Wednesday, 30 March 2005

The pointy collection

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Sarah's is in the middle.

Sunday, 27 March 2005

HOT (or not)

Cooked a Thai style meal this evening. Diced turkey quickfried, then smothered with Thai sweet chili sauce, Shredded vegetables + beansprouts (supermarket) stir fried, then dosed with a thai sauce. Served together then sprinkled with nuts and dried chili pieces.

It's the best tasting meal I've done in ages (to me). It was warm but comfy. The turkey was just right with a mixture of sweet and savoury, the veggies still crunchy and with hints of coriander, spring onion and lemon grass.

It was good for me. Had Chris running for a second drink! I like chili, she likes ginger. Ginger burns me, chili burns her. There's a satay mix we use often which appears very ginger based - she's fine, but it's nearing my comfy heat-limit. This was the reverse, with me quite happy and her frying. She even poked her tongue out to ask if I could see any flames on it!

And talking of hot or not. Until I put the amp build photos up, there was an interesting trend. In the top 10 images were a couple of pics of one person. I wonder if they have a secret fan club?

Friday, 25 March 2005

Good Friday march

Every good Friday the Bicester churches get together for a 'march of witness' through the town. It starts at either the main Anglican or the Roman Catholic church, with a few hymns and a word.

There are a bunch of guys in costumes as Roman soldiers etc plus Jesus (played by the guy that heads up our church for the last few years) Rabbis, Judas, etc etc. The march processes at funeral pace to the beat of a drum out to the high street where the trial and scourging is enacted, then wanders to the other end of the street where the crucifixion takes place. Finally every marches to the Methodist church at the opposite end of town.

It's a bizarre mixture of things. The initial gathering took place this year in St. Edbergs - a large stone English-style church - with a very formal flavour. 'Worship' was lead with the organ, demonstrating how unsuitable a device that is in that kind of setting to accompany singing. The word was given by the vicar of the new Anglican church plant in the new estates round Bicester, and was lively, non-religious and delivered in a normal voice in cmplete contrast to everything else. The church was extremely full - standing room only - and it took a good 10 mins to get everyone out. Must have been upwards of 600 people there.

This Friday for the first time there was a market in the high street (usually it's in Market square) and so it was full of people shopping. I really hope some could hear and God spoke to them through it. At the first stopping point the story was read direct from the bible by Dennis Niziel - an American-born pastor of the pentecostal fellowship. His accent was soft, his determination strong and he actually carried it really well, while it was being enacted there. After the scourging there was a recording played of music meant to emphasise the sorrow, suffering and struggle of Jesus, beaten, wounded and in terrible pain for us. Unfortunately this piece also sounded like it belonged in a spaghetti western, and you'd expect the Clint Eastwood to ride up the road at any moment. Chris was NOT impressed when I mentioned this observation :(

The crucifixion took place further up the highstreet, right in the middle of the market. This WAS a moving portrail, and you got a good sense of the measure of cruelty and suffering that must have occurred.

Finally on to the Meths. This was not a particularly good finale, with guys praying long prayers, singing more hymns and using their special religious voices. As a result of my discussion over on the Eagle and Child, plus the addled and abnormal state of my brain, all the way through I was examining the words of the hymns we sang for 'mistakes' (and there was no lack to keep my mind occupied). Well, that was a waste of brain power!

Overall I'd like to think that this march of witness actually was one. I've been one or two years where there can't have been more than 75 or 80 people, so this turnout was quite amazing. I also get the sense that God IS starting to wake people up in Bicester.

Do you ever find?

When you're unwell that thoughts become slippery things?

I started an argument over on the Eagle and child a couple of days ago. I keep wanting to respond, but everytime I begin to think things through and arrange thoughts they just seem to slither off into the dark.

My cold seems to have returned again. Yesterday at work was just plain difficult, coughing (which made my head spin) a lot and having no energy. I can manage stupid, trivial things - a kind of soap opera level of intellect, all minor details and emptiness. Like putting together a new guitar design - brainless entertainment. But when it comes to integrating ideas they just vape on me.

Spent about 30 mins this morning reading 'gummie worm pizza' (Yeuch). Trying to make useful comments that might help, rather than JUST entertain (too much of what we do is entertainment - ANOTHER reason I hate theatrical church). I'm also idly tempted to speculate how Johanna would get on with Ben - whether they'd fight or be friends. Having a peer group that's going on with God, determined to press into Him can make such a difference. I even caught him reading the bible on his own a couple of days ago. Encouraging stuff - things we need right now.

Thursday, 24 March 2005

Taking Fern's suggestion

A modified version of 3, with speed knobs and 3 layer pick guard, plus black bridge and tailpiece. Is this a winner?

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WWJD? What would you do?

I'm planning a pickup change on my Heritage Les Paul, and wondered about a full make-over. Which variation do people prefer?

