Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Oh look – The Grinch lives in West Lothian

Seriously, this is a great example of a coward hiding behind anonymity.

Stand up and sign your ‘letter’.

I used to build crazy complex Christmas tree lighting control systems years ago, before we had microcontrollers and the like, all based on hard logic chips, and manual programming.

I got a bit of a shock one year, when someone I worked with asked me when the tree was going up so they could bring the kids over to see it, and let their friends know.

That’s a thing of the past now, since just about any cheap Chinese Christmas light set does many time more than my pre-microcontroller lash-ups, and now that they can have hundreds of LEDs hung on to them, it would be madness to try. I think the only advantage my systems still have is that a bare wire wouldn’t be likely to kill you.

I think most Christmas lights now on offer are marginal on safety at best, so I suggest being careful, very careful.

Anyway, there was a very UN-Christmassy story in the news tonight.

A West Lothian grandmother who decorated her house for Christmas was shocked to receive a nasty card that branded the festive display “awful” and the “worst” on the street.

Annette McDonald, from Glenmore in Whitburn, has lit up her house and garden with fairy lights, a Santa Claus and a star.

The 55-year-old put up the display for her young grandchildren, but was stunned to receive a card in the post from a woman in the area that called it “an assault on the eyes”.

Mrs McDonald told STV News the card was cowardly, rude and offensive.

She said: “I was shocked that someone could send something like that. I hate the thought of someone vulnerable getting a card like this.”

In the letter, the woman told her that “less is more”.

Gran ‘shocked’ by rude card criticising Christmas display

Rude The Christmas card criticised the display Pic Credit STV

Rude The Christmas card criticised the display Pic Credit STV

West Lothian gran ‘shocked’ by rude Christmas card slamming her festive lights display

The writer doesn’t deserve to have a happy or merry Christmas after that.

I had to give up my displays.

The writer doesn’t know the circumstances of the person putting up the lights.

They could potentially be suffering a tragedy, and a display the writer doesn’t like could be giving them great comfort.

Alternatively, the “awful and worst” display could be all they can afford, and perhaps had to make sacrifices elsewhere for a little piece of seasonal pleasure.

If the display pictured is “awful and worst”, then I suggest the writer come to the east end of Glasgow.

If, as they say, “LESS IS MORE!”, then they could have a full-time job writing their rude and nasty letter to just about every one of my neighbours. Those who put up displays seem to have more money than sense these days – their houses are draped with lights, and Christmas characters, while their gardens are full of reindeer, sleighs, snowmen, and animated characters.

I don’t bother taking pics, usually, since they are so bright there’s no real ‘low light hand held’ challenge.

Like the one below. This one also fails to convey the animation from a number of low power lasers shining on the scene, and the shower of animated lights suspended along the eaves.

Interesting Christmas

Interesting Christmas

Maybe Little Miss Nasty would prefer this, on the ‘Less is More’ theme?

First Christmas Tree Upgrade

First Christmas Tree Upgrade


SOMEBODY knows who she is.

She won’t have been able to keep her mouth shut, and will have been telling all her friends what a good job, putting the person behind that ‘awful’ display in their place.

21/12/2018 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , | 2 Comments

I’m sick and tired of Green Loonies and ‘Activists’

I’ve been kicking cycling activists in some recent posts, mainly because I was almost put off cycling in Glasgow city centre after looking at some of their web sites and forum, plus comments I’d seen some of them make when contributing to media articles.

Fortunately, I have a brain of my own, and decided to actually just go cycle in Glasgow city centre traffic.

Guess what happened.

I didn’t die after the first five minutes.

I found the cycling activists were little more than liars about how terrible, dangerous, jammed, gridlocked, and polluted it was.

More likely, those that make the most noise, get interviewed, and post loads of ‘advice’ in forums have an ‘Anti-car agenda’, and those are easy ways for them to get ‘free publicity’ for their agenda.

