Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A good whine & overdue job

I've been somewhat grounded with a shitty head cold ever since I went to Glasgow late last week. A number of days later and it has well & truly outstayed its welcome and I'm getting somewhat sick of it...

So much so that you could say that I am sick and tired of being sick and tired!

I had been watching, distractedly, the news tonight having given up on a desparate search to find something more cerebral than 'Emmerdale Fargin Farm'
to watch (on this note, may I add that the latest rouse of digital Freeview activity which took place yesterday has, notably, given us a new station called 'Dave' and stripped away UK History from the 6pm-1am programming schedule. Nice one! I'm sure there aren't any office workers out there who would like to watch something more 'informative' than God-forsaken soapies, when they get home from a hard days work. Especially if you look at todays normal television schedule for 7.30pm, where you have the grand options of EastEnders, Snooker, Emmerdale, News {after Hollyoaks} and Nigel Marven's Shark Island {an hour after Home and Away finishes} ).

Anyway, the news had an article about the middle-classed English drinking too much wine at home! 'Jolly good' I thought and, as mentioned, being sick & tired of being sick & tired, I put on my jumper, thick denim jacket & wolly hat and trundled off down the road to buy a nice bottle of wine.

Somewhat partial to New World wines (surprise, surprise, but, in my defence, who isn't?) this is the 2nd time I've bought a 2007 Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc from their private bin and I've got to say it is jolly nice.

I normally stick to the £5-8 bracket, due to an inbuilt natural thriftiness (read: tight) and the realisation that my palette is not that distinguished, nor versed in fine-world wines (I don't even drink Red, but that is a very good story for another day). But I quite happily coughed up £10 for this little number, which got about 8 steps in the door before
, unsurprisingly, its head got knocked off.

In an associated fit of enthusiasm last night (also trying to rid this cold from my consciousness) I launched into some well-overdue tasks. Before I knew it I had decided to change the strings on my trusty guitar, which has served for well for nigh on 20 years now.

I haven't changed the strings for years (5 at least) which is inexcusable.
I always think to myself go and play it steady for a few weeks and then, when I'm a bit more up to speed, put a fresh set on then. The theory being that the initial rich vibrancy of new strings are wasted if they are only going to be used by rusty fingers (watch out younger readers, it's the same type of mindset you'll find you get afflicted with when you get older - saving 'good looking' or 'useful' plastic bags).

All of which is complete twaddle and I should have just changed them years ago.

If you look at the lower section of the picture (click for a zoomed version), you'll see there is a pretty cool dust smear, where I swiped my finger down it. Normally it lives in its flight case, but over the last year its been running around free and, apparently, collecting my human detritus.

Now it's all sparkly & shiny again with brand new strings, and that is before I even get into the brightness & richness of the sound (resonance is what I'm trying to say). If I didn't know better I'd say it sounds like a 12-string.

It's always has had a great sound (far greater players than I will ever be, have often commented so) that stands it way above what its initial purchase figure would suggest. I think its life beside me in sooo many & various temperatures and climates around the world, frantically cooled & heated from many trips in unpressurised aircraft holds and the just 'general' knocking about its taken - not to mention the odd kicking, falling over and general 'being dragged about' (that's before i got the flight case obviously) has added to its rich & unusual vibrance.

So, that's me, away to get quietly phished by myself and fiddle with my guitar - nice night in at home, eh (...unless you have a 'life', partner, children or SKY, of course)!

p.s. an addendum to this story. Halfway into my 2nd glass (they're only wee) and I figured I'd go and record a little number on it and then post it on this blog as an .mp3. Having duly practised for 5 mins and found my £2 microphone (which I flogged off somebody once - state of the art 'quality'), I realised that you can't upload/host .mp3 files to Blogger's server anyway.

Which is a bummer - about to give my first global gig and the theatre hall collapses around me... farg' me!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

moose in da hoose...

When I was young I used to like to draw.

Particularly, I used to like to pull things apart and draw the contents of what was, by then (in the pursuit of artistic expression), a freshly ruined item - I'm talking about one-speaker headphones here, vice cats.

