Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's all about me

So what am I doing now that I have cut down on my volunteer advocacy for war veterans, stopped doing Men’s Health with DVA; and stopped doing the treasurer’s job at the local RSL sub branch?

Well I did a bit of viewing on the Crime channel on Austar, but you can only watch so many murders until you start to formulate a plan about trying to commit the perfect murder.  You see the mistakes these guys make and you wonder how they could be so stupid.

But you would have to murder someone to prove your theory or it is just that, a theory.  A few years ago I had to get rid of our pet rabbit.  It was a large male and he started to get pretty aggressive being on his own, as you can understand.  The fact that the female rabbit died after giving birth to a litter and the litter subsequently disappearing (even the pet shop didn’t want them), probably also played on his mind.

This guy would dig burrows all around the yard and then fill them in.  Often he would get out of the yard.  One day he was about 100 yards away when I came home.  I blocked off all the entrances that I thought he could use, but the next day, there he was digging more burrows.

His time was up.  I built a little corral between the shed, the fence and the wall of the house and herded him in there.  The fenced in area was probably three metres by three metres square. The plan was to hit him over the head with a shovel.  So just picture me with a long handed shovel and an angry rabbit ready to duel to the death!  I dunno how many times I swung at that rabbit but he kept ducking and weaving.  I’m sure he was even growling at me.  But I managed to triumph in the end.

But I was spent.  Just knocking an ugly old rabbit on the head had me in a lather of sweat and I was puffing and panting.  If the Police came now and asked me what happened I would confess everything.  I told Paula that I’d be no good killing someone and then acting normal.  How do those guys do it?

But I digress.

I bought a Yamaha keyboard.  Yep, I is gonna make music!  I dabbled a few times in the past with the piano but I found the theory a little overwhelming.  I am a dumb grunt after all.  Somehow I just didn’t get it, and I could not understand the pattern on the piano and why it was set out the way it is.

I recall having the same problem with typing.  Why is the qwerty keyboard set out the way it is?  I asked many people this and I think they considered me a pest.  I was told that the layout enabled the quickest use of the typewriter, but the opposite is the case.  

The actual layout was designed to slow down the typist and to ensure that the most used keys were separated from each other.  This way the keys did not get tangled as the levers moved forward and pressed onto the ribbon. I remember doing this often as a kid.

I am a terrible student.  If you ask an experienced typist why the keys are arranged the way they are and that person doesn’t have a clue, it makes them look a little foolish because they can’t answer a simple question. I get labelled a trouble maker.

Maybe it's the way I learn.  I must be different from everyone else, although I like the Army system of training.  First you get a complete demo of what the lesson covers.  Then it is taught in stages.  As each stage is completed you move onto the next stage.  At the end of the lesson you are  doing what they set out to teach you.  

There are exceptions of course.  Take navigation f’instance.  The first few lessons are on theory in the classroom, laying down the foundations to successful navigation in the field.  The final lesson culminates in students' completing a nav. data sheet.  Most dumb grunts are terrible confused by now.

I’d take these dumb grunts into the field and allow them to get a feel for the area they are in.  I’d show them how to navigate with just a map and using map to ground.  The Army doesn’t teach navigation this way.  

This is how I'd do it.  First orientate the map to the ground with the help of natural features and the position of the sun.  Generally speaking at noon the shadows face south, you can work the other directions out from there, and make adjustment depending upon whether it was morning or afternoon.  

The first task is to move to a knoll. I'd identify where we are and where the knoll is on the map and generally work out a rough angle. I’d draw a line in the dirt at the same general angle and use the shadows from the trees to guide us.  If you are having problems understanding this then you are too intelligent.

The next step is to work out the distance to the knoll by using the grid squares on the map (one grid line is 1,000 metres).  They had to check the distance they travel by pacing.  I'd show them how to count each time their left leg hits the ground.  When they get up to 70 paces they had tie a knot in a piece of string attached to their webbing.  This denotes 100 metres, three knots, three hundred metres.  You get the picture?

Well after 10 minutes these guys are getting the hang of it.  They didn’t have to worry about following a compass, all they had to do was follow the angle of the shadows, count paces and tie knots.  Soon they were navigating through the bush with confidence.  Later I would show them more theory so they could navigate at night using a compass.

OK we know now that I am a genius.

I dunno who designed the theory of music.  Most people just wanna pick up an instrument and start making some noise.  But the experts say you must know the theory so you can play properly.  They may well be right.  This probably works for most people but it was too hard for me, so I gave up a couple of times.  I met a woman once who studied piano for ten years and said she couldn’t play anything.  I could see that happening to me.

I recently watched a television series on the history of music.  The presenter, an English guy, was obviously talented and he piqued my interest in piano again.  I went onto YouTube and checked out the beginner lessons on piano.  You wanna check out some of these guys. 

“Easy lessons.” 

Cue some ugly guy showing off on the piano about how good he is.  Then the video cuts to showing you how to play a couple of chords; and he completes his lesson with an ad about how to buy stuff from him.  

And on and on it went.

Then I found this guy.

This is exactly what I was looking for.  A guy who knows his stuff and wants to pass on his knowledge about how easy it is to play the piano.  He talks at a beginner level, and doesn't big note himself by showing off how good he is.  He is focused on teaching.

I sent him an email enquiring about his whiteboard lessons.  He answered me the very next day and I have two DVDs on their way to me from the US.

While waiting for them to arrive, I am dabbling a little bit with his lessons on You Tube and I am enjoying every minute of it.  He even has a video of finger lessons.  My fingers are a bit sore at the moment, but hey, no pain, no gain.

I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, check out this kid!


  1. Better idea to teach navigation - give the diggers sheep counters. There'd be no need for knotted string....
    As for the music - buy a ukelele - only four strings.

  2. BZZZZTTTT! Fail 173, You cannot read sheep counters at night, but you can feel the knots in the string.

  3. Funny you should mention sheep counters - that's what we used. Whoever was navigating would tape one to their rifle where it wouldn't get in the way. I don't remember much trouble using them at night - with a bit of moon, you could make out the numbers without a torch.

    Before learning nav, we walked a measured 100 metres and counted the number of paces we took. I still know that I do 120 paces to 100 metres.

  4. Yeah 120 paces to 100 metres is about average BOAB, I do 140 paces to 100 metres, or I used to before arthritis. It must be my short legs due to some Chinese ancestry.