Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

October is Black Cat Awareness Month

October is Black Cat Awareness Month.

A whole month dedicated to one of the best cat colours around.

Although all the rest are equally good 🙂

How?

Think of it like quantum physics and infinite universes – where every possibility exists somewhere, so even thought there is a ‘best’ in each universe, overall, the probability is the same for them all, so they’re all… equal.

Black Cat crossing

Many superstitions surrounding the feline with sable fur, and if you’re daft enough to believe in such things, then there is good news. If you thought this event meant bad luck – all you have to do is look elsewhere and take your pick of superstitions, since different cultures assign different meaning.

Different cultures across the world have superstitious beliefs which claim either good or bad luck when a black cat crosses one’s path. Some sayings implicate good luck when black cat crosses: “Black cat, cross my path – good fortune bring to home and hearth. When I am away from home, bring me luck wherever I roam” (an old English one). “Whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses of lovers will have no lack” (an English proverb). Some say crossing a black cat could mean Saturn is not favourable for you. Folklore from Sussex claims that black cats are suspected to be witches, so crossing their path would mean bad luck. In China, they are believed to bring famine and poverty. On the other hand, Latvian farmers believe black cats are the spirit of Rungis, the god of harvest, and when they find black cats in their granary, they become overjoyed.

Good Luck

  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses left to right, then good luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked away from someone, it meant good luck.

Bad luck

  • If you believe in bad luck when black cat crosses your path, you may also believe that if you walk backwards ten steps, then turn around three times, then the bad luck will be repelled.
  • In Germany, it is believed that if a black cat crosses right to left, then bad luck will follow.
  • According to the beliefs of 19th century pirates, if a black cat walked towards someone, it meant good luck.
  • Gamblers believe that if a black cat crosses their path when are about to play, then means bad luck for them.
  • When driving, if a black cat crosses it is believed that one should turn around and go back to avoid bad luck.
  • In western and southern Europe, a black cat crossing one’s path is said to bring bad luck.

None of these choices is going to have an effect on your luck, one way or another, but your current happiness level might rise if the cat approaches you, and you get to pet it.

We would like to remind you that Groucho Marx was right. All it means when a black cat walks in front of you is that the animal is going somewhere, and should either be pet, fed treats, or left well enough alone.

 

Groucho Marx Black Cat

 

Bonus – History of International Black Cat Awareness Month

The creation of International Black Cat Awareness Month, founded back in 2013, came about after it’s creator, Layla Morgan Wilde, noticed that while there were two days dedicated to black cats, one in the UK and one in the US, there was nothing dedicated to them on a wider level. Such a dedication was (and still is) desperately needed, as superstitions surrounding black cats have become so out of control that shelters won’t have begun to suspend adopting them out during October. Too often the cats were being adopted as part of the Halloween holiday mystique, and were abandoned, or worse, after the holiday had passed.

Even for the rest of the year, it can be more difficult to get them adopted. How much more difficult? Black cats adoption rates are some 50% lower than any other colour of cat.

That’s just plain crazy, and we can’t understand this at all.

A sable furred cat is perhaps one of the most beautiful animals to walk the earth.

Black Cat Relaxes

Black Cat Relaxes

At the end of the day, this stupidity arising from superstition amounts to nothing less than (an excuse for) animal cruelty and abuse.

Chances are anyone who uses these ‘rules’ to mock you is a bully, a racist, or worse.

If you can do anything to dispel it, please do.

Black Cat Support Group

#BlackCatAwarenessMonth

Time to end black cat discrimination

I wasn’t fully aware of the discrimination or victimisation of black cats today, until I spotted this ‘Awareness Month’ some time ago.

Since then, I’ve been following the updates on LoveMeow, and been saddened to see that this is not only a fact, but current.

Over the time I’ve been getting their updates, I’ve seen the mother cats with black kittens being left in shelters while their coloured litters find ‘Forever Homes’.

Possibly the saddest part of this observation is that those leaving the black kittens behind are rescuers. They should know better.

Here’s one of the most recent, sad, examples:

Stray Cat Brought to Clinic in a Carrier – Staff are Surprised to Find Newborn Kittens Inside

Mama Tulip and her little panther kitty Violet are still available.

“Tulip is a talkative, affectionate girl and has a really sweet personality. She likes to knead the blanket I have in the room and she purrs the whole time! She and Violet love to play together,” Natalie told Love Meow.

