Friday, July 28, 2006

John Petrucci Phycho Exercises 2

I killed myself laughing at this. Another person dubbing in lines over a John Petrucci instructional video. Maybe it's not as funny if you don't play guitar (I actually have the original, geek that I am!). Petrucci comes off as such a nice guy in real life, not conceited at all, so that makes it much funnier!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Blow up man for women who drive solo.

I read this in the Sun last week. Apparently this is marketed towards women who don't feel safe driving alone at night. This self-inflating man contraption will make it look like you have a burly male companion who wears the same clothes year round driving in your car with you. I'll probably be reading about one of these blow-up dolls getting shot in LA by police for refusing to show them his hands or step out of the car. Me? I'd use it to drive in that funky car-pool lane on the queensway. Yeah... Blow up guy and my Bigfoot in the back seat!

Come to think of it, blow up dolls for guys have been around way longer.

Read a short article here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Vader Sessions

Some guy took some audio of James Earl Jones in his other movies and dubbed it into Star Wars. Hillarious!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The custom multiscale steelstring guitar bug

So I finally bit the bullet and ordered a custom steelstring guitar. I've been thinking about it for the last three years (which is sometimes how long it takes to get one made! I could have had it by now! ) and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. It was capped off by going to see a builder I've been emailing for quite some time at the Canadian Guitar festival and finally getting to see his work up close, as well as talk to some working guitarists who own guitars made by him and getting their feedback, all of it positive.

I'm going with a Sitka Spruce top (soundboard) with the darker cocobolo on the back and sides. I'm getting a Laskin armrest and ribrest (ok, gut rest) and have to choose some type of figuery wood like maple or something for the wood there. Getting a Side sound hole too.

The biggest reason I'm going custom is for the multiscale neck. It's hard to see in the pictures, because it can be subtle (here's a nice pic that shows a multiscale neck) but the top of the neck closest to the player is about 26 and a half inches while the lower end is only 25 and a half. The frets 'fan' out to give you better intonation between the lower, wound strings and the higher ones and even a more comfortable feel as your hands naturally seem to go that way. At the 9th fret, it's pretty much straight, but on either side the frets fan away. In playing a neck like that, there is not that much in the way of transition, except for doing an F Barre chord, which you get used to pretty fast. Plus, it looks kewl!

I'm clueless as to what to do about the purfling , rosette around the sound hole and any inlay stuff but I have a few months to figure that out. The decision was made fairly easy because the builder just happened to have a new model at the show based on one of his others I was looking at which pretty much has everything I'm looking for. It's a deep multiscale with a florentine cutaway in the woods I like. So if it turns out anything like that, I'll be quite happy!

The builder's name is Tony Karol. It must be something in the water. Canada is like the place to be if you're a guitar luthier.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Great Canadian Guitar Festival 2006

This is the third year running for this prestigious event and I'm not quite sure why I haven't gotten my lazy ass down here before now to take in this acoustic guitar extravaganza. A few months back I got an email from Del Vezeau about coming down to help film it for the DVD he plans on making and I was sold! So I picked up fellow gobyfisher Pat Ang and headed to Odessa from downtown Ottawa. Two and a half hours later we found the Odessa fairgrounds, saw all the tents pitched in the back, this was definitely the place.
There was a workshop going on in a side-building when I got there, and soon after, the guitar luthiers set up shop. There were two, Tony Karol and Josh House. Josh has been mentioned to me as an excellent new builder by several people of late and Tony I've been bugging with emails for the last two years(grin). It was the first time I've seen Tony's stuff up close and man does it look and sound great!(I've just put in an order in on a custom multiscale from him. Watch this space in 18 months!). There was an open mic which Pat played in, and there were a number of players who could have easily headlined the main stage that night, but they were in the competition so that's a no go.
I got to meet Don Alder, a player I had heard about for years but had never seen play. As someone said: "He's sick", as in, very talented. He also swears like the Bejesus so I got along great with him. I've come to the conclusion that most musicians, especially guitar players, swear like soldiers. I don't know why, but when I come back from a thing like this, a guitar weekend, or even Steve's music in Ottawa, I start using the F-word as punctuation.

After checking out the guitar builders and open mic participants I spotted Andy Mckee from Kansas (he started the sets off that day). I had had the chance to meet him a few months back at Don Ross's place in Cannington. He's a heck of an acoustic player and an avid gamer. He was looking around for Don, who was going to join him on-stage for Andy's version of Don's Tight Trite night. Speak of the devil, just then, Don came barreling in with his Van. To me, he's what canadian finger style guitar is all about, great to have him here too! I also got to meet the guy running Candy rat records, the online place where I get all my CD's these days. He's sort of a gobyfisher too (gobyfishers are fingerstyle guitar nerds Don Ross's email list).

