Dotted Eighth Delay Studies

Setting up the U2/Hillsong delay in a variety of situations.

The Sessionists

Esther Subra (vocals), Serena Chew (keys), Justin (guitars), Alphonsus (drums and percussion)

Thoughts on G.A.S.

Why you should save up for an expensive guitar.

Setting Up Disaster Area DPC-8EZ and DMC-8D MIDI Controllers

An easy-to-follow video tutorial to get those patches programmed!

An Overview of My YouTube Channel

Feel free to browse some of the playlists on my channel. Hopefully this leads to you liking and subscribing!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


In Col 2:7, Paul exhorts the Colossians to be “overflowing with thankfulness”, which to my mind evokes the image of carrying a full cup of water and walking about. If someone were to bump into me, I would be spilling over the water from the cup. I believe this was the imagery that Paul was using, that when a Christian is bumped into, thankfulness is what overflows. Jesus taught in Luke 6:45:

“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

What comes out of you when you get bumped into? Is it marked with anger, jealousy, bitterness and strife? Or can you cast that aside and labor to instead be reminded of God’s goodness, His love that has saved you? Thankfulness is not an automatic or reflex response. It is much easier to be spiteful, hateful and thankless, like a stone rolling downhill. But thankfulness needs effort and labor, like rolling a stone uphill. Let us be continually reminded (and to remind our young ones also) of the love God has for us, for in His love, our hearts cannot but respond with gratitude.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Inner Geek (and the New Office)

The move from Midview to church:

Some shots of the sanctuary (the pews haven't been brought in yet):

And once we settled into office:

Maybe it's part of my training as an engineer, but when I saw things that were not being used lying around the house and in office, I just had to make use of those things and decided to put together a computer system for my new office space:

When we settled down in the new office, there were quite a few things lying about:
  • A spare 19" monitor
  • My personal spare keyboard (a Microsoft Sidewinder) and a set of Altec Lansing 2.1 speakers
  • A notebook cooler
  • A picture frame, which got filled up really quick :)
I hooked up the monitor, keyboard and speakers to my netbook, set the display out as "projector only" and let the computer decide on the optimum resolution for the display. Lo and behold, it looked and felt just like a desktop! The cool thing is that I can switch between using the netbook exclusively if I need more privacy (the 10" screen of my netbook is harder to take a peek at from behind, and I can use my mouse like a leftie), or if I need to run video calls from the webcam.

Zoom out a bit more, and you'll see my trusty iPad propped on a book stand.

You'll also notice that I have my iPhone connected to the netbook. I had to tether my 3G connection over the past two days, as our internet connection hasn't been set up yet in the new office. Although slower than WiFi, I still managed to upload photos to my Photobucket account, download videos and music for sermon prep, and use gChat with Christine.

Insert random pictures of cute kids here (Alex and Caroline brought Tiffany and Ian around the new office):

And a picture of the office eskimo, Irene:

And the last shot of the whole office (I saved the best for last!)

My Acoustic Rig

I'm an unconventional acoustic guitarist. Rather than going through the traditional route of drilling and installing an acoustic preamp on my "purely acoustic" acoustic, I decided to go with a Seymour Duncan Woody pickup:

Contrary to what your pre-conceived notions of acoustic pickups may tell you, it doesn't sound bad at all going through a PA and a keyboard amp (which I suspect is due to the fact that keyboard amps accept line-level and mic inputs to provide flat-response output). I've used this for acoustic gigs, corporate prayer meetings and church, and you know what? I've learnt that the audience can't tell the difference. Yes, I can't EQ the tone, adjust the volume or correct any phase issues, but the basic tone of an acoustic is there.

And the things I bring for the acoustic gig are:
  • A Korg Pitchblack tuner
  • A Visual Sound 1Spot power supply
  • A guitar lead

Yes, it's a rather strange setup for an acoustic rig, but here were my considerations in making this rig:
  1. I'm a sucker for passive pickups. Every acoustic preamp has the problem of 9V batteries waiting to die on you at the most incredible of times. With a dedicated power supply, my mind is free from that point of worry.
  2. With a tuner pedal, I'm able to mute the output with the click of a switch, instead of having to memorize the volume on the acoustic preamp, turn it down, and then having to turn it up when it's time to play again. And that's assuming the 9V battery hasn't died yet.
  3. You might be aghast at the length of cable that's floating about, but trust me, I'd rather have more cable length to walk around the stage than have too little and be confined to a corner, which is probably next to the drummer (and his cymbals).

