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19th-Feb-2018 11:41 pm - The Post-Capricon Malaise
I do have to congratulate the Capricon board for having selected this weekend for the convention instead of last weekend. Last weekend, the weather was abysmal and snowy. This weekend was warmer and only intermittently snowy.

Today, it turned warm and rained all day, melting most of the remaining snow. Our backyard is a quagmire. Ruby the Dog is a walking (and running) machine for creating muddy footprints everywhere.

The cleaning lady is coming tomorrow. Mopping will be an exercise in futility.

Meanwhile, Katie was sick today with a minor tummy bug. Gretchen may have a touch of it as well. Happily, today and tomorrow are days off from school. Heck, I even got President's Day off today.

Tomorrow, there will be chaos. :)
18th-Feb-2018 11:23 pm - Back From Capricon
The advantage of an in-town convention is that it's a short trip home. :)

But we had a good time at the con. The SpaceTime Theater show went well (as in, we had a good audience and they laughed a lot). Sales were ok in the Dealers' Room. And the girls had a lovely time running around the con with their friends. Gretchen even got to sing a song with me at the Saturday night filk.

And there was a dead minimum amount of drama.

We will take this as a success. :)
16th-Feb-2018 10:32 am - Packing
If I can get everything packed up, I can go back to the con and finish unpacking the dealer table.

I have hopes of doing this soon. :)
I had planned to sneak out for a long lunch with Gretchen which would consist of less lunch and more offloading of boxes at the Capricon hotel. Unfortunately, work was not cooperating, so we ended up waiting until well after the girls came home from school to head to the hotel.

After a few hiccups (and with a lot of help from Sam, who I owe a debt of gratitude) the filk stock and a metric ton of Girl Scout cookies were moved to our table. I have unloaded all but a box and a half of CDs onto the tabletop (another 240 to go!) and can then place them where they belong which I may even accomplish before the dealers' room opens at noon.

I have a concert tomorrow at 4 PM in the Cafe, if memory serves. (If not exactly 4 PM, it's right around then.) Y'all come by if you have a chance.

See you there!
14th-Feb-2018 10:56 pm - Valentine's Day
We had rehearsal tonight for the talent show, so rather than try to fight any late dinner crowd to celebrate Valentine's Day, Gretchen and I went out for lunch at Smokey Bones. (Our diet is short of barbecue of late for some reason...) It was a wonderful time.

And then it was back to work...
13th-Feb-2018 11:13 pm - A Meeting of the Breakfast Club
The way that today's schedule worked out, I suggested to Gretchen that it would be a good morning to get some breakfast, so we headed over to Charcoal Delights where Gretchen ordered something familiar and I didn't, because I never order breakfast there. But it was good and the conversation was good.

About the time we were finishing up, Gretchen suddenly started bouncing and waving. I turned around to look behind me and discovered that Ted, the proprietor of our previous favorite place to go get some breakfast, was walking in the door in search of some breakfast of his own.

So we had a fine conversation and caught up on the last few weeks.

And that was good. :)
12th-Feb-2018 10:48 pm - Keyboard Interruptus
The new keyboard does not work with a KVM switch. This makes it pretty much completely useless to me, so it is going back.

Now, I need to find another keyboard, because this one is getting awfully dicey about typing from time to time. (It just dropped a row of "m"s on the screen as it fell into auto-repeat for no good reason.)

11th-Feb-2018 11:01 pm - Cookies and Evaluations
Today was a bit more busy than yesterday. First, Katie and I went to pick up Girl Scout cookies from the distribution point. The new system is a lot easier to deal with than the previous one. :)

After lunch, there were evaluations for Katie and Julie for their softball league. I think both girls acquitted themselves well, but -- of course -- I'm not the one who's going to be drafting players for the teams. (Although I have volunteered to be an assistant coach for Julie's team this year.)

We'll see how it goes. :)

Gretchen made stew for dinner. She pronounced it to be her best effort at the dish, which I tend to agree with.

So a busier day than yesterday.

Next week: it will be absolutely insane around here...
10th-Feb-2018 11:44 pm - Day Off
Other than a trip to the grocery store, I think I got absolutely nothing accomplished today.

