An Audiophile’s Set Up

alandistro:

Some of you who have been following me for years know that I’ve been on a mission to listen to, research, and rate every single song I own. 

Currently that is 32,706 songs, all ripped losslessly from CD, hi-res DVD or Blu-Ray Audio, digitized cassettes, or needledroped vinyl.

That’s 3,011 titles (a title is any individual release, so a CD single, an album, a 6-disc boxset… each of those count as one title).

I haven’t posted about my progress in a while so thought it was time for a little update…

As of this morning I only have 214 titles left to go! I’m 93% finished!!

At an average of 2-3 titles per day, I should be done in three months, four moths tops. I started this whole project about 6 years ago. At the time my digital library was a mess. It was filled with incomplete albums, poorly tagged releases, almost everything was lossy… and I never listened to it.

Now, everything is lossless, a good portion of it hi-res, 2,367 titles are from my CDs that I ripped manually using dBpoweramp to ensure they were 100% bit perfect. (the other ~700 titles come from DVD/Blu-Ray/vinyl/cassette transfers). Everything is properly tagged. Everything includes hi-res artwork (some of which I had to rebuild in Photoshop by hand when no good scans or images existed online). And, most importantly, each and every song has been listened to in full, has complete and information-rich metadata, and is rated using a 5 star system.

I’ll update with a TON of data charts on genres, decades, artists, formats, etc etc when I’m finished. But seeing that finish line creep up on the horizon feels great. I had no idea this would be such a long journey when I started. But I’ve discovered some lost gems, I’ve gone down a dozen different rabbit holes and found a ton of new-to-me artists and albums, and now my digital music library is a thing of beauty, of pride, and just so damn fun to get lost in.

2,797 titles down. 214 to go. Yay!

Also, I recently re-arranged my listening station, so thought I’d post a new pic of that… the thin thing in the center of the shelf is a Macbook Pro and that delivers all of my digital audio to the DAC and receiver, pulling files from my home server. The TV is connected to the Macbook so I can browse and display cover art while listening, it’s on a wall mount so it can swing out and be adjusted for better viewing.

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Now this is a nice set up!

I Hate Public Speaking

I HATE Public Speaking. A large part of my job is to give presentations. 60-90 mins presentations. Sometimes it could be in front of 10 people, or as many as 60. I accepted the job so I could meet people and do trade shows. The job has changed over time and the presentation part is critical to the success of my job and department.

For the first time in a long time, I can say I love my job. I really like the team. Sure, every job has peaks and valleys, and maybe right now, I could be at the peak. However, one to three times a month when I do presentations, no doubt those days are the valleys. I do the presentations but that doesn’t mean I like to do them. I have a really supportive team that backs me up if I trip up on someone’s question. The team setting I work in is why I like the job so much.

So, why do I dislike public speaking so much? I honestly think its because I don’t know the topic very well. I’ve only been in this department for 9 months. Once I know the topic, I’m sure I will feel better.

What do I feel when I start the presentation. START? WHEN I START? I actually start stressing about it a good full week or two before the presentation date. The day of, or minutes before… SHEER PANIC sets in. Full-on Sweats. My heart feels like it is going to jump out of my chest. Shortness of breath. My hands shake. It is not a pleasant feeling. I have literally gone to the restroom and smacked myself and told myself to “GET MY SHIT TOGETHER”! Oddly enough, that actually helped.

I Hate Public Speaking part 2

It has taken a few presentations for me to realize that my heart IS NOT going to jump out of my chest, and the audience IS NOT sitting in their underwear. What if I screw up? So What? The likelihood that I ever see these people again is pretty low. If I do screw up, maybe I can crack a joke about it. I would prefer getting a couple of laughs than hearing crickets. So, what do I do to overcome this panic attack? Well, simply put, take a deep breath, and just do it.

Bedtime Strategies

Trying to get your kid(s) ready for bed? The following series comes from other Dads… What works for you when trying to get your kid(s) ready for bed… I welcome your feedback, and please comment on what methods you use…

That’s Dad Stuff @thatsdadstuff

Bedtime Strategies for Dads Intro

My son suffers from a syndrome not yet recognized by the American Medical Association which I call BTB.  It stands for “belligerent time bomb” and goes like this: 

The Mornings

The instant my son wakes up in the morning around 6:30am, he is the most even-tempered kid you’ll meet.  Patient, kind, well mannered, he’ll even obey our instructions from the Friday night before and play quietly in his room while mom and Dad sleep in a bit.  On school days, he rolls out of his bottom bunk (top bunk is currently subleased to thirteen stuffed animals and 3 pillow/light projector things) with a smile and doesn’t even fuss if the first words he hears from me are “clean your room and meet me downstairs for breakfast”…  90% of the time I’ll get a “Yes Dad” and he’ll spring into action.  Boy, do I love that kid.

