The R&D Workshop No.6

✤ Intro

Last October I wrote a couple of these updates, No.4 and No.5. I attempted to get you, the reader, up-to-date on projects in general, and then I specifically outlined my hopes for the winter music season. Here I am to tell you about some more things that have or have not happened since then.

✤ Little Drummer Man

Have you read my posts on the resolutions I've made this year? I've linked the post that goes most in depth about my 2018 goals here. One of those resolutions is playing drums daily. I've done a pretty decent job of following through with this goal so far with plenty of room for improvement. While I'm already experiencing the benefits of the (progressively) daily discipline, I expect to see much bigger gains when next autumn comes.

One big issue I’ve had with accomplishing these goals recently is that I came down with the flu. That really screwed up my ability and my motivation to accomplish my goals. I’ve been gradually feeling better and hope to be tiptop by the time I hit the two-week mark since I came down with the sickness. When I initially got sick, I was pushing myself a lot, and I’ve been reluctant to do so again until I’m back to normal.

I was really starting to enjoy and look forward to my new daily habits. I had plenty to improve upon and figure out, but it was nice to feel the pride that came with shaping a ‘new me.’ I felt better from the effort and in the making of the effort itself. Getting off track and behind has been a big disappointment, and it has really shown me how much I want to accomplish my goals. Sure, it’s nice to feel the accomplishment, but the byproducts of the accomplishments are the real prize.

✤ Let There Be Shelving

studio, shelves, Minnesota, wood, building
Although I didn't complete all of the studio upgrades I would have liked to complete last autumn, one thing I did get done—perhaps the most pertinent item on the list—was to build storage shelves. One of the perks to shelves is taking advantage of vertical space, and I badly needed to take advantage of that perk. While not all of my studio things fit on this shelving, it made a huge difference in fitting everything into that corner of the room.

Whenever I make changes to my studio, I always think about how it will influence the sound within the room. Where two flat surfaces come together to form a corner, undesirable things happen in relation to sound. With a shelf in that corner, I will be introducing a little diffusion and a little absorption. Reflections won't change a whole lot due to the nature of the stuff on the shelves, but diffusion helps with that. Still, it's better than it was in these regards, and I've got some shelves to use.

studio, shelves, Minnesota, wood, buildingOne of the rules I gave myself was to only use wood that I already had. I usually have a fair amount of wood sitting in the garage at any given time, and I felt that I could reasonably accomplish the self-directed directive. I felt that it would also give me a bit of a challenge to figure out how I was going to build it. Plus, who doesn't like to save money. I did end up buying ‘L’ brackets to attach the top and bottom halves together once I had them in the basement.

There are two reasons I built it in two halves. One, I wanted it to easily be moved to the basement. I didn't want it to weigh so much or be too big that my wife and I couldn't easily handle it. Two, it worked out that way because of the materials I had to choose from. I primed and painted it to match the other furniture that I've built for the studio. It also matches the general color scheme and decor of the rooms in the basement. (I secured it to the wall, in case you were wondering.)

✤ Video Killed The Mojo Machine (Or So I Thought)

It seems that this music season isn't going according to plan at all so far. When do things ever go according to plan, I guess? I did have a hard time believing I would achieve everything I wanted to, but I also thought I would have gotten a better jump on it in December or January. December was too busy, but I did start playing drums regularly—that's a plus I'm not complaining about! And then, there's January.

I thought I was having issues with my video card. I did have to replace it years ago, and since I wasn’t getting a signal to my video monitors, it seemed plausible. I contacted the company I bought my music computer tower from, ADK, and I asked them what video card they recommended with my system. I bought this tower in 2008 and decided to put Windows XP on it. I don't regret it considering the alternatives at the time. Windows XP is and was a fine program. However, since then, XP is no longer supported by Microsoft and therefore one could conclude that parts would be harder to come by. So, considering I’m not as savvy as some, I asked which card would be a good bet. I bought the one they recommended and installed it.

The same problem persisted, so I brought the computer to the Best Buy Geek Squad. The first guy’s attitude and salesmanship wasn’t very good, but I left the computer tower anyway because I needed to know what the way forward was going to be. (The guy I dealt with next two times was much better, and I will try to work with again in the future.) What it comes down to is that the diagnostics came back with nothing being wrong with my hardware. Actually, it was stated that for a computer of ten years of age that it was in a great condition. My operating system was messed up, corrupt, or something. After some discussion with the Geek Squad-er (the good one), we came to the conclusion that the best way forward was to install Windows 10 and they did. I’m of course giving you the sped-up version of the story. Trust me. It’s better this way.

What now?

Well, I replaced the video card in January and visited the Geek Squad in early February. I would have liked this section of the post to end with me saying that the computer is running full, head on. However, I still need to update the driver for the new video card, figure out how to use Windows 10, and who knows what else. It feels like it’s been longer than it has since I’ve last turned it on. I need to purchase new music recording/editing software (Cubase) and install it, since the version I have isn’t compatible with the new operating software. I’m sure there’s plenty more to work through and accomplish before I’m “ready to rock.”

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with computers. I just want them to work. I don’t have any interest in the “getting them to work” part. I’ve had plenty else keeping me busy, though, and what I need right now is a day on the calendar I can clear (or keep clear) to make my computer a priority from the start. If I can accomplish other things after, great, because that means I’ve made progress.

✤ Let There Be MORE Shelving

home improvements, Minnesota, shelves, wood, building
Another shelving project I completed last fall is in the utility room of the basement. It’s an area that was grossly underutilized but had unique constraints. The sump pit is on the floor below the shelving and the water outflow runs along the wall. Because of this, I made three triangular shaped shelves. I was able to attach one side to the inner-house wall due to the 2x4 wall supports being exposed. On the other side, one of the triangle’s points is attached to a 2x6 that is free standing, but it fits very snuggly against the outside cement block wall.

Like my studio shelving, I gave myself the task to complete the project with only materials I already had. Maybe I bought some more screws, I don’t remember, but the idea was to use up my wood cache. It’s easy to just buy more wood, but then pieces of this and that accumulate over time. Shelves are one of the easiest ways to take advantage of this “issue.”

I’m still in the process of trying to figure out where to permanently store most of the items on the shelves as the utility room isn’t the best place for them...

✤ In Closing

I’m moving forward on many fronts, most of which only a very small amount of people have any knowledge about. Someday, I suppose. For now, I talk about the music, the blogging, and the home improvement stuff. I tend to keep a lot of soups on the stove. Too many, perhaps, but keeping my idea machine running full-tilt has been showing dividends. I may not be where I want to be with some of those, but one task’s loss is another’s gain. I think that makes sense. Much has been achieved this year so far, no matter how inglorious the tasks, and they ultimately lead me towards the place I want to be. I will be somewhere regardless. I might as well try and make it into somewhere worth being.

The quote I ended No.4 with still feels incredibly relevant. Maybe it always will.

"That which hinders your task IS your task." -Sanford Meisner

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