Friday, 26 December 2014

no way to hide it.

Have to be honest, that was an utterly shit Christmas, on my own, for the 1st time in many years.

I have spent a fair amount of it drinking and watching movies to keep me occupied and stop myself getting all wound up. I might do some coding soon when my brain starts to clear. I did however enjoy my mince and tatties Christmas really I love that stuff and no point cooking a roast for 1.

I suppose I have to get used to the idea that the future I had partially planned out for "us" is simply not going to happen, things I had convinced myself were going to make my later years happy and fun, are just not likely now.

Oh well... I cheered myself up by buying a new vacuum cleaner for Xmas....yes a strange present for sure, you'd have thought I'd have got a new guitar but the old vac is broken, and though it might be fixable with some glue and a ring clamp(ohh I need to go buy one of those) , I thought it best I just got a new got me showered and out of the house to buy it at least.

Another Christmas casualty is my trusty old Phillips Cinema surround system... I have had it since I arrived here and its served me very well these last 6.5years..but when setting up some lights, I accidently unplugged it while it was showing a menu, and now it won't load any vids at all....I think the motor that spins got damaged

bugger...I suppose it is time to get a new one, but I have held out knowing that any new one I get probably won't work with my now quite old 720p projector...I didn't really want to get a new one of those too...Also...Blu Ray is upon us...oh well... I guess I have some spare funds since I don't need to buy the new mattress Brenda wanted to buy..I'll go see if I can pick up something cheap in Media Markt.

Better go shower....

I'm also going to try to catch up on some jobs that needed doing....the shed needs a clear out,  I was going to build a little herb garden ready for spring, several rooms need a lick of paint, and I still have not put up any wall paper in the Attic after the new walls were fitted. I will swing by the DIY store in the next couple of days and sort that out... Keeping myself busy stops me moping about.

I'll try to head into the new year with some purpose.....................yeah....well whatever.


Monday, 22 December 2014

And another door closes

So, thats another chapter in my life over with. Brenda and I are no more, it wasn't working out, lots of reasons, some undoubtedly down to me, but I honestly could not see any genuine future for us as long as the problems we had individually and together were not resolved.


Please ignore any clearly drunken posts for the next few weeks, I may not be in full control of myself to post much.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Working on the train.....I think not

So am on the train to Utrecht, and I think to myself, I 'll do a bit of work and upload a retake file to our school system

log in,..ok that works, I have internet for 15 mins on the train

14 mins later I'm still trying to sign in to our school portal, or any other site. Including this

The idea that working via the internet on the train is even remotely possible is laughable.
I'll be amazed if this actually posts!!!


Saturday, 29 November 2014


Tommy Emmanuel  was utterly incredible, I felt humbled and dazed at the mans talent, I know there are many great guitar players around, and I strongly truly believe that saying someone is better than someone else is a pointless exercise.....But, this man...this man,.is in a league of 1. He's so far ahead of the others the comparisons remain pointless...genius isn't good enough. He really is the Best Guitarist in the WORLD today.


I'm in two bands, Starrcase is the school band made up mainly of NHTV teachers and partners, and we do fairly regular gigs at school events. But also I am in another band, my friends the Gadgeteers... our progress to gigging has been a more labored process as we struggle to find a sound/genre we all agree with so we've only really played for family and friends, but we had our 1st proper pub gig this month, it went pretty well!
We have some video I am going to edit together mainly to remove my shocking backing vocals...but it did actually go well. We learned a lot, made a few mistakes and got great feedback that we can hopefully use to take us to new levels.. The Gadgeteers are coming, to a small backyard pub near you.

And marking hell is upon always, has taken almost all my work and spare time...and I've got some more to do, so hence the lack of an update.

Time for some guitar playing then I can get up early for more marking.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

I appear to have grown up

I have finally realised that Dr who is in fact a kids show, not an actual intelligent Sci Fi show for adults...At least not when Stephen Moffat is writing it.


and breath

I think that's it, 50 years, and I have to say goodbye to my childhood.

Bye Bye Doctor at times it was brilliant, but those times are few and far between now, time for me to move on.


Here's how it should be done.

Not had time to do a video, been marking non stop all week, and coding. But I have been doing the guitar parts of Night after Night and have almost worked out the entire song :D Soon as I memorise the words I'll start on a video.

Might be a few more weeks now as marking hell has come with 80 odd projects to grade from the 1st and 3rd years...will take a bit of time to get it all sorted.

As a treat though about the time I finish all that.. I get to see the greatest guitarist in the world,...yup...he really is...playing in Utrecht.

The amazing Tommy Emmanuel .....Cannot wait to see this amazing player.


Monday, 3 November 2014

Coding catchup, and time for bifocals

Marking is going ok, still takes a lot longer than I want it to, I got fed up with students demanding their 1st homework grades, so after I did them I decided not to give them...They need to realise grades are not as important as their actual assignments they'll get their grades when I have finished the 2nd assignments, then have to start grading the final assignments...they better be good.

Also doing a bit of coding on other things, my own projects and learning new PS4 stuff, lot of work...I have to do a course next block that I've never taught before, so have to do a shed load of revision. I know the material, but its far away from being something I specialise in but it is daunting but fun.

Age is catching up with me so fast now, 51 in a few months and everything aches, creaks, or is misfiring. Knees, back, groin, the only thing that is not hurting at the moment is my shoulder..its probably taking a rest before coming back with a vengeance.

My eyesight is also becoming noticeably worse, we revamped the living room a few weeks ago, and now the TV is a full 2-3 feet further away, just far enough that I can't actually read the TV guides of program summaries,
So I have had to wear glasses, more often, when watching telly...its all nice and bright and sharp now :(
Trouble is I can't switch focus to things I am reading, or working on my looks like bifocals for me next time  go for an eyetest which I think I going to be soon.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

wow, thats a song and a half

I was watching a really impressive drama documentary on BBC the other night about WWI tank crews. It was pretty harsh but very informative.
But at the end credits I heard a song that just blew me away, I'd never heard it before, even though its a few years old now.. thank you google for helping me find it.. It is this

I think this is possibly the most beautiful sad song I have ever heard and it just speaks to me.

