Sunday, 21 December 2014

Tree thoughts

I think I'm going to have to be ruthless with the location of 3 trees that I purchased in France a few years ago.

At present they are situated close to the station facade and it is my intention to set up some boules matches underneath their boughs.

But I think they rather kill the visual effect of the station facade which after all took me months to make in a Ceramics class - and it is unique.

Here's a view of the station without the trees.

I'd still like the boules players to be playing their matches underneath trees in this location so I got out my Faller catalogue to find options for shorter trees. The three trees above are 18 cm tall. Trees about half that height would probably do the trick.

The Faller catalogue

There are plenty of options. Tomorrow, I'll start ordering some from the Internet.

Currently listening to:

Once again, the Optimo podcast from June 2013 on Rinse FM

These mixes are the equal of the radio shows that John Peel used to broadcast on the BBC except the tracks on Optimo podcasts tend to run into each other and you have to guess what they are.

Last night's dinner:

Hake baked on the bone.

With leeks under cheese.
Currently reading:

Still enjoying this light-hearted memoir.

Drumming Practice Update:

Exercise 1:  145 BPM

Exercise 2:  155 BPM

Saturday, 20 December 2014

H0 Scale model railways - overall appearance

I've been agonising, yet again, about where buildings/trees/street furniture etc should be placed on the layout to create the most aesthetically pleasing diorama.

But there is a large blot on the landscape which distorts all such judgements; namely, the dark reddish oblong that looms above the faraway platform of the station.

It sucks all of the light out of the layout.

Eventually, it will have a wall and roof fitted over it, but meanwhile it is exerting a malevolent visual influence over the scene.

I should have done this months ago, but couldn't be bothered. But this afternoon, took the first step in breaking up the dark shape.

That first step was to manufacture a body out of stiff cartridge paper that could then be coloured in to depict a roof and some kind of windowed wall.

So far, all I've done is replace a light-sucking dark oblong with a glaring and equally distorting white oblong.

But things should improve once it's coloured in.

Currently listening to:

Huntleys and Palmers

Last night's dinner:

Eaten in a tremendous rush because rushing out to the pantomime - so no photograph - but it was roast chicken and gravy and some veg.

Actually, it looked almost exactly like this.

Currently reading:

Finished - very good indeed.
Somebody told me that they had enjoyed "Do No Harm" and recommended this; which is, if you'll forgive the pun, in the same "vein".

It does seem to cover the same ground and seems to be written in the same tone and style as Henry Marsh's book.

So far, I've only downloaded a sample.

I have to say, I've been very surprised at my willingness to read these descriptions of utterly bloody terrifying surgical procedures. Very surprised.

Am I preparing myself for something?

Both of the above books are inferior to this one:

Drumming practice update:

Continuing with my planned routine of practising two set exercises both performed at measured tempos which are only increased once the technical demands of the exercises are mastered.

This is the third day:

                                                                 Thursday               Friday             Saturday

Exercise 1:                                                  90 BPM                 115 BPM        130 BPM

Exercise 2:                                                  130 BPM                135 BPM        145 BPM

I found it quite tough to be ruthlessly honest about the assessment of my technical performance.

Has I really achieved sufficient competence to progress to an increased tempo?

Funnily enough, things weren't quite as straightforward as I'd thought they would be and the following puzzling phenomenon occurred both yesterday and today with exercise 1. Basically, I would complete  exercise 1 at say Tempo X and at the end wasn't really certain that I'd mastered it sufficiently well to progress to a higher tempo. However, I would up the tempo anyway, only to find that I performed the exercise with a better mastery than at the slower pace! Strange.


Thoroughly enjoyed this pantomime last night. It was performed in the recently converted Lansdowne Church in Great Western Road, Glasgow, re-unChristened, Webster's Theatre.

I read somewhere that the spire of this church, for its height, is the slimmest in Europe. (On the internet it says that at 218 feet it is "one of the slimmest".)

The attendance last night was very disappointing - I would say half full.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Paris Metro

While I'm still thinking street furniture thoughts, it occurs to me that there is no evidence on my layout of the existence of the Paris Metro.


Did a quick search of the internet and could only find this:

I'll have another look tomorrow.


Also, it occurred to me today that my city diorama is all on one level ie it is flat. Most cities have their buildings on different elevations.


These two pictures are from an impressive blog by Francis Pichon:

Not sure how I can introduce such a variety of levels into my layout. I should have planned for this from the beginning, but it never occurred to me.

