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People marching across the Tay BridgeOn Saturday, YES North East Fife organised a march across the Tay Bridge from Fife to Dundee followed by a rally in the City Square. It was well-attended for a local event – by hundreds, according to the precision journalism of the Courier. The weather was fine, and many motorists seemed to approve of the display, judging by the proportion of them sounding supportive horns – though in the interests of balanced reporting, I must admit that there was one car that went by shouting something incoherent and waving the Vs.

Once arrived in Dundee there were a few stalls, including one selling books by the speakers that had them to sell, a Scottish Green Party stall (with Maggie Chapman in attendance), and a stall for English Scots for Yes. English Scots for Yes seemed to emerge quite late in the last independence campaign, but I think what they’re doing is important. Although many English-born residents of Scotland voted Yes – and there are plenty English people in the SNP – they are out-numbered by their compatriots who voted No. I don’t think English Scots have anything to fear – if I did, I would be siding with them – but it’s clear that as supporters of independence we haven’t done a good enough job of convincing them that there is no beef between us. English Scots for Yes may help to change that impression.

Change of that sort is sorely needed when there’s nonsense going on like the news story that finally made it to the top of the BBC's Scotland page today of suspect chemical packages being sent to at least three Scottish locations. It’s been an emerging story since Tuesday, but has taken two days to get any profile. Stuff like this is happening because of people whipping up resentment against independence supporters – unionists so “obsessed” with their fear of a democratically driven readjustment at a national level that it’s all they can talk about in their council election leaflets, and a poisonous press. No-one could claim that independence supporters are all saints, but I honestly don’t think they’re the dangerous side in this.

There were talks from a variety of speakers, not all of which I was able to stay and attend, but I caught and enjoyed listening to Robin McAlpine, Billy Kay, Paul Kavanagh (The Wee Ginger Dug) and Lesley Riddoch. Three of the talks can be watched below, and if you’ve got the time I recommend doing that. I was a bit disappointed Maggie Chapman wasn’t among those speaking, since she was present, but I presume she had her reasons.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

On Friday we were encouraged to come to work appropriately dressed for a Cowboy vs. Aliens Nerf battle.

Me as a cowboy with a belt-fed Nerf machine gun

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

The BBC used a photo of mine as one of “Your pictures of Scotland” this week. It was taken from the bus stop in Dundee on my way to work on Tuesday (sometime around 08:15), and is looking over the V&A construction site and across the Tay towards Fife. Here’s my approximation of the BBC’s crop (it was easier to reproduce it than try to steal my own picture from the BBC page):

Cranes at Sunrise (Approximation of the BBC crop)

Here’s the original:

Cranes at Sunrise (Original)

The crop gets rid of the crane on the left, which certainly makes for a better composition, but in going portrait I feel the breadth of the sunrise becomes a bit constrained.

Last time I submitted a photo to the BBC (some years ago) they just published photos “as is”, so it’s interesting to see how things have changed, and how a professional would choose to present my picture.

I generally leave my own photos untouched, unless they badly need something done or I need them for a specific purpose; they’re my memories more than art to me – and I’m not an artist, and have dodgy colour vision. Best leave well alone! However, if I were cropping it myself I would probably have gone for something like this:

Cranes at Sunrise (My own crop)

The BBC version is probably still better, because it focuses on the features of interest centre stage – I think my cropping choice suffers slightly from the additional street lights to left and right. If they weren’t there, I might prefer my version, but as it is they’re a slight distraction. Losing some of the hoarding around the V&A construction site also reduces the contrast in the photo and makes it appear a bit more washed out. I could easily have kept that by changing the proportions slightly, but I preferred to keep the original aspect ratio.

The crop is the only change made between these three versions of the picture.

I’d be interested to know which others prefer. For me, it’s probably the order in which they appear in this article, but it’s a slightly reluctant choice – I’m attached to my original with its flaws!

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
For anyone hanging on tenterhooks as to what's on the second disk of Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards, it is...

...Space 1992: Apocalypse Suite For Orchestra & Choir, featuring the Cowdenbeath Symphony Orchestra. It's an orchestral version of the album, with the tracks renamed after a quote from each (including track 9 of course, An Epic War Is Fight). It's a decent performance, and interesting to hear that it adapts so comfortably, but frankly I prefer the electric bombast of the original.

Sadly, there are no details of the composition of "the Cowdenbeath Symphony Orchestra" in the credits and the only mention I could find online was in reference to the album, but amongst the small print there was this disclaimer of which I approve:

No unicorns were harmed in the making of this album. However, 5.448 billion humans were terminally harmed in the destruction of Earth during track 10. This was an unfortunate side-effect for which we apologise profusely. Please send any complaints to the Dark Sorcerer Zargothrax at the following address: zargothrax at gloryhammer.com
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

A thousand years have passed since the events of Tales From the Kingdom of Fife, when Zargothrax, Dark Sorcerer of Auchtermuchty, invaded Dundee with an army of undead unicorns before eventually being imprisoned in a frozen pool of liquid ice, encasing his immortal body in a cage of eternal frost. (“Seems legit”, as the top comment under the relevant YouTube video says.)

