Monthly Archives: May 2008

VSAC2008

My dad and I recently joined the Oregon Triode Society, which is dedicated to vacuum tube audio and is, in general, quite a bit of fun. Lots of nerdy discussions that focus on music, it’s a blast. We joined just in time to get spun up for VSAC 2008, which is apparently the long awaited return of the “Vacuum State of the Art Convention” which, as far as I can tell, was last run in 2003.

The show, however, was not so much five years in the making as it was fly by night. There was no schedule posted on their website for the seminars. I had not planned on attending any of them, but there was a day of show ticket upgrade to be able to attend the seminars that was never mentioned. My dad made the decision for me and we upgraded. Onward to knowledge!

The first seminar was supposed to be a discussion of new versus old stock tubes and the various benefits that each offers. It was, instead, a meandering “those were the days” reminiscence from some apparently very important guy in the field, where he detailed the business failings of people he didn’t like in the industry, and occasionally declared new tubes from outside the United States to be “good” or “terrible”. I wasn’t able to sort through it. My dad called it quits on this one, we were obviously not going to take home anything from this, so we headed out to the craftsman display room.

There were ten items in this room. Two cabinets of vintage tubes brought by an OTS Member, who also brought his solid state volume control, and his Marantz 10B tuner. I took pictures, but in all, it was pretty weak. There were a handful of amps, maybe five, there were two hand-built FM tuners, and that’s about it. The craftsman listening room was similarly pathetic, with a reference system provided by a local hi-fi shop, and Alfred Duppke (another OTS member)’s beautiful open-baffle speakers, but that’s all I saw.

Time for another seminar! This time it was one on listening room design. This one, at least, had a couple takeaway points. Notably that not all corners are bad, but that coffee tables usually are. Largely, however, the discussion centered on the various successes of the presenters commercial business, which was tuning listening rooms.

Now we head to the vendor suites. The second floor was OK, just a couple of larger conference rooms full of neat things, DIY volume knobs was pretty much the coolest one, but there were several vendors with great sounding speakers, a couple of interesting projects (the TAPE project was one), and also some snake oil salesmen, which are of course a de-facto standard for any audiophile event.

The third floor was… less OK.. It was a scattering of rooms through the floor, with only a map to show you where to go. The rooms were very small, the sounds were not quite as good, and there is something creepy about standing in a motel bathroom to listen to a stereo.

Time for another seminar! We headed down for the last seminar of the day, Creating a Digital Music Server, which was the one I was most excited about. I’m a huge proponent of digital music storage, and I was curious what everyone was doing for their frontend. We sat down and were immediately immersed in… I don’t even know. A meandering tale of a professional music component review writer, and his strange audience-seated counterpart. They routinely asked for the opinion of the crowd on a subject and then weighed in heavily to agree with whoever spoke up (uncompressed audio is better, etc). The discussion rapidly wandered away from a seminar to a shoot-the-shit free for all ranging from is the RIAA a bad thing to does digitally encoded music sound better from a rotating disk or from solid state storage (the consensus was that it sounded more ‘open’ when played from solid state storage. I wish I were making this up.) Then, of course, we moved on to the main course. Some random dude attacking young people because they don’t like music enough.

Yep, this guy singles out the youngest guy in the room, a 15 year old kid, and asks him how many albums he owns. The kid answered that he didn’t own any, that he only had stuff on his iPod. The guy then asked how many concerts he had been to, and the kind responded that he hadn’t been to any. The guy then proceeds to lay down the line that because kids don’t have albums with liner notes, they don’t gain an appreciation for the music, and because they don’t have that, they’re not passionate about music enough to lie to their parents and sneak out to go to concerts. When someone pointed out that concerts were no longer as cheap as they used to be, he somehow laid that at the kids doorstep too. I took him to task for being dismissive about other people, but it was already too late. I tried to hate him to death, along with the guy who explained that rotating disks could never rotate completely accurately, and therefore music played off them would never be as good (he did not have a reason for why rotation-based CD’s or LP’s were still better than playing off a hard drive, but I’m sure it would have something to do with the airiness or opennossitude of the sound). But they were too powerful for my magics.

The show was a disaster. Each “seminar” was worse than the one before, ranging the entire field from shallowly hidden sales pitch to idiot free for all, and while there were plenty of nice sounding speakers on display, there were a dozen $40 “tuning dots” or “specially tuned knobs” for sale for each thing of merit. Blugh.

