On my recent trip to Scotland I was waylaid by Microsoft’s Hotmail. When I arrived I went to check one of my three Hotmail accounts. I got a message that I was suspicious, and that I needed to prove who I was. They asked me to identify my other account so they could send a code there that would open my main account where all my e-mail addresses, house addresses and phone numbers are. I did that and then went to the second account only to discover they had blocked that as well!

They were happy to send the code to my phone, but since that was in NY, it really wasn’t an option. Never having been in jail, I don’t have a “cell” phone. No problem the computer proclaimed. Just fill out this form and we will open the account. The form asks for (a) the account name (b) your name (c) any former passwords on the account (d) the answer to a secret question made up when you opened the account (e) 4 e-mail addresses of people you have written to recently (d) four “folders” which you have created (f) 4 “subject” lines from recent e-mails and an e-mail where they can send a response within 24 hours. Amazingly I was able to do this, only to get a note that I had supplied them with enough information to prove the account was mine (even though there was no more space to put information). They “suggested” that I should send the form in again from the computer I usually use. Usually use? The reason they clocked the account was that I was in Britain so how am I supposed to get to the computer I usually use?????

With the help of some friends I managed to find a telephone number for Hotmail help (for users, not to get them the help they need). The phone was answered by a machine which said something like “Please leave your name and number in our voice mail box and we will get back to you as soon as possible – “beep” - I am sorry the mailbox is full. Thank you” and hung up. (I was not surprised it was full given my experience so far but it was just beginning)

After considerable effort, I found a web site where you could get help from Hotmail. Delighted, I wrote and they sent me an e-mail to a “gmail” account I have saying they opened the account. I immediately went to get my e-mail and it was still blocked. I wrote back and told them this. They said they had determined I could get help at a certain web page. I went there and it is nothing but people with problems trying to find other people who have the same problem who might have found an answer. In other words when Microsoft Hotmail can’t figure out how to undo what they did, they suggest you deal with other clients that that have given the same problem to see if any of them can solve the problem they caused. There was no one who had the problem I had who had solved it. When I tried to respond to some of the people, I was transferred back to my Hotmail account which remained closed.

I contacted them again trying to resolve the problem and just kept getting the same answer – “We have determined your problem can best be solved by going to this web page”. I forget who it was who said it, but there is quote to the effect “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the sign of insanity”. I would rest my case but the story continues.

I suggested that I scan some ID and send it to them to prove who I was. I suggested that the send the code to the one Hotmail address I still had that wasn’t blocked since it was possible for them to see that that account was years old also and had all the same information about the owner of the account that was on the account they were sending the code to. No luck. No one even talked about another possible solution.

I realized there was a chance they were sending the number to my home phone and got a friend nearby to get into the house and check the phone. Sure enough – there was the code number they had sent me! My friend got the code to me and happily I put it in. “That is the wrong code” I was told by the machine. I tried again and got another number which my friend sent me. Same message!

When I wrote to them again telling them all of this I got this reply (the “moderators” seem to be the other people having problems)


As previously stated, the Microsoft Account Public Moderators can best address your concern.  
Due to this reason I am closing your case, and any future requests for this issue will not be responded to. 


Online Safety Team

While I was out of the country I discovered other people who had the same problem when they traveled.

When I finally got back home, I turned on my computer and went to my account. It opened up immediately. So one might ask – what is the point of having a secret question if answering it won’t open your account? What is the point of having a second account with Hotmail if they close down many accounts at once (including the one listed as the place to send the code)? What is the point of filling out forms if they have to be sent from your usual computer, if Hotmail has closed down your account if you travel? Maybe the more significant question is “Why do I have Hotmail or any Microsoft product?” I have of course opened new accounts with a different company. I have been getting ready to buy three new computers for my business. These will operate with Linux and NOT Microsoft windows. The existing computers are being changed over to Linux even as I write. So dear reader, I would suggest you think long and hard before traveling if you have a Hotmail account and plan to go outside the country.



Highland Hydro-Electricity - Pamphlet

The pamphlet "Highland Hydro-Electricity" was written by Hamish Mackinven © 1972 with cover illustration by Gordon Harvey. Text drawings by A.J. Cameron Taylor. It was printed by John G, Eccles and was published by An Comunn Gàidhealach with whose kind permission we publish it here.