I'm going to record it as soon as I have some free time, the original is in a drop D tuning but I was able to work out a reasonable normal tuning version, I just need to practice it a bit more and find a key I can sing it in.

Anyway readers, if you are both reading this, check it out, its wonderful. Mine won't be 10% as good, so soak it in before I ruin it for you.


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Mid week chillax and cost of drugs.

3 lovely days of peace and quiet...lots of coding done, and some guitars plonked..I can feel the stress falling away.

I have some marking to do, so will probably do that tomorrow, then continue to enjoy my break, but I can definitely feel the return of my calmer self.  No rants at people doing daft things, just me time.

My tennis elbow has pretty much gone, I have full function again and very very little pain, apart for my wallet. I got an odd bill from my medical insurance company,  which I managed to find out online was for drugs and hospital visits, which I have to pay the 1st 360euros of...ouch. I didn't know that.

But the pills the doc gave me for the nerve damage was a shock, nearly 60euros...for a pack of 24 pills.....WTF.... and a couple of other odd charges I need to ask them about.
I'm a bit ticked off that the doc never mentioned that there was such a high cost attached to the meds, if she had told me I think I would have passed on the idea and just loaded up with the much cheaper, 7euros oxcontin, I'd have been stoned for 3 weeks but the pain would have been manageable.

Lesson learned, always ask the cost of drugs.

We have some visitors staying this weekend, so Brenda wants to do a tidyup.....hmmm well its tidy as far as I can see, its how we live, why make it tidier??? Anyway Spare room does need a bit of a clean out.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

gaps are getting long?

I'm not neglecting you reader,  its just been a rather busy month, lots of work to do, and been playing with some toys and trying to get some stilly end of project bugs out of my Z80 game..

My BeatBuddy has been proving to be fun and frustrating at the same time...its fun as a drum machine, it really does exactly what it should, I was however hoping to sync it with my loopers so I could have drum backings on my loops but that's proven problematic...ironically not because of the BB, but the loopers themselves really don't want to play with MIDI. I need to keep playing with them.

The software for it arrived, or a least a beta, its just about usable, but I am buggered if I can see where 10+months of development has gone. Its very limited and lacks a lot of functionality...but hey ho....I might be able to help them out with it later, the guy who invented it is very approachable.

In other news...ummm not much to say, my tennis elbow/nerve damage has slowly improved and I am almost pain free.

I finally went to Den Haag to find the famed M&S and have so far made two trips...Pork Pies....oh god such nice pork pies...sausages, that even Brenda loves, pies, pasties and packs and packs of Jammy dodgers and ginger nuts...lovely.

We tried a small financial experiment this month too, setting a fixed food budget and making sure we paid cash for things...we seem to have managed to eat very well all month so far and will get to payday with a few quid spare...Normally we're a little bit short, but we eat far too much takeaway and restraint meals, so this has been quite an eye opener. Given that this month we had the council bills all due too we didn't want to get into the red...We will keep this up and should be able to put a small buffer into the savings account so big council bills and unexpected holiday expenses won't hurt as much.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Worth the wait

Nearly 10 months, maybe longer, and way past its original April target date..My BeatBuddy has arrived, with the added bonus of not being asked to pay customs, despite a waybill on the packet that suggests I probably should have...I am sure I'll get a reminder if I have to pay something.

I've played with it for 2 minutes, and I can immediately tell you this thing is genius, utter utter genius, easy to use, easy to set up, fantastic, just fantastic to play along to.

Being able to transition to chorus/verse and add high hat or other accents (depending on the track) is just such a simple obvious idea....yet no one did it..until now.

I always like to play along to a rhythm track but that sensation of being locked into the same groove eventually kills the may keep you in time but it does not give much of a dynamic, especially for transitions in the song.

Now every solo musician can have a drummer.....

flipping brilliant.

Now I just need the software, which is also delayed but, I know more than most how that is....I will wait and master my BB in the meantime.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Beat Buddy on the way

After being stuck in Hong Kong for a week, my Beat Buddy is finally on its way

I've been waiting over 9 months for this little beauty to come, it started out as a crowdfunding idea

Way back in December and I immediately knew this was a great gadget to have, and signed up,  I still worry that the bigger companies will realise the awesomeness of this, but no matter. The team at BeatBuddy have managed to see this through, and despite a hiccup at the customs in Hong Kong its finally on its way. Wonderful to see that something which was so passionately put forward, has actually become a reality.

I just hope that it plays nice with my RC-300, traditionally RC's don't like to midi sync with other units, but that's kinda essential....but if doesn't I do have other loop systems I can use.

It should be here next week, as soon as I get it I will be trying it out on my loops, and see how it does..

Vids will follow.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

StarrCase Rocking

We did a birthday party at the Clarenbeek a few weeks ago, here's some vids



No I don't know how either

but still 3kg in a month is good....its all so far down to just not shoveling pies down my face, no snacks, cutting out sugar and avoiding treats... I still eat normal lunch and dinner meals, just choosing healthy when possible, also we were pretty broke after GC so we ate a lot of cheap was not always exciting to eat but it filled a hole and clearly helped.

I have not been to the gym yet (lol) but I do have a genuine reason.

Stop laughing, I do.

As I noted in a previous post, I've got some nerve damage in my arm, maybe neck surgery related  or a strain, but either way I have brachial neuralgia, which is basically sciatica in your arm which gives a fairly constant level of discomfort at points on my arm and a weakening...I can't even open a jar of pickles any more....the ignominy of asking Brenda to do it will never leave me :(

I've been hoping it would settle down and go away but it got a lot worse, and I had a couple of very severe pain attacks from my neck down to my little finger that left me speechless with pain.

