Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S22

Sad to say, but no surprise to see the Mackintosh Building back in the news with the sudden arrival of some really hefty storms and high winds during the week – unfortunately not mitigated by a ridiculously warm and sunny, wind and cloud free Wednesday.

With such tall and exposed works on what is just about the highest point in the city of Glasgow, it was inevitable that work would have to be suspended for a time, until the wind and rain subsided. As a result, the prediction of 14 October for entry to closed areas around the damaged building was revised to 21 October.

Unfortunately, even as I write this summary, I’m also reading that although a further ‘danger to life’ yellow wind warning was lifted for Friday – it still affects areas west of the city, with a further amber warning in place for rain. The same rain warning was set to affect Glasgow on Saturday, with the amber alert in place until 6pm, but that was revised to apply south of the city.

Despite the reduction in warning levels, Glasgow was still expected to be hit with some force by Storm Callum, but maybe not as much.

Friday’s forecast predicts a ‘wet, very windy start’ with heavy rain increasing again in the afternoon (true, it happened), then cloud on Saturday morning with persistent, occasionally heavy rain, but drier for a time in the afternoon. Sunday is looking better.



14/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , | Leave a comment

50 Argyle Street – again

50 Argyle Street has appeared before, but this is no repeat.

Since there was news that this building is under consideration for saving, following a survey of the interior which indicated its condition was better than expected, the structure has been hidden by a huge (disgusting?) advertising banner.

I’d rather see the building, but then again, I seem to have resisted being brainwashed into accepting adverts being shoved in my face, and finding this sort of continuing abuse to be acceptable.

In previous posts about this building, I didn’t include any details of the entrance to this building in Miller Street, which has an impressive, but decaying, carving above.

So, here’s a look at that entrance, and a closer look at the carving.

50 Argyle Street Miller Street

50 Argyle Street Miller Street

Decaying carving detail.

Does anyone else see four ducks (wearing crowns)?

50 Argyle Street Miller Street Carving

50 Argyle Street Miller Street Carving

Bonus… The sign in the doorway.

Miller Street To Let Sign

Miller Street To Let Sign

14/10/2018 Posted by | photography | | Leave a comment

Today is Dessert Day

14 October is Dessert Day.

I AM a committed dessert person, and hate being out for a business dinner or lunch with people who are just too ‘serious’, and turn their noses up when the waiter offers the option of dessert, and I’m the only one longing for the final treat.

Sometimes I just don’t give a damn, and will order one (come on, the company’s paying!), even if everyone is just spinning on a redundant finger while I enjoy that final course!

It seems the word dessert comes from the French ‘desservir’, which means ‘to clear the table’, and refers to a dish served after the main dishes of the meal. The earliest references to the term dessert seem to be in the 1600s and coincided with the concept of serving a meal in courses, with each a separate experience.

The French were known to serve a sweet wine as an apéritif, and it didn’t take long before the concept of sweet followings to the main dish became common. The birth of the sugar and honey trade helped to support the idea of dessert, when became easier to obtain sweeteners, but for a long time it was still considered to be a lush decadence reserved for the wealthy.

So many options!

Choose from cakes, pies, chocolate, ice cream, tarts, gâteaux, cheesecakes, pastries, trifles, and more.



14/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is World Standards Day

14 October is World Standards Day.

They never had this in my day, or if they did, they kept it a well guarded secret – and I can say my working life has been ruled by such documents since the days of AQAP (or BS5750 if you want to make things a bit simpler).

AQAP is still in force, being Allied Quality Assurance Publications (AQAP), standards for quality assurance systems that have been developed by NATO, and intended to define standards for Quality Assurance of defence products. Their importance being that they were around before BS (British Standards) or ISO (International Organization for Standardization) got their act together and produced 5750, or the 9000 series for industry.

The irony is that my work involves yet another set of standards not covered by these, but its own standards, as defined by UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service).

The United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) is the sole national accreditation body recognised by the British government to assess the competence of organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services. It evaluates these conformity assessment bodies and then accredits them where they are found to meet the internationally specified standard. An organisation accredited by UKAS can demonstrate competence, impartiality and reliability in its ability to deliver results. Accreditation ensures that everyone from specifiers, purchasers, and suppliers to consumers can have confidence in the quality of goods and in the provision of services throughout the supply chain.

This means I always have fun when clients decide that they know better than UKAS and decide my facilities need to be audited to see if they conform to their standards, instead of accepting that we have been independently assessed and approved by a higher standard. They seem to be like little wind-up sheep, programmed to assess anyone in their supply chain, and (some of them) completely miss the point of Government accreditation.

It would be funny if it was not so sad, as they try to come in and conduct an audit of a “certification, testing, inspection and calibration service” as if it was the same type of beast that they work for, generally a manufacturing facility with product and material that can be physically sampled, poked, prodded, and reported on. They’re usually completely out of their depth when presented with something intangible like a service.

The better ones can accommodate the differences, but I’ve had to deal with ‘guests’ ready to pull the plug on our contracts simply because they are so entrenched with physical manufacturing criteria they simply cannot get their heads around how to assess a service.

But that’s just my little corner of the world – ‘Standards’ cover a much greater remit.

Many things in your life that are standardised, and this usually makes things much easier, even if you don’t realise it.

Standards dictate the sizes, shapes, composition, and many other fiddly bits that make our world fit together. Imagine what your life would be without standardisation. For example, while you might have noticed most countries have different mains plugs, at least within a given country you can usually plug stuff in without too much hassle. Imagine if every manufacturer, even in a given country, decided to fit mains plugs that only fitted their product.

It’s the same with most things, think of making a phone call if you could only connect similar brands of phone, and not be able to have any phone contact any other phone.

Perhaps the simplest and oldest example is the humble screw.

Once hand-made, screws only fitted the thread made at the time by the craftsman on the job. Lose a screw and there was no option of just picking another one out of a box, and using that. You had to get a new one made to suit the matching screw-hole. Until someone came up with the bright idea of standardising the threads, and using machines to make them – all the same. You can probably put this down to war, where a soldier’s life depended on being able to keep his gun working, and being able to use any matching part from the same gun as a part. In the days before standardisation, hand-made guns meant all the parts were different, so it was unlikely any part from another gun would fit yours, or that there was any box of spares to be found.

Yes, it may be a little sad, but at the end of the day, it is thanks to war that we have standards.

Sure, they’d have come along eventually, but who knows when?

That’s standards at work.

There’s an interesting (personal) web site with some more thoughts on the perhaps more ‘real world’ aspects of the subject here…


Bonus fact

To avoid confusion, since we have to use standards to compare/test/calibrate items we work on, and ‘standard’ (for the purpose of this article) refers to a publication or set of rules, we use the word ‘etalon’ as an alternative, in order to avoid confusion.

French, étalon, a fixed standard of weights and measures.

It may be an odd word to some, but it can make life easier when writing procedures, and having to refer to both physical standards and written standards.

World Standards Big Idea

World Standards Big Idea

14/10/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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