Now, in the far distant future year of 1992, Zargothrax is released from his prison of frost by a cult of unholy chaos wizards, and Dundee and the Galactic Empire of Fife must be defended from their evil domination by King Angus McFife XIII (descendant of the original Crown Prince Angus McFife) and the eagle-riding Knights of Crail.

Yes, it’s Gloryhammer’s second album, Space 1992: Rise of the Chaos Wizards. (Buy it!)

Like the previous album, it romps joyously through a Fife-flavoured galaxy of cheese. It’s a worthy successor, but with more laser-powered hammers, chambers of cryogenetical fire, robots, cosmic rage (of Astral Dwarves from Aberdeen), and eagle-riding Space Knights of Crail.

Stylistically, it’s still HEROIC FANTASY POWER METAL (of course), but as befits a more futuristic epic, there’s a greater role for synthesisers than was previously the case.

The previous tale concluded in the ten-minute Epic Rage of Furious Thunder. This album doesn’t pull its punches either, with another 10 minute epic finale – Apocalypse 1992. I can’t express how accurately this track captures the far-off technological future of 1992 – you’ll just have to listen to it and find out for yourself.

As for me – I’m also waiting, for the physical album to arrive, so that I can find out what the disc of bonus tracks has to offer…

ggreig: (Western gentleman)

I’m catching up a bit here, as I actually visited the fledgling Dundee Museum of Transport nearly a month ago. It opened last year in temporary accommodation (it’s eventually going to inhabit the Maryfield tram sheds, which are still standing at the crest of the hill just south of the junction between the Kingsway and the road to Forfar). It’s not going to pose great competition for the transport museums already around in larger cities, but for a small first effort I was quite pleased with it. It took me a couple of hours to wander round taking my time over it.

I was a bit disappointed that the 1950s seemed a bit better represented than earlier eras, but there were still cool things to see.

AnaglyphDundee Transport Museum 3D 003

A 1959 Jaguar XK150 (3D)

Steamroller, Dundee Transport Museum

An Angus council Fowler DNA steamroller (follow link for better pictures of the whole vehicle)

Horse-drawn tram 24, Dundee Transport Museum

A Dundee horse-drawn tram, being restored having spent approximately 114 years as a summer-house in Perth after being sold off in 1900.

Tram 24 in operation in Dundee

The same tram in service in Dundee, some time ago.

Inside horse-drawn Tram 24 (3D)

Inside horse-drawn Tram 24 (3D)

The interior of Tram 24 from a different angle

The interior of Tram 24 from a different angle

There’s also a double-decker Aberdeen Corporation Electric Tram which is currently even more skeletal. It’ll be interesting to visit in a few years’ time and see how the restorations have gone.

A horse-drawn ambulance

A horse-drawn ambulance, and its interior.

The interior of a horse-drawn ambulance

An Ashford Litter, Dundee Transport Museum

An Ashford Litter, in use as a foot ambulance between 1887 and 1921, when this one was last used in Perth to take a patient with appendicitis to Perth Royal Infirmary.

There’s also an Austin J40 pedal car (very posh), a Sinclair C5, and a full scale reproduction of Preston Watson’s first flying machine. You know, the Dundee guy who flew before the Wright brothers hogged all the publicity! (Sadly, alternative facts exist.)

Other vehicles I personally found less interesting, but it depends on your tastes and DMOFT is well worth a visit. I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of the special guest:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's horn

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's horn

Sunrise

Feb. 3rd, 2014 08:54 am
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

Sunrise over Discovery Point, Dundee

Taken on the way in to work; sunrise over Discovery Point, Dundee.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Typical. You wait a hundred years for a tram, then two come along at once.

Another horse-drawn Dundee tram has been (re)discovered and taken for restoration. Story on the BBC, and with video at The Courier.

It's not looking too great on the outside after spending a century as a summerhouse, but apparently it still has the original interior.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)

A welcome recent addition return to the Dundee city centre since late last year is an original Dundee & District Tramways horse-drawn tram.

Repurposed horse-drawn tram in DundeeRepurposed horse-drawn tram in Dundee

Unfortunately it’s not fulfilling its original function – might be a bit tricky without a full set of rails – but it’s back sitting on such rails are available, and interesting to be able to have a close look at it. It last saw service here as an actual tram over 100 years ago.

It’s now The Auld Tram, selling coffee and sandwiches. Must try the nosh some time; so far I’ve not been sufficiently hungry when passing by, but it looks like they’re aiming for high quality but satisfying. It’s an offshoot of Bridgeview Station, a restaurant overlooking the Tay Bridge with an 1870s railway carriage.

Something else to look out for later this year will be the opening of the fledgling Dundee Museum of Transport.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
More of Andi Lothian's memories of promoting two Beatles' tours of Scotland just as they became famous; a twenty minute interview with The Courier. Andi's a great story teller; I recommend watching this.

ggreig: (Western gentleman)
Apologies for posting something to do with politics rather than something substantial from my own life again, but this is worth highlighting: a debate at Abertay University between the SNP's Stewart Hosie (unless you're from Dundee, you're probably saying "who?" right now) and Labour's George Robertson (former UK Secretary of State for Defence, and Secretary General of NATO).

