Week beginning 2 March 1998.
The Other News is made up as a single document, so that you can scroll your way through it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Unions and work
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If you haven`t looked at the other News From England before, read this in case it may save you some time.
The Other News consists of a selection of articles on whatever subjects find their way to the top of the pile on the week in which it is written. Whilst some of it is intended to be serious, quite a lot is just a bit of light reading (or heavy, if you are a certain type of person), and intended to keep you amused, and cause people to question some of the assumptions of life. Most of the material here is written by the editor, but no single article necessarily reflects the views of the editor or anyone else who writes here. They only might.
Businesses are consumers too, and it has become the habit amongst those who sell worthless advertising space to businesses to phone people and then lead them to believe that the call is to offer them some business, and ask them to phone back. This doesn`t just offer the small business person a useless advertising space - it also asks them to pay for the priviledge of being asked to buy it, because they have to pay for the call.
The people who do this kind of selling are probably unfortunate victims of the con whereby they are told they will get commission for each sale but either no weekly wage or next to no weekly wage - and of course the commission is quite a tempting sum if one imagines oneself being able to sell some space. This, then, keeps them using the phone all day until eventually they make a sale and get their commission - the only snag being that it is quite likely their own phone they are using, and the profit on their day`s effort in this event is quite likely to be totally absorbed by the increase in their phone bill.
There is quite a good profit for the person who persuades people to do this kind of selling (the first level of the pyramid), because by doing almost nothing this person gets a large collection of small commissions on all the people`s sales. He or she usually gets a further bonus in the form of the commissions on sales made to persons who were originally approached by one of the salespeople who has now resigned and didn`t buy anything at the time of the contact.
So what are we to do to protect ourselves from these unfortunate people?
Aside from working out by the nature of the message on one`s answering machine and not phoning back, there is not a lot one can do (send me an email if you have a solution). They have a most unpleasant task, and it is only too easy to feel sorry for them.
In recent years I have become much more patient with these people than I used to be, and if they happen to phone when I am in (it is not difficult to know the general nature of the call from their voice) I take the trouble to ask them if they are on commission only and try to point out a few of the snags involved - and sometimes give them an idea of the number of people before them who have tried to sell me the same thing. This, if nothing else, helps them to get out of the grips of the person who is parasiting off them.
But those who are downright dishonest (not quite as easy to detect, but if someone phones you and tells you they have seen your business rates are too high when you don`t pay any, this is a good indicator) get like for like. If I have my wits about me I tell them I can`t talk about it now, but would they mind phoning back in half an hour, and then when they phone back I ask them to wait a moment because I have left a mchine running, and then leave them running up their phone bill until they hang up.
This enables me to get on with my work and get my own back, but I rather wonder if it is fair, given that if someone is so desperate to make a sale they are willing to lie they are already in considerable difficulty, and this must surely make it worse.
Nobody tells us how much they really cost to keep, and if people realised how rich they would be without one they might think twice about owning one. My car, for instance, costs me about five thousand pounds a year in HP, insurance, road tax and depreciation if it stands still, plus the cost of the servicing and repairs to it, plus the fuel I put in the tank, plus wear and tear - about 8,000 pounds a year I`d say, in all, for 15,000 miles!
That is 53.3 pence Sterling per mile!
But that is a rather low price because I am an ex road transport contractor and so know how to keep overheads to a minimum. If the average punter were running my car it might well come to 80 pence Sterling per mile.
The reason I have raised this subject under ecology is that the power of advertising may be a lot better than that of reason in obtaining a reduction in road vehicle use. If the public could be shown the true cost of running a car instead of believing it costs them the fuel they put in it, and then told what they could do with the money saved (I would be pretty well off myself, and could afford no end of cabs and a computer that doesn`t break down, plus a better house and a grand piano......) we might find traffic levels becoming quite sensible. This then might be combined with my Per Capita Motor Fuel Rationing, and in a very short time we could be on the road to recovery (not an ideal metaphor).
I could really enjoy designing and executing such a campaign.
Nothing this week.
