Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

I never have, and never will, buy ‘Franchise Coffee’ (or anything else similar)

This handy graphic may be in dollars, but the price breakdown will be much the same for any currency, or any similar franchise scam such as, just picking one at random, burgers.

Cost of a cup of coffee

See the original article here:

How the 2019 coffee crisis might affect you

That mark up is just offensive. (I’d be rolling in money today if we’d been able to do something like that in our business. As it was, we ended up in a price cutting war with our competitors, and nobody really won as we all pulled profits from other branches  – and things just got silly. Our lovely customers didn’t give a damn, showed no loyalty, and just kept going with whoever was cheapest.)

While franchises used to be a reasonable model, there can be little doubt that the model is now broken in many cases, and a lucky few have been able to skim of horrendous profits for stuff that costs next to nothing to supply, and have become multimillionaires while others cough up ridiculous prices for ‘Names’ on their cups (so they can show them off to their mates, like bottled water bottles), and their franchisees fill their coffers for them.

Candles are another crazy ‘brand name’ scam. While you can pick up huge candles in places such as Poundland, someone has made millions by making it ‘kewl’ to have them with clever sounding names and perfumes, again, just so the buyer can show off to their mates.

The last giant cup of caffeinated water I had cost me 50 pence on the esplanade at Rothesay.

And I was happy to pay since I knew the profit from some ‘hot water knocked stupid’ was all going to the guy who spooned some instant coffee into the plastic cup, poured in the boiling water, and pointed me at the milk and sugar sitting on the counter of his kiosk.


Burning’s too quick and painless for them!

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | 1 Comment

I’ve warned you before – your cat IS plotting to kill you!

A rather unfortunate tale about a woman from Glasgow, and although not actually resulting from the cat injury as such (the usual problem is infection from a cat bite, due to the content of their saliva), events did begin with a small scratch by the cat.

A mother almost died after developing toxic shock from a cat scratch.

The cat barely tore through Moira Brady’s skin but within days her body was closing down.

Ms Brady, from Glasgow, lost a finger on her left hand as medics battled the disease, and doctors say is lucky to be alive.

She tried to shoo away cats fighting in her back garden when one of them swiped at her.

Although the scratch was minor, she developed MRSA, a deadly condition, and Streptococcus A, which can cause serious bacterial infections.

She thought nothing of the scratch at the time but it had punctured her skin and about a week later her hand swelled up and one of her fingers turned blue.

Dr Emilia Crighton, consultant in public health and head of health services section at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “If it is just a scratch clean the area and only seek medical attention if it gets infected.

“If it is an actual bite and the skin has been broken I would advise people to seek medical attention as the area could become infected.

“Your own GP or local pharmacy would be the first, easy to reach, point of contact.”

Woman nearly dies from a tiny cat scratch as infection spread through her body

One of the things I take excessive with care with nowadays is cleanliness after doing any sort of work in the garden, particularly if I have my hands in the soil, or handle it -or get one of the aforementioned scratches.

The simple reason is that I’ve watched many small furry animals (and birds) doing their various forms of ‘business’ in the soil, and began to notice the smell on my hands afterwards. I should add this is usually NOT down to cats, who always get the blame from haters, but actually do their business out of sight.

These days I prepare food/meals, and NEVER touch any of the ingredients until dirty gardening hands are nice and clean.

Still, you should really keep a close on what ‘fluffy’ is doing…

Signs of cat plotting to kill you

Signs of cat plotting to kill you

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

YE5 5HUG – You CAN win a £1,000 ‘bonus prize’ with that plate

I had to move fast (for me) to catch this one as I was lucky enough to spot it catching up with the bus, and about to pass.

While the spacing on the plate makes it look good, as usual, I have to wonder if the potential bonus of a fine of up to £1,000 for illegal character spacing is worth it if they meet a police officer having a bad day.

2011 Honda 1.4 i-VTEC SE [YE5 5HUG]

2011 Honda 1.4 i-VTEC SE [YE5 5HUG]

YE55 HUG plate


I’m sure there’s a cat out there that would be quite happy to have it with its legit spacing 🙂


Cat needs HUG5

Cat needs HUG5

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

I did it again! This time I knocked out this year’s Scottish Airshow

Regulars will know I have occasional fun posts about how I jinx things, and how they get cancelled or disappear as soon as I take an interest.

This time, it’s the Scottish International Airshow, which restarted in Ayr a few years ago.

I almost made a serious effort to have a look last year, but started planning just too late.

Having already been to Ayr a number of times this year, I thought I’d dare to plan ahead, and try to make the trip while the airshow was taking place.

THAT went well.

They’ve already announced that there will be no show this year (2019, sorry folks, clearly my jinx effect IS real).

It’s set to return in 2020 (assuming the funding is in place, dare I say, 4th, 5th & 6th September, 2020).