Glasgow has LEZ (low emission zones) actually being planned and introduced NOW (the first in Scotland), not just being talked about.

As Glasgow prepares to become Scotland’s first low emission zone at the end of the months, new signs have been put up to raise awareness of the boundaries that have been put in place in the city centre.

The prominent low emission zone (LEZ) signs are positioned on the main approach routes into the city centre to make sure they are fully visible.

The plans will be phased in from December 31 , initially affecting local service buses only.

However, by the end of 2022, all vehicles wishing to enter the LEZ must meet the strict emission requirements.

Although the boundaries of the LEZ are currently being referred to as the area bounded by the M8, River Clyde and High Street/Saltmarket, the actual boundary of the LEZ second phase will be decided after detailed transport modelling.

Signs have been put up in Glasgow city centre to indicate the new low emission zone

Usually, such media articles have Green Loonies chipping in at the end, usually whining “Too little, too late” and suchlike.

No sign of them in that article.

This article seems to be yet another that knocks the usual activist-type assertion that Glasgow City Council is ignoring cyclist in favour of car drivers.

Maybe GlasgowLive and Glasgow City Council have just got fed up with them and their broken  record!

We should be so lucky – they’ll be around somewhere else.

They’re a real pain, and detract so much from ordinary people who care, and genuinely just want to work for reasonable, achievable, improvement.

Saltmarket From St Andrews Street

Saltmarket From St Andrews Street

After all, just look at that view of Saltmarket, above.

Almost hidden behind a thick cloud of blinding, chocking pollution.

And no provision for cyclists either.

What’s that you say?

You can see the other side of the street?

And you can see segregated cycle lanes? (There’s a light-controlled pedestrian/cycle crossing just of sight around the corner to the right, leading to cycle racks too.)

I’m impressed!

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Revealing ‘Comments’ response to whisky fraud confirmation

Looking at the ‘Comments’ made following the articles about the discovery/conformation that around a third of Scotch whisky which demand high prices due to their classification as ‘Vintage’ is revealing.

Third of rare Scotch whiskies tested found to be fake

I won’t waste time and effort quoting any particular one, since so many are similar.

What I find interesting is that most are made by people who are clearly envious of anybody that has money, as the cast disparaging remarks about the whisky, and those unwise enough to speculate on its value.

Few, if any, of those commenting seem to realise that this is ANOTHER organised fraud, and example of counterfeiting which, in this case is easy to point at wealthy speculators. The commenters seem to be too thick to realise that the same criminals are targeting them with many other counterfeit goods nowadays, which may be as silly as designer label or brand-name rubbish (which can have silly prices), or more serious if it relates to medicinal products.

It’s one thing to lose some money, quite another to lose your life or health to that particular type of crime.

It’s no surprise to find that vintage whisky has been targeted, just as ‘normal’ whisky has been counterfeited.

Anything that can attract ‘premium pricing’ for no actual good reason is an obvious target for the counterfeiters, who can produce visually similar item for pennies (in relative cost terms), and sell it for the same elevated price as the genuine item.

Getting caught is unlikely, as they people really making the money are well removed from the sharp end, being organisers who set up manufacture in distant plants, and distribution at arm’s length. They can afford to walk away from all those facilities, and just set up elsewhere with others ready to stand in the front line.

It’s like the classic car ‘boom’ seen years ago, where just about any old wreck was worth sending for a back-street restoration, with bits being tacked together to create a body that could be packed out with filler, painted and made to look shiny and new, while being a wreck underneath, almost impossible to detect without taking it apart.

But it would do that itself after a few years, as the rotten metal hidden beneath the filler and paint carried on rusting, weakened, blistered, and gave itself away.

After a while, the best way to find a genuine classic was to find one that wasn’t worth the price being asked, and had its restoration documented. That was because many such cars (once the bubble burst) simply weren’t worth the cost of a genuine restoration, although quite a few did get such a job done properly when the prices were high.

