Well that's summer done, and a great one it was, I've managed to get quite a lot done, including some voluntary work, of which more later.
We've had a couple of ground frosts and an autumnal downpour or two and the delights of driving home in the dark, or if setting off earlier then driving into the setting sun. Still it could be worse, I can usually delay going out until after the frost has melted off the car, and try to come back after the rush-hour when the A70 turns into a race track. The authorities were thinking about restricting it to 50 mph, but thankfully haven't yet. It would be a great idea in terms of safety, but what made them think that people who consider 100 mph reasonable on a 60 mph road are going to take any notice of a 50?
Anyway, racers often come undone on the first significant snow because West Lothian generally don't bother gritting their bit of the A70 - just after a 'hidden dip'. I always thought the old expression 'dead ground' was more appropriate although the rocket jockeys usually survive. (The picture on the right is of the voluntary work, not a memorial). The exit tracks can be quite spectacular but as car components get more and more specialised it's rarely worth looking for recyclable bits. The old Lucas components were wonderfully transferrable between all the old BLMC cars but that's all changed, in spite of it all being made in China. I shall have to wait for a few Electric vehicles to be wrecked, I'll be able to use their batteries and motors.
On the subject of old cars my red Midge has emerged at last from its chrysalis in its own way, the body is the same but the chassis and engine are replaced. From the outside the only obvious change is the number-plate so it would be more accurate to say that the blue Midge has had a second re-body, but it feels like the old red one, except that the engine works properly.
The next question is whether to box in the back end, it would mean a more effective boot and I could fit a roof, possibly with a folding windscreen. Theoretically I could put a couple of rear seats in, but I don't think there would be much point, it isn't over powered now and they'd never be comfortable. A nice planked deck-top would make the back end more interesting.
The porch is now done, well I might replace the lino shortly, but I've got some solar powered lights which seem to be working late enough into the night and a PIR to make the lights come on when anybody visits. The path is largely sorted, and much more level than it was. I may make it wider if there's enough slabs left over, and the sprinkler tube will go down to ground level. It usually gets turned off for the winter while frosts would damage the timing mechanism, and if it operated and then froze it might make the path a bit of a liability.
The community improvement organisation (WATIF?) got us both out to clear some weeds, reposition some signs and generally tidy up a walk near the village. It doesn't take nature long to conceal the entrance, but if there's a bit of walking traffic then it should stay clear until the Spring growth gets going. In the meantime we've started a 'Pop-up Cafe' on the last Friday of the month, there's a gardening club and various other organisations to stop people getting bored. It would be easier to do in a town, with a bigger population to serve but seems to be appreciated. Small villages tend to be devolving into dormitories especially with TV and the Internet keeping people indoors, but there's life here yet, and although a fair part of the inhabitants don't really get involved there is a core that goes out and does a bit of gardening, has a chat over the fence or walks the dog, all of which get them engaged. I blame work, it takes up too much time.
I thought the idea was that we'd reduce the working hours and have more leisure, more disposable income, and develop new skills. It was all going quite well, having got over the second world war, settled down after the sixties, improved wages and health care, cut working hours and started enjoying life a bit. Then sadly the Thatcher government started the reversal so that we all had to work harder and longer to keep up. I'm still puzzled as to why the British are so polite and don't complain as their basic rights, time, services and health are eroded. All part of not causing a fuss I suppose.
Thinking back a few years I remember going to work, not an experience I'd want to repeat, and realised I'd not really thought about it for a while. A friend developed a problem and asked what I used to do. I was going to send him a photo of a Gamma Camera and found I only had two of the original machine, nothing digital. I looked online and couldn't find any mention of the type, so here's a record of what it looked like before it fades from human recall.
I was in the general X-Ray department in Winchester from 77 to 82. Mostly in the main department, but also doing ‘mobile’ work in A+E, theatres and wards. I moved to the Edinburgh WGH where I was in Nuclear Medicine. That meant a one ton mobile gamma Camera which was mounted on a fork-lift chassis visiting outlying hospitals. As they developed their own Nuclear Medicine departments, or closed, I moved back to the WGH main department and after working with the static units for a few generations of machine, I gradually shifted over to CT/Nuclear. There the images of NM are combined with CT to provide a composite image so the structure (CT) and the function (NM) give a better idea of what’s going on. Medical radiography Images are now largely 3d and digital, the old photo negative chest x-ray on an illuminated board is well out of date. Radiologists, to clear up a point often raised, are doctors with, hopefully, the ability to diagnose from the images that Radiographers produce. They get paid more, work indoors and don’t do much heavy lifting.
