Monday, 30 January 2012


So now begins marking hell, 3 courses, approx 100 assignments and 1 week to get them all graded!!

lol yeah right, ask me in 2 weeks.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

21 today

My lovely daughter is now 21. its that even possible, its was only yesterday I was changing nappies and wiping her nose (not with the nappies), yet here we are 21 years on.

I missed a lot of her growing up, I was there till she started school and raised her while her mum worked, but as our relationship collapsed I had to step back and let her mum be the main parent, but I stayed around as much as I could and was always there for her, watching her grow from little girl, to moody teen, to smart young woman and

I am very proud of Danni, she's turned out a level headed, sensbile woman, who will tackle anything life throws at her......words don't describe how amazing a feeling that is for a dad.


Friday, 27 January 2012

storage is the key

The attic is a mess, there's cardboard and packing material and tables and bits of stuff all over the place, since I've been spending the last several days building this...

Brilliant isn't it. Storage for 9-10 guitars each side, with the bottom side being reserved for guitars in use and out of their cases.

I do really prefer them all to hand, but this at least keeps them safe and solves what was becoming a major crisis for storage.

Its basically a double Pax wardrobe from Ikea, with sliding door (don't get the expensive glass ones if you don't need them, I didn't realise I had a choice) and divided in the middle rather than adding lots of cloth hanging/storage stuff. I still want to had a bit of re-enforcment to the shelving but loading it up now to see if all fits I noted it didn't stress or bend so it seems to be ok..for now, I'm still going to put a few support pillars in. At the moment a ABS case is acting as a bit of girder holding it up if it was too heavey, but I think we're good.

Quite a palava building it, Bina and I have been banging on about getting new robes for the bedrooms for ages, and I do like the Pax ones, but after this, when we do get them, we'll hire the ikea guys to build it for us.

Only a bit of re-ordering to do now, need to get rid of a table and move things around a bit to make use of the space so we can get full use of our home cinema as well as my studio/music room office, withouth tripping over guitars.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

failed...oh the shame

Well no not really shame...I didn't supply quite enough info in the assinment so have not passed, I've been given feedback on what is missing and can represent. I'll have a bit of a rest since I'm still a bit poorly with the cough and do it next week.

I was one of 3 who are having to represent, so at least I'm not alone, we still had a fun graduation ceremony and an interesting last day of tution in the art of managing groups which I found very interesting.

I even got some flowers :D very nice...Bina liked them.
Some pics were taken so I'll post them when they are sent to me.


Still coughing and the suspense is killing me

A week on and I'm still coughing like a good un, going back to the vet to see what else he can give me, not really interested in any more puffers the effectiveness seems to have worn off, I want rid.

Got some feedback from my asignment, favourable but with requests to make some ammendments and additions, which is fine. I probably will not graduate tomorrow, but that means I get a month to fix the problems and resubmit which will be a lot better over all as I have much less teaching to do next block compared to this.
I'll know for sure tomorrow.

Might now finally get a chance to finish my guitar vault and start storing things in their correct places.

I got to spend 30 mins at last with my new toy and I am really liking my EX7 it has some quite remarkable tones in it, especially the Leslie speaker emulation, which gives a warmth and richness to my playing I've not been able to get before..becuase I don't have Leslie speakers of course and am never likely to considering the cost and size of them.

I decided to get a 2nd one to take with me to band practice, since I really don't like taking pedals out of my home board and carting them around, managed to pick up a barely used one half price on ebay (pic above) even allowing for postage costs, its a heavy item, I still saved a lot on a back up that I will keep in my bag and let my home one stay on the board at all times.

The band are now resolved to do more regular practice, and we've settled on a core of 6 songs to get right before adding more, a mix, of pop, rock, blues and r&b numbers..lets hope we manage to do decent versions of them all. I'm comfortable with most of them except Foo Fighters Monkey Wrench with is a banging tune played very fast, not my usual style at all, fortunaly I just need to play 4 of 5 chords over and over again as the rythm guitar, Martin as lead can do the riffs.

