Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Thankfully the lack of TV is saving me from those ultra irritating Windows 7 commercials: "We're flying Jack from Berlin to California so he can listen to some music on a shiny black laptop while grinning actors pretending to be Microsoft developers can applaud some bloody silly request he never actually made." Wouldn't it have been better if they'd just made Vista work properly in the first place? Ugh.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Tis the season to moan about the weather, something that you'd think we'd have learned to put up with by now but no, it still makes the headlines. It was so cold this morning I had to scrape the car three times, first to find it, then to clear it and then to clear it again - as the ice and snow had re-formed in geological type layers inches deep across the frozen metal. Apart from the fact that I was wearing my "all year round, never mind the weather" regular clothing ensemble I felt like some nutty Polar explorer about to head out onto the glacier to search for his lost colleagues. As it happened I was over the Forth Bridge by the time the windscreen had fully cleared, at least that's where I think I was. The Baltic weather continues which makes me wonder what the weather is like in those often cursed Baltic States.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
As you can see an afternoon of furious present wrapping and sorting has left me addled and ready for a long hoped for shepherd's pie themed drinking session. Those mashed potatoes were calling me from deep inside the fridge, now they are deep inside the oven hovering over a rich seam of oniony mince. If only Christmas would come upon us all, destroy us, have it's terrible way and then rescue us from this seasonal happy madness - and it's only the 20th.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
A big thanks to the Scotsman for remembering the great late Chic Murray. A much missed surrealist genius who died about 25 earth years ago. Sadly missed.
"I knocked and the woman answered the door in her night dress - a strange place to have a door."
Like many comics of the monochrome generation most of his material hasn't survived or remains a little too un-PC, slow and abstract for today's complicated and messed up media circus. There are of course quite a few other funny people still doing the rounds, some even younger than 25.
I artificially narrowly avoided artificially buying an artificial upside down artificial Christmas artificial tree yesterday...keeping it real with a real (dead) one, correctly orientated and suitably decorated. Phew.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I thought that the bacon that I had in the George Formby was sizzling nicely, then I realised that it was the cats spitting and hissing at one another. I've decided to rename them for the festive season: Silly, Goody, Oldy and Baddy. Strictly speaking Baddy is not our cat, he is a stray who sneaks in through the cat flap in the wee small hours and eats up all the remaining cat food in a feeding frenzy, a bit like Goldilocks except she was a fictional girl and not a cat. Baddy also has the other cats terrified because of his stealth, his trickery and his sophisticated psychological ploys and plots, like eating all their food.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
And so another Princess Diana moment comes along. That golden time when you realise you are out of step with popular opinion and interest, you are out there, on a limb, aware but uncaring as the awful mess of mediocrity that is the current X-Factor washes over the nation like a cocaine and morphine syrup.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
2009 has been the year when the collapse of good sense has left us all sitting on tinsel couches angry and disaffected by the puzzling images on our old-style TVs, feeling guilty about sipping one too many unit of wine and refusing to phone the latest telly-vote number. The good news is that you can still lounge back at the end of the working week and laugh at the pompous madness that passes for government and authority and plan to vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party in the new year. Hopefully there will be such a candidate running in West Lothian, the only place in the UK where 2 miles of dual carriageway by-pass costs £200m compared to £12m anywhere else it seems. I'm referring to the HGV beleaguered village of Newton, 8 miles away from the Scottish Parliament but seeing only six buses a day and without a footpath or cycle path to connect it to the apparent but remote civilisation of BP M&S and Burger King, shame on you Alex.
Earlier I watched Tony Blair grin and (virtually) defend everything he ever did in one soundbite, believing his conscience to be salved by revisiting the tattered mess he allowed poor Gordon Brown to pick up and then make worse. No memory, no responsibility, everybody must be right all the time because we can't quite bring ourselves to push the red "no" button. Perhaps Simon Cowell should run the country after all and I'll vote for the vacuous but talented Stacy Solomon and her sensible shoes.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Eventually I made it home and then proceeded to set fire to some sticks and fossil fuel but still the fog prevails, roll on you longest day you.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Thankfully no cats, passing rodents, teenagers or concerned adults were injured or overly upset during this historic event. I want to do it again.
