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100% vegan

My take on veganism (and I am 100% vegan or as close to 100% as I know how to be at least) is that if you imagine you live for 70 years, then you can do some easy maths about how you live…

7 days a week eating meat you are a meat eater for 70 years
6 days = 60 years
(it’s quite easy from here…)
So 1 day a week and you only eat meat for 10 years and live for 60 as a vegan (or a plant-based eater to avoid technical arguments).

A lot of people ask about being 100% vegan at home but struggling in foreign countries so if you break that down further and it’s more in the order of 4 weeks (solid) per year whilst you’re on holiday then that’s about 5 years in your 70 year life. Now if you manage not to eat meat every day of your holiday, you might be able to bang that down to the equivalent of a couple of years in an entire lifetime.

As a start point, moving towards a more ethical and defensible position that still allowed me to live a full life and experience the wonders of this undoubtedly amazing world – I’d take that.

I’m not a big traveller (or eater really) and I’ve been vegetarian prior to vegan for over 30 years so got used to being laughed at and hungry in the 80’s. I wouldn’t advocate this as a route to go down though for most. I just got used to it. Portugal recently was great in Aldi and so on, but not so good in most places where they make the food for you. It’s something we all have to see how we feel about as time goes on. I would say though that if you’re vegan say for 9 months, you probably won’t even want the meat when it comes along and it may make you feel a bit sick or bloated to eat it, so going to a very meat-heavy place might become tough for that reason alone. I have friends who’ve lived on paprika Pringles and alcohol for a few weeks in China and so on. My guess is the hard places would be where even Pringles can’t be found…

I would add that (in my opinion) the very binary and strict nature of veganism is helpful because it removes willpower from the equation. There isn’t a frequency or amount of cheese I can eat, I just don’t eat it so it’s actually very easy. That suits my brain. When I did decide to be a bit ‘flexitarian’ I ended up flexing all the way and ate all the cheese. So, as with many aspects of life and abstinence (think Religion) I am of the opinion that the strict rules are there to remove willpower from the equation. It’s too woolly and subjective otherwise and if religion allowed any latitude we’d all be coveting our neighbour’s wife, ox and donkey before we knew it.


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Ashby Open Baffle progress

You may have seen my earlier ramblings on the subject of using PC-based DSP to provide an active crossover with filters for an open baffle speaker system. I got on reasonably well with Richard Taylor’s excellent notes on the subject however I was struggling to settle on an actual baffle design, along with the usual problems of actually building them. Enter an auction on ebay for a pair of ‘open baffle speaker’ with the following description:

‘Here is an open baffle project that could not get quite right. The bottom drivers are eminence alpha 15 drivers. the mid drivers are Vintage B&W 8″ drivers and the top drivers are Tang Band W4-657D. they are currently fitted with a 2 way crossover made with decent parts from Falcon audio. In their current form they sound bright to me.’


The crossover was not implemented correctly and would have given very poor results, as implied in the advert. The good news is the baffles are very solidly made. They appeared to be made from two slabs of MDF sandwiching some internal wiring (that I won’t use as it’s been hacked about) and of course ending up at about two inches of thickness. There’s some equally impressive bracing for the baffle and the whole thing is mounted on a massive chunk of MDF. It’s been fairly well finished and is in pretty good nick. I’ll likely repaint at some point but for now it’s brilliant.

I swapped out the B&W midrange unit with a pair of Vifa 8” (P21WO-20-08) as used in some of Siegfried Linkwitz’s early tests. I’ve retained the Tang Band 4” for ‘tweeters’ (yes, I know they don’t go very high, but neither do my ears) and of course kept the 15” Alphas as they should do the trick for me.

Building a six channel volume control

One thing that quickly became apparent was that I would need a volume control between the line outs of my sound card and the inputs of my amp. I’d bought an Alps 6 gang potentiometer months ago and after a trip to Maplins for an enclosure and some phono sockets I settled in for the evening and knocked up a little control box.

pot and socketssockets

wired internals

You can see from the pictures that I should probably have mounted the input and output around the other way or spun the pot around to avoid crossing all the wires, however I used a solid copper connector for the grounds and didn’t want to go unsoldering things. The most annoying thing was wiring in the six pots. For that I offer the reader some tips….

Soldering the Alps 6 gang potentiometer

First thing to note is that the diagram below (as is typical) shows a view from the top of the pot, ie as though you are looking through it from above with the pins pointing down. Sometimes this makes things hard to translate when you look at the bottom of the pot, however as you will note the pins 1,2 and 3 are all in line and therefore simply rotating either the diagram or pot through 180 degrees gives the layout as though are looking at it from above (harder to explain in words than do – just spin the pot around so the shaft points the opposite way from the diagram).

Alps six gang pot

Pins 1 are ground – so I just wired all those in together. The outer pins on the left and right of the pot are just dummy pins for location – I chopped these off and the whole thing look a lot less intimidating. 3 are the inputs and 2 are the outputs (assuming you want the volume to go up as you rotate the pot clockwise). That’s about it. It took me about an hour of staring and checking with a meter to work out that nonsense!

