Wednesday, 31 December 2008

A Guid New Year to ane an' a'

I f****n' hate New Year. All that false bonhomie and pished folk. Blame it on living in Edinburgh for years. Street Party? My arse!

However, that won't stop me from wishing you all a happy, safe and prosperous 2009.

As for us, we're away to Skye to hide out in a wee hoose at the end of a single track "road". You'll recognise it; it's the one with the "Get tae f**k!" sign on the gate. :o)

See yooz in a bit.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Good Grief!

The Boy's 15 today. 15!!! Where the hell did the years go?

Happy Birthday, wee man.

LOL and indeed, ROFL! :O)

Sunday, 30 November 2008

When did that happen?

That's the question I've been asking myself. When did I go from being relieved that a plan fell through to being disappointed?

To be disappointed I must've initially been looking forward. Without realising, I was looking forward to a a night on a hill in shite weather with a bunch of folk I've never met before. I was looking forward to a night of sub-zero temp's, in the middle of nowhere, shooting the breeze with others of a like-mind.

When I packed my kit, there was an air of excitement and anticipation, not trepidation. When those plans were scuppered, my reaction was nothing like it would've been last year. The gear's still laid out, ready for the off rather than packed away and doomed to months of seeing no action at all.

My attitude has changed. This is good. This is almost an epiphany, in fact.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Game's a bogie

"I'm undoubtedly tempting fate by making any plans at all, let alone sticking them up here for the world to see but sometimes you just have to."

How prophetic. For the second weekend in a row, bag packed and ready for the off, it all goes wrong at the last minute.

The first time, the fickle hand of fate cast the di and came up with two sixes. I threw "snake eyes".

This time, the fourth horseman, Pestilence turned up just in time. He apologised for his lateness but there's nothing like a last minute cancellation to make you look like a complete and utter fud.


Thursday, 20 November 2008

Monday, 17 November 2008

Operation: Not The Yukon


I'm undoubtedly tempting fate by making any plans at all, let alone sticking them up here for the world to see but sometimes you just have to.

As plans go, it's a simple one: head up to Glen Derry on 28/11/08, pitch a tent and kick back for the next wee while. I might go for a hill on the Saturday but I'll see how it goes.

Base camp will be near the bridge over the Derry Burn at approx NO 041936. I'll be there from about 4pm, barring fate, misfortune and the unpredictablity of the Scottish weather. ie if it's really sh*te, I'm no' goin'. Quitting is, very definitely, an option.

Folk should feel free to come along and say hello or keep walking with their head down if they don't like the look of me. The tent will be marked with a couple of glow sticks after dark. If it's a nice night, I should be easy to spot, I'll be the one wandering about, mug in hand, looking rather pleased with myself.

See yiz up there. Or not :o)

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Double Bagged Part 2 - Muddying the waters

Just when I thought I had it sussed, ie down bag inside synthetic, an unrelated trip to the loft threw a spanner in the works. There, tucked away at the side of the gear pile, was a suspiciously fluffy-looking storage bag.


In the bag was a Snugpak Sleeper Lite, rated IIRC, to about -10C. I'd completely forgotten I had it. From memory, it is very warm but, like all synthetics, relatively bulky. I'll have a go it stuffing it into things over the next day or 2. I think I'll still go with the down/synth' combo' but this one might work out as an alternative to the Alpkit for The Boy.


Lest we forget

90-odd years ago, my biological Great Grandfather went off to a war from which he never returned. He left behind a pregnant sweetheart. Just over 30 years later, the son he never knew also answered the call to arms.

Thankfully, he survived.

Today, I'll stop whatever I'm doing and spend a few minutes offering up whatever the agnostic version of a prayer is, to them and the others they fought alongside and against, and to all the men and women who made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you. Thank you all.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Access Denied

My apologies for my tardiness in replying to those folk who've taken the time to leave comments over the last couple of weeks. It's not that I'm being rude, it's that our new Overlords (Hello btw) have decided that we're not to be trusted with our internet access anymore. And there was me thinking that an IT professional with over 20 years experience was about the only person that you could trust with unrestricted net access.
This post was brought to you via Google Mail.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Single Skinner

I picked up a Golite Trig 1 via Ebay the other day. It's in pristine condition and cost very little. It was an impulse buy and I'm no' sure how, or even if, it'll work out. I like the idea of single skin tents but there's the thorny issue of our increasingly mild and damp winters up here. I'm hoping for cold & frosty for our impending trip to the 'gorms but I'm no' holding my breath.