Friday, December 04, 2009
It's not been a good day for Scottish education, 20% of school leavers have serious literacy problems it seems. Once again Scotland is set in the lower performing scholastic leagues, our once proud systems breaking down like a nine year old Nissan. The modernising views, the well meant but ill conceived initiatives and the lack of governmental backbone has denied a generation basic levels of schooling - we've failed. Thank you Mr Salmond and all your incompetent colleagues and also those that governed before. As if to prove a point I returned home to find a poor mouse dead on the bookshelf, obviously overcome after an afternoon of studying Japanese, poor timorous beastie, (yes and it was on the third shelf).
Thursday, December 03, 2009
At the most basic level we all want to be proud of our country and feel good about our homeland and the mark we make on the world. How does Scotland look, what are we all about? Sadly the institutions and the events we'd want to succeed and be identified with let us down again and again. The Homecoming wasn't a bad idea but it was hijacked to score political points, as a result it was misunderstood and shunned by most "normal" Scots - we failed to engage. Then to underline the negatives the main event ends up in debt and recriminations but no one is to blame and no one rises up to take responsibility and square the losses. The problem is that the politicians can't see the disconnect, their world, their homecoming and sadly their values and aspirations don't match with ours.
RBS directors want the right to pay bonuses or the toys will be thrown out. Of course they are right to want to be able to compete with the other banks who pay big bucks for high risk but how big and credible are they now? I cringe at every soft focus highland home commercial they run on TV and their blatant blanket sponsorship of international sport with their ubiquitous logo sitting sun kissed miles away from the driech centre of Gogar. It's time the plug was pulled and the teeth of reality allowed to bite. Honour the contracts if you must but just for once take a good look and see how others see you and reconcile yourself with public opinion. Banks actually need punters and positive spin more than they seem to realise. Meanwhile Gordon and Alistair will be doing everything they can...except putting the boot in.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
We drivers cannot be trusted, we are evil and uncaring and do not obey signage and speed limits. So roadways and car parks are populated by friendly bumps and obstacles, to slow us down from our mad pace and keep us in our place. A big thank you also to those Islamic extremists who have forced the splendid redesign of our airport approaches, nicely concreted and inhuman in the extreme. You have won, your designs have brought us to our knees and so we admire your god and your godlessness but that is about it. In the grey winter the concrete barriers compliment the fine, ignorant and stupid anger you choose to force upon us.
Two nice poached eggs to start the day. Simple things.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Earlier we did some research in finding the "one great noise that everyone has hidden in them". A new and exciting quest and not, as you might think a karaoke or Mariah Carey based PlayStation activity. It has a much rougher edge to it than that. Anyway it turns out that the "one great noise" does tend to be a deep, sustained snort generated only by creating some unnatural internal pressures in the nose and cheek cavities. How odd, what turns ands twists and dead ends on the evolutionary path led us to develop this way?
Burj Dubai intrigues me as it rises far above the troubled palm island crooked fairyland that is Dubai. The views and the statistics are out of this world impressive, everything else to do with it is much more flaky, tacky and worrying for the investors.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Meanwhile Christmas looms like a grey cloud of confusion on the rainy horizon. Susan Boyle will compete with some X-Factor shadow for the No1 spot and Christmas specials and four year old films will block the schedules. I'm already planning my holiday, sitting in a corner drinking Pepsi Raw, eating Milky Ways and watching Gary, Tank Commander on i.player. Simple things etc.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Many Scottish people are naturally suspicious of normal and benign American products, often viewing then as either some cultural threat or a subversive attempt to Americanise the stalwart if little retarded Scottish mindset. I have no truck with this piffle having decided many years ago to like what I like and dislike what I dislike regardless of petty boundary issues. Seems simple enough to me.
So (this is of course a boring bit of idealistically bankrupt food blogging) today I cracked open a jar of Mr Rufus T Fireflies' finest Smucker's Grape Goober. The jar was purchased in some PB&J emporium in the US a few months ago and smuggled across the border under cover of darkness in a well constructed carpet bag with a secret pocket.
