Iceland to Greenland

Over the years I have been a flight sim enthusiast. I started on the very first version of Microsoft’s Flight Simulator back in 1982.

I had decided to spend a bit more time this year sharpening my flight sim chops.

I am learning how to fly the Beechcraft King Air B200. Here are a couple of screen shots of the B200 from my flight sim:



The aircraft is modelled by Carenado. You can learn more about the aircraft model here. I use it on the X-plane flight sim.

One of the most helpful resources I have found on flying is from Guido Warnecke. He provides a comprehensive set of flying videos set in the cockpit of corporate jets and turboprops.

This is one of his latest, a flight from Iceland to Greenland. It shows all phases of a transatlantic flight from Iceland (BIRK) to Greenland (BGSF), ATC clearance, checklist procedures, position reports in the North Atlantic Airspace and a landing at Sondrestromfjord (BGSF). I basically follow along with the same flight plans, checklists — specific to the B200 of course — and ATC protocols.

And, if you happen to be a bit of an aviation photo enthusiast, 500 pixels just highlighted some amazing photos taken by pilots. Here is the link to 25 of them like the one below. Amazing shots.


Living Machines

Collings CLD

I have two Collings guitars: one electric (pictured above) and one acoustic.

The most incredibly well made and tonally rich guitars I’ve ever played.

This video gave me some insight into how they craft their amazing instruments.

Interest Rate Shocker


Well, well, well. The Bank of Canada did something shocking this morning: they cut interest rates!

The price of oil will certainly prove to be negative for growth and underlying inflation in Canada despite the cheap price of gas at the pumps. It seems that this move, unexpected by the market, is being introduced in an attempt to protect highly indebted Canadian households.

The banks will probably move to lower their rates on mortgages and other loans although the last thing most households should be doing right now is adding on more debt.

I can see the Canadian dollar falling to 80 cents or lower. Overall inflation may drop under 75 bps, dangerously close to disinflation. 2015 will be a challenging year for Canada from an economic perspective:

The oil price shock increases both downside risks to the inflation profile and financial stability risks. The Bank’s policy action is intended to provide insurance against these risks, support the sectoral adjustment needed to strengthen investment and growth, and bring the Canadian economy back to full capacity and inflation to target within the projection horizon.

That projected horizon to full capacity is now the end of 2016. The Bank of Canada press release can be found here.

I guess lower interest rates are here for a bit longer. But really, building out the economy on real estate speculation, consumer debt and resource extraction is risky.

Here’s hoping the Bank of Canada can right the ship.

Bad Tubes



“Hi Richard, it’s your friendly neighborhood amp tech.”

“Oh, hi! You have some news about my Tweed Deluxe amp?”

“I do, but you are not going to like it.”


“Okay. What’s wrong?”

“Bad tubes.”

So, after three sets of tubes, I finally have a working amp again. Not sure why the previous two sets of tubes didn’t work. They tested okay outside the amp but did not perform inside the amp.

I called up the tube store to ask for a return authorization on the last set of tubes. I had opted for the vintage package which consisted of two Genalex Gold Lion 6V6 power tubes, two JAN-GE 12AX7 preamp tubes and a JJ 5Y3S rectifier. It was an expensive order and I would like to have a working set on hand.

I would rather chew glass than play an electric guitar through a solid state amp. That said, tube amps can be very temperamental. And somewhat costly when faced with multiple bad sets of tubes.

Good Amp, Bad Amp, New Amp


Well, there you have it. Some of the insides of my Fender Super Champ. My amp tech was able to restore it back to its former glory. A resistor had blown and the caps all needed to be replaced. He also swapped out the 6V6 power tubes and a blown fuse. The amp now works and it sounds great.


Sadly, my Fender Tweed Deluxe has to go in for repair. I dropped it off to my amp tech over lunch today. After swapping out half a dozen sets of tubes, I could not eliminate the intermittent volume and crackling sounds. Clint has all of the bench gear to troubleshoot the amp. He thinks that is likely a bad solder in the preamp section. I guess I will find out soon enough.

Clint was kind enough to lend me his Tanglewood. He knew that I had been putting a lot of work into my jazz studies and he told me that this was one of the best sounding acoustic amps that he has heard. “It will sound great with your archtop!”


Snooze, You Lose

I wake up early in the morning. Usually before 6am. And this morning I was up around 5:45am.

The first thing that I do when I get up in the morning is check my email. I know. Pretty sad huh?

I noticed the following message from Drobo in my inbox:

Drobo Sale

Hmmm. A sale on Drobo. Today only. I received the email at 2:41am on January 14th.

This could be the perfect opportunity to update my old Drobo! Let’s open up that email shall we?

Drobo Offer

Hold on! The deal price is only available until January 14th at 5am EST?? And the email was sent on January 14th at 2:41am EST?

I guess I need to be checking my email more often.

I would hate to miss another really great time limited deal just because I was sleeping.

Get Better

Jimmy Bruno

Jimmy Bruno is 3 years older than me. And he is an incredible jazz guitarist. He started his professional career at 19, touring with Buddy Rich. He also led Frank Sinatra’s band.

I am now a virtual student of his and I am thoroughly enjoying working through his program. I am enrolled for a year. The program is very challenging particularly in the advanced levels.

I was looking for ways to be challenged and to get better on the instrument. Most of my playing is within a church context and I was not growing musically. The charts and arrangements, although interesting, are not technically demanding. I found that in the past few years, I was getting stale.

My goal for 2015 is to excel in jazz guitar and Jimmy’s workshop will help me in my journey to become a better musician.

Super Champ

Phil Keaggy

Early eighties. I went to see Phil Keaggy play.

I was totally blown away. What a guitar player.

He had the simplest of setups: a Strat, a Fender Super Champ and a Shure SM-57.

I already had a Strat and an SM-57. All I needed to sound like Phil was a Super Champ.

I went out the very next day and picked up a brand new 1984 Fender Super Champ. In response to a steep decline in amplifier sales in the late ’70s and early ’80s, Fender had restructured their amplifier design team in 1982. Managed by Paul Rivera the team moved quickly in creating a series of Fender Amps of which the Super Champ was one. I did not know that the amp would one day become a bit of a prized collector’s item. To me, it was my guitar hero’s amp.

It is one of the few pieces that I have carried with me as a guitar player over the past thirty years or so. That and my 1972 Guild D-40 and my 1976 Les Paul.

Well, I plugged it in a few months back.

Fender Super Champ

Bang! Poof!

A thick, noxious plume of smoke emerged from the amp. Not good.

I took it in to my amp tech for repair. Here was his diagnosis:

Hi Richard,

I’ve had a chance to look at your amp. The main problem: shorts in your filter capacitors. This also burnt some of the dropping resistors in your power supply.

Usually I can replace a single can (containing 4 capacitors) with single capacitors. On this amp there is no room under the chassis to do this.

I will have to order this multiple cap can from the US.

While I am replacing these caps, I would strongly advise you to replace all the remaining electrolytic caps in the amp as these will all go bad eventually.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Of course it needed to be recapped. It is, after all, a pretty old machine. It has great sentimental value to me that little amp. Should be back home in another week or so.