Some pictures of the Haro

After I got her all shaped up. It’s fun to ride, got a little bit of chopper flop from the fork being too tall plus it gives new definition to “relaxed” geometry in the back end too. But it’s nice enough to get me back and forth to work, and I think it might even work as an offroad machine, as long as I’m not being too aggressive.

This shows the control area a little better. The shifters are XT rapidfire pods, the right is an 8-speed, the left is a “mega 9”, so they are mismatched, but so is everything else on the bike.

The saddle is a nondescript Vetta I took off my second ever mountainbike, a Trek 7000, when I replaced it with a Vetta SL with the little silver plastic bumpers on it (I wish I could source one of these for this bike). At least this is the right vintage for the frame, since I’m such a purist.

Penis Copter

Fargo: penis… copter
Fargo: you don’t hear that every day, ya know?
Aaron: Well, I do.
Aaron: But I’m a Penis Copter technician.
Fargo: oh
Fargo: did you take a course in that, or was it on the job training?
Aaron: There ain’t exactly a Penis Copter Institute of Technology, buddy.
Aaron: You gotta earn your stripes out there on a Penis Copter refueling team or something.
Aaron: I married into it, myself.
Fargo: oh, i thought there was a school in Nebraska, offering degrees and job placement
Aaron: That’s all just a big scam, trying to get you to invest in their Penis Copter team, lots of talk about lateral markets and cross-promotion.
Aaron: I’ll take two hands wrapped around a Penis Copter fuel line over two shares of an exhibition class Penis Copter in Duluth any day of the week.
Fargo: are there different classes of penis copter? like do you start in the Asian league or what?
Aaron: There’s Euro Cock GT, P.R.I.K class, World Sack.
Fargo: i hear the ring courses can be very technical in Europe
Aaron: Pretty much the pinnacle of the sport is right here in the heartland, Penis Copter 500.
Aaron: Born of moonshiners trying to figure out how to make the most penis-shaped bootlegging rigs.
Fargo: ….why… why would they do that?
Aaron: Adopted by the domestic Penis Copter industry as the vanguard of Penis Copter technology.
Aaron: Machines, matched, a true battle of Penis Copter pilot wills.
Fargo: oh, so it’s one of those boring “everyone has the same gear” classes?
Fargo: please. that’s for the masses
Fargo: i thought you were better than that Slappy
Aaron: Listen, you want to go work on some greasy uncut Peniscopter with no hair on the sack while listening to some 92 pound Frenchman whine at you, go ahead.
Aaron: As for me, I’ll take a good old American Pork sword with wings on it and the stars and mother fucking stripes on the side.
Aaron: DO NOT MESS WITH THE ZIPPER VIPER OR YOU WILL GET THE FANGS.
Fargo: i’m just saying that i need nuance in my flying genital sports

Firefox 3 Beta 5

OK, I know that this is still beta software, but this functionality has been present for three Beta revisions and doesn’t seem to be getting addressed at all.

Mozilla dudes – How do I disable fucking “work offline” mode permanently? I don’t use Network manager to manage my connection (I use a bridged connection at home for virtualization and when I’m dialed in on my laptop with my cellphone Network Manager isn’t an option, PPP has been broken for fucking ever). I don’t want to stare at an old version of my homepage like some kind of retard. I don’t want to have to uncheck a god damned box every fucking time I start up the software (with the mouse no less, no god damned keyboard shortcut either). If I cannot disable Work Offline mode – WHY THE FUCK NOT? Does it piss off the Baby Jesus? Did _I_ piss off the baby Jesus?

Things I’ve learned about Oregon

Here’s a short list of things I’ve learned about Oregon.

“Rain” on the weather forecast means it’s going to rain. Not hard, not monsoon, just rain. All day.

“Showers” on the weather forecast means it’s going to rain. Not hard, not monsoon, just rain. All day.

“Chance of Showers” on the weather forecast means it’s going to rain. Not hard, not monsoon, just rain. All day. It might stop for ten or twenty minutes.

“10% Chance of Precipitation” on the weather forecast means it’s going to rain. Not hard, not monsoon, just rain. Most of the day. Probably won’t rain in the morning.

“Cloudy” on the weather forecast means it’s probably going to rain. Just a couple little sprinkles.

What I’d like to know how is how in the fuck it’s supposed to go from 50F (10C) and raining to 85F (30C) fucking degrees and clear in 48 hours. I presume this will come with a sudden clap of thunder and the magenta flare of an old one prying his way into this realm through a rough-edged hole punched in reality, as we all cry our now melted frontal lobes out in tribute. Cthulhu fhtagn! Aiee.