My flat layout.
Reeves and Mortimer "Are you calling me flat?"

Currently listening to:

Last night's dinner:

Eel in tomato sauce

Cabbage in cheese sauce.
Currently reading:

A couple of weeks ago, things ground to a halt with my online Logic course. A) I couldn't understand derivations and rules of inference and B) I couldn't understand their significance.

Today, I pulled this book down from the shelves.

It's a "Programmed Course" and pages look like this: sub-divided into little atoms of learning objectives. Each atomic objective is followed by an atomic question whose answer is given below the black line. One then proceeds in a linear fashion through the book absorbing atom after atom of knowledge.

These books were all the rage in the 1970s.

Drumming practice update:

Another technical matter that I'll have to deal with is this: my left hand has a tendency to curl while playing.


Correct grip

Regarding yesterday's plan for practice over the next few weeks.

Exercise 1:  Started at 90 BPM and then successfully increased the tempo in 10 minute sections by 5 BPM at a time until comfortably performing the exercise at 115 BPM.

Tomorrow I'll start at 115 BPM.

Exercise 2: Started at 130 BPM as planned. I think I'll reduce the 10 minute sections to 5 minutes.

Tomorrow I'll start at 135 BPM and increase by 5 BPM in 5 minute sections.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

HO scale street furniture

Came in from work and spent 2 minutes standing up the HO scale iron railings that arrived from Noch yesterday. Just wanted to see what they looked like end to end and how stable they were; answer to the latter query = very.

It's amazing what street furniture adds to a scene.

Currently listening to:

General Ludd - such simple sonic arrangements, but utterly infectious.
Last night's dinner:

Steak Bearnaise, sprouts and baked potato
Currently reading:

Still enjoying this book.

What I find attractive about Roger Moore is that despite the fact that he is frequently treated very badly and dismissively by people throughout his life, he doesn't harbour a scintilla of bitterness or resentment.

Drumming practice update:

This is my daily plan for the next few weeks.

I'm going to concentrate on two exercises both performed to an online metronome.

I'll start at a low tempo and then as I feel I can perform the exercises technically perfectly (terms and conditions and realism apply) at that tempo, the following day I'll increase the tempo by 10 or 20 BPM (beats per minute) in 5 BPM instalments.

Exercise 1:

UPPER CASE = Accent,  lower case = ghost note

RlrlRlrlRlrlRlrl  rLrlrLrlrLrlrLrl rlRlrlRlrlRlrlRl rlrLrlrLrlrLrlrL repeated for 10 minutes at the one tempo

Exercise 2:

Doubles - all same strength of  strike ie a fairly solid ghost note

rr ll rr ll rr ll rr ll rr ll rr ll etc  for 10 minutes at the same tempo.

For both exercises the technical requirements that have to be achieved before one can up the tempo will be the same:

Upper arms tight to the torso;

Sticks are controlled by forearms moving up and down rather than wrists flapping up and down.

Keep right arm and wrist unbending at all times.

For left arm don't let the stick leave the grip of the fingers until at least 60% of the upward travel of the arm has been completed.

Symmetry: left and right hand ghost notes should be of the same loudness and the sticks rising to the same height approx 3 inches above the drum skin.

Likewise for the accented notes, they too should be symmetrical in these respects.

For the left hand, watch the stick does not move laterally after it has struck the skin, it should bounce back up on the same path that it descended towards the drum.

Today's tempos:

Exercise 1 - 90 BPM

Exercise 2 - 130 BPM

Tomorrow I'll start with these tempos and then after 10 minutes up them both by 5 BPM.

When the mood strikes me, I'll mess about with the drum pad doing anything I feel like but concentrating on getting the sound of the left handed strokes to be musical rather than clunking.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Noch 13140 H0 Kunstschmiedezaun

My Noch 13140 H0 Kunstschmiedezaun arrived by post today.

Or if you prefer, this:

Apparently they are hand painted.

Currently listening to:

Was working late today and found myself more or less alone in the place and languidly humming this ditty to myself:

Last night's dinner:

Leftover cold salmon - slightly warmed up, plus scrambled eggs
Currently reading:

Drumming practice update:

No more Samba drumming gigs or rehearsals or classes until the New Year. This will give me the chance to wholly devote my practice sessions to technique. Started today.

Last night's gig at the Rum Shack was really successful. The crowd were genuinely enthusiastic.

Here are a couple of photos that somebody's friend took.

The equipment

I'm at the back left.

And a picture I took.