It has been way too long

But I got hate mail!

Contact from Sharp as a Marble

You have a message from Rudy Gaona

You suck the ass comment ttomm

IP Address

I haven’t been accused of sucking the ass comment ttomm in so long I forgot what it was like.

Thanks Rudy!

posted by Robb Allen @ 2/1/2016 3:08:23 PM | Feedback (0)
My Testimony

(Posted on Virgil’s site as well)

Ever since I started playing guitar back in the late 80s, I’ve always eyed the high-end customs. Eyed from a distance, well beyond the roped off areas because I never could afford one. But I’ve always wanted to go to a Gibson, Paul Reed Smith or Carvin and say “I want a guitar with this paint job, these pickups, and this neck” and have it made my way. Not because I’m a guitar god (I’m not. I’m not even a minor guitar deity) but a guitar can be a work of art that can be enjoyed both visually and aurally.

When I thought of ‘custom’, I always though big brand names with customizable options – much like buying a car and choosing heated seats and the cool pinstripe on the back. I never once thought of a completely custom built guitar from the ground up from an individual luthier.

All that changed the instant I played a Virgil Guitar. The very first moment I laid my hands upon Grubbworm (#11) I knew that somehow, I had to have a Virgil for my very own. When the opportunity finally arrived, I jumped at the chance.

Getting a Virgil Guitar is more than the end product, it’s a journey and Virgil is there with you every step of the way. This isn’t a form you fill out, checking off boxes for things you want - it’s a story you are part of in every way. Virgil helps you with wood selections, neck shapes, body styles, even the hardware like tuners & bridges to ensure you’re getting the guitar that fits your wants and needs.

With a Virgil Guitar comes access to one of the most talented inlay artists you will find and it’s no surprise that custom inlay comes with the same attention to detail and thorough attention that Virgil provides with the guitar itself. He knows what materials work best for the look you are trying to achieve and can work within your budget to get you a truly one of a kind instrument.

I saw my guitar go from a solid chunk of wood to the gorgeous work of art that it is today. Being lucky enough to have Virgil local to me, I also got to visit him in his shop, watching as my build came to life in real time. However, Virgil uses the power of social media and documents your build on Facebook and Twitter so that thousands of people can enjoy the experience right along with you.

It takes a while for a guitar to be built because Virgil doesn’t rush perfection, and trust me, when that day finally comes and you pick up your guitar – you’ll realize the wait was worth it.

La Pistola is my dream guitar. It is not only something to please your eyes, but the sound & playability of the guitar is beyond anything I could have ever imagined. I have had professional guitarists play her and each & every one of them have commented on how amazing the neck is. It simply does not resist your fingers as they move across the gorgeous, bocote fretboard. And with 15 sound combinations from the hand-wound Lickup Pickups™, I have a very wide range of tone available at my fingertips – from a chunky single coil at the bridge to smooth, clean humbucker at the neck and any combination in between, the sound you’re looking for is there.

I cannot say enough good things about my experience in getting a Virgil Guitar. The experience was greater than I ever imagined and the final result is a treat for the eyes and the ears.

La Pistola

posted by Robb Allen @ 1/21/2016 8:24:17 AM | Feedback (4)
Cops cannot tell who the good guy with a gun is!

Until, you know, they actually can

Police said the two officers were confronted by Eric Provost, 28, who wouldn’t drop his weapon, so the officers opened fire.

"These things happen in the blink of an eye," Mina said. "Our officers have to make split-second decisions."

Mina said after the shooting, Mina said [sic] a military veteran who lives at the complex came outside with a gun. But he immediately complied with orders to drop his weapon.

“Our officers, after just being involved in a shooting, turned to confront this other armed person and showed great composure,” said Mina.

The veteran was questioned by police.

We hear this all the time, that we need to disarm everyone so the police won’t have to worry about shooting the ‘good guys’ (and by extension, giving the police carte blanche to shoot anyone with a gun on sight). We hear this both from anti’s and cops all the time. The problem is that history doesn’t support their assertions. Cops don’t regularly gun down good guys with guns at any rate higher than they accidentally shoot the wrong person, gun or not.

Of course, to the gun banners, this is immaterial. They want you disarmed so bad that the truth can just go take a hike.

posted by Robb Allen @ 1/19/2016 10:59:43 AM | Feedback (4)
Answering questions I am not qualified to discuss

Saw this on the Twitterers – 7 unanswered questions about lightsabers – and thought I’d take a stab (HA!) at answering all of it with just a few thoughts. Also, this contains *some* spoilers so if you’ve not seen TFA, don’t read.

NOTE – While I love Star Wars, I am far from deeply knowledgeable regarding the universe. Some of these questions may have already been answered in books that I’ve not read.

