The Sewer.

4 12 2015
So, My sewer is blocking up again.
I’ll probably need to get the plumbers out, as I do each year, to clean it out with the snake.
Unless the 100+ year old pipes have finally caved in.
They put a camera down there and saw mud piling up, and tree roots from the giant Elm in our backyard.
I don’t want to cut down the Elm, isn’t that the problem with the world? cut down all the trees and get those pests out of the way and everything will be hunky dory?
The tree is home to lots of animals too, I like that, plus it keeps the extreme heat off of my house in summer.
If the pipes have caved in, which is happening at the far end of my yard, I’m in real trouble, as I can’t afford to fix it at all, However I asked a no dig company about it, and they were the ones who put the camera down there. They quoted $10K which is still out of my league.
I have read about flushless toilets, which might work, and even a grey water system might be an alternative, but is still going to cost a fortune.
I’m desperate, and have even considered jerry-rigging it if it all goes to crap… which it does, being a sewer.
No I cannot move, I’ve lived here for 50 years, it’s my home.

Coming along nicely.

2 12 2015

It’s taken me till the age of 50 to do anything about it, and I mean picking up a serious musical instrument and learning how to play it.

Not that I’m ever going to end up in a rock band, Kids think anyone above twenty is about ready for a nursing home, I remember I did too.

One of my favourite records in my pre-teen years was Abba’s “Dancing Queen” The Woman in question, according to the lyrics, was “Young and sweet, only seventeen” Only seventeen!, I thought, Crikey! I think I was about twelve at the time.

But I have no aspirations to wind up in a band, I just want to learn how to do it before I croak, just for myself, for entirely my own reasons.

You may have read how I had been writing again, Well I was writing about a band, I have a fair bit of it worked out but the main character was a guitar player… but I had no idea about guitars, so to solve that issue, I bought one recently from Ebay.

Of course I wanted to learn too, but that seemed a pipe-dream, Of course I could go out and get a teacher, but it could end up like being a gym membership, nothing but good intentions.

I needed encouragement, I needed to play with something.

A friend suggested Rocksmith, so I looked into it. Rocksmith is a video game, much like Guitar Hero, except instead of pretending to play a guitar, it’s a controller which looks like a guitar, you plug a real electric guitar into your computer or console, then off you go for the ride of your life.

I’m a notorious video game hater, I see them as superficial bullshit, but this, ahh… well if you’re good at this, it means that you can also play the guitar, what’s not to love?

So I got it, thinking apprehensive, but excited, me… excited about a game!

So there I sat with my guitar, it felt weird.

A guitar was something a Rock God would have, not the likes of me.

It felt as though I’d woken up one morning and discovered that all my clothes were kilts, and I’d have to wear them in public.

No, there’s nothing wrong with a kilt, plenty of blokes wear them, and I reckon my boys would prefer to hang freely rather than be corrupted by tight jeans.

I felt stupid.

But I’ve been picking the thing up and playing for about an hour each day  and I’m beginning to feel “one” with my instrument, I’m no longer afraid of it, it has become a normal part of my routine.

Yes, Yes, I CAN play it, nowhere nearly as well as Brian May or Eric Clapton of course, but I can play it to a point where now and then I feel a little shocked, and say “Wow, I did that!”

I’ve had a few moments where I’ve grumbled and thought I’d give it up, but it’s very tempting to go back and have another crack, and I do.

Chords are my main stumbling block, it’s like I have too many fingers and don’t know where they ought to go, and I have avoided playing them, thus restricting my score, but I’m tinkering with them now and I seem to be improving slowly and surely.

While Rocksmith is brilliant, it shouldn’t be your only teacher. Talking with more experienced guitar players certainly helps and you can find them on various forums supporting Rocksmith players.

“Rocksmith Nation” on Facebook, is a great one, and very active too.

You’ll not only get help with Rocksmith, but find out about essential gear too… guitars, amps, cases, strings, you name it. is an invaluable site for anyone who wants to learn to play guitar,  Justin is a guitar teacher based in the UK, who gives weekly lessons and tips. The site is free to use, but relies on donations to keep it going.

Rocksmith can be bought in several different forms.

As a download from Steam for Computers and Consoles.

As A DVD pack

As a DVD pack and Cable

Or as a DVD pack, with cable and Epiphone guitar.

More cables can be bought should one break or, if you want to try out Rocksmith’s two player mode.

While I’m still a beginner, I honestly never thought I’d be half as good as I am on guitar right now, “Rocksmith 2014” to give it it’s full title, is a truly remarkable video game, If you’ve ever thought about playing a guitar but thought you could never learn, give this a shot.

Wolfie Rankin.