Queerborhood WiFi

This is a proposal for setting up a wifi system on playa to tie into the new borg net and deliver WiFi to the queerborhood (7:30 sector). Per the borg’s recommendation, the main connection is a Ubiquiti NanoBeam.

We also need a pole mount junction box to hold the power injector, a surge suppressor, and the first wifi router. This connects to the antenna via a 50 foot cat 5e cable because the antenna must be 40 feet off the ground. We will also need power run to the box, but we have lots of extension cords.

Next we need a mesh WiFi system to reach throughout the camp. We also need to make sure it’s simple, reliable, and easy to use and that it allows us to remove troublemakers and limit download speed so people aren’t hogging the connection. Google WiFi is the obvious choice.

For neighboring camps in the Queerborhood that want to tie into our system, they will just need one or two cheap wifi repeaters. Our system is doing all the heavy lifting of connecting to the borg and distributing a balanced network throughout our camp and to the edges of the adjacent camps.

Total cost to us: $447.72

(4) Getting Gigs

2019-07-26

6:30-7:30

Are you DJ-Curious? Comfort & Joy is hosting free DJ workshops for anyone interested in learning this magical art. The workshops will be led by seasoned disc jockeys from very different parts of the DJ industry. You will learn how to set up sound and lighting gear, how to mix music, and how to pick tracks.

Food and drink will be provided. Anyone who attends all four workshops will receive a very special gear gift from C&J.

At this fourth workshop, we will learn about the history of the vocation of DJing, and how to find work today. We will have several local big names on hand to answer questions about the work itself and finding gigs.

Workshop Outline

  • Meet and Greet
    • “What kind of gigs are you interested in?”
  • History of DJing
    • Challenges and advantages
      • Then: Heavy, expensive crates of music
      • Now: Cheap controllers with MP3
    • Client expectations
      • Are you video mixing?
      • Are you bringing lights?
      • Are you taking requests?
    • Selling gigs
      • Schools
        • Find the decision maker
        • Keep bugging them
        • Sign exclusive seasonal contracts; offer free work as an audition with the option to cancel the contract if they don’t like it.
        • Play top 40/ contemporary
          • Have edited music crates
        • Typical pay is about $100/hr.
      • Weddings
        • Mostly word of mouth
        • Start with friends/ family
        • Win over wedding officiants
          • Make a special effort to network with them at weddings
        • Talk to wedding venues about being their recommended vendor
        • Typical pay can be $600-$1200.
      • Dive bars
        • Easy sell, low hanging fruit
        • Check local newspapers for bars with empty nights. Ask for a tryout.
        • Typical pay is a percentage of sales or a flat rate: $100-$200 plus a free bar tab for you and your guests (we’ll come back to that).
      • Clubs
        • Need to know someone or have a reputation
        • Pay ranges wildly from minimum wage hourly to high flat rates depending on the venue and the night.
      • Look for weekly/ regular gigs!
        • One-off parties are fun, but weekly gigs offer stability and reliable income.
        • Working three nights a week at dive bars pays about $20k/year and sets you up for bigger things.
        • Weekly dive bar gigs are a great reputation piece for selling larger gigs.
        • Exclusive contracts with schools are a great reputation piece for selling more school gigs.
    • Guerrilla marketing
      • Flyers only help if they come at the end of a conversation.
      • Talk to people. Invite them.
      • Go visit similar events.
        • Set up collaborations
        • Invite guest DJs to spin a few tracks during your sets while you take a break. Buy them a drink on your free tab in exchange for them telling people to come to your party. Check in and tag them to reach their following online.
      • Have a larger cause/ purpose
        • Nonprofits will bring enormous numbers of people to your party if they get a cut of the sales.
        • People feel better about partying if it’s for a good cause.
    • Q&A Panel
    • Mixer

Understanding Humans In The Wild with Sam Harris

There are two huge takeaways for me from this podcast interview. The first is Slot Rattling. The guest is Adam Grant, a organizational psychologist and professor from Wharton. He talks about Slot Rattling as a psychological phenomena which explains a person’s behavior when they identify themselves at a certain undesirable point on a spectrum of a given trait. The reaction is to initially jump all the way to the extreme opposite on that trait. But that isn’t quite right either. The person then tries to find the perfect spot on the spectrum which they are comfortable with. The lesson to take from this example is that there is no correct spot. And by considering other dimensions such as flexibility, we may find that we are sometimes in different spots on that spectrum.