Friday, October 19, 2012


I have an iPhone 4 and I stuck on an anti-smudge screen protector as soon as I got it. I thought that it was absolutely necessary to have that additional layer of plastic. It gave a heightened sense of security. It gave more confidence to me as I handled (or manhandled) my phone with wet hands still drying from washing up, dirty hands from cleaning my car, and oily hands from checking my phone while eating my meals.

Two days ago, my sister gave me a new cover as a birthday present. It was a really cool cover that hugs the body of the phone very tightly--so tightly that when I put the case on, it managed to squeeze the screen protector right off! Naturally, I panicked. It was unprotected!

However, when I tried to use the phone without the protector, I noticed two things:
  1. The screen by itself is bright, clear and beautiful. There's detail in apps and photos I never knew was there until now. You actually don't need the screen protector, which reduces the brightness and clarity of the screen by quite a fair bit. I'm sure Apple designed the iPhone to operate without a screen protector, and it certainly can.
  2. You can exercise some extra care by ensuring your hands are clean(er) before handling the phone. Even if the screen gets smudged, it's a minor annoyance which can be addressed with a simple cleaning cloth.
Now, I'm a big fan of teachable moments, and I firmly believe that God uses anything and everything to teach us. As I was reflecting on the new-found brightness and clarity (it was there all along, just clouded by the screen protector), it gave perspective on how we Christians read our Bible. We're privileged to be in a modern age where information is accessible, and consequently we have many things to supplement our Bible reading. Examples include devotionals, commentaries, bible study articles, sermon videos on YouTube, and a multitude of iOs apps. The list will certainly get longer as technology progresses.

The supplementaries are great. The hard work of bible study is done for us, so all we have to do is simply read the interpretation. Difficult passages containing idiosyncratic phrases or eccentric behavior become easier to understand once we recognize the nuances of the language and the cultural context in which they are written. However, while I'm glad that we have unhindered access to such supplementary materials, I'm concerned that there may be an over-reliance on them to the point that we feel we cannot read, study, and apply our Bibles without them. If we were to be honest, we would admit that:
  1. The Bible by itself is entirely sufficient. Like the iPhone screen, it is clear, bright and beautiful for those who would read deeply into it. Psalm 119:105 reads that "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path". I'm sure God designed us to be able to interpret His word without supplementaries, and we certainly can.
  2. We can exercise some extra care in reading the Bible. When Jesus taught that we are to love the Lord "with all our mind", I believe that one aspect of that is to take the study of His word seriously. This means doing the hard work of bible study ourselves, taking on the role of the biblical interpreter. When and where was the text written? What type of literature is the text? What kind of literary devices are used by the characters in the text? What is the central idea of the text? Does reading before and after it give clarity as to what the author of the text is trying to say? Even if we don't understand the text fully, it's a minor annoyance which can be addressed by letting other parts of scripture shed light on the text in question.
Of course, if you're a new Christian, reading and interpreting your Bible for the first time is daunting and can be intimidating; by all means, refer to the supplementaries. My challenge is to the seasoned Christians out there--those who have the capacity, capability and the responsibility to read deeply into God's word.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2012

    How to Play By Ear

    The following is from a forum post by a beginner musician seeking help on figuring out chords by ear:

    I need help on doing covers!! i cant really figure out the note in the songs i want to play
    Trying to do a cover for this (Everybody Talks by Neon Trees)->
    Can you guys give me some tips? D:
    thxs alot

    Figuring out a song by ear makes use of two different skills that you can develop: absolute pitch (how to tell what the notes exactly are) and relative pitch (how to tell the relationship between chords/notes). For pop songs, such as the one you posted, it isn't very crucial to know exactly what's being played, because the chords used in the song are easy to decipher and fall into predictable patterns. To break it down briefly for you, using the song "Everybody Talks" as an example:

    1. Figure out the key of the song by finding the root chord. This is the chord that every other chord in the song will feel like changing to eventually. Very quickly breeze through all possible root position major chords to find one that "sits" with the song. Pop songs are easy because the root chord is normally very strong, in fact, for this song it's the first chord. And to make it easier, they hum the triad of the chord for you (0:00-0:04). This song is in Eb.

    2. Know what are the "normal" chords in that particular key (in music lingo, you're looking for chords diatonic to the key). For brevity, I'll just mention that there are 7 diatonic chords in every key, numerically notated in Roman numerals: the Root or I chord, minor ii, minor iii, IV, V, minor vi, half-diminished vii, back to I. Pop songs don't want to scare listeners with weird chord progressions, so they tend to be easy and stick to every possible permutation of I, IV, V, minor vi. In the case of the song, it's Eb, Ab, Bb, Cm.