Panther kitten left behind

Panther kitten left behind

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01/10/2019 Posted by | Appeal, Civilian | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is International Coffee Day

01 October is International Coffee Day.

We drink coffee morning, day and night. You have only to walk down the nearest high street and note the number of rotten coffee chains selling a cup of coffee for a truly ridiculous ÂŁ2 or more to realise the extent of our love affair with our favourite caffeinated beverage.

Discount supermarkets now sell pretty good ground coffee will provide 30 cups of freshly brewed coffee for a little more than ÂŁ1, and if you’ll accept their cheapest instant, you’ll currently get around 60 cups for ÂŁ1.49.

That’s LESS than the price of one those disgusting high street franchises.

Ask yourself where all the money being taken by those franchises goes.

Coffee Day marks the long history of the drink: the properties of coffee beans are thought to have first been discovered in Ethiopia. The beans are actually the pits found in the coffee berry or cherry, with the story being that a 9th century goat herder noticed their stimulating effects on his goats and began experimenting.

Coffee drinking was originally popularised in the Arab world from around the 15th century, spreading across Asia, then to Italy and across Europe and to the Americas – eventually reaching  your coffee cup.

Today, coffee is one of the world’s biggest crops so buying ethically grown coffee is all the more important – be sure to be selective in buying your cup of coffee and supporting ethical trade (and remember that franchise profiteering).

See also International Coffee Organisation

Although I’ve collected a few types of coffee maker (for ground coffee) over the years, I never found one I liked – apart from one with a milk frother, which worked quite well, but was ultimately just too much hassle to use regularly.

Discounting the ridiculously overpriced, to buy AND keep fed with hugely overpriced ‘pods’, I added the pair shown below in recent months.

Interestingly, the same ground coffee source does taste different from each, with each having a ‘best’ option. It seems the two methods of operation extracts a slightly different selection of flavours from the grounds.

That said, both work well (especially compared to some of my percolators, which just extracted too many odd flavours), although I have now settled on two Aldi roasts, one best in each of them, and providing a nice variation.

And, they avoid having to make a gallon of the stuff each time (which goes ‘off’ if kept hot), and provide just the right amount for one fresh cup/mug.

Coffee Makers

Coffee Makers

01/10/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Lorne Arcade murals

Falling firmly into the category of “OH! I didn’t see that last time I was here”…

Three murals spotted at the back of Ayr’s Lorne Arcade, as seen from Arthur Street.

Sadly, for me at least, there’s not much point in making the detour through the back streets to get here (the shops there are of no interest). So, it’s just as well wandering around the area means the arcade makes a handy shortcut through the buildings in order to get to the High Street.

Years ago, there were some ‘interesting’ shops in the arcade, the main one I recall being a model shop, both plastic kits and radio control, plus accessories needed for them. Unfortunately, none of the others come to mind (but I’m still pretty sure they were better than what’s in there now).

I’ve discovered they date only from the start of the year (2019), and surprisingly, given the different style of each, are down to the same artist, who formerly worked on interiors, but approached the owners of buildings, and found them receptive to his idea for the installation.

The only negatives I see are a crappy advertising banner, and sign for an adjacent car park, which obscure the octopus.

Lorne Arcade Murals

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, Lost, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Today is a Ask A Stupid Question Day

30 September 2019 is Ask A Stupid Question Day.

And, the first ‘Stupid Question’ has to be: “Why does the date of this day wander around the calendar”?

Apparently set for 28 September, it is usually observed on the last school day of September.

At least, that’s IF you are in the US – but this day has now made it across the pond, so just gets even more… ‘stupid’.

I’d say this day suffers from being poorly defined.

Beginning with the honourable intent of encouraging people to overcome their fear of sounding uneducated, it’s meant to opening opportunities for learning by asking the stupidest of questions.

I get the idea, I support the idea, but – in a world where genuinely stupid questions are allowed (by which I mean questions that really are stupid, as opposed to enquiring or searching), I can’t help but feel that the day could have been better named.

After all, it’s probably not too hard to label any day ‘Stupid Question Day’ if you consider many of the questions you may be asked – NONE of which are original, educational, informative, or enquiring.

Stupid Question Price List

Stupid Question Price List

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Today is Thunderbirds Day

30 September is Thunderbirds Day.

Not noticed this before, but now I think is worth a mention just to remember the Anderson universe.

Thunderbirds Day is set on the date when the original Thunderbirds made its debut on British TV. Obviously an important date for all Thunderbirds enthusiasts and it means a lot to the people who want to recall the legacy of the show and what it means today.

