Saturday, 29 September 2012

Spotted on Craiglist

Driving lessons wanted for sexual rewards ;) - w4m - 20 (Wrexham)

Date: 2012-09-29, 7:09PM BST

Hi,regular meets wanted. I know a few driving basics and im looking for someone to teach me in return i will be yours for a few mins depending how long ur teaching me for. I dont mind acting out your student/ driving teacher fantasies and im into most things.send me your pic and a pic of ur tool that i will need to worship to get the driving lesson.x
  • Location: Wrexham
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

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Sod that. I'm not going all the way to bloody Wrexham :)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Capcha Art

Another day, another bizarre and wonderful idea on the internet. Take Capcha words, those annoying "prove you're human" things you find on web forms, and turn them into cartoons.

Here are some that I found on

Spittle NewYork

Boileak Spreads

Unseemly Spokesman

 Condensate Tonsel

 You're Bleflafl

 Premosh 1682

 Partial $100-million

Never Waddling

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Monday, 24 September 2012

Large Island spotted in small pond

Like the Brigadoon post I made last year, there's more to this than mets the eye.

Why would Great Britain be such a poor quality? I had no issues with my internet when I grabbed this pic. Why is the history bar open? Can it be that Great Britain is an ephemeral phenomenon? And why is it pictured to the bottom right? What's out of shot?

In short, if you're not from these shores, and you're younger than maybe 35, you probably won't have what you need to work this one out.

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Elephant spotted in Dee Estuary

I used to live just near the Dee Marshes. I saw sheep, oystercatchers, herons and geese. I never saw this elephant though.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Anger is an Energy

I've been digging and weeding and planting for several hours each day for the last few days. It's physically a little bit demanding, and time consuming, but it doesn't need a great deal of thought.

So I've been alone with my thoughts, and that conspiracy with my inner world happened to take place at a time when I was angry.

That anger is both a positive and a negative thing. It's positive because it's a motivational rocket. It's negative because it's blinding.

When I'm in it's midst, I don't really see it for what it is. I over react. I fly off the handle. In retrospect, I find myself regretting my actions. In life I mean, not just today.

So here's what happened:

A few weeks ago, we had a fire on the plot. One of our two sheds was burned down. We lost almost all of our tools. We lost our wheelbarrow and our hosepipe. There was a gap, and then guilt made me return to the allotment. Much of the mess had been cleared up. What was left of the corrugated metal shed, I made into a fence seperating us from our neighbour. Let's call her Eve.

There's a bit of history between us and Eve. A bit of office politics. When we first took on the plot, she was friendly, and offered to help us in any way she could. We'd just acquired something that we'd never had before, and wanted to do it ourselves. It seemed to us that she took our rejection as a personal snub. It didn't help that she has a well established plot. A place for everything, and everything in it's place. She has tea making facilities, gutters leading water from her shed rooves into butts, all sorts of plexiglass structures and greenhouses. It's both spick and span.

We, on the other hand, have been slipshod, lackadaisical, inept. For all our hard work, our plot is generally far more shambolic. We had a glassless greenhouse that never got glazed. After a year, Eve asked the Site Secretary if she could have it, and the site secretary, without our consent or cognisance, gave it to her.

We rarely meet. Eve is up at the crack of dawn. By the time we get our arses down there, she's long finished.

A few months ago, Eve planted a line of Willow saplings against the border of our plots. Willows grow quickly. It was a pointed gesture, but also quite an aggressive thing to do. The willow branches out and encroaches onto our side.

She does have some right to feel aggrieved. Those with dirty plots broadcast weed seeds to their neighbours.

When I went to the plot a few days ago, I used the remaining corrugated metal from our shed to reinforce the boundary between us. I returned the next day to find it flat on the ground. It has been a windy few days, and the wind could easily have blown the sheets of metal over. I rebuilt it, but reinforced it by putting a few stakes into the soil behind it. And when I went today, it was all flattened again. It could still be the wind, but the likelihood of it being an act of malice is much greater. I rebuilt it, and reinforced it still further. If it's horizontal tomorrow, there can be little doubt that she's destroying structures on my plot.

