Today is National Bacation Day!

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Bacation, is a vacation with lots of bacon! Make today your national Bacation day! Thanks to my friend Joe for sharing this holiday with us!

From Joe:
Took the day off to hang with the folks who came into town this weekend and in simple celebratory discussion with my bro, we decided to coin the weekend “bacation”. One part bacon, two parts vacation! You can do it too, simply add bacon to any celebratory meal and wah-la “bacation” is born!!

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The Hair Cut Story

I went and got my hairs cut Saturday.  I walked in, put my name on the list, and waited for a hair cutress.  I don’t think that’s the job title that they prefer, but it seems appropriate this early in the morning.  She asked me if I wanted my normal buzzcut, but that’s not what I got last time, so I told her I wanted to keep my part, but I just needed my hair shorter.  As she turned to get tools out of her cabinet she asked, “So you want a comb over?”

What I heard was, “So you don’t want a comb over?”  I thought she was joking because in my mind a comb over is for balding men hiding baldness.  I’m a balding man embracing baldness.  I’m not that bald, I’m also not that ‘thick’ up front any more.

So she began trimming and all was well until the clippers went zipping through major parts of the hair I thought my prescribed haircut needed.  I was surprised, but I think I hid it pretty well. She finished and I paid and then called Jessica on the way out of the parking lot (on speaker phone, Trint) to let her know I did not get the haircut she was expecting.  That way she could have time to prepare for this:

Ma Hairzes
Ma Hairzes

Quick Tips on Audio Recording from Years of Hating My Results

Today on Twitter Eric Lawrence, creator of one of my favorite debugging tools, Fiddler, mentioned that he wanted to clean up some crumby audio that had lots of noise in it.  Having spent most of my adult life as an amateur musician and having recorded some pretty lousy audio I thought I’d share some tips from my experience.  These will not help everyone (possibly even Eric) but they’re here for posterity.

The first issue I faced was having a built in microphone on my laptop.  In my experience this always leads to bad results.  The first problem is that fans and electrical currents always seem to interfere here.  You can try to use tools like Audacity or Adobe Audition to clean up the recordings, but they’ll often sound different when you’re done because pieces of the sound wave will have been clipped due to the filters that remove the noise.  If you can: get a secondary microphone that is away from the laptop even by a foot.  You may still pick up some background fan noise, but it will be significantly better.  I have a simple recording studio set up in my office and I still get laptop fan noise in the background if my microphone is too close to the MacBook I have.

I mentioned to Eric that I’ve used my Samsung Galaxy 4S to get great recordings of conversations and aside from people touching the phone the microphone is already geared to handle a speaker-phone setup so it does a good job.  If you can’t get an external microphone for your computer a phone may be a good working solution.  Several apps exist for the different platforms for recording lectures and these tend to work well.  The smart phones don’t have fans, and they tend to be designed for picking up audio.

One useful trick for making sure you don’t get feedback and to confirm you’ve got good audio input is to use headphones.  I like over-the-ear headphones because they are not noise canceling [which is cool, but can also fool with your perception of what you’ve recorded], but will block some of the external sounds.

In addition to equipment sound settings on your computer/laptop/recording device can have a big impact.  To get louder sounding audio some hardware/software combinations will do either hardware or software amplification and this can really add to background noise or distortion.  It can also amplify electrical interference or line noise.  Check the settings on your device and confirm that you don’t have the microphone or line-in volume set to 100% as this can be a problem.  Rather than assuming this is the problem it’s recommended you do a test with the settings adjusted at 100%, 90% and so forth.  It’s funny, but you can use the microphone at 70% [for example] get your recording and then use Audacity or a similar package to normalize the audio and it will up the volume, but you’re less likely to run into distortion or clipping.

On my mac I use GarageBand for all the recording I do because it’s there.  GarageBand gives me control of the input sources under preferences.  It gives me control over the master volume, the track volume, and I can enable the compressor to maximize volume consistency for each channel.  If you’re not familiar with the workings of GarageBand you may need to do some help file scanning, but it’s pretty direct and you should be able to get to a stable starting point relatively quickly with its podcast settings.  I haven’t used Windows for musical recording for about 7 years now so I’m a bit behind on what’s there except Audacity and Audition.

I hope this help!  If you’ve got questions please feel free to leave a comment.

