Scottish tunes online

Posted by jerry on June 27th, 2004 — Posted in Music

Well I needed to find some Scottish tunes for a dance, and off I went googling – actually the kick start was in the ‘related’ links as a helpful suggestion in my gmail box – good old context-sensitive targeted advertising. except only one was for a a pay service, the other was Hans’ ABC music page – a real wealth of material in abc format. And sure enough I found what I wanted in the Athole collection. Strange spelling though – I remember visiting Athol in the Scottish highlands a few years back – gorgeous picturesque place with a wonderful castle that is maintained and lived in by the Laird himself.

Using barfly (for mac) I was able to hear the tune over several times, and followed the music notation until it made sense. It’s a great way to learn. I found that if you edit the tempo (L:1/8) to read L:1/4 the tune is played at half the speed, making it much easier to pick up the thread of the tune. So now I can play a passable version of the Gay Gordon’s – a traditional Scottish Country dance tune.

Not a bad way to round off an excellent weekend


Making a Firestaff/Fire Poi

Posted by jerry on June 26th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Music, Technology

Making a firestaff and fire poi – fire dance equipment
I promised some time ago that I’d show you how to make a fire staff – and here it is.
Making a Firestaff

This method works for fire staffs and poi used for fire twirling/ fire dancing – please use fire responsibly and safely!


Beijing Caledonian Society Annual Highland Ball … What tha…?!!

Posted by jerry on June 23rd, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Music

Now here is a bolt from the blue! We get offers of gigs in sometimes unusual situations and unusual places, but this one takes the cake. The email said in part: “here’s the situation: the Beijing Caledonian Society is holding their Annual Highland Ball…” The Beijing What??

Well it seems that there is indeed a dedicated group of Scottish highland dancers in China’s capital – and they need a live band. Who better than Full Circle? So it would seem we are destined to go away on tour to the land of the Red Dragon – in a few months. In the meantime this er… Irish/Celtic band will be learning some new Scottish repertoire. Yes we do play some Scottish numbers, but some of the dances will have specific tunes. Anyhow we have already been requested to play one song in particular… The Devil Went Down to a Small Country South of Russia… Now this sounds like fun!


Gmail Account!

Posted by jerry on June 23rd, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Technology, Writing

Well I’m doing a happy dance tonight – I’m now the proud user of a gmail account – thanks to Mick of ToBlogOrNotToBlog – a fellow Canberra blogger – who had a few on offer for the asking.

I had my suspicions that the service was really a hoax as it was launched on April fools Day (1st april!) But I was wrong – The service offers one gigabyte of storage space so you can use it as an email archive. Of course there is a price – Google gets to run an ad-bot over the emails to provide discrete targeted ads – which are pretty unobtrusive. Privacy advocates are raising questions – but really, it’s not like humans are reading the mails for some strange voyeuristic kicks – and we get the benefit of Google’s search technology to be able to retrieve old mails.

The advantages for me well outweigh the disadvantages – when I travel I have web access to all my old mails, and the account is independent of my ISP – so if I change ISP my email address will remain the same.

So thanks again Mike!


Waterman Fountain Pen

Posted by jerry on June 18th, 2004 — Posted in Journal, Writing

My hand-turned wooden-bodied fountain pen is in the throes of giving up the ghost – the lid is now markedly cracked, and although still quite useable, I thought it was time to consider its replacement. A week or so ago, when I was in the specialist paper shop where I buy my moleskine notebooks, I noticed they were showcasing a particular fountain pen with an aluminium body – I gave it a try and thought it seemed like a good robust pen with a suitably fine nib. But not to be rushed, I demurred, thinking that i would try a few others and possibly come back to this one. Today I went into town and tried out a range of pens, including some good solid Parkers and a quite inexpensive Spanish one. But they were somehow too light or too boring in style. I glanced at the Waterman pens – knowing they would be more than I was prepared to pay, and the helpful assistant suggested I might try one. Okay, I thought, no harm in trying one.

What a lovely balance and weight. No it’s probably not rugged enough for my rough treatment, and the nib is too broad… “do you have a fine nib?” I asked. “No they all come with medium nibs, but we can send it off to have a fine nib fitted – it should take about two weeks.” That’s it then I thought. At AU$115 it was more than I would want to pay anyhow. “oh, by the way…” says the assistant sensing my hesitation… “all our pens are 25 percent off due to the Winter sale…” Well the pen did have a nice balance, and the nib did have a nice glide… but then again the enamel will probably peel off … “I think I should think about it” I said to the assistant – AU$86 was still more than the aluminium one I had looked at previously. Yup, I thought, it is more expensive – by at least the price of a magazine. And I would have to defer my pleasure for at least a fortnight.

I thanked the assistant and walked out of the store. I ate a sausage roll (I like health foods). I went into a book shop – that’s normally enough to inflict a serious wound on my wallet – saw nothing I wanted to buy. I went to several stationers and checked out pens. They sold magazines. I wouldn’t normally think twice about buying a magazine. It was a lovely red colour. The pen, not the magazines. I could get a cheap pen plus a magazine, or I could get a nicely balanced pen – a Waterman – not that brands mean much to me, and forego a magazine. My wooden pen will probably last until the next Working with Wood show – when I could get another similar one. That would probably last for a year or two – like my current one. The assistant had said something relevant here – “… and they come with a lifetime warranty…”

I walked back to the car, and dumped my other purchases – some Darrell Lea chocolates and a pair of RM Williams moleskine pants. I phoned my daughter – perhaps she had finished her shopping – oh just another half hour… okay I thought, maybe I’ll dawdle back to the store and just have another look at the pen. But if she phones me before I get there, I’ll turn around and leave it – and that will be it. That leaves it up to Fate.

I headed back slowly, had a bit of a wander into another bookshop, and finally went into … oh no this is the Other store… I decided not to buy some ink cartridges there. Retrace some steps and find the right one. “so… you can send it straight off to get a fine nib fitted?” “Yes sir, it will probably be about a fortnight – you can change it up to 28 days after purchase” she said, judging that I was generally not one to defer gratification. But i thought, for a pen that feels so right, a fortnight is not long to wait. “I’ll take it” I said, adding: “And I’ll get you to send it off for a fine nib please”. I paid the assistant and started heading back through the store. My phone rang…

Glenn Marcus writes about a visit to the Waterman pen factory