Oh and in other news I got an ok to be away from Breda in July to attend another Creative Vacance guitar course, this time blues guitar, so I'm really looking forward to that, I improved so much in my acoustic playing after the last one and am hoping there will be a similar improvement in my electric playing this time. I'll get the travel arranged in advance to save costs...assuming there is a saving when you book train fares...I drove last time, which was fine, but it was a long and expensive trip once toll's were factored in. Train this time, relaxing and a chance to do any final work related stuff as I travel....few months off though.


Monday, 23 January 2012


Assignments done...and sent, not sure they're good enough but I did my best, if they fail I get a month to fix them which should be possible in the next lighter block.
Student issues dealt with, and work related form filling and reading done

4-23am now...up at 8-45 to get ready for meeting....

life is never dull


Saturday, 21 January 2012

So this is what being a student feels like?

Well its been a mad week, due to having to take a day and a half off due to the chest/cough, I've had the remaining work time filled up with other IGAD stuff, mainly students taking advantage of the ask Brian for help before he shuts down in exam week offer.
Which is fine, except for the fact I have a Didactics assignment, 2 actually to hand in this week. There simply was not enough time for that, I tried to flesh out the notes and roughs I'd build on over the weeks, but it just wasn't possible, my days of being able to work all day and night are long since passed me and I missed my deadline, fortunaly I am being allwowed to hand it in a few days late, and as a worst case if I do miss it I get a month to redo it..So it will be sorted, but for the 1st time really I've had a students view point of not being able to cope with my workload.

In my case I don't think I could have avoided it, I 've been doing my homework, making notes and roughing things out, but the sheer weight of coruse work I've had this block added to the extra faculty meetings and comittees I have to work on...its been crazy.

I've not been able to complete my guitar vault, just not enough time, though I did get 10 minutes to unpack and plug in my newest toy a Digitech Ex7 expession pedal, mainly for the awesome Leslie effect it has, but also lots of other cool incentive to get my assignment done so I can actually play with the thing.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

slow, slow, qu...slow slow

Despite my cough being under control with the inhaler, I've had to avoid the cold air outside and have been messing about with assignments and grading.

Also made a start on my new IKEA guitar vault, which is basically a standard Ikea Wardrobe but built for storage and re-enforced on the shelves to hold the guitars.

Normally I love doing flatpack furniture, its just like messing with big Airfix kits, but in my not well state, it was quite an effort, having to stop at every single little step. Normally I'd have it up and done in a few hours, but this is going to be a couple of days at this the 1st section up though and trying it out for size.

All fits....there's another section to be built and joined onto that section, reenfocement on the shelves, then glass sliding doors (A slight excess on my part as I didn't realise I could buy cheaper non glass doors..) and all should be fine and dandy.

I think I can store 20 in there, 5 in each section, though maybe less if cased. The bottom rack will hold my most used non Gibsons (I'll keep the gibbos on the wal) and the other racks can keep the less often used acoustics safe and secure and snug.
All in all a huge space savingbut still accessable.

Just wish I was fit enough to get it up and done. But work commitments mean I could only do a couple of hours and thats as much as I managed.

Hoping the inhaler lets me get a full nights sleep, and not get kicked out into the spare room for keeping Bina awake...Who incidently had a wisdom tooth out today, and she's still the smartest women I know...go figure??


inhalers are ...ok

Went to docs about my cough, was lucky to get a same day appointment despite calling in later than planned.

Doc, a huge hulking ape like man who hunched over as he walked to the room with me following, had a bit of a listen, decided there was no real sign of infection but that my lungs were sensitive at the moment and prescribed an inhaler.

Funny thing is, both he and the chemist went to great pains to explain the correct way to use it, and warned of the deeply unpleasant issue of having to suppress the cough reflex you get when inhaling such things. But I must breath through it they both emphasised.

Got home...readies myself for this new, and apparently unpleasent medical experience, breathed right out, then deep breath in as shown, and pressed the inhaler button as I am taking my deepest possible breath.

nothing....did anything come out?