So had to go see the doc..she was very helpful.
Got some pills, been taking them.
Not noticed a massive difference, in the levels on constant pain, though the "arggh please cut my arm off now", kind of pains have not re-occurred so maybe it is working.. So the oxycontin the doc gave me just in case, has not been was THAT bad.

I will go back to the docs next week to follow up, and possibly go see the sadist Chinese massage woman in town who did my feet, to see if she can loosen up the neck and shoulder muscles..while gleefully watching me cry like a baby no doubt.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Neightbours DIY starts at 8, prevents drowning of sorrows sleep

So we moved to the back room of the house to reduce our disturbance from the roadworks from hell, and surprisingly it worked very well, we were not woken up at 7am.
But it seems there is also an 8 in the morning as well, which I have discovered because a neighbor a few doors down has decided that's a good time to start using power tools on the wall, I assume a sander.
A few doors down shouldn't matter but since it vibrates right through the structure, we get it a nice loud buzz at 8am.

thanks neighbor, thanks a lot

I sold None More Black yesterday, to a nice Chinese guy who's into Metal....she's gone to a good home, but I will miss her.
I spent a few hours  cleaning her up and giving her a good well as putting some funny black strings on her and couldn't resist a post clean noodle...ah the strings were strange but she sounded great...why oh why had I not spent more time with her. 
He didn't want the strap though, as he had plenty, so I'm left with a sad reminder of a great guitar that I never really spent enough time with...a few drinks were had in her memory last night. sob.

But on the plus side, the dire financial situation we found ourselves in after the GC holiday has been significantly reduced so we can buy steak again...hurrah.
I will however be continuing the guitar cull, there's still a few guitars that need to go, but no rush.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

7 in the morning.....they have a 7 in the morning

I know this because they are busy ripping up my street with massive big machines which are big, and as a result of being big, are also very noisy....which coupled with the annoying fact they laid down a temp roadway of metal plates for cars to travel down the middle of my street meant it was well after 1am before cars stopped going clank clank clank down my street.

And then they started work, at the afore mentioned 7am with their big machines.


No amount of coffee is going to prepare me for today.


Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Diet continues but nothing to report yet...

No weight lost as such to report yet, its still early...I wanted to make more effort to get to the gym but something else is getting in the way...

I've had tennis elbow, or brachial neuralgia for a while now, it comes and goes but certainly it comes more than it goes.

Brenda has been on at me to go to the doctors, which in my usual, don't like doctors, I've avoided doing, since there really is nothing much that can be done, rest and keep it mobile....and I can do that without having a doctor tell me to do that.

But I had to give in and book an appointment, the pain multiplied by a factor of 10 today as the base of my bicep felt like it was about to explode....never felt anything quite like it. So even if he tells me to rest it but keep it mobile, I can at least ask him for some horse strength painkillers to avoid the agony I was in an hour or so ago... double dose of Ibuprofen has taken the edge of it but wow it still hurts.

Seeing doc on Thursday.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Wow, that is my heaviest ever....admittedly with clothes on but still..that's ...fluffy.

So that's the start point, I must lose 10kg before Xmas...and if it goes well aim to get down to 75kG as a target weight


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Diet..yes really.

No, this time I mean it
I dunno who that fat slowly browning beached whale was that Brenda was taking snaps of on our hols but I certainly don't want to see any more pics like that

I've been paying for the gym membership for years now and not using it, so it is time to make something of it...Diet and gym, I plan to lose 10Kg, I will do a weigh in tonight.

I also need to go see the doc about my tennis elbow issues, as it will no doubt get aggravated by the gym work, but this has to be done... I have slowly let myself go to ruin and its got to be fixed.

Holiday was good in terms of weather but I have to say Gran Canaria has kinda lost its appeal now, The weather is all you can say is good about it. There was a lot of closed shops and a sense of decay about the place which it seems they have compensated for by vastly increasing the cost of everything.. We struggled quite badly with money despite having more than I've taken the last few times I went and that made some things hard. Food and drink in particular were much more expensive and not always worth the price...
So its adios to GC for me I think.. I've had many happy happy times there but the honeymoon is over

But its back to work now...Time to get things ready for the new group of 1st years..yeahhhh

Being a teacher means I can make fresh starts twice a year....:)



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Need a holiday to recover from the holiday

Its been a fun 2 weeks, only 2 more days to go before we have to return to the Netherlands in the small hours.
I have lots of pics to post when I get home, but there just isn't the bandwidth here for much more than a simple text post so I'll keep you waiting.

It has been tiring though, trying to fit in a lot of things while struggling with the 30-35degree heat is no easy task, we've found ourselves sleeping in a lot and only coming alive in the evenings.
I got burned a few times, but am now pretty brown..

Funds have  been a little low on this trip so improvising things as we go. which does not really fit in well with Brenda's everything must be planned, and my lets just wing it, mind-sets, but apart from a bit of grumpiness we've managed to reach agreements and fit in a few nice trips and events.

The SeaCat trip in particular was lovely even though I screwed up totally and went to the wrong pickup points which meant Brenda had to call up and do some re-arranging to get a new booking. The plus side is we got to see a lovely sunset at sea since we have an evening trip rather than a morning one.

Yesterday we rented a car for 3 days to let us get out and about a bit more, but the trip inland and back left us bought with mega headaches, possibly from the thin air as well as exposure to the sun...despite a very interesting visit to an aboriginal canarian settlement/exhibition. Some stunning views too of course. But unlike my last trip inland a few yeas back I didn't take quite so many photo's so the mysterious lines will have to remain a mystery.

That headache did put a bit of a damper on my visit to my favourite Canarian steak house, but the succulent char grilled Tbone steak was still devoured and Brenda enjoyed the fillet Strogonoff.. Before we had to retire home to find a lack of paracetamol and no way to buy any.. Only Farmacia's can sell them.
Lucky for us after a bit of a rummage in the tardis of Brenda's bag we found a strip and managed to tame the worst of the headaches so we could sleep... It was pretty bad.