I'll stick it up in the garden tomorrow and have a look see.

Also in the post was a Silva L4*. With The Boy using the Tikka last time out, I was left in the murk. So a spare was called for. Anyway, it's Camo' so what's a boy to do?


As I wrote that last paragraph, I remembered the E-Lite that lives in the "emergency" dry-bag. I think I may be going senile.

*Tip o' the hat to ptc* for bringing it to my attention.

Sunday, 26 October 2008


With a proposed overnighter in the offing, I've had a look in the armoury and there's a sleeping bag-shaped gap in the weapons rack. I'm covered for 3 season stuff but with The Boy getting the Alpkit AlpineDream 700, I'm left out in the cold, so to speak. I could throw money at the problem by heading over to PHD but then I'd have to decide what, or who, gets sold to raise the money.

I'm wondering if a combination of bags might be the answer? The first 2 that came to mind were the Rab Quantum and the Snugpak Merlin, both "summer" bags on their own but possibly capable of delivering a bit more when combined. Factor in clothing eg PHD Minimus and it could be a go-er.

Quantum Softie

They both fit loosely, one inside the other, so that's a good start. A bit of experimentation is called for but what's the worst that can happen? I get to be cold and uncomfortable for a night? Pah! Been there, done that.

We're talking low-level camp in the CGNP. Worst case, we bug out to Bob Scott's or back to the car.

It's no' The Yukon FFS.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Kevvy No-Mates

I was over having a look at TGO's new forum layout and jolly nice it is too. It's still a bit quiet but at least they seem to have booted the porn spammers into touch.

However, I was a wee bit disheartened when I had a look at my profile page; there, writ large was the legend "This User Has No Friends". It's even capitalised. Cheers. Thanks for pointing that out.


Heartless bastards.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

A bit down

Man-made fibres are all well and good in this damp climate of ours, but if you want to stay really warm, then down (filled) is the way to go.

The PHD Minimus Vest came to the 'gorms with me back in May. I took it as backup insulation but I ended up sleeping in it and was warm all night.

When I went back a week later with The Boy, I left it behind (I thought it was overkill, the weather forecast being so good) and was the wrong side of comfortable in my Rab Quantum bag. I learned a lesson that night.

It also ties in with the whole lightweight ethos,
and I'm paraphrasing here; stuff you carry should do more than one thing. Something like that anyway. And within reason.

Anyhoo, it's so light and packs up so small that it'd be daft not to carry it. So, from now on, I'm gonnae.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Warm Front

All this talk of snow, and our first frost, has had me rummaging in the wardrobe. Just the briefest of looks revealed a range of options for staying warm when the temperature drops and Jack Frost starts nipping at your lugs.

One of the first things I reach for at this time of year is a thin fleece. I practically live in Berghaus Yukons and one of them sometimes goes in the bag. A bit more technical, the Haglofs Triton Hood is a superb bit of kit and a firm favourite. I'd have 10 of these if I could but they've been dis-continued and you'll find hens teeth before you track one down.


One of the first synthetics I bought was the Berghaus Infinity Light and I've been using it for years. For something so light, it's surprisingly warm. The boxy cut means that it fits over over layers easily and the Pertex outer sheds snow and light rain like a bastard. There's no hood but I can live with that; I carry a Buff year-round.


Next up is the Montane Solo. Again discontinued (why, oh why???) and picked up in a clearance sale. Stupidly warm for the weight (think Poartec 300) and with just enough features to make it practically perfect. The Pertex roll-away hood is the cherry on the cake.