Pressed it onto my hand and yes sure enough, a little puff of something comes out.

So I think, it might have been a bit of an air lock in the gadget, shake it up, and repeat process...same result, absolutely no cough reflex or unpleasent sensation at all, in fact nothing whatsoever appeared to happen.

I think I just gave myself a double dose with no cough reflex.

hmmm best not do it again for a few hours then.

Oh...cough seems to have died something has happened, good stuff this ;)


Monday, 16 January 2012

cough cough splutter yeeuuuugghhh

Thats the noise I've been making most of the day today as the 1st real cold day of the Winter met with the tail end of my holiday cold to give me a mother of a cough that will probably keep me awake all night and missing out on another of my cool Didactic classes as well as an important staff discussion meeting.

I'll give the doctors surgery a call tomorrow and see if I can get a same day appointment out of them to get some A/B's and proper cough meds, which are surprisingly hard to find here, as are good cold/flu meds.

Oh well....spare room for me tonight.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

thats better

Fretlight's back, €35 well spent, still has a bit of a buzz somewhere probably on the bridge but that does not impact on its playing tone when amped so all is well.

The New nut is considerably better and I can do 1st,2nd and 3rd string bends with impunity now. A considerable difference seeing a proper cut nut in place compared to the badly scored bit of plastic that was on there.

I noticed though on testing it, that the humming and computer feedback is still very evident on the neck pup, even played wirelessly, you still need to have the midi contoller plugged in via a wire, to the guitar and pc so there is "noise" going back up into it. So I'm quite sure there's a quality issue in the earthing of the midi LED controller and that neck pup. But not going to worry about it, its for practice not playing, and I can use the other 2 pups no problem.

It can now take its place now in the stand near the computer ready to be plugged in with Guitar Pro6 for Fretlight to let me practice scales, modes and occasional songs. But I can't see me buying any more Fretlight products for the forseeable future.

I'll take Goldie in next to get her pickup selecter fixed, my DIY repair job has not really worked and now I can't access the neck pup or the out of phase sounds at let the pro handle it.


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Embarassed, moi?

Finally managed to take my fretlight to the shop today to get its nut properly installed and I thought I might as well spend a few quid to try to upgrade it generally. I was thinking, some new modest pickups, perhaps a coil tap on the humbucker. All sorts of smart ideas to make it into something worth keeping.

But the shop tech was having none of it.. simply not worth it, the bridge was the cheapest of cheap and the light wood body had little or no resonance on it to make any kind of mod viable.
It has a nice neck which is where it gets most of its sustain but otherwise its little better than some of the cheapest guitars they sell for beginners. Pickups are cheap, frets are not well dressed and of course the supplied nut is terrible and totally ineffective for proper playing.

I wanted the pickups changed to get rid of a hum on the neck pup, but he was adamant that it was simple single coil hum...I pointed out none of my other single coils hum that loud and he made a vald point, my other guitars are quality, and have quality pups.

I had to concede he was probably right.. there's no point spending money on a guitar thats only there for practicing my scales, keys and learing new songs with the supplied software.

Since its only a practice guitar and never ever ever going to be used for any serious music, changing the pups or anything else is throwing money away.

So he's going to fit a proper nut on it, set the action to a decent level and give it a proper set up. That alone will cost a couple of quid and thats where I'll leave it.
Overall todays experience in the shop confirmed what I already believed, I think that the concept of a tutor guitar with light-up fretboard is decent, but the quality of the actual instrument leaves a lot to be desired, at least on this base level model..I can't see me ever buying another. Shame really, since a harder wood and through body bridge would probably make it quite decent. I've actually bought betterr 50quid guitars on ebay...pity their fretboards didnt light up!

Oh well.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

I'm cured!!!

I went with Bina to Utrecht today, she's was doing an exam for her Masters (which of course she'll get another A* for). And to amuse myself I went hunting for music shops.