    3. Find the intervals of the chord changes. Long story short, when Eb changes to Ab, there's a certain "sound" to that space between the two chords. That space will sound different between Eb to Bb, Ab to Bb, Cm to Bb, etc. At first, I can assure you the process is quite laborious; I fondly remember having scrapbooks of notes I took while figuring out chords to a song. Since a guitarist can only really play one chord at a time, it's a process of elimination to find out what the next chord is (assuming you've done Step 2). In time, you'll be able to hear I-IV, I-V movements, then extend that over longer chord changes, like I-IV-vi-V.

    4. Then figure out how long each chord lasts (ie does the chord last for one measure, does it play over two? Is there half/double time chord changes?) according to the time signature. Neon Trees isn't Dream Theater, so it's strictly 4/4 for the entire song.

    • Intro: Repetition of the I chord. Play Eb
    • Verse: Repeating pattern of I-IV, each lasting two measures, so ||Eb---|Eb---|Ab---|Ab---||
    • Prechorus ("...everybody talks, everybody talks..."): The V chord is used to enter the chorus over four measures. |Bb---|x4
    • Chorus: This gets a little interesting. We normally hear progressions in groups of 4 bars. This time, it's a 6-bar group

    The 2nd half reverts to a familiar 4-bar group. Then they throw in a weirder chord to spice things up, the major III, in this case G7:


    Hope this helps to get you started. 

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    Going Fender

    Fender guitars used to bear the brunt of my guitar manufacturing criticisms. For a design which has essentially gone without much significant revision, I concede that Leo Fender got part of the formula right. I use the term "part" because the design isn't perfect. There are obvious flaws with the solid-body electric design: early '50s models can only make truss rod adjustments by removing the neck first, the V-shaped neck is awkward to grip initially, the tiny frets meant you have to be precise and fret lightly, and true single coil pickups have worse grounding than the cheapest radio you can buy.

    When faced with these problems, guitarists can choose to react in one of two ways. Firstly, they can avoid the problem altogether. It is certainly a more natural solution to find guitars which address and correct the flaws. Parker and Steinberger guitars, for example, have far superior playability, durability, balance, and features. Adrian Belew of King Crimson made the switch from Fender (most notably known for his iconic pink strat) to Parker because they "have none of the inherent problems and make [him] play better". 

    On the other hand, guitarists can accept the flaws and work around them. I have personally gone through this route and can attest: it's a lot of hard work. To play fast and fluidly on a strat requires one to be precise and accurate with a light touch in both hands. Your left hand has to accommodate the neck profile and small frets by bending in a certain way. Your picking hand has to play around the pickup spacing and slanted bridge pickup, being careful not to knock into the volume knob.

    To cut a long story short, I think by accepting and accommodating these flaws, I've ended up becoming a better guitar player. I was a very heavy player with a heavy hand who came from a metal background, so when the time came to retire from that particular scene, I needed guitars that were suited for far more mellow music. Acquiring my strat and tele has lightened up my touch tremendously, and that has made me far more dynamically-sensitive.

    Perhaps most pertinent to a GAS-prone guitarist is that you'll have to acquire more gear to get a single coil to really sing. They aren't as beefy as their humbucker counterparts, and they tend to have this shrill treble bite to them which isn't too appealing in a modern musical context. My personal solution was to stack my overdrive pedals with some EQ to roll off that high end, both on the guitar and on the amp side. I think this has had the side effect of making everyone's single coil tone unique, in that people use different configurations of pedals and amps to achieve an entire spectrum of tone, from full and fat to thin and shrill.

    My simple exhortation to those dismissive of Fender guitars is to try them out. Take a vintage guitar out for a spin. You just might be very pleasantly surprised.

    For further viewing:
    Dave Hunter and Carl Verheyen demonstrate telecasters

    Carl Verheyen demonstrates his stratocaster

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    The Responsibility of Followers (1Cor4:6-14)

    What do you do when your young ones in the faith have severe disciplinary problems? Look to Christ.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Bitter Water Made Sweet (Exodus 15:22-27)

    As an inaugural post about bible study, allow me to divulge that bible study is one of the few things I am passionate about. I love it and I want to make freely available my devotional and bible study material for you. I hope this blesses you!

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Going Acoustic in a Church Setting

    Being an acoustic guitarist for church can be challenging. I had the privilege of playing for Pastor Anthony for the recent LCEC Planning Retreat, and it was the first time in a long while picking up the acoustic for official duty as a guitarist. Nothing too difficult: 8 songs, all mostly of the same contemporary genre.

