish’ sign taken down

Not sure if good, or bad, that I don’t have the time for a ‘Shed’. Dalbeattie looks impressive though, I hope others are similar. Since you can’t know which I am referring to, I wouldn’t go near the one along the road, it looks scary from outside, more like a classic ‘Drinking Den’ of years gone by – and its next door neighbour IS a pub Inside the UK Men’s Shed of the Year

Christmas Day fun! At least this is not a ‘Missed me’ since Springburn is a walk too far (I love our gun laws now, no guns for the law-abiding, but free issue for everyone else) Two men sought by police after shots fired in Glasgow flats

Figures! I just polished off the last slice of black pud I bought as a Christmas treat – at least it wasn’t this lot Haggis and black pudding recalled over botulism concerns

Surprise! Even before I reached the foot of page and saw a ‘Comments’ section, I knew it would be full of complaints about GPs, NHS, and money. I’m a virtual stranger to my GP, yet on the rare occasions I have to visit I am appalled by the trivial nature of the reasons many I share the room with complain of (worse still are those who demand a home visit for such things) Take three steps before visiting GP, public urged

And now I’m glad I can’t walk as far as Shotts Masked men raid Shotts shop at closing time

It’s sad that the recent success of systems that let unskilled people fly drones (unlike my time with RC helicopters when having one meant more time crashing than flying as SKILL was needed) has put them in the hands of rich morons or thieves, and mean we need this No-fly zone for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party

In 2017/2018 is this STILL an issue/excuse for some sad/twisted people to be thugs/bullies? Technically I count as interracial, but am white and Scottish, so nobody knows. It’s a shame we can’t give all the bigots/xenophobes etc a free ticket on a rocket/ark bound for Golgafrincham They’d be dealt with nicely there The professor, his wife and the photo everyone is talking about


My news feeds have all but dried up and gone quiet in the run up to Hogmanay, guess the tired old news hacks are worn out.

So… I got an intriguing email from a motoring source, mainly trying to sell stuff, but it does report on current items and allows readers to comment. This week’s offering was notable not for the items mentioned – speed/enforcement cameras, diesels, CO2, insurance – but for the comments. Normally surprisingly rational, the trend of most responses was along the lines of ‘The government lies about cameras’, then ‘The government lies about diesels’, then ‘The government lies about CO2’, then ‘The insurers lie about driver statistics’ – with all of these being used as justification for accusing government and insurers for raising money via taxation and fees.

Just to finish with yet another contribution dedicated to the apoplectic octogenarian who sees swastikas in his slippers – this one dates back to around 1930, and we could arrange a ‘historic flight’ in one of these US Army Boeing P-12s, but not let him see the side and the logo until they’re in the the air.

He’d have to jump out!

US Army Swastika

US Army Swastika


30/12/2017 Posted by | Weekly round-up | | Leave a comment

Christmas Casualties 2017

Ever since I chanced upon some abandoned toys dumped by the bins in the street a few years ago, it’s become something of a tradition to spot similar tragedies in the following years.

Sometimes almost new, sometimes worn out after years of service, they’re just thrown out like so much useless rubbish.

Deserted – in favour of the next ‘best thing’.

Hmm… just like real life.

Sometimes it takes a while before I trip over these victims of progress, sometimes it’s quick.

Since I didn’t fancy the chilly weather and fresh snow that followed Christmas this year I thought I might be out of luck, and have to take a long walk to find anything, but I got lucky tonight, on my one and only trip to the shops as the weather turned mild, I took advantage to top up the fresh food collection. I’m set for at least a week now, can avoid those who don’t (or can’t) plan, and just ‘chill’.

I haven’t found such a drastic dumping before, and this looks as if someone had good clear-out, and is starting a new phase of their life.

That alarmed face that landed in the middle – priceless!

Christmas Casualties 2017

Christmas Casualties 2017

30/12/2017 Posted by | photography | , | Leave a comment

Christmas cat and mouse

I’m guessing our recent/current hit of pretty cold (-5 deg C) and slightly snowy weather (only a few cm, but the cold meant it lay) meant that my local mice made the wise decision of staying at home, wherever that may be.

But I thought this seasonal variation on the theme of cat presents was worth including (obviously not my pic).

It didn’t say, so not sure if cat is making present to useless hoomin hunter, or if it’s a present for the cat.

The look on the cat’s face… could be interpreted in many ways.