Part of my destroyed shed has somehow ended up as a structural part of her plot. It bounds a pile of horse manure. How did it get there? Did the horse manure fairy leave it under her pillow?

Of course this is petty. What does it matter if she doesn't like my fence? or that she'd obtained a bit of a burned shed? Even if she did nick it.

Eve has a sister who also has a plot in a different part of the site. They would like our plot. I get the feeling that when we didn't visit the allotments for a few weeks, they were secretly hoping that we'd give it up, and that they'd be able to take it over.
 The site secretary has previously sided with them against our wishes, and I wouldn't put it past her to pull what strings she could to get us off the plot.

Such were my thoughts this afternoon, as I toiled amidst the dockleaves and dandelions. Revenge fantasies ran through my mind. I would go really early, and video her knocking down my fence. Just as an insurance policy. I still might. I ran through imaginary conversations with her and with the site secretary in which I stated my position eloquantly and forcefully. Over and over again. Ah the Deep Joy of the Self Righteous.

But also, I was determined that I wasn't going to give up. The rationalé, "I'm going to work my socks off so that you don't get it" is entirely negative, but it's effective. I really do intend to keep this plot.

Ultimately, if I do avoid losing my allotment, it's going to be because I've put in a lot of work turning it into a cultivated plot. Not because I've won a pointless battle with a neighbour.

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Fear of Flying

I've been digging and weeding and planting for several hours each day for the last few days. It's physically a little bit demanding, and time consuming, but it doesn't need a great deal of thought.

So I've been alone with my thoughts, and that conspiracy with my inner world happened to take place at a time when one of my pupils was repeatedly cancelling her lessons. She's not the first to have done so, of course, and will not be the last, but as I dug and pulled, I pondered what it was that made pupils who are progressing well suddenly start behaving like they have no real interest in learning.

What follows is cod psychology, but please bear with me. I'm sure some learned people would concur, using longer words.

First of all, let me introduce you to something called Cognitive Dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance occurs when someone's self image doesn't match their environment. A straightforward example is that of a smoker who packs up the cigs.

The smoker's inner self is that of a smoker. When the thought, "I want a cigarette" occurs, the response is to pick up a cigarette and smoke it. When he or she decides to replace that automatic response to that thought with a veto, it's uncomfortable. It doesn't fit. It takes a mental effort.

So take a person who lacks self confidence. One with a poor self image. Train them to be successful in a particular endeavour. Suddenly this person, who sees themselves as a failure, is brought up against the fact that they're succeeding in something. It should be a nice feeling, but it isn't always. The reason being cognitive dissonance.

We're not rational creatures. We want to feel comfortable within ourselves. And some people are more comfortable with the familiar fuckups than with the unfamiliar success. So much so that in some cases they do what they can to make sure they mess it up.

Trouble is, from my point of view, the better I teach them, the more likely it is that they're going to fuck me about.

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recollect yourself!

I was wondering what would happen if for some reason, a person had to have a body part amputated, and they decided they wanted to keep it. Perhaps have it stuffed and mounted in a glass case above the fireplace.

Would they be allowed to? After all, what's more theirs to keep than a bit of their own body?

Anyway, here's an idea for Art. With a capital A.

Artist creates virtual self by saving any bits of self that become seperated from self, and puts them into some sort of mould or something. Perhaps starting with an Anthony Gormley style body cast, into which is put any relevent material in something like the appropriate place.

Personally, I've lost quite a few teeth now. They're non-renewable (pretty much)

Finger and toenails are renewable.Scabs are renewable. Skin is renewable.  Would that putative artist collect dust and line the cast with it?

What about snot? shit? piss? tears? sweat? The molecules of which these things are comprised often were a physical part of the person that produced them. I suppose a line would have to be drawn somewhere.

I've read that the entire body gradually replaces itself with new stuff over time. After 7 years, all the bits of me that were me as a 37 year old are gone, and here I am as a 44 year old. Still got bones skin balls brains chromosomes and Islets of Langerhans, but they're all now comprised of different atoms. I suspect that's an overstatement. If the half life of an element is a month, and you have 13 stones of it, some of it is going to remain undecayed for a long long time.