The example that jumped out at me was straight-identified guys who want to do things outside of that identity. They often jump to hyper-masculinity as a defense mechanism which Freud would call reaction formation. Then they move away from the extreme by looking for acceptable alternatives that can fit within their narrative. Freud would call this sublimation.  Overall, this is a super interesting concept which I will refer to, often.

The second thing that jumped out at me was Cognitive Appraisal as a useful tool for mitigating anxiety. Anxiety is the anticipation of future discomfort. It comes with a heightened state of arousal in the Reticular Formation. The thing is that the Reticular Formation which moderates arousal is separate from the Amygdala which moderates emotion. The Amygdala is part of the default mode network and subject to executive function. We can choose to change emotions, if less easily the accompanying state of arousal. Grant suggests redirection your attention away from focusing on the anticipation of possible future discomfort to the anticipation of possible future success or pleasure. This seems like a really great idea which I will try to practice.

 

 

(3)Lighting and DMX

2019-07-13

5:30-8:30

Are you DJ-Curious? Comfort & Joy is hosting free DJ workshops for anyone interested in learning this magical art. The workshops will be led by seasoned disc jockeys from very different parts of the DJ industry. You will learn how to set up sound and lighting gear, how to mix music, and how to pick tracks.

At this third workshop, we will look at setting up lighting gear and using smart versus dumb controls including simple DMX control boards to run lighting rigs.

Workshop Outline

  • Meet and Greet
    • “How can lighting make an event better?”
  • Types of lights
    • Derby
    • Wash
    • Par can
    • Moonflower
    • Up-lights
    • Follow spots
    • Lasers
    • Disco balls
    • Moving head fixtures
      • Gobo
    • LED versus incandescent
    • Special fixtures
      • Fog machines
      • Hazers
      • Sparks/ Fire
  • Control methods
    • Dumb
      • Demo: ADJ PC-4
      • Sound reactive
        • Same fixtures versus different: unpredictable behavior. (So?)
    • Smart
      • DMX
        • Domains and ranges
      • Demo DMX par cans
      • Demo lasers
      • Control boards versus software
  • Practice Time

(2) Advanced Mixing

2019-06-28

5:30-8:30

Are you DJ-Curious? Comfort & Joy is hosting free DJ workshops for anyone interested in learning this magical art. The workshops will be led by seasoned disc jockeys from very different parts of the DJ industry. You will learn how to set up sound and lighting gear, how to mix music, and how to pick tracks.

At this second workshop, we will learn how to set up gear and mix tracks with vinyl and CDJs.

  • Meet and Greet
    • “How have you used the lessons from last time so far?”
  • Raw Vinyl (Where the fuck is all my jungle?)
    • Con: Price
    • Con: Weight
    • Con: Availability
    • Con: Lifespan
    • Despite the cons, this is the very core of DJing; everything else emulates this.
  • Control Vinyl
    • How is this different from raw vinyl and from controllers?
      • Latency
        • Bends versus touch
      • Belt drive versus direct
      • Needles and scratches
      • Control vinyl: What happens at the end?
  • Raw CDJs
    • Working without visualizations is a lot like vinyl
    • Working with visualizations
    • CDs versus dual USB versus networked USB
  • Control CDJs
    • With Control Discs
      • Latency
      • Can scratch
      • What happens at the end?
    • Without Control Discs
      • Basically the same as a controller
  • Loops
    • Why
    • How
  • Mix Types
    • Level mixing
      • Popular with certain genres, vocal outros, etc.
    • Cross-fader mixing
      • Popular with turntablism
    • Fader mixing
      • Popular with more complex collaborative rigs
  • Practice
    • Throwing beat-matched drops with turntables
    • Throwing beat-matched drops with CDJs

(1) Sound Gear and Mixing Basics

2019-06-15

5:30-7:30

Are you DJ-Curious? Comfort & Joy is hosting free DJ workshops for anyone interested in learning this magical art. The workshops will be led by seasoned disc jockeys from very different parts of the DJ industry. You will learn how to set up sound and lighting gear, how to mix music, and how to pick tracks.

