Thursday, July 17, 2008

Six Degrees

I've just read "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas. It's an excellent book and I'd urge anybody to read it more than any other book I've ever read. Mark has gone through piles of research papers from hundreds of scientists around the world putting together degree by degree scenarios of the devastation likely if we don't act. Humanity may only have a few years left to avoid tipping our climate over into an irreversible slide towards mass extinction.

Worryingly, it probably errs on the side of caution. Some of the scientists' predictions are already coming true - and quicker than expected - eg the loss of ice at the poles. Emissions are belching out thicker and faster than ever - and are we going to do anything?

Have a look at a summary of the book at:

How best to honour Maggie?

I just heard that Maggie is to be given a state funeral - shouldn't they wait until she's dead??

Why not just name a sewage treatment plant after her like citizens of San Francisco are doing for President Bush? I would have suggested asking Johnathan Yeo to do one of his lovely porn collages of Maggie for the Tate but it would just be another terrible waste of pornography.... any other ideas??

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Teepee at Green Wave Festival

Debi and I went along to the Green Wave Festival at Preston Park in Brighton - there didn't seem to be much there and just a small crowd compared to the huge gathering for fantastic and fun-packed Gay Pride held there last year. I guess it's a start, but I don't think there's much time left before the dear old Earth turns round and bites us all on the bum...
Anyway - I loved this teepee with those ribbons fluttering in the wind. There's something very welcoming and homely about the teepee shape.

Guitars and Stuff

My old guitar making skills have been so useful recently during my eco-exploits that I thought I'd write a bit about that stuff. Back in 1976 my best friend Stone and myself (check out the hairstyle!) set up in business sharing a workshop on a farm just outside Perth - Stone doing leatherwork, me making and repairing guitars. I did that for about ten years. Now I'm planning to make a small yurt for the garden here which involves a bit of steaming and bending wood so that should be bring back happy memories...

I've always liked to push the boundaries and do something a wee bit different to everyone else - this is my "Flying X" design - with another sketch for a guitar that never got beyond the drawing board.

This was the design I made most of - I just called it Model A. The guitar in the photo was an absolute cracker, though I say it myself, with a gorgeous flamed maple top and two Kent Armstrong pickups with alnico magnets. It played like a dream and had both really good Fenderish and Gibsonish sounds. At last I'd mastered the nack of getting a really good sprayed lacquer finish - an art in itself.

I wasn't above doing a bit of a copy though, here's another cracker, a copy of an old Les Paul, complete with Kluson heads and Seymour Duncan pickups (a Pearly Gates and a JB...oh yes, those pickups are something else - especially the Pearly Gates modelled for my hero, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top....). Though a copy it had a totally different feel to a Gibson - lighter and really, really extra howlin and bluesy. That's my old chum Jamie the Hutch ripping it up - are you out there Jamie?!

I made all sorts of guitars, eletric, semi-acoustic, classical, flamenco and steel strung acoustics. I made this one, sometimes called the "Wattaferri" in 1985 with the idea in mind of making a steel strung acoustic so lightly built that it would still have power strung up with light electric guitar strings - guages 009 to 042. I could never play those huge great dreadnought guitars with strings like Forth Road Bridge cables. This guitar is all pared down to the bone, 2mm thick back and sides, the top 2.7mm down to 2.0mm, all graded and scraped out reinforced with a double X bracing. The bracing itself is all scalloped out to keep the top tight but loose for range and power. It's always been a problem child that guitar, it's sensitive to changes in the weather and I took some things a wee bit too far - but it works and sounds amazing!

And it's the only one of the guitars I made that I still have. Here I am thundering out a bit of boogie on it 23 years later...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Chickenshack Chapter Two

I'm not long back from another great few days with Steve Jones at Chickenshack - it was good to hear that the composting toilets I helped with a few weeks ago had worked well and to see the ingenious shower and bath the guys on the Permaculture Course put together. Work has obviously been lavished on the garden and it was looking bloomin' lovely.

Much of Steve's time is taken up at the moment with the planning of the new study centre at Chickenshack. Out of the blue comes this amazing guy Gabriel, an architect raised in the Rocky Mountains by hippy parents. He specialises in eco-architecture and has been studying how buildings can be designed to help people to live in sustainable, resilient, more self-sufficient communities - in the way that buildings are grouped together as well as how they work individually. Gabriel has been visiting eco/cooperative communities in the UK and offered to help with any building design work that might be needed...synchronicity or what or what...

It's all just the sort of stuff that I would love to be involved in myself whether with eco building work itself or with helping to run courses, (I have fond memories of helping John and Carol with the CranioSacral Therapy courses at the Upledger Institute in Perth). Debi and I already run our own therapy courses and we are working on ideas to help smaller communities to be more self-sufficient in their healthcare.

Steve and I drove up through wild mountain scenery to Llangeris where local authority and EU funders were putting on a fair. There are all sorts of environmental/eco/sustainable projects on the go in Wales at the moment and funds are available to help with them.

Awesome scenery! And lots of beautiful, wild, wide open SPACE !!

Back in the Machynlleth area we looked in at the Centre for Alternative Technology to meet Gabriel and have a quick look round. It's looking pretty good for an old slate quarry with gardens of all sizes everywhere and there are lots of different eco-buildings and displays to see. There are more photovoltaic cells than you could shake a stick at and I loved the bookshop building on the right below - it features rammed earth walls which are holding up the roof as well as storing passive solar energy. There are no toxins in the building at all and the limecrete used in the construction actually absorbs CO2. It has a lovely calming, gentle feel to it as well.