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I’ve run across Microsofts Photosynth program and it’s pretty fun to play with. I’ve made a couple of synths that pretty much sucked, then I tried a synth of Melrose Abbey. My first try used 30 pictures of the front portion of the abbey and it’s turned out pretty good.

What Photosynth basically does is take a bunch of pictures of an object and attempt to create a 3d structure. Then you can browse through the pictures in either a 3d format with typical 3d style controls, pan, zoom, tilt, etc. Or you can parse through the photos in a 2d layout form that is VERY quick.

Anyhow. If you put photosynth on your computer, or the browser plug in then go check out my synths.

Melrose Abbey Synth.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this. It’s a fun toy to play with and since I’m close to some really neat architecture I have some fun subjects to add. Hailes Castle, Crichton Castle and Kirk, Roslynn Glen, Abbey and Castle, Etc etc…


I’ve had a couple of comments and inquiries on how my center console turned out and would I put some templates up.

To begin, I found the original templates I used at

and downoaded the pdf

The templates didn’t quite work like I wanted, so what I did was to cut the templates out of cardboard then with the use of scissors and tape I either trimmed them to fit properly or added more cardboard to fill properly. Once I had the cardboard cutouts so they fit like I wanted I used them as templates for new cutouts. Again, out of cardboard. I then put the completed cardboard center console into my mini and drove around for a week or so with it to make sure it was what I wanted.


Then after a week of messing with that I finally cut out the console using thin MDF and some scraps I had around. I then went to halfords and picked up 2 illuminated cigarett lighters. I use these to drive my ipod and NavSat. I pulled the power for these off of the starter. I’ll eventually rewire the car and put these through their own fused circuit.


A few things to note. I finally decide on 2 cup holders. It’s a tight fit sometimes but I think worth it. To keep the cups from dropping down too far, and to also add structural strenght to the console I added a bar about 2 inches under the cup holes across and screwed it together.

I left the bottom open to allow air flow for the heater.

I’ve been driving with this draft version for a couple of months because I’m lazy and haven’t finished the final version yet. (-: This has worked pretty good so far.

Here is a copy of a post I put up just before the 1st anniversary of Katrina. It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on 3 years. Wow. Three years since the world got tossed, turned, washed, and wasted. Since it’s that time again I thought I would start it off with a visit to past impressions.

A friend of mine put up an article on her blog Crabby’s Kitchen, about her first impressions on coming home after Katrina.  That made me think that maybe I would put up the following notes. This was something I wrote only a few months after moving away from Mississippi. It’s just some thoughts and experiences I had as Katrina started coming our way. Anyhow, here it is.

Where we road out Katrina

Where we road out Katrina

My family and I ended up riding out Hurricane Katrina at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The eye of the storm went right over us. The family actually went out and stood in the eye of the worst disaster to ever hit our county. We rode it out, and we survived the worst that the bloody thing could throw at us. At the time we had no idea of the damage that was happening around us. We were lucky. To tell the truth we were very, very lucky, and at the time had no idea of just how lucky. Our house survived with only minor damage. Our family made it through the storm alive, heck, even the dog and cat survived. We were lucky. There were so many around us that weren’t.

My wife, three daughters (twin 6 year olds and a 10 year old) and I all lived in Diamondhead Mississippi. We were there 1 year and 1 day before Katrina came and said hello. I worked for IBM at the Naval Oceanographic Office, NAVO, which is located on Stennis Space Center, MS. Which also happened to end up as FEMA’s command and control center after the storm. We watched the storm coming our way with the same disregard/worry that we did all the other storms that year. They always seemed to miss us or weaken to the point of not being a danger just before landfall. Thus we didn’t evacuate. That and we were between paychecks and light on money. Heck, to tell it like it was, we were broke. The closest family was in Montana, not really an option. So we waited and watched and worried.

On Sunday morning things were looking pretty grim. Lucky for us NAVO was considered a refuge of last resort for staff and family. That and I was the only IBM specialist to stick around, I’m something of a supercomputing specialist.  As such, as soon as I walked in the door with my family I was considered part of the ride out crew, and thus considered essential personnel. (NAVO is a very large computer center for Navy research.) We had a safe place to stay only a short distance from home. Not only were we allowed in, I was immediately put to work. We started opening offices up, conference rooms, hallways. Putting  people in every nook and cranny available. Not even the stairwells were safe from being used. There were children of all ages, elderly, wives, husbands, you name it. We made beds out of blankets, air mattresses, whatever. We all, and I mean all, believed that we would be there for the night and maybe for part of the next day. It looked rough. But, so did Ivan, Dennis, Cindy, and several other storms before this.

