Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Just one more Grumpy

Just ONE more.

Apologies for the truly atrocious spelling error made by the originator of this tribute – but it’s the thought that counts.

However, I did feel the need to make one small alteration, as Grumpy was a Lady, and wouldn’t have used language like that ūüėČ

Grumpy Better Place

Grumpy Better Place

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | | Leave a comment

Stylus surprise

I don’t find tech surprises very often, so I had to grab this sighting of something I thought was long dead nowadays.

A stylus being used on a touchscreen!

I’m so used to seeing one, or two, thumbs doing all the work at lighting speed I almost didn’t notice this.

Still. I wonder why she doesn’t just use that long, elegant, red, pointy, fingernail?

Stylus surprise

Stylus surprise

Back in the days when the PDA (personal digital assistant) or ‘Pocket Computer’ was a new idea, and smartphones with clever touchscreens which can work out what virtual buttons are being pressed by fat fingers on a virtual keyboard were still to be invented, accuracy of screen pointing was achieved using a stylus instead of those big fat fingertips. Those of us with nails could use them instead.

I found a small, cheap, PDA was pretty useful then (a Visor to be exact), even if people laughed at me because it only had a monochrome display.

What more do you need to replace a notepad? And what notepad acts like a searchable database across ALL the info written into it?

It fell out of use as I eventually needed more power, and was able to carry a decent laptop around instead.

I recently picked up a late model Compaq pocket PC for a few pounds, which was a surprise find as they are still fetching silly money on eBay, many being around the £200 mark, and more, despite being obsolete and around 15 years old.

It even has (early) Bluetooth, and an SD card slot – provided it is a tiny SD card. In those days, GB cards were just fantasy.



20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Nardini update (Byres Road)

Not sure if ‘update’ is the right word, but it will have to do after I passed Nardini’s defunct Byres Road venue.

Since I’d never seen the place before that chance spotting, I had a slightly closer look when I was in the area again, and remembered.

It was hard to avoid the reflections on the glass, and see anything, let alone take a pic through the glass.

I didn’t even know what I had until I saw the pic, and found the place had been largely stripped of anything that could be moved, leaving only the fixed part of the servery – the counter had gone, as had whatever seating and tables might have been there.

I didn’t realise there was a rather nice Art Deco mural on the back wall – it was just a blur in the background as I looked inside.

Byres Road Ex-Nardini InteriorByres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Byres Road Ex-Nardini Interior

Not ideal, but I tried cropping and enlarging the mural…

Nardini mural

Nardini mural

And what was left of the similarly styled servery…

Nardini servery

Nardini servery

And, of course, since it was added the day AFTER I took the first pic, a look at the sign warning anyone trying to access the place after its closure was confirmed.

Nardini repossesion sign

Nardini repossession sign

Since I had to do a short course on law, I always seem to start analysing such signs for legitimacy, and whether the folk who make them had a clue about the law and what they assert.

In this case, I found myself wondering about what law might be used to make the mere opening of a door illegal.

At least they didn’t make the mistake of referring to trespass.

Scotland DOES have trespass laws (it seems to be a VERY long time since I’ve heard anyone make the bold, but just plain wrong, claim that “There’s no law of trespass in Scotland”), but they’re a little different from the English version. Ours is a little harder to break.


20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, Lost, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

Take pensioner benefits and give them to young people – THAT seem like a good idea

This is one of those stories that stuck in my head, and wouldn’t go away until I gave it a mention.

If it wasn’t so serious and dangerous (pensioners could die) it would almost be funny.

But, I seem to have spent my life being told the various taxes and deduction made from my wages are made in order to fund the benefits I will receive when I become a pensioner.

(These things I was told then began to hurt my head after a while, since I was also told to be grateful my parents’ taxes and deductions paid for them – so I learned fairly early on that politically based logic was based on the logic of insanity.)

And I also seem to recall being told I (and other young people just out of school) we were ‘lucky’ the state handed us benefits even though we hadn’t (then) paid anything into the system to pay for them.

