The Big Think

March 31, 2007


Filed under: Music — jasony @ 11:54 pm

Sean, in a not-so-rare show of thoughtfulness, gave me a gift certificate to the iTunes music store for my birthday last September. Not wanting to waste it on mere television shows, I have waited and thought about what I wanted to get with it. I finally decided tonight on John Rutter’s magnificent Requiem Mass. I got this recording, which was performed by the City of London Sinfonia & Stephen Cleobury. Erin and I went to an Easter service last year where the choir was performing the Requiem interspersed throughout the service. It was a wonderful hour and I fell in love all over again with this moving work. This piece makes me jealous of famous people and national heroes who actually get this kind of thing performed at their funerals. (wait- jealous of a funeral?)

Anyway, I have my great new Sony 7506 headphones on and am listening to the first movement- Requiem Aeternum. I looked down a moment ago and noticed my pulse beating faintly under the scar on my left hand. It’s beating in exact time with the music.
Thanks, Sean.

March 30, 2007

Where’s Wallace?

Filed under: Computing — jasony @ 9:01 am

This is a beautiful idea. I’m redesigning my workdesk to fit in the new studio. I had wanted some kind of cable management system. Looks like I found it!

Studio Construction

Filed under: Audio,Studio Construction — jasony @ 8:08 am

Sheetrock is done! Hallelujah. I actually have a 12×12″ patch to apply to the wall over the hole I cut to extricate the network wiring, but the main batch is up. My hands hurt, but it’s done. Progress should be quick for the next few days.

March 29, 2007

Studio Construction

Filed under: Audio,Studio Construction — jasony @ 7:46 am

Still at it. You know how they say that the human body is composed of 70% water (or something like that)? That percentage of my body has now been replaced with gypsum. I’m STILL hanging sheetrock. I once witnessed one guy cover the entire downstairs of a medium sized house by himself in one day. Today I put up four sheets. In seven hours. Granted, they were very weirdly shaped and at odd angles, but still! At this rate I won’t be done until we move.
Oh, it’s not actually that bad, really. I only have to re-cover the inside of the booth with 1/2″ rock (over the 5/8″ I put up last week), then I get to mud and tape, which will be infinitely better than lugging 70 pound sheets up the stairs and getting covered in dust. That is, it’ll be better until I start complaining about getting all dirty from the mud. It’s always something with me.
It’s really coming together nicely. I got the curved part of the cutout in (after FOUR tries!) and only have 4 more pieces of drywall to lug. Might have a friend come over to help paint this weekend if she’s willing.
I told Erin that it’s starting to feel like a real space. I had only “seen” it as a virtual mockup in Sketchup, but now when I stand in the studio I can tell how the space will feel and how I’ll relate to it. I know, that sounds weird, but we all relate to our workspace, whether it’s working under a car hood, sitting in a cubicle (shudder), or staring at a wall at our desks. Our surroundings contribute mightily to how we approach work. I’ve spent dozens of hours analyzing how I work and what stipulations I’m under and have tried to come up with a design that can fulfill my needs. I think (hope!) this is the one. It’s neat to walk around in it as it takes shape.

March 24, 2007


Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 12:50 pm

Funny bug sting scale, via Boing Boing:

* 1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
* 1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
* 1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
* 2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
* 2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine WC Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
* 2.x Honey bee and European hornet.
* 3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
* 3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
* 4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
* 4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.

I’ve been stung by a yellowjacket on the hand while I was sleeping. If that’s only a 2.0 on the scale I don’t want to experience a 4!

March 22, 2007

About Face

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 7:12 pm

This is some amazing tech. Watch the video. It starts out a little boring, but by 2:00 or so it’ll knock your socks off.

Networking for Introverts

Filed under: Uncategorized — jasony @ 6:11 pm

No, not that kind of networking. I’m talking about the kind where deals are made and new business acquaintances are formed. For those of us who aren’t very good at it, this is a helpful article.

Big Air

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 1:34 pm

Since we’re on the topic of Big Things today, Popular Mechanics does a story on the new Airbus A380. Don’t miss the video.

It took a mere 16 seconds for the largest airplane in the world to lift off runway 4L at JFK International Airport.