That may well be a good thing. :)
9th-Feb-2018 11:04 pm - As The Keyboard Flakes Out
My three year old mechanical keyboard is starting to exhibit periodic strange behavior. Mostly this consists of keys being swallowed and occasional multiple repeats of one of the keys in the message.

While I may attempt to nurse it along a while longer, I've ordered a replacement keyboard so that I don't have to revert to the mushy Targus keyboard that is the emergency backup. We'll see how soon I open up the new keyboard.

Personally, I'm betting that it's going to be on the day that it arrives, because, well, new toy!

We'll see...
8th-Feb-2018 11:45 pm - Snow Day
With the forecast for tomorrow morning being for heavy snow with multiple inches already on the ground, it was no great surprise when Des Plaines closed the schools. (Chicago Public Schools had announced that they were closing four hours before DP got around to it, so it was really no surprise.)

I, on the other hand, will be working from home.

Although the Facilities guy for this location is going to be taking some of his work time to unship the snowblower and clear the driveway before this is done...
So I was killing a few minutes waiting for a meeting browsing Amazon deals, because occasionally I find something that I can use that way. And I looked at the monitor stands, felt the crick in the back of my neck where I am bending down to look at the screen, and said, "I could use that!" Getting the monitor to a better working height would be helpful.

And then I reached over and pushed each monitor up on their existing mounts so that they were at a better height and decided that I really didn't need to buy a monitor stand right now...

7th-Feb-2018 11:09 pm - Demonstrably Demonstratable
Well, there's enough pieces of this thing together that I can do a demo tomorrow. There are still a bunch of kinks around the edges, but I may be able to iron one or two of those out in the morning. :)
6th-Feb-2018 10:54 pm - Rehearsal and a Bonus Crisis
Today was the first rehearsal for the talent show at the girls' school. Both girls are in the show and I'm running the audio tech this year, so we headed over around 5:30 to help get things rolling. The rehearsal went well -- well enough that the length of the slots for each act in rehearsal is being reduced for subsequent sessions, which means we'll all get done earlier. But all of the tech has now been debugged (for the first half of the show) and I know which pieces of gear are working and which aren't, so tomorrow will be smoother.

Meanwhile, when I was up on stage moving around speakers to try to determine whether it was the speaker or the cable that was bad (it was the cable), my phone rang. It was Gretchen. It seems that Ruby the Dog had managed to find one of the large fence nails that had somehow escaped our efforts to police the yard -- or that perhaps had just now worked its way loose -- and had embedded it in her left front paw. She and Ruby were off to the emergency vet.

They were not quite done there when rehearsal wrapped up. I took the girls and ordered pizza as we had agreed to do, picked it up, and took it and them home. Gretchen arrived home about twenty minutes after we did with a groggy looking Ruby in tow. (Ruby, it seems, was having nothing of the vet removing that nail from her paw while she was conscious, so a bit of sedation was in order. She also appeared to have gotten into something she was allergic to earlier in the day, so this meant that she got bonus antihistamines just to add to the groggy fest.)

Ruby, after wandering into the backyard to answer nature's call, was happy to crawl into bed.

We will now do the same.
5th-Feb-2018 11:24 pm - Committed
Or perhaps, should be committed.

But I have promised to demo this feature on Thursday. If I'm lucky, all of the parts that we're working on will come together before then. Heck, it might even happen tomorrow.

If I'm not lucky, well...
4th-Feb-2018 10:11 pm - Rehearsing
We had a good SpaceTime Theater rehearsal today. Many funny things happened, which is good, this being a comedy improv group. We have 1.5 new bits planned for the show, so it should be a lot of fun.

Y'all should come to Capricon and see the show!
3rd-Feb-2018 03:32 pm - Sciatican't
At least, I'm hoping that the sciatica can't manage this.

See, a bit over a year ago, I bought a brand-new big-and-tall size chair for the studio, because the chairs that I had down there were irritating my sciatica. It's a lovely chair. It is soft and cushy, it is big, it is an eminently satisfactory chair.

Except for the fact that after several hours of mixing in it, I came down with the worst sciatica attack that I have had in my life. It laid me up in one way or another for a week. Since then, I have been extremely careful about how I sit when I come down into the studio. In any case, it's not an incentive to spend time down here working on things.