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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It's a thin line between love and hate.

 I have a love hate relationship with the Allotment.

 When I'm there, I don't want to give it up. I don't always enjoy the work, but I like having this space in which we can grow stuff. It's ours, for better or worse. When I'm not there, I struggle to find the motivation to go there.

There are reasons for this. And it's not all about me.

You see, it's always really been Bren's allotment. Not "ours". Hers. I had little say in what happened there. I just did a bit of the donkey work. At least at first. Now, she's busy with the shop, and has no time. And it's become more a source of stress for her than anything, anyway. We don't get on that well with one of our immediate neighbours. Or with the guy that runs the site. So we were increasingly walking into a headwind. 

And then of course, there was the fire.

Bren hasn't been back since, and apart from one brief visit to have a look at the damage and take some pictures, neither have I. Until what is now yesterday.

The catalyst was a round of golf with my Dad. I'd been feeling increasingly guilty about just leaving it anyway. I'd left some plants in the remaining shed, and without water they would be dying. Would you like the death of 3 baby aubergine plants on your conscience??? Anyway, I played golf with my dad on a course called Moss Valley, near Wrexham. A rugged and contoured 9 hole course on some reclaimed coliery tips. It's a nice course, and far more challenging than my local municipal. And as I went around, I found wild blackberries. Perfectly ripe they were, and sweet. I couldn't take my mind off all the stuff we'd left to just rot. 

I got back too late to do anything that day. We got a bit lost in the back roads between Wrexham and Mold. Some beautiful driving, but not conducive to getting home.

Today though (I won't keep on belabouring the after midnight bit. It's today until I get out of bed in the morning) I had a gap of about 5 hours between lessons. I picked up the keys and went down there with some bags.

Someone had cleared much of the rusty corrugated metal that was strewn about following the fire. The bit where our shed used to be was pretty much just ceramic tiles. A few weeds poking through, but clear enough. Much of the plot has become pretty overgrown, as you might expect when we've done no weeding for a month, but if the weeds have been growing, so have the things we planted.

First thing I did was put the dessicated aubergines into a bucket of water. I gave then a good soak, then took them back out. I don't suppose they'll survive, but at least I've given them a fighting chance. Then on with the gloves and wellies, and a good look at what needed doing. We had loads of massive (2 feet!!!) string beans at the very front of the plot. I picked them and put them in a carrier bag. the next obvious thing was towards the back of the plot. Our courgettes have become massive. Our noodle squashes were massive too. I twisted them off their stems, found a sturdy nylon bag and bunged them all in. I could hardly lift the bag and I couldn't move it more than a couple of feet at a time without putting it back down with a thud and a gasp. Ken, the guy next door who we do get on OK with arrived at that point, and helped me carry it to the end of the plot, ready for me to bring the car down. We discussed burned sheds and he kindly lent me a garden fork.

Until that point, the entire range of tools at my disposal was a small hand trowel, a pair of shears, and some scissors.

Thus armed, I went in search of further prey.

The potatoes had died right back so it was hard to find them, but by digging over pretty much the whole of the beds, I got a pretty hefty bunch of Pink lady fairapple spuds (little knobbly ones,  ideal for boiling, seve with a knob of butter) and a few rogue plants that we'd missed last year. The overwintering onions were a waste of effort. Hardly bigger than when they were planted. I grabbed a few of the biggest and left the rest.

There were many hundreds of raspberries and blackberries ripe on their canes. I wanted them to be as fresh as possible so I left them, intending to do them in the last half hour. Meanwhile, I harvested sweetcorn, and the more successful onions from the back of the plot.

This last bit was done in a heavy shower of rain. From that point on, there were interludes of dry, but with time going by, I decided to pretty much call it a day.

Before I left though, I cut some sweet peas. There were loads of them in flower and I only took a fraction of what was available. 