We're planning a trip to a cave based Canarian restaurant later for a nice meal and hopefully a few more events before home time...

Harvey has had a bit of a rough time though his dog sitter had to take him to the vet as he seemed to have problems with his anal glands....she said he was too fat for her to clean them out..oops... I will call later to find out. Financially it could not have been a worse time for vets fees but we'll have to work something out, his health is important to us, but I just can't do much about it while I am 2000odd miles away.

I have to go straight back to work, when I get back...and also straight into rehearsals as I have gigs due with both bands, especially a last minute Starrcase gig on the 30th... hope I don't fall asleep in the middle of my numbers :


Saturday, 2 August 2014

The internet is full of sickness and stupidity

Its a bit of a shock to the system, when you realize how easy people can be manipulated, twisted and desensitized to the world they live in.

Ask any Daily Mail reader what the no1 problem in the UK is and more than likely it'll be the EU or immigration, though it does rather depend on when you ask them, it might be GMO's and cancer next week. They'll trot out this weeks reason to rant at the drop of a hat but seldom give you any actual facts beyond, I know a mate who knew.....and heres a graph that shows it...all unverified.

The media manipulates and alters opinions constantly, in some ways that's not a bad thing if it educates and informs you towards a viewpoint you had not considered, but more often than not it just indoctrinates and brainwashes you to see their particular viewpoint.

For whatever reason, I have spent most of my life struggling with seeing  both sides of a story, I'm easily swayed by fact, and occasionally opinion, of those I trust, but mostly facts.

I read the news voraciously, its part of the reason I'm shit hot at trivia quizzes...I digest news, I digest facts and I form options based on those facts, not on the views the suppliers of some of those facts want me to share.

I can spot blatant propaganda bullshit on Russian media,Chinese media,  US media (dear god, the bullshit is strong with those people), and also sadly in UK media,  bullshit radiates with flies hovering about and I just know when something isn't right.

When all said and done, if someone tells you something and a little voice in your head that true? There is never any harm in checking it out....when you then discover its not true, or its been exaggerated or somehow undermined by emotive or misleading language, you can assess how much of the bullshit might be worth taking on board.

Recently I have come to realize, my surprisingly keen insight into the world as it truly is,  is not shared by the rest of you mere mortals....this as always, causes me to I the one who's seeing things wrong...let me check...nope...let me check again and again...time and again I keep seeing the same thing...people taking a view, mostly indefensible, and then defend it....with faulty logic, faulty facts, hearsay, rumor,  and then sometimes just plain old stubbornness again.

They seek out confirmations of their views, but only their views, and proudly wave them at me as if this incredible find from a source that gave them their views in the 1st place is the only source worth using..

But what about this, these, all these contrary viewpoints, with evidence and facts....bias propaganda they say, ignoring the irony that all they are spouting is the opposing propaganda....No one wants to see the truth in the middle, because that means admitting you are wrong.....I don't mind doing that...when I am wrong...I really don't. It's just that is not very often, because I take time to form my views by looking at both sides and I am always open to change that view, always....that puts me in conflict sometimes with both sides...but shit happens.
I can't help but question something I perceive as a lie, sometimes its because I want that lie explained to me, in case its true....and then when I realize its not, I try to show that...but no one really wants to listen. Sometimes its because I have read some trivia new story which has tucked away in the back of my mind and I know the resulting fable needs to be exposed...once I've checked it a bit more.

People guard their views strongly, its theirs, you can't have it, and there's nothing you can give them that will change it..even truth. Because your truth is not a truth they want to accept.

I've seen this a lot recently, I've sunk a little into a abyss and slowly climbing out of it, but finding so much about the world and the people in it to be hard to take. There is some amazingly blinkered and irrational viewpoints in the world. I know everyone is different, but why do so many have to be so blinkered and downright stupid that they refuse to do that little bit of self doubt that makes them check the other side.

There's far too much hate in the world and all it really needs to combat it is just to think about the other viewpoint...can you be wrong?

The world is a very very scary place right now, I wonder if we'll make it through the next 20 years without mushroom clouds.


Sunday, 29 June 2014

Marking done...time for a video

Barring a few late submissions, marking is done and summer is almost here...I plan to do a lot of coding this holiday but some guitar work will keep me sane.
Trying out my VLP GTX and finding some of the vocal settings are more pleasing than on the VL2...but its simple enough to copy  them over. vid...sorry I am looking at the floor so much but the buttons were not as familiar to me as my big rig...but I wanted to try something simpler..

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Booked and we go

Off the Canaries at the height of the season in August....2 weeks of sun sun and a bit more sun

can't wait.


Saturday, 21 June 2014

Near the end!

School is effectively done for the year, I have a small pile of marking to do this weekend,  and a smaller pile next weekend for some retakes, but then its over.

An interesting year, more work, more students, slightly more tiring and perhaps in some ways less enjoyable for a host of different reasons...I feel each year slightly more detached from the process of deciding on the direction of our education, as we get bigger and management takes more control of it, not always in ways I feel are appropriate.

I suppose this is normal when something successful grows...For now though I still love the teaching aspect of my job and seeing students grow and develop remains for me more than enough job satisfaction.

I have found and decided to attempt a Masters degree at Birmingham City University that I feel I will get some pleasure from, since it basically involves me writing a game.......yeah...well ...thats kinda ok...though I still strongly and vocally protest at the so called need to have such a degree in place, but if I want to keep my position I am going to have to ..."just do it" people keep saying to me...

"Just do it", however is not a reason any one should ever have to accept when being forced to do something against their will..

I keep putting forward that argument that Masters degrees as an entry requirement to teaching are actually barriers that prevent highly experienced and potentially prized teachers from entering academia, but as academia is stuffed full of masters educated academics, my argument simply isn't listened to....So I have to join the club....It still infuriates me so much.
Fortunately not enough to quit, but its a pretty heavy bale on the camels back.

