Perhaps the title of this blog is a bit misleading. I've got nothing to say about the Swiss army at all, but I thought with all the different sections of the blog, it was a bit like a Swiss army knife with lots of different blades. Anyway, it does give me an excuse to take all the blades out on my Swiss army knife at once, which I managed to do without hurting myself (an unlikely outcome).
According to Victorinox's website my particular knife is a model called the Huntsman . It might seem a little inappropriate to encourage wine drinking while hunting, but I've not usually been armed to the teeth when I've found uses for the corkscrew before.
Alas, once upon a time, this useful object lived in my pocket from which it made many appearances for snipping, cutting and sawing. I've even opened the odd tin can with it and it has gained me access to several gallons of inebriant in it's time although, it must be pointed out, that I've never had cause to remove a stone from a horses hoof. Now there is a great fear that I might use it to run amok on the High Street with my trusted piece of Swiss engineering, or that I might be a member of the military wing of the Beard Liberation Front and use it to take hostages at the local branch of Quick Cutz. My knife has now been relegated from my pocket to a tidy corner (only the corner is tidy) of my desk where it is rarely called upon to complete tasks which challenge it very much.
Mystery Book Sculptures.
In 2011, eleven book sculptures were left in various public locations in Edinburgh. Nobody knows who made them but they are delightful objects and they have all been kept. They were displayed together last year I believe. Some, perhaps all, are now on display at various places around the city. I saw this one on display last week in the National Library of Scotland. The coffin here is made from a copy of Charles Gibbons', The Casquet of Literature and the gramophone is made for Ian Rankin's, Exit Music. It was found in the same building it is in now and came with a label which said "For @Natlibscot - A gift - in support of Libraries, Books, Words, Ideas ..... (& against their exit)"
More of the 2011 sculptures can be seen in this Flickr album.
That wasn't the last that was heard of the paper sculpture gifts. In August last year 50 paper flower sculpture were left around the site of the Edinburgh International Book Festival and in November last year another five book sculptures appeared at various locations around Scotland to celebrate book week Scotland. Also on display in the National Library is this sculpture, which is one of the five. For each sculpture, on line clues were posted as to the location they were in. The finder received a trophy of a paper teacup decorated appropriately (in this case with a palm tree). This one was found at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick and is themed on Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.The label for this one reads, " 'His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were' Robert Louis Stevenson ...Because reading matters...."
Three further sculptures have appeared, the last this year in June. Hopefully they will continue and that I'll continue to come across them occasionally.
The word Selfie has been named as the Oxford Dictionaries word of the year. Apparently, it's usage has increased by 17000% over the year, which is quite a lot. In case you didn't know, a selfie is a photograph taken by yourself of yourself and I have to admit to being occasionally guilty. I took this particular selfie a few weeks ago in the pictures (thus the darkness) waiting to watch a 3D film (thus the specs) (Gravity by the way - worth going to see in 3D but not sure how good it would be in 2D, let alone on the telly)
The Oxford dictionary people first found the word used in an Australian Internet forum in 2002 but the selfie itself is almost as old as photography. This is the oldest known selfie, taken by Robert Cornelius in 1839.
The taking a photograph of yourself in the mirror isn't exactly a new trick either as demonstrated by this young lady sometime round about 1900. Unfortunately, Facebook is still a hundred years in the future so she has nowhere to post it to #OMG
Not content with a selfie - here's a selfie of me taking a selfie.
Behind me, keeping an eye on my comings and goings, are two giants of Scottish literature and poetry. I took a photo of both original paintings last week when I was in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The Robert Burns painting is by Alexander Nasmyth
The Walter Scott is by Henry Raeburn.
Sir Henry died in 1823, sixteen years before the first selfie. But when your Scotland's top notch portrait painter, who needs a camera, you can just paint yourself a selfie. So here's Henry Raeburn's selfie. Of course if you don't have to use an arm to press the shutter, then that leaves both arms free to strike a hip pose. Yo Sir Henry.