Not having read a newspaper or listed to the radio all week I don`t know how this matter of the masonic judges is going, but I shall be both pleased and relieved of Jack Straw has his way. Interestingly not a few other people with whom I have discussed the subject have expressed equal enthusiasm for the project - even some quite right-wing people - so if he is trying to serve the public he might well be travelling in the right direction.
Gabriele Gad on alternative therapy.
Some of the LETSSwing material will be available as sheet music on the net soon - and some other stuff that I have written for other bands and orchestras.
I have been saying this for three weeks now, but have patience. The person on who`s website it will be placed is a learner (even more than I am), and I have to go to someone else`s computer to scan the manuscripts (I do this on the LETS, by the way).
If you are in a LETS somewhere and would like LETSSwing to play to you, please contact email@example.com.
LETSSwing and/or I also do gigs for money - a variety of types of music.
(I did one consisting of old-fashioned laid-back jazz first half and rock`n`roll second half on Friday. The drummer was borrowed from Bill Brunskill - definitely old-fashioned and Britain`s oldest jazz band. Today he said `when you started doing that I thought you were drunk`. Always nice to get some positive feedback).
You have now constructed enough chords to be able to make sme quite complicated sequences up, and this week, before I double back for people like Steve and Rick and talk about arpeggios as opposed to chords, I will write a couple of interesting ones out for you.
Please take your time and don`t give up if you find it difficult. Either double back to earlier lessons or email me with your query if you can`t decipher this stuff. All you need to know should be In The Other News somehwere, unless I have referred you to a musical dictionary.
You may by now have noticed that sheet music for popular songs often has the names of the chords written above the stave (the lines of dots and words). These are usually but not always `right`, and even if they are hopeless they can give you a starting point.
The couple of sequences I give here are ones that I use myself when playing piano, and I like it if my accompanist plays them if I am playing sax (but, you know, musicians all like to try their own versions of things - and some are better than others). I like to keep things simple but `complete`, and am not really impressed by chord names that have lengthy extensions, and neither by people managing to make the wrong chord sound right by giving it one name but playing it another way than that suggested by it`s name (or even giving it a name that doesn`t describe the chord at all). It may sound good, but it doesn`t necessarily enable good playing to occur.
Pavanne(copyright Hugh Harris):
(Bb=Bflat, and a dot (.) halves a bar making two beats for each of the pair of chords shown in that bar)
INSTRUCTIONS: Play as a funeral march - tempo around 65 beats per minute. Use 4 beats to the bar, but in your mind think of 8 beats covering that same bar. This will give a slight `rock`, and will allow a guitarist to play a `continuo` type of accompaniment (not quite the right term, but I don`t know what the right one is - see musical dictionary). The `fake-book` manuscript for this piece will appear on the website mentioned above (under LETSSwing) in due course.
Next, one great standard (I can`t publish the dots for this, as it is someone else`s copyright, but there are plenty of printed versions of it about). Most people don`t know the intro, but it`s worth learning and playing:
Georgia On My Mind:
Repeat this. (that`s a little over-simplified, but it works), then the bit you definitely know:
(this next bit`s called the `middle 8` because it`s 8 bars long and another tune)
Am/F.E7/Am.Adim/C7.Caug (Adim = ACEbGb, Caug = CEGsharp.)
INSTRUCTIONS: tempo of a ballad. If you are going on when you reach the end, you might like to put in a C7.Caug to lead you into the next time through. Next week I want to double back a bit and go over the whole subject of chords again with melody instruments and maybe guitars, basses and banjos. In case you need something to think about and listen for during the week, I will tell you that we are going to have a look at arpeggios, and that arpeggios are the notes that make up chords played `spread out` one note at a time, either ascending or descending. They occur in virtually all types of music, but at first you may find them difficult to recognise as arpeggios.
This week the local Joint Negotiating Committee meet for the first time to discuss not the issues themselves but what issues there are to be discussed. There are some obvious ones, like rates of pay, `differentials`, periods of notice, `perks`, and some not so obvious ones like staff morale, the selling process (at present my job relies on the competence or otherwise of a selling process run by persons who are not entirely interested in this area), special needs, etc.