I took the small exam for entrance/discount for the course and scored 100%...well any less would be worrying.. I hope the rest of it will be as easy, I value my non work life very highly these days, even if a lot of it is sleeping in, or vegging out in front the TV (or coding or playing)....I don't want to find myself stressing out about exams and deadlines at my age.

Anyway....venting a bit, for a whole year this has bugged me and now that I have to admit defeat it still bugs me....when I get will bug me and some smart arse will probably suggest I do a Phd...which will bug me even more.

I think its time to plan some fun things for the summer... May's bonus salary along with a nice tax rebate mean we can plan a nice holiday this year.  I am heading down to the Travel agents this afternoon with Brenda to plan our 1st holiday away.... I better hit that gyms and get my bikini figure back before August.....or I could just buy bigger swimwear....hmmmm yes that sound more practical.

Speaking of fun...check this out...


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Been too busy

Sorry I didn't post news of the gig, it went really well.. and I will post some pics shortly

Just been very busy with things, and now have to catch up a bit on some coding and other things that have slipped...

normal service and a few vids to follow soon


Friday, 30 May 2014

Squeeky bum time tomorrow

So tomorrow is our 1st Gadgeteers gig...we probably picked the worst possible time to do this, because its a long weekend here in the Catholic south where they've been celebrating Ascension day on Thursday so it turns into a 4 day break..
Nice, but it means a lot of our friends and colleagues who would come to our gig won't be around... but no matter there will be a few people and it is a gig so we'll get the experience of a full live set... :D

In preparation I've been setting up my pedals ....
Time for some gear case you've not been following my ongoing problems with Gear Acquisition Syndrome.... heres my lovely rig.
I spent the other morning rejigging my "gig" box to make a bit more space and use the new Goliath Powerplant and here's the final result. I was able to fit a few more things into the box...course I need to build even more muscles to haul it around cos its freaking heavy, but the upside is can set up in 2 mins, just remove the lid and plug into a PA and I'm off.
Purists might want to argue points about tone and sucking etc but bear in mind this is what I use in my bands where I need to wear several hats, as backing singer, keyboard/string/fx filler, as well as lead or Rhythm Guitar are needed so I have to have flexibility and like to keep it all in one spot.

The size of the rig is kinda dictated by the two massive pedals at the front an RC-300 looper (wonderful thing) and the GR-55 Synth. My main guitar sounds come from the Adrenalinn III box  on the top row, which  emulates a host of different amps and cabs as does the COSM modelling in the GR-55 so I can pretty much get any sound I want.... At home I just use a Tube Screamer into a Fender Champ 800..but band work has different requirements
The Adrenalinn can be further controlled and turned in to a pretty cool synth on its own with my FCB1010 midi control board, not shown here... I usually only set that  up for live playing or video recording. But for most of the time it just pretends to be a Fender Deluxe or a Marshal Plexi..I don't know how accurate it is, I just know I like the sound.
The Digitech pedal gives me various Wah and distortions and is a cool Lead/Loud Pedal when I need it.
Vocals...I am a shit singer, so I process the hell out of my voice.. the 2 TC Helicon pedals in the middle give me fx as well as pitch correction so I can do robots. harmonics, megaphones, vox, etc....then then go into the big TC Helicon Voicelive 2 box when I need to sing straight but with a bit of reverb and pitch checking to make it sound reasonable.
Under the deck is of course the power.. The Wah pedal and the GR-55 need a bit more power than even the Goliath can manage so they get their own power supply, but everything else is run by the Goliath which is a meaty and pricey bit of kit.
I like this Goliath but am a bit worried by the heat it generates, I blew up a much cheaper unit I bought previously and would hate for this one to blow as well, even though I'm within its output limits, the RC, VL2 and ADIII do draw a lot of power close to the 450ma limits, so it gets hot. I am going to attach a CPU heat sink to the top of it with some Thermal tape to help it shed heat a bit better and reduce my paranoia..If I can work out how to fit a fan too I'll keep better..

There's also a mic receiver unit for my wireless mic, and an In Ear monitor transmitter, which  is fed by the RC-300, which is where all the different outputs go into for output to the PA or when recording, the USB. That's only used when I am playing by myself otherwise I take a monitor feed from the desk.
The RC-300  can configure all its switches and pedals to different thing, it also has a very nice drum machine in it (so does the Adrenalinn) my template configuration for it, is to have the foot pedal set from 50%-100% input gain so it acts as a solo button. The loop fx button is a mic on/off switch, I sometimes split the mix input to a small mixer so I can loop instruments while singing. The Voice Live 2, also does some very cool funky harmonies and distortion fx so it can create some amazing tones even from my crappy vocals...
Anyone with more than a couple of pedals knows the wiring and patch cable maintenance is a pain, so keeping things in one box is my solution to it.. I'm still not happy though,  I've used the shortest patch cables I can, but I still plan to make my own cables to exact fit sizes. Also some of the power cables are a bit long, so I am hunting for shorter versions.
The only other thing I am planning to add is a Beat Buddy drum pedal which is due to ship in July..not quite sure where it will fit...but I will work it out.
It looks more complex than it is, but it turns heads when I set it up.
Finally its all driven by 1 guitar, usually Margaret, my Patrick Eggle Berlin Stage T with a GK3 fitted, but I also use a  backup Fender Strat with a GK-2 fitted, called Penny

Once the gig is out of the way, I have yet another gig to get ready for, the next Starrcase Gradation  event is coming up in about a month, I need to check the date but its been a hectic few weeks with double rehearsals for Gadgeteers as well as Starrcase gearing up to gig mode....

Both bands are getting better every time we its exiting stuff..

Not had a lot of time recently to do any videos but have been hearing a lot of great songs that I want to do loop covers off, so will try to fit something in when there's a quiet spot.