Afternoons

Afternoons are a different story.  He arrives from school with a deceptively similar smile to the morning but if you look closely there’s a twinkle missing from his eyes. His backpack gets dropped on the floor so fast that it blocks the front door from closing.  His shoes, if he bothers to remove them, land somewhere in the hallway next to the scuff marked wall which he kicked them into.  Manners disappear as he grunts with hunger and demands a snack from the nearest parent.  My wife and I are too familiar with the routine and carefully tiptoe around his every grunt for fear of agitating his volatile mood.  We overcompensate with too much sweetness in our tone and almost sound like June Cleaver asking if he “would like some more milk with your cookies” and “How was your day”. 

My Wife and I don’t recognize this boy who appears at our door every day at 3:10pm but we know it’s our son.  We know because I used a marker to put a dot on his arm once before he left for school and I verified the dot was still there when he returned.  So it’s not a different kid and I don’t believe in aliens so what is going on?  We ruled out school being the cause because he pulls the same crap on the weekends.  Mornings are fantastic, afternoons are progressively worse and bedtime is terrible.  He’s irritable, aggressive, rude, sassy and mean. If we forget to tiptoe perfectly avoiding confrontation then he’ll go toe to toe yelling at us and we end up sending him to his room out of frustration.  He stomps upstairs in his rage and he’ll throw toys while we try to regain our composure.

What’s the Issue?

Through trial and error, I pinpointed the source of the issue.  Sleep deprivation/exhaustion.  If we don’t get him to bed on time… – scratch that – …if he doesn’t fall asleep on time then he wakes up with half a tank of gas.  Sure, he’s fully functional in the morning but afternoon his energy starts to taper down with his mood tracking down with it on a perfect slope approaching zero (where zero = head spinning, knife-wielding psychopath kid which I’m required by law to love and protect).

Getting a 6-year-old more sleep is easier said than done.  I have developed some strategies which have helped us combat accomplish just that.  This series presents my strategies to cure BTB and hopefully stop the spread from reaching your household. 

We invite you to share with us your strategies for getting kids more shuteye (besides Benadryl).

Bedtime Strategies #2

Wannabe Audiophile

A little bit about me. I love music. I love music when it sounds good too. However, I’m a wanna be music audiophile without a high-end stereo. A good high-end stereo, with good speakers, can really open your eyes to what instruments are being used on a song. A good song on a standard stereo, on your echo dot, or in your factory car stereo may sound good enough, but once you hear your favorite artist or song on a high-end stereo, you will understand what I am talking about. In fact, you may actually find your self asking “I didn’t know there was an *insert instrument here* in this song. At that moment you will realize, just what you’ve been missing… But hey, what do I know, I’m a wannabe audiophile without a high-end stereo

Thats Dad Stuff

You will simply need to take my word for it; the difference between a Hi-Fi stereo system and a standard stereo is night and day. I am no way an audiophile. Being an audiophile means you have the disposable income to buy the high-end equipment. I, unfortunately, do not, but I still love listening to hi-fi systems…

Last year my Dad and I went to the Capital Audio Fest. It was here where I rekindled my love of music. The Capital Audio Fest was in a hotel in Rockville, Maryland. It was really cool and really unique. Several hotel rooms were cleared out, and each room had a different stereo system along with a couple chairs, that’s it. Just you and a stereo, in a hotel room. Really unique. Never seen anything like it.

I’m going back this year. This coming November, same hotel, same setup. This year I am hoping to see one thing in particular, but at the same time, I seriously doubt it or they will be there. Amazon recently announced a new HD lossless streaming service, Amazon Music HD. In addition to their music service, they now have the hi-fi smart speaker, the Echo Studio. Echo Link Amp, and Echo Link.

I am very curious about what Amazon’s effect will be on the hi-fi/hi-res market. Will true audiophiles give Amazon the time of day? With Amazon entering the market, will we see an influx of new Amazon high-end smart equipment? I truly believe that Amazon’s jump into the Hi-Res market will have a lasting impact. Will their streaming service prove to be too much for Tidal? So many questions!

Be on the lookout, I will post about my experience at this year’s Capital Audio Fest.

My Yard Sucks…

Yard Work Help

I need some yard work help. My yard sucks. I am not remotely close to a green thumb. I need some yard work done! My neighbor’s yard is like carpet; no crabgrass, no dandilons, nice and green!. They also work at it… I… well, Don’t. Thats probably why I am in need of some major yard work help.

This fall I am going to start giving my yard a little TLC. Who knows if it’s the right time of year, but I figured I should do this now before the winter.

