That delicate membrane between ourself and the world
This outer coating formed in our Mother’s womb
Smooth when a baby, in old age quite gnarled
Its has to serve us well from cradle to tomb

Skin is the subject of much speculation
Its colour from others can rarely be hidden
A primary indicator of our race or nation
So often prompting some pointless division

And yet under our skin we are all kith and kin
Our bones, muscles, organs, those obscure glands
Our blood vessels, tendons, and all else within
The same brain controlling our limbs and hands

Perhaps our most visible skin is the face we display
Here the world notices our outward expression
It’s what others encounter of us each new day
Registering moods ranging from joy to depression

Of course the skin sometimes has the power to excite
Especially when we decide to give greater exposure
On a shimmering beach or by soft candle light
Between consenting adults who lose their composure!

Adults are often concerned about their complexion
And spend collective millions to enhance their appearance
Others resort to surgery or weird cosmetic injections
For major reconstruction or minor ‘slum clearance’

Of course we all must remain sensibly vigilant
On the well-known dangers of the sun’s pervasive rays
Avoiding the temptation of the tanning lamp
Being unashamed of pale skin on our holidays

An aspect of skin treatment is the modern tattoo
Of which many men and even women seem proud
Words of endearment and designs like voodoo
A personal statement shouted out loud

Of course the cosmetic industry relies on our vanity
A business which seeks to enhance the world’s face
Some even claim it promotes health and sanity
Perhaps the skin we might all wish to embrace

Ken Fisher







An algorithm is a concept of which we should take heed
A kind of diagram which shows us how to proceed
To solve a problem by breaking it down to small steps
Making decisions unambiguous is the main object

Primarily used to solve conundrums mathematical
It can be employed to cope with tasks quite practical
By considering the flow of information in a process
And the choices at each stage throughout its progress

Algorithms are the heart of most computer programs
Compiled as binary choices shown as in a diagram
A question is asked for which the answer is yes or no
And the response determines just how to go

Algorithms can be defined as a set of rules
Within a sequence of operations they form the tools
Whereby a computer can make ‘decisions’
According to a defined set of conditions

Thus by the use of algorithms joined together
Decisions are made on ‘greater or lesser’
Or the scale of a value or magnitude
And the measures such as latitude

The whole approach assumes that there is nothing
That cannot be defined as zero or one thing
Thus the binary system employed in its glory
The very heart of every algorithmic story

All these processes are performed at the speed of light
On huge chunks of data held by the megabyte
And computers do their work with such composure
The inner workings never revealed to external exposure

There is no doubt that the algorithm deserves our praise
As the performance of machines it continues to raise
But prophets of doom fear for our future employment
As robots will doubtless enforce our replacement

Because algorithms bring artificial intelligence
Clever machines designed with great elegance
To take over from humans the work that we do
An advance that in time we may well  rue

We can only hope that the mighty algorithm
Will nonetheless improve the human condition
And perhaps at some glorious future date
From drudgery it might all of us liberate

Ken Fisher

Photoshop Identity

Photoshop Identity


It has been claimed ‘the camera never lies’
And you simply must believe your eyes
But in this modern world, oh so high tech
That final image you should surely check

Because it’s now easy to manipulate
Thus unwanted features we obliterate
From those raw images once original
Captured by our lens then made digital

Snappers are happy with their efforts
Slight imperfections bring no discomfort
But experts feel the need to titivate
Thus post-processing simply cannot wait

So as soon as their images are downloaded
And the pixels have all been decoded
Photoshop software is called into service
Ready to work its transforming marvels

With a battery of tools ever so extensive
Its capability is most comprehensive
It can adjust exposure and colour saturation
Even straighten out chromatic aberration

It can zoom in and out and remove every blemish
Wipe out mysterious shadows which seem to menace
Pick out highlights and make minor corrections
And break up the image into multiple sections

By setting up layers it tackles each issue
Overlaying the problem with a distinct tissue
Making eyes sparkle ever so bright
Turning dark patches into clear light

It is even possible to switch someone’s head
And make people appear when you thought they were dead
Thus bodies and faces we can interchange
A practice that many will consider quite strange

This magic software uses a number of tools
Each one has to be used according to rules
You can paint bits of the screen with special brushes
Causing pallor or if needed, even hot flushes!

You can crop the photo or make it expand
A tiny image made really quite grand
There is an adjustment brush and a graduated filter
Help you sort things out if they all go out of kilter

You can apparently even decide to dehaze
And reorder items that get out of phase
Indeed there nothing impossible for this mighty edit
And we really ought to give the inventors credit

But there is one thing that concerns me and perhaps you
How do we know that the final image is true?
And while we may have claimed the camera never lies
Of the final production – can we believe our eyes?