At this first workshop, we will learn how to set up DJ controllers and mix tracks using Serato.

Workshop Outline

    • Meet and Greet
      • What kind of DJ are you?
      • What kind of DJ do you want to be?
    • Industry Timeline
      • Turntables and Crates
      • CDJs and Crates
      • Scratch Live and “Crates”
        • MP3 / MP4
      • Midi CDJs and “Crates”
      • Controllers and “Crates”
    • Power Basics
      • RMS and preparing for peaks
      • 120 light vs heavy duty
      • Load distribution, especially with lights
    • Sound formula: Source -> Mixer -> Speakers
      • Sources
        • Turntables
        • CD players
        • Controllers
        • Microphones
      • Mixers are pretty interchangeable for most purposes. We will look at a few examples in the practice session today.
      • Types of speakers
        • Unpowered speakers
          • You need to worry about:
            • Amp racks, signal processors, parametric equalizers, crossovers, power conditioners, etc
            • Specialized unpowered, HEAVY connection types between speakers and amps;
              • Speakon
              • Banana Jacks
              • 1/4″ T/S
        • Powered speakers
          • SO MUCH EASIER
          • All that is built in and you don’t need to worry about it.
  • Mixing Basics
    • Playlists and Autoplay
    • Verse; Chorus; Mix
    • Beat Matching and Turntablism (The Meat)
      • Everyone gets a chance to practice in a moment…
      • Pitch bend and jog wheels
      • Line up the beats, then cross-fade to the new track
  • What To Play?
    • Goals and Cadences
    • Have Options
      • Decades, Genres, Special Event Types
      • You need 20 songs per hour!
  • Practice Your Skills!

(0) Gear Up

If you want to get started learning to DJ, you will need three things: headphones, a controller, and a laptop. There are a few more things that you should really get, but don’t need right away. We will cover these in another post.

First, Pick a Controller

I recommend starting cheap. You can reasonably get started DJing for just a couple hundred bucks. Maybe you’ll hate it, maybe you’ll love it. Many people spend thousands of dollars on their first set of gear. I recommend baby steps. Here are a couple of full-featured controllers which will enable you to do just about everything that any other DJ can do, but on the cheap;

 

Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB3

Shown above is one of the controllers that I currently use professionally. The Pioneer DJ DDJ-SB(1/2/3). There are three versions of this controller and there is essentially no difference between them. They just add a new number and try to sell you a new one. They start around $250 on Amazon, but I would check second hand gear shops. You can likely find one of these for under a hundred bucks at guitar center or other similar places. This controller basically gives you all the control you could want. Pioneer sells controllers for many thousands of dollars which are essentially the same as this one. The one downside is that it’s a little big and doesn’t fit into my backpack.

 

Numark DJ2GO2

This is another controller which I use professionally; the Numark DJ2Go2. You can get a one new for around $75 on Amazon. It gives you almost all the functionality of the bigger controllers, and it will fit into any backpack with no problem.

 

Pioneer RZX

If you walk into guitar center and tell them you want to buy a DJ controller, they will probably try to sell you something like this; the Pioneer RZX. At a casual $3,000, it gives you all the same features as the $75 controller from above, plus lots of screens which duplicate the functionality of the software on your laptop. You also get lots of flashing lights and buttons which will be very showy and fancy looking, if you’re into that sort of thing. One pro here is that you get a built in mixer. You may need a mixer if you are doing certain kinds of gigs, but I prefer to pick them up separately for under $100.

If you want to check out a longer list of many more options, look at Serato’s controllers section. Later we will cover alternatives to controllers including custom racks and coffins for vinyl or CDs. Controllers are the most simple way to initially get started and learn the basics, and they are the only option for most DJs who are visiting clubs with controllers already installed and set up for them.