    However, I realized that some of these songs had huge band arrangements: guitars, drums, bass, keyboards, synthesizers and horns, for the worst case of the lot. I had to somehow play the acoustic in such a way to fill up the whole musical pie chart (in Paul Baloche's words, when you're the only musician, you're the pie).

    Now, as an acoustic guitarist, you're never really replacing the other instruments in the band--you're "tricking" the audience into hearing something that reminds them of other instruments, but not actually emitting the sounds of the other instruments. Here's a breakdown of the mental process:

    1. The first step I take to making an acoustic arrangement of a big band song is to visualize what the drum kit is playing. The drum groove gives a big clue as to how to construct your strumming pattern. For example, an accented muted-down-stroke could mimic the intensity of a kick and an accented punch with a full chord could mimic the snare.
    2. I then try to visualize the bass line for the song. This will help create moving lines between chords, filling up the melodic space in the lower-end. For example, a chord chart may show a repetition of ||F - - - | G - - - | F - - - | G - - - ||, but once you think like a bass player and add a walk-up, i.e. ||F - - - | G - - - | F/A - - - | G/B - - - ||, you add a whole dimension of colour to the progression. A quick cheat method is to look out for the slash chords in a full-band chord sheet, or the piano chord sheet.
    3. I'll then try to hear and incorporate the melodic hooks of the song into the "safe" places: intros, end of choruses, first bridge. This breaks the song out of chord-only-monotony. "From the Inside Out" by Hillsong is a good example (see my video tutorial of the intro played fingerstyle below). It has a terrific hook and shouldn't be left out when playing this acoustically.
    4. If I have the time, I'll try to figure out if I can play any fill-ins at the turn-arounds of the song. In our modern musical context, this usually happens between verses, or from intro to verse, and sometimes even between a verse. Acoustically, this can be in the form of hammering-on/pulling-off chord tones, or a quick scale run (like Tommy Emmanuel).
    I hope this gives you useful ideas on how to incorporate "tougher" songs into smaller settings like cell group meetings.

    For viewing:
    My "From The Inside Out" acoustic riff video tutorial

    Tuesday, September 4, 2012

    11 Years Together

    I speak, of course, about my Yamaha AES820. (What else were you thinking?)

    Steve Mazur of Our Lady Peace, one of my favorite Alt Rock acts of all time, uses this exact model, and Frank Gambale based his signature model off this beauty of a guitar. It features two DiMarzio custom pickups, a three-way pickup selector with a 3-position rotary coil split (humbucking/single coil/"high cut" variation which sounds like the pickups are hotter and have a treble boost) for a total of 9 possible pickup tones. It has a flatter neck radius, a slimmer neck profile, and closer fret spacing (because of its shorter scale) which helps me play long, complicated lead lines more smoothly.

    This guitar saw me through several stages of my life as as guitarist
    • Early 2001: The beginning of my shredder wood-shedding days. I was learning tunes from X-Japan, Yngwie Malmsteen and Paul Gilbert on this guitar. I also starting serving in the children's worship ministry around this time (applying the term "making a joyful noise" a little too literally).
    • 2002: By this time I was a regular mainstay for the children's church, and made regular noise with jam mates from all over, in school, and at church. Phrygian, harmonic minor, and pentatonic were my favorite scales, and over-the-top distortion was my favorite tone.
    • 2003: I didn't bring this with me when I first went to Australia, and brought only my acoustic guitar. I think it was beneficial too, as I discovered the acoustic music of John Mayer, Jason Mraz and Jars of Clay, and eventually developed my acoustic style based on them. It was mostly in its case until I returned back for vacation to play at the youth camp and for a Christmas production which incorporated elements of both the heavy and the light, of Dream Theater and John Mayer.
    • 2004-2007: Having been recruited into Hope Sydney Christian Church, I became an electric guitarist and served nearly every week due to a lack of musicians. This was instrumental in building up my skills in band dynamics--we needed to be able to come down on Sunday morning, set up, practice, memorize our arrangements, and pull them off for service 2 hours later.
    Yes, this guitar was a big part of my musical life. Do you have pieces of gear that also represent pieces of your history?

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Bridge Over a Troubled Tele

    My telecaster came fitted with a "vintage" style 3-piece saddle, which looks like this:
    I'll admit, it looks really good and contributes to the allure of a vintage telecaster. It's colloquially known as the ashtray bridge--so called because the full bridge came with an outer case assembly (to keep a streamlined look) that players would take off and use as ashtrays. I wasn't sure I was totally digging the "vintage" tone, but I did miss the ability to intonate individual strings by having individual saddles. Intonating the 3-piece bridge wasn't an easy task, and it often requires a fair bit of time to get it right.