Yesterday, I was poking through my email when I found a missive from the big-and-tall store advertising a big sale on chairs. And I said, "Well, why not take a look?" And the chairs did not look very promising. They did look very expensive. This was not what I had in mind.

And I said to myself, "You know, you got the chair that you are sitting in at Staples. It has generally been good to your sciatica. Why don't you see what Staples has?"

It turned out that Staples had the chair that I was sitting in on sale for $100 off. With free shipping. This lowered it to an entirely reasonable price, so I bought one.

It was supposed to arrive on Monday. Instead, it arrived today. It appears to be a repack -- the casters were installed on the base and the English language instructions were missing -- but I've assembled this chair before and proceeded to do so.

Then I swapped the casters with the hardwood-safe casters that I'd installed on the chair in my office and hauled the new chair up there. The old chair with the new casters is now sitting here in the studio.

My butt thinks it feels very familiar.

I hope this trick works. :)
2nd-Feb-2018 10:49 pm - Underdocumented
There is nothing quite like reading the instructions that someone has written for merging one branch into another using Git and discovering that you have merge conflicts and that there is nothing in the write up about how to resolve those conflicts with the tool that you are using.

Ah, well, I guess that's what search engines are for.
1st-Feb-2018 06:45 pm - That's a Clown Car, Bro
So we bought a new bed for Gretchen and me, because our old bed was 16 years old and -- although still theoretically under warranty -- moving into an unrepairable state. The new bed was delivered last week and we are getting used to the changes, but overall it seems to have been a good move.

This was shortly thereafter followed by Katie telling us that she needed a new bed. Uh huh.

Well, maybe she did. The bed that was in her bedroom was the old queen-size bed that Gretchen and I had before getting the bed that we just replaced. Gretchen thinks that we bought that bed in 1995, shortly before we moved into this house, which is believable. So it would have gotten seven years of reasonably hard use before being consigned to the guest bedroom. There, it only got sporadic use until Katie took the bedroom about a year ago. Since then, it has gotten heavy use by a light girl. One who bounces on the bed.

However, there was the chance that this was simply a case of Mattress Envy (TM). So I pinged Jen, who was the most recent guest to use the bed, to get her opinion of the state of the mattress. After a bit of back and forth to determine exactly what I was asking, she confirmed that the mattress had definitely seen better days.

So tonight being the night before garbage day (when they will haul away exactly one mattress), Katie and I took the minivan over to Sam's Club where we had looked at mattresses last week. Katie sat on all the mattresses and we made a final decision -- which turned out to be to buy the cheapest mattress and also the one that she liked the best (among mattresses costing less than $1000, a figure that I thought to be just a bit high).

Now, I just needed to get the mattress home. I contemplated lashing it to the roof, then opened the hatch on the minivan, told Katie to go in and drop the backs on the middle seats (the rear seats already being stowed in the floor and safely out of the way), and started shoving mattress into the hatch. I had it about 2/3 of the way in before a helpful Sam's Club employee came out and helped me finish inserting the too large Mattress A into Van B. But the hatch closed and the mattress was only a little curved.

Home we went and I proceeded to pull the mattress out of the hatch where it looked like too many clowns trying to get out of a clown car. The mattress was transported into the house, the old mattress transported down to the curb, the new mattress transported upstairs (you know, this all would have been much easier with a transporter; I must invent one someday), and installed onto the old box spring.

And thus, victory was declared.

Of course, the bed still needs to be made. This is being left as an exercise for the 5th grade student.
31st-Jan-2018 10:13 pm - Glorp
I should be less frustrated than this. I really should.

Ah, well. Tomorrow is another day and all that.
30th-Jan-2018 04:33 pm - Making It Fit
Just catching up on the last bit of rearranging the work surface in the studio.

So the lovely new bit of kit with all the knobs was sitting on a stand behind the control surface. It was disturbingly flat and absolutely impossible to use there without standing up which was not at all what I had in mind. I needed some sort of stand that would tip the thing forward at an appropriate angle.

Happily, Amazon had a "DJ Laptop Stand" that was both cheap and looked like it would do the job. It arrived yesterday. I assembled it in the position where it was the lowest possible height. Looks good.

And then I tried to fit it in behind the control surface. Which meant getting it past the lid on the back of the console. Which was where it didn't want to go. And, oh, look! The feet are now sitting on the edge of the stand that is supporting the control surface, which is just all wrong.

