Monday, 17 December 2012

Fantasy Custom Drumkit

If I were to have my own custom-made drum kit I would go with Sonor for a few reasons. First of all I am an AC/DC fan and I learned the basics of drumming partly from watching and listening to Phil Rudd. He has played Sonor in both stints with AC/DC. I got into Iron Maiden when Nicko McBrain was already in the band but the first song I could play along with the drums to was Hallowed Be Thy Name, which was recorded when Clive Burr was still in the band. But Nicko played Sonor in his earlier years with the band. The main reason for playing Sonor comes from the musical boom produced from the Sonor kit of Bill Andrews of Death and Massacre. I'm a fan of Death and Bill was drummer in the band on the Leprosy and Spiritual Healing albums. His drum sound is the one that I would want to emulate. Each tom is distinctive and produces an individual note. Some metal drummers' recorded drum sound has the toms giving off a thud or slap or clatter or a bang and it's not always easy to distinguish which tom it is unless you listen carefully to the position in stereo headphones. Bill Andrews' toms were always properly tuned and you had a fair idea what tom he was likely to be hitting from the note it produced, even through speakers that you were standing away to one side of. For that sound quality alone, I would choose Sonor. But I would also include a couple of rototoms which would have to be sourced from Remo. So the drums would consist of  2 rototoms, 5 tom toms from 8" to 14", 16x16 and 18x16 floor toms, double 24" bass drums and a 13x6.5 snare. Hardware including mountings, bass drum pedals, throne and cymbal stands would also be sourced from Sonor. The rototom stand would be sourced from Remo and the gong stand would be sourced from Paiste.
Cymbals and gong would be Paiste because of Nicko McBrain's video of his cymbal setup on youtube and the fact that Dave Lombardo of my favourite band Slayer uses Paiste. Gong, 2 chinas, 4 crashes, 2 splashes, hi-hat and a ride would make up the cymbals. I'd probably source one of those special o-zone crashes with the holes from Sabian though.  I priced everything on the internet. Drums minus rototoms come to €12668.86 from Sonor's SQ2 system. Hardware, including rototoms and stand come to a total of €5202.40. Any hardware not sourced from SQ2 was sourced from thomann dot de forward slash ie. Thomann was also the source for pricing all cymbals. They totalled €3502.00. The grand total for everything before carrier bags/casings (which I did not price) are taken into account is €21373.26. The photo is a rough freehand scribble overhead view of the setup.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Driving Test

Well, as you can see from the photo, I was unsuccessful on this occasion. I was too nervous. I thought the report would be much worse but I knew early on I wasn't as good as I can be and I couldn't relax as a result. I missed a couple of gears because of not letting the clutch up enough and letting the engine over-rev causing me to think I was in the wrong gear. I didn't give enough clearance to stationary vehicles. Moving off and roundabouts were not too bad but the marks together with other faults could've failed me anyway. I didn't move off at a set of traffic lights and obstructed traffic. He gave me my only pink for that. But one pink is a failure even if all the other sections were fine.  My instructor said he'd seen worse sheets after a test even from some people who have their own cars. Mirrors, understanding traffic controls and right of way were all faultless on the sheet. At least it was a proper fail and not one mistake and the tester was totally fair an impartial.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Latest Driving Lesson

