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If you’ve read Roberta’s post over on her American Mom blog then you know she’s lost quite a bit of weight and the doc’s are having trouble figuring out what’s wrong. Current thinking is Carcinoid Syndrom? Whatever that means, basically they think it’s a type of intestinal, stomach cancer, they just can’t find it.

She looks great right now, if only she can stop the loss.  That’s the problem. We hear, you look good, a lot, and it’s true. But she’s not losing on purpose and can’t stop. So, it’s up to the doc’s to try and figure out what’s up before she really gets underweight and sicker.

Roberta May 2009

Roberta May 2009


Today we had a ground breaking ceremony at Fleet Numerical, FNMOC, for a new $9 Million addition to our Ops Center and Data Center. We’re adding room to support the NPOESS system coming along in 2013. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite Systems. I’ll be working this project starting Monday June 1st.

Well, they decided to have California Representative Sam Farr speak. I guess since this project has the word “Environment” in it he had to bring up Global Warming. To describe how important and dangerous Global Warming is he used the following reference. (I’ll try to keep it as close to what he said as I can remember)

As the earth warms the permafrost and tundra will melt and all the bacteria under that permafrost and tundra will come back. Picture it this way. Take a piece of meat out of the freezer and place it on the counter. Then let that sit our and defrost. Wait a week or so and it will be a bacteria ridden mess. The bacteria was always there, it was just frozen. That’s what the permafrost and tundra will be like. That’s what Global Warming will bring.

Hmm….. It’s scary to think that our policy makers in Congress and the higher branches of our government actually believe this nonsense.

Come visit Alaska. We’re the proud state of bacteria ridden meat!

Since I had to figure my way through this I though I might share my findings.

On the first Sunday’s of the month I attend a Celtic music jam at the Ol’Factory Cafe and I keep a list of the tunes that are played so that I can practice. Well, once I have the list where do I go from there?

I start by finding the music in abc format from places like JC’s ABC Tune finder. ABC music is great because it’s so small. You can store thousands of songs in a couple of megabytes of space. These collections of tunes are referred to as tune books and can be found out on the web by a lot of different folks.

Here’s an example of a complete song. In this case “The Star of the County Down”

X: 1
T: Star Of The County Down
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
R: reel
K: Emin
B,D|E2E2 E2DE|G2G2 A2GA|B2AG E2DB,|D6 B,D|
E2E2 E2DE|G2G2 A2GA|B2AG E2E2|E6||
Bc|d2B2 B2AG|A2A2 A2GA|
B2AG E2DB,|D6 B,D|E2E2 E2DE|G2G2 A2GA|B2AG E2E2|E6||
Bc|d2B2 B2AG|A2A2 A2GA|B2AG E2DB,|D6 B,D|
E2E2 E2DE|G2G2 A2GA|B2AG E2E2|E6||

Looks weird in this format, but it’s small, very small, and easy to use.

I use programs like abc2ps and then ps2pdf to change the format from abc to postscript and then postscript to pdf.  Both of these either come with most linux flavors or are easily installable. This gives me a hard copy of the songs to practice with.

In this example I use the file above, called

/usr/bin/abc2ps >

/usr/bin/ps2pdf star.pdf

and Voila! It’s a pdf file score of the song. Heres a screen capture of the file.

Star of the County down

Star of the County down

Now that I have the hard copy I just need the mp3 to throw onto my ipod to practice with.

To do this I use the linux midi player Timidity++ and the audio converter lame. Both are either installed with most linux varieties or are easily installed.  To convert from abc to midi I just run the command

writing MIDI file star.mid

Then from midi to wav (don’t ask, you just have to)

/usr/bin/timidity -Ow -s 44100 star.mid
Playing star.mid
MIDI file: star.mid
Format: 0  Tracks: 1  Divisions: 480
Sequence: Star Of The County Down
Output star.wav
Playing time: ~51 seconds
Notes cut: 0
Notes lost totally: 0

From wav format to mp3

/usr/bin/lame star.wav star.mp3

LAME 3.98 64bits (
Using polyphase lowpass filter, transition band: 16538 Hz – 17071 Hz
Encoding star.wav to star.mp3
Encoding as 44.1 kHz j-stereo MPEG-1 Layer III (11x) 128 kbps qval=3
Frame          |  CPU time/estim | REAL time/estim | play/CPU |    ETA
1916/1916  (100%)|    0:01/    0:01|    0:01/    0:01|   25.799x|    0:00
kbps        LR    MS  %     long switch short %
128.0        0.5  99.5        96.5   2.2   1.3
Writing LAME Tag…done
ReplayGain: +10.8dB

and we’re done. I have a nice pretty score to read and an mp3 to listen to. Of course I’ve written a couple of scripts to do all of this on the fly. I just drop my abc’s into a subdirectory and run a script and a few moments later I have all of my pdf’s and mp3’s ready to go.