I've got 2 Haglofs Barrier Hoods. I used one all through last winter as an everyday outer layer and stayed warm, dry & comfy regardless of the weather. I can't fault it. At first glance, it looks a bit on the bulky side but it scrunches down into one of the pockets, nae bother. Lovely.


Being a Paramo fanboy, I sat up and took notice when they announced they were bringing out a couple of insulation pieces. Initial reports of weight and bulkiness issues meant that I hedged my bets and went for the Paramo Torres vest. I'm glad I did because it works very, very well indeed. Pack size is reasonable and the weight isn't that contentious. It doesn't give a monkey's how crap the weather is either. I like it a lot.


When the Montane Prism 2.0 came out, I nearly took Mr Fast&Light's hand off. Even the colour, a ferocious Alpine Red, couldnae stop me. I cannot wait to be sitting on a snowy summit, brew in hand, wrapped up in this puppy. It begs to be taken out on wintery adventures. And it shall my friends. Oh yes, it shall.


Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Unbearable Kindness of Strangers

I picked up a Markill Peak Ignition Ti stove today from the Post Office. It belongs to Matt Swaine, Editor of Trail. It's his personal stove. I have a handwritten note to prove it. He's given it to me to keep. He's also sending me some other stuff. He didn't have to but he did.

Mad steam-punk ray-gun?

I think that's awfy kind. All he's asked in return is that I maybe send in a photie of it getting used.

I can do that.

I'm taking that piezo ignition off first tho'.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Silver Lining

One of the things I've meaning to do since me & The Boy's trip to the 'gorms was to put together a One Pot Kitchen for him. The stove he used was a wee bit too big to fit in the Alpkit MyTi Mug along with a gas canister, Buff and Spork.

Trail failed to deliver on their promise of a free Markill Hot Shot way back in April when I subscribed (more on that later) and I've been keeping a weather-eye open ever since. I was quite chuffed with myself when I bid on, and won, a Hot Shot that had been listed on Ebay. But that has come to nought, the seller coughing up nothing but excuses and lining herself up for my very first helping of negative feedback.

Last weekend, I found myself in Sterling Village, Tillicoutry (nr Stirling), accompanying The Future Mrs D on a mission of great importance. Luckily for me, there's a Mountain Warehouse there, formerly a Karrimor clearance outlet but now full of generic own-brand "stuff". Not the kind of place I'm known to frequent but I can usually kill 5 or 10 minutes mooching about inside. While wandering the aisles, a box caught my eye; a wee Coleman F1 stove. The price sticker looked wrong, way too cheap for what it was. I checked with the lassie on the till and it was indeed correct. "I'll take it", says I.


A result then. The F1 is lighter than the Markill by a long way. It's simple, cheap and folk seem to like it. I'm happy now :o)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Bulk Buyer

If something's worth buying, it's worth buying a lot of it. That's my philosophy.


At my current rate of consumption, this little lot should last me 'til at least 2010.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Easily Led

It's true, I am. I read things and ideas take root in my head. Money gets spent and small packages arrive. Usually I frown at whatever it is I've bought and think "Why did I get this, again?"


The latest offering is a case in point. I can only imagine that it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, the guylines on my Laserlite are a bit pish and the linelocks are indeed rubbish but really, I don't own a set of scales and I can't tie a bowline.

Aw hell. Now I'm thinking I really need a book on knots.

Somebody shoot me. Please.

Badge of Honour

It just dawned on me that I've been openly displaying my lightweight credentials, at work at least, for the last 3 years. Folk have asked me what it means and I've tried my best to explain. Very few people get it.


The sticker came from the label of my Golite Coal Parka. Why I then stuck it on my work laptop is anybody's guess. Either way, my memory has been jogged and I'm going back over the many adventures me & the Coal and have had. Winter's coming and I'm enthused.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Mental Bubblegum

It's been a hectic couple of weeks, what with changes at work, one bairn getting married and another going off to Uni', we've been driven to distraction. A walk would be good to clear the mind but, when time is short and the hour late, firing up an Xbox is the next best thing. (I'm talking as a non-drinker here btw).

A couple of the boys at work had been raving about Battlefield: Bad Company and so, when it finally hit the shelves, I picked up a copy.