Ken Fisher

Blue Moon

Blue Moon

On the thirty-first of January in 2018
Observe the moon tinged with a strange blue sheen
The cause is due to the intervening atmosphere
But the unusual colour is nothing we should fear

A blue moon is a second surprising appearance
After an earlier quite regular occurrence
Thus in the month we see two successive moons
One is a New Moon followed now by the Blue

Of course there is only one moon which pops up twice
As if in this month only one won’t suffice
A calendar year has a surfeit of days
So with the 12 lunar cycles timings get out of phase

To keep the annual pattern duly uniform
Scientists had to devise  a quite clever reform
Thus on occasions which really are quite rare
A blue moon was scheduled quite reasonable and fair

But because this event is rather infrequent
A new name was given some time subsequent
Blue moons are events that make you stand and stare
Thus here on earth a ‘blue moon’ marks something very rare

Ken Fisher

See also: September Moon  Summer Moon   Moon


Password Perplexity

Password Perplexity

Most of us are aware of the daily frustration
Which often leads to exasperation
When our computers refuse to allow us access
Unless the entry codes we clearly possess

However hard you try to breach the protection
False numbers will always result in rejection
You must know the password and username
Or you wont get past that very first frame

So it seems incumbent on all computer users
To ensure they’re prepared for such maneuvers
By retaining their passwords in some secure cache
And thus seek to avoid an access impasse

If you’ve forgotten the data and just try to wing it
You will be trying to get past the system’s pickets
After several attempts to breach the defences
They will consider you have committed offences

Thus your computer system may well shut down
And it is you who might suffer a complete meltdown
So it is better to take a more measured approach
Let’s you keep using other apps while maintaining hope

So that in due time you might find the right combination
To lift the cause of data deprivation
Get the passwords reset, identity renewed
Bringing an end to this digital feud

Of course we are reminded of the everyday fact
That our machines are in danger of being easily hacked
And the existence of these barriers give vital protection
From cyber thieves acting with evil intention

Ken Fisher

See Also: Cyber Safe




Mysterious alchemy
In its absence
All is darkness
Sight rendered impotent
Unless this radiation
Stimulates our eyes

Sunlight brings
Warmth and illumination
The nurturing of all life

Artificial light
Chases away the darkness
Defying its terrors
Allaying our fears

From guttering candle
To light gantries on stadia
Searchlights and dazzling TV studios

Spot lights, tube lights, headlights, side lights
Torch lights, lamp lights, street lights
Incandescent and fluorescent
Up-lighters, down-lighters
Fairy lights on Christmas trees
All conspire to dominate the gloom

Ancient light
A right to light
not to be obstructed

The speed of light
No matter can exceed


Both wave and particle
The photon a quantum of
The unknowable phenomenon

Ken Fisher

Survey Monkey!

Survey Monkey


Get the facts! Count the numbers! With these you can’t go wrong!
And “facts are cheils that winna ding, and downa be disputed”*
So to prove the case with solid facts surely won’t take long
Our source of truth and accuracy cannot be refuted

But having taken time and effort the data all collected
Collated all the inputs, calculations duly performed
We find our conclusions in reality not reflected
As if our research still leaves us misinformed

Could this be because the questions make no sense?
Or our analysis contrived the real results to distort
We shouldn’t really need to offer pleas in our defence
As the numbers surely will our case support

Pollsters’ forecasts now result in consternation
Apparently unable to accurately predict
Despite all that deep interrogation
Somehow reality they fail to depict

So when to the results of surveys we appeal
We surely ought to exercise due caution
The answers given may not mirror how people feel
Rationality given way to emotive reaction?

Ken Fisher

*”Facts are chiels that winna ding “ = Facts are fellows that
will not be overturned. From A Dream – Robert Burns 1786

The Unwelcome Pause

The Unwelcome Pause

You are happily working on your machine
When the swirling beach ball hits the screen
Perhaps it’s simply meant to entertain
Let’s hope not the harbinger of pain

This spinning rainbow wheel should not alarm
It’s not intended to do us harm
It signifies attempts to run an application
And should not cause undue frustration

Apparently if it only spins for a brief moment
It heralds just a short postponement
But if in time it’s still twirling round
The issue may be more profound

It may mean a problem with that application
It will have crashed causing much vexation
So it looks as if ‘force quit’ will be required
Unless by another idea you are inspired

Just as with computers, so in daily living
There are times when trials are unforgiving
And we must just face the unwelcome pause
With a smile and surely not clenched jaws

Above all ‘force quit’ should never be our choice
No matter how strident that silent voice
When some event demands we pause
Let’s persevere what’er the cause

Ken Fisher

Note: On a Windows PC the swirling ball of Mac is shown 
as the ‘Hour Glass’ icon – which means Wait!