Monday, 26 May 2014

5 more sleeps

counting down the days to the Gadgeteers 1st proper gig...we did a small spot at THE birthday party :) but this will be our first ever proper on stage gig. on Saturday 31st...we're shitting bricks over it... Only 2 more rehearsals to go

I'm hoping to grab some video and sound bytes on the night, lets hope it all goes to plan...we've been preparing for this for nearly 3 years now since the 1st Expats jam sessions started. We've come a long way, though still playing some of the same songs.......I am tempted to say badly but we have got better...Especially in the last weeks with the focus of a gig on our minds.

If anyone local is reading this, please come along and show us some support, we're at Sound Dog, the address is Oude Baan 8,  and were starting things off at 7-30.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Paid GIG!!

I am now officially a gigging musician, 100 euros divided by 7 ;)

heheh, its feels good.

Out Saturday gig though was a lot of fun, we had the audience bopping but it did highlight a major problem we have playing live... We have no clue how to mix the sound.

As a result, the recording we made direct from the mixer was dire. Just incredibly bad. With 2 members totally dominating the mix.... Fortunately the audience probably didn't have to worry about it, since they would have got a lot of the monitor mix as well which was quite they at least heard something better than we mixed...and we got paid so it couldn't have been too bad.

I'm researching solutions to this live mixing issue and thing I've found the always not a cheap solution but worth it, and as long as I can get use out of it for myself I'll invest in it.

cool gadget, will need to sell a few other mixer toys to pay for it.


Thursday, 8 May 2014

All set up and sweet

Here we are, the new board layout..though I did switch the 2 VoiceTone pedals around after this was taken. Cables are still a teeny bit messy, but I can't really afford to go buying custom lengths.

Underneath the tier, is also a mess, with 2 long power strips, 1x 3pin UK and 1x 2pin Euro with 7 individual power units to power everything. I plan to replace almost all of those those with a single mega power unit in the summer when my tax rebate comes through.

Still heavy, still needs wheels to lug around but I'm pleased with it. Wait till you see the 2nd and 3rd board I can attach to it :D

2nd board has my other GR30 synth, and its UX-20 switch to control it, its not complete yet as it will also have my Beat Buddy Drum machine when it arrives in July, just to give a bit more flexibility. I've had a few test plays and its so cool to have looped arpeggios while you play other things and not have to worry about loop timings.

The 3rd board is my good old mobile board from the old Layout, it can route a shared guitar signal via the UX-20 through the GR30..I probably won't use it but its there if I want to.

oh and then there is the control the Adrenalinn III, its not essential to use but it is easier....hmmm my floor space might be getting eaten up again :)

Do I have a problem?


Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Bit of a tech update

So my lovely despite a little running repair that was needed last week when a hinge rivet popped. But I need to make a few small changes to it to get a bit more flexibility out of its use at home as well as for live work (I sound like a real musician now don't I...wish I played like it).

Mainly its to help my solo looping, one of the issues with it is that I can't sing and play and loop and record only the playing, which is something you need to do, I have the ability to switch off the mic and not loop the vocals but the down side is that I then don't get the vocals coming out the speakers...not ideal... so I needed something to let me switch of the vocals in the loop but then send it to  another channel..

Since I was taking my source audio from the looper that was kind of a dead end, so a small re-arrangement is needed, the output needs to go to a mixer...I do have one but its a big one and I wanted something I could hide in the case.....
So here it is.

Small enough to fit in my case (more weight :() and just enough channels to handle the output from the looper, then a split signal from the mic which will also go to the looper but splitting it should mean when I mute it on the looper it still comes out to the mixer, leaving 2 channels spare for my other synth which I hope to use simultaneously but as atmosphere so not usually for looping..well that's the plan

I'll be setting it up this week and also resetting my wah pedal since its stuck in switch mode.
Some new patch cables to tidy things up will be a nice touch but not too essential just now.
Lastly I plan to add a new and mega power unit to it, the last one I fitted was too light and died a quick death so am saving up for a new heavy duty kit..

Oh and I need to invest in a haul the beast around :)


Monday, 28 April 2014

False economy

Another 20 euros spent, on top of the 40 euros last month.....I'm talking about my old bike, its kinda falling apart these days, but I can't really bring myself to get rid of it.

I had to get a quite big repair done last month when I got an elastic holding strap caught in the gears and totally buggered it up.

But when I collected t, it had a few spokes loose......hmm that was the 2nd time I have been to that repair shop and on collecting have discovered a few spokes loose.....hmmmmm, saying nothing at this point, of course the spokes broke and I needed to get them replaced...but I went to a different place down at the station, they charge a bit more but are 100% reliable.

My old bike has almost certainly cost me more in repairs than it did to buy, or indeed replace, but its my old bike and I can't imagine having I'll hang on to it for now, even if its a false economy.

At least with the spring heading into summer in a wonderful way, I can cycle to work a few times and save the expense of the car.....not such false economy after all.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Look, there really are no with it.

Its no secret I'm an Atheist, despite being raised in a nominally catholic family and going to the mandatory catholic schools, I realised in my teens that religion was piffle and walked away from it with no regrets whatsoever.

As I've gotton older I've come into contact more and more with like minded people but also many serious religious people, most of whom I don't talk about their faith with....what would be the point?

Social media though exposes you to a much wider range of viewpoints other than your own, it also gives people a degree of courage to speak up in support of their beliefs...anonymity can hide a lot of cowardice and stupidity

More and more I am seeing the rise of religion taking an active stand in FB, Twitter, Youtube and other places...arguing their pretty incredibly stances, 6000yo earth, geocentrism, prophets and apostles, sins wiped clean for small fees and so on and on and on.

I try, I really do try not to get into arguments with these people, I mean what is the point?
They are trolling, but the problem is that if you don't stand up to something that you know is wrong, you're allowing it to happen, and exposing someone else to it.... and so the madness spreads.

Religion is wrong, frankly it is the real evil in the world today, All of them, even things you might not consider religion, where faith in something is used to place your moral superiority on a pedestal for all to see, are evil.

There are no gods, there is no supernatural realm, our place on earth and our position in the universe might seem hard to understand and it probably has no real meaning beyond continuation of our species but accepting, or rather proving that fact with the simplest of empirical observation, gives an understanding of the world that god botherers simply don't want to accept.