Calling Captain Nemo

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 1:24 pm

The first intact giant squid is captured. To quote Tiny Elvis, “Maaan, that thing is huuuuge.”


March 21, 2007

Great Discovery

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 6:37 pm

Discover magazine has posted every issue ever printed online. For free!

Brain Man

Filed under: Science — jasony @ 2:12 pm

Meet a real-life Rain Man. Daniel Tammet has Savant skills with few to none of the detriments of normal savantism. Incredible.

Sound vs. Video

Filed under: Audio — jasony @ 11:30 am

Lee over at eleven72 posts his thoughts on audio versus video. My evil plan of education is working.

Naw, Lee is a smart guy and probably figured it out on his own. But still… evil plan.

March 20, 2007

Yeah, Yeah, I Know…

Filed under: Disclosure — jasony @ 11:13 pm

So I start this crazy burst of remodelblogging and then go leave it dormant for almost two weeks? What’s up with that? Well, it’s called Our Tenth Anniversary. And if you think sitting here spouting witticisms about sheetrock and framing is going to beat out a ten day trip to Sonoma and Napa, California (not to mention a stunning side trip to see Endor), you’re sorely mistaken.

Erin and I celebrated our decade of matrimony by taking a little jaunt to wine country. She’d never been to California (a San Jose airport layover doesn’t count) and I wanted to see what’s become of the place since I moved away 27 years ago. There’s only so much you remember as a 10-year-old. We went to San Francisco, Pleasanton (the hometown- no kidding, it has its own Wiki page!), Napa, Sonoma, and Sequoia National Park (in the same part of the state where they filmed “Return of the Jedi”). It was a superlative vacation and a great way to spend our 3650th day. Okay, that’s not official until April 5th, but Spring Break was too convenient.

We did the Pier 39/Fisherman’s Wharf thing in S.F., met the world’s surliest public transit drivers on the muni, stumbled upon the San Fran Apple Store with its great glass staircase. Payed waaay too much for parking downtown, had the Drive from Hell trying to find somewhere to eat with Erin’s cousin Seta (who was in town for a conference. We drove randomly around and were never lost, but ended up covering… I kid you not… 100 miles that night). Best of all, we were able to tour my childhood home of Pleasanton, see my elementary school, the house I grew up in (1960’s vintage, 1700 sq feet and over $700,000! It’s appreciated by 100K in the last couple of years alone), and discover a cool coffee shop downtown that ended up getting a lot of our business. Oh, and one of the best italian places we’ve ever eaten.

After a few days in Pleasanton/San Fran, we trekked 5 hours southeast to the Sequoia National Forest. Home of the Giant Trees. Pictures don’t really do them justice. These two thousand year old monsters are almost 300 feet tall and over 100 feet in circumference. You look and feel really small when you stand at the base of one. We spent a wonderful 2 nights in Sequoia up in the snow and far away from the city. After that, we drove back north for 7 long hours and gratefully checked into our hotel in Sonoma. The next day we did the wine tasting thing in Napa Valley, which was nice, but Napa is way too touri$ty for us. We passed up quite a few $20 wine tastings, and had our fill of pretentiousness. The next day we went through Sonoma and Healdsburg and saw a much more laid back bunch of folks. All told we went to 10 wine tastings in 3 days (*hic!*). We also came home with 13 bottles of grog that miraculously survived the flight.

So much more to tell, but that’s the synopsis. Almost 500 pictures- so many that we had to stop and buy more “film” halfway through our trip (in the form of a 512mb card for the Canon S200). Some incredibly beautiful country, great company, and a wonderful way to celebrate our first ten years together. What will we do for our 20th? Stay tuned…

March 8, 2007

Filed under: Humor and Fun — jasony @ 11:07 am


via Snorg Tees

March 7, 2007

Stat Man

Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:57 pm

Check out this TED talk for the single best visualization of statistics I have every seen. It sounds dry and boring, but it’s amazing. I’ve been listening to TED talk podcasts on the iPod while I remodel the studio. Some amazing and inspiring stuff there.

The Itchy and Scratchy Show

Filed under: Studio Construction — jasony @ 9:34 pm

Spent today installing the insulation in the studio. I used 3 rolls of R19 and one roll of R13 to completely encase the vocal booth and fill the new wall. I also did about an hour of electrical work wiring up the new circuits. Not hard, per se, but kind of picky work since I’m trying to do everything up to code. It all works!