    I then swapped it out with this bridge:

    I can almost see your horrified expressions and hear the gasps--yes, it's a pretty bare-basic cheap bridge which I got only for the reason of being able to intonate each string. I didn't hear any noticeable change in tone, which could mean one of two things: that there is really no difference between a 3-piece and a 6-piece saddle bridge (please excuse me while I dodge the ashtray covers from the Tele purists), or my ear is really so dull that the change to me really is non-existent.

    However, as much as I loved being able to intonate my Tele better, another problem soon cropped up: if you notice the saddle design, it's not exactly the sturdiest thing around. I soon developed the problem of digging so deep into the strings (as a result of my heavy hand) that I'd dislodge the saddle piece. I couldn't play heavily on my Tele, which was a shame considering that a large part of the Tele "twang" resided in the ability to really dig into the guitar.

    This awkward setup lasted 6 months before I couldn't stand it any further. I went on to treat myself with something I've always wanted to try:

    I went ahead with the Bigsby tremolo. I didn't use a vibramate (which is an additional metal frame to avoid drilling into the guitar) because I wanted maximum vibration between the Bigsby and the body. I also used a Jaguar bridge, which is a trade-off: you can't adjust the string height like on a traditional Tele bridge, but you can adjust intonation. And it's a lot more solid than the cheapo-6-bridge, so I'm back to being able to dig deep into the string without buzzing or breaking something.

    Here's the thing about Bigsby which I'd like to make clear for those of you intending to install one: it doesn't change your tone. It doesn't make a Tele sound any less than a Tele, and it won't make that big a difference in "fullness" of tone (as the Bigsby guys try to convince you in their installation videos). What it does affect primarily is playability:
    • Of course, your Tele can now do slight warbles with the Bigsby vibrato.
    • The lower string tension allows you to bend easier, so that helps heaps for people with a light left-hand touch like me.
    • It's a stable system which keeps the instrument better in tune, even if you were to use the vibrato bar liberally (then again, it could also be due to the fact that I have locking tuners, so please leave a comment if I'm wrong about this)
    • For some strange reason, maybe because of the bridge pickup plate installed with the Bigsby, the bridge pickup responds differently. It breaks up less harshly and isn't as biting, which is a good thing for me since I dial out treble when I play with my Tele anyway. Ok, so there was a slight tone difference.
    What bridge do you have on your Tele? Are you a purist who insists that everyone stick with the 3-piece bridge, or are you engineering-inclined like me who prefers intonation and playability over tone?

    For further reading:

    Tone Revision 3 (aka The Never-ending Story Part 20-Something)

    There's a very high turn-over rate of pedals on my pedalboard. I've downsized from this:
    Mounted on a Pedaltrain Pro, mid 2011

    To this:
    Mounted on a Pedaltrain 3, late 2011
    I got rid of the Biyang pedals, not that they sounded bad, but I just didn't need two choruses and two delays (my Deluxe Electric Mistress can achieve tones from a mild chorus to a faux Leslie). The Biyang Chorus also added a lot of background noise even when disengaged, which I'm told is normal for certain mod pedals. The stacked delay sound was nice, but nobody could tell the difference when I used it.

    I got rid of the equalizer because I realized I could make do with the EQ on my overdrive pedals, and there was some noise coming from it. (It appears that the pricier your pedal, the less likely it will have noise in the chain. Something I should have known a long time ago.) I sold off the GR-20 'cause I realized I should concentrate on being a better guitarist than trying to sound like every other instrument.

    And now, my pedalboard looks like this:
    This installment saw
    • Replacements: I changed from a Korg DT-10 to a Pitchblack for its smaller size, and changed the AC Booster to a BB Preamp, which I much preferred.
    • Arrangement: All my drive pedals are on the lowest tier, to help in visualizing the signal flow.
    • Additions: A SansAmp GT2 for amp simulation when I don't have an amp, and a Visual Sound H20 for an extra layer of chorus and delay. 
    Yes, I'm back to two choruses and delays. But I got the H20 because I originally wanted to use it just for my Taiwan gig and needed those sounds in a relatively small, combined enclosure. I then found a way of hooking it up and squeezing the pedalboard arrangement so that I now have no more space for any new pedals. In all honesty, the pedalboard turn-over stopped when I finally ran out of pedalboard real estate.

    How do you stop your pedalboard turnover? And in a related question, when does your GAS stop?

