Curry and beer

I'm pleased to note that this Blog is appearing on the links pages of other bloggers. In these dodgy days of the blogosphere it is good to see something positive happening.

It's also possible that my lovely wife has started reading this since my mother brought up an anecdote (driving home while very tired - so nothing too serious) that I only featured here.

Saturday night was a good dry run for this year's birthday night. We went out with various band members from Soul Beaver for a curry and some beers. Heaven! Good company, good conversation and ... well, curry and beer.

Expect more soon the band's upcoming run of exciting gigs.


Friday night

On Monday I went to the hospital and had it confirmed that the bits of face were 'non-serious lumps.' That's obviously not the technical term but all I can remember. Oddly, the toilets at the infirmary were lit with a strong blue light. Very hard on the eyes and just a little disconcerting.

On Tuesday we rehearsed the band and for the first time ever my bass fell off its strap, landing on the shiny new pedal board. Everything seems to have survived but there is a whacking great (OK, quite small) ding in my bass now. I'll be buying straplocks tomorrow.

I hesitate to write about work, after all the blog stooshing going on. However, things are busy, observations are coming up and I have the best students in the world.

I was wondering how to top last year. I mean, how do you top turning 40 in Paris, getting married and having plastic surgery? Let's see what I can come up with.

Current listening: Sleeping in a jar - Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention


Oh great, paperwork.

It's been a very busy week.

Work has been frantic. On Thursday night I was there until eight, then drove home and worked on essay marking and lesson planning for a few hours. Zoned out on coffee I looked over at the tiny pink plastic clock that perches on the CD burner and it said 1:20 am. This sort of thing happens far too often and is exacerbated my me never remembering to time my shots of espresso. This always results in my being tired through the last hour of work and then totally unable to sleep for the next three hours.

The following day I promised myself an early and trouble free night, but could not resist keeping busy. Worryingly, sleep started catching up with me on the drive home from picking up the Indian takeaway. No crashes and no indigestion though, so something went right.

On Saturday Richard Guitarist and I went on a trip to London. We spent pretty much the whole day in Denmark Street, looking at guitars and effects. I'm having a change with my musical gear so this was practical chance to try out new things.

So, some good and bad things:
On the good front I have a new Ashdown amplifier to replace the increasingly eccentric Trace Elliot head that powers my bass sound. Also, I get to try a Boss multi effects unit, which should be more practical than the Bass Pod I have used up until now. On top of all this Richard Guitarist has asked me to be his best man when he gets married in May. I took this as a huge honour and look forward to the big day when I get to see two really good friends tie the knot. So long as I don't lose the rings.

On the bad front (should that be bad side - no, I'm going to be consistent) I have received praise twice tis week for my paperwork. Normally praise is a good thing but look up at the top of this blog... yes, "... one man's attempt to not be remembered for being good at paperwork." Dammit! I want praise for something - anything other than paperwork!

On balance though a tiring but exciting week. The next two weeks are going to be filled with college inspections, band rehearsals, birthday meals and maybe even some sleep.

The Mystery Thing

The Mystery Thing
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
What is the mystery thing? I noticed it as I went to pick up my car after a day at college. Any ideas?


Evening trees

Evening trees
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
A combination of stormy skies and a low evening burst of light from the sun made these trees catch my eye while heading home yesterday.
On a more musical note (agh!) I urge you to visit the new look Soul Beaver site (link on the right). Lots of new goodies to enjoy.


Beaver Brothers

Beaver Brothers
Originally uploaded by Roostar.
Last Tuesday the Soul Beaver rehearsal consisted only of four of us, as illness and other engagements had kept the others away. A few songs in Colin (guitar) noticed that this was the 'Beaver Brothers' line up that went to Egypt and played a residency for two weeks at a restaurant/bar on the Red Sea peninsula.
I found this picture of us actually playing an extra gig on the Hilton Hotel's private beach. The story of how we got there on a convoy of quad bikes is for another day.


Shocking discovery!

