Sunday, May 27, 2012

audio filters and tree rings

slow down and be safe
at my job i've been doing some work on audio files. i really know very little about audio, and nearly all of the different filter options mean nothing to me. i know just enough to clip out the mistakes and make it sound a little better.

as i've been fumbling through the filters, trying them out and seeing what they do, i've found one that's really helpful: the "normalize" filter takes the highest peak in the wave and boosts that to be just about the loudest it can be and then lets everything else fall relative to that. in short, it gives it as good a range from loud to quiet as it possible.

i found another filter that kind of seems to do the opposite: it seems to shrink everything down. actually, it looks like it "mows" the file, so that the waveform is short and not very dynamic. i decided not to use that one, but it did give me something to think about.

on the "normalized" file, there are loud parts but also really quiet parts. lot of range in between. big ups and big downs. on the "mowed" one, there isn't a lot of change between the highest and the lowest. it's all just kind of "meh."

i think we're kind of like that. i've written some here about vulnerability and thought about it much more over the past couple of months; heck, i discovered that my whole art project was about that (and if you're interested, you should really check out this talk.) when we're vulnerable, we can get hurt. embarrassed, crushed, left, forgotten, scared, lonely. deep valleys. but those undesirable feelings originate from the same place as joy, peace, confidence, security, and ultimately, love. the lofty peaks. and when we try to lower (or even completely remove) the valleys, we will equally affect our opportunity to feel the happinesses. we cannot insulate ourselves from one without numbing ourselves to the other.

but i've thought also about president uchtdorf's talk about tree rings. he noted that in times of good weather and growing conditions, the ring of growth for that year will be thick. but when the environment around it is harsh, the tree will conserve its resources, slow down, and grow only a little. and he advised us that we, too, should remember to slow down at times in our lives when things are not optimal.

drink deeply from the cup of life
so, while the only way to really feel joy and peace and love is to expose yourself in such a way that you could also get rejected, ignored, or hurt, perhaps there are times when it is appropriate to lower our amplitude, and pull things in for a bit. to slow down our pace and conserve what we have for what's most important. and then remember to take the chance and "normalize" ourselves to the maximum dynamic range, willing to take the chance that we might get hurt in the knowledge that it's the only way to really be happy.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

carried away unto boasting

they say that people only post about their workouts on facebook to show off (yeah, i've got those friends, too...) and that it's really tacky.
well, this isn't facebook.
it's my blog.

i've written before about how i've had a distant relationship with weight rooms and somehow still feel like i look glaringly out of place in them despite having had "beginning weight training" three times over two schools. having just finished my fourth time a few weeks ago, i'm starting to actually feel comfortable there. like, i went to a&m's rec center this morning and am just now realizing that i didn't feel the least bit self-conscious. i even kind of enjoyed it.

to get maximum credit for the strength testing part of our grade, we had to do some basic exercises. things like pull-ups and dips were fixed numbers: for an A, ten pull-ups and twenty dips. getting a top score in the bench press and leg press required doing a combined total of 4.5 times your body weight.

let me put those numbers in perspective for you. in elementary school, when we did out fitness testing, i couldn't even do one. not a single pull-up. i used to have to measure my improvement by how much closer i got my chin to the bar. then i would watch my short friend matt conneran doing twenty or however many was needed for a "gold medal" grade and silently remind myself that i was in the advanced spelling class.
i don't do pull-ups.

as for the weight thing, 175lbs. x 4.5 = 787.5 lbs. for some perspective, i just did a google search for "what weighs 750 pounds" and got

so, whatever reference works best for you, that's what i had to move five times.

and here's the cool thing:
i did it.

when our testing day came around, i benched 135 and leg pressed whatever 787.5 - 135 is.
further, i did pull-ups. real, overhand pull-ups. six of them and almost a seventh.
i felt absolutely awesome.
i'm 32 years old and in the best shape of my life.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

just when i thought i'd done it all...

being actively single for a while, i've gone on all sorts of dates. but this morning i was able to check two more off of my dating bucket list:

  1. the super early morning date
  2. the implosion date (*the kind where we go to watch an implosion. i've had plenty of evenings that have imploded....)
college station was imploding the old plaza hotel (one of the tallest buildings in our flat, mountainless town) at 6:30 this morning, and while i hate getting up early, this seemed justifiable. and if i could bring along a pretty girl, all the better. thankfully, summer was up for the idea, although i was a little crestfallen when she said she couldn't go out for kolaches afterwards because she had to work. we were still getting to watch a building collapse, so i can't argue much.