So, the idea of taking benefits from pensioners would seem to be a ridiculous idea thought up by peers who are mostly very privileged – independently wealthy and well-paid – so not conversant with the phenomenon most ordinary elderly are likely to ‘enjoy’… pensioner poverty.

“Outdated” age-specific benefits for older people should be replaced with support for the young to “deliver a fairer society”, say peers.

The Committee on Intergenerational Fairness urged ministers to focus on housing and training, rather than benefits like free TV licences.

Committee chair Lord True said failing to rebalance policies could risk the “strong bond” between the generations.

But campaigners warned against changes, saying pensioner poverty was rising.

The committee – made up of Labour, Tory, Liberal Democrat and crossbench peers – issued a raft of recommendations, both to “retain the supportive relationship between generations” and to plan for the “100-year life” that younger people can expect to become the norm.

Suggested improvements include:

  • Ensuring local authorities have specific planning policies to meet the housing needs of younger and older people
  • Increasing training funding for young people who don’t go to college or university
  • Making sure those who work for the “gig” economy – getting paid per “gig” – have the same rights as other workers

The peers also propose changes to benefits for older people, including:

  • Removing the triple lock for pensions, which raises the basic state pension by the rate of average earnings increases, inflation or 2.5% – whichever is higher
  • Phasing out free TV licences based on age (currently free for over-75s) and ensuring the government decides on whether to give free licences based on household income
  • Limiting free bus passes for the over-65s and winter fuel payments until five years after retirement age

‘End pensioner benefits to help young’, peers say

What could possibly be wrong with that idea?

Teenagers would certainly ‘benefit’ and not have to worry about being caught on CCTV while stealing from pensioners.

Teen steals from pensioner

Teen steals from pensioner

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Use your cat’s litter to teach thieves a lesson

I don’t know what other places are like, but around here it can be a pain if you’re not in to receive parcels.

They usually end up back at the depot if not deliverable, or maybe there’s one retry, then you have to ‘make arrangements’.

I’ve seen various US and Russian videos where deliveries are just dumped and left to lie in public view, and where thieves just wander along and help themselves to stuff lying in front of doors.

I rather like this option, but suggest one alteration.

Don’t leave you special package in front of your own door – the types that steal stuff are all too likely to return it and throw it back where they stole it from, OPENED, so the content spill all over your porch.

Amazon litter box

Amazon litter box

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | 1 Comment

Today is Quiche Lorraine Day

20 May is Quiche Lorraine Day.

The humble quiche is one of the tastiest dishes you can have. Served either warm or cold, and packed with ham or veg, this is a super versatile¬†meal that goes with all sorts of sides, and it’s even simple to make (but I never have – I really really should).

A quiche is a type of open-topped pie, comprising a case of shortcrust pastry filled with savoury egg custard and a choice of vegetables and meats, to suit your tastes. Often regarded as being of French cuisine, some say it may have started life in medieval Germany.

The quiche lorraine is named after the Lorraine region of France, where it was created as an open pie filled up with savoury custard and cubes of pork fat. Today, you’re more likely to find it made with bacon cubes rather than fat, which sounds a lot better to me.

It was originally made without cheese, but nowadays you‚Äôll find most recipes call for this addition (of your choice). Traditionally, it doesn‚Äôt include onions ‚Äď if you do add onions to your quiche Lorraine… seems you’re actually making a quiche¬†Alsacienne.

I guess my family was rather conservative, and I didn’t even taste this treat until I was what teenagers refer to as… ‘old’. But I love the chance to have it now.

Sadly, some quiche arrives more like bricks and cement – no thanks.

I like mine to be more like pudding, soft and melty, even falling apart, rather than tough and chewy.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Weights & Measures Day

20 May is Weights & Measures Day.

‘Weights & Measures’ covers a vast field in which standardised, legal, fiscal measurements are made, and standards are agreed nationally and internationally.