One side note. To practice, you want to slow down the tune. So what I’ve done is to make 3 different directories under my tunes directory. A default, an 80 beats per minute and a 100 beats per minute. I then have my convert script make three passes, one default the the next two it tosses in two control lines between the X: and T: variables in the abc . These control the beats per minute via the Q: statement and the “%%MIDI program 40” tells the abc2midi program to use the violin voice instead of the piano.


X: 1
%%MIDI program 40
Q: 1/4 = 80
T: Star Of The County Down
And there you have it. A great way to get the music to practice with.

More in the Fridge

If anyone gets up to Missoula Montana they need to swing by the Big Sky Brewery and say hello to Bjorn and the crew for me.

For The Fallen
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill; Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

We love and miss you John.

Staff Sargeant John L. Hartman Jr.

KIA 30 November 2006

Baghdad Iraq

Farewell John

Well, I received the new valve springs and clips from CIP1 on Thursday so I started working on the engine a bit on Friday. Really tore into it this morning and now have a running and driving VW once again.

Total cost this time was $51 for the heavy duty valve springs, clips, retainers, and barrel connectors, (for the heater boxes, I lost one so needed to replace them. Plus another $7 for new fuel lines.

Total down time. 1 week. Total hours worked. Roughly 10 or 12 I imagine, what with pulling the motor, tearing it apart, replaceing all the valve springs, putting it back together and reinstalling it in the car.

It would be a heck of a lot easier if I had the right tools and wasn’t working in my driveway. Oh well, wishes vs fishes.

A salute to George Orwell.

I put this video up because I like Macs, even though I can’t afford one, and think Al Gore is a slime sucking politician preaching the hoax of Anthropogenic Global Warming.

The other day while we were driving down to Big Sur we saw a bumper sticker on the car in front of us. Instead of “Stop Global Warming” it said “Stop Continental Drift”. Roberta and I both thought that was hilarious. Understanding that we both think the human race has an equal chance of stopping either.

Well that made me go look for the bumper sticker online and while I was looking I ran across this one and I love it. It just struck my funny bone!

Here’s the one that made me go looking.

And another good one.

And finally

You have to admit there are some funny ones out there.

What takes me over an hour on my second try takes these blokes 1 minute and 4 seconds.

Okay. This is getting a bit old. I ended up buying a new carburetor on Friday so that I could get the beetle up and running. Well, I installed the carb no problem and it fired right up. Awesome! Drove it around a bit to warm the engine, did a bit of tweaking and things were going good. Drove the bug on Friday night and Saturday.

Saturday night I went to make a run down to SeaHarvest and Bang, wack wack wack wack wack. What the F@#! just happened? No power, wouldn’t run right. Nursed it home and parked the bloody thing in the driveway. Got out and listened. I could hear a metal on metal wacking noise at idle. ARE YOU FRICKEN KIDDING ME?!?!  I was so pissed I almost lit the thing on fire and called it good.

On Sunday, when I wasn’t quite as pissed, I took the valve covers off and discovered the exhaust valve on #2 cylinder had a broken valve spring. This may or may not have been a good thing. Depends on if it took anything with it. I went and grabbed some lunch, picked up my tools and 2 hours later had the motor sitting on the floor of the carport stripped down to the pistons. Looks like I was lucky in that the valve stuck in the closed position, the push rod slipped it’s moorings and wasn’t trying to force the valve down. So, no damage other than the stupid $1.95 valve spring.

I’ve ordered a full set of heavy duty, high reving, valve springs and retaining clips. Should be here by Thursday when I can put the darn thing back together again.

Do it once more Wally and see what happens. I know where a lighter is you POS, dirt sucking, grub licking, air cooled rust bucket!

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