Friday, April 22, 2011

The Mountain.

If you haven't yet seen this video, I recommend it. An amazing example of intermittent video. How he can get a smooth video while moving a camera that's taking intermittent shots is beyond me. Then there are the night-sky shots. Usually you'd need a long exposure and a motorised camera mount to follow the stars. He seems to be able to take one-off shots of the night sky that are nothing short of astounding.

This man has some very expensive camera gear, I think.

I confess. I am jealous. However, he does not, as far as I know, have a picture of a wood pigeon on a red pergola.

So nyah.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Email is broken. It wasn't me, it was the Email gremlins.

I owe Emails, but I can't do it today.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Better late than never.

A man is to be buried exactly 190 years after he died. There's not much left of him, there are bones and there's a book bound in his skin, but he is finally getting buried.

Well, his bones are. There's no mention of whether the book is going in too. Somehow I doubt it. As for the rest of him, I suspect there are parts in formalin in a basement somewhere.

It's the sort of thing that happens when doctors get hold of you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cowcatchers from Space.

Cattle mutilation has a long history and it's in the news again. Cattle are found dead, no footprints leading to or from the carcass, and with bits missing. It's been happening for a long time and it still happens now.

I know there are sceptics who will snort and say 'It's all nonsense, it doesn't happen'. There are too many documented cases for this approach to have any merit. It does happen. Why, how and who, are unknown but the actual event certainly does occur. Simply denying the event is like a blind man denying the sky is blue. It's a frankly silly apporach.

Nobody has ever seen one of these mutilations take place even though there have been thousands of documented cases. All anyone ever sees is the dead animal afterwards. They'd be put down to spontaneous deaths if it wasn't for the consistent mutilations.

I can't figure it out. The 'who' theories include secret government tests, but if they wanted to test some kind of weapon on cows they could simply buy cows at the market and arouse no suspicion at all. Well, aside from the inevitable black suits and sunglasses and the black cattle trailers. They just can't help themselves there. Still, stealing them, killing them and then dumping the corpse where it will be found is not what you'd expect any secretive organisation to do.

The aliens get the blame too, of course. Again, if they wanted to test something without humans finding out, they aren't doing a very good job of hiding their activities. The dumped corpse would at least make sense. There can't be a lot of room in the spaceships so they'd only keep the parts they wanted.

In either case, they could at least weight the corpse and dump it at sea. Or in the wilds where it won't be found until most of it has been eaten. That would be the sensible course because the missing parts then won't be noticed.

The 'how' seems to be pretty much unanimously agreed. Some kind of flying craft - helicopter or spaceship - grabs the cow and lifts it. These flying machines are stealth ones so nobody hears them or sees them. Very expensive machines. Then they take a few bits, meddle with the corpse and dump it.

Whoever is doing this, it must be costing them a fortune. Yet they don't take rump steaks. They take tongues and eyes and reproductive organs and ears. The cheapest parts on the butcher's shelf. In fact, I'll bet most butchers would give you the eyes and ears for free. So it's an extraordinarily expensive way to steal the bits of cattle nobody wanted anyway. They could simply collect these by the bucket load at any slaughterhouse. Apart from tongues. Those are popular with a lot of people, but they're cheap.

The 'why' is absolutely mystifying. Why go to the enormous expense and trouble, not to mention the risk of arrest, by stealing these cattle, and then keeping the least edible parts and dumping the rest with no attempt at hiding the crime?

If you wanted those parts for some kind of experiment, ritual, or just to make stew, they're all cheap or free. Why steal them? If you wanted a whole cow for some nefarious purpose, why not just buy one? They're expensive, but you can buy an awful lot of cows and transport for the price of a stealth helicopter.

Finally, if it really had to be secret and totally untraceable, why not make use of wild deer or cattle? Why take the ones that someone is going to miss, and why leave them in places, and in a condition, where the involvement of the authorities is inevitable?

As I said, the fact of these cattle mutilations is undeniable. It happens.

I just can't find any logical reason for anyone, human or alien, to do it.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Money matters.

I hate money. It's confusing. Unfortunately everyone needs to have some these days. If you want to live in a house, even if you own it outright, there are taxes due just because you choose to live in one place. So even having no income does not allow you to escape tax. You have to continually earn money even if you don't owe any to anyone, and when you earn money, they tax that too. It's a game you can't win and can't opt out of unless you live in a tent in the mountains. I have been tempted.

Then there's all the food and clothing and electricity which I could produce myself but then I'd spend all day, every day, doing that and nothing else. I don't really want to live like a 13th century peasant, no matter how much our government want me to. On the other hand, my idea for rain-power is still on the drawing board. We get far more of that than sun here.

Years ago, I lived in a flat with a mortgage. It was small and cheap and to be honest, I didn't like living there very much. The mortgage was of the endowment type, which means you only pay the mortgage interest every month and then pay into a sort-of insurance policy that is meant to cover the price of the house when the mortgage is due.

What I wish I had known at the time is that a) there's no guarantee the policy will pay as much as you'll need and b) if the amount owed stays the same, so does the interest. With an ordinary repayment mortgage, you pay the interest and part of the capital every month. So the interest reduces as the amount owed reduces.

Well, I sold the flat a long time ago but let the endowment continue. Cashing in early would have meant losing money and it wasn't expensive to keep going. Then I bought a bigger house (this time with an ordinary repayment mortgage). I reasoned that the endowment would knock a big chunk out of this mortgage when it became due, and it's now due.