Read the background here:

The Scottish International Airshow

There’s further commentary here:

Scottish Airshow will be back and bigger than ever in 2020

Well, there’s one aircraft that won’t be there 😉

24/07/2019 Posted by | Aviation | , | Leave a comment

Seems that Callander became ‘interesting’ after I was a regular visitor

I used to be a regular visitor to Callander, first dragged there as a tiny, then when it came to be my turn to drag others to favourite places.

Of course, it’s years since I was last there (and I just found out that the good old bus takes TWO hours to get there) so I don’t know how its changed, but I always found it to make an interesting walk, and compact enough to walk from end to end (and back) during an afternoon. While it can’t be denied as a tourist magnet, I never found that to be a negative, and it kept the place alive. If you want a sleepy little village, go somewhere else.

I don’t think the shop featured below was around in my day, I’d have been stuck there, so I’m glad of the nudge I received telling me about it.

The video dates from 2009 (I’d already ‘dropped out’ long before that).

I’m always amazed at the amount of material they seem to be able to accumulate. While I can track down similar goodies, I can’t find it at prices I could ever afford, and certainly wouldn’t be able to sell with a markup that would keep a shop going. Clearly, I don’t move in the right circles.

There seems to be a nice mix of goodies there, not just pure antiques

Maybe I should think about getting a back brace, and taking that four hour (two there, and two back) bus trip. I’ve found standard bus (but not coach) seats give out after about an hour on the road.

It’s also mentioned more recently here

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

That was the first Forge Comic Con – so I’m told since I wasn’t there

If anybody noticed my advance alert of the Comic Con event (made a few weeks ago) to be held in Parkhead Forge, and maybe expected a pic or two from my visit…

Don’t hold your breath.

This was one of the plans doomed to the failure the moment I mentioned it.

Forgetting that I was, in part, too busy with other rubbish I had to do, and probably would either have forgotten to go for a look, or just not been able to go, technology managed to defeat even the attempt to go.

While admission was free, you may recall entry still required a ticket, which you were supposed to print out and bring after registering online.

That printing part finally defeated me this time.

I seldom need to print, although I have quite a lot of printers accumulated over the years.

The total was once more than 12, but the two oldest lasers (including a postscript printer) were scrapped as they just wore out, and even repairing them became pointless.

Four more impact printers are just pointless (and the ribbons dried up years ago).

Two original inkjet printers plus four newer types also suffered from drying up. The two originals died when the ink feed tubes became blocked, and the later cartridge types began to demand silly money for their rare cartridges, rendering them too expensive to use.

The last laser just didn’t get enough use, and the drum/rollers became useless, causing marks on the paper, and these could not be eliminated.

Then they ALL suffered one common problem due to their age – ‘modern’ computers don’t have printer ports!

Connection is now via USB – the original parallel printer port is just too big to fit anything made nowadays.

Plus, if there’s no Windows driver (and there often isn’t for old printers), then you can’t even connect or print to it anyway.

I did use a USB to parallel converter for a while, but that became pointless once the rollers started turning from round to square as the aged, and all the inkjets became blocked by dried up ink.

It’s true that some ‘machinery’ just dies if it’s not used, or becomes so expensive to run that you really are cheaper to buy something new rather than keep it limping along.

And that kiddies, is how I came NOT to go to the Forge Comic Con.

NO DAMNED TICKET! since I couldn’t make ANY of those printers respond to the print job being sent from my computer.

They’re all sitting in a pile by the door now – waiting for their fate to be decided.

Forge Comic Con

Forge Comic Con

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

LNT – Slightly weird lucky coincidence

Quite by accident, I managed a lucky coincidence.

I needed a remote camera (or two, or three) and noticed some assorted IP cams on sale in a local emporium. Second hand (of course), specs were available, but sparse.

I eventually decided to take a chance on one, offering both wired and wireless IP connectivity, automatic infra-red illumination, and remote pan/tilt.

None had zoom. Well, one did, but I suspect it was just digital trickery (not optical), as it was actually a baby monitoring cam.

Surprisingly, I seem to have picked the best of the bunch, as revealed when I collected all the part numbers and checked their specs.

1 turned out to be an outdoor camera, but was actually analogue (not IP, and used coax), and needed an external controller to provide signals to operate it down that coax cable. That controller wouldn’t be cheap.

2 turned out to be an extra ‘add-on’ cam for a wireless baby monitor, and seemed to need the matching base unit to control it, or show images, not useable on a network.

3 turned out to be a fairly decent IP cam, also wired/wireless and pan/tilt, but when I looked closer it was not supported, and it seemed nobody that had one could find software to control or connect it.

4 this one disappeared from the shelf before I could get details, but it seemed only operated using a mobile phone as its controller, not a PC, which means it would have been no use to me. It said ‘zoom’ on the label too, but I suspect this would have been digital, not optical. It had a card slot, and seems could be left alone to record for a week. Nice, but not needed.

So, that left the fifth one, the one I grabbed.

Sadly, the company behind it has also evaporated over time, but the good news was that its operating system was onboard, in firmware.

Provided you can sniff it out on your network, you can browse to its IP (DCHP or preset) and it will respond, provided you know the user name and password.

