Sorry about not posting for a while, nothing came to
mind! Well, nothing worth writing about… I put the final component
into my preamp kit I’m building. Yeah, I started it a long time ago, at
least 6 months, probably closer to 8… Anyway, got all the stuff in
it, now I just have to wire up the switches and give it the old “smoke
test”. In other words, turn it on and see what burns:-)
    I’m plotting my first amp project. I was originally
going to get a kit, but what fun is that? I’d rather go the most
frustrating, time consuming, and educational route possible, I’m going
to design an amp from the ground up. My first one will be a pretty
conventional single ended pentode in  an ultralinear
configuration. To be a little different, I’ll use all 12 volt tubes,
why? For one they’re cheap, and two I’ve got them on hand. I think
it’ll consist of a 1625 output tube (a 12 volt military version of the
venerable ham tube, the 807) and a 12sn7/12sl7 combo fro the driver
stage. I may throw in a ccs load on the driver as well, we’ll see…
    I’m also plotting a wilder amp in the future… How
about a parallel single ended 2e26 amp with complimentary
pre-distortion sound to you? WTF is that you ask? Well, think of the
2e26 tube as a miniature 6550 with a top cap. The complimentary
pre-distortion bit is what really sets this apart. The idea is to
inject distortion into the circuit out of phase with the output. Since
the tubes will be the same kind, the distortion figures should be
virtually identical. With the distortion 180 degrees out of phase with
the injected distortion, it should cancel out. It acts much like
negative feedback without the sonic compromises… at least on paper.
    Anyway, I’m going to stick to something fairly
standard for my first one, I’ll have my hands full. I’ve done a good
job finding good sounding, cheap tubes but one thing is never cheap
with tube amps, quality transformers. I’ll be spending around 300 bucks
per amp just on the iron. The good news is that I should be able to use
them for various other projects. I anticipate breadboarding these
things and see how they sound, if they suck, I’ll say the hell with it
and do something else…


Damn weather forcasts….

    So they said that we’d have 1 to 3 inches of snow,
sleet, and freezing rain on sunday starting in the afternoon and
continuing through the night. I really didn’t feel like driving through
that mess, so I called mom and told her that I wasn’t coming down.
Never mind that they had changed the day to celebrate the birthdays
(Me, mom, and my uncle) and then changed the time for me. Nope, I
didn’t want to risk it. So what happens Not a damn thing, a little
misting rain and that’s it…GRRRR. I’m a little pissed…


Holy bat hearing!!!

    The dog was being a little wierder than usual before
our walk. I took her out early just to calm her down. When we got back,
I went downstairs to listen to some music, my amps had been left on to
warm up. This is a standard thing with tube amps, they change (for the
better) if you let them heat up and stabilize before listening. Since I
was anticipating doing some “serious” listening that night, I wanted to
make sure they were good and warm before listening.
    Anyway, I came downstairs and heard a very high
pitched whine that made me shudder. It was similar to the whine of a
CRT, but higher and just a little fainter. I’m guessing that it was
around 18KHz, but it could have been as low as 16KHz. I’m not sure if I
can hear as high as 18 anymore, it isn’t uncommon for men my age to be
limited to 15K. On the other hand, I still jump when people turn on TVs
sometimes, and I can tell when Rick is on the computer upstairs by the
whine of the monitor. I have also requested that my dental hygenist not
use the sonic tarter removel thingy on me anymore, I prefer the manual
scraping. People look at me strangely when I complain of the high
pitched noises that they can’t hear, so maybe I can still hear that
high… In any case, continued high pitched noises really bother me. It
goes beyond the sound, it actually hurts, my inner ear rings, my teeth
hurt, and I tense up to the point of being sore. I can appreciate the
dog’s problem, it is throughly unpleasent, and the poor thing is much
more sensitive than me.
    This was obviously not going to do for my stereo, so
some testing was in order. Turns out that it was an output tube. Thank
God, the input tubes cost a bundle these days. The output tubes run
somewhere between 6 to 15 bucks apiece whereas the good input tubes
(mil spec 6sl7 tubes if you’re interested) are running 50 to 100 a pop.
I now no longer have any spares of my favorite output tube, looks like
I’ll be ordering some more pretty soon. Oh yeah, the dog was fine after
I turned off the stereo…:-)