They were right; it's a hoot. The multiplayer mode is a pure joy, if you like that kind of thing. We spent a few hours running around as a wee squad and had a brilliant time. The first of many missions together, I'm sure. Let's hear it for team bonding.


Me (centre) and the boys, playing to the camera

Friday, 29 August 2008

The King and I

10 years ago this month, I parked my car at the bottom of Dollar Glen and set off up into The Ochils. Fresh from shopping in Tiso's the day before, I was all shiny leather boots, baggy TNF pants and a "Wild Rover" ruckie, packed with fleeces, waterproofs, a big flask and assorted paraphenalia that the magazines told me were "Essentials that must be carried at all times" or somesuch. The day was hot and humid. So muggy, in fact, that even the midgies stayed home lest their hair go all curly and daft-looking. Needless to say, I didn't get far. My target of Kingseat may as well have been on the dark side of the moon. I flopped down, completely burst, on some wee bump.

The highest point of my first attempt

I could've thought "F**k this for a laugh" and gone home but, as the Lucozade Sport and flapjack worked their magic, I realised that I was actually having fun. Looking down on Dollar from way up on high, I actually remembered why I loved being in the hills. I dawndered back down to the car and that was it; I was hooked again.

I was out on the hills nearly every weekend after that and, 6 months later, returned to Kingseat. This time, I only stopped on the way up to admire the views. In just over an hour, blazing past all and sundry (including the man who did the "Walk of the week" for The Scotsman) I reached the shelter cairn and sat there for ages. The day was bright and clear, the temperature barely above freezing. Even the banter was good that day.

I left the top via a steep, and slightly reckless, direct descent down to The Burn of Sorrow. The glen was quiet, everything rimed with frost and not another soul in sight. A great walk out by any standard.

Back to the present and Wednesday saw me with a free day and a need to stretch my legs. Wanting to stay local, I headed along the A91 and swung a right at Dollar. 15 minutes later, I was walking up the road to Castle Campbell and, not long after that, I was heading up Kingseat.

Looking back towards Castle Campbell

It's no' a terribly big hill but it's broad as well as high which means there's a bit of walking across as well as up. It's also lumpy so there's 4 or 5 false summits to mess with the mind.

The saddle between Tarmangie and Whitewisp. Wind turbines just visible.

It's well worth the effort tho', the shelter cairn giving extensive views in every direction. It's a great place to linger.

Refuelling station.

I can see the hoose fae here. Well, nearly.

The lumpy, bumpy way up and down.

There was a wee bit of banter with a couple of auld boys, the only folk I saw, and then, 45 minutes later, I levered myself up and away. I actually found myself jogging back to the car, such was the spring in my step. Great stuff.

Somebody's been nibbling. Wisnae me. Honest.

The author.

Note: This is my 100th post and it's hill-related. Things must be improving :o)

Friday, 22 August 2008

After the rain

Some mornings, it's a pleasure to wake up and this is one of those mornings. The weather's been rubbish for weeks but it doesn't matter, eventually the sun will come back out.

If I lean back in my chair, I can see East Lomond. I've lost count of how many times I've been up there but it's a lot. It's nice to be able to stand out the back with a coffee in hand and look across to it.

Looking left I can see the top of West Lomond, just peering over the top of Bishop Hill.

The sun's shining and there's a fresh breeze coming in from the West. These things, among others, make me happy. It's good for the soul.

When the man comes around

I've had Johnny Cash in my head all week but it's all work-related, so nobody panic, OK?

Play it loud.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Saving the Planet

I'm a great believer in recycling. Anybody who's bought stuff from me via ebay will get a well-packaged bundle of happiness but it won't be the first time the wrapping has gone thru' the postal service.

So, when The Future Mrs D says "You've got a parcel", I immediately think "Woohoo!!". There's a moment of confusion when she chucks it over. It feels a bit crinkly, almost as if it's been wrapped in a shopping bag. "WTF?". It is wrapped in a shopping bag.

Crafty marketing or something else?