We're a fucked up aggressive species of naked apes doing our very best to fuck over each other in an effort to live as long as possible, fucking up as many lives as we can in the process so we don't get fucked before we die.

If we could actually step back and see that we and not our gods are doing this...we might actually fix the world and our own attitude to it.

There are no really could be better without them...if you simple stop believing in nonsense and deal with fixing the reality so we can leave a better place when we die....end of.


Sunday, 6 April 2014

having a tidy up

As much as I want to do some guitar playing and that order, the attic is in dire need of a clean up...I amass junk like no one I know...if its not been getting used these last 3 years, then it isn't needed, (guitars and toys aside) time to throw it out without hesitation.

2 big bangs full of old papers and crap from past lives ready to kick out.

2nd cold has fortunately not been as bad as the 1st, got some decent cough meds and lemsip style things from the local Kruidvat (bit like boots) and have been ok.

Our hopes to play at a wedding gig in August took a dive when the bride and groom decided we were too expensive at the extreme cost of, you supply the we were a bit disheartened among the Gadgeteers this week, until I decided, to get us a gig.

If all goes to plan we will be playing a show case gig of our set to friends ,family and if we're lucky local pub bookers who may want to take us on for some proper paying gigs... We're never going to get out of the rehearsal rooms despite our marked improvement if we don't actually get up and risk a few bad gigs till we polish our act.

So mark your diaries... May 31st..subject to the venue not getting booked for a paid event. The mighty Gadgeteers will be doing their thing

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Another cold!!

This really isn't fair....while still dealing with the tail end of a 2 week cough from the last cold...I go out with friends for dinner on Friday night and start sneezing like a sick old man...sure enough next morning ANOTHER fucking cold is in full runny nose mode on top of the old chest infection... This is so not funny.

Spring here has been lovely, with warm sunshine and blue skies most of March, but have I had much chance to enjoy I fucking haven't.

So miserable, can't be arsed to do any coding, music, videos or much else...just trying to keep my mind focused on work related stuff and try not to miss any more time.
And my massive stocks of strong UK cold meds have all gone, used up on the last assault.....
Study week this week, I don't usually have a lot to do, so I can catch up on paperwork and prep for the last block....suspect I'll be shoving tissue up my nose and apologising for the coughs, sneezes and general nasty ooze coming out of me.



Friday, 28 March 2014

Sad news to hear the passing of Jenny Trotter

I heard today some very sad news. the lovely Jenny Trotter who with her husband Chris run the Creative Vacances guitar weeks in Bercloux France, where I have spent 2 very happy and fun filled holidays, has passed away after a short illness.

Really a shock, I was chatting with her on facebook only a few weeks ago, upset that my fixed holidays would not allow me to come down to spend another week this year. I had resigned myself to next year..

Next year might still happen, but I won't get the chance to see Jenny's happy enthusiastic face as she fusses over her guests and provides moral encouragement to the unconnected pickers and strummers, who will become friends over the week during their musical journey.

Very sad condolences to Chis, her husband, and her daughter Alice. I hope the fun and joy of your lovely business will continue and grow in her memory.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

hooomaan again almost

Aside from a cough which I am happy to say is now a nice productive phlegmy cough and not the dry heaving get a bit of spit out of your lungs cough I've had for a few days and nights. Also I got a good 8 hours sleep, on the couch, so as not to drive Brenda mad.

I feel a lot better today. Still not at the office though but hoping I'll get there tomorrow as I have a presentation to give

I am quite convinced that each time I get one of these colds they seem to be more debilitating and harder to shake, is this an age thing or are the colds mutating into hardier versions. I don't know, but this one has been nearly 2 weeks, ruined a holiday break and cost me 3 sick days.

might venture out to the shops in a bit. Get some vicks...apparently if you rub it on your feet and then put your socks and shoes on it stops a cough......not sure that's actually true, but am willing to give it a go.


Monday, 10 March 2014

1st sickie in a while

Wasn't up to going to work this morning, had about 1 hour sleep between coughs...might need to take another this is the worst cold I've had. And all of it during some of the warmest weather on record here in Netherlands.


Well that wasn't much fun

The spring carnival holiday has been amazing, wonderful warm sunshine every day, lots of parties going on everywhere, people sat out in the gardens with wine...except for me... All bloody week I've had this stinking horrible cold, the last two nights I've barely slept as I deal with coughing fits that won't stop...

grrr.. I had some nice plans for this week...just as well I work in education, there's more hols soon.


Friday, 7 March 2014

Holiday cold

We're on Holiday
I have a cold

Wanted to do a load of work on my retro and PS4  projects but have been feeling crap all week so done almost nothing....grr

almost out of Lemsips too...the week could not get any worse.

...ah theres still could get much worse.


Saturday, 1 March 2014

1,000,000 post on TCE

 A small personal landmark
I got the millionth post on The ChaosEngine, an industry only forum I have been on since it started..
quite pleased with that

New Guitar?

Nearly, got Margaret back from Dijkmans music after she had a, what a difference, no more buzzy notes on the E string

I've been noodling on her all evening and the difference is amazing. Will try her out on the Roland tomorrow to see if I get less misfires now that I don't have rogue harmonics firing off at random times.

ermm, that's I...not much else happing. Coding, and playing

off to bed.


Friday, 28 February 2014

Slow Month 86.6kg

Not been a lot happening this month to blog about, sorry about that, weight loss is slow but there is loss, a few other not very interesting issues...

Loving my new iPhone 5c but when all said an done its just a phone

Have had some absolutely great rehearsals with both bands and a serious sense of achievement in my playing, but not had much time for any vids of new songs.

Took Margaret to  Dijkmans Music for some set up as she's been getting more and more buzzy which affects the midi pickup sometimes. they called tonight at 8-30 to say it was ready..that's good service. I'll collect her in the morning.