Christmas Mouse Present

Christmas Mouse Present

While there were quite of a lot of successful pics of cats killing/felling Christmas trees, and a few crazy solutions to ‘cat proof’ the tree, I found this one, which looks both simple and effective.

Cat Proof Christmas Tree

Cat Proof Christmas Tree

30/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Some low low light tests

Although I’ve been firing off some low light tests, they’ve mostly been places with varying amounts of Christmas lights around, so they’re not very low light – although they would have been near impossible as hand-held shots, which is what I always try for.

One of the first proper low light shots I ever tried was of the Herald and Times building near Cambuslang.

Despite great claims for the abilities of the bridge camera I was using then, this scene was simply not possible, and the reality was that until I had access to a dSLR this scene was never going to be anything more than bright spots with noisy smears in the space between – and that included long manual exposures, since this is overlooked by a bridge parapet the camera could be sat on.

Forward to the present, and while I thought the decent compact had failed, a surprising amount of information was present after some light processing.

Herald Times Comp

Herald Times Comp

A little further along the same road, it was possible to point the camera into a black void from bridge over the Clyde, looking towards Carmyle. This really is just blackness to the eye, with a few streetlights glowing in the distance, so even the focus has to be guessed (even autofocus needs something to lock onto).

A surprising result, as previous attempts without a dSLR sensor were just noise and a few light dots.

I hadn’t really expected this.

While it would need some tweaking of the settings, this could be improved with a little effort.

Clyde Carmyle Comp

Clyde Carmyle Comp

But, I’m lazy, so…

Another visit was called for, with a bigger camera, to find out what could be obtained without that much effort.

Back to the Herald and Times first.

Unfortunately – somebody decided to dump some snow on the scene while I was away, so it’s not really like-for-like.

But I’m not getting another freezing, so this will have to do.

The difference is in the detail (of which I get to see more in the full size original) – probably most noticeable here is that the motorway lights have posts in the example below (absent in the pic above).

Herald Times

Herald Times

And slipping along to the bridge over the Clyde, and another look towards Carmyle, and an irritation!

This is approx one quarter of the pic taken, as I forgot the difference in wide-angle setting, so got this one wrong.

Clyde Carmyle

Clyde Carmyle

You may notice the extreme yellow, as this area only has sodium lighting.

Just for fun I thought I’d let some automatic corrections run on this scene.

It basically works by assuming the brightest point is (or should be) white.

Clyde Carmyle Adjusted

Clyde Carmyle Adjusted

Same routine applied to the compact image really shows the difference.

Clyde Carmyle Comp Adjusted

Clyde Carmyle Comp Adjusted

Bottom line – dSLR captures a lot more than a compact, and even a quarter of one of its images has more detail recorded, and this can be extracted later.

I’d like to repeat this with a large sensor compact – but that won’t be any time soon.


While there’s not much chance of me having a large sensor compact in my hand anytime soon, I do have one that uses the next size down, and after the fairly grotty result I forced out of it in the last pic, I got the chance to reprise the shot, but this time forcing it shoot at low ISO.

This suggests more exposure is needed, but shows that the degree of ‘grottiness’ is reduced.

It’s not really a fair comparison, there being no way to ensure the lighting was similar (who knows where the Moon was), and this is a much wider shot too – well, it was just taken at random.

Clyde Comp ISO80

Clyde Comp ISO80

30/12/2017 Posted by | photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Bicarbonate of Soda Day

30 December is Bicarbonate of Soda (also Sodium Bicarbonate) Day.

Weird stuff in some ways, it can be used from cleaning (for some difficult jobs) to baking, where (as baking soda)  it can help make cakes come out light and fluffy.

It also makes an appearance in a number of industries, including cooking, pest control, paint and corrosion removal, disinfection, personal hygiene, and even in cattle food supplements.

Sodium bicarbonate was first discovered by French Chemist Nicolas Leblanc, who was producing it (by his now obsolete process) in 1791. It can be produced via an improved chemical process known as the ‘Solvay Process’ which mixes sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water to produce sodium carbonate, and produces sodium bicarbonate as a by-product in a process discovered by Ernest Solvay in the 1860s.

Celebrate the day by mixing some with acetic acid (vinegar).

Baking Soda And Vinegar

Baking Soda And Vinegar

I would have included a video of this scary reaction, but the strength of the constituents as found in the home/kitchen are such that reading the above description is probably more exciting than the reaction (sorry).

30/12/2017 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment


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