The History of Hydro-Electric Power from 1896 to developments during World War ll to the 1970's.

These pamphlets have been scanned and therefore are large image files.

Click each link to read one page at a time


Tweets about Independent Scotland


A Halloween Horror – A Monster from the Lowlands


There are many dread sites in the lowlands of Scotland – mainly consisting of ruined castles and peel towers, set among a dark and forbidding landscape. They don’t need tales of supernatural terror to evoke fear – the actual bloody history of the place is often enough to send chills up and down one’s spine.

But there are other tales of the dark and dangerous borders beyond those of the notorious Reivers – of strange, malevolent creatures called Red Caps. It is most commonly said that these monsters inhabited ruined castles in that area (a common site even long ago, given its history of bloody feud, religious wars, and English military intrusions).


Whoa be it to any travelers, ill-intentioned or not who sought refuge in the ruins where these creatures lived, for these monstrous beings were said to murder all who ventured into their domains. In fact, stories say that the Red Caps had to kill regularly – they dyed their caps red by soaking up the spilt blood of their victims, and if it should ever dry out, it was they themselves who would perish.

They were said to be dwarfish creatures, resembling twisted old men – with long claws or talons instead of fingers, large pointed teeth and piercing red eyes. They could run faster than any living thing, and it was said that if they took off after you, you were as good as dead, no matter how fit and swift you might be. Stranger still, Red Caps was often said to wear iron-shod does – making their great speed enough more amazing. The little beasts even carried long iron pikes with which to grab intruders before tearing them to bits.

There were one or two other versions of similar creatures in Scotland and some Scandinavian countries, but they were not as brutal or dangerous as the border beasts were reputed to be.

They were also known to attach themselves to certain people – lingering and haunting their homes, influencing bad behavior in the luckless humans. Perhaps the most famous of Red Caps was the one who attached himself to the Lowland Laird, William de Soulis, master of one of the most ominous of fortresses, Hermitage Castle. A supporter of the English against Robert the Bruce (and accused practitioner of the dark arts), it’s easy to see where a bad reputation might have originated. He was said to have had his own particular familiar that was known as Robin Redcap – and was claimed responsible for much murderous activity that even the bloody borders were shocked.

“So much infamy and blasphemy was said to have been committed at Hermitage Castle that the great stone keep was thought to be sinking under a great weight of sin...” wrote one of the place. Though whether this was just a reasonable, though dramatic, assessment of the usual comings and goings of the notorious rulers of Hermitage is hard to say. Perhaps this evil Redcap was holding sway over the doings at the castle.

Sir Walter Scott may have had something to do with the blasphemous reputation as he made de Soulis a character in his writings – and gave him (or rather expanded upon) his reputation for being a sorcerer.

The story goes is that the evil lord was finally taken by out-raged locals to Ninstane Ring – a circle of standing stones nearby, where he was wrapped in lead and boiled alive – and though this is something that history shows did not actually happen to him, it apparently did happen to an earlier resident of Hermitage, Sir Randolph de Soulis of Liddel – who was most certainly murdered by his servants.

Here’s a tune about the event:

"On a circle of stones they placed the pot, On a circle of stones but barely nine ; They heated it red and fiery hot, Till the burnished brass did glimmer and shine. They rolled him up in a sheet of lead—. A sheet of lead for a funeral pall ; They plunged him in the cauldron red, And melted him, lead, and bones, and all. At the Skelf-hill, the cauldron still The men of Liddesdale can show ; And on the spot, where they boiled the pot, The spreat and the deer-hair ne'er shall grow."

And just for an extra bit of fun – here’s a tune about Red Cap:

Now Redcap he was there, And he was there indeed; And grimly he girned and glowed, Wi' his red cowl on his head. Then Redcap gave a yell, It was a yell indeed; That the flesh neath my oxter grew cauld, It grew as cauld as lead. Auld Bluidie cowl ga'ed a girn It was a girn indeed; Syne my flesh it grew mizzled for fear, And I stood like a thing that is dead. Last Redcowl gave a laugh, It was a laugh indeed; 'Twas mair like a hoarse, hoarse scrough, Syne a tooth fell out o' his head.

So, the next time you find yourself in the borders of Scotland and in need of shelter, please find a comfortable Bed & Breakfast instead of a ruined castle. You’re bound to have a more comfortable rest, and the chances are good that you’ll actually awake the next day.