Sunday, December 14, 2014

Time for a Holiday Gift Guide.

Here are some last minute ideas for gifts in case you have just remembered that Christmas and Chanukah are coming up. Basically this is just me telling you what I’ve bought in the last year.

I’m going to start with a couple of great gifts for the people you hate that also have kids. The Korg Monotron Duoand Korg Monotron Delay synthesizers. While in the hands of a trained musician they can produce pleasing tones, in the hands of a child they produce WMD class annoying noises. The Delay has the added benefit of feedback so that the device can continue making noises until the battery runs out. Tons of fun especially if you run the Duo through the Delay. And great for the spacey hippie on your list as well. If you’re too cheap to buy these little synths but want to make annoying noises using the PC, I think that using VST host and some free VST synth plugins is a great alternative.

Another (terrible) gift for children is a javelin. This summer I purchased a used Viking Javelinat the OSU surplus sale. Everyone needs to experience the awesome primal feeling of holding a spear, unlocking the inner centurion in all of us. How delightful that they make children’s javelins then, perfect for the poor child whose parents won’t let them play with toy guns but do encourage sporting activities. Like boar hunting.

Back to music…I bought the synthesizers above because I started recording “music” as a hobby. I use Audacity to record and edit tracks and use a Behringer 302USB USB Mixer to get the various instruments (guitar, bass, keyboards, microphone) into the computer. It works well and doubles as a great headphone amplifier.

After making music you can relax and listen to it in a Mexican hammock. We bought one for the back porch and Felice falls asleep in it a lot when I’m talking.

You probably need batteries. I’ve been having good luck with the Tenergy Low Self Discharge NiMH batteries that Amazon offers. The 9V batteries are especially handy and not that much more expensive than alkaline 9V batteries. Great if you have a lot of 9V powered electronic meters or guitar effects pedals. The best part is that they lose their charge much slower than regular rechargeable batteries do.

I put a Crucial M550 512GB SSD in my workstation last year. I think that few PC users wouldn’t like getting one or the even less expensive MX100 model. Once you get used to instant disk access it’s hard to go back to spinning drives. 

I also bought some stainless steel chopsticks for the family. They take some getting used to but I like how durable they are. Plus you can annoy people by remarking about how sustainable they are when compared to disposable wood chopsticks.

Friday, December 05, 2014

New Shop Building.

I’ve been remiss in posting pictures of our new shop building construction. It will allow us to move all of our work out of the house and gain us an extra room as well as reclaiming other bits of space. Construction by Pacific Timbercraft. Nathan of Pacific Timbercraft just bought the house across the road from us, so it’s a pretty easy commute for him. The shop will be 24’ x 36’. We wanted something enjoyable to work in with windows and well insulated for comfort. We broke ground on October 9th… My reaction to the first bills.shop9801 Framing…henry1stdremel To give an idea of the timeline, here’s Henry using a Dremel to carve a pumpkin the day before Halloween.shop1001 Trusses.shop1003 Bracing and such.shop11071401 Roof sheathing.DSC05442 Insulation for under the slab. We didn’t go with in floor radiant heat but this will prevent the slab from acting as a heat sink. Note the 2x6 walls.shopslab01 Concrete.over1 Paper up, roof shingled, overhang for the door.over2 Nathan really wishes he could timber frame everything.over3 Boards for the siding.henry12 Henry’s birthday last weekend.shoppp1 Interior wall splitting it up into two zones, one for relatively clean and one for relatively dirty.shoppp02 Siding on the west side.shop12051401Siding working its way around today. Probably another month of work but we’re getting there. It’s expensive but it was time to expand our space. The kids aren’t getting any smaller nor are we getting younger. I hope it will allow us to produce more jewelry with greater ease.