So I put in a shift. I grafted. And I enjoyed it. Bren wants to give it up. I don't.

So the solution is pretty clear. I take on responsibility for it. If it doesn't happen, then it's my responsibility. She can come when she has time and chop back the nettles for me. I shall bring her flowers and raspberries.

Tonight we had potatoes, string beans and sweetcorn (with a veggie burger each). The taters were fine. The beans were a bit tough. The sweetcorn was as nice as any sweetcorn I've ever tasted.

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Sunday, 16 September 2012

People and places

Just zoomed in pretty much at random to a place in Denmark called...


So what other amusing cross overs between given names and placenames can be found?

Of course, adding the prefix, St or Saint would give many hundreds of such places, but that's too easy.

I started with Paul. Ah, vanity.

With a bit of help not only from Google Earth (which got confused with commercial premises) I found three places.

One in Cornwall, (is that a lower case "r" at the top of the picture???)

One in Idaho,

and one in Cape Verde. This last one is not so much a place as an area. It covers about a third of the island. Google Earth pinpoints the bleak and rocky enscarpments of a mountain.

I think Verde means "green". Verdant. Verdigris.

Liars! They'll be calling that massive island in the arctic, "Greenland" next.

OK, well still keeping things close to home, I bet there's no place on Earth called Brenda.

Sure enough, asking Google Earth sends me off to Brenda's Schoolwear, in Frimley and Farnborough.

Might have more luck with "Patricia". My Mum's called Patricia.

Yes. Two of them, in Texas and Alberta. Both small and in the middle of nowhere by the looks of things.

At least she got somewhere, unlike Brenda.

Obviously, there are many many names, and this post is going to get very long and boring very quickly if I do everything from aaron to Zoe so I'm limiting it to just my nearest and dearest.

So Frederick.

There are ten of them! In Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Virginia, and two sounds, one in Alaska, and one in British Columbia. The one in Michigan is a ghost town.

Here's the Alaska one.

Is there a place called Kathleen? Well yes. 4 of them. Sibling rivalry dictates that I should be disgruntled. My sister has 33% more places sharing her name than I do. Hers are in Georgia, Florida, Western Australia and an island in Tasmania.

something has come up that I need to deal with, so I'm posting this as is for now.

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Friday, 14 September 2012

Cops falsified evidence and blamed the victims with the aid of the right wing press? Shock horror!

Coz they've never done it before or since now have they?

Drunken fans forced their way in? Presumably they vaulted the barriers, like Jean Charles Menzes.

Why the fuck are people not more angry?

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Poll for Americans

Hi there, Americans. Obviously this is just a thought experiment. It seems somewhat unlikely that you'd ever be presented with the choice offered here in real life, but...

It's an election year. You have to pick some person to be your president. Gone are the usual tribal options. There are no republicans or democrats. Your choice is between three independents.

The first is an Atheist.
The second is a Communist
The third is a Pacifist.

So who gets your vote?

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

redesign goes live

I was contacted by Living social, a daily deal website, offering a slot this month.

Things have been fairly quiet here so I decided to go with it. I met with their rep a couple of days ago, then was informed the offer would be running today, the 13th September.

Crikey! Had to get cracking with the website. So that's what I've been up to this evening.

It's not perfect. Site navigation is not as straightforward as the old site, and there are more pages. Most of those pages have a "back to home page" link at the bottom. A bit clunky, but adequate.

Overall, the new version has a coherent and bright look and feel. With just one optimised background image, it loads fairly quickly. I managed to get things to position themselves where I wanted them to be, regardless of monitor resolution by using a table of sorts. A table with 1 cell. It works. I don't yet understand html well enough to do such things without resorting to such methods but ultimately, neither tables or framesets are the way to go.

Feel free to go take a look by clicking on the links below.

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Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Justice for the 96

Todays events were only made possible by the tenacious campaigning of a whole bunch of disparate people. Without it, the Police and Politicians would have let the lies fester.

Not  a single officer was charged with any offense. Yet clearly the course of justice was not just perverted but knotted into a bundle and shat upon.