Spread generously on some of Ms Graham's stylish almost warm home made bread accompanied by a thin layer of yellow spreading buttery stuff it made the perfect lunch for a hungry young buck such as I was, or may have been at the time (M'Lud). This experience reminded me of some of the great sandwiches of the century (not sure which one) and creates an excuse for another dumb and self indulgent list. For the purposes of clarity and the relief of the young pilgrims' reading I'll leave out the Smucker's PB&J:
1) (Cheap) Strawberry Jam and Digestive biscuit on Scottish plain bread. A classic, needs to be well lubricated with butta'.
2) Pret a Manger's "Crayfish and Rocket" - a regular diversion for me when travelling through Stanstead Airport and proof that I'm not mean and that I don't eat pish, working class food all the time (sic).
3) Fried egg and brown sauce (egg not too runny either) on white pan loaf. Place an open Daily Record, the Queen's Speech 2009 or a copy of the Koran in your lap in case of yolk spillage. Fat chips can be substituted should a suitable egg not be available.
4) Lightly toasted brown bread with a thin scrapping of spread and Marmite. The hippie's delight as a late breakfast piece, the ensemble completed with a screw-tap of Irn-Bru to help reduce the tremors, boost energy levels and ease possible flashbacks and paranoia attacks.
5) Shell pie on a roll. Never an easy feat to accomplish as there are significant logistical problems to resolve primarily involving being near to a reputable baker's shop and then sourcing the two main ingredients at an appropriate level of quality. Once this has been done they need to be carefully mated in a similar way to a live warhead and a missile. One slip at this tricky stage and a snacking disaster or possible pie based explosion can occur. Not to be attempted whilst driving or as a passenger in a white van.
End of lesson - go forth and snack.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
As I expect to retire around 2015 I'll still be pension dodging in 2012, sadly now a likely date for that old chestnut, the end of the world. Luckily we've conceived a clever plan to meet up on Arthur's Seat along with our trusty waterproof torches, that should avoid any rapture or raptor or respite complications. Just remember that no one knows the date or the hour and that the lightning will flash from the east to the west so it could all get a bit messy but we'll be the ones signaling across the Forth to our friends and family in Fife come the big wave.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Celtic, white & spotty, Caucasian, Gypsy, East Coaster, Fifer, Scottish, British, European, working class, straight, socialist, nationalist, fascist, punk, hippy, freak, short-arse, married, divorced, balding, brown eyed, Masonic, Dunfermline Athletic follower, Presbyterian, Church of Scotland, Christian, Buddhist, self obsessed, self righteous, misunderstood, Army Cadet, Boy Scout, student, alien, apprentice, trainee, leader, manager, director, atheist, elitist, humanist, existentialist, vegetarian, abused, bullied, bully, hedonistic, carnivore, parent, child, grandparent, son, consumer, smoker, drinker, blogger, dreamer, jogger, cyclist, motorist, pedestrian, victim, angry neighbour, floating-voter, artisan, film buff, reader, bearded man, coffee drinker, shoplifter, gardener, blood donor, smart, scruffy, middle-aged, pension dodger, musician, credit cruncher, Silver Surfer, Baby Boomer, Generation X wannabe, bewildered, cantankerous and grumpy but slightly marvelous old bugger.
Of course I'm regularly into denial on quite a number of these historical labels and some others I simply can't remember.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
I have a theory about famous philosophers: most if not all were hampered by having a malfunctioning sense of their own space. They were the kind of people who were never quite sure where and how they fitted in, sometimes they were in your face, on your elbow or just generally invading some other no-go zone. After some struggles with continually bumping into people and being a source of annoyance they retreated into their own private space to think and write heavy philosophical books hoping that one day once the books might be read and published. Then once they have established a philosophical and literary reputation they can come out of hiding and invade space again and start a series of pointless circular arguments nobody can really be bothered with - all because they never learned the extended elbow rule. Sad.
