Iron Maiden

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 by orac666

God I love Iron Maiden.

I was always aware of them in high school and college, but never got into them until I was well into my mid 30’s.  Now they are my go-to band when I just need to kick back.  Intellectual lyrics, blazing riffs and a fun mascot.

Up the irons!

2:37 AM

Posted in Uncategorized on December 22, 2010 by orac666

Naps are bad.

I’m an insomniac.  If I nap, that is called sleep.  I get one sleep cycle a day.

So I tried to watch some TV after eating this evening with my wife.  Five minutes into the show I fell asleep.  Slept for 1.5 hours.

And now, after getting up a 10:30… I’m just plain gonna be up for the day.  These always end up being hell days.  Tomorrow night, I’m gonna be fighting hard to stay awake come 10:00 PM.

I’ve always been this way, not sure why.

Sigh.

On the upside, I have some headphones on and am listening to some 90’s Slayer I haven’t listened to in years.

They don’t make ’em like they used to, and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2009 by orac666

So as you may know I like taking shit apart. (which is perhaps the reason I registered takeshitapart.com ). Anyway, I managed to scrounge a 6.5″ display and decided it belonged in my ’08 Ford Focus.

Now the first car I started messing with the electronics in was a 1986 LTD. To swap the radio, you opened the ash tray (remember those?) and pulled two phillips screws, the center area opened up and you swapped the radio. I had a few similar era LTD’s. It got so I could swap radios in these in less than two minutes.

Now flash forward… um almost twenty years? It’s gotten more complex, not even the almighty crutchfield has a tear apart for my focus yet.

But I did find this which helped me in my quest.

http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=147694

Long and the short of it is in the three hours since I came home from work I did manage to get the radio out. I ran out of daylight, so I just have a gaping hole where my dash used to be, but hopefully by 8 AM tomorrow (I’ll work on it before I go to work), I’ll have a nice little LCD to which I can attach a Mac Mini, or maybe just my iPod to.

Garage Band, Guitars, and more Guitars

Posted in Uncategorized on February 18, 2009 by orac666

So last week in sheer desperation of trying to complete an impossible wiring task I brought on a third guy to our wiring crew to be a gopher. He was the guitar player for T-RAV’s rock band, and turned out to be a really cool guy. On the last day before everything went to hell, and the day looked easy we took lunch (read beer and munchies) at Wild Wings. The conversation of course turned to music.

See the problem working with T-RAV is that I’m really really really starting to miss being in a band for the first time since my first son was born over six years ago. Lunch with two musicians didn’t help things. Nor does my stress relief at night which basically involves listening to music and scanning in old guitar mags before I toss them.

See my other issue is that despite being a fairly computer savy guy, I don’t get Guitar Band as well as the rest of the world. When I first started taping myself for practice reasons and composing shit I used a Miranz. Nice little tape player, but it was just a tape player. I eventually got a four track and really enjoyed it, but for some odd reason I don’t seem to be able to move those skills into Garage Band.

Maybe my other issue is that I keep thinking of Garage Band’s limitations and not it’s capabilities. Although not a pro by any stretch of the imagination I have a good workingman’s knowledge and familiarity with Apple’s Final Cut Pro. I keep thinking of Garage Band like final cut. I keep ignoring the pre-sets in Garage Band and just want to tweak a track or a cut just a scintilla and would really love some nice fader controls and many many many more effects options.

Add in the fact that I seem to have gone really white and lost some of my sense of rhythm and things get nasty. Just for added fun drop in the fact that I have no room in my house for any amps, so I have no choice but to run straight into the compy, and that I am limited to just three guitars (yeah I know, I was spoiled by being dumb and having too many credit cards in my early twenties and got used to having lots more choices – I need to retrieve my Kelly Pro from Lundo).

Somewhere add in this mix that I spent a few hours in Guitar Center the other day with a Parker Fly and… lord only knows. I haven’t even been interested in a new guitar in at least ten years.

Yeah, dunno it’s all un-important and I have neither the time, money or the talent for any of this. But hey, isn’t this what blogs are for? Posting momentary frustrations?

Ahh, just for the record and good ‘ol nostolgia’s sake my gear is something like this.

Guitars: Simple Alverez Acoustic – The only guitar I ever got as a gift. I was in a speech competition in high school, and to say the least my parents weren’t excited about me trying to learn to play guitar. We had time to kill so my dad and I went in a guitar shop. I picked up this guitar and played the acoustic bit from Metallica’s To Live is to Die. My Dad was amazed I knew anything more than Iron Man and bought it for me. It was really cool of him.

Alverez Acoustic with cut away and electronic pickup. – I love this guitar. It’s basically my main guitar. I picked it up at a music-go-round years ago.

Series 10 POS electric – My first guitar. I think I paid $75 for it. In my 20’s I replaced the stock pickups with some Fender Lace pickups, and in a fit of learning basically tore out all the electronics and replaced them with new ones. It sounds surprisingly good.

POS. Some pawnshop jagstang ripoff that we paid $25 for at a pawnshop and bought just to destroy and a gig. The entire band jumped on it and it survived. Sounds just as bad now as it did then.

Jackson Kelly Standard. At $500 the most expensive thing I’d bought in my life up until that point. I loved this guitar. It’s actually signed by Marty Friedman from Megadeth (which is a whole other story). Honestly it’s not that awesome, but I beat the living shit out of it, and it was the guitar I used the most when I was still in a band.

Jackson Kelly Pro – Marty Friedman Signature Edition. Love this one. I think I paid something like $1200 for it. Probably too much, but DAMN is it metal. Wish I’d had it way earlier.

Mid 90’s Fender Strat (American) – This is my main guitar. I was really into the Police and R.E.M. at the time, it’s not a guitar either of them used, nor does it sound much like their tone, but it was reflective of the tone I was looking for. Frankly, it’s just plain impossible to go wrong with a nice strat.

1976 Yamaha 12 String. This was awesome for about a year, then somehow humidity took it’s toll and it warped. It’s now basically only usable as a bible song guitar. Anything further down than the fifth fret will cause your fingers to bleed and your arm to cramp.

…and more cable.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 30, 2009 by orac666

It’s completely silly.  But I’m having a blast running cable.  It’s maybe just the excitement of learning something new and getting better at it.  Of course I didn plenty of other new things like setup a few new laptops, setup a new groupware solution for a longstanding client, etc..

But this is fun.  T-RAV brought a pole made up of some old PVC conduit and electrician’s tape and a hook.  Things went faster.  We devised a method of dropping cable through drywall consisting of using a small cresent wrench as a weight to get past snags in the wall (and then later tried pulling up instead of down, which works even better).

It’s all silly, it’s all probably common knowledge and much of it is probably wrong, but it’s something completely different, and it’s fun.

I have no idea why I always let someone else do this for years.

Maybe I’ll start thinking putting up drywall is fun next.

Cable, cable, cable.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 27, 2009 by orac666

So against all better logic T-Rav and I are in the midst of an enormous cabling job.  We’re running 4 to 6 Cat 5e cables at 11 to 13 different retail locations in the twin cities.

I’ve honestly never done a large scale cabling job before.  I’ve done plenty of one offs and such, starting with some basic runs when Lundo and I shared an apartment in the early 90’s.  So this is a learning experience.

Lesson #1 : Never trust the estimate given by the buyer.  They estimated 50ft runs.  So I budgeted for that.  Nope, way off.  All the runs have been at least 80ft and up to as much as 110ft.  This isn’t a really big deal, except all the runs have to be a very specific color, and need to be run with Plenum cable (which locally runs $300 for 100ft. if anyone locally carried the right color, which they don’t).

Lesson #2 : It’s a two person job.  It goes much much faster with two people.  T-Rav’s solo gig this morning took almost 5 hours.  The afternoon gig we did together took around 2 hours.

All that said, it’s actually kinda fun.  You get ignored by the employees pretty much, and if you strip down to a t-shirt, nobody cares.  I don’t think I’ve worn a T-shirt at a job site since 1999.  I got absolutely filthy this afternoon crawling around in an ancient warehouse space, running cables around all sorts of old pipes and such.  Loved it.  Nice break from fixing stupid Windows Vista issues.

Paul Wellstone

Posted in Uncategorized on January 13, 2009 by orac666

I’m rewatching the brilliant documentary Wellstone! tonight.

God, I miss Paul.  We’re still not sure who will take his seat.  Norm Coleman’s been warming it for the last six years.  Now maybe Al Frankin will take his place.  To me they are much the same.  They are not Paul.  Paul stoof for something.  He didn’t care what people thought.  He fought for the little guy, and wasn’t afraid to cross party line.

In the primary I supported Hillary Clinton, some of the reason was due to her brilliant speech she gave on the senate floor after Paul died.  She got it.

Now six years on and rewatching this documentary again, I miss him.  There is some of him in our new President.  He’s not as firey as Paul, but hopefully he has some of the same ideals.