    For further viewing (my Quick Question on GAS):

    Thursday, August 2, 2012

    The Curse of Canaan

    Why did Noah curse his grandson Canaan? Taking a cursory glance of the passage, it reads that this boy’s father, Ham, saw Noah’s nakedness, and as a result, Noah cursed Canaan, who became the patriarch of Israel’s enemies, the Canaanites. The story seems capricious on the surface, in contrast to the largely reasonable historical account of Genesis. The key to understanding the passage lies in understanding the cultural context in which this passage is written, and the phrase that seems to make little sense in the English language is that Ham "saw his father's nakedness".

    As it is with any language, one way to communicate an idea differently is to use a figure of speech. Some of the Bible’s figures of speech are euphemisms that promote modesty. For example, instead of saying that Adam had sexual intercourse with Eve, the Bible more politely says that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived” (Gen. 4:1). And Moses writes, “the man who lies with” rather than using the modern and more crude phrase, “has sex with.” The reader who misses these common figures of speech will misunderstand the plain meaning of various passages.

    Moses authored the first five books of the Bible (wherein Genesis is a part of), and God through Moses used the same decency when describing other physical relations. For example, when prohibiting incest in the Mosaic Law, rather than saying, "a man shall not have intercourse with his mother", Moses wrote that he shall not “uncover his father’s nakedness.”

    ‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ Lev. 20:11

    Other scriptures which employ this Hebrew figure of speech can be found elsewhere:

    ‘If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness. … ‘If a man takes his brother's wife… He has uncovered his brother's nakedness.’ Lev. 20:20-21

    Committing incest with any female “near of kin” can be described as “uncovering his nakedness” (Lev. 18:6), referring to the appropriate male relative, including the nakedness of your father (with your mother, Lev. 18:7), or your sister, granddaughter, stepsister, aunt, daughter-in-law and sister-in-law (Lev. 18:9-15). Of course, this can also be described in more literal terms as uncovering the woman’s nakedness, but it can also be referred to, idiomatically, as referring to the husband’s, father’s, brother's, uncle’s, or son’s nakedness. Her nakedness can equal his nakedness because as Paul writes, your body is “not your own” (1 Cor. 6:19), and from this perspective, your mother’s body belongs to your father. Thus:

    ‘The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness’ Lev. 18:8

    Ezekiel used this figure of speech in this Hebrew parallelism:

    “In you [O Israel] men uncover their fathers’ nakedness; in you they violate women…” Ezek. 22:10

    And Habakkuk condemns not the sin of homosexuality but of getting your neighbor drunk in order to seduce his wife, when he warns:

    “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!” Hab. 2:15;

    Habakkuk warns against looking upon a neighbor’s nakedness, which is just the slightest alternate form of uncovering his nakedness. (See also Leviticus 18:10, 14, 17-18; 1 Samuel 20:30 and Ezekiel 22:10-11.)

    So, understanding this common Hebrew figure of speech enables the reader to comprehend Moses’ 3,500-year-old account of why Noah cursed Canaan:

    …Ham was the father of Canaan [which is the actual topic of this story]… And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent [his own drunkenness left his wife vulnerable and exposed to Ham’s wickedness]. And Ham, the father of Canaan [repeated to emphasize the point of the story, and to correct any possible ancient misconception about the real identity of Canaan's father], saw the nakedness of his father [that is, he had sex with Noah’s wife, Ham’s own mother], and told his two brothers outside [as wicked people often brag of their sin, and as misery loves company, perhaps even inviting them to do likewise]. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father [refusing to take part in what was apparently a rape, and literally giving her a covering, probably with an animal skin, and in hopes of beginning the healing process for her and their family]. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness [i.e., their mother’s nude body]. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him [Ham had violated Noah's wife, which he found out from her and his other sons]. Then he said [after he learned of the pregnancy]: “Cursed be Canaan [whose father was Ham]…" Gen. 9:18, 20-25

    Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father. Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as a hex or evil spell, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways. This account, at the very beginning of the repopulation of the Earth, also helps to explain the world's ubiquitous taboo of incest between parent and child, found by anthropologists to exist in virtually every known age and in virtually every known culture. The lesson was a harsh one to learn. Canaan was cursed inherently by being conceived through incest. The law of reaping and sowing inexorably applies to the children of fallen men. A father's alcoholism punishes his child, not by fiat from God (nor Noah) but by the cause and effect that children suffer under bad parenting, an unavoidable part of man's fallen existence until God ends this phase of human history. So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendents, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites.