It may well be that you do not, as yet know the extended elbow rule, if that is the case then you might want to click here, or not as the case may be. Whatever you do be mindful that you have a choice.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Now I can tell the time accurately (shame about everything else)
Thanks (very much you thieving bastards) to getting robbed by the white van Druid, New Age Travelling Furry Freak and Chav Brothers Society a few months ago my lifetime assets have now increased by about 100%. I wisely spent all of my share of the money from the Victim Support Agency (only available in Scotland, read the small print if you can read) on a fine chocolate watch but one guaranteed not to melt Dali style. It's nicely chunky, bullet and bomb proof and without any noticeable ticks - ideal for all forms of time travel (one of my regular pursuits). I'll be completely happy with it as soon as I can discover how to get the tin opener blade and corkscrew out of the winder hole. Get it here on Amazon or any other participating South American waterway.
What to eat on a cold Sunday
Salad should of course always be served at room temperature as opposed to fridge temperature. The trick is getting rooms to room temperature and more importantly what is room temperature anyway, in darkest November here in the West Lothian outback?
Difficult dietary issues
We've finally established that donkeys don't get squished into UK cat food, neither do horses or kangaroos, however Japan sticks with a high fish content as you'd expect, not sure about the rest of the world. That got me thinking about the contents of burgers (but not hot dogs, that's too far) and what might be acceptable to the Scottish palette. I can't see any cultural or ethical reasons why they can't make it into the meaty part of cheeseburgers so I'll assume they are there and in order to maintain the fine balances required for my immune and digestive systems to operate I'll stick to one double CB a week.
P.S. Apologies for the excessive use of brackets above but they are my favourite punctuation and I'm not sorry at all.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
A typical Saturday afternoon at Knockhill: Champers, chips and a trophy for the eventual winner of the 2009 Trumper virtual F1 Challenge, so the triumphant winning team leader (of the neatly named Zoom Zooms) enjoys a well earned cuppa tea. Meanwhile back in the pits and car park I think I want a Nissan Skyline, that's a pretty immature but predictable thought.
Meanwhile on the karting track there was a certain amount of wet weather mayhem, slips and skids but the Trumpers finished strongly running out clear winners. The Barclays however hoovered up the minor places mainly thanks to a decent fried breakfast and a strong sense of fear and fair play. Karting in bad light and rain is a challenge but he views are nice.
Nice to hear they've found ten buckets of water on the moon, I'd imagine the water came from some crashed asteroid, not sure about the buckets though.
Friday, November 13, 2009
It was a relationship that I'd never have expected to see blossom but strangely enough the Light-Up HP Mouse and the Hamburger Phone do seem to be shaping up rather well in the early stages of their romance. They've spent quite a lot of time together, mostly alone in the quiet of the dining room getting to know one another but it has reached to the point where I'm feeling a bit odd walking in on them unannounced. Perhaps I should knock or just cough a little before slowly entering the room. Anyway they make a cute couple and despite a few fundamental differences in voltage, functions, circuitry and ethnic backgrounds (Hamamastu, Japan and Jiaxing, China respectively) I think they'll do fine. They've come along way to get this far and I just need to make sure that they don't meet up with the rather aggressive electric can opener residing in the kitchen.
So what about Meccano? James May seems to be to blame for this latest outburst of spanner and Allen Key activity (I recall when AK was a simple screwdriver). Unbridled nostalgia and a fair amount of boredom have resulted in experiments surrounding "roll-over" or "self-righting" go-carts made from Meccano's best. We need to do a bit more work on this but at least there is a prototype to experiment with. We're actually doing a trial run at Knockhill tomorrow.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Today the cat's discovered rotisserie chicken. They went mad, the civil war and diplomatic cat crisis came to a sudden and swift end as they shared a common goal, to get a piece of that hot and tasty chicken. Every cat has his or her price.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It’s a peculiar life being a minor musician or a songwriter in these digital times. The market is flooded with home made, self penned, desk top designed and published up material that each hopeful musician sees as his or her finest work. Most of it remains out there, undiscovered on the web, in dusty CD piles or trotted out occasionally for a live performance in the back room of some good humoured pub or community centre. Once in a while there will be a solitary sale, some feedback or a blog comment before the continued pursuit of vigorous anonymity resumes. If, as we are, you are content with this fate then really it’s ok, your small mark has been made, your time bomb has been planted and the fevered act of creation has now cooled into something substantial and complete though naturally now framed in obscurity. So if you want more how do you console yourself, how do you justify the effort, possible expenditure and the slow realisation that your works in a long queue to be heard and discovered? The still, small voice tells you that the odds of them being heard or appreciated by any kind of reasonable audience are lottery sized or worse.
