Archive for November, 2003

The secret lives of Walter Mitty

Monday, November 10th, 2003

Is it wrong to pretend to be a rock star?

I’ve always wondered – I mean, I have the PA – the number of watts requisite.. and now a intelligent lighting system –

and I wonder, is it so in my mind I can pretend to be what I always wanted to be, but actually have not enough talent for?

[Of course, that last point is also somewhat open to debate.. as I practice more and more, I get better and better.. and someday maybe I’ll be good enough to have people want to go see me. On the other hand, I can’t imagine after going to see Simon & Garfunkel and the Indigo Girls that I’ll ever be in their league.. ]

So yes, I think there is a tinge of walter mitty in my overly electronic basement. But there are worse ways to entertain yourself. My hobby hurts no one.. and while it might be a drain on the bank account, the truth of the matter is it’s not that big of one. I figure I spend a average of $4000 a year on music equipment. I probably spend a average of 45 minutes a day playing. That’s 273 hours a year, divide by $4000 and you find my hobby costs me $14 a hour. A bit more than the movies, but not a lot more.

And it gets more entertaining all the time, too. Most hobbies get steadily more boring the more time I put into them.. but this, the more I do, the more fun it is..

Ron is gonna shit when he sees my new badass lighting set-up. 😉

Practice in real-world conditions!

More concerts..

Sunday, November 9th, 2003

Well, last night me and went to see the Indigo Girls. It was lovely – they seem to have gotten over their avante-guarde period, and all their new material was beautiful and much of it quite meaningful as well. And they played lots of old favorites, including Galleleo, Closer To Fine, Chicken Man, Power of Two, Least Complicated..

Indigo Girls music is just amazing in how much wisdom it packs – how much experience – how universal it is to all of us. [Or nearly all of us].

The night before, we went to see Peices of April – this is a _wonderful_ movie – anyone from Gen X will recognize April – we’ve all known someone like her – and the movie alters between hilarious and heartbreaking as it follows her travails through trying to set up a thanksgiving dinner for her estranged mother. Mostly, it just seems so – real. All the charicters – including the sister who you just want to strangle – are right out of everyday life – and, a very compelling story.

Went to see it at the movie theatre with the killer popcorn flavorings, and noticed this time that on the bottom of the box was a URL – so I ordered myself some ranch popcorn flavoring! 😉 [for those of you who were curious, see]

And, the first of my intelligent / DMX lights got here. Of course, without a controller my ability to do interesting things with it is sort of limited, but it’s amazingly cool how it can cover most of a room with it’s moving beam and wander through colors and shapes.

One thing I didn’t expect – although I guess I should have – is how _bright_ the thing is. For some reason I was thinking 250W isn’t very much in the way of lighting.. and this may be true when you’re doing area lighting, but when you’re focusing it on a single very small beam, well.. let’s just say looking into the apeture is a bad idea. 😉

Next week should be interesting – arriving will be my boss for the parking meter project, who will be staying here – and while he’s here, I expect large piles of boxes will arrive – several intelligent lighting fixtures, lasers, fog machines, speakers, amplifiers – he’s gonna think I’m setting up a rave or something.

I should do that..


Thursday, November 6th, 2003

My life is rated NC-17.
What is your life rated?


Thursday, November 6th, 2003

These poeple have somehow found a way to hijack my browser. Adware scanners can’t find it. Virus scanners can’t find it. It isn’t obviously in any of my internet settings. But yet, about every third google link I try takes me to their lame excuse for a sex-promoting web site.

I’m starting to get somewhere between annoyed and about-to-go-agro about this. IT persists beyond a reboot. Does anyone out ther ein Sheer’s-journal-land have any idea how this particular bit of evil was perpitrated?

ah, who needs computers if you can’t get anything to drink?

Wednesday, November 5th, 2003

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
You belong in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. You
value freedom above all else. You would fight
and die for your family and your home.

Which Heinlein Book Should You Have Been A Character In?
brought to you by Quizilla

I think it was the ‘which would you rather own’. A sentient computer – well, duh!


Things for sale and power amp thoughts

Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

So one of the recent advances in power amplifiers is switching power supplies. I find this interesting because most switching power supplies will ‘eat’ DC just as happily as AC.

The question is, will modern amps run directly off my car’s traction pack without the need for inverters? This could substantially increase the amount of power output I could achive if I were using my car for (hypothetically) power during a party.

Right now I’m limited to about 3kW continuous by the limitations of the DC/DC converter. If I could run amps directly off the traction pack, the only theoretical limit becomes the energy stored in the traction pack – 10kW is only doable for 2 hours, for example.

On the other hand, a PA stack rated 10kW is seldom _drawing_ 10kW – because the only time the transistors are actually conducting massively is during the heavy bass notes or kick drum beats.

It might be possible to do 8 hours of audio at 10kW, given the power consumption ratio

10kW would seem to me to be about the target output for a outdoor show.

(And I’m 1500W closer to it today thanks to the wonders of E-bay)

Let’s see.

Output capacity online:

1400W in the subs
3300W in the mains (with new additions)

Total: 4700W. Halfway there. 😉

I need to find a party that needs sound, to test out my latest additions.

In other news, I’m trying to get rid of a motorcycle. Anyone in Seattle want a motorcycle that doesn’t run? $100, you pick it up or use my shop facilities to clean carbs and change battery after which you could probably drive it home. Full disclosure: needs carbs cleaned, new battery, new left shock, new front tire, new right mirror. 750CC, twin, with shop manual and clear title. 10k miles.

