Incompatible

There are two places I can think of that I’ve been to where I felt like a horrible match to the crowd there:

1. The Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour, Florida.

I don’t think I’ve had enough starring roles in movies or television or been an old Russian mobster long enough to belong there.

2. A Tractor Supply Co. store.

Being the goth dude who walks in there in black leather …..

Well at least that wasn’t a total waste, I got to watch the little cheeplets.

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And I laughed immaturely at these.

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One size fits all, i guess.

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Welcome to the swamp

No! Not the metaphorical one. The real one!

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Lizard poop in a Harris Z16HD+

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Drum roll………..

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Success! The lizard poop was not load bearing.

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What's the purpose of these neat looking hinged flaps?

SLIME.

This has been a bad week when it comes to things full of water.

First, early in the week, I was walking down a corridor at work when a big fat raindrop got me right in the eye. I jumped a little and this caused my shoes to hydroplane on the wet floor.

Upon further inspection, it was coming from a large overhead AC unit. The drain was clogged. I used a wet vac to clean up and finally to forcibly blow the snot rocket out of the line.

Then the toilet tank in my apartment spontaneously cracked open and tried to start a flood. It started with a bang, ended with the somber howl of a Home Depot cheapie wet vac.

Then I was informed that water was pouring thunderously down the side of the building while I was at work. The fault was one we’re not unfamiliar with.

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The thing in the foreground is a large ballcock like that which would fill your toilet. Something was wrong inside it and it wouldn’t stop gushing so I reduced the water flow to it from a roaring geyser to a smaller, “someone left the sink on” flow and went back inside.

Later, the 11 pm news had just ended when I heard a very odd noise in the building and started trying to track it down. My first thought was maybe the water level in the tower had fallen, but there was still water pouring off the roof, so that couldn’t be it. It seemed like a lot, actually. And that’s when the temperature alarms started going off….

I switched on a backup ac for our most critical server room and took a look at the pool on the roof. The first thing I noticed was it was overflowing but I didn’t hear much water flow in it and the fan wasn’t on. I peeked inside again and realized that this time I couldn’t see the sieve at the bottom anymore. I opened the filler valve back up full blast so I could also use the garden hose up there.

Uh oh. I located a stick and started poking around. I found the sieve had become totally occluded with a mat of algae.

Scrape
Schlorp
Bloop
Slurp
Squirt, squirt
Chatter
Bang
Gurgle

The next thing I knew, I was looking at the sieve…. but no water. It was running down there as fast as it filled the basin, but now it was also raining down through the fill like it should, albeit slowly.

It continued to do this a while as the entire system refilled.

My only thought is that the entire system had basically started sucking air back through the overflow pipe adjacent to the main drain/return as the sieve plugged, and the pumps had cheerfully returned all the water back to the overflowing tower until there was just about nothing left but the small amount needed to churn back and forth in the pumps and make awful sounds.

Once refilled, I found all the AC units cooling once again, and the awful sounds absent.

But why the slime? There’s a system to prevent that….

Oh

Heck

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The barrel. What’s in it?

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Nothing. In fact there’s algae in the barrel itself…

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Algae and calcium build up all over

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A pump that sounds fouled

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And a cool looking skyline

So at least there’s that

Also, for no good reason one of the air handlers seems to have experienced an accidental thrust reverser deployment and yacked all over the place

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And it’s still pissing itself. At least everything is staying cool…

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Good night from beautiful Broadcast Key, Miami, Florida.

Guess I didn’t need a Fluke…

Now that’s a power glitch!! This voltage surge was long enough to get captured on an old school mechanical pen recorder.

Colorized for no good reason:

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(It’s physically impossible for the trace to reach the jackpot mark without blowing through the side of the meter movement. I was just being silly.)

Guess that explains why every time I’m looking at that transmitter the PA PLATE overload trip indicator is on showing that it had tripped and reset itself at some point. KABANG!!

STUPID DEVELOPMENT UPDATE!

A few years ago, I met a guy who came down here to South Florida after graduating with a master’s degree in community planning.

He could not find a job in Southeast Florida at all, because no planning exists. “Communities” do not exist. What exists is just spray and pray.