Right then the producer for the video crew arrived and I moseyed over to get a 30 second lesson on the TV cams they were using. It was pretty slick, a huge tripod with an XLR cable going to the camera that brought the zoom and focus puller down near the tripod pan and tilt handles. I was kinda worried about pulling focus while zooming and panning but the guy goes, "Don't have too, zoom in as far as you can, set focus to the player's eyes, and zoom out. You'll see it stays in focus." No way! So I tried it with a roadie and man! IT WORKED! I've been playing with Mini-DV cams for the last 6 years and I always have to adjust focus when zooming. Perhaps these cams have some extra guts that take care of that shit for you(I have to investigate this further) , in any case, all I had to worry about was zooming, pan and tilt. Piece of cake!

I practiced some slow zooms and pans for a few minutes and before I knew it, the MC was talking and Andy was on-stage. They had some headphone cans you wore to hear the switcher in the truck so I chucked those on.

They're pretty slick these broadcaster dudes. They asked "Camera #1" if it was manned. I looked at my cam, it had a big #1 on it so I figured that was me, but I couldn't find the push to talk button on my headphone mic quick enough so the switcher(guy that sets up shots and switched video feeds) quickly said "Tilt your camera up and down if you read me." So I did and he said "Ok, Camera #2, etc.." And boom, Andy's playing.

So you kinda stare up into the video monitor and get good shots and the people in the truck pick and choose between all the different cameras, or they set you up for some sort of move (like zooming in from a wide shot) and tell you go for it and then they transition over to you(they have fades and dissolves they can do from there). When I was the live cam it's sort of nerve wracking because you don't want to screw up the shot, so you end up gripping the handles a little tighter(not good) but after awhile I got used to it and kept it slow and smooth. On Cams 1 and 2 you didn't know you were the live feed unless they told you (they usually say "Take Camera 2", etc. and you hear them push the button which makes Cam 2 the live feed). We had some mix ups, a few times the camera with the live feed didn't know it and they did some wacky pan or zoom looking for another shot and they get all excited in the truck and yell "Camera 3 watch it you're live!". At one point a guy with the same name as me was on camera 1 while I was on 2 and when I'd hear my name I'd start setting up and they'd get all excited in the truck. They they stopped using names and just went by the camera numbers.
When you have the cans on listening to the switcher and producer they are always talking, and a lot of times they make really funny comments about what you have framed in your camera. One of the other camera operators was telling me he does a lot of city council meetings and when this one particular councilor is talking the truck debates which parts of her body are surgically enhanced, and he has to not laugh and try and keep the camera still. Near the end of Andy's set he brought out his Harp guitar and the truck goes "What the hell kind of guitar is that? Look at that thing, it looks like a harpsichord!", or when Don joined Andy on stage, the switcher knew who Don was but didn't know Andy's name, so they say stuff like "Ok Camera 2, set up for a two shot, Camera 1 give me a close up on, uhh, whatsis name, the other guy who isn't Don Ross.."..


I also got to meet Erik Mongrain, a guy I didn't know was gonna be there who I blogged awhile ago after seeing his 'Air Tap' video on youtube. His managers gave me his CD and a disc of his video performances. He does a neat xylophone type harmonic slapping thing with the guitar on his lap. Check it out!

Man there were some great players that day. In addition to Andy, Don and Don Alder, I really liked Michael Michael Chapdelaine, Pino Forastiere . Chapdelaine did a really cool arrangement of "Come together" by the Beatles.

It was a fantastic weekend of music, I'll definitely be back next year! Hopefully to film again! If you live nearby you can always volunteer to help out. As Del says " We could use help with parking, keeping things tidy, & hospitality. If you can smile while using a two-way radio - you're our kinda people! :)"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Find your WIndows XP key (and a pile of other useful stuff)

Ever have a notebook you need to blow away and re-install, only to find you don't have the OEM packaging and need to find out your CD key? Try this free Belarc Advisor proggie. Not only does it give you keys for all installed software and the OS, but it lists hotfixes you're missing, all your hardware and network info, and steaming piles of other stuff. For some reason Microsoft keeps that key stuff under wraps. Well, this program digs it all out for you!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I got a shredder!