At least that (classic) cars has settled down to something more realistic, although the historic marques and genuine rarities seem to have become even more valued by speculators as a result, and looking at their auction prices can make your eyes water.

Even so, I’m still intrigued to find new buyers are still being caught out by replicas, and buy what they think is an exotic super car, only to find it is a shell mounted on an ordinary road car chassis with a little engine buried inside. They’re so keen on their bargain, they will grab it without even a test drive, and only find out when it is delivered.

In those days, the poor people insulted the expensive car buyer by declaring them all to be Yuppies.

Now, the poor people insult the expensive whisky buyer by declaring them to have sense of taste, and that whisky tastes disgusting anyway.

Pity both really just showed the poor people were just jealous.

Fake Whisky

Fake Whisky

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

New Mackintosh statue receives Glasgow’s highest honour

While I have to be honest and say it’s not a tradition I endorse (it’s only a matter of time until someone is injured or killed, as we have just seen: Man dies after falling from Christmas tree in Kirkcaldy which was from a tree only 12 feet tall), Glasgow has christened the new Mackintosh statue with… a traffic cone.

While I couldn’t be there at the right time (and hope it is not something seen often), by the magic of a quick photo edit, I can at least give an impression of the sight.

Christmas Mackintosh

Christmas Mackintosh

For a look at the actual event, see here…

New Mackintosh statue given ‘Glasgow’s highest honour’ as cone is placed on top

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Close to the edge, with Kelvingrove’s Spitfire

I recently made a throwaway remark about the Spitfire on display in Kelvingrove.

As I took a pic from the side, instead of the more usual in-line viewpoint, the angle showed how close the aircraft’s wing tips were to the walls on either side.

To be fair, on the one hand it’s a bit of an optical illusion, and a flat 2D picture is never going to convey the reality of the 3D view as seen by the eye, on the other hand, there isn’t a lot of space to spare, and while there is plenty of clearance for the static exhibit, there’s probably also plenty of opportunities to have a little accident if the proper care isn’t taken as it’s being lifted into position.

It would be all to easy for a little swing or oscillation to grow large enough for contact to be made with walls.

But I’m not worried.

I’ve seen enough films and videos of the staff at work over the years to know this is their bread & butter, and chances of a slip are slim to nil.

Sorry this isn’t 3D, but the pics will at least given you an idea of neat the fit of the Spitfire into the gallery is.

Starboard Spitfire Wing Tip

Starboard Spitfire Wing Tip


Port Spitfire Wing Tip

Port Spitfire Wing Tip

21/12/2018 Posted by | Aviation, Civilian, council, photography, Transport | , | Leave a comment

Today is Flashlight Day

21 December 2018 is Flashlight Day.

I’m afraid this is another of those ‘wandering’ days, not guaranteed/set to fall on the same day every year.

This day fall on the winter solstice, which will 22 December next year, 2019.

(The winter solstice, hibernal solstice, or midwinter, is the longest night of the year, or shortest day, depending on your preference for having a glass that is half full, or half empty.)

The flashlight is described as a portable, battery-powered light source, called a torch outside North America.

While I like ‘flashlight’, it’s come to have an unfortunate similarity to the name of another er… ‘product’ in recent years, and torch could become a safer term.

It seems that workable dry cells and suitable small glass bulbs just managed to bring this useful tool into being before the turn of the 20th century, around 1899. Not my research, but seems fair.

To be honest, I never rated the torch with dry cells and an incandescent light bulb as even remotely useful.

The light was terrible, little more than a candle in reality, and any attempts to replace the silly little bulb with anything useful meant the batteries’ life was realistically measured in minutes, as the voltage fell rapidly, meaning the brightness failed soon after.

The only decent torches of this type I ever owned had rechargeable lead-acid gel batteries, and tiny halogen bulbs – they were great, but didn’t slip into a pocket, and needed an overnight charge before use. NiCads didn’t cut it due to the intermittent nature of their use, and died due to being trickle charged for too long, or were flat if not left on charge, due to self-discharge if not used.

