Change Your Clock to Save Energy?

Daylight savings time has been with us through most of our history. The familiar reason is that we do this because it helps us save energy and farmers like losing an hour of sleep when they get up to milk the cows. Most countries participate in a time change based on the premise of energy reduction, but there are a few rebels who get along just fine without twisting their clocks into knots. If you have noticed that this is a global bi-annual pastime, you may think that there is some real evidence and study to prove that this whole time change thing is really worth all the wacky trouble.

In the U.S.A., the law is part of the Energy Policy Act that even has some allowance of penalty for not jumping off the bridge like everyone else, except for Arizona and a handful of others. This whole idea of daylight savings was made law back in the early 1900’s, and the days for springing forward and falling back were shuffled around and toyed with until the late 70’s and again in 2005. Each time the government changes the date for a time change, they have to produce a report that qualifies their decision.

I could not find those reports but I did find other studies, like this one here, that show how ineffective the whole DLS theory really is. The most interesting one I came across was from here, where the daylight savings mess is really about making money off of you. There is more evidence that dumblight savings actually increases your carbon emissions and causes more pollution than having one unadulterated time.

I guess the environment doesn’t really lobby for itself very well. People tried to tell the sun when to rise and when the morning should come, but it didn’t listen. I think we should follow the sun on this one and look for a brighter day without the clock mangling.


The Real Difference In Guitar Power Tubes

Guitar amps that use tubes are still great, and even after all these years, digital modeling amps still emulate the character that these amps possess. After a while these tubes start to “lose” their sound and then it is time to replace them. There are many opinions on which tubes are best and have the greatest tone, but it is not really that complicated. There are three basic tube types (by purpose) that an amp has and I will go over each one, its alternatives, and its tonal benefits. This will go much faster than you would expect.

Preamp Tubes

The preamp tubes are the first tubes in the electrical signal path. These are the smallest tubes in the amp and are technically two conjoined tubes, a dual triode. Most common is the 12AX7, alternatives are the 12AU7, the 12AY7, and some other 12**7 tubes. They last longer than the power tubes so you won’t need replace these as often. Their differences can be explained best here.

For guitar and bass, I would stick with the 12AX7, it is easier to find since it comes standard on everything! You might think the alternatives would be a great candidate for a reverb channel or an effects loop, but no one would really notice a difference. If anything, you might have to convince yourself that it was worth the experiment.

Power Tubes

This is what most people look for. These are usually the first to fail and the subject of much argument. Common types are 6L6, EL34, 6V6, KT88, EL84, and KT66. The first two in the list are in 90% of all amps, and bass amps usually go for the KT types. All have pentode sockets, with the exception of the EL84. You should only get the type your amp needs, or you can damage your amp. For example, if you are replacing KT88 tubes with 6V6 tubes and don’t have the ability to adjust the voltage, you may melt something.

These tubes are very voltage dependent and their output differences are mistaken for tonal variation. Buying  matched sets is highly recommended if your amp has multiple sockets for power tubes. These tubes must be biased to work properly, that means they have to have their voltage “regulated” by a little knob so thy can be used to their full or desired potential. When the voltage is low, they are said to be “running cold”, and when the voltage is high, they are said to be “running hot.”

Rectifier Tubes

These tubes are the not something you want to do wrong. Replace these with the same type, or if you want to really experiment, check this site here for some basic info, and here for the hard data. If you are changing to some Webber Copper Caps, like I did, then use something comparable.

The rectifier tube can change the feel of your amp, but as I was told by an amp builder– once you crank the amp to make it loud, the whole “sag” thing kind of disappears because the voltage hitting the tube is so constant.

A Note on Brands and Different Manufacturers

You are going to see people say that JJ tubes are the best, and that Ruby Tubes have the best tone, some say that the NOS (New Old Stock) is the way to go. Before you dredge the forums and tear your hair out at Ampage looking for a solid answer to which tube brand sounds the best, ask yourself this question: which sounds better? A Sylvania light bulb or a Phillips light bulb?

Tubes are basically designed to do the same thing, so don’t expect one brand to eclipse the other in terms of tone and sound quality. They all are designing their tubes for the same voltage requirements, not tone. “But cathode bias is the best on a XYZ tube!” No. Unless you have a magic ear, you wont hear it. My friend swapped out all of his Sovtek tubes on his Laney VH100R with JJ tubes because he heard they had great tone. When he got them all in, it sounded terrible because it needed to be rebiased and he had a bad 12AX7. Once he had it all up an running, it sounded exactly the same! Let me end with this, tubes are designed for voltage, not tone.

Phonics and diction are related

Something that I find irritating, is when people say that the correct spelling of a word is wrong, because no one says it that way. There are groups who protest at spelling bees claiming that we need to spell all words phonetically. That does not sound like a bad idea at all.
What they would discover, is that they all mispronounce common words and speak with poor diction. Allow me to rephrase this: most words are spelled phonetically, they are pronounced wrong. You may ask about words like “city” and “hour” and their phonetic spelling.
These words have rules which  govern their spelling. These rules were first written for American spelling by Noah Webster, the same man who wrote the first dictionary. He corrected much of the accepted spellings from the British, so that they would be more phonetic. Back in that time, words had multiple accepted spellings, as did names. If you don’t believe me, look through some old manuscripts.
Another point of interest is that many of our words come from other languages, like fjord or rendezvous. Should these be respelled to accommodate a more phonetic approach?
I hear that phonics are taught in schools, but I do not see very much of it. The list of “sight words” seems to be growing as more textbook authors don’t truly understand the language. The rules of phonics are being traded for rules of test taking and bubble filling. The need to pass students quickly through a semester has a higher priority than learning proper elocution.

How to find your dream job and make money

One thing that the everyone knows, is that making money is essential to living comfortably. There is no coincidence that it is also known as “making a living.” Making loads of cash, through legitimate means or illegally, is not always equatable to happiness.
During an interview, I was once asked if I would do the job if it meant waking up at 3am on my day off to come in. Of course I wouldn’t! I didn’t like the job that much, and I really was in it only for the money. He rephrased the question for me and asked what I wouldn’t mind doing for free. I had never thought about that, and over the course of a few days I really began to think about those questions.
I thought about the hobbies I have and the things I already do that could make money. Instantly I realized all the missed opportunities and felt stupid that I had chosen otherwise. I could have been on a path to a successfully career before I graduated highschool, but I had to learn that 10 years later.
I made the mistake of listening to what others thought I should do, and was even talked out of my passion by my own mother shortly after she recommended it to me. Now I am playing catch up. I need to practice rudimentary skills and regain what I abandoned. The things I was slowly learning then, I have to re-learn now.
There is hope, but it will be a lesson for everyone to not follow your dream, but do the thing you already do naturally. Your dreams are sometimes not what they seem, and what you really like doing is often so obvious that you never consider it.