Even if you're not interested in the issues per se it might be worth watching this to see some really effective debating as Stewart Hosie turns a pre-debate 59%/21% vote in favour of the Union into a post-debate 51%/38% vote in favour of independence; a swing of 25%.



They both make historical errors in the course of the debate. I don't think that pre-Union Scotland, although it did have a Parliament, could be described in modern terms as being democratic (as Stewart Hosie claims). On George Robertson's part, he conflates Vidkun Quisling and Lord Haw Haw into one person.

Sorry I've not written much of late; I don't seem to have enough time to do everything I want to do at the moment even without writing, but I'll try to be a bit more visible in future.
ggreig: (Western gentleman)
The founder of the company I work for has an unprovable but reasonable claim to having originated the term "Beatlemania".

There's an article in the Observer about the phenomenon that opens with some of Andi's memories.
ggreig: (I Need Dis)

…that the World Wide Web entered the public domain. I’m pretty sure I first used it later that year when I returned to university in Dundee (along with ever-more-occasional Gopher use).

By the time I was looking for a job three years later, the Web was so much of a part of how I worked as a developer that I dreaded the possibility of working for a company that wasn’t connected. Luckily, that didn’t happen, although all we had was a 28k modem – with a timer on the power socket so that it cut off outside working hours and therefore kept the phone bills down.

ggreig: (Default)

Apparently the sonic screwdriver has been developed right here in Dundee! (Usual hyperbole applies, but it’s still an interesting development.)

ggreig: (Crazy or smart?)

Yesterday I left Stagecoach £42 poorer after paying for my four-weekly pass. That is, it’s Stagecoach that were poorer, not I, which is the right way around. The cost of my pass has dropped from £133 to £91, which I am finding pretty difficult to complain about.

The price of my commute has gone up quite a bit over the last few years, but this hefty reduction – almost a third – is so welcome that I’m prepared to overlook the likelihood that they can afford to do this because they’ve been ripping me off for the last few years!

All I’m losing is “free” trips to Glasgow; as well as my commute to Dundee, the pass will still take me to all sorts of other places I seldom go, like Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk and anywhere in Fife, Kinross and Clackmannanshire.

Better say this now, because the opportunity is unlikely to arise again: I ♥ Stagecoach.

Back

May. 5th, 2011 10:24 pm
ggreig: (Jailbird)

You may not have noticed I was gone, but I’m just back from an impromptu stay at Ninewells that started on Monday; my first experience of hospital as an inpatient.

The reason sounds a bit silly. It was a nosebleed (spontaneous). But it started around 6 in the morning, and didn’t really, fully stop for the rest of the day, although it was brought under control in the afternoon. I was put on IV fluids, but no blood transfusion required.

There wasn’t a definite resolution to the problem so it may occur again, though hopefully not. For now, I’ve to take it easy to avoid unnecessarily triggering a repeat. A repeat would probably mean surgery.

With help from [livejournal.com profile] qidane, I made it home in time to vote without an emergency proxy (which was also an option thanks to [livejournal.com profile] qidane), though far from being my usual first or second at the polling station.

Code Rocket

Feb. 3rd, 2010 12:52 am
ggreig: (Astronaut)

I heard today – slightly belatedly, due to some rogue spam filtering – that Code Rocket for Visual Studio has been released (currently works for C++ or C# – no VB).

It’s a Dundee-developed product (by Rapid Quality Systems, a spin-off from the University of Dundee’s Space Technology Centre), and I was lucky enough to get involved in the beta-testing period.

5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Lift off! )
ggreig: (Rune)

STV reporting of yesterday’s opening; so if you’re curious you can catch glimpses of our office. Some like [livejournal.com profile] qidane and [livejournal.com profile] tobyaw may spot folk they recognise (not me). The Insights item is at around 2:50. There's an annoying sponsor message first, and it's UK-only "for copyright reasons".

ggreig: (Poppies)

Poppies were required wear at work today. So was a suit, and so I wound up wearing two poppies, one on my coat and one on my suit.

Suits are not every-day work-wear for us, but then it was the day that Alex Salmond was officially opening our new office. In order for us to get the maximum personal enjoyment out of this momentous experience, employees were encouraged to tell their friends, presumably so that you can all feel jealous, or awe-struck or something. So there you go; you’ve been told! I saw the back of his head from a distance, if that helps to impress you.

Somehow people being treated as VIPs makes me come over all egalitarian, I’m afraid, despite respecting the FM’s abilities and recognising it’s a good thing for the company.

But today merited my coincidental two poppies none the less. With respect to Claude Choules, a British veteran living in Australia who often misses a mention, this was the first Armistice Day with no living World War I veterans in the UK.

That is a bit of a milestone. My eldest grandparent was only a little too young to have been involved, and within our lifetimes the number of British survivors of the war has dwindled from many to one. Inevitable, of course, but worth marking.

Thanks for Bill Stone, Henry Allingham, Harry Patch, and all the others they represent who didn’t travel with us so far, like my great uncle Pat.

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