Here’s what’s making me mad due to its total illogic and general idiocy.

American [Wet] Dream Miami has not died, sadly. The developers are on board and Miami-Dade County, seeking a new economic engine to the region, is pushing for it to get built as soon as possible.

The State of Florida doesn’t think it’s going to work and may step in to stop it, as they realize the critical lack of transportation and other infrastructure to support the project. Broward County looks on horrified yet powerless to stop it, like a damsel in distress.

Speaking of damsels in distress, let me digress a moment and share with you one of the fucking creepiest ad campaigns I’ve ever seen:

This shit makes me cringe so hard in so many ways, but— I’m not one to speak, I’m just the engineer.

So, since the last time I’ve yelled obscenities at the wall about this thing, they’ve released some informative graphics on the project:

Please note the “Graham Project” – even MORE townhouses. Gr8. Why the hell does it have “DEMO VERSION” watermarks?

The Graham Project is just fucking stupid. Do you really want to live there and find yourself locked up in 1-5 hours of traffic just to get to anything as common as a full sized grocery store? Great! You’ll love this place. The only planned access appears to be by the feeder roads to the mall.

Sprawl kings Lennar Homes also want to shit out another development over protected wetlands to the south of the Graham Project.

And now, site leasing plans revealing an interior floor plan!

First level. Click for full size, but the resolution isn’t much better.
Second level. For some reason the image won’t scale the same way. I can’t even.

The ski slope looks like a robot dick. I’m sorry. It does. There’s no denying that.

And now, here is why this shit will fail and fail hard.

Miami-Dade County’s economy has been in a meltdown since the mid 1990s that is now almost complete. Miami’s got effectively two classes: The rich, who either come from old money, own big foreign corporations…. and those who attempt to make a living working in what businesses are left in Miami-Dade County, or— the flat broke.

Studies have shown that Miami is one of the least affordable cities to live in (or around). Rental housing? Forget it. You pretty much need to be ready to buy a property to live in Miami-Dade County, and you need to be ready to buy that in cash, because you will be competing with foreign cash buyers for that property who just want to sit on it to pad their portfolio with some crap houses that keep a more or less stable value.

Nobody who is going to work in this shit show will be able to afford to live in Miami-Dade County.

Nobody who is going to work in this shit show will be able to afford the time and expenses to commute from anywhere that housing still remains affordable.

And, most importantly:
RETAIL IS DEAD. DEAD. DEAD AS FUCK. STICK A FORK IN IT, IT IS FUCKING DONE.

Yes, I realize the alternate use of this little fuckball is that it contains a half assed “theme park” and water park in its two large open spaces, in addition to what appears to be a specially constructed lake where you can… go fishing?? I don’t get it. Also, where’s the water coming from? If you’ve seen my previous posts on this cocksplat of a plan, I’ve brought up the question of where they’re going to get water. Florida is in drought again this spring, and we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. I hope you’re ready to deal with begging for sustenance from the Department of Water and Power. 😉

FUUUUCK THIS NOISE.

Triple Five group made a half assed promise to run shuttle service between several existing transit hubs to alleviate the congestion. That… just won’t do a thing. They would have likely run shuttles anyway for tourists – Dolphin Mall and Sawgrass Mills have had airport shuttles for years. They transport a few dozen shoppers back and forth a day and that’s about it.

God damn it. I’m not even done here, because the idiots over at Mana Wynwood decided to dig the area a nice posh grave lined in million dollar velvet and bury it. What is Wynwood? Wynwood is an old warehouse/business district that attracted an artists’ scene because it was a good place to find affordable studio space and host some events. Unfortunately, well—

If you’re a Miami native, please try to jog your frame of mind and look at this like an outsider to see how fucking ridiculous it is–

The site of an abandoned RC Cola factory managed to become the preferred site for music festivals and performances. It’s all outdoor – in Florida – no climate control, not even a proper toilet. And now… everything around the abandoned RC Cola plant is HOT SHIT. Just like what’s inside the RC Cola Plant’s portapotties.

