Peter Burton's daily log, covering Peter's personal interests, e.g. jazz, travel and general grumpiness plus (occasionally) the business of Isomatic and its associate companies.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Holiday in Madrid
We are just back from a week's holiday in Madrid. We stayed at Foxa 25 suites
, near Plaza de Castilla as shown in the picture. The leaning towers have a fascination that is hard to explain in words. Madrid is busy but much more car-friendly than London. There are plenty of city centre underground car parks, all pay as you leave, accepting notes and cards and giving change. Unlike London, it was a pleasure to drive into the centre, both by day and evening. The scenery around Madrid includes mountains, near desert and several historic fortified towns. We visited Segovia, Toledo, Avila, Aranjuez and several mountain passes. Weather was sunny throughout, becoming too hot on two days.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Panama Cafe Orchestra at the Cricks
On Monday evening at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking, we again saw The Panama Cafe Orchestra
. The sweet cornet of Dave Lowe and the jazzy clarinet of John Lawes were supplemented by excellent deputy banjo/guitarist Ken Ames. We had never heard Ken on banjo before; he was one of the best we have heard. We should also mention Chris Lowe, who uses a minimal drum kit to create fine percussive effects.
Asides during the evening:
John Lawes: "I was a circuit designer in my younger days"
Regular at jazz nights Ernie: "I was too polite to walk out last week"
Another regular: "You are such a sweet couple".
Monday, May 22, 2006
Dave Allison's Alley Cats at the Saddlers Arms
On Sunday evening we saw four of Dave Allison's Alley Cats at the Saddlers Arms
, Send Marsh, Woking, Surrey. The band comprised Dave on Tenor Sax and clarinet plus trombone, bass and banjo/guitar. This was the first time we have seen them together and we were impressed. We had expected mainstream but this was dixieland jazz.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The DaVinci Code at the Guildford Odeon cinema
On Saturday evening we saw The DaVinci Code
at the Guildford Odeon cinema. Good cinematography and acting but the plot is crap. Disbelief was not suspended !
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Stanfords for maps and guides
Today we went to Stanfords
in London, arguably the world's greatest shop for maps and travel guides. We bought a Madrid pocket guide and a map of the surrounding area of Spain. We were lucky to find a parking space just across the road, although at 4 pounds per hour it was somewhat expensive. We console ourselves with the thought of how much more it would have cost to use public transport. The picture is from the past but it gives the general impression of the building.
Friday, May 19, 2006
The Big Chris Barber Band at the Epsom Playhouse
On Thursday evening we saw the Big Chris Barber Band at the Epsom Playhouse. The 11 piece band comprised: Chris Barber and Bob Hunt (trombones), Pat Halcox and Mike Henry (trumpets), Richard Exall, Tony Carter and John Defferary (reeds), Andrew Kuc (banjo and guitar), John Slaughter (blues guitar), Vic Pitt (string bass) and John Sutton (drums). They are all fine musicians, equally good in solos or 'en ensemble' for both jazz and blues. The highlight for us was the bass and drum duet 'Big Noise from Winnetka'. During the interval I congratulated Vic Pitt on his performance. I explained that the original by Bob Haggart and Ray Bauduc was my first jazz record, given to me by a jazz-loving uncle as it was my favourite from his collection. I must have been about 7 at the time and I still have that very worn 78.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
The evil of Pay and Display car parks
Over dinner with business associates, the subject of pay and display car parks arose. I stated my belief that they were evil, as nobody can be sure how long they need to park, particularly at a hospital but also for general shopping. The result is accidental overstay and being fined for an accident. Furthermore, paying in advance at a machine that does not take notes or cards and does not give change requires the exact money to already be in one's pocket; impossible to guarantee. The worst example is Swanage, where one needs 2.5 pounds in change every time.
The counter arguments were:
1) Is it not the same everywhere so we just have to accept it.
Ans. No and I don't. There is at least one pay on exit car park in Guildford and weight of public opinion forced the hospital to change too.
2) Pay on exit requires an automatic barrier.
Ans. No problem, they work fine and investment is soon recovered as the car park becomes more popular.
3) Those that live in the town centre want to discourage visitors by all possible means.
Ans. Then the town will die and become a less pleasant place to live.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Progress with circuit design
I reported last week on how I have been undertaking electronic circuit design again after a long gap. Having identified and bought the components I built a prototype and have now tested it to the point of acheiving proof of concept. Much time was wasted due to misunderstanding the detailed problems. The biggest break-through was realising that a voltage monitoring chain was connected to the wrong line on the circuit diagram.