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Monday, 21 March 2005


Just popped a couple more clips up on the 'Rhyme Of The Ancient Mariner' this evening. The playing's just appalling really, but they give an idea of a couple of the tones that little amp is capable of. Funny too, how despite it only being 7 watts I want to play it way too loud for living room recording.

It just sounds so much better cranked a bit though - I was enjoying it so much on Saturday that not only did my fingers hurt, but my ears too. Part of that is due to a new speaker. God was gracious and allowed me to acquire a 70's Celestion G12M for a few pounds on Ebay. Theoretically it had some problems, but these seem to stem from it having been mounted the same way up for 30 years in a 4X12. I flipped it over and bingo - the voice coil no longer seems to rub. This is a nice speaker, with authentic tones and a woodiness that's hard to believe until you hear it. It can go from stinging country/rockabilly tones right through to a metal growl, taking in the Byrds on the way. Lovely.

Sunday, 20 March 2005

Ben was baptised this afternoon.

A cause for celebration, I think.

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There were some *interesting* prophetic words given too. Looks like he'll have a very full future.

Saturday, 19 March 2005

Acquisitive this evening.

Just closed a deal on one of these:

Unfortunately it's in West Virginia, so I won't have it until I can get another trip over there. My pale blue tele is probably being moved on to make space in the collection. Patience is a virtue, and at least it isn't cluttering up my livingroom. Tomorrow will be a tidying day. Presently I have 4 amps and 6 guitars out.

Chris has been very patient, so far......

Funny this evening

Both Ben and Sarah were out. Sarah was at a gig by 'Quench' in Oxford with some of her Sould Survivor friends. Ben went ice skating with the present GF.

Got back from collecting Sarah about 12.20am. As I approached the driveway I found progress blocked by a white car that looked rather familiar.

Around 5 seconds after pulling up behind it a head popped up from the driver's seat.

Then a second head, also from the driver's seat.

After much shuffling round inside and relocating of persons the white car was moved out of the entrance to the drive. Just in time, because a police car came along and started becoming interested in what could have been mistakenly construed as 'dogging'. Hmmm.

Sarah and I did laugh though. A lot.

Ben appeared indoors very sheepishly about 10 mins later.

Thursday, 17 March 2005


I listened to BBC radio 4 last night on the way to collect Ben from his GF's place.

For the first time in ages I was actually excited by the program. They were talking to bio-mimeticists about applying 'technology' found in nature to solve engineering issues and the creation of Von Neumann machines. A VN machine is a device that is self-replicating: it could constitute life by some definitions.

There was a group working with devices called 'rapid prototyping' machines. These construct 3 dimensional objects by operating like ink jet printers, building up layers of solid material over many passes of the print head. A recent breakthrough was the ability to create items with electrical conductors embedded in the construct, allowing items made to have more than a simple mechanical function. The team were planning to develop the idea to the point where such a rapid prototyping machine could make parts to build another rapid prototyping machine. They planned to publish their design under the GNU to allow any and everyone access to the technology. That way, not only could there be a rapid multiplication, but the design could be improved by the focussing of many diverse minds on the area.

It's the stuff of science fiction. Not AI-directed devices taking over the world, matrix style, but where one day you might hunt across the internet for a design, download it and then have a device create it (or the parts to assemble it). It might also be an alternative to buying ready meals. Just download the desired dish at breakfast time, then come home to find Chicken Tikka Masala with hash browns and ciabatta ready and waiting.

Imagination? Yes please.

Saturday, 12 March 2005

Very odd Saturday

Having been off work most of the week, it feels peculiar now Saturdays come round for it to be just the same.

I've been giving Ben driving lessons, and we did around an hour together this morning. He's normally very good at this sort of thing, but driving's a little too demanding even for him to just jump in a car and be competent in 30 mins. The thing he's struggled most with is separating the sides of his body. Thus it was hard to push down with the right foot while lifting the left foot, and to hold the wheel still with the right hand while changing gear with the left.

For my Canadian friends, few in the UK believe in using automatic cars so he's learning with a normal gearbox and clutch. This has caused a few 'interesting' moments, where the brain goes into complete overload with too many things to do. However the upside is that he's gained in humility and respect for a female other that drives now.

We also went out on the road for the first time.

As a cyclist, Ben has a lot of instinct that tells him to keep close to the kerb. As his passenger I have a lot of instincts that prefer if I survive. We had some entertaining moments where I encouraged him to move nearer the centre of the road. Louder. AND LOUDER. The lanes round here are lined with ditches, and some are deep. If our little Citroen goes down one, it'll only come back out as scrap.

But the boy done good. He was also heard to comment how amazing it is that 55mph feels really fast when you're holding a steering wheel, but 70mph feels so slow when you're a passenger. We might get that put in writing for Chris some time.