I was a bit confused by the IR control. Although it has manual control on the browser screen, it only works automatically, switching the illuminators on when it gets dark, and off when it gets light.

Further confusion followed – the pan and tilt seems to run autonomously for a few minutes after power has been applied, and it ignores manual pan/tilt commands, but is fine after that initial period has passed.

It’s surprisingly versatile, as the manual focus (which I’d thought was a problem at first) means it can be set up to remotely things that are inches (sorry, cm) from its nose) all the way to a whole room or garden area.

With my luck (usually not good), I’m still surprised that I picked the only decent, instantly useable one of the five on offer first time, and didn’t end up going back and forth and having to try them all.

(Sorry, no more details – I simply don’t give out any details of anything online.)

However, this was the manual, analogue item I rejected.

It has no pan/tilt, and is set up to point the right way manually, before the dome is secured, to keep it ‘safe’ outdoors.

I found this on the BabyCam.

What you CAN’T see in any of the pics is that the cam doesn’t have a LAN socket, and that the aerial is just a bit of wire – so you’re not going to be doing anything ‘clever’ with it.

That said, the whole thing might not be that bad for some jobs (bought second hand) and I could use it for some setups where I need to see what something is doing in another room. It even measures the room temp – handy when the kit you are setting up is bursting into flames as you work elsewhere 🙂

Cute BabyCam

Cute BabyCam

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Surveillance | , | Leave a comment

Did I just witness the birth of a new custom at Kelvingrove organ recitals?

I’ve been attending the daily organ recitals in Kelvingrove regularly for some time, probably not quite a year, and while I can’t be there on a daily basis (I have to travel there and back, for a nominal 30-minute performance) I have tried to make a continuous week, but so far, failed miserably.

However, it means I know the format, the pieces, and the performers, and even how the response (of the audience) varies over time.

But, today was different, and I have no idea why.

In the current year’s worth of attending, I have NEVER noted the audience to applaud when the performer arrives on the balcony.

I’m always there early (unless I make a mistake), so I know this is not normal. Even I would have noticed if this had happened in the past year.

In fact, normal generally means nobody notices, until the music starts, and sometimes (depending on how ignorant they are) even that doesn’t seem to be noticed by some.

So, did he pay them?

Or did he organise a bus to bring all his family and friends to cheer him on?

It was just… odd.

I wonder if this was the first of a new custom?

We’ll have to wait and see if there is a repeat, or if this was a one-off special.

This was William R Hutcheson at Kelvingrove today – organist of Clark Memorial Church, Largs. It’s a big church.

Kelvingrove William R Hutcheson

Kelvingrove William R Hutcheson

With the Linda McCartney exhibition is at Kelvingrove, many of the recitals include a Beatle’s number.

In this case, the selection was ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’.

I’ve come to realise that while any piece can be played on the organ, not all make the trip well – but I’m glad to say that this one did, and I hope it makes further appearances.

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

LNT – Anybody else think Amazon’s UK search results are dumb compared to the US offerings?

Am I the only one who finds that searches on Amazon for tech stuff often has vastly differing results if carried out on their US site (.com) as opposed to their UK ( offering?

The most recent manifestation was when I needed to find out if there was a quick and easy source of ‘black boxes’ that would allow me to use existing analogue CCTV camera (which send their pics along coax cable) in a new IP based system. The latter runs either a wired or wireless network, meaning the cameras can go anywhere, and don’t need to be wired to a video system. Any computer (or smartphone) can view the images.

By irritating default, Amazon US usually returns the first answers to searches, and it threw up a few suitable boxes which I could connect the video signal into one end, and get a network connection out of the other.

It was all looking good, apart from the small detail of the box costing more than a new IP camera – oh well.

So what happened when I forced the search to return products from Amazon’s UK web site?

Er… not a lot.

I got a load of vaguely related tat – cameras (NOT IP), selfie sticks, hard disks, memory cards, even a home networked HiFi with multiple speakers.

But NO analogue video to IP converters.

Reminds of the last such search, when all I wanted was some rechargeable CR2032 cells to take the place of the usual lithium coin cells which were being eaten in a few hours by a demanding, but tiny, project.

Again, the default US search provided what I was looking for first time.

But – the UK search not only didn’t offer it, it didn’t offer ANY such thing at all, regardless of how I worded the search.

Obviously, the infuriating thing about that was I obviously knew Amazon sold it, that I could order it from the US (and have it shipped), but couldn’t get it locally, or quickly,

There have been other cases like this in the past, but I never really bothered noticing them, until this pattern emerged.

The silliest thing about this is that I can probably (I didn’t take the time to check this particular case) order the stuff from China nowadays, for less than even Amazon charges, and if its cheap enough, doesn’t even attract the attention of Customs, and if small, comes via air mail, often for free p&p.

I don’t buy much, but I have tried this and, apart from the delay (presumably the free p&p means they have to make up bigger bags before they despatch the lot), it seems to work fine.

Kitten is not pleased

Not pleased

24/07/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment


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