Test tomorrow. Today's lesson went much smoother. He pushed me to go to 100kph on the dual carriageway. Only minor issues during the lesson. I need to be a bit more confident. Still a few rough edges to smooth off because of that. No major moments today thankfully. A couple of times he reacted too quickly. I was about to maneuver correctly and I knew what I was doing. But he tried to coach me too soon and I doubted what I was doing as a result. I can understand him wanting me to get everything spot on before the test. But he just needs to wait until I get into difficulty before speaking now. That way I will, more often than not, do what I'm supposed to do without his coaching. I said it to him that he spoke too soon when I was able to do the move myself and I started to doubt myself as a result. I'm confident getting up to speed now. It's slowing down from the higher gears and judging my approach to roundabouts from faster roads that are trickier than they seem from the passenger seat. My instructor is giving me one more lesson in the morning before my test. I hope that will benefit me. I probably should have cancelled before 10 days to go (to give me more time without losing my fee) because I'm not quite there yet. I'm probably 2 to 3 lessons shy of my instructor being confident of me passing. But I intend to get out of Waterford after the test, pass or fail. I won't be able to take another test or more lessons until I know where I am and how I'm fixed financially. So I might as well try to pass it now. I must read my rules of the road book tonight because there are 1 or 2 signs that might catch me out in the written part. But my instructor will go over them and show me under the bonnet (the hood if you're an American reader) tomorrow to go over what else I need to know. It'll seriously improve my job prospects too if I can manage a pass. If I pass, I expect I'll only have done the bare minimum to pass. If I fail, I'd rather it be a lot of faults than a single silly mistake. I hope I'll be blogging tomorrow as a fully qualified driver. Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Latest driving lesson

So here's the next installment in a series of blogs leading up to my driving test. Today's lesson went pretty well, considering the weather. There was low light even though the lesson started at midday, due to thick cloud cover. There was also constant drizzle. At one stage I had to pull in and wipe the right hand side mirror because it was almost impossible to see anything in it. But at least I have the confidence to do that by myself now. The light level, drizzle and cloud colour also meant cars of certain colours, namely greys, silvers and blacks, were difficult to spot from a distance. I was about to start a left reverse when my instructor spotted a car coming behind. I didn't even see it until after he mentioned it so I waited. It was a black car with no lights on. I was much more confident reversing today. I had a good feel for the clutch to control my speed reversing around a blind corner. Even though it was a fairly sharp corner, I got around with the steering wheel just shy of full lock and ended up spot on parallel with the footpath, approximately 6 inches away. This might seem easy to an experienced driver, but you have to remember I'm learning later in life (old dogs, etc.) and the only car I've driven is my instructor's Kia Rio.
Later on I had "one of those moments". There's one in every lesson. I was trying to do a hill start when some eejit in a big old Toyota Land Cruiser parked right in front of me. My instructor told me let it roll back a bit in first with the clutch fully in to give myself space. This caused me to over rev with the clutch pedal partly pressed when I got going again. There was a horrible smell of burning clutch as a result. Normally I have a tendency to let the clutch pedal up too quickly! He also took me through the same junction that he obstructed my clutch control the last day. I completed it with aplomb this time. A boat parked on the side of the street was an obstacle we had to negotiate. Yes, you read right, a boat, it was on a trailer. Some of the tight twisty streets in Waterford mean I really have to lean forward and back because the front right pillar on the car causes an awkward blind spot, and that's in normal forward driving!
I also went on to the 80kph speed limit dual carriageway for a while just in case the tester might want to see how confident I am on the open road getting up to 5th gear, and see how comfortable I am at slowing down from those speeds.
My next lesson is Friday. I hope I remember to look and signal correctly and not be so jerky with the clutch and brake when I'm taking my test Saturday.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Faux Fashion Blog

