Archive for December, 2014

Brain Crack

December 22, 2014

Are you guys familiar with the concept of brain-crack? It refers not necessarily to the euphoria of crack cocaine but more specifically to the addictiveness and sort of downward spiral of repetitive behavior that leads to more repetitive behavior.

Basically brain-cracking is when you get an idea and you can’t stop thinking about it, and the idea gets bigger and bigger and you start thinking “oh wow it would be SO GREAT if I did this idea” but as time goes on and on the expectations grow so great that it is completely impossible for you to do anything productive toward the idea–all you are capable is thinking about how great it’ll be when you do it.

Which of course, you won’t, unless you can stop brain-cracking and do something completely unrelated for a while and start completely over, at least in terms of thought process, with whatever idea you first had.

I’m pretty sure the concept was first described in this way by Ze Frank, but I’m not 100% on that. It was more recently described to me in CGP Grey and Brady Haran’s podcast, Hello Internet.

This whole trip sitting in the passenger seat on the way to my Grandpa’s house I’ve been thinking about the little cabin on his property and how great it would be to fix it up, and how great it would be to get tools and a workflow working out of his shed there and just to start cranking out guitar amps. But first I had to think about that cabin and how much work it needs and whether I’m capable of that and what I would need and money and time and construction permits and whatever else.

And somewhere along the way I start realizing that I don’t think enough about what the long term effects on the brain are of indulging in incorrect ideas. Like I can feel my brain rewarding itself for it’s own anti-productive thought processes. I can feel the dopamine and the weird little voice saying “aww this is just great” the same way you feel when you eat crispy fatty salty foods or smoke cigarettes or say curse words or pick fights or play candy crush (or post blog posts) or whatever it is you do that has bizarrely inexplicable addictive qualities. And I’m completely inside myself yelling NO IT’S NOT NO IT’S NOT slapping myself in the face but my stupid self just keeps thinking and saying “this is nice”.

Anyway, I should look for the source material I mentioned that talks about this subject. I’m out of town so no shirt picture today.

Day of the witty television t-shirt

December 21, 2014

This is the T-Shirt I have decided to add to the discard pile today.

My “quirky” aunt gave me this “witty” t-shirt for Christmas approximately ten years ago. It has always been one size too large, until perhaps a year ago, but I wore it anyway, for about a year or so after I received it. My mother has the strange habit of hanging 90% of clothes to dry, so all of the t-shirts from this time period in my life have stretched themselves but only in the vertical dimension, so when I say it probably started fitting when I filled out a bit starting about a year ago, I mean it’s come the closest to fitting as it ever will, but it will basically fit no one, ever.

I had a pretty positive morning but only a marginally productive afternoon. I disassembled a broken UPS. Here are some pictures:

MOSFET H-Bridge:

Energy storage inductor and capacitor:
Power Transformer:
This power transformer weighs a ton and is probably rated for as many watts as I could ever need in a project. I’ll have to run some tests to figure out the turns ratios. Not sure if I’ll have anything that needs it but whatever.

I actually kind of want to build stuff that runs off of ATX power supplies since you can buy them used for about $5 and I already have two. With this transformer I could build something bigger but it would be work.

I’m about to go out of town, productivity-wise I want to get better simulation and layouts done on the road. But IDK if that’ll happen or not.

I’ve been learning a lot about different switch-mode converters recently, which is what helped me recognize the H-Bridge in the UPS. ATX supplies are switch mode too, but I don’t think they use a power transformer on the mains. I’ve daydreamed about trying to get a guitar amp to run on mains transformerless converters alone but it kind of sounds like a bad idea, at least with tube amps.

Tube radios were mostly transformerless from the 1930s to 1960s or so unless I’m mistaken though. Filaments of five tubes placed in series to equal the mains voltage, unlike in parallel the way it’s done for amplifiers.

But that’s just a hack–converter technology is much more modern. Anyway, I guess I could try and get some kind of converter project working now that I have some of the parts they use.

Day of the Key West T-Shirt

December 20, 2014

Well, I did about half of my daily routine today, which is fine. It’s 1:30 right now and we’re out shopping because the girlfriend got a giftcard at a gift exchange yesterday.

