Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

When there’s just TOO much news

If there’s a ‘regular’ reader out there, they may be wondering why some items in tonight’s news haven’t earned a mention in tonight’s posts.

There were just too many, and I stopped counting when the stack reached a nice round dozen, and just read them – then they were gone.

It was a reminder of why I’d started the now defunct ‘Weekly Round-up, which did let odd items get noted, but ultimately had two disadvantages.

It ended up taking up too much time if things got busy, but I could deal with that just by making mentions briefer.

But the real problem turned out to be the difficulty of finding items mentioned in the Round-up, rather than in a post of their own with a title. Without that, it’s almost impossible to find an item, and that pretty much negates the reason for mentioning stuff, so I can find it later.

It got worse later on as I have a late news feed that delivers stories that missed the early news, and that took the total over 15 when I had a look.

Pity, some of the items were nice catches – but I think the important ones will resurface later, as they were ongoing.

And, my apologies, as it seems I just invented the word ‘overwhelment’.

White Flag Of Overwhelment

White Flag Of Overwhelment



16/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Wish I was still passing Stonehaven regularly

One of the advantages of regular calls to visit Aberdeen for work was the option to drop into many of the nice places the road ran past, such as Stonehaven.

The trip home was particularly enjoyable, especially during summer, when the days were long and there was no hurry to get back home.

Unlike my colleagues, my demands were simple. While they would look for restaurants or similar for an evening meal on expenses, I was much happier to be on my own, find a decent chip shop, collect an excellent ‘coastal’ fish supper, and enjoy it in the sea front or harbour car park looking out to sea.

Seems I’d have something interesting to look at inland as well, nowadays.

Stonehaven seems to have attracted a ‘secret sculptor’.

Although the artist’s identity is a mystery, one local has been quoted as saying…

“Apparently the chap stays in Cowie, a village to the north of Stonehaven, but there’s no identifying features [on the artwork].”

The work has a unique style, is carefully made, and shows considerable attention to detail, as can be seen in the sample image below.

More examples can be seen in the news article covering the material.

Who is Stonehaven’s ‘secret sculptor’?

Stonehaven Mystery Art Pic Credit Martin Sim

Stonehaven Mystery Art Pic Credit Martin Sim

The story goes so well, until…

It seems the poor artist is regularly insulted by being referred to as “The Stonehaven Bansky” (sic).

And that’s not MY misspelling – that’s a ‘copy and paste’ of how it appears in the article.

Suits me, I’m really not impressed by any of that pains so-called ‘work’, so it avoids having the name in the post.

Where “Bansky’s” concerned, I like to think of myself as the one asking “Why does the emperor have no clothes?” as everyone else fawns over the stuff he slaps on people’s walls.

16/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Dog and Cone – compact beats dSLR

Looks like the saga of ‘Dog and Cone’ is over, and with an unexpected winner!

This started with chance observation when I stopped to collect a pic of mural I had missed.

PLEASE check the pics in that first post, just to get a feel for how small the subject ‘Dog’ is.

Things got more serious when I went back for a better pic of ‘Dog and Cone’, and brought home pics where the compact BEAT the dSLR for image quality.

I didn’t really believe my own results, and resolved to go back for a rematch, but early sunsets and high buildings at the site meant I just didn’t seem to be able to get there when there was a decent amount of daylight and, once again, the results were poor, despite using a dSLR and a long lens.

I finally managed to get back to the spot during the day, albeit an overcast one, and repeat the pics, which I took using both dSLR and compact with long lenses (both referred to as superzooms).

I’m seriously shocked, and I took the pics!

Despite being vastly superior in terms of sensor size and sensitivity when the light is failing, the dSLR has simply NOT been able to match the compact for this shot, no matter how much I fiddled with the settings.

I tried reducing the ISO the dSLR wanted (I usually let it alter this within set limits), but this just brought camera shake and blurring instead of noise.

The lighter compact was able to reach more than twice the zoom length, with lower ISO/noise, and catch this one.

If nothing else, I really did learn something with this shot.

So, first the dSLR’s best of the day, after processing.

Dog and Cone by dSLR

Dog and Cone by dSLR

And now the compact’s effort, also processed.

Dog and Cone by compact

Dog and Cone by compact

Seriously, this is down to the location and lighting

I’m sure some of you are now shouting at me, calling me ‘Useless’, and suggesting I just didn’t try.

Had I not taken all these pics myself, I’d probably be one of those doing so.

The more usual scenario is that the dSLR (with large sensor) beats the compact without any effort being needed, which is not really any sort of surprise. The one qualification I would add is that in daylight, both can be comparable, even at full zoom. However, once the light starts to fade, the compact is normally the first to struggle, and detail starts to go. Vibration and camera shake can be better using the compact as it combines optical and electronic stabilisation, while the dSLR usually just has optical stabilisation.

Probably the best illustration is seen in pair of pics I took of a detail at the top of the organ in Kelvingrove.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get a decent pic from the opposite end of the entrance hall.

See some earlier pics of the wider view showing how far away the organ is from the balcony the pics are taken from.

I tried taking pics of the figures at the top of the organ, using the compact, on a number of occasion, always with the same result.

(Ignore the colour, the camera is currently set for ‘Vivid’ shots due to the dull grey outdoor light we have at the moment, and the organ has coloured highlights).

I’m not sure why, as this result is considerably poorer than experience suggests would be expected. However, similar shots along the galleries follow this example, so my guess would be I’ve found the light and contrast level that the compact’s autofocus system just doesn’t like.

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail Compact

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail Compact

Last time I was there, I managed to pack the dSLR and superzoom.