The main question revolves around the lightsaber itself.

  • When did lightsabers become telepathic?
  • Would you really want a vintage lightsaber?
  • What’s up with Rey being so good with the lightsaber?
  • Uh, what is a lightsaber exactly?
  • If lightsabers are so cool, why aren’t hundreds of factories in the Star Wars Empire’s version of China mass-producing them?

Here’s where I bend over & pull things straight out of my ass.

A lightsaber, from everything I’ve ever read or seen, is basically what was written in the linked article

“an energy source centuries ahead of our own [to create] a plasma that flows in a tightly coiled ring harnessed by magnetic fields and maybe the Force.”

I think that last part is key to all the questions. A Jedi makes a lightsaber. It’s not something you can pick up at Yurdnol’s Lightsaber Emporium on Dantooine, because if you were to build a saber without being force-aware, you’d end up with a stick shaped blaster. The trick is getting the plasma to tightly coil and… well, stop.

Blasters, in the Star Wars world, seem to encase plasma in a magnetic field and send it out into the world. The real reason for the blasts moving at dodge-able speeds of course is that in the movies they wanted to be able to see them fly across the screen, so they had to be slower than light, so add in a magnetic vortex & plasma and let the hand waving commence.

Now, the Force is the Deux Ex Machina of the Star Wars universe. It’s magic, so there’s very little need to explain it. We are repeatedly told that it is a force that binds all living beings, however in various games & movies, we find that physical objects and places can be imbued with the Force. For example, Kyle Katarn regaining his force powers from the Valley of the Jedi in Jedi Knight II : Outcast or Luke visiting the cave that is strong with the dark side on Dagobah.

I would think that to create a system that a) could maintain plasma in a way useful as a saber and b) could be powered well enough would pull on the Force to make it so. It takes a Jedi, using the force to align very, very specific crystals to create the lightsaber. Once created, anyone can use it, but few would – this is a sword that is unforgiving of mistakes. Dismemberment would be the norm for someone not familiar with the Force, not to mention it’s relative uselessness as a weapon against a blaster when you’re not able to feel where a blast is going to come from (see Luke’s training in Ep. IV).

Because it requires the Force to construct as well as continual use of the Force to use, it makes sense that the object eventually becomes imbued and that other Force aware people could ostensibly have connections to it.

The age of the lightsaber is irrelevant here, insofar as the technology goes. Much like modern firearms are exactly the same concept as older firearms, just with newer materials (it’s a tube, sealed at one end, that holds enough pressure to fire a bullet). Being plasma, it can be reflected with non-lightsabers (see SW:KOTOR with saber resistant armor and TFA where Finn battles the Stormtrooper armed with the zap-stick thing), so I’d assume the hilts are made with a similar material.

As for Kylo Ren’s super-hilt, he uses it more as an offensive weapon than a defensive part, plus it looks cool in the movie.

And Rey’s innate understanding of how to use a lightsaber? Chalk it up to being very Force aware + the locked in memories of the device itself (and personally, I think Finn is a bit Force aware as he handles it pretty well too, although that could be his. Stormtrooper training too).

Thoughts? Flame-Wars?

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/29/2015 12:53:26 PM | Feedback (10)
My plan for my music editing desk

OK, I think I’ve finally got what I want nailed down. I need an editing desk for my music room, something that brings the monitors (both visual and speakers) up to eye & ear level while also giving me tons of room for a 49 key keyboard, plus slide-out computer keyboard. I was going to do 4 legs, but the Mrs. reminded me I need some storage for stuff that seems to collect, so on the left I designed a basic, boxy shelf.

I know the Resolute Desk, and you're no Resolute Desk

This is what it would look like if the wood was naked
A non shaded version for a clearer vision

Overall dimensions – 80” wide, 29” tall (to main desk top), 28” deep.

The top & riser will be stained, maple butcher block, 1” thick. The computer keyboard tray and single shelf will be 3/4” thick maple, butcher block. The legs are 2 3/4” black metal and the risers will be 3/4” galvanized pipe painted a glossy black to match the shelf / legs.

For the riser pipes, I need to figure out the best way to attach them without flanges as those would take up an inordinate amount of space. I’d also like to drill holes above the rear poles to use them as conduit for cords & whatnot.

Thoughts? Tips? Warnings? Do I need to worry about sag at 80”?

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/28/2015 9:02:42 PM | Feedback (12)
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Let us celebrate His birth into this world with friends & family, remembering the true reason for the Christmas season.

Here at the Allen home, we wish all of you and yours the merriest of Christmas.

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/25/2015 11:01:00 AM | Feedback (2)