The first episode was aired back in 1965 and it has reached all corners of the globe in that time. The values of bravery, selflessness and teamwork resonate with successive generations. It seems that still more people join together to celebrate the show on Thunderbirds Day with each passing year.

While I was still rather young at the time, today, I still find it odd that I was gathered up and sat in front of the TV to watch Thunderbirds as ‘something special’.

Unlike today, where there are horrible advance publicity presentations, and months of pre-publicity for shows which the networks want to shove down viewer’s throats, there was none of that back then. So, just how did the word get out prior to that first airing?

For what it’s worth, I’m NOT a fan of the later offerings tacked on to the name in recent years.

Thoroughly unsatisfying, and unoriginal, as are (for me at least) all the modern clones and reproductions of Anderson originals.

Much better have been those entirely NEW productions, made in the wake of Anderson’s methods.

The original worked brilliantly because it was made looking forward, and with the methods, of its day.

Trying to repackage that same material decades later is just a mess. Just repeat the originals if that’s all you can come up with.

Thunderbirds original

Thunderbirds original

30/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

So THAT’S where the Faifley bus goes

I can’t remember where the ONE bus that goes along my main road used to head for as its destination in the days when I used it regularly, but today, the destination board (or should I say LED display) reads ‘FAIFLEY’.

I’d never heard of Faifley before I saw it on that bus. Then again, I live near Auchenshoogle (there’s a joke in there somewhere).

I’d thought of taking a trip to the end of the line, but never got around to it – until I saw a couple of (obvious) tourists get on the bus one day, and ask for ‘Two tickets to Faifley’.

So, it went on my list, and recently got ticked off.

Not intending to be negative, but travelling through the area, it just looked like the annexe of Clydebank that it was, created in the 1950s with housing typical of the period. That means it wasn’t the best, and suffered build problems in later years.

Reading about it suggests the population is dwindling today, with a school being turned into a community centre, replacing one built in the 1970s (with aid from a German organisation as a gesture of friendship and reconciliation after the Clydebank Blitz) but since demolished.

If you know Glasgow (housing) schemes of that period, you’ll appreciate there’s little to photograph.

However, there is a ‘Friendship Park’ with has a pair of sculptures, one of which lies near the terminus.

Produced by Andy Scott, and known as Faifley Family. That’s not an info plaque at the bottom, just a light fitting.

Faifley Family sculpture by Andy Scott

28/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography, Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Today is Strawberry Cream Pie Day

28 September is trawberry Cream Pie Day.

Combinations of strawberries and various cream goodies seem to feature in special days, and probably with good reason.

When it’s good, it’s very very good.

The ‘ordinary’ strawberry we know today was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s through a cross of Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry) from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis (Chilean strawberry), brought from Chile by AmĂ©dĂ©e-François FrĂ©zier in 1714. It is now established around the world for its fruit, and it is appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright colour, juiciness, and sweetness., and can be found in many treats such as milkshakes, fruit juice, ice cream, preserves, and of course, pies (with cream).

As always, I like mine basic, simple, and messy.

Strawberry cream pie

Strawberry cream pie

28/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | | Leave a comment

Don’t look at me if this sculpture goes missing

I haven’t been contradicted after suggesting Glasgow tended towards Art Nouveau and Paisley (which I haven’t really seen properly) towards Art Deco.

While I’m biased towards Glasgow, I’d probably have to admit to leaning towards Art Deco, purely on the basis of its more geometric and industrial basis.

I noted the presence of a Deco griffin in Glasgow.

While wandering around Paisley recently, I spotted a sculpture largely ignored (as far as I can see) in favour of the bronze statues decorating the 1924/5 Russell Institute.

Russell Institute Winged Sculpture

Russell Institute Winged Sculpture

 

27/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Lucky catch – Tollcross Road ghost sign

I hadn’t realised I’d managed a rare (for me) ‘Right Time, Right Place’ pics earlier this year.

I caught the original shop sign revealed when a new sign was installed over premises in Tollcross Road.

This was only obvious when I noted a newer pic which showed the old original had been lost once again.

Locals will appreciate how old that number is, after Glasgow changed its prefix from 041 to 0141.

Don’t quote me, but I think that change dated from 1995 (but seem to go on forever, due to endless pre-publicity in the years before the actual change – and similar whining from those who didn’t want the change for ‘their’ numbers).

