Friday, May 27, 2011

Planetary Pegs for Violin/Viola/Cello

My daughter is big enough to use a full size violin.  Excepting tuning with the pegs part, the transition is a very smooth one.  I don't like four fine-tuners on the tailpiece.  They looks ugly and add unnecessary weight to the tailpiece, which may dampen the sound.  Finally I decide to give the internally geared pegs a try.  There are two products in the market - the Perfection/Knilling/Pegheds pegs from the States (they are the same thing marketed under different names) and Wittner pegs from Germany.

The Perfection/Knilling/Pegheds and Wittner have different gearing ratios: 4:1 and 8.5:1 respectively.  The difference is not as big as it sounds.  I have tried both in real life and found them equally functional.  I slightly prefer the Perfection/Knilling/Pegheds as they look more pleasing to my eyes and are a little lighter.  These pegs look exactly like traditional wooden pegs.  Without close examination you cannot tell a violin with planetary pegs from one with wooden pegs.  They work most charmingly and make tuning a completely effortless, almost joyful thing to do.  Installation is easy.  All that you need is a reamer, a small saw and a piece of sand paper or a file.  It took me less than 2 hours to finish the job, and that includes the time going through the detailed installation guide, which is available online here.  Living in Hong Kong where relative humidity can rise from below 50% to over 90% in a day, these pegs are godsends.  They are especially useful to children who don't have the fine motor skill and physical strength to turn traditional wooden pegs.  Will they cause any damage to the pegbox?  I don't think so.  The friction and tension caused by traditional pegs probably exceeds that caused by these pegs.  At least  there is no erosion of the wood from constant turning.  If known violin makers and collectors like David Burgess, Michael Darlton and Giovanni Gammuto say they are fine, I bet they are.  See the discussions here, and here if you are interested.

By the way, violin shops in Hong Kong don't carry these pegs.  I got my set from Gostrings, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  Their price is unbeatable and their service is simply superb.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Must Must Must

Whilst I'm happy to see Isaac Asimov's "The Roving Mind" appear in yet another "Must-Read" list, I find myself gradually running out of patience with those "Must-Read", "Must-Do", "Must-See" and "Must-Have" lists.  What do people mean by Must?  So what if I have never read or heard of any of them?  Should I consider myself under-educated or a fool simply because I have read or not read all of those Must-Reads?

I am inclined to think that all those "Musts" only serve to create a sense of deprivation, insecurity and a void in the mind.  The fact is, finishing another "Must-Read" list, watching all the movies in another "Must-Watch" list and going to all the places in yet another "Must-Go" list simply does not make any difference.  At the end, I am bound to miss almost everything.

Let's say I read a serious book a week (which is not quite possible).  That lets me finish say 50 books a year.  If I am lucky enough to have sufficiently good eye sight and health for a sufficiently long time, I can probably finish another 2,000 books.  That doesn't sound a lot, does it?  Compared to the vast number of books out there that are worth reading, the number 2,000 has no significance.  It is just a pale gray dot in a space full of books.  And, that's books alone.  I am going to miss a lot of excellent music, films and literature.  Statistically, I will die having missed almost everything.

So, my dear, I'm not going to give a dame to all those Musts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Google - Hong Kong First Guide Dog

8-month-old Labrador guide dog Google
A friend of mine, another ISF parent, is fostering Google, Hong Kong first guide dog (guide dog trainee to be precise).  As its foster owner, she has to take Google with her wherever she goes to familiarise it with different places and different means of transport.  Most of the time Google is very well received, but occasionally a restaurant owner or a security guard will stop it at the door.  When that happens, my friend will give the restaurant owner or security guard a lecture about the use of guide dogs, how valuable they are to the visually impaired and how really nice they are.  Google is indeed a very nice dog.  It's always calm, confident and well composed.  Never will it beg for food, jump on people or get distracted by things in the street.  It is now 8 months old and will be with my friend for another year or so before it is ready for advanced training.  When the time comes, I'm sure it'll hard for them to kiss each other goodbye.

Join the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association's Facebook page.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Back to Blogging

As one of the self-absorbed narcissists who is able to swindle himself into thinking that he is making some kind of difference just because he's found a wall in the cyberspace on which to spray-paint his graffiti, and having decided not to let this little blog be a place to let go of the negative energy that I have accumulated in real life, I did not blog as often in the last few month.  With some of the negative feelings gone, I'm back to blogging.  Here comes Sorlo.


When I'm humbled by the vastness of the universe and awe of nature and not fearful of being tiny, and finally able to concede that the entire universe is not designed for me and that I'm too small to be an image of God, people say I'm arrogant.
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