Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

A lost cat story with an ending (and it’s a good one)

I think there’s only one ‘lost cat’ story I raised in here that actually came to a successful conclusion, and the owner followed up the ‘Lost’ posters with another offering thanks and letting folk know their cat had been found, and was safe, back at home.

That’s not to be misinterpreted as criticism, since the cat may never turn up or be found. I’m just saying it’s nice to know when there is a success.

There was news of a find after three years, thanks to the cat in question being microchipped, and checked when a concerned member of the public called in the Scottish SPCA to help a stray.

Microchipped moggy Amber had not been seen since disappearing from her home in Erskine, Renfrewshire, in 2016.

However, she was found around 19 miles away in Stepps and returned to her owner earlier this week.

The Scottish SPCA said the case shows how important it is for pet owners to get their animals chipped, as without it, it is unlikely Amber would ever had made it back home.

Holly Bates from the SSPCA said: “Amber was taken to our centre in Glasgow where she stayed until her owners were able to collect her and take her home.

“Instances such as this act as reminders as to why microchipping your cat is so important.

“If Amber had not been microchipped it is possible she may have never been reunited with her owners.

“It’s also important to keep your cat’s chip contact details up to date, even if they have been missing for an extended period.”

Purrfect surprise: Missing cat reunited with owner three years on

Amber - Reunited with owner after three years Pic credit Scottish SPCA

Amber – Reunited with owner after three years Pic credit Scottish SPCA

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17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost | , , , | Leave a comment

Yours for free – My top business blogging tip

Punch the next ‘Motivational Blogger’ you see.

I’m suffering a little frustration.

While I would LIKE to name a series of scummy scammy blog/web site owners… I can’t

To explain, every now and then I make the mistake of giving a post a title which could be interpreted as a sign that THIS blog aspires to make its owner a multi billionaire, attract fleets of followers, generate loads of likes, and further aims of ‘Get Rich Quick’ merchants.

And that attracts motivational bloggers, personal trainers, financial advisors, health advisors, and all sort of “MY TOP FIVE TIPS TO DRIVE MUGS TO YOUR BLOG” blogs to it… like flies to shite.

Quite why they think flooding my post/blog with a load of ‘follows’ and ‘likes’ (which I have to spend time clearing out) might endear them to me is beyond me.

Many of them don’t even have content – the follow/like is just to get their name or link seen.

Yet I repeat…

The Worpress ‘Happiness Team’ steadfastly refuses to give us a tool to ban or block this rubbish, or even consider the option.

While some people vent their frustration at this sort of attack by attempting to ‘Name and Shame’ those concerned, all that really does is give the what they want…

Free publicity!

I find it interesting that the owners of these irritations often steal names and images off the web, and present them as their own.

A reverse image search can sometimes find the same image heading many such web sites (dozens sometimes, more than one person could maintain).

Much as I’d like to write their name, and think of their face in a Death Note, their practice of stealing images means it wouldn’t work – and is probably why they do it.

Otherwise, it would be too easy to get rid of them.

Death Note

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , , | Leave a comment

Slug & Lettuce, not original after all

My almost daily bus trips take me past an interesting sign, one which I thought was maybe even a little clever and original – until I looked closer.

I’ve passed the ‘Slug & Lettuce’ signs many times without knowing what it really was (a guess was almost right), but it turned out to be nothing more than another non-retail ‘chain’, something I’m coming to hate with a passion.

While I’ve never had a problem with the business of large retail chains and similar, where size brings advantages, the idea of standardised and formulaic restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, and similar outlets, where their presence can wipe out smaller and more individual ventures just seems offensive.

So, when I happened to be passing on foot, I took a pic – and walked on.

They don’t seem to do terribly well in online reviews – but since I don’t trust or value those, and just look at them for the odd laugh, that probably doesn’t mean much. Some love it. Some hate it.

Unless you believe everything you read online.

Slug and Lettuce

Slug and Lettuce

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | | Leave a comment

Charging for your electric car might be getting more convenient

(I’ve had to repost this as the original title included a reference to Musk. That seemed to attract so called ‘Entrepreneurial Bloggers’ like flies to shite as these con-artists tried to use this blog to publicise their scams. I’m hoping a retitle cuts down the ‘smell’, and their number.)

This thought dates back some years now, but when Elon Musk started to seriously cover the US with his Tesla Supercharger network, I always thought it was a pity he didn’t pull a marketing trick, and swamp Scotland with them, and be able to claim to have had the first electric vehicle network that covered and entire country, and (for that brand at least) had ended so called ‘Range Anxiety’.