Monday, May 15, 2006
Redwing at the Saddlers Arms
On Sunday evening we saw Redwing
at the Saddlers Arms
, Send Marsh, Woking, Surrey. The band comprised leader Kevin Scott (banjo and fine vocals), Mike Thomas (cornet & vocals), John Parsons (clarinet & vocals), Roy Stokes (trombone) and A N Other(sousaphone) with Peter Talent sitting in on trombone for two numbers. This was the first time we had seen Mike Thomas and we were very impressed.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Solar panels using photovoltaic cells (PV)
We have been thinking again about the future of the PV solar panel
business. The problem is the ever-changing models that are available. It would be good to concentrate on a few of the best types.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
The Epsom Symphony Orchestra
This evening we saw The Epsom Symphony Orchestra
performing their Spring Concert at The Epsom Playhouse
. They played Beethoven's Egmont overture, Elgar's Serenade for Strings, Mendelssohn's Scottish Symphony and the Dvorak Violin Concerto, featuring a fine performance from soloist Naoko Miyamoto
Friday, May 12, 2006
Phil Brown Swingtet at the Brewery Tap
On Thursday evening we tried a new jazz venue, The Brewery Tap
in Brentford. The Phil Brown Swingtet play there every Thursday and seemed quite shocked to see us so far from home. They played the expected full range of jazz from Bix Beiderbecke's 'Jazz Me Blues' to Charlie Parker's 'Ornithology' and Dizzy Gillespie's 'Ow!' Needless to say, we liked neither of the modern numbers. I especially liked 'Mood Indigo' from the middle era of jazz. Musicians who sat in for two numbers were Peter Clancy on Trombone and a modern jazz trumpeter named Toby. By 10:45 we were tired so, with a long journey home, we left early. I am not sure if we will return there in future as there are usually more convenient alternatives.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Experiment with transformers
Yesterday I experimented with 3 single phase transformers
, wiring them into a three phase isolating transformer arrangement. The plan was to test the feasibility before embarking on a cost exercise to compare the price of one complicated T/F versus 3 simple ones at 3 times the volume. The wiring was complex but I did get it right first time. I then thought "what would happen if someone made a single wiring error in production" so I swapped a pair of wires. All three T/Fs instantly overheated. I think we declare the plan too risky and labour-intensive for implementation in our own workshop.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Frog Island Jazz Band at the Cricks
On Monday night we saw the Frog Island Jazz Band
at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. They played many Jelly Roll Morton numbers, including a fine rendition of 'The Pearls', requested by Alan, a serious Morton fan. Someone requested 'Mood Indigo' to which they replied "sorry but we don't play anything as modern as that."
This type of band attracts hard core trad fans such as Jim. He showed himself to be no gentleman by refusing to get a chair for Jill, who was left standing at the bar until my wife Selina shamed him into doing it by attempting it herself.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The grey squirrels were not deterred by the ultrasonic rodent repeller. At least they are now frightened of me. Whereas previously they stared me out they now run for their lives before I can haul my body into the loft. What about this squirrel cull
. The picture comparing red and grey is with thanks from the same BBC web page.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
'Three' at the Kingston cinema
On Saturday evening we went to the Odeon cinema in Kingston-upon-Thames to see the new release Three
. It combines two classic plots; the eternal triangle and shipwrecked on a desert island. Enjoyable.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Back to circuit design
After many years (decades ?) away from it I am at present back to electronic circuit design. The memories keep flooding back:
1) The problem
2) A potential solution
3) Failure of that potential solution prior to any detail design
4) Repeat 2) and 3) until
5) A potential solution worthy of detailed design is found
6) In course of design it emerges that the potential solution will not work
7) Repeat 5) and 6) until potential solution reaches stage of a rough circuit design
8) Search for components to implement this first design.
That is as far as I have got this week. Electronic components do not seem to have made great strides since I last designed with them. In the 60's and 70's to be away from the game for 6 months meant that you were out of touch. Relatively, not much seems to have happened in the last decade or two.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Magna Jazz Band with 3 deps
On Thursday evening we went to the Berrylands Hotel
in Surbiton, where Brian White's Magna jazz band
performs every week. There were only three of the normal line-up, Pete Towndrow on cornet, Richard Lyons on bass and Rex Bennett on drums. The three excellent deputies were Dick Charlesworth (clarinet, tenor sax and vocals), Dave Hewett (slide and valve trombones) and Dave Herridge (keyboard). The band made a point of playing numbers in different keys from those prefeerred by Brian White. Special features were:
Sophisticated Lady with Dave Hewett playing the slide trombone beautifully;
All of me with great cornet and vocal by Pete.
The Berrylands will be closed for refurbishment for the next two weeks, so no jazz there.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Large files from graphics design people
We have reached the stage where photographers and graphic designers are swamping the world with their files. We have just received a DVD full because they would not fit on a CD. I have been trying to upload them onto our FTP site to enable everyone to access them freely and for archiving. Several are 250 Mbytes, which, at the asymmetric data rates available in the UK, take around an hour to upload. During such a long period, communication failures are likely, requiring a possible resend.
Save our planet from profligate use of data capacity !
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Phil Brown Swingtet without Phil Brown
On Monday night we saw the Phil Brown Swingtet at the Cricketers
in Horsell Birch, Woking. It was the full band but Phil Brown was ably replaced by Les Dyos on trombone. Ken Ames (guitar) was given two opportunities to show his considerable vocal vocal talents; 'Sunny Side of the Street' and 'Exactly Like You'. Colin Lewry, Roy Stokes and Peter Clancy were guests on keyboard, Trombone and bass respectively, each for two numbers. We also had a song from Wendy from South Africa.
We were pleased to see two young men enjoying the evening enormously, even requesting Glenn Miller's 'Tuxedo Junction'. The music was great throughout, although the Wayne Shorter number 'Footprints' was too modern for me.
I wonder how Phil Brown will feel to know he was not missed ?