Also, anyone need a folding e-bike? Again, doesn’t run (on batteries.. you can pedal it and it’s got a 3-speed transmission) – it could almost certainly be repaired since it’s only obvious problem is the motor mount is bent but it might need other things too. This one is free to the first person to come pick it up.

Also, is anyone interested in buying a gas board scooter? $600/obo, ran good the last time it was started (6 months ago), heavily modded with custom deck, exhuast resonator, extra big air intakes. I’ve never driven it so I can’t say how it performs.. it was collatoral on a loan that was never repayed. If there is any potential interest I can get model number, pictures, things like that.

Anyone want a rolling 19″ rack? This is the old-skool SKB rack that held 12U on the bottom and a 18U mixer (would fit the Alesis studio 32, several other 16-channel mixers). This is the style with two big wheels on the back and two casters, good for going up and down stairs and other offroad activities. I still have all the body plates for it. $35.

Or, how about a Digitech Vocalist MIDI Vocoder? This I’ll probably e-bay off unless someone is interested – I’ve done many good and creative things with this beastie, but I upgraded to a TC Helicon for lead pitch correction and whatnot, and it does so much more. $100

Any takers for a Midiman USB/serial to 8X midi adapter? Drivers for every OS you could name. $100, cosmetically perfect, electrically perfect, I replaced with a MTP AV because I needed better clock control

How about a roland SC-880 sound module? Great drums, great strings, $200

Last but not least, is anyone interested in some monitor speakers.. electrovoice ported 10″ with high-compression horn tweeters – one of them has minorly damaged high frequency driver (no longer performs as well as the other one). $50 (this is a kickass price, for this you can well afford to replace the blown driver from MCM electronics and still be way cheaper than the $200 these would cost you new). Program capacity: 100W RMS – and they aren’t kidding. 😉 [Hence the damaged driver – I hooked ’em up to a 900W RMS amp, then someone cranked up the keyboards and damaged]I’ll even through in some 1/4″ speaker cables to get ’em hooked up to your amps.

S. [who is trying to get some of this CRAP OUT OF MY BASEMENT! ARGHHHH!!]


Tuesday, November 4th, 2003

a real, honest to goodness stereographic display.

since it occured to me I never posted

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Pictures from trip to Thailand and Japan:


Those will take you to thumbnail galleries made with Sheer’s Incredibly Cheesy PHP Thumbnail Script. [Yes, I know there are ten million packages that make thumbnails. But it was faster for me to bang something togeather than to figure out how to install one of them. 😉 This script took 10 minutes. Quit complaining.]


Monday, November 3rd, 2003

For the ultimate in ‘my speaker is bigger than your speaker’:

Oh, I so want a pair.

21s! I thought my 18s were dope in the low end.. but 21s! Dr-r-o-o-l…

Then again, 90 lbs.. that’s a lot of speaker to hump. Assuming I ever get a chance to hump it anywhere.

But, dammmmn, 21″.. imagine what a pipe organ would sound like on that? Or the bump of a bass drum in a four-on-the-floor beat..

Hmm. Imagine the neighbors lodging a formal protest. Okay, okay, I’ll stick with my 18s.. they do sound nice since I started running the amps on them in bridged mode anyway. But..


21 inches of air-pushing goodness..

I’m tempted to go measure my basement door to see if they’d fit in..

but no. Bad sheer. Get more 18s if you want more bass. No get something so big it takes two people to move it.. you have nooo friends to help you move such a beast anyway..


Okay. Now that I’m over my brief speaker-envy experience..

Awesome concert

Monday, November 3rd, 2003

Those of you who happen to be on the Simon and Garfunkel concert path, and who were pondering going, my advice in one word is: Go!

I missed the Seattle date through incompetence, so had to cruise down to Portland for the show.. but it was so worth the drive.

Very few other concerts.. U2 and Pink Floyd are the only two that spring to mind – have I known all the words, all the chords, to _every_ song. S&G is just good stuff. Timeless..

Through some kind of fluke, we ended up with tickets that were practically looking down S&G’s neck, from behind the stage. [This is what happens when you buy tickets two hours before the show, I guess]. It was actually really cool – got to see the audiance from the performer’s point of view.

The sound and lighting were both top notch.. well balanced sound with solid bass, a really good midrange which is critical for folkish kind of stuff, and enough highs to give you a really good sense of presence without overdoing it and being too much of a good thing.

Their set.. well, we missed their opening number, but they were all familiar favorites. Bridge over troubled waters brought a sniffle or two out of me.. it was great hearing them do Feelin’ Groovy.. (which they did twice – the second time with a ghetto trombone that looked like a giant bong.. complete with Garfunkel reaching over to imitate lighting it.)

Garfunkel’s stage presence was at it’s best.. and there were almost no negative vibes between the two, which was something I was a bit worried about considering what happened to their last two concert tours. (for those of you not up on your music history, S&G haven’t always gotten along too well. But they’ve known each other for 50 years.. making them 62 and 63! However, they still have it musically – Garfunkel still has that haunting voice he always has, and Simon still comes in with the rock solid lead while Garfunkel pulls out the most improbable harmonies..

Plenty of people my age there.. and even younger.. but also lots, and lots, and lots of baby boomers. The show, dispite having no advertising that I saw, basically sold out the arena.

It was just so .. nice.. I never thought I’d get to see S&G in concert. I’ve always liked their music.. I’ve even done covers of Sound of Silence and The Boxer…

Also made a interesting counterpoint to Paul Van Dyk and the psy-trance party I went to night before yesterday, and yesterday night, respectively.

And, had a kickass theremin solo, too. You don’t see those too often.. 😉