The end (or at least, interim) is outstanding. At present they’re in a far less than ideal position and I can’t get far enough away from them to really listen properly. That said there is some astounding imaging and beautiful openness. The nicest thing is how they sound in the rest of the house, it just sounds like someone is playing in another room, live – there is not obvious source of the sound. Running some Peter Hurford organ classics through them is quite lovely.


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Kickstarter project: Post #1

Hmm… I have a beard. This could be good.

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Stoptober – a thought

Well done to all you Stoptober guys. Remember, giving up smoking is not so hard, but you have to choose to give it up. ‘Hoping’ to do something ain’t gonna work.
Nibbles and dips anyone?

Nibbles and dips anyone?

It’s kind of obvious really, imagine someone who doesn’t want to smoke, now imagine how hard it would be to persuade them to inhale every bit of the smoke from a burning tube of paper stuffed full of dried leaves, then persuade them to do that another 19 times… throughout the day. Now, persuade them to give you about £8.50 for twenty of said tubes EVERY DAY – oh, and imagine selling the benefits of smelling bad, having yellow thumb and first finger, going to the shops at stupid o’clock and having their mind consumed with thoughts about when they can fit their next one in or which member of family, child, parent to hide it from and how. I bet you can’t make them – IF they don’t want to.

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This week’s thoughts

Some things I’ve thought about this week:

Headline: ‘Poor elderly people are twice as likely to die as the richest’ Surely we are all *guaranteed* to die?

Based on the above, does that fact that poor old people are more likely to die than rich ones make robbing banks later in life justifiable? Being rich appears to be a sort of life support machine.

Have you seen the new Katy Perry video – do you really want this polluting your mind – let alone your children? <>

Keith Chegwin is in trouble for stealing other comedians’ jokes. Luckily, I don’t think I’ve been affected yet – but I’m watching him

Oh my God, what is the world coming to when this sort of person makes the headlines?

if you get a chance, please listen to my song on the Glory Hole podcast next Monday night 26/07/10

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Katy Perry hits an all time (moral) low with California Gurls

Not content with parading around exciting (enraging) every kind of (predominantly male) fantasy from pedophilia to lesbianism (of the male titillation variety) in her lyrics and videos, the troublesome titwillow Katy Perry has another go at driving us all mad with California Gurls. As in most cases, the song is largely irrelevant and as a piece of pop-plop encrusted stubbornly on the carelessly wiped arse-cleft of the music industry, it is not that bad. It is the video where various subversive techniques intended to ruin the minds of otherwise God-fearing Simpson’s fans are employed. The vile vignette depicts the fantasy world ‘Candyfornia’ (which exists inside a box) where everything is made of cakes and sweets (candy) into which the semi-clad Ms. Perry is thrust. She wanders about winking and cavorting in various states of undress before eventually having some kind of stand-off with your typical upstanding citizen (a sort of child-friendly pimp) in the form of Snoop Dogg – not to be confused with Snoopy the Dog who has never faced a murder charge – and his cohort of evil Gummi Bears. The stand-off is short-lived and the victory decisive as a quick thinking Ms. Perry affixes a can of squirty cream to each breast before ejaculating the contents in a euphoric (orgasmic?) scene leaving no one in any doubt that the imagery is alluding to something, though probably still in some doubt as to whether we should feel hungry, horny or both – we’ve moved on from champagne corks, fireworks and waves crashing over kissing couples these days don’t you know – oh yeesss. 

Katy Perry expresses herself in a way most women still find hard to do

I’m not sure when a woman’s right to express herself extended into this kind of public expression, but here we are – welcome to 2010 – the place where our children are brought up to be excited or at least entertained by a highly sexualised yet infantalised siren who ejaculates instant whipped cream from her nipples – as a weapon – thus winning the battle with a pimped up real life petty criminal and his evil gelatine disciples, all of course in Candyfornia, a place where few would expect this kind of shit to go down nightly. 

Katy Perry - locked and loaded

As a final aside: The keen and continuity conscious among you will notice that in the scene above, Katy clearly ‘screws’ the compressed creamy cannisters rather high on her breastage, half over the skin in fact. Yet, in the next scene (where the cream squirts out and boys of all ages get excited and desperate in equal measures) they are located much lower down, directly over the nipples. Surely someone on the shoot was looking at her tits when they made this?


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The Gay Musician

Something that’s annoyed me over the years is that bloody ‘Music Man’ song – you know the one where he can play ‘pia pia piano’? Back in my school days we used to sing this but it was called ‘The Gay Musician’. The melody was much the same though it was more flowing and the natural rhythm of the words made the timing more interesting. I did a little google search on this and was surprised to only find one article on the subject (and that’s French). I was singing this back in the early eighties so I’m suprised that it has simply disappeared in just thirty years.

Liberace - never far away from a well polished organ

‘Gay’ is of course a word that has changed its meaning over the years – orginally meaning jolly, then homosexual and most recently, rubbish. So we’ve gone from ‘Jolly Musician’ (fair enough) to ‘Homosexual Musician’ (not exactly a revelation) to ‘Rubbish Musician’ (hard to believe when you consider the song’s multi-instrumentalist claims).

Music Man it is then.

Elton comes from as far away as possible

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