Across the street the NASA building was filling up with staff, family, and people from the surrounding area. That building was about 3 times the size of ours with the cafeteria in it. Since our building was a Navy building with some extremely large computer systems in it, we had tighter security and thus we only had staff, family of staff,  and Navy personnel, and still we were tight on room.

The day wore on, the winds kept picking up. News from southern Louisiana was bad. The day wore on. Things started to get tense. I took my laptop, a monitor, some chairs, some boxes, speakers stolen from my friend Pat’s desk,  and set up the first and only “Stennis Theater” at the end of a hallway for the kids. We had tons of DVD’s. Movie after movie was played to keep the kids entertained. We had popcorn and snacks for the kids.

As the night progressed the winds kept getting stronger and stronger. Some slept. Others tossed and turned. Some spent the whole night in front of the small tv that had been set up in the hallway. Watching and waiting. I was lucky, I was busy. I had things to take my mind off what was happening outside, but even I kept stopping and would stare at the tv. Waiting, wondering, not really believing. Not many people slept that night, as the winds slowly built up.

It was a long night. For the rest of my life I will remember the quiet of the hallways. People laying in the semi dark. The flickering of the TV down at the end of the hall. The quiet whispers. The way everything was hushed, tense, with an underlying layer of scared. The way people would look to me because I was busy, had a badge, kept meeting with the powers that be, and acted like I knew what the hell I was up to. People kept asking me what was up, what did I know, what had I heard. Even though, just like everyone else, I had no idea, no concept of what was, and about to happen to the world around us. Later, this would haunt my dreams.

Can you feel it? Can you possibly imagine what that’s like? The nervous anticipation, the dark crowded hallways, the news showing us the wrath of mother nature headed our way. Knowing that it’s headed straight for you and you can do nothing more, just wait for it to hit. Now remember, the worst hasn’t even begun yet. The storm is coming, but isn’t yet upon us, and we had no idea of how bad it would get.

I was one of the lucky ones. We survived. We moved out of Mississippi in December and moved to Pacific Grove. My family is alive and with me here. We all made it, and yet one of my twins has been having problems, nightmares, anger, etc.  And then here I am, the rational one, I see the Navy do an awards ceremony, giving out all these “thanks you”, medals, and what all, to folks that supported the Katrina effort. But were NEVER there! I was so irrationally angry that I had to walk away. I couldn’t speak I was so pissed off. The only thing going through my head was “I didn’t see a single sorry ONE of you there!!” How DARE you!! I know this is nothing more than a stupid reaction. But I can’t stop myself. I know that over time things won’t be so sensitive. But right now I can’t help it.

Katrina  kicked a lot of us in the teeth. Some a lot worse than others. There are days that I’m amazed I even get out of bed. Everyday that goes by it gets a little more and more like a dream that happened to someone else.

So, are you paranoid if you ARE being watched?

One of the most disturbing things about living in Scotland I think, is the constant monitoring of your activities. The average UK citizen on an average day is video taped over 300 times. That’s the average. If you should for some reason become a citizen of interest I can’t imagine how often you’ll be watched.

I went to pick up the girls at school and while sitting in the back of the school I counted a total of 5 cameras watching us.

On the bus ride home from Edinburgh the other day I counted 8 cameras on the bus. 8 cameras for a single level bus, this wasn’t even a double decker.


Here’s a sign on the bus saying that you’re being recorded for you “safety”.

I can understand the cameras at work. I work on some pretty expensive computer equipment. So the 8+ cameras outside the building and the camera at almost every door, and in every computer room, can be somewhat understood. You never know, I might go nuts and try to carry off a 2800 pound computer, ignore the forklift I would need.

Driving home I can’t even count the cameras I go past. The speed cameras, traffic cameras, misc cameras on buildings, etc. Every police car has a camera running in it. The new ones automajically check your license plate against a database to see if you didn’t pay your car tax, or have a warrant, etc. That’s for every car the camera sees as the cop drives around.

Here’s a crowd camera that I ended up catching in one of my Edinburgh Festival pictures. The black ball on top is a high tech camera monitoring and recording the crowd.


And, by the way, don’t try to return the favor of taking pictures of the cameras. They set up the anti terrorism law to take care of that crap! Take pictures of the cameras or cops taking pictures of you and they will throw you in jail under the “new” terrorism laws. I’m not kidding here, it’s happened, and is happening.

I won’t even begin to list the misuse these cameras have been put to. The numbers are to large to count. Things as low as a local council tracking a family for 3 weeks just to verify they lived within a school district. Cameras used to catch people not picking up their dogs crap and issuing tickets.