At the same exchange I got a USB audio interface, which really opens up my recording options. Now if I want I should be able to record four tracks at once on my desktop OR for the first time record and use softsynths on a laptop. So I guess that’s one step closer to having a working live rig. Not that I’ll ever probably be playing live, but whatever.

Not that I have ANY recording setup working right now. I’m hoping to spend an hour on that and an hour on making. Not sure what kind of goal I should have for either activity today though.

Well before I did anything else I played around more with the synth patch I was playing yesterday. IDK what exactly I changed but I was a lot more pleased with it today. *shrug*

Earlier I tweeted that I’ve hit peak crappy t-shirt. I think I should get rid of one t-shirt every day. There are many that I have literally never worn ever. My family think they are good at buying t-shirts for me, but long-story-short, they are not. Maybe I should blog a picture of every shirt as I get rid of it.

I didn’t do any of the productive things I said but I did read about 50 pages in Game of Thrones. Better than nothing. Here is the shirt I have chosen to discard today:

My parents got it for me when they visited Key West because they thought I would like it “because it is weird”. I mean, I like weird things relatively often but that doesn’t mean I like things that are stupid-looking and/or hideous or at least unfashionable.

Partially I think that they think that 27-year-old Walker still dresses the same as 13-year-old Walker, who had a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt collection among other things I’d rather not remember.

Some comment goes here about parents wanting their kids to stay the same age forever.

Anyway. Perhaps you’ll hear from me tomorrow.

(Intended to be) daily update

December 19, 2014

What did I do today?

I want to be quantifying more of how much time I do each thing. Especially making.

I played synth for at least an hour, maybe two, but IDK if I can consider that productive. I kind of uncovered a chord progression I like but mostly I had a hard time getting things to sound the way I want.

I was running my main monosynth out in stereo to both my peavey bass combo and my diy fender-inspired guitar head, but with the sound panning between the two. I got maybe 40% toward the sound I was imagining in my head, which is kind of annoying. I didn’t save the patch.

The progression was CM, EbM, AbM.
I love taking roots of chords that are minor in your key, flattening them, then building major chords on the flat root. This is super-useful for open tunings, especially for playing slide guitar. It’s very common in rock music to substitute the major chord built on the flattened 7th for the dominant 5th. Example: “you really got me” by the kinks.

But yeah the way I had it voiced sounds super progressive. Arpeggio with C and G in the left hand and E in the right hand, moving the C and G up to Eb and Bb and the E up to G, then moving the Bb down to Ab and the G up to C, and alternating that C with the one an octave below.

IDK how a classicist would analyze it: I V/V/N??? V/N???

I guess that makes me want to follow with N then V then I, but who knows.

Or maybe I III/i VI/i which is just C minor but every time you play a C chord you play it major. In that case I could follow with viio/i V/i or anything to be honest. *shrug*

I guess the fact that you can switch tonal paradigms to anything you want is what makes this idea sound so progressive.

Today I did less than half of my daily checklist but I cooked a good meal for dinner and I’m about to go groom myself even though I prefer to do that in the AM.

Two (?) days ago I got some making progress done on the booster guitar effect I put on hold about 6 months ago. I made version 3 in a simulation, and learned some things. I think my next step is to breadboard this version.

On old posts and salt water

December 17, 2014

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I found some old posts I made on other sites, old blogs etc. that were all of a certain format–a movie review or book review or something that is in some bizarre stream-of-consciousness voice, I suppose like the one I'm writing in now, but not quite.

I remember when I was big into livejournal before I got big into xanga [1] I used to actually intentionally write in this style because I thought it was interesting. I have reviews of books up on goodreads that date back from this time period [2] that are written in this style, and those are the posts I'm talking about that I found.

I only am mentioning this because the style those reviews are written in, to me, today, seems to be very stupid, and what I hope is that when I write in any kind of "thoughts straight from the head onto the page" voice, that what I'm doing now isn't nearly as idiotic as what I was doing then. [3]

I think at the time the point was to make some kind of deeper point about "process" that was somehow related to whatever media I was reviewing, that the reviewing process should focus mostly on that I actually think and feel in real time, no matter how little it has to do with the main points of whatever I was reviewing, and there might be some merit to this if I was a good writer, but I'm not. I mean I'm completely capable of constructing sentences better than probably 90% of the adult US population but "writing" the way I'm thinking about it write now [4] is clearly something that contains some divine spark [5] that mere sentence (or even paragraph or essay) construction lacks.