I found the motherload!! Feedback Music...OMG Guitars, basses, Guitars, keyboards, Guitars, pedals, guitars, drums...everything in fact, including guitars.

Loooooads of them and proper makes, not the cheap branded chinese crap we have on sale at our local padding out the 2 or 3 decent guitars on offer.

And amazngly, all well priced....I tried loads of different ones, almost broke a Fender Acusticsonicaster thingy, which due to its thin head dropped off the wall mount after I played with it..fortunatly I caught it before it hit the ground and the shop staff wisely then placed it on a stand rather than the wall.

Lots and lots of interesting guitars, I got to try them out, even the expensive ones and for the most part I didn't like the way they no purchase. I got a chance to compare an Epiphone Lucille with my Gibsons and really there is no comparison. I tried a couple of Line6 variax's and loved the cheaper one, the top end having a strange heel join to the body that I hated. A couple of PRS Se's also felt great to play, one was on offer.....tempting. Ibanez's were nice but I just can't see the appeal myself. The Fender acoustithing was nothing to write home about. There were some very nice basses which almost had me reaching for my credit card, but nothing at a price I could justify for the amount I play, I'll stick with my old Roberts for now.

But, heres the thing, though I still have a chunk of my Xmas bonus available, I didn't purchase anything...I walked out smiling and happy with my twiddles, I know now what a range of guitars feel like and more important I know now where to go if I feel the need to buy another (I won't though...) and try before I buy.

GAS is clearly under control. Well that and the fact I am going to buy a wardrobe and convert it into a vault, as well as perhaps buy some better electronic drums as my kit is really not good for learning on, so I had other uses for my bonus money......still ....progress eh!


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Home sweet home

Nice to have a break, but even nicer to come home to your own bed, even if at the moment I'm not in it, due to the fact I have a nasty cough from the cold I developed on holiday. I'll be waking Bina up if I snuggle into bed then start hacking and wretching. Though much better I'm still hacking, so spare room for me when this is done :(

I lost the final day of the holiday due to a nasty spot of food poisoning, not sure if it was the dissapointing Chinese we had or the really tasty but slighly dodgy and huge street seller candy floss I gobbled afterwards...probably the candy floss.

But a day on the couch in close running distance to a handy downstairs loo, had me back to normal again and we headed off on our trip home. Leaving my digital camera in the hire car in the process..bah..hopefully they can send it on to me...we'll have to see.

Speaking of digital camera's Bina had an absolute ball at Lorca Parque on Tenerife getting herself a yearly pass so she could go every day she wanted to see her beloved Orcas and dolphins. She went 3 times in the end. In the process taking some utterly brilliant pics which are on her facebook page, I might post a few on here too.

But holidays end, flight back was pretty good, we were worried about bad weather but we manage to miss it and had smooth flying and landings with no problems at all.

Stright to our soft and sadly seperate beds till the cough dies down.

I had a nice relaxing 1st day back with my girls, trying to do some recording of Bonamassa and Harts amazing version of Bobby Bland's "I'll take care of you", which I played on a loop 50 times at least when I was lying ill on the couch.. its just utterly brilliant.

Of course I couldn't get it down, I'll need a bit of help from my bandmates to be able to get this masterpiece recorded, and you can forget that end

Still I enjoyed the process of trying, its nice to have a bit of a break from playing guitar then finding that the break has made you more aware of things your doing right and wrong, so today was a good day despite the recording failure..I'll try something a bit simpler instead.....
like this

Which I can play, if not sing..

or maybe this..

a bit more challenging with several layers, but not too hard and very cool...

Watch this space and we'll see what I come up with.

New Year of course means new resolutions, my resolution is not to make any resolutions, oops which I've just broken...not to worry, I had already made up my mind to lose weight and get fitter once Holidays were all done, I'll start charting progress on that soon... The target is to lose 50lbs in 6 months, while obviously rediscovering the Charles Atlas body that is currently hidden in this Homer Simpson padded suit..
Lets just stick to the 50lbs..some diet...some....note that mum, some...But mostly more excersise.