Now, if this had been bought from some nice person via Ebay, I could understand it but it wasn't. It came from a well known retailer.

On the one hand, it's a great bit of recycling. On the other, I paid nearly £4 for P&P. It did arrive quickly, right enough. Within 2 working days in fact.

I'm really no' sure how I feel about this. Actually, I do but I won't say anything here until I've spoken to their customer services folk.

I'm away to open it. I'm sure the contents will put a smile back upon my coupon.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

I Want To Believe

Yes, I do. In fact, I think I do believe. What I know, is that The X Files is/was one of the finest Sci-Fi series ever shown on TV.

I was a Fanboy. I've seen every episode at least twice, and a few of them a lot more than that. I had Seasons 1-9 recorded on VHS, each tape labelled, in order and with the write-protect tab broken off. Then Ebay arrived and the DVD box sets were winging their way to my door.

Image then, the crushing disappointment that is the current film, The X Files: I Want To Believe. I'd seen the trailer and it looked good. I was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen and in surround-sound. As I sat there, bucket of popcorn and industrial-sized fizzy drink to hand, I started to feel strangely sad; sad for myself but also for everyone that had ever watched, worked on and loved The X Files. It's awful. Truly, truly dire. I could've cried. Thank F**k for Orange Wednesday.

The Future Mrs D didn't like it either. Crushed, so I was.

So yesterday, we sat down to watch the first fillum, The X Files: Fight The Future, something which TFMD didn't even know existed. She enjoyed it . A lot. Declaring it "Really, really gid(sic)". It was nice to see it again. It made me feel much better. That's a proper film, that is.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Any Excuse

The Anjungilak Air Pillow; I must be one of the last people in the world to get one of these but it's one of those things that I never got around to buying for myself.

A decent night's kip? Here's hoping.

Praise be for birthdays then. Now I just need to get out and use it. Next weekend looks promising*. Something a wee bit higher up to avoid the midgies. Or not, if it's breezy lower down. A hill will be climbed tho'. Yes, indeed.

I suspect this coming week at work will be a bit of a pig and I'll have earned a break by Friday.

Update 08/08/08: Rain stops play. Forecast is uniformly rubbish from one side of the country to t'other.

*All plans are subject to change at short, or no, notice.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008


Disclaimer: The following post contains no references to gear, hills or indeed anything that could be remotely construed as "outdoorsy". (Although the graphical representation of trees, water and mountains is rather nice) If you play, you'll understand.

It's easy, in these times of scammers, spammers, phishers and other sundry low-lives, to think of the internet as nought other than a polluted conduit bringing all manner of sh*te into our lives. But sometimes, just sometimes, it can be a force for good and happiness.

The journey into the Haloverse can be perilous but also rewarding. Occasionally, the mix of folk is just right and you remember that the good people far outweigh the bad.

Witness then, the titanic struggle of Capture The Flag in Big Team Social. 16 strangers working together in 2 teams, in a spontaneous act of bonding.

No words spoken. Everyone knew the task in hand and each played their part. The defenders held their flag for 15 long minutes, the attackers relentless in their determination to pry it from their grasp.

And pry it, we did.

Death from above? Not this time.

With "friendlies" overhead, I managed to get two-thirds of the way back to base before a determined counter-attack took me down.

Run Forrest, run!

The rest of my team were already on the way and took the flag regardless. Nobody said a word.

With 2 minutes left, and the other team pressing hard, I fought my way into their base and took their flag again. One of my team mates was outside, transport at the ready.


We made it back with 3 seconds on the clock.Again, no words.

Game over and back in the post-game lobby, the banter was all "Well played" and "Good game." Friends were made, new loyalties forged and everybody had a ball. And that's what it's all about.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

The 45

Halfway to my Four Score Years And Ten. I've done so much and yet there's still much to do.

Best crack on then.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Who goes there?

There's nothing quite like waking up early on a Saturday morning to the sound of two very large, and very hairy, dogs barking their heads off. All bad thoughts were banished in an instant however when it turned out to be our pal, the Postie.