Sorry to wax gnostalgic [6] on you there for a bit. The point is I've gotten to the point where I'm embarassed by my inability to write blog posts in any other writing voice than the one that looking back, I've clearly been abusing for centuries [7].

What I was trying to post about is the depression that just today I'm starting to come out of, that I've been under for days. I think that part of it was caused by the nootropics I was experimenting with that I felt like I needed to compensate for the fact that I wasn't doing the hottest in school.

But today all I can feel is that I want out of this town. There is literally [8] six feet of salt water above my head in the position I am sitting in right now. I don't want to live with these salt water drenched people in this ruined, flooded town [9] anymore. Why would anyone build a town here? This is completely ridiculous.

I need money, and I need lots of it. I need to get rid of things I don't need. I need to be making [10], and I need to be making sales, and I need to be making a reputation. I need to figure out how much money it takes per foot of salt water [11] to escape from the bottom of a flooded town. I want to have this money in six months. I want to make enough money each month to buy my way out of one foot of salt water. Salt water is heavy.

Editor’s notes:

  1. This is misleading and possibly inaccurate. The author joined xanga before joining livejournal, and made many of his/her most memorable blogging moments there before joining livejournal. That said, he/she did get more “big into” Xanga after abandoning livejournal later, possibly around 2008.

  2. The reviews in question that are on goodreads actually do not seem to be from this time period–they are from 2011 or so.

  3. The reviews don’t seem to be as bad as the author thinks. See

  4. Sic.

  5. “Divine spark” probably refers to the idea from gnosticism. The author appears to be misusing it as a synonym for the word “soul”. This is clearly a juvenile attempt for the author to tie in his/her current username with a retroactively applied explanation for his/her bad decisions. The editor wonders if this is what passes for wit, nowadays.

  6. See, the editor knew the attempt at wit was about to go full retard.

  7. In actuality, approximately six years.

  8. Not literally. This would be true if one could travel about a quarter mile east from the author’s suspected location while staying at the same elevation, though.

  9. New Orleans.

  10. The editor has not been able to ascertain what the author actually makes.

  11. The editor apologizes for the poor quality of this metaphor and for how many times it is repeated.

Bonkers Exercise Routine

December 1, 2014

Last post I mentioned that I have a somewhat silly exercise routine that I’m relatively proud of.

I’m not really in the mood to wax on about it, but I’ll at least give a description to satisfy curiosity.

The first couple of times I did this routine I just used a stopwatch, but after a while I came up with a very goofy but effective tool to streamline the process.

Basically, the first time I did the routine, I did 10 situps at t=0, then at the 30 second mark I did 5 pushups, and then at the 60 second mark ten more situps, and so and and so on until I did 100 situps and 50 pushups total, in a total of about 10 minutes.

The next day, instead of 30 second intervals, I did 29 second intervals. You get the picture. I eventually bumped up the total to 120 and 60, and I’m now doing that in about 5 minutes 30 seconds. There is no greater feeling than exercising and every day you exercise, feeling like it is LESS like a waste of time.

Of course, using a stopwatch for this process became excessively annoying after a while, so I brainstormed other options. For a week or so I used sounds loaded into audacity, and deleted the necessary seconds of silence each time, but then I thought up an even easier way.


I set up a pattern in hydrogen, the software drum machine that I use when I produce music, for a very slow tempo and very long measures. At the beginning of each measure it makes one sound, telling me to do situps, and it makes another sound halfway through each measure to indicate pushups. Every day, all I have to do is increment the BPM by one. And if I want to add to the number of sets, I can just click an extra block or two on the pattern.

If this sounds completely bonkers, I’m sorry, but it works great. Also, it’s helped me create a ritual around exercising, and ritual promotes habit, and to be honest I’m of the opinion that having a good habit is more beneficial (at least to depressives like me)  than any actual health gains from the exercise.