Some good economics…

    I realize that some of what I write about economics
may not make a lot of sense to some of you. There are certain
assumptions made that don’t necessairly jibe with common sense. I
thought I’d offer some reading material to the people who want to see
how my mind works… I’ll spare you the more turgid examples and
concentrate on the stuff that is actually interesting. The first one
can be found here:

It is titled “What is seen and not seen”. It tackles the sometimes
thorny concept of separating the good economists from the bad. The
short version is that we can’t rely on what is obvious, there are
ramifications to everything. It’s pretty good reading, even if you only
read a third of it you’ll pretty much get the gist…

The second one is a classic. It is entitled “I Pencil”. It makes the
rather outragous claim that no one can build a pencil. What the story
is designed to do is give you a glimpse of how amazingly complicated
the economy is. Everything depends on everything else and trying to
fully understand it is hopeless. Here’s a quick example. How is it that
I can go to any grocery store and be sure that there is bread there?
Have you ever worried that there wouldn’t be any bread the time you
went? Do you realize that there isn’t anyone in charge of makeing sure
that all the grocery stores are stocked with bread? There isn’t anyone
in charge of bread production for this country either! How can all of
the grain producers, truckers, bread makers, grocery stores, farmers,
plastic bag makers, ets able to coordinate with each other ever day
with no one in charge? If you only ever read one piece of economics,
you should read this. It’s short, very easy to read, and to the point.
You’ll have a little better understanding of where I’m coming from…

More social security thoughts…

    My friend Randy and I have been having some
interesting back and forth about my zeal for privatization of social
security. He sent me some links that talk about social security not
being in trouble, in fact it is (according to them) rolling in dough
and getting richer. In 50 years time they estimate that social security
will have over 2 trillion dollars in reserve. If we assume that this is true (I have no idea if it is or not), it is even more reason to privatize.
    I may not have made myself completely clear in my
earlier post in this subject. I apologize, but in my defense I had only
ever really talked about this with economists, so I had made some
assumptions that many normal people don’t (no, economists are not
normal people:-) When I speak of the waste and inefficiency of social
security, I am not talking about how much money is soaked up by the
government when it transfers money from you and I to social security
beneficiaries. I understand that the social security administration is
actually pretty efficient at this. No, what I am referring to is the
possible alternative uses of that money. This is the so called
opportunity cost of social security.
    So what is that cost? It takes two forms. From the
individual person’s perspective, it means missing out on the miracle of
compound interest. Even if the money deducted out of our paychecks are
put in very conservative assets (cds, hi grade bonds, etc), it will
grow over the years to something that will be greater than just regular
social security allows. This is most important to the people that do
not have the extra income to start their own IRA, the current system
robs them of all the interest that they could have made.
    The second form the cost manifests itself is in what
the money does in the economy. In the current system, the social
security administration holds government bonds. In other words, it
doesn’t do anything but support itself. If the money was put into
private accounts instead, it would be injected into the economy. Think
about it, every cd deposit turns into a loan, or some other use of the
money. Every stock purchase goes into either a company or to a former
stockholder. The money would actually be put to work, it wouldn’t sit
in a government fund accumulating interest for it’s own sake.
    The typical argument to the first alternative goes
something like this, “That’s terrible! We shouldn’t let people risk
their money to the markets, they could lose it all!” My first reaction
is a big shrug, it’s their money, if they want to risk it let them. My
more measured reaction is that people, in general, are not that stupid.
Give them control of their money and you’ll see quite a bit of concern
with what happens to it. That leads me to the next objection…
    “We can’t privitize social security, companies and
people will get rich off of this, and they’ll just try to take
advantage of people that don’t know any better.” First off, what’s
wrong with people getting rich? Business will definitely pick up at
brokerages, and that’s good, more business is always better than less
in the grand scheme of things. I’d rather see a portion of the money go
to people on wall street than for it to sit in the governments coffers.
After all, that money will be put back into the economy eventually. The
thing that most people forget is that not only would business at
brokerages pick up, but so would competition. They will slash each
others throats in order to get at new accounts. The amount of
information that will be available to consumers will be awesome.
There’s a fair amount right now, but when everyone has an account, the
entire information industry will blossom. There is no reason to think
that hucksters will be any more successful than they are now. What about
really stupid people? Or retarded ones? What will they do? I figure
they’ll do the same thing they do now, seek out help.
    So I guess my biggest concern isn’t so much that
social security will fail, it’s that we’ll continue to miss out on all
the positive things  that could come with privatization.