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2,000 miles

18 days after hitting the 1k mark, the car has done 2,000 miles.

It had actually done 2005 before I noticed. Always a possibility when I'm not the only one driving it.

2,000 miles in almost exactly a month. That's 24,000 a year. Inside the 25,000 I'm entitled to do before I get penalised.

The first 1k was done at an average speed of 19 miles per hour. The average mpg was 50.4

The second 1k was done at an average speed of 21mph. The average mpg was 56.4

So the cumulative average speed over the first 2,000 miles was 20 miles per hour.

The cumulative distance per gallon was 53.4mpg.

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Tuesday, 11 September 2012

come sweet slumber, enshroud me in thy purple cloak.

Sleep problems. Without alcohol I feel, I will not be able to get to sleep. An excuse. A factor. A reason.       
There are lots of practical things to help. Not doing immersive engaging things like surfing the net being one    of them. Last night I didn't drink but I stayed up until 7 in the morning. At 8 my alarm went off, and at 815 I   got out of bed.                                                                                                                                             
So I hope I can sleep tonight. I rather imagine I can.                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                                                    I'm currently reading a book called Cloud Atlas. It's a series of short stories, each connected to the previous. I'm quite enjoying it, so I'm going to switch off the PC, go to bed and read until my eyelids droop. Like in the olden days before computers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
I used to read and read and read when I was a kid. My mum and dad would come up and tell me it was        time to sleep, then when they were back downstairs I would turn the light back on and read some more. I'd   get shouted at, and my dad would take the bulb out of the lamp. I'd use a torch instead and read until I heard the theme music to News at Ten.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                                                    Not something I can do now really. When Bren goes to bed it's to sleep, so if I read, it keeps her awake.      
                                                                                                                                                                    So I'm going to read now, and luxuriate in the experience.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                    Nighty night.                                                                                                                                                

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Monday, 10 September 2012

An accident waiting to happen...

Long time readers of this blog will no doubt have read about certain things, joined up the dots, and waited for the shit to hit the fan.

So when someone with an alcohol problem discovers the means to produce for himself, gallons of cheap and potent booze, well, you can see where I'm going with this, can't you?

And of course, so can I. In fact, I've taken steps to try to mitigate the issue by giving away 2/3rds of my equipment. 3 demijohns to my stepson, Mike, along with everything he needs to get started, and 3 demijohns to my friend Dave, down in Aylesbury.

That left just 3 demijohns for me, all of which were full.

What's left would comfortably fit in one of them. I've been drinking far too much, far too often, and I really do need to bring it under control. It's doing me no good at all.

An increase in military activity.

We regularly get planes flying nearbye. Mainly commerical traffic to John Lennon International, but also other bits and pieces, - light aircraft coming and giong, helicopters going to and from the gas rigs in Liverpool bay. There's a lot less of them now. Presumably the gas rigs are depleted, or possibly they now go from a more convenient airport, like perhaps Blackpool maybe.

And we get fast jets. The RAF base in Valley, Anglesey is only about 60 miles away as the Hawk flies. They follow a course up the middle of the Mersey. usually northwards an out into the Irish sea. They travel a lot faster than the 737's and Bombardiers that constitute most of the JLIA traffic. They seem to come from nowhere, they flash by, and they're gone in moments.

And there's been quite a lot more of it going on over the last couple of weeks, unless I'm very much mistaken.

I can't help feeling that another war is coming. If so, it will almost certainly be with Iran, will be agressively pursued following some pretext or other, and like the Iraq conflict, it will turn into a mess that helps Iranian people not at all.

Another reason of course why Blair and Bush should be banked up in the chokey for the rest of their natural lives. There's no deterrent to the current shower of shit doing exctly the saem thing.

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I appear to be alienating most of my friends and allies.

I wonder where it will end.

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Friday, 7 September 2012

The Secret of my success.

The name's Sharp.

Paul Sharp.

Shaken but not stirred. Licensed to give professional driving tuition.

So let's suppose you're a struggling science fiction author. A much maligned profession, but driven by some obscure inner compulsion, you've taken up the pen.

Your goal? To write into existance an upstanding protagonist.  Faster than a speeding bullet! Able to jump taqll building in a single bound. Yet gentle. Loves family and freedom and the American Way.

Well you need to take this simple fact into account.

Short names are cooler than polysyllabic ones.

See what I did there? The "Short Names" bit is honest, straightforward, trustworthy, concise. The "polysyllabic" is exclusive, geeky, jargon.

So don't call your cool protagonist "Engelbert Humperdinck" or "Alexander Hergensheimer" or "Margaret Thatcher"

Call him or her something snappy, like "Zip Wham!" or "Steve Grok"! or similar.

Still don't believe me? I bet you know someone who's name is David or Victoria or Andrew or Karen.

And  if you do, I bet you normally refer to them in the diminutive, Dave, Vicky, And, Kaz.

 So if you want to be cool, I recommend that you change your long names into short.

Sadly of course, there are always exceptions that prove the rule. While George Bush is undoubtedly the epitome of cool, Kate Bush is of course anything but.

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Thursday, 6 September 2012

paul sharp school of motoring - better by design!

I think this is pretty much the final design, although the precise wording may change slightly.

This started out as a landscape format image, and I did some work adding sky and road to the top and bottom to turn it into a portrait format. I'm really pleased with how well this has worked out, and that background image will now be used on my website, and business and marketing stationery.

Update: Taken first tentative steps towards a complete ovehaul of website based on above strategy.

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Sunday, 2 September 2012


The time? Some time around 1800. The dawn of a new century. Somewhere, Beethoven is composing the opening bars to his 5th symphony.

Dum dum dum daaaaah!

the dramatic phrase rings out. Then. A pause.

Dum dum dum... daaaaahhh!!!

Another! And although different, it's unmistakeably a close sibling of the first phrase.

Other instruments begin to take up the phrase. Now in come the violins. And now the cellos.

The whole evolves but contains an internal consistency through the repetition and evolution of a short and simple (4 notes!) phrase. One hell of a hook.

Like Morse code, or DNA, the sequential placing of simple elements leads to complexity.

Like a jigsaw. On the odd occasion I've seen classical music live, I've always been struck by how much the phrase "living machine" springs into my head. All that sawing and plucking and banging and blowing is somehow the agent of a coherent and beautiful, similtaneously kinetic and auditory, 4 dimensional sculpture.

There is a point to all this.

Modern technology makes it easy to make your own musical jigsaws. People have been splicing tape to the beat of a metronome for close to a century. 21st century technology makes it easy for just about everyone to make their own musical jigsaws, from the comfort of their own home. I've been doing it for years. Farting around. Making sonic textures that fitted together in some way or other, for better or worse. Generally the results are repetitive, evolutionary, inward looking. I don't make songs. I make music.

I suppose that sounds a bit pompous, but that just is the way things are. I don't have the self confidence to sing. Another manifestation of mild autism perhaps.

By a convoluted process, I ended up with a load of short clips of music, all of which were at a tempo of 96 beats per minute. That's the effective speed of the effects settings I use most frequently on my multi-effects box. A search on the internet for 96bpm gave me a whole load of bits and bobs, which I then overlaid using the wave studio software that came with my soundcard.

But then a thought struck me!

This is just random shit. I can use anything. The key is to embrace the method. A whole big bag of any old sounds, as long as they follow the rules. Put perhaps 5 layers into place and the first 5 bars are a crescendo of increasing complexity. Part of the skill in doing this would presumably be to stop it all becoming muddied and incoherent. (unless I want it to be muddied and incoherent of course)

so if you're a musician and you're reading this, please feel free to send me a sample.

the sample MUST:

  • Loop to itself. A bar at 96 beats per minute is 5,000 milliseconds. If your sample is some multiple of that, then it's going to tesselate.
  • Be 96 beats per minute

the sample CAN:

  • Be in any key
  • Be any length, as long as it follows the must do rules above.
  • Be any genre or style. Percussive, melodious, loud, quiet, rock, lullaby. 

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