Thursday, June 24, 2010

NBA Draft Night Party

Tonight was the NBA draft, and the SPURS threw a party for season ticket holders at the High Velocity Sports Bar located in the new JW Marriot Hill Country Resort.
This Marriot is huge and very swanky.

I was the guest of my friend Sean (Thanks again!) and we had a good time. Arriving nice and early allowed us to pick the best table in the place and get started on our complimentary drinks.
I started with Jack Daniels neat.
(This was the first time in maybe 10 years that I started drinking so early--4:12 pm for me is like 11 am for people on a normal schedule).

Surprisingly, the buffet food was uniformly cold and our waitress sucked.
I rarely complain even when I'm paying for something, preferring to just never return. But since it was all free I went off on the bar manager and after things escalated I had to be pepper sprayed and cuffed.
When informed that I was a blogger they let me go if I promised to leave out the facts that the food was cold and our waitress sucked.
Up yours, Marriot!!!

The Coyote arrived and got the party started.

We graciously shared our table with a very nice couple--here's Lubin with two of the Spurs Silver Dancers.

This is Dee posing with our WNBA mascot, the Silver Fox. Their nephew is musical director and plays guitar for The Beach Boys, currently touring Europe.

We had 1st round pick #20, and got a shooting guard from Oklahoma State named James Anderson.
He's good on defense and can sink the 3, so if he can make the grade Manu will have a nice backup and we can kiss Roger Mason Jr goodbye.
I expect he's not bad seeing as how he's the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, although everyone in the room was like "Who?".
A lot of the earlier picks had only finished 1 or two years of college--getting a junior who's more mature and developed is typical of the Spurs's approach.
Kentucky sure did contribute a lot of guys to the NBA this year!

On the right is Bill Shoening, the "Voice of the Spurs" on AM1200 WOAI.
The guy on the left handles the mic for all the commercial break contests and promotions at the ATT Center during games, but I can't remember his name.
(If anyone knows it, please leave a comment).
As co-hosts go they made a great team.

Afterwards we snuck into one of the many banquet/conference rooms to find a sea of baked goods on display, then I stole a can of HEB soda from a table in the hallway.
Good times.

I made up the part about complaining and getting pepper sprayed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Man vs Ice

Tonight we went to the Quarry Hofbrau for a summer solstice party featuring an ice sculpture competition.
Yeah, that's a sentence you don't hear every day (or decade), but it's exactly what happened.

In addition to live music by the Charlie Lucas Band there was food, drinks, dancing, and Man vs Ice.
Electric chainsaws did the heavy lifting.

Grinders and drills made guest appearances to good effect.

Buddy (The Ice Guy) Rasmussen hits his sculpture with some propane flame action.
Buddy is our go-to guy for ice sculptures, so rooting for him was a given.
He dominated the competition, easily beating Reverend Butter from Houston.

Most of the winning sculpture.

Angie, Holly, and Sylvia.

The Quarry Hofbrau is in the former Laboratory building, and we loved what John and company have done with the place.
The decor is puro Tejas, it's clean and comfy, the staff is great--A First Class operation in every way.

Wow, posting video is a huge pain in the ass!
Apparently, Blogger Video doesn't work with the Opera browser, and Daily Motion was even worse. Errors and lots of waiting around while nothing happened.
PhotoBucket finally came through, although I had to guess at what bit of html would close the tag that was left open.
Come ON people!
Fix your shit!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Taking Pride In My Tools

To continue the tale started here and then here:

The new Mackie Onyx 24-4 mixing board now has a very nice and rugged road case.
Lots of foam and aluminum with steel corners and latches.
The best part is smart design--I can put it on the stand, then remove one lid and have complete access to all connections without any fuss.
Some case manufacturers don't think this is important, but they would be wrong.
In fact, they would be written-off as idiots and never see another sale from me.

When I'm given old and dirty gear to work with, it's hard to take much pride.
Human nature.
It's already trashed, so while I will take enough care of it to keep things working, I won't feel any affection or really give a crap what it looks like.
A strip of masking tape with some Sharpie™ markings is fine, and will last beyond it's 2nd Craig'sList appearance or longer.
(Some of the gear I have used in the past still sport my markings decades later!)