So now the plan is, redevelop this area with high density luxury housing, multi-million dollar condos, and high end designer retail that nobody will be able to afford to shop at. Also, the buzzwords “trade center” were thrown out there, but look at every other “trade center” project that’s been attempted in Miami. The “trade center” never materializes and all winds up being “empty-ass class C office space” or ballrooms or other under-utilized shit.

Please note the amazingly good roadway access to this super high density urban development. Oh baby. Fuck you. Fuck. You. (Public transit is available via overcrowded buses that run every 30 minutes on NW 20 ST and NW 2 AVE, if you’re lucky.)

 

Artist’s rendering of…. bullshit, with nauseating perspectives.

What in the actual fuck are you thinking? This is like Brickell City Centre run through a few funhouse mirrors. Unlike the Brickell City Centre, it doesn’t connect to Metromover, so there’s no easy way to just stroll right on in there.

This isn’t … gentrification. This is just plain dropping a Daisy Cutter on the neighborhood and telling everyone fuckety bye. So much for that art community that drew everyone to the area – this will surely make the spaces they work in more valuable as valet parking spots than studios. Oopsie! I’d heard rumblings that there was an effort to provide artists new spaces over in Opa-Locka before everyone just runs out of money and leaves forever, but that’s… Opa-Locka… and safely preparing that space for new use will probably require actual Daisy Cutters.

So previously I’d also questioned the redevelopment of two sites in Broward – the old Plantation Fashion Mall site and the old Boomer’s Dania– those… those seem almost… well designed in comparison. Both are infill developments slated to be mixed use with janky condominium housing and very limited road access. But at least… at least they have road access… and aren’t expected to be quite the same sort of massive overload on the surrounding areas.

Holy shit, nobody has even a sixty fourth of a fucking clue here.

Acoustic Treatments and General Mayhem

Now that I have skin on my hands again and it doesn’t hurt to type this—
Proper acoustic treatment is vital in studio and performance spaces to avoid echoes that will prove destructive to audio quality. Sometimes it’s done right. Sometimes it’s done wrong. To me it’s utter black magic but I know what works for the most part.

The first thing you want to look out for is stray sound entering your studio space. This may be trickier to do unless you’re constructing a studio from scratch. The methods I’ve seen used to great success are either adding insulation batting inside walls as they’re being built, or using cinder block walls to enclose the space instead of hollow. Either way, avoiding the use of walls shared with noisy things like air conditioning units or bathroom plumbing are very good ideas. Don’t use the other side of the wall pictured here if you can avoid it 😉

The second stage in acoustic treatment is to manage reflections within the space. Any hard flat surface within the studio may cause echoes which can become unpleasant and generally make your recordings sound like you’re standing in the shower.

The typical method of dealing with this is to put up some kind of sound absorbing material on the walls. A number of criteria should be considered when selecting your sound absorbing material:

  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Acoustic performance
  • Fire retardant properties

Materials I’ve seen used:

  • Carpet. Can be obtained anywhere, extremely cheap and actually very durable, since it’s made to be walked on. Works pretty well, but double check that all materials you are using will meet fire code standards for use on a wall. (Carpets may only be rated for proper fire retardant action when installed on a floor, as the flame spread dynamics are a hell of a lot different. Consult the manufacturer and/or their documentation before use.)
    You can glue and/or staple it to the wall or even use the self adhesive carpet tiles that peel and stick.

    CAN BE CLEANED. This is a big advantage. Over time, airborne contaminants will settle on the wall material and should ideally be removable. I’ve found that in an old studio with textile walls, allergens will gather and cause some people to get sniffly if not removed. Your mileage may vary, but I’ve found that the ideal maintenance interval to vacuum the walls is about 2-6 months. That’s all it takes, actually – just use a vacuum cleaner with a hose and an upholstery attachment and suck the dust out. More major junk may be dealt with using carpet shampoo and a wet/dry vac.

  • Cloth and Fiberglass. I’ve seen this one in a couple of older studios and it works very well. Small wooden strips were attached to the wall followed by fiberglass batting being installed between them, with a fairly open weave upholstery cloth used to cover it all up. The cloth is finally secured by tacking a small wooden moulding to the wooden strips below it.