One answer is to give it away, forget the prices, the costs, the penny a play sites and the rip-off merchants who charge you $100 to be stigmatized on some compilation that may or may not make the earshot of some mobile phone advertising exec. Just give it away, again and again. Life is too short to wait on the ting of the cash register and the lengthy delays from third party provider payouts or for some drunken punter to argue over £3 for a CD - and you don’t really need that pointless anxiety. In the last few months we’ve had over 3000 free listens and 100 free downloads compared to no CD sales, 1 itunes sale and a few cents of streaming money. Relax and give it away and enjoy the vicarious pleasure of having multitudes of unseen, singleton listeners – and even if things get tough you'll never ever feel you need to explain or justify another CD spectacle to friends or family.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Today started badly thanks to a deep depression of ghostly fog that descended like fluffy frozen cheese over everything and most notably on my car, a classic Monday morning start, getting angry at frost. Weather anger is neither useful nor able to be channeled in a positive direction so it remains inside, pent up and throbbing on the twenty minute drive to work. In fog you cant help but notice that all drivers who have their hi-vis lights on in normal weather leave them switched off in fog as if in some perverse tribute. Some poor souls decided that to drive across the Forth Bridge in thick fog with no lights was a good idea, clearly these people are having a worse morning than me.
Coffee is a killer, please do not be fooled by the hype and step away from the Starbucks. It's bitter, powdered, milky crap hoovered up like wild cocaine from exploited farmers and served to irresponsible members of the public who cant understand the rules of engagement for their car's fog lights. It also makes you pee worse than cold German Lager with one cup resulting in at least a litres worth of foggy urine. Then when the warm, coffee rich urine hits the coastal sewage farm sprays and atomisers after its long journey from the city in cold weather...
Video games suck but I wish I had the basic skills and span of attention and concentration to play and complete one. Maybe it's more coffee I need.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
I've a lot of happy memories associated with the old FB pies, once a staple part of my diet, so for a few moments I ignored the actual mouse and drifted back to those FB days (mid 70s I'd say). It goes like this: after a long shift in Paisley Gas works it was home to the cosy log cabin in Pollockshields for an FB pie, hot from the black black oven (no other superfluous foods were added) and a "screw tap" of Whitbread Pale Ale. This was followed by a fag and a relaxing listen to Little Feat's "Sailing Shoes" or possibly "The Grand Wazoo" by Frank V Zappa. Then down to the pub with Sheba the Alsatian for a tussle with the locals and some fairly spaced conversations. (Sheba didn't add much intellectual quality to the conversation but neither did I).
For a while I thought that Fray Bentos meant from "Bentos", then after staring into some school atlas I discovered that there was no actual "Bentos" but there was a Fray Bentos, stuck at the edge of the rain forest full of pie and corned beef factories, or so I imagined, there far away on the dreamy Brazilian coast or in the jungles of Uruguay - I can' remember. A place well worthy of a visit for any self respecting carnivore.
At this point the mist lifted from my eyes and I picked up the dead mouse in a tissue and disposed of it by flipping it over the hedge - funny about that pie-mouse smell though. It's left me wondering could I, would I ever eat another FB pie? It's been 35 long years...
Barclay Jnr scored a proper hat trick today (3 solo crackers in 15 minutes) against the best of Pittenweem. The reward? £5 cash up front, a large McD's vanilla shake and two salmon and cream cheese bagels (ex-Ali's kitchen).
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Hopefully few of the garden birds suffer from nut allergies. There are now five dispensers of various nutty and warming products, all of which will produce warm feathers and bright eyes, pretty much one feeder for each little bird. God bless them these winter months, I hope they take advantage of the offer.
We hovered around the great Herris fence that is Edinburgh town centre, only for long enough to undertake essential transfers of currency and odd items from the great halls of Jenners and Co. Christmas is coming it seems but you can forget the trees. The bright lights of Morningside float past and light up a hundred interesting shops and restaurants, most of which we will never visit. Today I was a passenger.