Who knows? It might get quite interesting, given that I am already suing the college over certain matters to do with this area.
Sharpening. (This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to teach people in this field because it is so difficult to describe, so if you understand this article send me an email congratulating me.)
Flat chisels and plane blades are sharpened on an oilstone (preferably with oil on it, although it can often work but not well without). I shall describe sharpening a chisel, which is slightly different to sharpening a plane, and then try to explain the plane blade at the end.
The key factor in sharpening flat chisels and plane blades is keeping the flat side flat.
I mean truly flat, and as people grip the blade in their hand to sharpen it this is almost beyond the capability of some. The trick I use to keep the flat side flat is to press the whole blade hard onto the stone and then wist it to one side without in any way lifting it. If you do this at the start of sharpening you will keep the flatness unless the stone is too badly unflat to allow it.
Having done that, turn it over and start to rub the sloping side (the sharpened edge) on the stone at the lowest angle you can possibly get without lifting the sharpened edge above the stone. If the blade has been prepared suitably at some stage on a bench grinder or a sandstone you will only be sharpening a very narrow edge. This will save you wasting a lot of energy rubbing away a large wide surface.
If the chisel started off in good order, there will only be a few strokes along the stone before you have an almost microscopic burr coming up at the front edge. This you may not be able to see, but if you slide your finger tip along the chisel from the handle end and straight off the end (without stopping) you will feel it at the sharpened edge. If it isn`t there, you have done enough sharpening.
Now this burr has to be made thinner - and then again more thin. If you put the edge under a microscope you will see that it is not very sharp even when it is sharp enough to shave with, so the best possible sharpeness is what we are aiming at. the limit of how sharp we can get it presumably governed by the size of the molecules of steel - at least in theory - but much more likely to limited by the size of crystals in the steel.
The reason we are trying to make the burr thinner is that in due course we will snap it off leaving the sharpest edge we can get. So we do the flat bit a bit more gently then turn over and do a single stroke on the other side a bit more gently, then over again and even more gently, and over again......and so on.
Then, to break the burr (which is too microscopic to see by now) I usually show the students to bend it backwards and forwards on a soft piece of wood until it would they think it is gone (I do it myself on my hand, but don`t like to risk then getting it wrong and cutting themselves - badly!).
To check the sharpness I use the phenomenom of reflected light. I stand beneath the strongest light I can get and look straight down onto the end of the blade. If it shows any reflected light at all it is definitely not sharp enough to do any work of any quality, and I start again.
Now, plane blades.
A plane usually serves more than one function, and so the blade need to reflect this. The blade must allow you to plane across the middle of a flat surface without leaving a step either side of the cut, and so we put the faintest curve on the sharpened edge. This means that when the plane is set properly the suts it make taper off to nothing either side.
That`s one reason for the curve, but I believe I have told you before how we can just plane slightly to one side and either correct a wrong angle of edge, or deliberately put a slope on an edge. That also required the slight curve.
Some different small ads.
I want some Locolink stuff. This is the program and disks for getting data off Amstrad PCW`s onto ordinary PC`s. firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheap laptop for writing the Other News when away from base. Contact email@example.com
Wanted pc/Acorn monitor, London area. firstname.lastname@example.org
Who knows where on the Internet I can get a good freeware or shareware score-writing program that will run on my p100 or Acorn 5000? Please contact email@example.com
(Will take LETS currencies): Industrial quality roofrack about 7 feet X 3.5 feet, made to measure for ford Sierra estate. I used it for woodwork contracting. It is the best I`ve ever seen. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Same again, about 48" by 96", but lesser quality, for Ford Granada estate or Volvo 7 series -almost free owing to poor condition - but it works. email@example.com
LETSSwing (the London all-LETS-members band) need a percussionist. Suit someone who thinks of playing and writing music as a creative, co-operative, gentle activity, who likes out-of-date pop and jazz, and who doesn`t like making a noise. We play so quiet you could have it in your livingroom without bothering the neighbours most of the time, and are looking at the possibilities for involvement in `the community` (playing in hospitals and so on). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
What, no stop press?
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