Well, what happens if I push the control surface stand (which is an Ikea Brada stand, a.k.a. cheap but effective plastic thingie) forward? And there is a clunk as it slides under the padded front edge of the console and into the supporting wood beneath. Several inches of space are gained.

And the front edge of the control surface slides forward to rest on the rear one inch of the console pad like it was meant to sit there. And now the laptop stand fits. And the new kit with all the knobs sits on top of it, right behind the control surface, angled at the same angle (close enough) that the control surface is sitting at. Pretty much the same angle that the Big Knob has its controls at.

I think I will now declare victory. :)
29th-Jan-2018 10:59 pm - We Hunt Bugs
Today, at least, as I moved four bugs off of my list to fixed status.

Tomorrow, I will work on the projects that I'm supposed to be working on. :)
28th-Jan-2018 10:50 pm - Tired!
I am not sure exactly why (possibly the runny nose that kept me awake for an hour or so around 6 AM), but I am really tired today.

We had the last pre-con Capricon meeting today where everything went well.

And I've had a chance to listen to the master for The Grim Roper in the car. I think that it has arrived at the stage of "as good as it's going to get".

This makes me happy. :)
27th-Jan-2018 11:30 pm - Wired!
Tonight, it was time to rewire various bits and pieces in the studio so that the new gear was wired in correctly and so that some of the older gear did not have cables draped artfully across the front of the console on the way to the computer. This is a two-person job; in this case, I recruited Katie to be the second person so that I had a young, agile person to crawl underneath the console instead of, oh say, me.

The main assembly in the studio is an old Argosy 90 console that I bought used when I had a Mackie d8b. The d8b is gone, but with a bit of help from Sam, I had cut some oak plywood to fill the big hole where the mixer used to sit so that I could put the replacement bits on top of it. I had stuffed the small monitor speakers into the back of the open section, but the open section was now about to be so full that it was going to get in the way of listening to those speakers, so I decided to move them on top of the mains. Since both speakers will never be (intentionally!) running at the same time, this seemed an acceptable compromise. But that meant stuffing the signal and power cables down through the porthole in the back of the console, then getting Katie to shove the cables back up to me so I could plug the speakers in again after moving them.

Fortunately, when I got the console, I had called Argosy and picked up the optional casters, then drilled the necessary holes in the legs to accommodate them, which meant I could just roll the console a couple of inches away from the wall, providing space for a little arm to reach up into. And once we sorted out which cables I had shoved through, it took very little time to get the speakers rewired.

Now, it was time to run the USB cables. I had a USB cable that had been running across the front of the console from the computer to the control surface for much too long. I unplugged it, shoved the computer end through the hole, and waited for Katie to pass it through so I could plug it back into the computer. Then I took another long USB cable and dropped it through the hole and we wired it back to the computer so that I can plug in the new remote and use it in the studio.

Of course, I bought that remote so that I could use it in the recording booth to adjust the levels on my mic pre-amp. And that's a long run, so first we took the powered amplified USB cable and ran it from the computer through the hole in the wall; then attached the second USB cable to the remote in the studio and verified that the levels on the mic pre-amp changed when I turned the knob. And thus victory was declared.

Well, mostly. The problem is that the stand that the new remote was sitting on held the remote at an angle that was flat. Extremely flat. Flat so that you can't actually see what you're doing when you're working with it.

Mutter, mutter, curse.

After reading a bunch of websites and seeing a great many unsuitable mounts for the remote that wouldn't raise it up far enough to be seen through the control surface, I finally found a laptop stand designed for use by a DJ. It has four adjustable heights, one of which (I hope!) will be suitable to hold the remote at the right height and angle in the studio for me to use it.

And it was $15, which falls into "the price is right" category of items on Amazon.

So the new stand should arrive on Monday and then we'll see how it works.

In the meantime, if I actually finish cleaning the studio, it should look great! :)
27th-Jan-2018 07:00 pm - Once More, Into the Studio
Back into the studio, where I have come to adjust the levels on four tracks on The Grim Roper. Two needed to be softer, while two needed to be louder. This might be the last engineering work on this album other than cleaning up the fades.

Or not.

That's why we listen to these things.
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