The rest of the time I just lounged around and slept quite a bit. Managed about 2 hours guitar playing this afternoon, which was necessary to keep the fingers moving. I replaced the speaker in my little AXL amp (Celestion super 8 in there now) in the hope of giving it a better balanced tone and getting rid of some of the 'fartiness'. When used straight it isn't particularly inspiring. The fendery forwardness of the other speaker has been removed, but it just sounds a little thin and flat now. However with the Korg processor plugged in it really rocks again, whether played clean with chorus or using a variety of overdrive tones.

It lacks the purity and harmonic richness of the Bluebuster but instead it has a kind of ease of use and straight ahead rockiness that works great. There's one exception - using a compressor/EQ combination the new speaker helps produce a fat clean jazzy tone that will makes the hairs stand on the back of your neck. It's a truly beautiful tone, and one that I used to draw complements from pro-musicians with, using the other little amp. Nice to know it's back again.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Getting there

By a tortuous path.

I was rough this morning! Managed to see the doctor - I've got a chest infection, bronchitis, but it hasn't progressed to pnuemonia, thank goodness. I'm sleeping downstairs tonight on the settee so I can be more upright and drain a little better. Also my snores won't disturb Chris that way.

I've done 1 full days work this week, and that half killed me.

Monday, 7 March 2005

A couple of grumpinesses and a good thing.

I'm a pretty tolerant chap, but some things annoy me. Listening to BBC radio-Oxford tonight in the car. They had an IT teacher on talking about computers and society.

I'd swear the guy was borderline 'learning disabilities'.

OK, I know a *little* about computers, but he was stupid, nothing less. And he's struggling to impart some kind of knowledge to children. Adding insult to injury, the presenters were discussing the internet but didn't know what a uniform resource locator (or link) was. The male presenter had one of those effete attempts at a cool regional accent, sounding like a northern Martyn W Smith, all the while mispronouncing words and clearly not having a clue what he was talking about.


The good thing?

Lee, the guy behind the Christian musicians forum has launched Christian musicians radio.

The 64K MP3pro link is here and the 34/48K link is here. They should be showcasing new and independant artists - I might even get something up there. Who knows?

But it's not a bad listen. I've had it on all day while I've been home, and while I've not liked some stuff, it's definitely made me want to rock out some times, contemplative (big word right now) at others, and eased me round to focus on God. Sure there's downsides - way too much Rebecca StJames and imitators for my taste, but overall it's pretty good.

It's only in beta right now, so don't all leap on Lee's bandwidth, but I reckon it's got a future.

Lurgy strikes again.

Thanks to the generosity of my technician, repeatedly coughing in my direction last week, I've gone down with a heavy cold. Barely made it to church yesterday, managed about 2 hours work this morning, but the head's just full of pain and cotton wool. Feeling fairly wretched, although in a way, it's nice to be off work legitimately, even though I can't afford to be at all.

I've read more today than I have in several weeks, but only junk - the head's not up to content.

See you all round sometime.

Friday, 4 March 2005

Old but still reasonably true. One from the inbox.

* If Laura, Suzanne, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each
other Laura, Suzanne, Kate and Sarah.
* If Mike, Charlie, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to
each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla, Sh*t-Head and Four-eyes.

* When the bill arrives, Mike, Charlie, Dave and John will each throw in
£20, even though it's only for £32.50. None of them will have anything
smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
* When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

* A man will pay £2 for a £1 item he needs.
* A woman will pay £1 for a £2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale

* A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving
cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from M&S.
* The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man
would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

* A woman has the last word in any argument.
* Anything a man says after that is the beginning of a new argument.

* Women love cats.
* Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

* A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
* A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

* A successful man is one who makes more money than his wife can spend.
* A successful woman is one who can find such a man.

* A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
* A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

* A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the bins,
answer the phone, read a book, and get the post.
* A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

* Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
* Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

* Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about
dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favourite foods,
secretfears and hopes and dreams.
* A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

* Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people
remembering the same thing.

* What a woman says: C'mon...This place is a mess. You and I need to
clean.Your trousers are on the floor and you'll have no clothes if we don't
do the laundry now.
* What a man hears: C'MON ... blah, blah, blah YOU AND I blah,blah, blah,
blah, blah ON THE FLOOR blah, blah, blah, NO CLOTHES blah, blah, blah,
blah, NOW

Tuesday, 1 March 2005


It's snowy oop noorth.

What kind of tone does that amp have?

On the way I had to take pics.

You've heard the phrase "life is loud"? These guys were DEAFENING. 100watts, 4X12 cab, smallish room. Turn it up to 11. They were so good you just didn't want to leave though.

Remember that little amp I built last week? These guys loved it.

I confess. I covet the little red cabinet to put my amp in.

Seriously though, that amp I built (using someone else's plan/circuit) is just fantastic. I've seldom come across something that I'd rather play than do anything else, but this one does it for me. I got it out after (late) dinner last night and just played it for all it's worth. The boys were very definitely back in town, but it's alright now. When I did go to bed, I was too stoked to get to sleep at first.

Sure, things will calm down later, but I'm just really grateful to have made this thing and be able to enjoy it like this.