Regular readers will know that I've had a bit of surgery on my face recently. Nothing drastic, but I grew a beard for a few weeks as the area was too sensitive to shave. A couple of days ago I shaved the beard off. Yesterday I discovered that the tiny bit of skin hanging from my chin is, in fact, not skin but a stitch! I have now developed a (hopefully short lived) paranoid fear that someone will run up, pull the stitch and watch as my entire head collapses.


Gig news

And just as I was about to shut down for the day I stared at the ruby sunset and remembered that Soul Beaver will have a gig on Saturday 12th February at the Railway Pub in Wheatley, Oxfordshire. Free entry so come along if you're close.

Good coffee... but still bad chess

I rediscovered the joys of a seriously good walk yesterday. We tried out our new boots on a mix of terrain, feeling slightly against the clock as we set off late and only had a few hours of daylight.
Many fields, trees, muddy puddles and closed pubs later we finished.
By the time we had cleaned our boots a local pub was open and we celebrated with a meal and some beer (the oven at home is still broken).

This morning, aching and taking it easy, I lay in bed reading a National Geographic article on coffee. The good news (for me) is that it doesn't dehydrate the body as much as I thought. this could mean the end of my 'one cup on gig days' rule. Thus allowing me to be a bit more awake when we start playing - meaning I might even start all the songs in the right key. Here's hoping.

Having picked up some inspiring vibes from chess fiend and fellow Dante fan Don I have started taking my chess improvement a bit more seriously. Quite why it should work this time I have no ideas. I have no more spare time than before, in fact I've a lot less. I do feel motivated to get past that stage of feeling reluctant to play anyone other than close friends or computers though. Of course, I could always drink a lot more coffee in the evenings.


Bad Chess

This would be a good moment to point those of you (like me) who want to improve their chess game to itsyourturn, which has furnished me with people from around the world to play against. The best thing (and the most irritating) about this site is that it is turn based. This makes it the equivalent of postal chess. Very slow sometimes but at least without the chances for huge confusion when a letter was lost in the post.

The good thing about this way of playing is the massive breaks you can take so you can (theoretically) examine the board position and think about strategy. This never happens of course. Most times you just forget you were playing and log back on like a desperate Ebay bidder, trying to beat the deadline.

Anyway, go visit the site and sign up for a game. You might end up playing me (for a very long time).


Happy Birthday

And a special happy birthday wish to Moon Unit and Paul's new arrival, Mathilda Plum Doucette. She was born on what would have been her grandfather, Frank Zappa's 64th birthday.

A general sense of d'oh!

Only a few days into the new year and already SDI's (small domestic incidents) are appearing. On Sunday afternoon the power in the house went out. I checked the fuses and looked outside, somehow convincing myself that half the village was out too. We spent the night with candles, camping stoves and, some self improvement on the chess board. It reminded me of the 1970's when the strikes would plunge our house (and pretty much every other house) into darkness. I loved it then and, truthfully, it caused me no grief this time.
What did cause me some grief was when, the following day I found another trip switch that I hadn't spotted before. I flicked it on and... back came the power. D'oh!
A whole fridge full of food was ruined and so I went out to get fresh supplies. Being the last night before returning to work I picked up some pizzas (they should always be a treat) and, on returning, spent some idle moments waiting for the oven to heat up while reading an inspiring interview with Pat Metheny. I say idle moments but it was quite a long time before I got suspicious and opened the oven door to find it stone cold inside. Presumably this was the culprit for last night's electric blow-out.
Grilling pizza's does not work, by the way. And being good at chess is obviously not always a guarantee of great intelligence.

This morning I drove to the wrong town for our staff development day. Since then everything has been going well.


Make Poverty History

It's the new year! Last night was an odd mix of elation and celebration combined with the reality of the earthquake and all its ramifications. We shouldn't forget the other suffering in the world though, so I've put a link to the 'Make Poverty History' campaign on the site.
Some more hands on, pratical things should be making their way here soon. For now, it's time to start the detox. Whatever that envolves.