getting up at 5:30 A.M. rots no matter how you look at it, but i was still showered and ready in time. we made sure to park close to the exit and walk the extra distance, since we knew the traffic would be a nightmare getting out. i wasn't sure how many people would show up for this; summer estimated 3,000 but i thought it looked closer to 5,000. either way, it was pretty cool to see so many people excited for this.

the blast was supposed to happen at 6:30 but came about ten minutes later. we saw a flash from a few stories on one end of the building and (what seemed like) a second or two later, the boom hit. that thing was loud. then from left to right, the building neatly crumbled into itself, with the stair column (?) remaining falling last.

the whole thing lasted only a few seconds but it was the show we wanted. and even though we parked as close to the exit as we could, it still took us 15 minutes to get out.
but it was totally worth it.

a few hours later, i counted 17 different videos of the implosion on youtube.
but this one on vimeo is the best. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

guilty pleasure

i don't like tv.

rather, i don't like admitting that i watch tv. just saying it makes me feel ashamed. which is a little paradoxical (or hypocritical) since there are a number of shows i've heard a lot of good things about and the general quality of television seems to be getting better. a few weeks ago i had a discussion about tv vs. movies and a friend noted that a television series allows for much greater character development than any movie can.
yeah, he's got a point there.

but i'm not a big tv watcher, although in full disclosure, i think i've missed only one episode of the daily show in the past year.

reality tv is even worse. and it's running like a kudzu through the networks because it's so bloody cheap to produce that, even if the numbers are lower than sitcoms and dramas, the profit margins are still higher.
and i cringe whenever i hear friends talk about how much they love some trashy reality show and they feel guilty for watching it but it's just so amazing to watch these crazy people or they just can't help but wonder what's going to happen or it's just nice to have something mindless on to unwind at the end of the day. the networks don't care why you watch it and whether you love or detest the people on it; if you're watching it, they'll make more.

part of it, i think, is that i know a little bit more about "how the sausage is made," so to speak. sure, everyone says they know it's all fake anyway, but having worked around that industry enough (thankfully never actually on a reality show), the tricks and even the basic craft is a little more transparent to me. i can hear when the audio has been edited, i know that a cutaway from an interview shot is so that they can take out part of what they're saying. it's too easy to imagine the question the producer asked that lead to their on-camera answer. or, on the worse shows, to know that an awkward glance or an icy glare likely wasn't even happening at that event, but was cut in from an earlier, unrelated reaction. the list goes on.

that being said, i'm really hooked on pawn stars, one of the many (many!) offspring of the surprising success of antiques roadshow. the history channel seems to have begun running low on world war 2 topics and people with ph.ds talking about aliens in the bible and are now filling their time slots with either guys dealing with old junk or rednecks in the forest or swamps or wherever.

i started catching bits of pawn stars when i'd come home late and watch the daily show over dinner and it would be on after my recording had ended and soon got hooked. it's three generations of guys running a pawn shop in las vegas and dang, i love it all: seeing the different things come in, finding out how much they're worth (usually much less than the people think, occasionally more), and see how they can deduce all of this. it's gotten to the point where i watch it like we used to do with 24, namely me yelling at the tv about how much they're actually going to get for it, when someone's going to take it and when they're completely deluded. i've been known to lose whole saturday mornings to this show. and, after so many busy semesters, i don't feel the least bit bad about that.
the next time i'm in vegas, i'll probably have to go check out the pawn shop.

i still think swamp people is a really stupid show.