Repeat Prescription

Repeat Prescription


Those of us of a certain age are by now quite familiar
With receiving from the doctor, nurse, or someone similar
A repeat prescription for all those many pills and potions
We take to aid our health and locomotion

But I wonder if we ever stop to think how much our daily living
Might be described as a repeat prescription, a routine unforgiving
The pattern of each day or week prescribed so regularly
That month-by-month and year-by-year it really does not vary

Of course stated thus it all seems boring and confining
A straightjacket of a life, imprisoned and constraining
But is there any virtue in our regular routines?
Although we are all human, not merely dull machines

So the life prescribed by a regimen of work and play
Such that we find satisfaction in the passing of each day
Carpe Diem – seize the day might be the best watchword
The aim and motivation by which our life is spurred

Thus rather than feeling enslaved by the repeat prescription
We should rejoice that life is truly not conscription
But freedom to choose how each day and hour be filled
In no way determined by our daily dose of pills

Ken Fisher

Solar Eclipse

Solar Eclipse

[Monday 21 August 2017]

As we look up towards the skies
[And don’t forget to shield your eyes]
The moon will block light from the Sun
As its shadow will our globe o’er run

Not everyone will be in shade
So you need not really be afraid
But parts of the U S A
Will find that night replaces day

I think that those who will be in shadow
Won’t miss the daylight they must forego
Because if they observe with care
They might catch the Sun’s coronal glare

I suppose there is a kind of magic
To experience this shade fantastic
And all fear of the dark will be dispersed
As in the gloom they are immersed

Eclipses make us all aware
Of other objects ‘way out there
And just as shadows cross our path
We should not let them prompt our wrath

For the moon’s shadow will progress
Renewed light will its power repress
And in due time the sun’s bright rays
Will penetrate another day

Ken Fisher

The Singer Clock

The Singer Clock


Singer is a name you won’t easily forget
For decades this brand ruled supreme in
the world of sewing machine production
from treadle power to sophisticated control

Even today you will find Singer machines
in Asian sweatshops and chic fashion houses
But in Clydebank, Singer was also renowned
for its massive factory clock on a tower

For miles around, this monstrosity could be seen
Signifying industrial power and market domination
But like so much of Scottish industry it met with decline
And even the clock gave its final tick in March 1963

When the clock first appeared in 1885 in Clydebank,
then the European headquarters of this early multi-national
It signified the wealth and importance of the enterprise
And its enormous timepiece was a symbolic crown on success

Unfortunately this chronometer probably hung like
an albatross around the neck of the business
It was powered by massive cast iron weights
driving the mechanism that required twice weekly winding

Over the years of the 20th century several changes
were made to the clock. The dials and numerals
were redesigned and various forms of illumination
were employed, inside by gas, outside by spotlights

None of these was very successful, being too dim
or casting unwanted shadows from the internal machinery
In 1928 a total of 145 lamps were attached to the hands!
Then World War II snuffed out illumination and almost Clydebank

After the war, when some normality was restored
The clock came back into service with new enamelled
“Singer” signs re-lit for all to see from far away
But the fate of the clock was on the horizon

In 1963 the clock was finally ceremonially stopped
“As part of area reorganisation in the interests of
production with a smaller labour force”
The aluminium hands were made into souvenir ashtrays!

This was before smoking (and domestic sewing machines) became much less fashionable!

Ken Fisher

Background material from International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society website.

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens

200 Years of the Glasgow Botanic Gardens


Congratulations to this old friend
Providing such pleasure and satisfaction
For two centuries you have been our pride and joy
Playground and classroom for successive generations

Thanks to those whose foresight became our legacy
Benefactors and botanists who nurtured this grandiose project
The City Fathers in their own time too
Who promoted the development of the gardens

History tells of the sub-terranean railway line
And the old bandstand at the crown of the hill
In more recent times the Kelvin Walkway
Arboretum and Bard in the Botanics

In the wide pathways and greensward
Now liberated from restrictions of an earlier age
Children of all ages cavort quite uninhibited
While others meander along riverside walks

Surely the crowning glory of this renowned parkland
The glasshouses, Kibble and Main Range
Custodians of exotic plant species
Promoter of science and art together

Past venue for political diatribes to sway our views
And religious rallies to stir the heart and save the soul
Meeting point for horticultural aficionados
And platforms for booksellers and plant societies

Couples newly wed parade quite unabashed
Along the main pathway’s wide expanse
As photographers like the paparazzi
Seek the image that will surely flatter

And tiny tots with their attentive guardians
Flex youthful muscles while learning how to balance
In the play areas especially designed for them
A kindergarten for growing minds and bodies

Behind the scenes at the Botanics
Much serious work is undertaken
While visitors refresh themselves in cafes
The cultivation of the plants is centre stage

So thanks to those who had the vision and the will
To establish this treasure trove in our green space
We salute those pioneers and innovators
And pledge to do our part to honour their generous legacy

Ken Fisher