Work wise there's a few changes in the pipeline which will be sad, but I'll report them later.

Have finally developed enough muscles to take my mega case up and down stairs by myself...very very slowly I need to add. I also took delivery of a few new gadgets earlier in the month, I suspect my gadget addiction is as severe as my GAS was at one point, but when you hear 2 guitar synths being controlled by 1 guitar, its well worth it.

I got a UX-20 control splitter and a really cheap GR-30 synth that lets me do arrpegiated chords/notes while still playing 3 instruments and a guitar at the same time, its awesome, but I do need to do a bit of learning/practice to get the best of it....job for next week.
That's because its Carnival week next week, traditional south Netherlands crazy time..., so I get a nice rest for a week so long as I say out of the town centre, and will certainly do a video, got a few
numbers I'm working on that might go down well in a loop version.

That's also why I took Margaret to the shop, to tighten up the tracking.
I did experiment with putting a GK-2 midi pickup on an Ovation acoustic and it works...okish but not as well as I hoped and tbh I'm not mad keen on the Ovation, but somehow just didn't want to put it to my lovely Breedlove, it spoils the look...hmmm I think it's best I just use my spare midi pickups on a couple of my normal electrics as backup guitars of for a particular sound.

We are doing Sex on Fire as one of our songs in Starrcase and despite the synth providing most of the sound on the riff, my band members seem to feel that Libby sounds better for I might as well fit a GK-2 to Libby and one of my strats. That should cover all the bases.

Oh well that's I say...slow month. Lets see if March has a bit more life in it.


Thursday, 6 February 2014

89.9...its slow but its steady

Well I had to eat a bit more, probably caused by the dog running me ragged, but in a good way. I don't know who was more puggled after our walk to Masbos, the local wooded area for dog walkers..Harvey, Brenda or me, well actually I do. Me.

Harvey's already starting to look a bit sleeker, and cuter as if that was possible.

No vids, been busy with marking and Harvey, but will be restarting soon. Marking is almost over and I get a reasonably quiet block this block...2 days work at home, so I can catch up on all the admin in peace and quiet in the office and do some much needed programming on PhyreEngine and Unity which I need to get up to speed on.

Speaking of programming I'm also delving into some retro stuff in my own time, its incredibly fun and takes me back 20 years.. I'm messing about with a project on Colecovision, an old early 80's console. Its amazing how primitive it is good old Z80 assembler, but I've take to it like an old duck back to water...In fact if anything I am finding it much easer than I did back then, perhaps I have learned a few things since then :D


Monday, 27 January 2014

Guess who's coming to dinner and lunch and breakfast...for the rest of his life :D

Harvey has come home, Bina indicate she couldn't look after him properly and was going to give him away, but I simply could not allow that. Harvey has been with us since he was a few weeks old, and I've been there with him since then, teaching him how to sit, beg, stay and so on..though we never managed "lie down"...he just blinks when I say that. So he's as much my dog as he was hers and I couldn't bear the idea of strangers having him.
Well he's back with me now, back home and after a bath looking all happy and smelling fresh.
Brenda wasn't too sure at 1st but within minutes of meeting him she's smitten... I wish I could make someone love me that quick :D
Oh well who needs lie ins....early morning and late night walks will help with he weight I suppose.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Oh god that's just wrong

I was singing a song in the sounded good,.
I was singing same song into my mic accompanied by some wicked guitar sounded good..

I played back the recording..
I can't sing.

I mean, I really can't sing.

guitar was good though.

How come I can sing some things pretty well..but some things  I think I sound good on are just diabolical. And no I won't be posting the working copies....


Saturday, 18 January 2014

89.7 Thats a surprise.

I must admit I thought I must have been up in the 95 range given how much plumper I look and feel..But really I've not put on any weight since my last attempt to look like an Adonis.

Oh well its still over what I should be by some margin, I need to drop 10-15 kilos and tone up.....hmmm easier said than done of course!

Ok well anyway 89.7 is the 1st weigh in....Lets get it down!


Friday, 17 January 2014

Ok, so if I cancel the gym....I better get to grips with the fatbastardpretendingtobeslim problem

Its a little late for a new years resolution, but I guess its time to accept, that Brenda's occasional glances toward my bulging tum as I slouch on the couch are not looks of lust...

She's right I am piling on the kilo's. I've not weighed myself since the scales need new batteries, its that long since I used them..

But I am fully aware of the ever tightening teeshirts and even tighter jeans that I am getting fatter.

So..back on the diet...not the gym though really, I just can't deal with gyms.. I just got an Iphone on contract and promised I would cancel that dead weight payment every month to pay for it.

I will get myself a bit more mobile and start on my famous but very boring soup, bread and protein diet which if I keep it up always seems to work, it just gets very boring....

Its going to be harder than usual since I do most of the cooking for us, as Brenda burns water ;) but I have to cut back a lot on the intake.. Going to go shopping later for some dried soups, and some protein shakes and some chicken and steak. I know the low carb diets are a bit old fashioned but I always find they have results with me......

I'll pick up some batteries too and start taking notes on the weight and post.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

noodles and noodles of oodles

I must admit to being a bit disappointed with this, I liked the instrument sounds I got, but the vocals were just dreadful...I may go back to it sometime but my disappointment is pretty severe as I spent a long time getting this riff in my head and the tone, then my crappy vocals messed it up...maybe I can find a singing partner to let me focus on the playing....oh well here it is

I'm much happier with this weekends noodle though, even though for a simple song this also took a long time to get right, I was really not happy at all with my vocals on Street Spirit, so have been experimenting with more and more vocal settings...this is close, but not quite there, to what I want to achieve.

oh and staying in a capo mood...but with a banjo sound, I was messing with this.

I did get one perfect take...only to discove debut the video software here's a working version of Snowbird on a banjo...on a BANJO...crazy shit!!


Thursday, 2 January 2014

Man of the World

Still working on my Radiohead Street Spirit song, but diverted myself to something pretty.