The Giant Jar of Nutella
5 kilograms of delight. Forget something to spread it on, just bring me a spoon.
After my trip to the pictures to see Gravity, I took myself to the Yo Sushi in Aberdeen where, after several visits now, I still find myself amused by my dinner arriving by conveyor belt. Accompanied by some passable Japanese beer.
Taking a selfie while picking up food with chopsticks.
Here's a useful button - don't you wish there were more of these about.
A little known but brilliant idea.
Most people are aware that, in order to help blind and partially sighted people across the road, the green man at a pedestrian crossing is often accompanied by a bleeping noise. But what happens if a person can't see or hear?
I've discovered that underneath the box with the crossing button, is this grooved knob. When the green crossing light goes on, the knob rotates. By placing a finger against it and waiting to feel it turn, you can tell when it's safe to cross the road.
Occasionally I find myself obliged to drink beer. On such occasions, if possible, I like to try something that is new to me. The Masonic Arms in Kirkcudbright probably has the best selection of beer in town. Harviestoun's Ola Dudh 18 is a mighty old beer matured in 18 year old Highland Park whisky barrels. It tastes fruity and biscuity and almost every other taste you could think of. See how it absorbes all light and once emptied, the empty bottle automatically goes into orbit round about the beer. You could paint this on a fence and it would last for years but I recommend you drink it instead because it is excellent. You might want to sit down first - it's 8%. (sneeked another selfie in there)
Also good and very similar is Ola Dubh 12. I'm guessing that the Ola Dubh 16, that I didn't try, is also quite similar.
Here's a small conglomerate picture of several recent beers. As you would read them, St Edmunds by Green King, Bramling Cross by Broughton, Galloway Gold by Sulwath (our local Galloway brewery), Shipyard IPA all the way from the US of A, Abro lager from Sweden, and half a pint of cashew nuts (not strictly speaking beer but it came in a glass in a pub - a new way to sell nuts for me. It's a lot of nuts by the way)
Einstok Pale Ale, forged in Iceland, gets my vote as the best beer I've tasted for ages.
This was an excellent beer too, although I can't remember what it was (whatever the Masonic's guest ale was that day I would imagine). "I'll buy you a pint if you sing Dancing Queen in the pub", sounded like a challenge to me. Song sung, pint collected - thank you John.
I couldn't see any information a pair of chairs that I saw in the National Gallery of Scotland. They've certainly got a bit of character.
If the chap on this chair worries you......
......then I expect this fellow is even worse.
The joy of rosin.
Without adding a little rosin, violin bows don't work very well. I left mine at work a few weeks ago and had to buy some more, Brand new rosin is lovely stuff and it always seems a shame to use it, but that first use has a satisfaction on a par with braking through the paper of a new jar of coffee with a teaspoon.
Afterwards, it will never look quite the same again.
I reckoned a little spare time in Edinburgh the other day could be usefully occupied by having a hot chocolate in the Cafe Nero on the High Street. With no regard for my waistline but great regard for my soul, I had a slice of cake as well.
At the heliport, waiting to go to work, I find that they don't go in for fine crockery. I really don't like polystyrene cups but, if that is what's available, it's better than nothing. At least they had one of Scotland's finest confections available to go with it, the Tunnocks' Teacake.
You may remember these sheds first appearing a couple of years ago (remind yourself here). They have quickly established themselves as an iconic sign of the Arts and Crafts trail and brighten up the town in various locations throughout the year. This month they have taken on a festive appearance.
I'm pleased to report that this year there have been some small additions to the shed family.
Some people are full of "Ho Ho Ho" and others are more inclined to "Ba, Humbug!" (I'm inclined to the later), but whether you're celebrating Christmas, Yule, Admiring the solstice or just keeping your head down in the certain knowledge that it will all go away eventually, have a great end of the year. Tara for now.