The pictures are of my old Gamma camera, an ElScint around 1986. The basic idea is inject the patient with a radioactive saline solution which goes to the appropriate part of the body and is taken up into the structure according to the function. So for instance the thyroid shows up illuminated by Iodine 131, except for any bits that aren’t working properly. In those days there were lots of buttons to push and little lights that flashed. The images, by modern standards were rubbish and stored on 9” floppy discs. Nowadays the machines all look the same, a narrow bed that slides into a big dough-nut, so to prevent boredom I did a bit of cardiology which was like X-ray but on cine film, now digital recording of course and involves standing for long periods of time in a lead coat. Occasionally exciting when the patient suddenly ‘had a funny turn’ (died) and had to be jump-started again, usually none the worse for the experience and fortuitously little memory. If is of any comfort most seemed to just fade out and then back in again, slightly puzzled but reasonably relaxed.
Of course radiography was a lot more complicated than that, but I find most people doze off after 5 minutes so I'll leave that simplified version, you can google Nuclear Medicine and Gamma Camera if you want more.
I waited until the porch was more or less finished before collecting a new Table-saw which I am just beginning to understand. The Montrose Air Heritage centre got my old one. It probably would have made more sense to change saws first, but life is like that sometimes. The circular saw, power-plane and chop-saw happened the same way. I guess it made sense to practice on the old ones before using the new ones.
That might seem like a lot of expense, but it should facilitate some clever work, and was cheaper than I expected, it also makes life a bit safer as some of the old stuff was getting a bit, well...old. If I'd had professionals build any one of the porch or conservatories the expense would have been greater than all of the machinery and materials for all three put together, and it would have been quicker, but less fun. The new porch has been a delight to the cat as he can sit on the mat, as is traditional, and stare into space while keeping warm and dry. The down side is that he likes to do that a lot, and consequently wants doors opened fairly regularly. It's an odd thing with cats, open doors and the room beyond are of no interest, but a closed one is fascinating, and then there's the opportunity of standing and thinking about it half way through. Errol can yell for five minutes wanting a door open, and then, when he gets his wish, looks at me as to ask 'Why have you brought me here?' Hours of entertainment in a cat, but mainly for the cat. Sometimes I think children would have been easier, but they'd have objected to the cat food.
I recently found a radio programme called 'The Infinite Monkey Cage' a half hour scientific discussion with humour. Brian Cox and Robin Ince with guests. If you have a liking for New Scientist, or Tomorrow's World or remember James Burke and his connections series, then you might find them interesting. It's a bit difficult finding the first ones, but I've managed to listen from the first to series 15 so far. There are 6 in each series, and if that's not enough, some of James Burke's shows are still on you-tube .
Before the summer disappeared entirely we popped over to Seacliff, I think that's the right spelling, Fiona and Andy wanted to have a go with the sea kayaks (ditto spelling) though it was a bit breezy so the boats stayed on the car roof. However it made for an excellent day out and we had a traditional wander along the beach. It's a private beach with a £3 entry fee, which might sound a bit short of the 'right to roam' we have in Scotland. However it means a relatively empty beach with not much litter. The Scottish right to roam was instigated because there were so many absentee landlords and foreign land-owners telling people that they couldn't walk here and there. That and the shooting fishing and hunting organisations banning walkers and campers meant the Scots were getting a bit narked at being told to push off by the people whose fathers had used the clearances to replace people with sheep. Sadly it doesn't seem to matter where you come from, rich people act in much the same way.
The beach doesn't show up much here because although sand is easier to sit on, I find rocks more interesting. I haven't included us as I've never seen the point in photographing places of interest with myself or others blocking the view. That's Tantallon Castle in the distance in the upper photo and The Bass Rock in the lower. Another volcanic plug, we have quite a few of those.
Ah well that'll do for the moment. Have fun.