Tollcross Road Ghost Sign

Tollcross Road Ghost Sign

I suppose the only regret is not being there just a little bit sooner, when we might also have been able to see what this shop was in its day.

Tollcross Road Ghost Sign Detail

Tollcross Road Ghost Sign Detail

26/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian, photography | , , , | Leave a comment

So, what happened to THIS year’s promised midge plague?

As I noted earlier this year, the ‘experts’ promised us YET ANOTHER bumper year of midges.

And, as I predicted, once again it FAILED to materialise.

These ‘experts’ are becoming something of a sad joke, ever since the first ACTUAL bumper years, any number of them have popped up the news with the same claim year after year.

One might be forgiven for making a couple of deductions based on their failed predictions…

  1. They are fake researchers jumping on the grant bandwagon, looking to get funding for a year or two’s easy living on handout money they know they don’t have to deliver on.
  2. They are sellers of midge-busting machines, which retail for silly money (in other words under a scandalous level of mark-up), and they are desperate to recover their investment, since they won’t make any money if they don’t persuade people to buy their fabulous devices.

It’s a pity this business has clearly attracted a number of cowboys, as recent research has, at last, managed to uncover some of the secrets as to how/why the little monsters are attracted to humans, and produced some effective devices to deal with them.

I’m not sure what kept them away this year (possibly the slightly odd cycles of hot/cold weather we enjoyed this year), but I was expecting my usual batch of bites when the first ones appeared a few weeks ago, but…

After the first four (I can’t usually even keep count over the weeks they usually appear over), that was all.

Not that I’m complaining. Those four hung around and became really itchy/irritating/inflamed, and I wouldn’t have been happy had the more usual average of around thirty at any given time arrived. As I’ve observed before, I seem to suffer increasing reactions to these bites than I used to, but whether that is down to me changing, or the damned Scottish midge evolving, I have no idea.

Repellents seem to do little to keep them away, and I’d have to say the same for most anti-itch treatments. Although I’ve found that plain, over the counter creams seem to work if used properly, unlike most ‘commercial’ or ‘promoted’ ‘magic’ products.

Sadly, not my pic, but interesting to see. No idea where the pic was taken though, as it was just bundled along with a load on one of my feeds.

Dead Midge Broker

Dead Midge Broker

Crazy midge

Crazy midge

26/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | Leave a comment

Careful – your cat may not be as independent as you thought

Looks like stories about cats not being quite the independent and aloof solitary, introvert, loners popular mythology labels them as are… true.

While the stereotype may appear to fit, and cats are definitely not dogs (personality wise), if you’ve shared your home and given space to one of our fluffy overlords, then you’ll probably have come to the conclusion that the reality is not so much that they’re loners, but that they simply like to have their space respected.

They’re just as social as their canine cousins, but in a different way.

Forget puppy love – cats can develop a love for their owners in the same way that dogs do, a study has found.

Despite cats being cast as aloof and less needy than their canine counterparts, research shows that felines are capable of strongly bonding with their owners.

In fact, the bond formed between cats and humans is much the same as the attachment developed between babies and parents, according to US scientists.

Researchers at Oregon State University put 38 cats and 70 kittens through a test similar to one previously devised to measure attachment behaviour in dogs and infants.

In the test, the cats spent two minutes in a new room with their caregivers, followed by two minutes alone and then a two-minute reunion.

The team found that cats with a secure bond to the person were less stressed when they returned, balancing their attention between the person and their surroundings.

However, cats with less secure attachments showed signs of stress such as twitching their tails, licking their lips and either standing away from the person or jumping on to their lap and not moving.

About two-thirds of both the kitten and cat groups had forged “secure” relationships with their owners, meaning that they were bonded to them and relied on them for comfort.

“Cats that are insecure can be likely to run and hide or seem to act aloof,” said Kristyn Vitale, the lead author at Oregon State.

“There has long been a biased way of thinking that all cats behave this way. But the majority of cats use their owners as a source of security. Your cat is depending on you to feel secure when they are stressed out.”

“Our study indicates that when cats live in a state of dependency with a human, that attachment behaviour is flexible and the majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort. Once an attachment style has been established between the cat and its caregiver, it appears to remain relatively stable over time, even after a training and socialisation intervention.”

Cats may seem aloof but they form attachments to their caregivers just like dogs and babies do, research suggests

Cat holds on

Cat holds on

Try this list of ‘Clingy Cats’ 🙂

25/09/2019 Posted by | Civilian | , | 4 Comments

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