I recently had a tree cut down and had the stump grinded down. That area where that tree was located is now really torn up. I cleaned up the area and raked up the leftover tree shavings/bark. I filled the area with topsoil and seeded the area. After a couple months of watering on and off, and unfortunately, we had a really dry summer; so area didn’t grow squat. What did grow dried up and died in a hurry.

I also have a spot in my backyard where my dog always went pee and poop. It is about a 4-5ft diameter area that is absolutely TOAST- Burnt, dead, dug up; there is absolutely nothing left.

Since then, we had a little bit of rain, but now that fall is here, its cooler and there is more moisture in the air, I’m thinking I should have better results compared to what I did with the grass in the tree area. This time I wanted to use Scotts Patch and Repair

Thats Dad Stuff

What To Do, What To Use?

I have had great success in the past with  Scotts Patch and Repair… Last fall, my kids raked up a pile of leaves, then failed to bag the leaves, leaving a nice 4ft diameter dead grass circle in the middle of my back yard. In the spring, I raked up the dead grass and spread an entire 3.75lb bottle of Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair over the area. It’s my backyard, so I really don’t care how it looks for the time being, so I didn’t bother throwing some straw on it. Well, I have you to know in only a matter of a few weeks, the spot was full of grass. Nice tall fescue! Even without covering the area in straw! I was really impressed.

This past weekend I bought 2 – 10lb bags of Scotts EZ Seed Patch & Repair. Yup! Two, Ten-pound bags!… and Yes, one for each spot, the tree area, and dog area. This go around, I also covered the area in straw. It is Fall, after all, straw is pretty easy to get, especially in October.

Let’s see if it works… Stay tuned, I’ll share my success.

Teddy Roosevelt: Did You Know

did-you-know:

In 1912, Teddy Roosevelt was shot just before giving a speech.

He began with: “Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. Fortunately I had my manuscript – I was going to make a long speech – and there is where the bullet went through, and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best…” then kept talking for 1.5 hours before finally agreeing to seek medical attention.

(Source, Source 2)

Now that’s a tough S.o.B

Dave Ramsey for Kids?

Dave Ramsey for Kids?

Saw a deal on Amazon for Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace for Kids… It’s called Financial Peace Junior. Seriously… Financial Peace…. For KIDS.

So I ordered it…

When it arrived, the kids opened it, and they thought it was a board game..HA! WRONG!… My oldest daughter is always asking for money and recently started babysitting. I figured this may be a good idea…

I’ll let you know…

Has anyone used it for their kids?

That’s Dad Stuff

Card Collecting Starts with Dad… Part 3

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A kid’s card collecting starts with Dad. Continuing from my previous post… So after all the drama with the lost package, my cards finally arrived. I submitted 5 Michael Jordan cards, 2 Ryne Sandberg Rookies, 4 Derek Jeter rookies, 2 Ken Griffey Jr Rookies, and a Dennis Rodman Rookie.

Thatsdadstuff.com @thatsdadstuff 

What Did I Get?

Remember from my previous post, one of the Derek Jeter cards I submitted was a 1993 Upper Deck SP Foil Rookie. A Gem Mint 10 sold for $100,000!!!

The grade I received… after all the shipping drama… after all the waiting… all the grade guessing, … after thinking about what I was going to buy when I sold my card…. my card was graded at a …

5

WHAT!? IT can’t be! A FREAKIN 5!!? Man, what a gut punch. I was so disappointed. Actually, to be honest, I was pretty pissed. In my opinion that card was flawless… come to find out, there were some surface scratches that ruined the grade. My other Derek Jeters graded at a 9, not bad. I’ll take those.

So what about the other grades? One Griffey Jr graded at a 9, the other at a 6.

One of my Ryne Sandberg rookies came back as an 8 and the other as a 9.

Anything Good?

My Rodman was a 9 as well. My Jordans all came back as a 9 except for one… The Fleer Ultra Nicknames “Air” Jordan Card, came back as a perfect Gem Mint 10.

As bummed as I was, I finished going through my cards and now all I could think about was, can I sell a couple of these to help offset the cost of grading. (By the way… WOW is it expensive!)

After researching eBay sold listings, I realized I could sell my Jeter SP rookie for $100, one other Jeter rookie for $30, a Griffey Rookie for $30, and one of my Jordans for $50. So with selling 4 cards, I was able to recoup most of my money. Not all of it, but most of it. I also decided NOT to sell my Jordan Gem Mint 10…

I learned a lot from this experience. Obviously, I need to be more careful when inspecting my cards before sending them off to be graded. The slightest little ding, or scratch, or the slightest bit off-center can really ruin the grade.

But guess what?! Those frustrations didn’t stop me… I did it again… the next submission should arrive this week… Wonder what grades I got… stay tuned.

That’s Dad Stuff

Collecting Starts with Dad Part 2