On 13th August I headed out
of Chatham toward Fergus and the Fergus Highland Games. I'd slept in a bit
so didn't leave until 9.30am and I figured it would take around 2.5 hours
to get there. Well it actually took 3 hours as I got lost on the way
thanks to a road closure and a diversion.
I will say that road signs
in Canada can be difficult to see. For example the sign for a road I
was looking for was a small green sign which I only noticed as I went by
it and this was a main route, Highway 6, so would have thought it would
have been better marked. I was going by Guelph to get to Fergus but
I didn't see a single sign in Kitchener for Guelph and had to stop and ask
I think street signs are
generally easier to find than in Scotland but main route signs and signs
to nearby towns are not as clear and it is these ones you mainly need as
you go across country.
Anyway... I found Fergus
and took the suggested parking route which I found later took you three
quarters around a square instead of straight into the town. Parking
was not too far away from the ground although it was far enough to exhaust
a few of the more elderly folk that attended the clan tents so I heard
later that day.
I have a full report of the
Fergus Highland Games,
Ontario, Canada, 2005.
I was delighted to find a
MacIntyre tent and chatted with Bob MacIntyre who suggested I should help
look after the tent next year. In actual fact I think I might just
do that as it turned out quite a few people had asked for me at the tent.
Anyway, I had a good time
at the Clan Village which was the main reason for going. They had 54 clans
represented which they say is the largest clan tent village in Canada.
In the vast majority of
cases these are volunteers which fork out their own money to be there and
that usually means at least one nights accommodation. I'm told that most
Highland Games don't charge for the event but you do need to bring your
own tent. At Fergus they provide you with a tent but it does cost $48.00
to be in the clan village.
The only criticism I heard
was of the opening ceremony where the clans have to head into the parade
ground for the ceremony. I was told this took quite some time to get
lined up for entering the ground and then you had to listen to quite a few
speeches which were hard to hear with the pipers practicing in the
background and then a long time to get back out of the ground. All
in all it seemed to be quite a waste of time. Certainly I had just
arrived at the Clan Village when all this was going on and found quite a
few empty tents. Perhaps something they should think about for
I think there must be a
case for the Scottish Studies Foundation to see if they can help the clan
societies in some way. I have some ideas and will raise them at the
next board meeting. In fact we really need to get the clan societies
onto a mailing list to enable us to chat about what might be possible.
Anyway... I had an
excellent time in the Clan Village and met lots of great people.
As to work.. I seem to have
settled into a kind of system here in Chatham. I usually get up
around 9.30 to 10.00. Fire up my email to see what's come in overnight and
usually answer any emails that don't need a lot of thought. I then
make myself a coffee and depending how I feel something to eat. It's then
back to the computer and dealing with other emails that take a bit of work
I usually get in around 40
genuine emails a day and thankfully not much more in spam. I try to answer
each email as it comes in or at least the same day. That said if
it's a complex email then it might take another day or so to answer it.
I also get a bit behind if I'm away for a day or two but I do try to
answer all emails. I have a system that if I can't answer the email
right away then it's left in my inbox until it's dealt with so I'm always
reviewing email in my inbox when I get some time.
I do get quite a few emails
in commenting on an article on the site but sometimes it's very time
consuming trying to find that page so I can answer the question. I
do wish people would quote the url of the page that they are discussing as
things would go a lot faster. Sometimes I simply can't find the page so
just respond that I am unable to comment as I can't find the article they
are referring to and ask them to provide the url of the page if they wish
me to give an answer.
I then start to put content
up on the site for that day which can take a few hours. I then
work on other content which means lot of scanning of books either to place
them up as graphics or OCR them into the site. For those that don't know
OCR is Optical Character Recognition which means you put the book on the
scanner then run a software program which attempts to transfer the pages
I will usually spend a
solid half day once a week scanning in material and then use that for the rest
of the week to get it up onto the site. In many ways it's easier and
quicker to scan in pages and then OCR them from the scanned image. It also
means that if I need to head away for a day or two that I have material to
work with while I'm on the move.
There are some books which
are just a great read and when working on those things seem to go a lot
faster. I do have the odd publication which I believe to be an
excellent resource but due to small type takes a lot of work to OCR and
usually these books will go slower. The Domestic Annals of Scotland
was one such set and it took me around 2 years to get it all up on the
site. I suspect the current The Scottish Nation will also take
around that amount of time. When you have to OCR a page and
especially when it's a small font size there are a number of errors which
need to be corrected. Once that is done you then need to read the
page to see if you can spot any other errors. With my software I
often find that the letters b and h get mixed up. Also Gealic or Latin
spelling can be time consuming as I am not familiar with spelling in those
languages.. Over time I've gotten better at this so at least the
Scottish names are familiar to me :-)
I also like to spread out
the content on the site to a mix of material. For example Canadians
might not be interested in what Scots did in the USA so won't read that.
Others might not be the least bit interested in the plants of the Scottish
Highlands. For this reason I like to get a mix of material up so
that hopefully each week all will find something of interest to read.
I also like to put a mix of
material up to fill gaps in knowledge. The Scottish plant book fills
just such a gap and so does the Scottish song book. I try not to
duplicate material and so once I've completed all the biographies in The
Scottish Nation I likely won't be looking for any more books like that and
once I complete the 6 volume Scottish song book I'll figure I've given
enough attention to that area.