    While the story of Canaan’s curse follows the Creation and Flood accounts, rightly understood it helps us to see that all throughout, Genesis is a rational book of history.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012

    Dotted Eighth Delay Studies

    Dotted eighth, the magical note integral to music of U2 and modern Hillsong. I've come up with several videos to properly explain how to set this up and apply this in a variety of situations: with a proper delay pedal, in the time signature of 6/8, and with a small practice amp that doesn't have displays.

    Some background:

    Here's a diagram to illustrate what happens when you use the delay:

    The above represents four beats (quarter notes) in a bar of 4/4. The picked notes (top row as indicated with a ^) are picked on beats 1 & 2 & 3 &... (i.e. 8th notes) while the metronome clicks at 1, 2, 3, 4 (i.e. quarter notes). The delay notes come in three-quarters of a beat after the note is played (i.e. 3x 16th notes) and appears right after the next note is played.

    Tone Tips: The Dotted Eighth Delay

    Tone Tips: Programming the Dotted Eighth in 6/8

    Tone Tips: Programming the Dotted Eighth with a Practice Amplifier

    Tone Tips: Obtaining the Dotted Eighth on a Manual Pedal

    Update: 14 June 2014
    Some of you guys have been emailing me asking me why your dotted eighth setup with the "80/20" rule (effect level/feedback level) doesn't sound right. I've investigated several pedals and realized that some pedals function with a mix level knob, not an effect level knob.

    What a mix level does is superimpose the wet/dry signal and allocates space between the wet delayed signal versus the dry signal (your playing). So if you have a high mix level, let's say 75%, what you hear is that in the sonic space, 75% is the delay, while 25% is your playing. Suffice to say, this really knocks you off your socks when you try to play this live, as the delay is so much louder than your actual playing.

    Your goal in programming a dotted eighth delay is to have the repeats at the same volume as your playing. To achieve this with a mix level control, put the mix at 50% (so the ratio of wet/dry is 50/50). This should make the delay as loud as your playing and not overpower it.

    Tone Tips: Mix versus Effect Level

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Platypus Test Kitchen

    It is a rarity for me to find Christine for lunch on a weekday, so when the opportunity presented itself (in the form of an exit clearance medical examination I had to do at a clinic nearby), we decided to go with something slightly pricier than the norm: and hence our trip to the Platypus Test Kitchen at Crawford Centre, a place known for its hand-made pastas with specialty ingredients.

    I had the truffle pasta with smoked bacon, which ranks at 70% shiok factor relative to the true truffle pasta I had at Jamie Oliver's restaurant in the UK! This goes beyond slightly more than a hint of truffle oil as offered by many other pasta places.

    Milady went with one of her favorite pastas: crab meat pasta. You can see the chunks from the picture below, and it may not be as chunky as the squid ink crab meat pasta we had at Valentino (which converted me to considering crab as something I'd actually order at a restaurant), but it's sizeably sastisfying. I think I would have tasted the crab more if not for the overwhelming taste from the truffle pasta.

    The meal upgrade is well worth the price, as it included a bowl of chunky mushroom soup and a drink. I went with lychee tea, which was a pleasant surprise: they used lychee essence and actual tea, not some Polka instant lychee tea.

    All-in-all, it's definitely a place I'll visit again. I'll find some excuse to visit Christine for lunch!

    Thursday, July 5, 2012


    I was able to meet Christine for lunch near her work place, and I soon discovered that the CDB is riddled with little cafes, eateries and restaurants that command higher prices than elsewhere. On first glance, it can appear absurd to pay $15 for a sandwich (that's nearly two Subway meals put together!), but don't let that dissuade you from trying Sarnies, an Australian sandwich bar.

    When I was a student in Australia, the canteens and cafes around campus had a few unique characteristics: they served sandwiches/croissants/salads for people on the go, there was Indie music played over the stereo system, some part of the cafe decor was dedicated to some form of art, and the coffee was good. Stepping into Sarnies brought back all those memories.

    Christine and I decided to share a roasted beef sandwich and a salad, and they didn't disappoint!

    Generous helpings of rocket and guacamole were the highlight of the salad, but we couldn't figure out where the bacon bits were. You can do what I did with the rye bread: use the guacamole as a spread and consume it like you would a starter bread. However, be warned that it's messy and potentially unglam.

    I wish I had placed my hand in the shot to give some perspective of the size--it was a huge sandwich! Even with the toothpick to hold the sandwich together, there was enough filling of beef, lettuce and mushrooms to spill out despite my best efforts to keep it from disassembling. I had to remove the greens (and thus making it one level thinner) to comfortably hold the sanwich.