Thankful Thirteen

This is the first of many posts I plan on posting this year for 2013.  I’m going to try to make a few rules about this so that I can try to setup safe, but useful constraints to what I post.  I’m sharing them here so you can lower your standards 😉

  1. Doesn’t have to be every day
  2. Don’t just be thankful for a person – be specific
  3. “Funny be – there is no try” – Master Yoda

I’m going to start in an interesting place: I’m thankful for Tony Nuzzi.  He’s my friend, he’s a brother-in-Christ, and he’s got a great sense of humor.  The stuff that he has been through has not defined who he is, he’s grown from it.  He has dyslexia and he pushed through that to become one of the more accomplished writers I know.  You won’t read most of his writing, though, because he’s a coder and has written numerous patents. Those aren’t “sit down and read” material, sorry 🙂

Tony and I met because his dear wife (whom I will be thankful for on another day to be fair) and I worked together at the Manger Christian bookstore in Carson City, NV.  Tony came by on his lunch break and immediately I wasn’t sure what to think of this guy.  I hoped he was good enough for my friend Erin.  As it turns out I’ve learned quite a few things from him about being a dad and husband and I think he’s perfect for her 😀  He still married up.

Tony has not been afraid to lovingly confront me in my shortcomings and he’s also not been afraid to run out of a grocery store next to me laughing hysterically because one or two of us may or may not have farted and left a smell so rank in the magazine aisle that our wives were embarrassed enough for all four of us.

I’m thankful for the friendship that has endured for almost a decade and a half. I’m thankful for the laughter, some tears, some guitar time, computer time, Bible time, and of course taking our families to Disney World two years ago.  He’s one of my best friends and I hope you get to meet him some day if you have not met him (yet).  Ask him about a Rolls-K’nardly.

35 and 14

So I turned 35 last week.  This week Jessica and I will be having our 14th wedding anniversary.  I don’t feel a day older than 21 (most days) and yet it feels like I have always been married to Jessica.  When I turned 21 it was 8 days before I got married and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It’s been the best kind of trouble, the best kind of fun, and the best kind of love.

I can’t wait to see what 46 and 25 looks like, not to mention 71 and 50.

I love you, Jessica!

A Vote For Third Party

Creative Commons: source

I’ve heard from some folks lately that voting third party is a lost vote or a vote for ‘the other guy’.  Let’s think about how that plays out.  If I talk to a democrat and I say I’m voting third party they say, “That’s a vote for Romney.”  If I talk to a republican and I say I’m voting third party they say, “That’s a vote for Obama.”  So really I’m voting for both candidates when I cast a third party vote based on this logic.  I’m kind of OK with that since a ‘split my vote between these two people’ option doesn’t exist on the ballot.

Or, there’s the other position: a vote for a person that represents (most closely) your views is a vote for that position, even if it carries little to no electoral weight.  In other words the larger two major parties will see over time that their platform does not represent the third party position and may come around, over time, to represent other ideals.

Vote third party this next election – or at least split your vote between the lesser of two weevils.

Talk About Rights and Responsibilities Before You Talk About Guns

That title is pretty straight forward and is sure to draw fire (no pun intended) from various folks, but let’s be frank: you can’t jump into an argument about gun control (or the second amendment) unless you recognize that rights come with responsibilities.  If you’re not going to carefully, thoughtfully, deliberately execute your rights with responsibility, then you don’t get to keep the right.  Let me explain:

You have the right to drive a car in the United States starting at about 16 years of age all the way until (depending on the state) they take that license, and right, away from you.  You could lose the right for getting DUI’s too many times (I’m all for 1, but let’s say 3 is a safe number to let drunk driving happen on accident the first two times).  You can lose the right because you’re too old and you’re dangerous to other drivers.  You can lose the right if you speed excessively.  In other words, you have the right, but you can lose it if you don’t take responsibility.

I want US citizens to be able to have various weapons for various sorts of safety, target shooting, hunting and of course looking like Chuck Norris:

But after we get over looking like Chuck Norris if you’re not a safe, responsible, rights-aware citizen, then you probably shouldn’t be having a gun.  You probably lost that right.  As a civilization I’m actually for more citizens having guns.  But with training.  I really do think every healthy US citizen should be required to go through 2 years in the military and serve the country.  I didn’t do this.  i was chicken.  But I also think that even if you’re cleaning latrines you should know how to handle a weapon, deal with intense situations, and generally be aware.  Not that I’m obsessed with war, but that I’m concerned that rights like gun ownership need training, and making it mandatory (like drivers ed) except for those who are really, really fringe, makes more sense than removing the rights.

Now: let the flaming begin!

It Can’t Be Done

How many things in your day are you pre-loading with the assumption “it can’t be done.”?

How right are you with that assumption?  I’m guessing you’re probably wrong.

If it’s too hard, too long, too stressful, too much work, too (insert excuse here) you’re probably justifying that which you should question.