Archive for January, 2014

Somebody made me a movie

Paul found this and sent it to me. Basically, somebody made me a movie. Enjoy!

Giving a songwriting workshop

Hey, if you’re going to Conflikt, in Seattle, in a few weeks? I’ll be hosting a songwriting workshop. Details are in their latest progress report; it’ll be based on the one I did for VCON, last October.

It went over well in Vancouver – well, okay, technically, Richmond – so hopefully it’ll go well here, too. See the link for details, but sign up early, and if you have something in advance to workshop a bit, get that to me early.

Hope to see you there!

the emerald forest filk society

EFFS-EmblemOver the last couple of days, Anna and I have been rebooting the online presence of the Emerald Forest Filk Society. They’re a Cascadian filk music (geek-folk) society that’s been around quite a while; we co-run a small co-op ISP as a hobby, and have the resources for this sort of thing. So when they came saying “HELP!”, we of course said yes.

We’re pretty pleased with ourselves, to be honest, particularly over the timeframe. They had a fairly simple static web page before, and a mailing list (with extensive archives). In a little over a day, we’ve ported the domain and the mailing list, and have repaired the archives and uploaded through 2007 already. The rest are a matter of another hour of work, tops; they’ve already been repaired.

Better, we’ve also built a completely new site for them, one that’s easier to maintain, because it’s WordPress. Two people have already volunteered to write things for it, so it actually gets updated with news and events. We’ve built presences on Twitter and Facebook that are automatically updated as the website’s multiple miniblogs are updated, and replies on those services go back to the website, so it’s tied together like it should be.

There are still details to manage, but all the heavy lifting is finished.

Web tools make this so easy now. In 2005, that would’ve been a month of work, possibly for a crew. Now two people can pull it off working part-time in a day.

The future is cool.

updating the world

The Emerald Forest Filk Society has been on the same web and mail platform for a long time, and the administrator really wants to shut down that machine, so Anna and I have agreed to take on hosting. This URL will always work, if badly, despite being non-canonical. There’s also a Twitter feed and a Facebook account, because I am dragging this into five years ago, no matter what! XD

Anna found this WordPress plug-in called Social that I’m trying out with this post. The best thing about Social is that it transfers comments back and forth too, so, say, if you comment on a replication of an EFFS post on Facebook, the comment also goes back to the home website, and that is epic.

So this is mostly an excuse to see if it works. But also I’m publicising the EFFS’s new homes. LINK ALL THE THINGS! XD

two pistols and three microphones

I made another one of these mic cases out of a pistol case. This one is claimed to be a two pistol case, but it holds my three M-Audio Novas nicely.

It’s a pretty good case for mics but I don’t think it’d be a great pistol case because the egg crate foam doesn’t line up the way it should, and they seem to know that, and left space to compensate. That’s fine if you’re dealing with big microphones, but not good for small mics or pistols. My other cases, the foam lines up right, so you could use them for smaller mics.

a little bit of pro bono work

The last few days, I’ve been working on recovering some recordings of a ten year old interview with Buck O’Neil, of the Kansas City Monarchs of the old Negro American League, during segregation. He lead the effort to establish the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, and has several other firsts; Ken Burns used him quite a bit in his documentary on baseball.

The recordings were made on a pocket microcassette recorder, ten years ago. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one of these things, but they were one of the smallest tape factors ever made, moved really slowly, and did not age well.

Even optimally, they could record about 50hz to 4000hz – less than a fifth the range of modern equipment – and are prone to noise, hiss, and other problems, all of which this recording had. Plus, the recording was made handheld, via a PA, which itself had feedback issues causing ringing on emphasised words, all at highly variable signal levels.

So it’s been quite a learning experience. Knowing much more about this from theory than practice, I was glad to get a chance to try out some of these tricks.

I used a repetitive-noise pattern-matching filter to etch out the worst of the repeating noise profile. Then a low pass filter to get rid of everything above 4000hz and a high-pass filter to get rid of everything below 50hz; since those are beyond the capability of the format, anything in those regions was playback harmonics or noise.

Then a collection of notch filters to get rid of primary feedback tone and two common harmonics of it, variable-band equalisation filters to duck out what I could of the recorder’s noise and some in-room sound, and some very careful but high-ratio compression to bring it all to a vaguely consistent level. In some areas, this exposed or exaggerated sibilants, which I filtered out. Then I threw on (in some places) a tiny touch of reverb to hide the worst of the tape-jitter distortion and make it all understandable, followed by a final equalisation round to try to throw a little life back into it, and another round of compression.

The result isn’t something I’d call good – you can’t get there from here – but it’s reasonably clear, has a lot less noise, and listenable, whereas the originals range between better than you’d expect and inaudible, with a deeply fatiguing feedback ring.

I may be able to link to the result, eventually. If you get a chance to hear a recording of Buck O’Neil at one of these sorts of events, you should; he’s got a million stories from segregation and baseball, and they’re all interesting.

last day for free downloads

I meant to turn off free/pay-what-you-like Bandcamp downloads last week, but I didn’t warn people. Accordingly:

Today is the last day you can pull my Bandcamp albums down for free/pay-what-you-like. So grab while the grabbing’s good; I’m putting minimums back on tomorrow.