Duffle Coats

It seems that styles from the late 1970s to early 1980s are making a comeback in men's fashion trends. I see a lot of corduroy jeans and teacher jackets (the ones with the leather elbows) and patterned man cardigans in the shops along with more natural, earthly browns and greens and cream tones. One I remember well from my childhood, because I used to own one, was the duffle coat. Just out of curiosity, I decided to see what the price of them would be. I was quite surprised to see an €80 price tag on one in Dunnes stores. I thought to myself that I wouldn't have expected to see that price on them in Debenhams. Oh how wrong I was! Thinking I'd see similar prices, I decided to see. I strolled across from Dunnes in City Square shopping centre in Waterford, through Kylemore cafĂ© and into the menswear section of Debenhams. They were as much as a shocking €197 in Debenhams.
Today I wanted to walk off a big dinner so decided to take a stroll around Waterford. The duffle coats entered my mind again. So I decided to sample the menswear section of the main clothes shops and compare prices. I went to Dunnes and Debenhams first to remind me of the prices. Then it was into Pennys where you can get them for €45. After that it was back to City Square to see what River Island had to offer. They have them for a pretty steep €114. Then I thought of Tk maxx. That would be my final stop on the duffle coat price comparison. Tk maxx normally do fairly upmarket labels at fairly affordable prices, but you wouldn't expect them to price as low as Dunnes because of the fact that they are high street labels rather than department store commissioned brands. To my surprise, it turns out that you can buy a duffle coat in Tk maxx for a mere €69.99. That is €10.01 LESS than Dunnes! How about that?!
The verdict is that Pennys is the cheapest but, going on label and build quality, Tk maxx is probably the best value for money. So if you're someone who always likes to be on trend and you don't mind going all 70s/80s in your appearance, a duffle coat is bang on trend and will keep you warm. But I know that we're all a little stretched for cash these days and doubly so at this time of year. So your best option is to go to Tk maxx for a quality product at the right price (ironically Dunnes' goal). But if that's beyond your budget Pennys is a useful option. You'll only be wearing it until the spring and you might be following a different trend next winter. So it might not need to be as durable as the fashion label option.
I'm not trying to muscle in on any fashion blogger's territory or promote or put you off any of the shops mentioned in this blog post. I tweeted the results earlier today and my sister called me a fashion blogger teasing. But it put the idea in my head that this would be something interesting to write about... so I did!

Driving Lessons

I wanted to post something tonight before I head off to bed but wasn't sure what I should write about. Ever get that kind of an urge? After a brief period of thought I decided to write something related to my driving test which is coming up next weekend. So I'll probably update people on my progress during the week.
Today's lesson went well but I just keep forgetting things because I don't have a car to practice with. I only drive when I'm getting lessons. My instructor doesn't expect me to pass Saturday but he says I'm close. I still haven't got everything together. There are just a few things that haven't clicked into place yet. It'll be a silly mistake that will fail me, in my opinion, not a lack of ability to drive. I'm kind of on the limit of listening to my instructor to tell me what to do and wanting to do it myself. Sometimes, because I get a bit tense in certain situations, he assumes this means I might need coaching so he speaks. This causes me to wait for his instruction so I stop doing what I'm supposed to be doing, usually at the worst possible time. If he'd let me go and do it and I make a mistake, it's ok, I can learn from that. But if he let me go I'm more likely to get it mostly right and he can tell me after the lights/junction/roundabout how I can do it better next time, AFTER we've cleared the hazard. Him speaking to me just before a lights/junction/roundabout makes me hesitate so I don't react in time and makes me more panicky and driving gets more jerky.
Today I stalled at a junction because I forgot to put the clutch pedal down and was probably in the wrong gear anyway. So later on I was in full control at another junction and I wanted to let the clutch pedal up to move a bit further and my instructor had the pedal fully down. It flustered me a bit and I tensed up again because I was no longer in control of the car. I told him this. If he'd left me alone to negotiate the junction it would've been alot smoother. He claimed his foot got in the way by accident, but I doubt it. His clutch and break override the ones on my side and when I needed to let the pedal up to move the car on it stayed to the floor. I think we should practice pulling in, moving off and entering parking spaces more next lesson. My next lesson is Wednesday. I hope to get at least one more lesson after that before my test.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ballylongford Photographic Memoir

This is volume 2 of the book Ballylongford - A Photographic Memoir by Nancy McAuliffe. My dad is in it twice. There is one of him as a teenager in front of his home in Ballyline with 3 other young children. There is another of him in a football team photo. The football one is familiar to me because I first saw it as a child. In volume 1 there are photos of the old girls school which show my aunt Mary but my mom's name is in the text underneath. My mom is correctly mentioned in volume 2. Both volumes are great historic photographic references of my home village of Ballylongford in Co. Kerry. I'll post more photos on the Ballylongford ex-pats facebook page later.