    Performance is very good. Flame resistance will be identical to that of the upholstery fabric used. Durability isn’t as good; wheeled chairs, furniture, irresponsibly sharp spiked leather gauntlets (of course I say this from experience), and other things can tear the fabric. Repair is easy though.

    You can also buy prefabricated panels using these materials, or build your own. How to Build Your Own Acoustic Panels

    DIY acoustic panels – from article on acousticsfreq.com

    Cleaning: Can be surface cleaned. I’ve always just used a vacuum – with a HEPA filter just in case glass fibres are released through the surface fabric as you’re sucking the schmutz off. When I’ve done it, I have never noticed glass fibers visible in the vacuum as I cleaned it out – just lots of fine dust and pollen!!

  • Foam. This is a very common acoustic treatment material and I kind of wish it wasn’t. Performance is good, yes, but durability is totally in the dumper. When it’s new, it’s easy to tear up, especially when…. SOMEONE… decides to get creative and try to hang decorations from it. By the way, don’t cover your acoustic treatments with posters, because the essentially airtight paper of the poster will just form a really nice REFLECTOR, completely defeating the treatment. Some materials have fire retardant ratings, check with the manufacturer.
    A really swank looking example of Auralex SonoFlat foam installation from their website, with corner diffusers and wall and ceiling panels.

    When it gets old, some foams will just crumble and disintegrate horribly, especially if touched.

    Cleaning: …. maaaaaaybe. If you’re lucky.

    Shop-Vac 9018000 soft bristle brush. Horsehair vacuum brushes work fine too. BE GENTLE!!

    I’ve had okay luck with vacuuming the surface of Auralex StudioFoam products using a soft bristle brush. Work slowly and gently going along the ridges. In one studio I started doing this and the foam turned from dingy gray to its original burgundy red— I didn’t even know that was the color it was supposed to be! Yeeeechhhhh.

    I wouldn’t even try this at all on the type of sound insulation where it has alternating deep, thin vertical and horizontal ridges.

Now here’s where I talk about strange things.

A while back I was in the studio of The Jeff Adams Show and as soon as I walked in, I saw his wall panels and couldn’t believe my eyes. They’re wood! They did not contribute to any unpleasant echoes, yet had a little bit of a warm reverberation. You can see one in this picture:
I didn’t get a closeup picture of the panels when I was there, but they did not have a smooth planar surface. The different planks are overlapped forming a convoluted surface, which would contribute to diffusion instead of a clean surface reflection. Notice the mic he’s holding here – that’s a Heil PR 40 cardioid dynamic that is just INSANELY sensitive. You’d almost think it’s a condenser (I mean— it kind of even looks like one). The Heil PR 40 is NOT forgiving to bad room acoustics. It proves that these funky wooden wall panels work perfectly as an acoustic treatment!
In contrast, the Electro-Voice RE20 that’s used at close proximity by a lot of radio jocks couldn’t care less what your room acoustics are like as long as you aren’t in an all glass aquarium or something.

The same soft vacuum brush cleaning I mentioned above will work if they ever start to gather dust. Since he’s doing video on the same set, avoiding lighting glare is definitely a plus – they’re not shiny in any way.

Now, you may have a sick curiosity and wonder what the first sentence of this post is all about. Well…. I had to displace some very old carpet on a wall at work to hide a cable behind it, and I don’t know if it was the 20+ years of old crud built up in the carpet, the glue that held it to the wall, or a likely combination of both, but something caused a very bad reaction on the skin on my hands that caused it to blister, crack, and weep as if it had been severely burned.

If you’re really curious, I have a picture of the results here. Content warning: extremely gross. There’s good reason I put /nope/ in the URL. It’s mostly healed now and all that remains is a little redness. That week sucked, man.

Don’t Be Evil

I’ve gotta say, as a kid this would have been freaking heartbreaking to me.

This vending machine promises to have all sorts of goofy wonderful things. 

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But wait, would some of these even fit in the little capsules?

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What the hell— is even in those capsules??

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Are those… Are those actually random printed Tyvek wristbands?

Oh just what every kid wants to see fall out of the machine after putting in 50 cents.

No thanks, I’ll stick with the Frosty Balls.

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Don’t choke on the Frosty Balls.

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