A couple of singles – Kaiju Meat and The S-100 Bus being notable examples – will stay free/pay-what-you-like permanently, but the rest? Not so much.

airplanes in my ceiling

I got up into the attic above my studio this weekend, because I have this leftover rock wool sound insulation, and wanted to see whether I could further dampen the occasional airplane noise that makes it through everything.

I’ve never lived in a new-construction house before. This thing was built in 1998-2000. (Why such a wide date range? Because this.) I’ve always lived in old buildings. Attics are dark spaces with 2×12 joists and random boards lying about and forgotten storage and knob and tube writing (sometimes just remnants) and hopefully bare-bulb light-fixtures and places where they took out the pull-down staircase and probably spiders and possibly livestock and almost certainly not ghosts.

This attic? Basically, this attic has no goddamn floor at all. Turns out the top floor ceiling is just wallboard held up by 2x4s, which are in turn hidden and drowning in an ocean of blow-in insulation. And while blow-in insulation is awesome – I’m all for insulation – having literally no visible places to step is not awesome. It’s like the end of the world in Skyrim. LOL NO FLOOR ANYMORE HAVE FUN WITH THE OCEAN.

I’m not walking around up there, much less putting in rock wool. And while, okay, 2x4s, they can hold up wallboard, and hopefully me at least briefly, and hopefully all that blow-in insulation but I’m not convinced, I’m mostly in the category of whose idea is this?! Can wallboard ceilings hold up rock wool? I would think so, but I don’t even know! Hell, I’m not even enamoured of it holding up that much blow-in thermal insulation because that is a lot of insulation up there.

Basically what I’m saying is that compared to what I’m used to, this attic “floor” is made up of assurances which are made up of lies. So I’m not remotely surprised I hear airplanes through it.

What do I do here? Continue to live with it? I mean, it’s only occasional, and it’s at -60db when I do hear it at my normal recording levels, so even if it happens during recording it’s not that big a deal. Do I tack up another layer of wallboard to absorb low-frequency airplane noise, maybe on floaters of some kind? Do I make rock wool pillows and hang them from the existing ceiling and try to compensate for the brightness loss by taking out other baffles? Will this all literally come tumbling down on my head if I do any of it?

I’ve no idea. And really, I suppose it’s not that important. But it tasks me. It does, it does.

wishes for 2014 part two

Last week, I asked what you want out of 2014. You collectively responded with a lot of different and varied answers. They all seemed pretty reasonable, honestly. Health for elderly relatives. Time. A better sugar-cookie recipe. Fewer bad things going down.

I’m not so reasonable. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want for 2014, and I think a lot of it comes down to wanting to be done with all the bullshit.

That’s both nonspecific and unattainable – there is always bullshit – but I would like there to be less of it. But less intentional stupidity. Less believing in lies for the sake of tribalism. Less of politics as some sort of goddamn sportsball event. I’m sick of that.

But I don’t want to externalise all of this. I want less bullshit on a personal level – not in the sense of lying, but in the sense of moving on past things. I’ve had a rough history, in a lot of ways – Batman ain’t got nothin’ on me – and I’ve had to deal with a bunch of that over the last few years. I’m tired of it. I want less of that and less of the mental expenditures and less of the blocking that kind of thing creates.

See, kayjayuu on Livejournal? Kayjayuu asked for forward motion.

Yeah.

See, the thing about all the bullshit is that it impedes, and I’m regularly feeling stalled out and delayed and I’m tired of that. Lots of North America seems to feel that way to me, too – but I can’t be sure that’s not just my perspective, my filters, my projection.

But even if it is, it’s the view I’ve got.

Forward motion through less bullshit in 2014.

That is a goal.

wishes for 2014

Thinking towards the future – I don’t make resolutions, but I’m trying to figure out what I want out of 2014. In my 2013 summary post, I talked about thinking my tools are in pretty good shape; let’s work less on tools and more on using them. And that’s fair. But I don’t think that’s complete, and it’s still bouncing around in my head.

What do you you want out of 2014? I’m seeing a lot of people on different blogs being very, very tired of the status quo. If that’s you – what’re you wanting out of the new year?

While you’re thinking on it, please enjoy these two new 2014 Shatterdome drinks I experimented up, working off of tereshkova2001‘s basic research:

Siberian Honey:
2x vodka, 2x barenjager, 1x grapefruit juice (dirty). cold, shaken. pour strained; very sweet. Too sweet for me but the favourite of the shatterdome floor crew.

Kuril Islands Chrysanthemum:
Prepare tippy assam (black) tea, allow to cool, do not adulterate. Then:
2x vodka, 1x barenjager, 2x fresh-squeed grapefruit juice (dirty), shake hard, pour unstrained, add 1x tea, stir in. Unexpectedly delicate; flowery without excess sweetness; tastes of chrysanthemum, hence, the name. I really liked this tonight; hopefully it’ll hold up once repeated.

Enjoy!

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