I’m not sure, but I think Norway (looking outside the US) probably landed that one first, although Scotland’s smaller size, and main transport corridor through the more densely populated area just might have made it the first if bases on simple range criteria. By that, I simply mean that you might have had to use all your available range to get to a Supercharger, then having driven home, had to go back to the Supercharger to fill up again.

Please don’t start overanalysing that, correcting me on range, or start babbling about home charging etc. That’s not the point.

In fact, Teslas aren’t really the point, I only mention them in passing as a couple of news articles reminded me of my little fantasy.

First was a claim that “Scots are closer to their nearest electric vehicle charger than drivers in England”:

Scotland has a higher density of electric vehicle charging points than England with more than 1,000 now available to the public, transport secretary Michael Matheson announced today.

He said they formed one of the most comprehensive networks in Europe, with one an average of 2.8 miles away compared to 3.8 miles south of the Border.

This is believed to reflect the high number in urban areas, as drivers in rural areas are likely to be far more distant from their nearest charging point.

Mr Matheson said a further 800 points were planned.

According to Zap Map, there are 3,289 publicly-available individual chargers, three in four of which are publicly-run.

They include nearly 200 rapid chargers (50 kilowatt).

The others are privately-operated charging points available to the public, such as in shopping centres.

Scots are closer to their nearest electric vehicle charger than drivers in England

The second is probably the more interesting though:

in the UK. According to Nissan UK, there are about 9,300 public charging stations, as opposed to 8,400 gas stations.

The number of gas stations has been on a slight decline for the past 50 years in the UK, and some places are becoming petrol deserts. Just four gas stations exist in London’s congestion-charge zone, for instance, while Transport for London has installed more than 1,000 charge points in the past year.

Nissan notes that according to Zap-Map, two new fast-charge stations were opened every day the last month. Zap-Map also points to a current total of 290 Tesla Superchargers in the UK.

Charging stations now outnumber gas stations in Britain

Yes, sorry, ‘gas’, I know, but it is an original American article.

Their graph…

Fuel stations versus charging stations in the UK [Nissan UK]

Fuel stations versus charging stations in the UK [Nissan UK]

My interest is purely technical, having been priced off the road years ago, and having no prospect of getting a nice, cheap to run BEV, while they’re still new and priced at a premium.

Fuel stations have been disappearing around me for years, with quite a few of the sites now being snapped up by those gangs of ‘Guys with Bucket’ who like to wash cars. Their number is remarkable around here.

Every time I see them I wonder if SEPA (or Scottish Water) knows about them, as they don’t seem have any environmental controls in place.

The hoses just run onto the ground all day when they are open, and drain away into the street, then all the detergents and other chemicals they spray around just go the same way, down the drain, or soak into the surrounding ground.

Seems very un-Green and environmentally unfriendly to me, yet I don’t see any Green Loonies protesting around these places, demanding car drivers boycott them, or even Greta Thunberg sailing around them (in the water from all those hoses), calling on nearby school to have the local kids go on strike to protect their health from those nasty chemical being washed into the ground under their homes.

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Thrift Shop Day

17 August is Thrift Shop Day.

First mention for this day (by us at least), as it’s been some years since I found any decent thrift shops that were any use to me.

I’ve never been lucky enough to have any decent thrift shops (and for my purposes that term encompasses charity, second-hand, and all variations) near me, which is not to say they don’t exist in the east end of Glasgow. Rather, they’re just not very good.

Sad to say they’re mostly full of women’s clothes, which means they’re not really a lot of use to me, and kid’s toys, and ornaments/bric-a-brac of a sort that I’ve already got a house full of, and should really donate to a thrift shop to make some space. They’ve almost got as many tea services on their shelves as I have shoved in boxes to get them out of the way (being  relics my parents and grandparents valued in their day). Oh, and books – something else I’ve probably got too many of and should really thin out.

This Cats Protection shop I ‘collected’ recently shows the problem, for me at least – none of the stuff in the windows was my colour 😉

Cats Protection Shawlands

Cats Protection Shawlands

The sort of stuff I would buy generally never turns up in our local shops.

I’m jealous of people I know in other areas who have shops that regularly turn up electrical and electronic goodies that get dumped, sorry donated, and are bargains for those who know what they’re looking at, or the odd good collectible or antique that has not been snapped up by a dealer to have massive profit tacked on.

Some years ago I was a regular visitor to Edinburgh, especially during the Fringe, and enjoyed the chance to browse through some thrift shops with tech – but they disappeared years ago, during one of those purges where locals/developers clear out anything they think is downmarket, so they can drive up the property prices.

One nice second-hand shop did open not too far away a few years ago (there’s a post buried in this blog about it). I got one gem out of it (spotted while buried amongst boring stuff).

I would probably still be buying stuff there – but that handy shop mysteriously disappeared not long after I made that purchase, I was really sad, but that probably saved me spending foolishly.