I have the 4 volume book up
on the Scot in North British America but will also be publishing a 2
volume set of The Scotsman in Canada. My main reason for doing this
additional work is that it is organised by Province and so I feel will be
of interest to Scots-Canadian by Province. I have a small book up about
the Scots in Sweden but have come across a much larger and more serious
work on Scots in Sweden which I will also publish later in the year. I
have a large work on the Highland Regiments but almost no material on the
Lowland Regiments so have a book on them which will also go up later in
the year. I haven't done any work on the Scottish Seers so have decided to
publish a book on one of them also.
I constantly look for
stories of Scots settlers anywhere in the world. The hardships that
settlers faced was quite immense and I feel we need to try and tell more
of that story. Sometimes other works you previously hadn't considered give
valuable information. Like the book, The Scot in Argentina, was
really a religious work but contained some interesting stories so I
published it. I also have the book "The Churches work abroad" which
tells what they were getting up to all over the world. For the first time
it gives us a wee insight into Scots in China and the Middle East.
I also have to admit that I
like certain books better than others and usually when one peaks my
interest it will go up faster than others as I'm enjoying the read.
Other books I feel need to go up to make the site a good resource but
don't necessarily enjoy it as much on a personal basis.
Some books I've discovered
can go up faster if I put them up as an image rather than OCR them.
Usually these are ones with a huge number of footnotes which take ages to
deal with when you want to OCR them in as text. I do prefer to OCR books
as that way the text is searchable.
I also spend some time each
week doing research on the web by wandering through the online antiquarian
book shops. While adding books to the site I often find a reference to
another book on a topic I think will be of interest to site visitors so
will do a search to see if I can find a copy of it. One of the major
problems with buying antiquarian books on the web is the lack of
description about the contents of the book. I have always wondered how
people can ask for $40 - $400 for a book and not give any description
other than what the condition of the book is. In these cases you have to
email the book seller to ask if they can provide further information.
I am not going to spend hundreds of dollars on pure speculation.
I am also on a few
bookseller lists so when these come in I read them through to see if there
is anything of interest. Mind you if I do find something of interest I
will also check other online sources to see if I can purchase the book at
a lower cost.
Around 2pm I'll start to
feel peckish and go get myself a sandwich which I usually eat at the
computer. I work through to around 5.30 when I usually stop for my evening
meal and watch a bit of TV. Depending on how I am feeling and depending
what the Science Fiction programs look like on TV I can watch TV through
to 9.00 or perhaps not watch anything if I have a lot to do. I then will head back to the computer for another 2 or so
hours to deal with other email and to work some more on OCR'ing in more
pages from the books.
I do in fact have a small
TV by my computer and usually have that switched on when I start the day
so I can check on the news. Once I have the half hour update I usually
switch it off. I might switch it back on later in the day to catch
any updates. Essentially a lot of work I do needs concentration so I
really don't like background music or anything on while I work.
I'm a bit flexible when it
comes to evening hours and have been known to work through to 2am but
usually I try to finish by 11pm as I like to read for a couple of
hours or more before going to sleep.
The one day that is busy
for me is Thursday when I do the weekly newsletter. As well as doing
everything else it usually takes around 3 hours to compile the newsletter
and it gets posted up on the site around 11pm to midnight and scheduled to
be sent out around 6am on Friday morning. I always complete the newsletter
around 8pm but wait until around 11pm so I can have a break and then
re-read the newsletter to see if it makes sense. This way I usually
catch any mistakes although as regular readers will likely notice a few
still creep in :-)
I do get visitors in from
time to time and it's always nice to have a chat. Some of them bring lots
of material which I will then add to the site as I get the time. Usually
if they are here for a while I'll be working late into the night to get
I do get in a number of
emails that contain biographies of Scots in various parts of the world and
I also get in books for review and sometimes even books to put up on the
site. As you likely know I also publish the Family Tree articles
which are emailed to me from the Odom Library in Georgia, USA. There
is also the supervisory role I take with the Scots Independent Newspaper
in Scotland and sometimes a lot of work from Ian Hudghton who is a Scots
member of the European Parliament. As I manage his web site it's my job to
publish any material he sends me.
I still do some consultancy
work for a couple of companies and so all this needs to be fitted into the
day. So on the whole I keep pretty busy. I do make a point of attending
the Scottish Studies Foundation meeting in Toronto each month staying
Income for the business is
from advertising and so I will spend some time on doing a sales drive from
time to time. I like to try and find businesses with good synergy
with the site and right now I have a couple of interested organisations
but they can't give decisions until September and so am holding back
hoping to get one of them onboard. Should I not be successful then I'll be
spending some days doing some selling :-)
I also take off on day
visits where I can take some photographs on an area or subject. This
is where I did a photo shoot recently on Uncle Toms Cabin for example.
This week also saw my first
years accounts completed for my USA company. Thankfully not a huge tax
bill and so that is now paid. I have to pay tax to the Internal Revenue
Service and also the State of Kentucky where the business is based
although the company is actually registered in Delaware, USA.
As to domestic issues I am
still waiting for my bookcases to arrive and be fitted in my library. Once
that is done I will finally be able to clear my china and get my dining
room into operation. I did take a few shots of a couple of sets of
This is one set which you'll note is black and
gold on the right you'll see that there is a Japanese ladies face at the
bottom of the cup
Another dragon set and again on the right you
might just be able to make out the face at the bottom of the cup.