Unlike ‘Dog and Cone’, this result WAS as expected, and the dSLR focussed and exposed with no anomalies.

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail dSLR

Kelvingrove Organ Figure Detail dSLR

Note that I never use a tripod, so all these shots are hand held.

16/01/2019 Posted by | council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Intriguing report of World War II graffiti/sign found during building works

This sort of stuff has been found before, but more usually in building that were used for some war related purpose during World War II, if they had perhaps been requisitioned.

There’s no mention of anything like that in the story.

The writing was uncovered when wall panelling was removed, and offers advice on remaining safe during an air raid, reading…

“In the event of an air raid stay where you are, steps have been made to make this place safe from splinters and glass.”

There’s no hint at what the drawings represent, but they look a bit like workmen, so might have been done by the workers putting up the panelling referred to, and passed some time during a break.

World War II sketches like this tended to parody Hitler, or his more well-known and recognisable deputies, if they were being done by military personnel posted to an active building.

Glasgow nightclub uncovers fascinating piece of World War II history behind walls

Nice that it was noticed, caught, and recorded before being lost to the renovations.

Image: The Garage / facebook

Image: The Garage / facebook

(Sorry for mentioning facecrook, but I have to acknowledge the pic source.)

16/01/2019 Posted by | World War II | | Leave a comment

Brilliant Irish restaurant wins McBully case against McDonald’s bogus trademark claim

While I’ve noted a few more local cases of McBully’s tactic of setting its legal hounds after any small restaurant or café that offers anything with a name that might be contrived to be a McDonald’s offering, I can’t recall the media following up with any outcomes of these ‘David versus Goliath’ encounters, although the original story usually reports that the little guy has said it WILL fight for its name if McDonald’s follows up on its McBully threats.

However, we now have an actual case that was seen through to the end after an Irish restaurant chain won a significant trademark battle against McDonald’s tactics.

Co Galway-based Supermac’s challenged the worldwide burger chain to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks.

It submitted a request to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) in April 2017 to cancel the use of the Big Mac and Mc trademarks that McDonald’s has registered in certain classes.

Supermac’s claimed McDonald’s engaged in “trademark bullying; registering brand names… which are simply stored away in a war chest to use against future competitors”.

Now the EUIPO said that McDonald’s had not proven genuine use of the contested trademark as a burger or as a restaurant name.

Supermac’s managing director, Pat McDonagh, said that the judgment represents a victory for small businesses all over the world.

“We have been saying for years that they have been using trademark bullying.

“They trademarked the SnackBox, which is one of Supermac’s most popular products, even though the product is not actually offered by them.”

He added: “This is the end of the McBully. This decision by the European Trademark Office is also an indication of how important the European institutions are to help protect businesses that are trying to compete against faceless multinationals.”

Of course, the big bully is not happy, and has already stated…

A McDonald’s spokesperson responded saying: “We are currently considering our position.”

McDonald’s loses Big Mac trademark after legal challenge by Irish restaurant

This is music to my ears, as I’ve always thought McDonald’s was disgusting, both as company a ‘thing’.

Does the world really need a global franchiser adding their costs to what amounts to little more than a fried sausage on a roll, with some trimming added?

Oh – plus all the boxes and wrappers they add.

Oh – plus all the ‘Free gifts and promotions’ they brainwash little kids with, so that they will exercise ‘Pester Power’ on their parents to take them to their hideous shops.

Oh – and all the advertising.

Oh – and that creepy clown! (Do real parents actually let their kids get near it, or are the kids we see it with supplied by franchisees or directors?)

What I’d like to know is how we can have so many campaigners who lobby for action against companies such as Nestlé, Monsanto, BP, ‘banks’ etc, while they seem to ignore a more fundamentally disgusting operation like McDonald’s.

A pity this is only one victory we know about.

It would be nice if it led to the door being opened on many more similar victories against McDonald’s.

Maybe this is the start of their fall from the High Street (and every other they seem to creep onto), to be replaced by plain and simpler single owner burger bars, who can operate their business without finding the franchise money and having to conform to a corporate line.

So many lovely parodies online, I eventually had to pick a few ‘milder’ ones, then just pick one by sticking a pin them…

McDonald's Parody T

McDonald’s Parody T


16/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Today is Nothing Day

16 January is Nothing Day.

I was going to do just a short post – then I saw the pic on the previous post, and decided it needed reprise…

Interesting the difference losing just one word can make, recalling that we noted ‘Buy Nothing Day’ recently.

While Buy Nothing Day was probably one to embrace, only confirmed shopaholics would have a problem, I’m not quite so sure about Nothing Day.

Apparently popping into existence back in 1973, this day is simply about doing nothing at all. It has absolutely no purpose or intended structure, and is acknowledged as a pointless celebration.

Said to have been first proposed by late American newspaper columnist Harold Coffin, the day was founded with the intent of eventual self-destruction, through satirically reigning in what Coffin considered a glut of recently established, useless commemorative days. The Nothing Organisation was simultaneously formed in to raise awareness, and has appropriately never held a meeting.

The day’s existence is a testament to its founder’s ultimate failure.

I’ve mixed feeling about this one, being someone who has always bucked the system by largely doing as I please, be that being busy, or not being busy.

But as I get older and the clock counts down…

I seem to have become increasingly irritated by days when I am baulked for some reason, and cannot do something.

Maybe I need to ‘Ask an Expert’…

Nothing Interesting

Nothing Interesting

And I thought ‘Interesting’ deserved to be joined by ‘Fascinating’.

Fascinating Cat

Fascinating Cat

16/01/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment


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