My awesome sword

In distinct contrast to my post yesterday, this will all be upbeat. I fucking swear it will, or I’ll turn this blog around and we’ll head straight back for Diaryland.

Look at what I found in the road.

It’s awesome. It has this little skull and crossbones on it, and a little red LED in it that lights up when you press the button. And about four different swordfighting sounds. And despite obviously being a dollar store toy with throwaway potential, it has a REPLACABLE BATTERY. Just in case you need to go through an epic foam sword pirate/Thundercat battle.

Fake plastic me

A green plastic watering can
For a fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth

I’ve been depressed lately. I’m bored and tired and grumpy and horny and easily distracted. I sleep but when I wake up I immediately wish I had more time to sleep. I feel fat and unattractive, this suicidally plummeting self image is countered sweetly by a sex drive that is two notches shy of manic. That’s right, folks, it’s Springtime in Aaron’s head.

I want to purge. Everything. Stuff from the house. Stuff from my body. Stuff from my head. Especially that last one. Stuff from my head. I can’t stop thinking of shit to say and then stopping myself because I don’t want to be rude. I can’t stop thinking the curse words and biting my tongue. And that’s just not working anymore. I’m always the guy who grins and bears it, but I can’t grin and bear it anymore. It’s poisoning my organs. It’s making me toxic. It’s turning me to plastic. This shit can’t be kept inside my head.

This shit has to be said.

You should dump him. You know you should. You say as much. But every time you seem on the verge you back down and suddenly you’re cuddling with him again. He’s never going to get off his ass and do anything. It’s a bear to get him to decide on fucking dinner, and you think he’s gonna be the one to keep beside you for an exciting life, a life of maximum effort? He’s functionally illiterate trailer trash and you’re fucking blind if you can’t see it.

You don’t seem to understand what I am saying. I said it and I meant it. We’re through with this, I’m tired of it. I gave you chance after chance and you lied and halfassed and in the end did nothing. When I finally told you how I felt, you nodded your head like you understood, but apparently you didn’t. If you don’t do something with yourself soon you’re going to end up on the street. How can you not see that?

Why should I be happy? You promised me freedom to pursue what I wanted and then when I took that option it turned into backpedaling and doubletalk. Now I’m stuck between two people who are telling me completely opposite things. So now that this clusterfuck is on the slow boat to nowhere, you give me a hearty handshake and tell me I deserve it. Well fuck you too.

I wasn’t sure how to react when you asked me about it before, because I never met him. But then I did and if that’s how he treats you every day, you need to run, not walk, away. It’s borderline abusive, and I could detect no humor in it. This was not the witty barbs of a sarcastic lover, these were the jabs of a little man who insists on keeping his woman in check with psychological assault. I couldn’t believe how he belittled you in front of your friends and his. It’s not my place to say, I know, but now it’s said. You deserve so much better, it makes me angry just thinking about it. Don’t you know how beautiful you are?

You coward. How can you hide behind this wall? The strength to change the things you can, faggot, that’s the line you should be thinking about. Fuck serenity. Fuck comfort. Fuck complacency. This is about progress, and you can’t make an omelet without killing a couple chickens, right? A restless night of horror sleep with these thoughts ricocheting around inside your head isn’t a good trade to stop a couple minutes of uncomfortable conversation. You’re an idiot, and a coward. You’re lazy, and this shit is getting old. You’ve burned every bridge on the way here and ended up with what? Thirty extra pounds and a head full of stories that are all worn out, soft at the edges. You need the crystalline outline of something new.

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns
– Radiohead “Fake Plastic Trees”

A bone of contention

Normally, I read John Scalzi’s blog and nod my head like a good little libby whore, he’s funny and his public facing (as he is quick to point out, there is a difference between who he is online and who he is) opinions frequently match up with mine. But today, I read this. I agree with a significant portion of this article. I, too, disapprove of the Bush administration’s handling of… damn near everything. I agree that any attacks on Iran would simply be spiteful.

What I disagree with is this.

“Frankly, at this point, the less he intrudes on my consciousness the happier I am…”
“…but more than that I just don’t want to have to think about him ever again.”

I think this is the wrong way to look at it. I think we should think about George W. Bush ALL THE TIME from here on in. Whenever we, as a country, have a discourse about what harm could be done by a poorly chosen politician, at any level, we should have to confront the loss that this country has suffered. The loss of life, the loss of political capital, the loss of economic momentum.