Friday, 18 July 2014

Just done my tax

In 2013/14, my best ever year, I earned about 77% of the average UK salary.

It should be said, that my living costs are relatively low. I have no dependent children. I live in very small accommodation that is cheap to  heat and light. I have generally simple needs. Ditto Bren. And I suspect that the average salary on Merseyside is rather less than the national average.

It looks so far as if 2014/15 will be more of the same. I wonder how long it will last?

Just done what I needed to do to renew my badge too. Busy day off! It should come through just in time for there to be no break between its arrival my previous license to teach expiring.

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Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Weather in Hoylake

Interested in what the weather is like in Hoylake?

Well, just turn on your telly from Thursday onwards. BBC1 and 2 have live, real time coverage this week, for several hours each day. Overcast skies. Drizzle. Sunny periods. They're all there, interspersed with shots of some blokes smacking little white balls around.

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Friday, 11 July 2014

How not to teach

Been to a bit of a shindig recently.

Every year, my parents, and other close relatives rent a rambling old farmhouse near a place called Chwylog, in North Wales. We went there last Thursday afternoon, stayed Thursday and Friday nights, then left on Saturday morning.

There were ten of us in total; my Mum and Dad, my Auntie and Uncle, my Sister and Brother-in-law, their two small children, and Bren and Myself. The full day we spent there was pretty dismal. A low blanket of nimbostratus  made it all both dull and wet pretty much all day.

This day, we awoke a little later than most of the others. Sounds drifted up from downstairs. My Sister was going into town (Criccieth or Porthmadog) on her own to get some time away from the children and to do some shopping. Soon after she'd gone, the older of her two children, a bright, clever, self-contained 4 year old bundle of boundless energy, had accidentally wet herself.

Then we heard it. From the lips of my Mum came the words, "Your Mummy has gone because you wet yourself". Followed closely by "Mummy doesn't love you because you wet yourself".

Bren's eyes were wide. So were mine. I'm still at a loss to explain how these words made me feel.

We got up, dressed, and went straight out. Once out of the door, Bren was in floods of tears. I was angry. We very nearly just went home. Instead we went into Criccieth, and took a walk along the beach.

I wonder if she used to say such things to me or my sister? Or is this something to do with people becoming more reactionary as they get older? For that's what it is. Stimulus. Response. Reactionary. Punishing the mistake. Certainly I remember my Dad behaving this way on many occasions, but my Mum?

I'm thinking of incorporating this approach into what I do.

"Your Mummy doesn't love you any more because you stalled at that roundabout."

"You will get home from your lesson today to find your husband has left you, and all because you bumped into the kerb when doing that parallel park."

Learners don't make mistakes on purpose. Neither do 4 year old girls. Both are trying very hard to please, at least most of the time. Understanding this, though, is not always easy.

Later on, when we got back from our walk, we had the house to ourselves, pretty much. We went for a swim in the pool. We were to go out for a meal later, all except the children and my sister and Bro-in-law. Bren and I offered to stay at the farmhouse and look after them.

After watching me playing with the children in the afternoon, my sister agreed to this, and so it was arranged that everyone but Myself, Bren and the two children would toddle off to Weatherspoons in Porthmadog. I had a look through the cupboards to see what I could make us for our tea. I dug out eggs, onions, spuds, cheese, and a tin of beans. Omelette chips and beans a-go-go! I asked my auntie where the cooking oil was.

She bustled into the kitchen and showed me the bottle, hidden in plain view on a work surface. Then she showed me how to open the microwave, how to chop an onion, how to fry the onion, how to open a tin of beans.

"Do you realise you've just told a grown adult how to open a microwave?" I thought of asking. Instead, I kept my mouth shut, and let her do half of the work of cooking tea for Bren and myself.

Once again,  as a teacher, my approach is very different.

If I meet someone for the first time, I ask questions, and ask them to do some basic things before I start actually doing any teaching. To take someone who can already drive, and talk them through how to put their seatbelt on is both pointless and demeaning.

I don't think we will go next year.

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Music II

"Sound card aready in use by another application"

Aye. And there's the rub.

You see, I managed to get the modern creative soundcard (an Xfi something or other) to play stuff. I found the lead that connected it to my speakers. I installed all the music software that came with the MIDI controller. This time around, I read the instructions, and did things in a different order. And so I have a much bigger range of sounds available to the guitar than I did last time, although there is a huge bank of sounds called Sample Tank that I have not yet managed to integrate.

I can play my guitar using the midi pickup. I cannot play it and record what I am playing, which means I cannot multitrack. I just can't record, full stop. It may be that I could connect the guitar to the microphone socket and record from there, but that's not what I'm after here. It seems the soundcard is not full duplex. Full duplex and half duplex are the difference between a dual carriageway and a single track road.

I installed all the software onto the Windows 8 partition. The first option I have is to make a hardware change. Remove the soundcard, plug the speakers into the onboard sound connections, and see if that will allow me to play and record simultaneously.

If that doesn't take me forward, the next thing to try is to use the windows 7 partition, and make a hardware change - unplug the Xfi soundcard, plug in the audigy 2 card, which should be full duplex, but which will only work on windows 7, and not on windows 8; make sure I have sound output to the speakers, and if so, reinstall the software onto the windows 7 partition.

If that too fails to take me to where I want to be, then we're looking at shelling out on another sound card. If so, it should have full duplex, and some form of hard wired ASIO capability. Whether some PCI internal card or an external USB card doesn't matter too much.

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