    Last and certainly not least, I ordered a cappuccino. Do not add sugar! The chocolate powder used on the foam sufficiently sweetens each sip. The coffee was of the right acidity and had enough body to have some "kick", obviously to cater to the office workers needing a caffeine boost for the rest of the day.

    All-in-all, it was a good experience and an enjoyable time, particularly for me because of the nostalgia. Try it out!

    Thursday, June 28, 2012

    Return of the PEN

    I learnt a valuable lesson when handling cameras, and I learnt it the hard way. I wanted to do a self-portrait for the purposes of updating my resume and professional profiles, so I used a tripod to prop my Olympus PEN up. Unfortunately, I must have extended one of the legs shorter than the others, and as such, when I released my grip on the tripod, the inevitable consequence of gravity taking over happened:

    The camera fell facewards towards the ground. Before I could react, it had already landed squarely onto the lens with an audible crack. It was disheartening when I inspected the damage: the lens was bent (M.Zuiko lenses have an inner/outer shaft assembly to zoom), the motor was stuck, and the focusing ring was jammed. In short, I transformed a 14-42mm zoom lens into a 25mm out-of-focus prime lens.

    At least the lens bore the full brunt of the damage. The body miraculously had no scratches or dents, and it could still take pictures, although I couldn't tell if the camera functions were working properly since the lens was out-of-focus.

    With much thanksgiving, someone with a spare lens responded to my shout-out on Facebook (social media does have a use after all), and it was a fantastic 14-42mm Mark II! With a slimmer profile, a faster focusing motor, and a refined lens construction which made images sharper, I found a new-found obsession to using my PEN. Here's a sample of shots taken:

    I admit, I'm primarily a P shooter, which I think is automatic on steroids. These were taken outdoors under shade with ISO 400. With plenty of light, this ISO could freeze our laughter (captured brilliantly by Julia!).

    Indoor shots with ISO 800 had a little more grain to them, but I had to crank it up to counter the darkness of the stage (our church meets in the cinema, and the only source of illumination are a pair of stage lights that are point, strong sources of light). Even at this ISO, I could not eliminate motion blur:

    It seems that this Mk II lens does not perform as well as its previous incarnation in low-light situations, but I suppose there must be a trade-off somewhere. I'm going to buy this lens off you, Uncle Michael! Thanks heaps for helping me return my PEN to service.

    For further reading:
    Olympus M.Zuiko 14-42mm Mk I vs 14-42mm Mk II

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    First Impressions

    I'm a tech geek, so naturally, as and when there are promising pieces of new tech for me to play with, I'd be the first to jump right in. DraftCraft seems to have multi-platform publishing, so I'm trying this out. Maybe my ultimate iPad blogging experience will be actualized with this.

    Ready, steady, blog!

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Over the Top?

    I moved my main pedalboard to clean that particular spot of the room (I do suppose my board is getting a little big if there's a substantial amount of floor that doesn't see the light of day). It happened to be in front of my practice rig consisting of my Line 6 gear: the PODX3 and the Spider III.

    "Hey, since everything's together, how would it sound if I hooked it all up?"

    Yeap. Pedalboard into PODX3 into Spider III. I set the POD like a rack, with the amp/speaker sim on minimal EQ, modulation and delay on post.

    I'll be honest: it wasn't impressive. Maybe my signal chain was too long and caused signal degradation, or the digital tone of the PODX3 and the lack of tubes in the Spider III really don't blend well with analog pedals. After some (rather dissatisfying) tweaking, I gathered that the best tone was to turn the amp sim completely off, flatten the EQ on the amp, and rely on the pedalboard as the main preamp and EQ.

    Maybe I could improve the tone by:
    1. Using better cables (I'm notorious for using cheapo, lao-pok cables), and having a clean buffer in the front of the chain to push the signal through all that mess. Some of friends insist on Lava and Monster cables, which can cost nearly as much as the pedalboard when used liberally.
    2. In the digital domain, ditch the Line 6 PODX3, which you have to admit is rather inexpensive compared to what the pros use, and go with a rack setup of the Axe FX by Fractal Audio (two of my favorite musicians, Dave Wallimann and Pete Thorn, use this setup almost exclusively). The modern digital has come a long way in a rather short space of time
    I'll stick to my analog pedalboard, with my PODX3 as a backup and the "studio rack" for additional effects. You've got to admit, despite all the flak Line 6 receives for its inferior digital amp sim, when you apply its modulation and delay effects in the mix, no one can tell it's Line 6.

    Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More