I’ve since tracked down a gem of a place (not in the east end, but many miles away, and I’m not saying more) where the picking can be good if you know your stuff.

I picked up brand new sports shoes for half price a few days ago, still packed and wrapped, ie not second-foot-hand. I found some collectible plates with illustrations of a pet subject, something I’d never even think of buying at around £45 from the artist, but I paid less than £3.

And when I picked up a faux leather covered box, apparently ridiculously overpriced at £7, it turned out to be a mint DAB radio which retails new for £69.99 – handy, since I wouldn’t even pay the usual average of around £30 for a DAB radio, and never, ever, even expected to own such a thing before I rolled over and died.

Similar to the one pictured, it confirmed my worst fear about digital radio – ENDLESS BLOODY ADVERTS!

If I actually paid £70 (or even £30) for a DAB radio (it also receives FM, which is no better), I’d be looking for my money back, and to be PAID for listening to all the ads, it really is ridiculous. Bar a few stations, it’s simply not possible to tune into a station and just leave the radio playing in the background. It seems like only a few minutes pass before some moron comes on yapping away and telling you to buy some crap.

What turns out to be more useful is the fact that it’s a Bluetooth speaker, has an AUX input, and even has a USB charging socket – I use all of those, even if the output is only mono, no stereo, not even for £70! It has a headphone output (that’s mono too, and unfortunately seems to have a background whine, even when the sound is muted). It’s got quite a few other handy functions, thanks to having a microcontroller inside.

But the radio is a dead loss – not helped by near zero reception where I have it living. With all those add, I don’t even bother trying.

Retro Mini DAB Radio

Retro Mini DAB Radio

One more thing I HAVE to add.

The makers promote the audio quality of this thing, and claim the speaker handles all frequencies with ‘deep bass and balanced treble’.

Seriously?

They must have cloth ears if they really think or believe that.

Even the preset equaliser they built into it doesn’t help much, it just sounds mushy and muffled – exactly as those of us brought up in the days of real hi-fi would expect a speaker bolted into a closed box to sound. That said, I have to be fair and say that the equaliser presets ARE discernable when using headphones.

I really am going to experiment with adding a port to that case one day, and see if it lets the speaker cone move more freely, and kills the muffled sound and lack of treble.

 

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is International Homeless Animals Day

17 August is International Homeless Animals Day.

Pretty straightforward.

Every day, animals are abandoned or placed into kennels, dependent on charities and goodwill. Such organisations are strained beyond coping, and are desperate to raise awareness of the plight of homeless and abandoned animals.

Homeless Animals Day aims to educate people about pet abandonment, feral animals and benefits or neutering domestic animals.

So I’m slightly biased, but appreciate that all homeless animals need help.

I get my daily ‘fix’ of rescues from LoveMeow, which (unfortunately) usually bring at least one tale (or more) of lost and abandoned kittens being rescued by carers.

But it’s not ALWAYS good news, as they’re sometimes too late.

I couldn’t pick one – so just grabbed this recent story at random – Kitten Born Special Finds Perfect Family to Cuddle After They Rescued Him and His Siblings

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Vanilla Custard Day

17 August is Vanilla Custard Day.

I have to confess that simple, plain, vanilla custard is one of my favourite treats.

It just seems to go so well with just about anything, and enhances the taste.

It may even be true to say that there is nothing quite so tasty as vanilla custard, with its rich creamy texture, and its light and delicious vanilla flavour. Custards are one of the most amazing and versatile desserts ever created, and can be eaten on their own, used to fill pies, and even injected into doughnuts.

I could waffle about its history, but let’s just say it goes back at least as far as the Roman Empire.

This day is the perfect excuse to indulge yourself with this classic.

Vanilla Custard

Vanilla Custard

Update

Oh dear…

It seems there’s a bit of a problem with REAL vanilla.

Ever heard of a ‘vanillionaire’?

Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Black Cat Appreciation Day

17 August is Black Cat Appreciation Day.

It’s hard to believe, but because of the stupid superstitious beliefs in some cultures, black cats are sometimes associated with bad luck and, sadly, are more likely to be put to sleep or wait a long time to be adopted from shelters.

Black Cat Appreciation Day was launched to show people that a black cat could be the perfect cat for them, and help raise awareness about black cats in general.

I’d like to say this was my cat, but it wasn’t.

Just a regular visitor a few years ago, when we used to have cats that would come and say ‘Hello’ around here.

This cat (from the collar) still wander around, but sadly, not far enough to reach me any more.

Black Cat

Black Cat

 

Black Cat Relaxes

Black Cat Relaxes

 

Black Cat

Black Cat

17/08/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

   

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