It’s neat to stand in the vox booth now and hear how dead/isolated it will sound. The room is starting to get that nice “studio sound” to it (not too much ambience, but not too dead either). That’ll change once the sheetrock goes in, but I have plans to tweak the final acoustics by building some of these. Again, it’s good to have a workshop. This place sells them for $260 for three. I can buy a sheet of the very same stuff for around $15. Some oak scraps and fabric from JoAnne’s Fabrics and I figure I can build three for around fifty bucks. You can see them at work here (I’ll cover them in something besides red).

After a full day of working with insulation I’m pretty miserable. Talk about uncomfortable! Even with gloves and a long sleeve shirt those little fiberglass filaments manage to work their way to your skin. My face is all red now from the airborne fibers. Luckily I only have two more voids to fill, but I had to put them off until tomorrow so I can go back to Lowes for a couple of electrical boxes and some in-wall mounting boxes for the wall sconces.

March 6, 2007

Studio Contruction

Filed under: Studio Construction — jasony @ 10:30 pm

Did some catch-up work on the studio today. I caulked around all the new walls (as well as the old walls), ran Romex wire for the new circuits, sent a fish string through the cable runs in the wall (so I can pull cable later), and ripped the trim off the main door to re-measure it. I decided that instead of paying double for a 30″ special order solid core door I’m going to rip our and plane one of the jack studs from the current door opening. I only need to make it 1″ thinner and since it’s a non load-bearing wall (we enclosed the loft when we built the house) I don’t have to worry about strength. Even if it was load bearing, the door guy at Home Depot told me that they do this sort of thing all the time. It’s part of the reason they put a jack stud there in the first place. Anyway, it’s a moot point since there’ no load on that wall.
So I’ll save big bucks on the door and get a more standard one to boot. I lugged a 70 pound sheet of 5/8″ fireblock sheetrock up the stairs by myself just to see if I’ll need any help. Verdict: I’ll need help. That thing was huge and I’m amazed I was able to do it without damage to the wall or my back. Gotta find a neighbor who doesn’t mind helping a bit.
I did cut the roof/attic floor piece out and stick it up there. I plan on doubling up on all the sheetrock around the booth. That vocal booth is going to be DENSE.

Studio Construction

Filed under: Studio Construction — jasony @ 1:12 pm

I spent the last two days finishing the framing on the vocal booth in the studio. Since I’m a woodworker (and perfectionist) at heart I tend to build my framing to woodworking tolerances (1/16th of an inch) rather than framing tolerances (1/8″). Believe me, that’s a big difference. Instead of nailing the framing 2×4’s together with a framing nailer (which costs $200 or so), I came up with a way of building walls that allows me to build the wall in place. Basically, what I do is cut and assemble the 2×4 and 2×6 pieces into the wall shape standing in its final position. I use clamps to hold the pieces in place until I get everything aligned just right. Then I disassemble it a piece at a time and cut pocket holes in the ends of the main joists with my Kreg Jig (great tool). I then put the pieces back into position and screw them together with the pocket screws, carefully checking the alignment as I go. The process is: remove one stud, make pocket holes, replace stud, fasten with one pocket screw per end. Once the wall section is fairly stiff I can tilt it down without fear that it will get out of alignment. When it’s on the floor I use normal deck screws to fasten the whole thing together through the floor and ceiling 2×6’s(after drilling pilot holes for each screw… thank goodness I have two drills!). It’s actually better to do it this way than just banging away with a pneumatic nailgun. Why? Because I can unscrew the walls if I make a mistake. And believe me, I’ve made plenty. I’m sure the professional framers can do this much faster and more accurately, but I’ve made some oopsies that have resulted in my disassembling a whole wall. Remember, I’m not working off of a blueprint here, so my construction time is also partially design-on-the-fly.