That said, it seems that NiMh batteries have a chemistry that means they can live long and prosper if trickle charged at a low level.

Life is much better now, with LEDs producing more than enough light from the super efficient operation, and newer LiPo batteries always being ready for use thanks to their improved characteristics.

Even NiCd and NiMh batteries work well, since LED torches are so good they get used all the time, so it’s  not a chore to keep them ready for use.

I now have a ridiculous collection of assorted LED torches (sorry, flashlights), and another box of LED lights for use on my bike, where even the cheap types I buy are more than capable of blinding/dazzling if carelessly aimed at the front, and even the lesser rear red LED lights can be more danger than help for the rider, if they are flashing insanely like strobes, or so bright they dazzle following drivers.

Since the last Flashlight Day, I’ve had a proper year of regular use of my LED cycle lights, and can say it really is fun to be able speed through deserted parks and unused walkways, while the super power of LEDs cuts through the dark, unlike the ‘asthmatic’ light which incandescent lighting failed miserably to pierce. There were decent mini-halogen and sealed lead-acid batteries, but they were HUGE and inefficient.

The last tor flashlight I bought was in a sale, a Cree T6, able to zoom and illuminate a whole wall, or focus to reach far into the distance. It also can be set to flash, strobe, or even generate SOS Morse, and be set to three different power levels to extend battery life.

Cree T6 LED Torch

Cree T6 LED Torch/Flashlight

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Short Girl Appreciation Day (maybe)

21 December is Short Girl Appreciation Day (um… maybe).

I have to mention this day for various reasons, not least being the possibility of giving the PC (politically correct) and similar loony brigades some sort of nervous breakdown by daring to do so.

(I’m also male, and normal – and I say THAT to deliberately upset and provoke ANOTHER bunch of tiresome loonies.)

Another is the apparent wandering nature of the day itself, this being the reason I added ‘maybe’ to the statement of the day/date.

Short Girl Appreciation Day is an interesting phenomena, with a date that wanders based on a floating set of criteria. It’s determined by the number of times it is mentioned on various social media sites, making Short Girl Appreciation Day the only holiday that can happen multiple times a year! All of this began as part of a meme where “Today is Short Girl Appreciation Day” was announced and shared throughout various forms of social media. Using unique analyzing software, the day with the most posts of this type was tracked, and announced as Short Girl Appreciation Day, with the caveat that should another day exceed this number then a new Short Girl Appreciation Day would be announced!

Since this day can change or be repeated as it happens, try this web page for an update:

When Is National Short Girl Appreciation Day?

Short Is Not A Problem

Short Is Not A Problem

I remembered a pic I grabbed, for another post subject earlier in the year, on the sunny day Scotland gets treated to some years, and it seems appropriate for this day.

Sunny Glasgow Green

Sunny Glasgow Green

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Dalek Remembrance Day

21 December is Dalek Remembrance Day.

Now that ‘Doctor Who’ has been spun and distorted out of all possible connection with the original and become unwatchable, it’s good to have reminders of the original gem on offer.

Dalek Remembrance Day is a recognition of the first time that the Daleks appeared on Doctor Who in 1963, a day when one the most instantly recognisable aspects of the show, outside of the TARDIS of course, came into existence.

Most people probably still don’t know the Dalek’s were inspired by, and fashioned after, the Nazi’s of Third Reich Germany. They believe that everything not Dalek is inferior, and are intended to be the master race by their creator Davros.

They can be terrifying, and are almost indestructible, but their personality (and programming by Davros) means they are little more than “toddlers in perpetual hissy fits” (albeit very powerful and dangerous toddlers) who become violently insane when their will or ambition is thwarted.

But we still love them!

And even have one in Glasgow.

Dalek mural

Dalek mural

21/12/2018 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: