Thursday, 23 October 2014

Temple Blocks...

I am prone to compulsion. I become single-minded in pursuit of my goal.

I've developed an unhealthy interest in the history of the drum kit. How did it get to look like that? What led to that configuration?

More or less like this:

Generic Drum Kit

It starts with the demise of the marching band where Bass Drum, Cymbal, and Snare Drum would each have been played by individual performers. Not having to march means the three elements could be combined and played by one person. Probably the same person who plays the drums in most young people's cars.

Into the early part of the 20th century the sit-down kit starts to appear in the form of the 'Contraption' or 'Trap' kit which augments the basic three elements with anything that would make a noise.

Many of the anythings seem to have been Asian in origin. The toms appear to be traditional 19th century Xiao Tanggu or ceremonial hall drums annnnnnd, temple blocks.

I bought a cheap (poor quality) temple block from eBay to add to my collection of things that make good noises. It wasn't enough...

Just for the cheap-thrill of bidding to lose I bid on a set of four 'antique' temple blocks. I was convinced some drummer would spot them and snap them up so I only bid £20 knowing it was a ridiculously low amount for items of such rarity..

So, I won four 'antique' temple blocks.

Here's what the seller had to say about them:

Four genuine Chinese Temple Blocks with 3 beaters, complete with original Chinese cardboard box. I bought these items from an antique shop in Zhouzhuang, an ancient residential area of China which has a profound cultural background, during a tour of mainland China in July 1999.

The blocks are carved from wood and each have a distinctive emblem carved on the top and bottom surfaces that looks like two fishes.

The sizes of the blocks are 120mmWide/ 300mm deep, 100mmW/95mm D, 80mm W/ 80mm D and 50mm W/55mm D.

The four temple blocks each have a quite unique sound, ( a recording of the sounds they make can be emailed to you on request ) and they are a dream find for any discerning percussionist. As well as being a fine addition to a percussionists kit, these items could equally be acceptable as a bric-a-brac fine collectors item.

One of them has a sticker on it that reads '¥12'... hmmmm.

Of course, for them to be used to their full effect, they needed a dedicated stand to mount them in.

They now look like this:

These have been the source of much hilarity for both Linda and myself.

Here's what they sound like...

A full set of five 'pro' temple blocks costs £150....


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Condition: 'So, How Are You Doing?' & Supervision Today: 'I'm Fine Thanks'

I 'missed' the check-up appointment I was supposed to attend in February. It was during the dark-age of my tenure at the college. My non-attendance was unintentional. I simply forgot about it.

I attended an appointment today. This appointment was arranged for me, by my nurse, after a recent 'episode' that caused me to take a week off work.

The examination was routine. Testing of reflexes and responses to stimuli. There was a good deal of laughter. It's refreshing to know I still can't stop myself laughing when someone tickles the soles of my feet.

I was 'pricked' all over with 'a sharp object', which I was not allowed to see, which produced another bout of laughter.

I had an ENORMOUS tuning fork applied to various areas. This wasn't as amusing, especially when it got to the tops of my feet and my toes. I couldn't feel it.

So, I can still feel small, sharp things, but not larger, flatter things that vibrate.

Examination over we do the talking bit...

I was asked why I'd cancelled my appointment at the disease modification therapy clinic. I was asked if I'd reconsidered my objection to a lumber-puncture. It was pointed out that I still hadn't given the blood samples I'd been requested to supply.

I cancelled my appointment at the DMT clinic because it seemed a bit of a waste of time. The treatment options are all ludicrously expensive for the NHS and, because they only prevent around 30% of relapses, not appropriate for the way things are going for me at the moment. My last serious relapse, I have to remind myself, was 2012.

The lumber-puncture was always a non-starter. Epidural, needle up the spine, 3 hours laying flat on my back drinking water so I don't get the ice cream headache to end all ice cream headaches. Not only that, but the results of the procedure may confirm the MS, or they may not, even if one has MS. One Consultant Neurologist insists that the procedure should be carried out on all newly diagnosed patients, but most seem to think it unnecessary.

The blood samples... yeah, I must get them done. The consultant was very good about it really. She pointed out that she could end up treating me for something that might turn out to be as simple as a vitamin B12 deficiency, but she wouldn't know because no blood tests.

Fair comment.

I've had two very distressing collapses this year. One whist I was at the college and another more recent event that triggered this appointment. While MS didn't help the situation it was not responsible for either of them. What, in retrospect, I appear to have had were nervous breakdowns due to over-work and stress.

I posted about depression. I thought it was an arbitrary morbid phenomenon. It's not. It's brought on by over-work and stress.

The consultant asked me if I'd like help in dealing with stress. If she'd have asked me anytime before the dim lights of realisation started to glow in my mind about 3 weeks ago I'd have said 'no'. The answer is still 'perhaps'.

I've grown up with stress. I know no other intoxicant like it, It sets my mind on fire, and I fan the flames till it consumes me.

If I'm honest, this explains a few things.

Annnnd, we're back in the room...

I was rambling on about stress quite nicely when, out of the blue, the consultant asked me 'are you in denial?'

I was bit surprised by the question. No I'm not in denial, I've got multiple sclerosis and I'm learning to live with it mate! I'll tell anyone who'll listen about how I've got multiple sclerosis.... problem is, multiple sclerosis is the least of my worries at the moment...

I've got targets to meet, I've got staff issues to deal with, I've got a mind-manglingly complex payroll to sort out every two weeks, I've got a 'mobile' support cleaner who's not allowed to drive a car in the UK, I've got to find staff for a site in Littlehampton where they stand a very good chance of physical attack from the residents who tend to be either 'newly released', just plain mad, or a combination of both. I've also got to wash my van... the list is endless.

I don't have to go back for another year. I like my consultant neurologist. I think she understands what I'm trying to do and we laugh a lot.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

El Reporto de Frontie Lino...

Watch this space...

No, this one, here...