He handed over a brown paper-wrapped cube in exchange for an autograph. Some deft finger nail action revealed our latest aquisition; a sleek, black, and awfy fancy, camera. One of those posh ones with the wee telly on the back.

An end to slightly rubbish photies like this?

There will be much RTFM'ing, I'm sure. The wee Fuji is looking nervous and slightly sheepish. And so it should. My memory is long and its' previous belligerence has been carefully noted.


Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Ding, Dong.....

It's that time of year again when thoughts turn to Scotland's second most famous creature, the Midgie. A time when fannying about at the back of the car, sorting and adjusting various bits of stuff, isn't an option. Wishing to hell that you hadn't worn shorts and doing that strange wee dance* that's seen in every car park and campsite across Scotland from May 'til October.

I've been using Skin So Soft** for years now and, for me at least, it works. For complete preservation of sanity however, long sleeves, trousers and a head-net are a must.

Who cares if you smell like a girl?

Reading that back, I've realised just how soft I've become after all these years in the Lowlands. As a youngster, growing up on Speyside, Midgies were an accepted part of life. They're just there, as much a part of the landscape as trees and hills. I don't remember ever having to run home, screaming like a girl.

It's reckoned they cost the Scottish tourist industry millions in lost revenue and that may be true but they also keep the property developers at bay. Scotland without the Midgie would be a very different place indeed.

And if I kill a few hundred whenever I'm out, then that's just acceptable losses.

UPDATE - 19/07/08

The briefest of searches turned up a wee 50ml skooshy bottle in Boots' travel section. Some smaller ones in amongst the hair products but they were dearer and full of stuff. Worth bearing in mind though.

*Running in circles, waving both hands in the air while screaming unintelligibly.

**The search is on for a smaller, skooshy-topped receptacle.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Turning Japanese

WARNING! This post contains references to "GEAR". Proper Walkers should look away.

Nipped out at lunchtime to picked up a parcel from the PO, a Snow Peak Trek 900 Ti, bought via Ebay for not a lot of my hard-earned.

It makes me happy on 2 levels;
1. It's new and shiny and I like new and shiny.
2. It means I can get rid of the Alpkit MyTi Mug with its' Gosh-Darned Awful rattley lid.

It drove me demented with its' constant clink-clink-clink. A veritable titanium monkey on my back.

Anyways, I needed something a bit bigger for The Boy and his copious appetite for hot beverages.

All we need now is for it to stop raining long enough for us to get out there and put some "dings" in it.

OK. You can look now.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Thousand Words

The Boy destroyed my PC. I know how he did it; switching it off at the wall rather than shutting it down in the way Bill Gates intended. If it had been been one of my Linux or XP boxes, it might have survived. So, I take it into work and try and bring it back from the dead in my lunch hour but the hard drives have had enough. They kick into life maybe one time in 10. I managed to drag some stuff off and onto a USB drive before they expired forever. Among the salvage was a set of photies that brought a wee smile to my stir-crazy coupon. It doesn't take a lot of effort to cast my mind back to the day they were taken; I can remember what I was wearing, what the weather was like and even what I had for lunch.

Ben Ledi, Jan 2004

Wandering up the Stank Glen

Above the Pass of the Dead

Ice and snow sculpture

Snowy magnificence

They're not great photies by any means. They were hurried affairs on account of it being so fecking cold but they're priceless nonetheless. This was to be Meg and I's last "big" hill day. If I'd known that our time together was to be only two more short years, I would've taken more pictures. I would've lingered a bit longer on top and packed a few more treats to while away our usual dawdling at the summit.

Leave only footprints

Meg, sheltering behind the summit cairn

Ben Ledi summit cross (a sock-winning shot)

Looking back for the last time

Sad to think that we'll never have that day again but I feel immensely priviliged to have had a day as fine as that at all.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

The Man In The Arena

If I wrote what I wanted to say to those who sat back and did nothing, those who say "I told you so" and the ones with the smirk upon their apathetic coupons, I'd run the risk of having this blog removed and be banished from my beloved OM.