Sadly, all of that kind of thing died on its arse when I turned 12 and elected to follow more academic pursuits. Believing, after receiving advice from elders, that it was the better and more relevant way for me to go.

I don't necessarily disagree with the advice given, but if I had been the one giving the 'said advice' to a young mind, I would have chucked in a "do bear in mind that sometimes there is more to life than black & white decisions (or considerations)".

Pity because now, many years later, having lost any real form of youthful skill, I realise I quite like the act of drawing in itself and, personally, find it's quite a fairly cathartic thing for me to do. Also, I'm happy to admit, my drawing skills are somewhat cocooned at a 12 year old level, which is fine, since the things I'm inclined to draw include logos & cartoon characters. Besides which, as more of a 'Homer' of Springfield than Greece, I realise its more about the act of drawing, vice what you actually produce.

I don't know if it all started sub-consciously with me pondering sub-orbital animals (see last post & comments), but, late last night, with sore eyes from staring at a computer screen all day long, I picked up a bit of paper and started scribbling away.

A short time later and a wee moose had turned up.

By the time I realised the perspective was all out of kilter with the cheese etc, I didn't really care, I was enjoying myself and thought 'bugger it' and carried on regardless... 'no-one will see it anyway', I thought.

So, I kinda like him for what he stands for, vice what he is with his wonky perspective & late minute nose-job. Hence, I figured I'd launch the little fella into cyberspace anyway...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sputnik on...

All 3 of the regular readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I'm a pretty keen monkey on all matters of space. As a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, but the NZ space administration would have had trouble organising a car boot sale, let along lobbing something into space.

So, today, the 4th October 2007, hearlds 50 years since the Soviets blasted 'Sputnik' into space, the first man made object to orbit the earth. It was a shade under 60cm in width and a shade over 80kg in weight and couldn't do much except electronically bleep "I'm sputnik", or the russian equivalent.

Well done to the Ruskies, it was a stirling effort and the igniter that sparked the Space Race...

it's always interesting to relate relative technology and one comparison I love is that the computer on board of Apollo 11 (the one that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins to the moon and back) had a 8KB processor on it. What is that you ask, well, effectively, it had the computing power of the most basic calculator you could find in a shop now i.e. one that could add, subtract, divide & multiply and that's about it.

In my own homage to space I have always named my computers / technological bits of kits after major space components. There has been Sputnik, Voyager, Apollo, Titan and others. Only my first computer didn't adhere to the system and he was called 'larry', as in 'Larry the Laptop' - perhaps I should write to NASA with a down-to-earth naming suggestion.

As it goes, I've had a bit of a technological day today myself as I took receipt of a long dreamt of Garmin Forerunner 305. Essentially it's a stopwatch, but it also records your heartrate and, with thanks to it's onboard GPS, it also maps your route, change in altitude in a spatial 3D manner, all of which can be downloaded to a computer.

Last Sunday, 30 Sep, I chalked up my 100th run for the year and as I've wanted one of these puppies for years, I treated myself. Earlier in the year when i did the bulk of the work toward this goal (back in NZ), I thought if/when I get to the centennial target, I will treat myself to something nice as a wee pat on the back for my efforts (as you get older there ain't too many people to pat you on the back, so you've got to do it yourself sometimes), even though, financially, there are plenty of other things that I should be putting my money towards at the moment.

I'm lucky if I get to 60 runs in a year, so I've broken all previous records and still have 3 calendar months to go in this year. So, i'm quite aware that I'm setting a personal record this year that I ain't ever going to beat. I've always wanted to be a person who just happily bounds out on runs 3 times a week, but that is not my mindset.

I'm the kind of guy who gets fit for 6 weeks and then craps out, only having to go through the whole painful 'getting fit again' phase again, 2 months later (this has been going on for about 25 years now).

Anyway, well done to Sputnik and a pat on the back to myself too. I now need to go and name the little bugger - sadly i've used 'Sputnik' before, so I need to dream up something else... Albert II was the first monkey in space (erm, on a one way ticket), but it doesn't quite have the ring I'm looking for.

Any suggestions welcome...