Headphones

Now that you have chosen a controller, you will need to get some headphones. The purpose of headphones is to help you cue up the next track and start the mix. Lots of people like lots of different things in headphones. Very briefly let’s talk about response curve. Every device that makes sound from earpods to loudspeakers has a response curve. If you play white noise through it and look at a graphic representation of the sound you hear, it will not be a flat line from lows to highs. The problem with bass-heavy or bassless headphones is that they sound different from the music you’re actually playing. So it’s hard to mix correctly based on what you’re listening to through the headphones. Here is an example of a really really good response curve;

XD-53 Response Curve

This curve is good because the entire line stays flat and very close to zero. The further from zero you get, the less accurate the headphones are. When headphones are designed for flat response, the manufacturer will typically communicate this by saying something like “studio monitoring headphones.”Allen & Heath Xone XD532

Allen & Heath’s Xone XD-53 2 Headphones are the ones shown in the graph above. These are my all time favorite headphones. They are a little pricey and a little hard to find online. Amazon currently has them out of stock. These are a really great pair which has the old technics feature of twisting and folding back at the ears, so it’s easy to listen to just one side by holding them with your shoulder. This is hard to find in headphones today.

Audiotechnica ATH-M50x

Audiotechnica makes some great headphones with decently flat response curves. I have this pair of Audiotechnica ATH-M50x Headphones. They are much more affordable than Allen & Heath, while still providing great flat sound.

In a pinch, basically any headphones will work because Serato can do a lot of the work for us, but you will thank yourself for investing a bit in some really good headphones. The most important thing is sound isolation. It’s hard to pick up the details of a song on earbuds with loud music playing all around you on big speakers.

Most Laptops Will Work

The software which almost all DJs today use is called Serato DJ. A free version of it comes with most controllers, including all the ones I linked to above. This will allow you to do most of what you will need to do most events.

The hardware requirements for Serato DJ are very basic. It works on anything since Windows 7 or Mac OSX 10.12. You will need 4GB of RAM and 5GB of Disk space. Almost any modern computer will meet these specs.

Here’s an example of a new laptop for under $200 which meets these specs.

Tiamat’s Wrath by James S A Corey

The most recent book in The Expanse series is easily one of the best so far. The last couple books have felt a little flat, and felt like they were setting up the next one. This one is what they were setting up. It’s full of action and has an ending. Many of the major arcs see significant development. Many story lines are tied up by the end. It’s a very satisfying read.

You can get the audio book for free here or by asking me for a copy.

Tiamat's Wrath by James S. A. Corey

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

I first heard about this book in a presentation given to my social justice class by another student. Then I heard about it through a book club which many of my friends attended.

You can get the audio book for free here or ask me for a copy personally.

White FragilityThis book does a great job of exploring many important concepts surrounding white fragility. As a sociologist, I have often wondered how to best articulate some of the things which DiAngelo explores in this book. Reading this book gave me many new tools for exploring these important concepts, not just from a critical perspective but also from a normative one. This book gives many hints for how to be a better white person.

Critically, almost all of these concepts translate to any system of oppression to one degree or another.  All systems of oppression work the same way. So any privileged group within a given power dynamic will demonstrate some or all of these fragility behaviors. I think of this as a key lesson from this book.

Since reading it, I have already recommended it to many people who are looking to learn how to better articulate many of these concepts. I have also observed many non-sociologists who read this book making very eloquent and well articulated sociological arguments using this book as a foundation.

I think this book is one of the best and most important things to happen within the field of sociology with regard to white people.

The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman

The Magician’s Land is the third and final book in the Magician’s Series. It follows The Magicians and The Magician King.  This book neatly ties up the loose ends left by the other two books. It takes us to a whole new level of magic and power, and it ends the series on a consonant tone which leaves you feeling a sense of completion.

You can get the audio book for free here or ask me for a copy personally. Personally, I usually prefer audio books. This one has a great reader who does the story justice.

The Magicians LandThere is a great deal in the show which is not in any of the books, and most of this book is not in the show. Maybe some of it will come later?

Overall, the Magician King is definitely the best book in the series, while this one is a close second. Definitely worth the read!