So I left them with following :

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

President Theodore Roosevelt

No doubt the pish-takers will be along soon enough but, for now, I can no longer be arsed with them.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Who can it be?

Season 4 of Battlestar Galactica went off on its' "mid-season break" last week. The writer's strike had delayed filming but we're promised it'll be back in early 2009. Rumour has it that the writers are happy with the ending of this, the final season of BSG proper. After that, there is talk of "prequels". I can't wait.

The mid-season finale, Revelations, was possibly the best piece of TV I've seen in the last decade. I've said before, the cast are wonderful, the writing and direction way ahead of Hollywood mainstream. For 45 mins, I was rivetted to the sofa. The ending wasn't what I expected but it was perfect, nonetheless.

The smart money is on Anastasia Dualla aka "D"

Great TV. Great Science Fiction.

Seek it out, I urge you. There really is nothing quite like it.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Pass it forward

Buying kit is one of life's guilty pleasures. There, I've said it. Doesn't matter how much I have, there's always room for more. Usually. Every 6 months or so, the pleasure wears off and the un-used stuff in the gear pile starts to talk about me behind my back.

So I'll make a wee pile of things that I'm willing to part with; kit that's been used once or never used at all. It's all good stuff too. In the unlikely event that I've bought a turkey, I'll bin it rather than fob it off on the unsuspecting. And the object of the exercise isn't to make a profit. That rarely happens. More often, I'll break even or sell at a slight loss. I don't mind either way because I like the idea that the gear is going to somebody who might actually use it. Spread the joy and all that.

For the last several years, I've used Ebay to facilitate these transactions and, just last weekend, listed several items that were ready to be passed forward.

Imagine my surprise when, after initially logging in to check how it's going and to answer the inevitable daft questions from interested parties, I'm greeted by a message from Ebay. I forget the exact wording but it was along the lines of "If you access Ebay from anywhere other than your "normal" computer, we may suspend your account and you will have to call us and verify your identity before we re-activate it. We're doing this for your own good. Have a nice day."

No more accessing Ebay from work then? Or from any of the other 3 PCs we have in the house? That's a bit pish.

It got better. Continuing on to My Ebay, I spotted an "alert" in amongst the daft questions. It seems that one of my listings contained an "inappropriate link" and had been removed. WTF? The link in question was to a review of the Vargo Triad Stove on and complied with Ebay's own listing policy. I have an option to edit the description and re-list the item but it'll cost me the normal listing fee. I may be eligible for a refund of my original fee but that's not a given. I think I'll pass, thanks.

Digging around, I found that, as well as no longer being able to leave negative feedback for crappy buyers, Ebay (presumably in cahoots with Paypal) can withold payments to you for up to 30 days or until you receive positive feedback. In fact, going by the fury and frustration on the user forums, it seems Ebay can do whatever they damn well please.

When a business forgets who it was that actually built the ivory tower they now sit atop, it's time for the builders to take their custom elsewhere.* I'll take my chances with the online classifieds from now on. It's highly unlikely, but maybe I'll even think twice about that next purchase.

Aye, right. :o)

*That wee Ebay link will be removed forthwith.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Put it back

Unprompted by neo-colonialist guilt and bucolic-vision free, I signed up with the National Trust for Scotland. The facilities I used and paths I walked recently, were enough to convince me that it was the right thing to do.

I'll offset the money by cancelling my membership of The BMC. They do naff all* for me anyway.

*I toned it down a bit.

Monday, 9 June 2008

What's this?

Came back from Stirling on Saturday to find a card from the postie. Something wouldnae fit through the letterbox. I had an inkling about what it might be but couldnae be sure.

So, this morning, I nipped in on the way to work and picked it up.


Ah right. I'd stuck a bid on a wee Ajungilak cup on Ebay on account of it being a) a nice shape and, more importantly, b) marked in 50ml increments. (I wanted to avoid future "soup" incidents when re-hydrating stuff).

Unfortunately, around the same time, I'd ordered an Optimus Terra Solo pot which is also marked therein.

Not to worry. It didnae cost much and I'm sure it'll get used. Probably in the next couple of weeks, in fact.