In this case, I felt that some class was in order so I borrowed a label maker and spent an evening learning to use it properly. New boards deserve this--especially ones that I love.

Might as well label the "Aux Sends" too, on both sides of the mixer.
It's been years since I had more than 3 that actually worked, and I wouldn't want to get confused...
In fact, this was the main reason we bought the new Mackie!

To protect our investment, today I cut into a nice piece of black vinyl upholstery to serve as a beer/barf-shield for those rare minutes when I'm away from my station.

It's probably obvious by now that I love my new mixing board.
Most sound engineers seem to treat the audience worse than they treat their gear, but that's counter-productive.
Crowd-First is my priority.

On the other hand, when the perfect tools are given to you in brand new condition, it only makes sense to take extreme pride in them and to configure each item to the best of your abilities.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Views Of June

Yesterday I felt a sudden urge to peep out the front window.
Nothing in particular triggers these urges of mine, but they often pay off.

I spotted this cute little fawn chillin' next to our driveway:

The mirror-slap of my camera scared it:
This was the very first time that I should have used one of my other lenses since buying the 50mm F1.8 on May 6th.
My 55-200mm would have given me a much better first shot, but would have had even better odds of failure for the follow-up.
Oh well.
(For pixel-peepers, both of these are 100% crops so every pixel you see onscreen is the same as the camera's output).

Speaking of young bucks and does, these are the graduates I have shot as favors in the last month:
This is obviously an outtake but I liked it best.
He was a cool kid who I'll probably never see again.

Tonight I shot this sweet girl--daughter of an old friend.
It was fun, and good practice.

Really need to put together some kind of "real" backdrop system.
I already have some serious tripods for band lights, so some PVC pipe/elbows and rolls of seamless 2-sided paper are in my future.

The Now-Expected Rant:
My friend James works for Time-Warner.
To help him and his team earn points or rewards or whatever, we opted to upgrade to digital cable and a DVR in a package that includes RoadRunner for our interwebs.
We had been paying ATT for DSL, but you have to also pay for the land-line phone service to get DSL, and we never used the phone!
Seriously, it had been unplugged for years!
If you want to call me, use my cell.
What a waste of money.

Makes sense so far...

I'm sure it's just an unfortunate series of events, but what a nightmare this week has been!
The contractors (NOT Time Warner employees) did a fine job up to the point where the internet was concerned.
I did the actual hookup for that because they were both too big to fit under my desk, but then one of them called-in the wrong MAC address # from our new modem, so we were assigned invalid IP addresses.
They tried half-heartedly to get us running, then told me that there was an "outage in our area" and left.
This was a lie.

The next day, an actual TW smarty-pants spent almost an hour trouble-shooting my internet before he finally figured out the MAC address problem.
7 is a poor substitute for C!
Boom--I'm online for an hour.
Then we have to go out for dinner at Bill Miller's, hit HEB, etc.
The two huge storm systems collided over our part of town right when we got home, and just AFTER it was all over the cable goes out.
Until 9am today!

We watched our own DVDs on both the TV and computer all evening.
I was tempted to hook-up the ATT modem again and get me some www, but resisted the urge to mess with things.
Today, I finally found out just how much faster the cable company's internet is.
You often discover the limitations of the servers and ISP's on the other end, because Road Runner is FAST!!!
Very impressive.

Then at 5 pm I went to turn on the news while I washed dishes, and got nothing but a black screen, so I went back to the computer and found out that the cable was offline again.
I was royally pissed, but it came back by 5:30.
Probably some post-storm work that needed to be done.
The winds were in the 60-90mph range last night (hurricane force!) and hundreds of pieces of bark from our cottonwood tree are all over the yard, which I have never seen before.

Right now, I am playing on the computer and Sylvia is snoozing in front of many new TV channels, so all is right with the world.
I'm almost as content as Ralphie was, clutching the cold steel beauty of his Daisy Range Model Air Rifle with the compass in the the stock and "this thing which tells time".
It was an almost comical series of minor mistakes and unprecedented weather that combined to make our transition to the modern world seem like a nightmare.

I have high hopes that smooth sailing lies ahead.