So they sent me forms. Lots of forms. They have taken payments from my bank account for all these years and never cared who I was but now it's time to pay out it's all 'Oh, sorry? Do we know you?'

It's simple. Just pay the money into the same account it's been coming out of for 25 years. The account hasn't changed. Yet I had to send photo ID to people who have never met me and who have no idea what I look like. I had to have my signature witnessed by someone who works in finance. I send forms back, they send new forms. It's like some weird game of postal tennis. Why does it have to be so complex?

If I'd known the hell I'd have to go through to get this money back out I wouldn't have spent the last 25 years paying in.

This wad of cash would take about a third off the remaining mortgage and that is my only debt. I have no other loans at all. Debt makes me nervous. If I were ever to win the lottery, my first act would be to pay off the mortgage and my second would be to get a T-shirt printed with 'Ha! I owe nothing.'

The only financial advice I'd offer anyone is - keep it simple. Don't be swayed by fancy plans promising huge returns. If you don't fully understand it, take nobody's word for it, don't get involved.

Anyway, the latest forms went off today. Their turn now.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Making good use of down time.

I've been trying to find the April Fool articles in the news. The spoofs, the joke reports. There are always some. Years ago this was reasonably easy, but now the real news is so bizarre it's impossible to find the spoofs. I've given up. How can any spoof compete with such news as that of Gaddafi's government fleeing for sanctuary to the UK, one of the countries they're at war with and the very country that is still enraged about the release of Al-Megrahi? Most of the news now looks as if it was written by the Monty Python team while exceptionally drunk and probably high on something. And, most likely, while having a psychotic episode. How can any spoof story possibly compete?

In real life, this is a busy time of year because the tax year ends on April 5th. Any expenditure that is tax deductible is best done this week so it's deducted from this year's taxes. Any danger of income is best avoided for a week because that gives me another year before I have to pay tax on it. Devious, I know, but our Government are 100% stupid and will waste any tax money they get, so the less they get, the less stupidity they can engage in. I think of it as a service to society.

There has been nothing to report on anything paranormal for many months. The weather is improving in that the snow is now rain, and it doesn't freeze you to the ground any more so with luck I'll get out somewhere soon. There's a ruined church I've been looking at for a long time. Last Christmas Eve's regular visit to the Inverurie battle site was abandoned due to extreme cold. Next year I'll stock up on extreme cold gear just in case so I don't miss it again. The year before, I thought I was very close to getting something so it was intensely frustrating to be frozen out last year.

I don't waste the down time. Some will be aware that I also write stories based, not on fact, but on fiction. The background research I do comes in very handy when spinning plausible tales. Naturally I do this under another name because being a scientist and especially in this field, the phrase 'I write fiction' is best avoided.

So you will find that the demons mentioned in 'Jessica's Trap', the first novel I have managed to rouse myself into submitting enough times to find an interested publisher, are all to be found in a real book called the Goetia, an old book of magic, part of the Lemegeton. Many of the books you hear about in such stories are real. The Key of Solomon, the Grimoire of Armadel, many of them genuinely exist - whether they are, in themselves, genuine is another matter.

Then there are fictional tomes such as the Necronomicon which is a creation of H.P. Lovecraft, so skilfully hinted at in his stories that many people believe such a book actually exists. It does not and never has. Two of those I use in my fiction don't exist either but all the rest do. I have copies - translations in paperback, not originals. I'll never be able to afford the originals, they would strain even Bill Gates' bank account. They would be useless to me anyway because I would still need to pay someone to translate them for me! Goetia (translation) is available on Amazon, as are others, but ignore Aleister Crowley's illustrations. He was obsessed with - how to put this delicately - the schoolboy imaginings of how far the middle leg could grow. All the demons he drew have genitalia that would make an elephant's eyes bulge. I elected to leave out that part from my own stories to avoid an XXX rating.

Jessica's Trap is available in paperback already even though it is not slated for release until April 7th. You can find it on Amazon. com and on It will also be available on Kindle and as a PDF from the publisher, I hope before the 7th.

There is one out there who has no need to buy a copy. The editor had an easy ride and changed nothing of importance so the pre-acceptance copy reviewed by Southern Writer is the same as the one on sale. Except, the new version has a professional cover.

Currently my spare time is taken up with another book reviewed by SW. I bought the Kindle version even though it's not much cheaper than the print version because a) the Kindle is a new toy, b) there's no postage and c) it arrives within a minute of pressing 'buy'.

It's a book no hardened sceptic can bear to read. It is reasonable and restrained on the subject of anomalous events and restricts itself to factual accounts with referrable material. I'd write a review myself but I haven't finished reading it and SW has already done a good job of it.

Here's what SW has to say. From what I've read so far, I'm likely to agree completely.

And now, since it's raining, I'm just going to make up stories. The trouble with scientists is that if you want a zombie that can grow back its head, scientists can come up with a plausible way for it to happen. In fact, we have to. We're the ones who hiss though our teeth at the so-called biochemist in 'Red Planet' and who cannot accept that the lord of Mordor can be destroyed just by melting his ring. When we write scary we don't just write 'it might possibly happen' scary. We write 'oh yes, it certainly could happen and could well be happening now, behind you' scary.

So while the ghosts aren't scaring anyone, I'll do it. Hey, I'll be dead one day so best get the practice in.