I got a $20 cross cutting shredder at Cosco today! Where has this thing been all my life! I've been shredding stuff since I got home! It's not for the kiddies though. I unplug it when it's not in use even though it's got a pretty good safety roller along the paper entry slit. I want to keep my fingers (and my kid's fingers ) intact. I used to shred my personal stuff at work on our Uber shredder 2000.
I was at a tradeshow one year and saw this thing. They were feeding it diskettes, CDR's and CD cases, poodles, co-op students, whatever they could get their hands on. I joked to our admin officer when she was speccing them to "Be sure it can shred CD's!". She thought I was serious. However, it has come in handy. Every once and awhile though, it kicks back and sprays you with shiny bits of oxidized plastic.

Mine isn't that powerful, but get this, it has a built in pencil sharpener(with a tiny cup to catch the wood and lead debris - I'm somehow reminded of my stupid classmates in the 7th grade who would try and smoke the stuff that came out of the pencil sharpener).


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Feeding the Geese

On Sunday we went down to feed the geese off the Parkway west of Parkdale ave. They're very tame and pretty much swarm you for crusty bread. In amongst the geese (which are pretty big) was a pile of baby ducks, who get right in there and slug it out for their piece of the action. We were careful not to step on them.

Nearby people build these inukchuk sculptures in the shallow rapids. They appear there every year.

Friday, July 14, 2006

You are order number 14.

I buy a lot of stuff on the net through Paypal. It's the way to go (sure I know they lost some customer credit card info a few years back, but hey, no one is perfect!). I ordered something from BC today. It went through and it said "Thank you very much, you order number is 14.".

Fourteen? Did I read that ri
ght? 14?.... Not a lot of Paypal customers buying semi-realistic Folkmantis animal puppets from British Columbia I guess. Now I'm suddenly worried. I guess I'll see in 1 to 1.5 weeks if my package arrives. Gee, don't they know to pad your order numbers and start in the thousands so you look like you know what you're doing? I do that all the time at work with my data entry apps!..

Why the realistic stuffed animals you ask? Why, Trailerpark Geocachers meet Bigfoot II is in the scripting and props phase! Look out!


Ok, I'm order 14 , but you know what? They have so few people ordering via paypal that there must be a dedicated IT staff just sitting around waiting for people like me to order because I just got a Canada Epost email that my package has shipped about 20 minutes after I ordered it online. That is way too efficient. Did I order from Germany by mistake? Very impressive!

For all your puppet needs (well, maybe not for all, depending on what you're into..)

Bigfoot Scare Tactics episode

Found this while surfing You-Tube. I caught this one when it aired on TV. These prank/punked shows are sometimes good but it's when too many freinds are in on the joke, they can't act worth a &^%* and it makes it less believable, although this one came off ok, despite the bump on a log guy who kinda spoils it.
Great suit!

The man whose arms exploded

I was channel surfing for something to sweep pick to last night and came across a documentary on TLC entitled "The man whose arms exploded". They've had some pretty good stuff on there of late, recently they had some fat week thing, you know, the 750 pound man, etc.. Anyhow, I thought this was about a precision parachuting accident I had seen on TV ages ago. These two guys criss-crossed in front of each other while in freefall and one guy's leg hit the other guy's arm and it disintegrated into viscera. But no, this was about body-building and "the juice".
Not being a BAWDYBUILDER (I say it like that ever since my trip to the Dominican Republic where they had a bodybuilding contest at the hotel. There's not a lot of tall residents on that Island and these 5 foot 1 inch guys where easier to jump over than walk around with all that muscle they were packin) I automatically think that all pros are on the juice. Most TV wrestlers, Football players, all of those guys. We've all known someone who we suddenly see with massive muscles a month after they were regular looking, and it's no secret.

No, this documentary was about Greg Valentino, the man with the world's biggest biceps. AT 28 inches his biceps are bigger than some people's waist size. He took a ton of roids, worked his biceps and triceps like a madman and look at him today! He also got a massive infection in his arm from using dirty needles and got himself into some real health trouble after performing self-surgery to drain two cups of pus out of the area. Then he was busted for selling steroids and lost everything, including his gym, his home, his girlfriend(who he left his wife for) and she died of a drug overdose soon after.

I have some friends who do weightlifting and some have gone into competitions (my question was, "Hey man, who has to rub oil on your butt cheeks? Do you guys all grease each other up backstage or what?") and I haven't really talked to them much about it. I can see that it gets addictive. I'm not talking about roids but working out and self-improvement in general. Most things in moderation are just fine, but this Valentino guy...

If he thinks he looks good like that, he's frickin mistaken. He freely admits to having a Napoleon complex which may have led to his getting huge, but those biceps of his are ridiculous. Check out this TV frame cap of him being led off to jail in handcuffs after they busted him at his gym for selling huge amounts of illegal steroids. If you saw that on TV and had to guess what he was busted for.. Gee.. "Selling roids?" I dunno.. What gave it away?

