Monday 11 September 2017

Stuff On My Phone (3)

OK, I have to admit to a thing... 'Stuff On My Phone' wasn't the first choice name for this series. I know, it's a bit of a bombshell, eh? For a while, I had been toying with the idea of calling it 'A Window On My World', which was just as descriptive and does sound much more... sensible. Let's face it, that probably sealed its fate, right there. But neither were my preferred choice. However, third-placed 'Stuff On My Phone' it became.

And the mystery title... ?

One of the songs in my playlist is a bit of an anomaly, in as much as it doesn't sit particularly comfortably with the melodic/progressive rock and 60s/70s/80s pop that makes up the bulk of the list. No, that's unfair, it is very comfortable, that's what makes it different.

Let's rewind a few years. Our Lass, Second Born and I were dining at a restaurant in Aberfeldy, Perthshire. It was a very pleasant evening, the food and service were excellent, the barman created a unique and amazingly red mocktail for Our Lass, and the background music was varied and interesting in time and style. Lots of songs I knew well or had heard of, some I hadn't heard before but knew of the artist, and one song that caught my ear despite not previously having heard it or knowing who the band were. It stuck with me all evening. And the next day. And I couldn't stop humming the tune. So, somehow, I had to figure out what it was from a few vaguely-remembered bits of the lyric. Thankfully, this is the work of a few moments when there's enough Gs and bandwidth available to search the internet. Which is how I discovered the genre that is Downtempo or Trip Hop.

The band was Morcheeba and the track is 'World Looking In', a single from 2001 on the album 'Fragments Of Freedom' (2000). It's become a Go To track and I still play it a lot.

I found it on the compilation album 'Parts of the Process'
Here's the official video for the track.

As if that wasn't enough of a hook, the holiday in Aberfeldy also featured several chickens, belonging to the family who were renting us their cottage. These chickens had obviously done well out of the self-catering business, as they hung around all day, staring through the windows and doors, in the hope of shaming us into providing a few tasty morsels. Some chicken, some hope!

World looking in, indeed.

Sunday 10 September 2017

Environmental outreach meets arty crafty

To be absolutely honest, I don't think I'm remotely qualified to be either an outreach worker or an artist, but when has Old Tense ever let factual accuracy have any sort of bearing on blogpost output!

Yesterday, Saturday, saw the Family Day at the Orkney International Science Festival. Not having ever attended a Science Festival event (family weddings have seemed to coincide with the Festival these past few years), I wasn't sure quite what to expect.

It's safe to say that there were lots of hands-on science experiments, being demonstrated by enthusiastic science-y folk, from molecules to the Milky Way, and I can tell you're wondering where I fit into this, aren't you?

Well, it could probably be said that, to some extent, I have pushed dragonflies and damselflies up the Orcadian agenda this year, so it was pretty much inevitable that I would be 'volunteered' on the Orkney Field Club stand to do something Odonata-ry for the Science Festival. Live specimens of aquatic larvae or flying adults certainly weren't an option, so I decided to go with the pipe cleaner vibe, as trialled on Graemsay recently.

A fellow Field Club member, Helen, kindly volunteered to help me, so we spent the day sitting on tiny chairs, fashioning all manner of weirdly-hued dragons from a few pipe cleaners. I say 'a few', but I reckon the visitors to the stand helped us make over 150 reasonably anatomically-correct dragons. With two contrasting colours for the body (maximising the stripey effect) and two white pipe cleaners for the fore and hind wings, plus the addition of a pair of pony beads (wtf are they?) for eyes, the kaleidoscopic possibilities were numerous. Pink and purple were a big hit, probably reflecting some gender stereotyping that had befallen our diminutive clientele, but I thought it best just to go with the flow and not become to proscriptive about the physiology of my favourite insect group.

The calm before the storm

"Have I mentioned that they eat midges?"

Forget Red Bull, Helen and Graeme can give you wings!

Monday 4 September 2017

Stuff On My Phone (2)

Yesterday morning, I was outside cleaning the windows (a visitor was due, which had swiftly promoted the task up the To Do list), when I heard a small flock of Skylarks go by, their gentle contact calls a mere shadow of the more well-know territorial song. And not long after that, another flock went by, this time Golden Plover, the plaintive notes of their progress receding into the distance.

These musical musings reminded me that we don't really hear 'normal' garden birds at Tense Towers, but I do still have several soundscapes of a suburban garden from times past squirrelled away on my phone. Just in case I feel the need.

This particular example, from a June evening in 2012 in Milton Keynes, features a Song Thrush, with a supporting chorus of Goldfinches, a Wren, a Blackbird, a Carrion Crow and, in the far background, the rumble of traffic on the M1 motorway.

Apologies for the lack of moving images, but it's taken me the best part of two hours to move the track from my phone to my computer, try to upload it as was via Blogger, fail, try to upload it to Youtube, fail, download Vimeo to discover that won't help either, download Audacity to convert the file format from mp4a to WAV, try to upload the resulting WAV file via Youtube, fail, say "Stuff it!", create a Powerpoint presentation with one slide (a screenshot of the Audacity project), add the WAV file, record the result, finally realise I can export that as a movie and... upload to Blogger. Hip Hoo-flippin-ray!