Page 1 of 1

Personal Life Stuff, mostly catching up.

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:21 am
by ByteMixer
Just catching up on some stuff that's been going on for the past several months. So this could get a little long winded.

Late last summer, contractors were allowed to resume working on residential projects. So I contacted my contractor and moved forward with building out the basement studio space I had planned. Took them 7 weeks to finish out, and they did a nice job!

The room is 4.8 x 6.1 meters, roughly (20x16 ft. or 320 sqft. exactly) The dimension was chosen because A) it's the largest size that would fit and still meet code requirements, and B) it has good acoustic modal response. That is, room modes are fairly evenly spaced across the lower frequencies according to the Amroc acoustic calculator.

The room is not soundproofed (that was not in the budget) so the walls are standard partition walls insulated with Thermafiber R15. The ceiling is where most the sound attenuation happens to keep noise from being annoying up on the first floor living spaces, and 2nd floor bedroom areas. And the ceiling does a great job. Double layer of insulation (Thermafiber fire & sound guard, air gap, and then R-15 insulation), and Armstrong Fine Texture ceiling tiles with NRC 0.70 and CAC 35 on a direct-mount ceiling grid (Ceilinglink system). I cranked the PA (Presonus Air 12" speakers on a Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK mixer) up to near 100dB SPL, and the living room noise level was measured as about 45 dB SPL. So depending on drum/bass around 40 to 50 dB SPL of sound attenuation.

The floors are luxury vinyl plank wood-look flooring. And there is a wet bar with Cherryville cabinetry and a nearly black granite countertop w/ spill channel and sink w/ pump. 3 pendant lights over the bar, and 2 4-light LED track lights on the other wall were also installed, and are on dimmer switches. Walls and front corners are treated with GIK Acoustic panels I bought and installed myself. I also installed a LED stage wash light over the desk which illuminates the floor and back of room. The bar counter is underlit with a couple Govee LED strips I bought. Both the LED strips and wash lights are sound reactive.

The room is purpose built to be a rehearsal, recording, and multimedia production space. And there are plans to host virtual performance streams with the bands/musicians I work with in the near future. It's a nice looking and nice sounding space, so here are some images.

So that's enough about the studio space.

Last March, our last cat died. He had complications with his diabetes, and we couldn't get it regulated with insulin. We had a scan done, and they found a mass on his pancreas. He was well loved and had a good life. After many months of having missed him, around Christmas time (with some mild encouragement by me) we decided to adopt 2 young cats from the local PAWS association. After a couple mistimings on contacting foster parents, we successfully adopted Bernard and Clayton in January. They are a bonded pair of brothers. They're both 1 year old now. They are very cute, but sometimes a pain. Again some images, because who doesn't like cat pictures!? (people who are less than human, that's who!)

I've also recently started practicing HEMA to get a bit more active. I've been interested in it for a few years now, and did recently find out that there is a local club here in Philly not far from us, the Philadelphia Common Fencers Guild. I think they're affiliated with Rogue Fencing. The lead instructor is also an EMT. Club classes are not in session, but we plan to join up once the resume.

In the meantime, I'm practicing at home, and possibly getting my wife involved. I did buy proper masks with overlays that have back of head protection, gorgets, and torso protection. I still need to get some good padded gloves at least for the light intensity we do at home, but I did get fingertip protectors that fit inside the gloves. Later once we join the club, we'll get proper gauntlets, and fill out the rest of the protection (hips, shins, arms, etc.)

The club we'll join focuses on the longsword and rapier styles of Fiore Dei Liberi and Philippo Di Vadi, though they do plan to expand a little in the future, such as including messers. I have a little knowledge of Joachim Meyer, but am learning a bit of Liberi for now.

Finally, in addition to the band I'm in, Blackjack Rose, I've joined another group involving our drummer and his friend who's a bassist. So this side project is a jazz/fusion trio. (Our main band is a pop/prog rock group). We'll resume rehearsals once all band members are vaccinated. But for now since it's just the 3 of us, the trio has met a couple times here in my basement on Sundays. They did ask that I bring my horn, so I've started taking up my trumpet again and practicing an hour a night. I haven't played in 20 years, but I still have all the books and tools I need to get back into form. (Vizzutti, Koprasch, Concone, and some newer jazz-oriented etude books I just picked up). I should be in pretty good shape by the end of April or May. Otherwise I'm still primarily a keyboardist with the group, but I'll double on trumpet.

The main band, Blackjack Rose, does have an album due to release soon. I don't have an ETA yet, but hopefully in the next couple months. We've had some snafus and things were delayed significantly, but hopefully everything is on track again. Meanwhile we decided to hire an animator to put animation to one of our songs. He should be starting work on that very soon, and it will probably take him several weeks to get it done. So we're looking forward to that being completed.

And that is what's been going on in my life for the past several months.

Re: Personal Life Stuff, mostly catching up.

Posted: Fri Apr 02, 2021 8:39 am
by ByteMixer
Oh, and there are plans to host virtual performances, and rehearsals and stream them from here in the basement over youtube and/or twitch. I just need to get a good cam or webcam that can stream and handle low-light well. It's looking like the Razor Kiyo Pro might work (the new one, not the one with the ring light attachment), or maybe one of the AverMedia PW513 or 315 webcams. Not sure I'm ready to put down $400+ for a camcorder or DSLR or mirrorless camera. (The cheapest I could afford is probably a Canon EOS Rebel T7 and use their new webcam utility).

Anyway, I tested the idea somewhat over the holidays and recorded/streamed using OBS and my iPhone SE (the older one). I'm still working out some minor kinks with the audio chain, but it mostly worked pretty well. These were informal performances by me for close friends and family, at least for the live stream. But I did keep the videos and post them on my youtube channel. I did one broadcast on Thanksgiving, and another on Christmas Day. The Thanksgiving performance is primarily "stream of consciousness" with a couple choice songs, keys only, from our band. The Christmas Day stream involves a combination of "keyboard karaoke" using our band's songs (I created minus-one tracks for me to play against as I was given the stems) and some stream of consciousness. ... d6G7RgoDdQ

Re: Personal Life Stuff, mostly catching up.

Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 12:18 am
by Interkarma
Great to hear from you ByteMixer! I love reading about your detailed technical setups. The pictures look incredible - that space is just beautifully put together. I can only dream of having my own space to work creatively like this. It's an awesome effort and I can see all the time and love put into it.

It's sad to hear your cat passed. We have a very elderly dog whose years and activities are now limited, and we appreciate every good day she's still with us. We just try to focus on all the happy years we've had together and keep her as comfortable as possible. But it's always painful when that time comes to an end. The new pair look very cute and happy, and I should say that Clayton is an excellent name for a cat :D

Here's wishing you all the best for the future, not only creatively but in fitness, family, felines, and friends. Thanks for the updates. :)

Re: Personal Life Stuff, mostly catching up.

Posted: Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:08 am
by ByteMixer
Thanks! Clayton and Bernard were named for the street corner they were found on in Philadelphia. They're rescues that we adopted from Philly PAWS. They are VERY energetic and great devourers of food at meal time. And yeah, it's painful when you reach the end of life stage for a pet who's been with you for 15 or 20 years. My dad had to euthanize our english setter when he got too old. He just got so arthritic that he started having to fall down instead of just laying down to nap. He was pretty torn about it, and ended up having to write a letter to help himself move on a couple weeks later. But yeah, the fuzzy little guys really stick with ya.

Hopefully creativity will pick back up again soon. It's looking like I'll be in Phase 1C or 2 for vaccinations, and just saw a newsletter e-mail that our state is anticipating moving to 1C around April 19th, and Phase 2 at the end of the month. We're supposed to be transitioning to 1B now. So I just have to wait a bit longer.

I probably spend a good 80% to 90% down here in the basement now, haha! It's a pretty comfortable setup, and looks great! I'm looking forward to the main band getting in here to rehearse, record, and do virtual performances. (still researching webcams or maybe a low end DSLR/mirrorless for the shot of the whole room).

Next year we are planning to build a back patio with one section being raised to the main floor level of the house. The raised section will have a 8x8ft. greenhouse that will be accessible from the dining room via single french door, and exit down onto the main patio. We've been looking at the greenhouse kits by CedarBuilt in Canada. We'll have to coordinate the hardscaper with our contractor, and possibly have to have the kit customized so it can fit under the eave on the back of the house where the 2nd floor juts out a foot or so. Contractor will put together/install the greenhouse, against the house, and cut out the existing window to put in the door. They'll also remove an old wall AC unit, seal up part of it, and put a small decorative portal window that looks into the greenhouse. Er, that's the idea at least.

The greenhouse is important as it will be a space to grow some herbs, restart my jalapeno plant, and plant small amounts of a couple staples in a dirt trough. Maybe a bell pepper plant and/or an onion plant, or a potato plant or something. I might also use the space to do a little watercolor painting from time to time.

So yeah, looking forward to getting that project going next year.