James Brown revisited

    I needed some new music for my drive down to dad’s
so I made some cds. One of them is a James Brown mix, and OMG is it
amazing. I think it’s criminal how little JB we hear. He was THE black
sound all through the 60’s and still has an amazing influence today. I
could argue that he has more influence with today’s popular music than
the Beatles do.
    The cd starts off with some of his early crooning days. Try Me, Please Please Please, I lost Someone
etc. IMO he’s as good, if not better than other groups in that genre
like the Platters and certainly better than anything motown put out (I
don’t think that James was on Motown, anyone know this for sure?). Of
course what we all remember him for is the funk. Gawd, what amazing
music, Dr. Dre would be put to shame by the grooves put down by JB’s
    My uncle was involved in the music scene and the
business all through the late 60’s and early 70’s. I once asked him why
we hear so little of JB. His theory was that at the time, JB’s music
was the sound of the black experience. To white folks, even
“progressive” ones, his music brought up associations with poverty,
injustice, and general suckitude. He’s pretty sure that to this day,
people of that generation still have those attitudes. I can’t help but
think that today’s teens and twenty somethings would be quite a bit
more open to his music. They would be that is if they ever heard
anything other than I Feel Good and Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag
(neither of which is on the mix cd thank you very much). Not really
sure why those are the only two songs ever played despite his amazing
run on the R&B charts. If anyone is interested, I’d be happy to
send you a copy…


My birthday…

    I actually had a very nice birthday. This is an
exceedingly rare occurence, most of them I end up spending alone due to
the fact that I’m not attached to someone. I went down to dad and
Butler’s place the day before and had a nice time. Had good food, even
saw my brother! When I got back up to NOVA, my friend Jenny (yes,
jennytheonly) had me over. It was pretty low key, some food, some
desserts, and then aqua teen hunger force episodes. All in all a nice
time, Thanks Jenny!
    Beth sent me this really cool copper bowl. It has
the Tibetan symbol for longevity at the bottom, and when you rub a
wooden thing around the outside of it it creates an ethereal, haunting
ringing. It also has a rather pleasing tone when struck like a bell. It
really is lovely to look at and to hear, thanks sweetie!


Anyone want a blue iPod mini?

    I got a free iPod mini! It’s from offercentric, you
can look them up on google… It really didn’t cost me anything, I
tried out three different services and cancelled them. It did take them
about 5 months to send it to me, but i can’t really compain… I have
other free things going on, a full sized ipod, a computer, and a flat
screen monitor but I need help with those, check out my website for
those! I promise that that was the only time I will mention those
things to you, but give it a try!
    Anyway, I gotta figure out what to do with this
mini. I’ve always wanted an iPod, but 5 gigs isn’t going to cut it for
me. I could sell this one and use the money toward a larger ipod. Would
I keep it or send it to my cousin (who had her’s stolen)? What I should
do is sell it and use the money to help pay for my Ithaca trip coming
up, that would be the smart thing… But I also want a mac mini, even
moreso than an iPod..Anyone looking for a blue iPod mini? It’s never
been opened, I’ll send it to you for $200 shipped! If I don’t hear
anything in a week, I’ll put it up on ebay I suppose, but then I’ll
still agonize over what to do with the money…


Birthday plans

    Looks like I’ll be down at dad’s place on the 13th
and drive back up to NOVA on the 14th. I’m hoping to avoid the typical
pathetic Isaac birthday this year, but we’ll see. My cousin Beth
informs me that it is vagina week at Cornell. There are T-shirts,
candies, etc celebrating the occaision. I wonder why VA doesn’t have
vagina week?:-)


“What do you want for your birthday?”

    I’d like to have Doug E. Fresh and K.R.S. One put on
a concert right here on the block… OK that’s a bit unreasonable I
suppose:-) It’s always a little weird to be asked want I want for my
birthday. I guess it’s nice that people care, but it kind of puts me on
the spot. Oh well, I guess there’s worse things to have to deal with:-)