Fun at the park and the Gazelles that play tag

So I'm at the park the other day with the kids, and they are playing tag with some 11-12 year olds. Fast as gazelles the older kids are (the skinny ones that is) and my five year old kid and her freind can't catch them. So she's it and she comes over and tags me, 'cause I'm not playing and just standing there. So like a good father, I ask her "Which one of these kids do you want to be it hunnybun?" and WHAMMO, explode out of the gate, kids scatter everywhere but I chase one down.

The Cheetah, the worlds fastest animal, can go up to 64 MPR in short bursts and has better acceleration than a Lamborghini MurciƩlago. The Gazelle (AKA lunch) can go about 60MPH. 4 MPH slower, but you know what? It corners better! It's the same with these kids at the park. You gotta take them in a straightaway. So next thing you know on of them is it and they try and tag me (hey, ever heard of 10-second touchbacks? Or is that too old school?). So I take off, like zee Cheetah and the Gazelle is chasing me furiously but can't catch me, so she goes and tags her freind who keeps up the pursuit, but she can't catch me either, so she tags a third kid who was just waiting there and he takes up the chase.

Man I'm getting tired! This kid tags the origional kid (the fastest one) and it's not too long after that they tag me cause I'm so freakin old and tired..

So then I went and tagged a chubby kid and went back to watching my kids.

After awhile another young parent joined in the game of tag, and she was nice and let the younger kids tag her. At one point, one of my kid's playmates, a little boy who lives just up the road was chasing this lady and she was backpedalling trying to get away and he planted a tag on her by mashing her left boob. She ignored it because he's like five and it was obviously un-intentional and chased right after him..

"Ahh" , I remarked to another father who saw it take place... "To be a kid again..."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The youthfulness of your average hotdog

This one's from Gwilliker. Starting 54 years ago, these two sisters started trading this single uncooked hotdog back and forth as a practical joke, mailing it to each other or stashing it in each other's luggage when they were visiting. Sometimes they'd visit and stash it in the kitchen utensils drawer or under the bedroom pillow, that sorta thing and teh other sister would mail it back to Alberquerque...

Man.. That's got the stinky Meat project beat!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

One Red paperclip & the Million dollar home page

Don't you hate it when some people get great, simple ideas to make money or get free stuff on the Internet instead of you? I love this paperclip story! One year ago today he started with a paperclip in Montreal. Today he has a house in Saskatchewan!

My other favotite cool idea belonging to someone else(to the tune of a million bucks) is the Million dollar home page where the guy sold ad space on his home page, a pixel at a time. People fell all over themselves to get on this thing (check out the FAQ). Man some people are smart!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Space Shuttle Discovery Launch July 4th 2006

Good to see it got up ok and everything..

Monday, July 03, 2006

Freak Storm in Orleans - July 3rd 2006

At 6:00pm today as we were sitting down to eat supper, there was a flicker in the electrical grid and we were treated to a freak storm, the likes of which I've never seen. It was really cool! There was a ton of rain and lightning and hail! It seemed to be totally isolated to the Orleans area (check this web article out) and sent man-hole covers spewing into the air with the force of all the water. It's a good thing we live at the top of Chapel Hill. I grabbed the video camera and took some footage from my house.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Happy Canada Day weekend

Well, with my younger daughter puking up a storm for the 2nd day in a row, I sat on the couch and practiced economy picking on the guitar all day Canada day while she sat in her comfy chair with a towel watching Annie Broccoli vids and the occasional DVD of 'Band of Brothers'. My wife took our eldest down to Parliament hill to partake in the Canada day festivities, snowbirds, face painting and fireworks!

The next day we just stayed around home and flew my kite in some amazingly heavy 100 kmph winds. It was so strong that it dragged Jade across the soccer field until she let go of the string reel(I went chasing after it). It crashed a few times, rocketing to earth like a kamakazi plane but it was so windy, I'd chase it down, chuck it up in the air and it would climb right up to 300 feet in about 5 seconds.
We should have quit while we were ahead. On one of those tosses into the air, it caught the biggest gust of wind up until that point and it sheared the 60 pound test fishing leader I had on there (the string held) and the kite went flying away, halfway across the neighborhood. I was lucky (again) to catch sight of it just as it blew off some guy's roof.
I've never lost this 17 year old kite! WooHoo!

Then, the holiday Monday, we went Berry picking. In the totally wet and pungent berry field. I felt like a hippy (as I was surrounded by what I took to be hippies picking said berries).