Friday, February 19, 2010

Tune for Friday!

Just because I listened to it yesterday.

A second date now added to May in Dublin. Which presumably means the first date is sold out. If it's sold out with a fraction of the people that were melting in the white-hot heat of the EP tent when these guys blew it apart... well...

Turn it up as loud as you can get away with. The bassline, the piano and the chords, the lyrics - that brassline later on...


Happy Friday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning to surf part 2 - West Cork Surf School

So where was I - oh yes - struggling to paddle back on to the beach in Santa Cruz, California. First time in the water, almost no waves around, and a 5-8 minute paddle clear across the bay in front of Cowell's Beach to get to the only area where small waves were breaking. Still, I had stood up on one.

Back in Ireland and the agonising pain in my arms subsiding, there was no way I was going to let the lack of a surfboard, a wetsuit, any fitness whatsoever, and living in Dublin (on the East coast of Ireland - the only completely wrong coast to be on) put me off.

As it turned out, my now brother-in-law (living in West Cork) had been interested in giving it a bash for some considerable time, so on the next trip down to the rebel county, we booked ourselves in with West Cork Surf School for a lesson.

It was here we learned the sacred art of struggling into a cold, damp wetsuit in the middle of winter, discovering halfway on that the knee pads are on the back of your knees. Swearing quietly, glancing around hoping no-one has noticed, then struggling back out of a cold, damp wetsuit. Turning it around, and then struggling back into a cold, damp wetsuit again. By the time the wetsuit is on, you've nearly had enough exercise for one day.

That done, the WCSS guys take you down to the beach with their super-safe foam-topped boards, and give you a long run through on the beach of what is involved once in the water. Starting off easy, the basic aim is to lie on the board in the whitewater (long after the wave has broken), and either paddle or be pushed into a wave, while lying down, just to get the feel for it. The first thing that strikes you as you start doing this for the first time, is the power of a seemingly small wave. When you don't 'catch' the wave, you get a nudge from behind, and then a torrent of whitewater burbles under you and the board, and the wave is gone. And you generally fall off the board in excitement/panic/stupidity. When you paddle fast enough at the right time, or the correct push is administered as the whitewater comes to you, then you catch the wave properly - that is to say, the wave catches you, and administers the most astonishing burst of forward speed. I defy you to try it and not get a huge grin on your face.

The rest of the first hour is spent doing that - walking the board out in the shallows through incoming waves (and boy does that sound like less work than it is!), turning around, lying on the board, and getting pushed, or trying to paddle at the right time to be caught by onrushing lines of whitewater.

Halftime sees the surf school lads haul everyone back to the beach to regroup, and go over the next part. The standing up part. Ha ha. So the idea is, that you want to be lying on the board, and then at the right moment, be pushed (or preferably paddle yourself) beachwards to be 'caught' by the incoming whitewater. And then, when you feel that rush of speed from the wave catching you, you then quickly and smoothly push up (like, uh, a push-up) on the board, and quickly and smoothly jump from lying down, to standing up crouched on the board. This ninja-like maneuver is the pop-up.

You practise a good few times on the beach, just to make sure that you have it right. And then it's back out in to the water to give it a go.

And in your first lesson, you can take it as read that you're going to get it wrong, a lot! Doing a pop-up on a board in the beach seems so easy. When your board has just been hit by whitewater, and you're shooting across the surface of it on your board at a speed you couldn't have imagined, the thought of doing anything as stupid as trying to stand up couldn't be further from your mind (holding on tight and enjoying the ride lying down seems like a much better option). But you give it a go a few times. And hopefully, with a bit of luck, a bit of timing, and a bit of what-the-hell attitude, you jump up once at the right moment, you don't lose the wave - and suddenly, you're standing on the board as it is driven smoothly forward across the water by the wave.

Nothing beats that. And once you've got your first one (and if you persevere, you will get it) - you will be back...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Irish housing market - another moment of truth?

I took a moment this week to update my ongoing tracker of asking prices in our area of Dublin, and staring at the graph that gets spat out by my figures every time I update them, a bit of a pattern seems to be starting to emerge.

As a disclaimer - you've got to be careful with patterns - too much staring and you see patterns everywhere, but this one does seem to be reasonably clear.

My figures are sorted by house size and street, so there's a trace on the line for every street in our area, and where there is more than one house size, an extra trace per street for each size of house too. So the actual graph spat out is a messy splatter, resembling a rats nest of cables... something like this:

So it seemed to me the longer I looked at this, that there was a fairly clear "stepping down" thing happening. I took the average of all the streets on a clean graph, and tried to get a "line of best fit" happening that would bring out the steps. In other words, could I find discrete sections where the price was quite stable, and discrete sections where it was plunging?

The totally unscientific messing about seems to reveal something like this:

up to Jan - Stable
Jan to Apr - Falling
Apr to Augt - Stable
Aug to Oct - Falling
Oct to Dec - Stable

Jan to May - Falling
May to Dec - Stable

Or in terms of the monthly length of the stages: falling (4), stable (5), falling (3), stable (3), falling (5), stable (7).

The falls are precipitous, and the stable sections are wobbly, but the pattern does seem to be there. Whether this indicates general human nature (when prices are dropping, you'd better undercut your selling neighbour if you want out fast), estate agent strategy (hold fire on price reduction every 2/3 months and test the market resistance to asking price) or something else altogether, I don't know.

What seems reasonably clear though is that every fall is ultimately arrested by at least a brief ledge - and every ledge for the last 2/3 years has eventually collapsed into another precipitous step down.

The question in my area now, therefore is - after a half-year of relative stability, is this something of a bottom - or another ledge?

The recent (2-year) record would suggest that after 6 months without a major fall, we're likely to find out soon...

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

For Sale: Soundcraft Ghost 24 LE Mixing Desk

So for anyone that is in need of a pretty big, fantastic-sounding and visually impressive analogue mixing desk, let me sort out your problem.

I have a Soundcraft Ghost available for sale - pickup in Dublin, Ireland (it's heavy!).

Looks a little bit like this:

That's not a picture of my actual one, but I can get high-res pics of the desk and any individual bits you want to see for anyone that's interested.

EDIT - pics of the actual desk I'm selling are now here...

Anyway, it's a serious 8-bus desk for someone that wants to do serious music. 24 channels inline means you get 48 line inputs (up to 24 Mics), plus 4 stereo FX returns gives you 56 inputs on mixdown.

Individually switchable phantom power per-channel, channel, group and mix inserts, HP rolloff per-channel, 4-band EQ on every channel (2 shelfs inc. a super-warm 60Hz bass shelf and 2 fully parametric mids), 8 Aux busses (6 mono, 2 stereo), PFL or Solo-in-place, built in talkback Mic, level and peak LEDs on every channel, full level metering for all groups and master bus.

The desk sells now for around £3150 sterling new, and in addition to the desk and 2U rack PSU/cable, included is the 24-channel meterbridge, which gives you full LED metering for every channel and is worth another £500 new... plus a Proel mixing desk stand for it if you wish.

Home non-smoking studio use only, gorgeous desk but I need the space so I'm downsizing to something slightly smaller!!

€2,200, or make me a very near offer... available now!