Anyway, I framed up the funky sloped high walls, finished the attic space above the vocal booth, got the ceiling rafters in, and framed up the space for the attic door. And with that the booth framing is finished! It’s a room-within-a-room design. There are 2×6 footers and headers with 2×4 studs every 12 inches or so. Each alternate 2×4 is the stud for an opposing wall. This picture and short article describes it well. The idea is to achieve as near-total isolation of the inner and outer wall as possible. In principle it’s easy, but in practice it can be quite hard, especially since my vocal booth is built into the corner of the room and has three wall at odd angles (18 and 9 degrees) with a 24″ door cutting off the corner. Weird dimensions, but it was necessary so as not to take up too much of the main studio room (or not to make the vox booth seem like a casket when you’re in it). I’m very happy with the results. Heck, I could always unscrew the thing if I wanted to!
I’m most proud of the window framing I did. I plan on cutting a window into the solid core door I bought. I also decided to have another window in the side wall of the booth so that the talent can look out and see me at the computer (or so that I can use a wireless keyboard and mouse to control the computer while I record). In order to preserve the isolated inner/outer wall idea, the window has to be made up of two sheets of thick glass, and each pane must be built into its own isolated window frame. What this means is that, when you look through the window at the isolate frame (the part between the panes of glass), there will be a very small crack running the entire circumference of the frame. It’s basically TWO windows back to back but not touching. Add to this the fact that each pane of glass will be completely isolate with weatherstripping material and you have one very soundproof window.

Why do you need to do this? Well, if sound hits one window, it will vibrate the glass, transfer that vibration to the frame, and then vibrate the inner glass. Viola: sound transmission. If there is a gap in the frame then no sound vibrations can pass from one side to the other and very little sound is transferred. Why go to this trouble? Like I said, I’m a perfectionist.

A sound booth/studio is only as good as its weakest link and unfortunately I don’t have the means or resources to float the floor in the vocal booth. This means that there will still be some residual sound transfer because the studio proper shares the same floor joists and underlayment as the vocal booth. I’m going to put some sheetrock on the floor of the booth and top it with ply before the wood floor goes in, but that’s probably as far as I go. It just means that Erin can’t practice piano if I have a session, but that’s not a big deal.

The other big source of sound is the large window next to my desk. The large, cheap, single-pane window. I will be building an insulating window similar to this as part of this project, but that’s still a ways down the line. I got a quote for this kind of window several years ago when this madness was still a gleam in my eye. They wanted almost $800 for a custom window for my studio (the window frame has a curved top). Fortunately, I looked carefully at their demo models and I am confident that I can make something that’s almost as good for less than $100. Of course, it’ll take me forever, but that’s why I have a workshop. 🙂

Tomorrow: wiring up the electrical stuff and trying to lug a 4×8 sheet of 5/8″ sheetrock up the stairs. Wish my back luck.

March 3, 2007

Extreme Plumbing

Filed under: Mad Science — jasony @ 3:13 pm

Jamie Hyneman has some sage words about high pressure plumbing. And blowing stuff up.

Door Trouble

Filed under: Studio Construction — jasony @ 1:10 am

I got the west wall of the vocal booth built today. I also went to Lowes to pick up the doors I bought a few days ago. Whoops! I got the wrong size. Turns out I need 30″ for the main studio door and 24″ for the vocal booth. Both solid core, which proves a problem as the only commonly available solid core doors start at 32″ (which is what I mistakenly got). I’ve got to call around tomorrow to try and find smaller solid core doors, prehung with weather sealing. Hope I can come up with some. I’m sure they’re available since others on the interweb get them for similar installations. I just hope they’re not too expensive.

The booth is coming together nicely. I built the wall today in situ, which was much easier than measuring, building on the floor, and then tilting it up and hoping it fits. I want to get the door before I build the walls since this will let me size the booth better and I’ll be able to build the walls around the door.

While I figure out what to do with the door I’ll start hanging sheetrock on the other walls as well as designing/building my window seal. I’m building my own version of these. I had a hacked together version for the window next to the bed and I was amazed at how well it worked.

Erin pointed out that any one of the projects for this build is a major undertaking. Hanging doors, cutting and installing windows in steel door, building window overlays, sheetrocking, desk/console construction, etc. I’m doing them all at once, which adds considerably to the complexity (and frustration). I’m hoping dearly that I don’t lose patience or motivation as the project rolls along. I have to get the studio back up and running so I can get back to work!

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