Now, and this one makes me shudder. The UK government is looking to allow local councils, police departments, and other agencies access to a persons emails, text messages, phone logs, and other electronic information. Yes, your local council will be able to peruse through ALL of your emails, google searches, web traffic, etc. Yep, good to know that the government has your best interest at heart.

I just keep telling myself “I’m only here temporarily, it’s only temporary.”

Please don’t let the US become so invasive. Please let someone see some sense.

I wonder how much trouble I’ll be in for posting this and the picture of the “Police Camera” in action? Gee, maybe they’ll throw me out of this sheep mentality country?

Oh ya, if someone is stupid enough to post “If you don’t have anything to hide” type comment you better do it with a public listing of your bank account number and pin, throw in your social security number, and latest Google searches for fun. Since you don’t have anything to hide.

We decided to head up into Edinburgh this weekend to check out the Edinburgh International Festival. It was pretty interesting, even if we saw less than 1% of what was going on. We ended up taking the bus into town, avoiding the nightmare of parking, and walked around the Royal Mile and then down into the Grass Market area.

Up and down the Royal Mile were different street performers and street artists. There were a ton of people passing out flyers for different shows and venues. They have put up poster posts up and down the mile for people to put up different flyers and posters for people to check out. A good idea.


Here is the main Festival sign around the mid point of the Royal Mile.


Here are some pictures of different street performers we saw up and down the mile and then down in the grass market area.


All in all we had a fun afternoon. Only down side was when we took the 29 bus home. Even though it said Newtongrange on the side, and we see the bus pass through town, this particular bus 29 route turned around in Gilmerton, about 4 miles from home. We ended up having to get off and then wait for the 3 bus to continue on home.

Back in the 1150’s the Knights Templar built their chief house and church in what is now called Temple Scotland.

After the the Knights Templar were disbanded the church and lands were taken over by the Knights Hospitallers, also called the Knights of St. John.

The ruins of this old parish church, which date back to the 14th century, are all that’s left on the land that once held the knights church.


Here is a sign discussing the Knights Templar and a bit of the local history.


A few of the interesting grave stones found in around the old Church

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This is an interesting one for Sir William Gillies.


On the way home last week I decided to go for a walk in Rossly Glen. You start down at the bottom of the Glen near the River Esk. As you walk north you pass under the walls of Rosslyn Castle and then back to the edge of the River Esk.

About 1/2 a Kilometer into the walk you’ll come down the path to the right, overlooking some cliffs down to the water roughly 30 feet below or so. Anyhow, there is a nice flat stone that overhangs the river, locally known as “Lovers Leap” As you’re looking at this rock of death you glance to the right and realize that you’re being watched.

There is a green man carved into the rocks. I have no idea of how old this guy is, but old. Really old. For those of you that try to find this it’s about 280 or so steps past crossing under Rosslyn Castle.



Also, a bit farther down the trail you will find a cave on the far side of the river. This is the cave that William Wallace and some of his men hid in before the battle of Rosslyn in 1303. William Wallace was played by Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart. This cave is across the river about 350 steps past walking under Rosslyn Castle. 


Not the best picture. But, hey, it’s still really cool. 700 years ago, THE William Wallace lived in THAT cave and kicked the English Army’s butt. He had 8000 men, the English 30,000 and the Scots won.

This is one of the funniest, and slightly frightening, commercials I have ever seen. This was on the local BBC channels when we first moved here.

Maynards Wine Gums. Set the Juice Loose!


Roberta and I went over to small village of Lasswade the other day to get a meal at the Laird & Dog Hotel and pub. It turns out that the Pub/Hotel can trace it’s roots back to at least 1709.  Here is a link to the Charter and Title of the original Larid and Dog from 1709.

There is a sign in the pub that gives a folk lore version of where the village of Lasswade got its name. It’s really kind of neat.

Jenny Lasswade

When there was nae brig to cross the Esk river,

On Jenny’s broad back they a’ gaed thegither,

For Jenny was honest, stout, sober, and steady,

She carried the laird, she carried his leddy;

When he was richt seated the doggie first gaed,

Then, weaving his stick, he cried: “Jenny, lass, wade!”

American translation.

When there was no bridge to cross the Esk river,

On Jenny’s broad back they would go together,

For Jenny was honest, stout, sober, and steady.

She carried the Lord, she carried his Lady;

When he was right seated the doggie first went

Then, waving his stick, he cried; “Jenny, Lass, Wade!”

This real name for Lasswade isn’t quite so colorful. 🙂

The rhyme was written by a Miss Walker when she was staying at Hawthornden Castle perhaps one hundred years ago. The name of Lasswade is most likely to have originated from the combining of the words leas (a meadow) and gewaed ( a ford).

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August 2008
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