Even if you don’t realise it, there a hugely technical network maintaining references that are used to ensure your kilogram of potatoes, litre of petrol, and kilowatt of energy (gas or electricity) is delivered accurately and consistently wherever you are.

And I don’t mean by Trading Standards, by whatever name, I mean the actual value of that kilo or litre, or volt or ampere that determines a kilowatt (or I should really add time which needs an accurate second) to determine your energy consumption in kilowatt-hours. Gas is a little more complicated, as it has to be further analysed to determine how many kWh a given volume delivers as this can vary depending on the chemical make-up, and that needs yet more weight and measure.

This used to be fairly complex and exacting science (I know, I was one of only 300 or so people who specialised in this around the country).

But, as seems to be the case with all things these days, the addition of some computers and software dumbed this down, and there are many more people in this business today.

However, I think few of them understand things in the same way as we did in the past, and that aspect has become the province of a few better qualified experts in the field.

Ignoring the overly alarmist and dramatic headline, this article is still a reasonable look at just one ancient, venerable, and respected standard…

Hidden in a vault outside Paris, vacuum-sealed under three bell jars, sits a palm-sized metal cylinder known as the International Prototype Kilogram, or ‚ÄúLe Grand K.‚ÄĚ Forged in 1879 from an alloy of platinum and iridium, it was hailed as the ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ kilogram‚ÄĒthe gold standard by which other kilograms would be judged.

Why the Metric System Might Be Screwed

Le Grand K

Le Grand K

Sadly, Le Grand K has been losing weight, not a lot, but the accuracy demanded, the unexpected change has caused the odd raised eyebrow.

Without delving into detail, there has been a technological drive regarding physical standards in recent years, with the aim of replacing thing like pieces of metal (used to define length for example) with fundamental standard based on reproducible physical phenomena.

So the metre is no longer defined by a lump of metal that changes size with temperature, but is defined as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum in second.

Similarly, once a fraction of the 24-hour day (which can vary in length), the second has, since 1967, been defined as 9,192,631,770 cycles of the radiation that gets an atom of cesium-133 to vibrate between two energy states.

The important difference between the new and the old definitions is that they are considered to be invariant, and reproducible anywhere merely be following the same procedures.

And that where Le Grand K trips and stumbles, since it depends on variable things like mix, density, and purity of the elements used to create it, and the measurements of its dimensions. Not to mention contamination, and possible chemical effects on its exposed surface.

Last time I looked, there was at least one project (there are others though) intended to create the kilogram using other standards, such as the force generated by an electric current, and measuring that to create a kilogram equivalent that is bases on other precisely defined standards.

I’m not sure how close they are, as the method has to very accurate, and not subject to outside interference.


When I wrote the above, the work underway to change the definition of the kilogram was not quite complete, although it had all been done, it still had to be considered, agreed, and then implemented by all the relevant official institutes.

That was completed a few months ago, and the physical kilogram is no longer the master.

The kilogram is now defined by a method which is reproducible anywhere, should not vary when reproduced anywhere, so should not vary with time, like the old physical kilogram.

Note, I didn’t say it was EASY!

See the NPL’s explanation….

The kilogram is the SI base unit of mass

The impact of the SI redefinition

There’s a more reader-friendly explanation here…

It’s Official: The Definition of a Kilogram Has Changed

This time around, I’m in luck.

Back in 1990, metrologists changed some definitions. The result wasn’t any great difference in existing measurements (a volt changed by something like 1 part in 10 million), but for those if us working at the ppm (part per million) level, it was a real pain.

Anything which depended on electrical measurements and which had to have its uncertainty accurately reported had to have that reported accurately, and since 1 part in 10 million is 10% of 1 part in a million… we had to revise everything.

And this included temperature measurement too, since accurate temperature measurement is made using resistance sensors, that meant any change to voltage (or current) definitions changed too.

It all get very complex and inter-related, especially when clients want things explained and accounted for.

So, I’m rather glad I don’t have to do that this time.

20/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: