Well, Hannah's almost a year old. Sheri's been planning a little for her birthday party - I think we're going to have a cookout with some family and a few friends. Turns out quite a few people are going to be out of town next weekend.
I've been doing some more with recording on the rare opportunities I get. I think I've discovered that I get better sound and less noise by using the condenser to mic my amp than by using my amplifier emulator AUs. This might be unsurprising. The problem is, in order to do this, my amp has to be cranked pretty loud... ...loud enough that I don't really want hannah in the room with me, and when Sheri's home, she's not so much a fan. Maybe if I clean out the recording closet again...
My Star Wars game, Shards of Endor, is reaching it's finale. Tonight's session may or may not be the last game. (honestly, I kind of figure it'll go one more, but we'll see...). It's been fun, and I think it's been a good length. I'm still really enjoying it, but I think I'm just about ready for something else.
Also, I've been doing some slow and unsteady planning for the Little Fears (1.5) game I'm going to be running for some Playgrounders come the end of June. I've been doing a lot of concept/theme/atmosphere setup in my head for this one. I hope it comes off as well...
Mom came down for a visit last week - to see Hannah, of course. That was cool. Amongst the general hanging out, we went out to Sycamore Shoals, where I did some photo shooting for the first time in a while. That is always fun. Seems like I don't have as much time for some of these hobbies anymore. Guess that's due to the Rosebug.
And, apart from having been a little sick and that I'm not looking forward to tackling the yard after I'm done posting this, I think things are pretty good.
A brief glance at my calendar has reminded me that March was pretty uneventful, at least in any exciting way.
Sadly, about the most noteworthy happening in the month was my grandma's funeral. She'd been slowly fading for some years, so I suppose it was just "time". In a certain sense, I think we "lost" her some time ago, but there is something in the finality of the physical passing that gives one pause for this sort of reflection. It was good to see everyone though - I don't think I can recall the last time I got to spend time with that many relatives all at once. I do wish we could have stayed a bit longer.
In other, less serious news:
"Crackle Night" is well established at this point as tuesday evening's passtime, so that's been fun. I have also procured Ginger's copy of Windwaker from Patrick. Also fun.
"Shards of Endor" continues in a somewhat sporadic fashion, but has been a lot of fun. I've been kicking around ideas for subsequent games.
I've been giving some thought to further music projects. Since I haven't come up with much in terms of new compositions lately, I'm considering returning to some of the stuff I've already recorded and laying it down again - now having considerably more experience under my belt.
Also, included for your enjoyment, a picture of Hannah at 10 months. (Also, also: as of this version of the site, pics posted to the blog have thumbnails as well as a larger web image - click it for higher-res cuteness.)
Well, here we are. Version 10. In the last 7 years, there have been 10 iterations of this site, each constituting a complete rebuild and incorporating new things I've learned about web design & development.
As far as design goes, I was going for something cleaner, simpler and more elegant than the previous design (which was a bit more graphic rich and stylized). In terms of architecture, this is the first version that's actually built on an MVC platform. The specific framework is one of my own creation, loosely based on CodeIgniter. I'm really liking it.
This new site has some new features as well. Commenting ability has been expanded. (Re)added a site search feature (accessible from the footer). Games, Galleries and Albums are more official entities. More images in sections. General polish has been applied.
The music page has returned with an actual player. I'm not really happy with most of what's up there as of now, but I figured I'd put it up for good measure. Or mostly because the previous version of the site had nothing on the music page at all. I do have plans for future recording - when I have the opportunity to do much with it.
Well, Feb. is almost at an end, sadly. As usual, I had had hopes for doing something with RPM again this year since I actually have my own gear now, but it has turned out not to be. I've had too many other things pulling me in different directions. I think i've basically reached the conclusion that now isn't a good time in my life for a hobby project with those kinds of time constraints. I actually struggle more than I used to just to get a rp session planned.
That's not to say I haven't been doing a lot with music & recording stuff - i have. I'm really enjoying my new setup like I said before. I just haven't been able to spend 4 hours a day with it. It's more like 4 hours a week - and that's if I really try.
Earlier this month I also went on my first-ever "business trip" (it's like I'm all grown up or something) down to a web design conference in Orlando. I didn't learn anything earth-shattering, but it did point me in some new directions and shift my focus a bit. Overall worthwhile.
Also, Sushi day has come and gone. The site is 7 years old now. On a similar note, if some hypothesize that a new version of the site might be forthcoming, they wouldn't be completely wrong.
Hannah is 9 months now - and still super cute. Tony and I have been enjoying some Zelda. Talk has begun about the 6th OotsCon meetup this summer.
Things have been.
Uhm....happy new year?
Holidays were great. It was great to see family & friends we hadn't seen in ages.
Pictured to the right is one of the more exciting gifts I received this last season. I think I'm all ready to go now: I've got the mic running through the mixer I got earlier last year, I've bought new strings for my guitars and I've done sound checks and level setting for almost everything. I am ready to make the "best record ever". I'm just lacking one thing: A little inspiration.
Ironic, isn't it? I've been trying to write some new stuff for some time, I just haven't been satisfied with much of anything I've come up with. I've got some great ideas, I'm just not thrilled with the manifestations.
It used to be that I'd sit down with a guitar and fiddle around till I came up with an interesting progression or melody to set some lyrics to. Any more, however, it's harder and harder to come up with anything that I find interesting enough to pursue for more than 15 minutes.
I'm starting to think that a guitar itself is no longer sufficient - i need to hear (out loud or just in my head) other instruments and how they might compliment my efforts.
Also, I think I'm getting harder to please.
I've been spending some time mic'ing stuff up and playing guitar(s) through the system to hear what it sounds like, occasionally layering a couple of tracks - and I'm generally more satisfied with what I'm getting that way, though not much has clicked quite yet.
Trying to tackle this hobby from a different angle like this is a bit of a new exercise for me, and not exactly a simple one. I've come close to something cool a few times, but I haven't jumped in quite yet.
Also, I think I need carve out some larger chunks of time for a project like this - something I've not been able to do as yet. So I guess I'm lacking two things.
Like I mentioned before, I've been wanting to do some recording again, but am lacking some of the equipment i still need to open up shop. So I've been doing the next best thing.
I dug up a few old recordings that I've made over the years, but for whatever reason never finished mixing. Over the last few weeks, I've started working on them again - employing some new tools and techniques as well.
These aren't especially great songs, but they're ok and I've learned a bit playing with them some more. I figured I'd post them here, but they're not enough to mark a real return of the Music page.
I have plans for that, however...
Edit: Something went awry in my exporting process. I've remastered, exported and re-uploaded these songs. Turns out I'd forgotten to turn off GarageBand's "we assume you don't know what you're doing" feature...
Edit #2: I have remastered these songs yet again. A casual listen probably won't notice much difference, but they are now approaching the production level I'll be shooting for on future projects.
Some of you may have noticed that the music page still reads "returning soon". One might argue that this has proven false. Still, for the last few months I've been wanting to get back into recording again. The problem with this is that I've only ever borrowed the equipment I need to do it well, and I don't have access to much at the moment. I've been wanting to buy some of my own stuff for a while too, but things have been a bit tight lately.
Not that I need real high end stuff, mind you. I've been quite happy with the results I've managed with quite a meager setup, but after looking around at what I'd buy were I do reconstruct my home studio, I do need a few hundred dollars to put into it - a few hundred dollars which I don't really have at the moment. Anyone who wants to make donations is welcome. Really.
Anyway, last weekend was Fathers Day. My first, since our little girl was born back in May. Combining this fact with the aforementioned desires, Sheri decided I should go ahead and buy the first "piece" of what I wanted.
After some consideration, I decided the first piece was a mixer - even with nothing else, I could record some guitar & bass tracks. I've got a decent recording machine, some DAW software I like and instruments to play, but I didn't have any way to connect the dots. In the past I have bridged this gap by simply running an analog tape-out from a borrowed mixer to the line-in on my computer - and I found this to work well. I considered looking for a simple USB audio interface instead of a full-out mixer, but I enjoyed my method and I would eventually like to be able to do some multiple-mic'ing on instruments. Plus, for what I wanted to spend, I was going to get more features out of a mixer. Also, I like to be able to do some pre-recording eq & gain teaking instead of relying on the software for all of it.
I ended up going with the Behringer's Xenyx X1204USB. 4 mic inputs, 60mm faders and a built-in usb audio interface (which i'm looking forward to trying out). In addition, this board has a built in compressor and other effects which I really didn't need, but the identical model without effects was actually a few bucks more. Anyway, I've definitely got some room to grow with it.
The only other things I really need are some decent mics. I've done most of my previous work with a Shure SM58, and that proved to be a good mic - and one that I may return to. Right now, however, I have my sights on a pair of SM57's - mostly because they are legendarily good at everything, and I need a versatile mic. I'm also tempted to pick up one of Behringer's condenser mics at some point - mostly because they're exceptionally inexpensive and fairly well reviewed. A condenser would be pretty awesome, even if I'm not sure I'll ever have a house quiet enough to use one (see previously-mentioned baby girl).
My mixer arrived yesterday but, due to the Meetup (more on this to come), I haven't had a chance to do more than take it out of the box and "oooh" and "aaaah" over it a little. I'm hoping to have a decent mic setup in time for next year's RPM in Feb.
And some songs written, too.
|Wednesday January 6, 2010 at 12:46pm||holidays, friends, photography, recording, gaming||Comments (0) »|
Still trying to get back into the normal swing of things after a couple of relaxing weeks.
We had a great time over new year's with a bunch of awesome friends. We basically spent the long weekend hanging out and playing lots of games - including a midnight game of New Year's Kubb. Robb & Edie were awesome hosts in their spacious new house, and it was great to get to see Jerry, Amanda and Stacey again. Plus Llama and Tim were there, which always makes for entertainment. :) I've got some pics of the festivities up on facebook.
I've finished compiling most of my favorite photos from 2009 (and the ones that I think are "good" from a technical perspective), and have created a home for them on my Gallery page.
On a more musical note (ha!), I'm still not sure whether I'm going to make another attempt at completing RPM this year. I really *want* to, as I've been upgrading some hardware & software in my "studio", have been helping Steve record some tracks, have been streamlining my approach to the recording process and have learned quite a bit regarding the enhancement of the quality of the tracks I put down... ...unfortunately, when it comes to actual material to record, I am all but completely dry atm. I've been trying to come up with some stuff for the last week or so (albeit, pretty sporadically), but haven't had any luck. If I can come up with a few likely tracks before Feb 1, I'll probably give it a go... ...otherwise, I may sit out this year.
In other news, I'm trying to work out some scheduling get my gaming group(s) back together after the chaos the holidays generally bring regarding this hobby. I've been working on my Mouse Guard campaign, which I'm excited about. I'm intending to pick up a few other games reasonably soon as well and I'm hoping to run and/or play with some greater-than-usual variety this year.
|Wednesday December 9, 2009 at 1:34pm||holidays, birthdays, friends, music, recording, anime, video games, gaming||Comments (0) »|
The holidays are fast approaching, but this year hasn't become as hectic (yet) as years past.
We have our vacation time planned out now - we'll be gone to the IN/OH area from the afternoon of the 20th through the 28th. We'll get to go to christmas parties on both sides of my extended family this year, which will be cool. Still need to finalize some details - like when to meet up with some people and who might be able to take care of Ally.
Other stuff (in no real order):
The Social Theory class I had been sitting in on came to a close, which is kinda sad. I was enjoying that. Dr. Beck took us out for lunch on Dec 1st - this was a reward for the class's good grades and they invited me to come along for fun. I brought them cookies on the last day of class. They were a little abnormal in terms of shape & consistency, but tasty.
Our friend Steve has moved back into the area, and it's been fun trying to catch up with him a bit. We've been talking a bit about music & recording and he wants to get back into a little tabletop gaming too. I've set part of my recording 'studio' up and have been playing a bit with Addictive Drums and AmpliTube. I've been looking at electronic drum kits again too.
We're planning what should be a fun new-years-eve party at the Hippie Hut Mk. II, though we are very sad that our EP & co. will not be able to make it. :(
Yesterday was Sheri's birthday. We went to the crazy tomato and then to best buy to buy a movie. We ended up getting Evangelion:1.01 - the first of 4 feature-length movies which are to be a retelling of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime series. It was pretty faithful to the original. On the downside, I doubt the next one will come out before next christmas.
Also, for one of her birthday presents, I got her Super Mario Wii, which she was very excited about. :) We played a couple levels of that too - it's hugely entertaining.
Still haven't got to playtest my new roleplaying system, but hopefully soon.
So, it would seem that i've neglected the poor blog for a while. I've got a couple-few things to mention, but i'm gonna break 'em up into separate posts for thematic reasons.
Ok, so first off: returing from AR - since i was still there at last posting. I must say, i'm loving the macbook & having a computer with a battery life long enough to actually use some of the wifi hotspot around (it gives be 4.5 - 5 hours on a charge - not too shabby).
So, we stayed in AR for a little over a week so sheri could help her mom with her recovery from surgery. Last I heard she's doing alright regarding all that, but did find out she'll need chemo which is upsetting to her. Still, she's doing her best to get through all of this. Sheri's grandma is in the hospital again as of now, so health issues in the family seem to be on a disheartening rise. :( This year's been pretty arduous overall so far, unfortunately...
Partially due to the trip, but mostly due to a startling and irritating lack of inspiration (and not for lack of *hours* of trying), i didn't get very far on this year's RPM. I have most of two songs recorded - and only one of them is actually new (the second is an old song that i decided i'd finally put down). My closet soundbooth does a good job though and it was worth constructing - now if i could only come up with something to record. Erg. I'll have the new stuff put up in the music section after i've finished mastering the second song.
We went to the coffeehouse again a couple weeks back, which was fun. I got to take some pictures and play Wii on a giant projector screen. Good times.
We have VBS (for which i'm slated to do A/V stuff and photography) as well as a trip up to OH coming up this month...as well as some other stuff to be mentioned in the following entry...
Anyway, I think that's about all for this one...
|Sunday February 1, 2009 at 3:08pm||music, recording, gaming, friends, family, health, trips||Comments (4) »|
So today's the first day of february and RPM - sadly, i'm in Erwin for most of the day and can't do much in the way of recording. I *can* however, work on some preliminary stuff now that I have a macbook, which i'll be starting in a bit. 27 more days. Deep breath...
Had two great gaming sessions this weekend. Sadly, one of the games is losing a player. I will admit slightly shrinking that group is not all bad (6 players is a little past my 'ideal'), but we'll miss having Nick around for the next year. The other group had a good time with session #2 last night. I'm enjoying the progressing stories and interactions for both games immensely, each in its own way.
We got to see Bart & Sarah's baby Joe today - he's 9 days old. And quite adorable.
In more serious/troubling news, we discovered this week that a tumor Sheri's mom had removed was malignant and that she'll be having more surgery soon. We're beginning to make some initial preparations for a trip out to AR to be with her and the rest of the family for that, but we're not sure exactly when it will be as yet. We're also a little concerned about the weather, since they've had a really bad ice storm and a large part of the region has been declare a disaster area and is without power and a little short on other provisions.
I think that's everything on the list for now...
Only two noteworthy things to mention here this week. And they're completely unrelated.
The first is that last week I started making preparations for this year's RPM challenge. Basically, i've been setting up my "studio". In the interest of improving the "tightness" of my recorded tracks (particularly the vocals) i've decided to turn the office closet into a sort of recording booth. I've cleared it out completely and lined most of the inside of it with foam from a cheap mattress pad. I've also moved in my guitar amp and the mic/soundboard setup that will run into my macbook for recording.
I spent a good chunk of time friday night and saturday afternoon doing sound checks with various instruments and vocals. It's sounding pretty good. Now I need to spend the next week writing.
On saturday we had "The Party Man Was Not Meant To Plan". This was Tony's birthday party. He apparently requested a Cthulu theme. We had all kinds of impressive unspeakable snacks and played some Lovecraftian horror games - namely Arkham Horror and Cthulu 500 (though we did have several others to choose from). And, of course, no horror experience would truly be complete for our Llama without some pink elephants. Hehe. It was a good time. I took quite a few pictures, the best of which are in the Llamabration 09 gallery.
This is more of a surrendering than anything, sadly. I've gone ahead and added the three songs I recorded back in february to the Music page - By Moonlight, The Poor Man That I Am and Sleeping In The Willows. My original intent was to finish writing & recording the album they were supposed to be a part of, but it's now almost july and I've yet to do another single thing with it - nor do i feel particularly inspired/motivated to do so.
The original concept entitled Voyages of Ghostships was to be a collection of songs something like ghost stories - in a more concrete or abstract fashion from track to track. I still may expand/complete the project, but for now, I'm considering it somewhat dead in the water.
|Wednesday February 27, 2008 at 1:01pm||sickness, music, recording, family, weather, movies||Comments (1) »|
Well, here we are.
Not too much to report. I think I'm finally over this round of the sickness. Still the occasional cough, but it's not much.
I think my getting sick was the death knell to my hopes of finishing my recording project on time - having now recovered, i'm feeling thoroughly uninspired. As it's obvious I'm not going to be able to write and record 7 songs in the next 48 hours, I think I'm going to shelve the project for a while and pick it up when my attitude concerning it improves a bit. On the upside, I did get 3 songs written and recorded (and ideas for approx 1.5 more) this month - even with all the games I had to run, the being sick, and all the other stuff - which is a greater per-day ratio than I think I've ever accomplished. I also went in a considerably different direction from normal with the writing (I'll talk about that more when I get around to finishing/posting it). All in all, I think the project was a huge success, even if I didn't pull off the formal objective. I think for next year, I'm going to try to have the writing done before the recording month - my writing output just isn't high enough to write 10 songs in a month - though I think I *could* accomplish the actual recording in that time.
My mom stopped through monday on her way to visit my sister in SC. We went out to dinner and had a good time chatting about whatever. She's supposed to stop over again thursday on her way back up to IN.
We've had a bit of real snow for the first time this year. It's starting to melt off now, but we had probably better than 1.5 inches this morning - which is about twice what we generally get.
We're supposed to host a Muppethon this saturday - a bunch of us are going to get together to watch some Muppet movies. Why? The question, my friends, is why not?
It's been about a week since my last blog post, so I guess it's that time again. Not too much interesting going on. Not to talk about anyway.
Last saturday Rucht, having decided that way too many of us gamers had never seen the movie Conan the Barbarian, had a bunch of us over for a viewing of the very old and cheesy film. Apparently we've been initiated now. We did have a good time playing with the plastic swords he got for the occasion, eating some tasty food, playing an epic game of munchkin and making another (failed) attempt at finishing a game of Arkham Horror. Oh, and because i'd seen that movie, I realized last night that James Earl Jones is also in Dr. Strangelove. Weird.
Sunday, I continued my longest currently-running campaign (18 sessions now, started a year ago last october). I love that game. It's so much different than most rp games.
I've been continuing to work on my RPM project. I'd hoped to be a bit further than I am, and it's beginning to look like I'm not going to finish. We've now reached the half-way point, and I've only got 2 songs down. I wrote about 1.5 more last night, but I haven't even started recording them yet. Perhaps tonight while sheri's at choir practice. I'm also discovering this project to be more a 'proof of concept' than an actual finished product. I'm way too picky to settle for what's coming out so far. Still, it's been most enlightening and enjoyable.
Also, I've posted to the gallery a few more pics i've taken recently. A couple more cute pictures of Ally (apparently one of my favorite subjects)(Ears!) and a few scenery pics - including a decent moon shot and a killer sunset sky. I'm looking forward to the weather warming up enough to actually go out to some different places to shoot.
Feb 7th 2008
2 new songs written and mostly recorded. I like them both quite a bit. If I get nothing else out of my efforts this month, this has been well worth it.
I'm greatly enjoying this record - how the rest of it pans out will be interesting. Still not sure if I'm going to finish it "in time", but I'm still making a good go at it.
So I saw this a few days ago on slashdot (and later on BoingBoing): The RPM Challenge
Summarized: Write and record a complete album (10 songs or 35 minutes) during the month of February just because you can.
But really, you should go read it.
The ideas behind this exercise in artistic creativity greatly intrigue me. I've long been the sort who most often pursued his creative interests only when it struck his fancy. This challenge asserts that a more disciplined, "whether you feel like it or not" approach can be very rewarding - and as it points out, you can't put that much effort into something and *not* get better.
I also appreciate the project's emphasis on encouraging people (anyone and everyone) to make music for the sake of making music. This strikes a chord (forgive the unintentional pun there) that resonates profoundly in a time when the recording industry and its money-making concerns are in the forefront of the music scene.
So yeah, I'm going to try this. Should be interesting. I've done their little sign-up thing, I've posted it for you all on my blog, I've made a commitment. Lets see what I can make happen. It's going to take some organization, some discipline and a lot of work. It doesn't have to be great (something i'm reminding myself), it just has to be the best i can do in a month.
Worst case, I've made an effort, have at least *something* to show for it, and almost certainly improved as a musician, songwriter and recording tech. Best case, I have a lot of fun and I come up with some truly interesting new material. Either way, I win.
|Sunday August 12, 2007 at 6:05pm||summer, gaming, music, recording, yard work, work, dogs||Comments (2) »|
...which is almost over. Doesn't seem like it should be this late already.
So the summer has been pretty good. Pretty busy in places. Schedules of people have tended to be less than predictable as well. I mean more than usual.
Not enough gaming went on this summer - perhaps the slowest on record since graduation - i'm not sure. We've got a couple few sessions together, but nothing major. I have been working on quite a bit of gaming stuff, however.
I've also been continuing work on my recording project again recently - which tends to go in spurts. Before this last week I hadn't touched it in at least a month, maybe more. I'm kinda stuck on the words to the song I'm working on atm.
I am further convinced we need a riding mower. That grass just gets too tall too fast for my poor little push mower. It's not so much the pushing I don't like, it's the must-stop-every-five-feet-to-keep-the-mower-from-dying that annoys me. I suppose I could merely upgrade the pushmower to something a bit more heavy duty, but i'm not sure what i'd need or how much of a help it would actually be.
Sheri starts her new job at Milligan this week. :-) That'll be great. She'll actually be able to do stuff in the evenings now instead of working 2-11pm (the 'no life' shift).
My job is going pretty well - though we're about to be very busy. Getting a couple few large projects, though I am happy the boss-man turned one of them down. It would have been quite a bit of money for the business, but it would have been very difficult and resource consuming. He decided it just wasn't worth it, and I agree.
Also on the subject of work, Andy's doing a great job with us. I've been really impressed with his graphic work. I mean, he went to school for that, but he seems to have a lot of innate talent as well.
We've also had a couple of cool family visits this summer. Speaking of, Jamie sent me an email a while back saying she might be able to come visit this month, but I haven't heard from her since... ...that would be cool. She even promised to give Ally a bath. heh.
I've been working compiling a bunch of stuff I've recorded over the years. Eventually, there will some sort of music page on this site. I've even dug up some of the really old stuff my old band from IN recorded forever ago. Granted I don't *like* much of it anymore, but I'd feel a little wrong leaving it out...
In related news, I've gotten pretty darn good with Garageband and the little recording setup I've got here. I'm currently working on what will be a cohesive album. I'm about 8 songs into the recording process. I'll probably have that posted on the music page whenever I get done with it - but since I've been working on it since February, it will probably be quite a while before I'm done with it... ...and probably quite a while after that before i'm happy enough with it to call it 'done'.