Friday, May 18, 2012

hawaiian shirt friday

listening to the blue danube waltz as i write, because it's awesome.
  • at my office, i attend meetings barefoot. by the end of the day, we had jane's addiction (my boss's request) and the pogues (my request) playing in the hall speakers.
  • i have an office. i think that, in itself, is pretty dang. i like even more that i have a name plate in front. it said "Jeff Gustafson," so i took it down and slapped up a piece of camera tape that read "goose *" today i was presented with plates that read "Goose" (which was awesome) and "Goose." (with a period, which i thought carried a more awesomer connotation.) there was a third option, too, but i can't remember what it was and opted to display the "Goose.", although i like that i can change them out depending on how i'm feeling.
  • we had an office party at my boss's house this evening. i'm generally not impressed by big houses or expensive things, but i'll say it again: susan has the coolest, most beautiful, and classiest house i have ever seen. and her food always looks like it comes from a five-star restaurant. she put me in charge of the music once again tonight.
  • my office likes the beastie boys.
  • near the end of the evening, we wound up talking about my new name plates. i said that my only adjustment to them would be to remove the capitalization. then, i pulled out my embroidered handkerchief and showed them the "proper" spelling of my name: -->jeff *
  • i also learned that there's a punctuation mark called an interrobang (wow; my spellcheck didn't even have an issue with that.) it looks like a question mark and an exclamation point had a baby. and that's pretty much what it means. i intend to use it as often as necessary. 
  • my boss's husband feeds raccoons nightly. 
  • what‽
  • as we were talking, they came around and he set some food out for them. i'd never seen raccoons that closely before, and i was surprised at how much they used their front paws to eat and walked around on their hind legs.
  • good times had by all. i'm not setting my alarm in the morning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


it's a gray, overcast day outside.
soft light is coming in through my office window.
i'm listening to miles davis's kind of blue
and doing a decent job at keeping my thoughts focused on this video i'm working on,
all things considered.

though it's maybe not the most optimal day for my phone to stop working.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

the road at the end of the day

there's a lutheran church a few blocks down the street that i've started wandering down to when i talk on the phone.

walking back this evening, i was looking down the tree-lined street and feeling the cool humid air and thinking about how i live in texas now. i thought of how strange it was when i first moved here, and about how i'd left behind my life in utah. and now that i've been here for 20 months or so, it feels normal to be here. i don't know if it'll ever feel like home, but it's where i am now and i'm ok with that.

i thought about a lot of things, although what i'll talk about at my thesis meeting tomorrow wasn't one of those. but it probably should've been.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


today was one of those days where, for no external reason, i just wanted to spend the evening with a good friend. but i haven't had much time to make many good friends down here and the one that i do have just went home for the summer.

so i pulled out my ipad and worked on sketching an idea i've had in my mind for a while. the initial design looked really good, then the it lost a lot when i started adding color, but i'm quite happy with the final product. even more when i remind myself that it was done using a chubby stylus in the space of just over two quiet company albums.
plus, my friend called and i got to talk with her while i was finishing this up.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

small notes

I. i forgot what my first note was going to be.

II. i made it to the vizagogo showing in downtown bryan tonight. i was fun to see my work in a gallery and to stand back and watch people taking time to look at what i'd done.

III. watching the exhibition show of my and my peers' work in the theater, i decided i want to work harder.

IV. i've been in austin for two days on a commercial. being with my utah crew friends and staying in a hotel, i'd think that i was on location in some big city. then i'd think about it and remember that i was on location in austin, which is some big city. then i'd think about it some more and realize that i now live barely a two hours' drive from there. it kind of messed with my mind a bit.

V. happy euclid day!

Friday, May 04, 2012

do or do not

may the fourth be with you.

obi-wan: your father... was seduced by the dark side of the force. he ceased to be anakin skywalker and "became" darth vader. when that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. so what i told you was true... from a certain point of view.

 luke: a certain point of view?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

hello good day

today has been a good day.
i could list the reasons why,
but i'm just going to say,

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

at my most beautiful

these are the two pieces that i made and printed specifically for friday's show.
as i was mounting them, a girl stopped and asked if she could look at my work. this isn't the kind of work that most people stop and admire, so i was a little caught off guard. she asked if they were pixelated landscapes. when i explained what they actually were, she was really impressed.
and i felt awesome.

when i was thinking about these, i'd always imaged them being dark orange (not entirely sure why.) then i realized that most the colors are almost always in the green-blue spectrum. i'm not sure why that is.


Tuesday, May 01, 2012

expired pineapple

classes are winding down.

i mounted my work tonight and will be hanging it tomorrow morning for friday's show (which i ironically won't be at.)

it's the end of the semester.
it's spring.
things are changing.
and, like a free-form hong kong love story, as one adventure runs its course, another begins.

maybe i'll put chungking express on my tentative "to watch" list for next week.

this wasn't much of a post, but i wanted to get something up for may 1st.