Recording on the cheap

Those of you who have followed this blog know that one of the main themes has been skiing on the cheap. Downhill skiing is typically an expensive sport, not one that I can afford at MSRP. But I have been able to do quite well with a self imposed limit of $30 for a lift ticket. You just have to pay attention.
Now that I am getting into audio recording I find that I can do the same thing, i.e. setup a studio with little to no money. I'm quite pleased at how it's working out.
For example, there are a ton of great plug-ins and virtual instruments that can  be had free for the download. Plug-ins are software add-ins for your recording program that create effects like reverb and echo and simulate equipment like compressors and equalizers.
As for real physical equipment, I found a midi keyboard in perfect working order complete with stand, sustain pedal and power brick on the side of the street for trash pickup. A friend gave me another midi controller that he wasn't using any more. When I needed a snare and some brushes, I borrowed them from friends. I borrowed a mic and a djembe drum from my church and so on.

Other essential equipment: my ears and brain ... included at no extra charge! ;-)

21 Days

They say it takes 21 days to either break or establish a habit. That's probably an arbitrary number but the concept is valid. Through repetition we establish neural pathways in the desired direction while causing old ones that we don't want to become less compelling through disuse.
I'm going to take a big step here and make an attempt at changing a much loved but harmful pattern ... bedtime snacks!
It's one of my great pleasures to kick back with a book and munch away.
But I really need to lose some weight. I know I'm feeling the extra poundage both in terms of energy level and in the stiffness and discomfort in my joints. Not to mention the extra company I feel when I bend over to tie my shoes. I don't like feeling like an old man (I'll be 65 in February).
Now, the holidays are coming up, in fact are already upon us and I'm not proposing to change anything about that, just the bedtime snacking. I'll enjoy holiday dinners and parties without thinking too much about it and I'll have a reasonable serving of dessert after dinner. Just see how it goes.

It's Day 2.

Drums

I borrowed a snare drum and brushes for one of Mrs. MTBMan1's songs. It has a 123 123 12 guitar picking pattern which could translate into a latin beat but I don't think the song wants that. I tried various combinations of clave, hand drum and tambourine but they were all too strong and the tambourine was too jangly. I'm thinking of more of a soft chuff-chuff than a chang-chang ... maybe maracas?
In any event, I borrowed a snare from one friend who doesn't play but has a trap set he's trying to sell and nylon brushes from his brother who does play. I initially thought I would use the electronic traps at church and record directly out of that but when I noticed that my friend Steve had a set sitting in his rumpus room I jumped at that opportunity. Obviously it will be a more natural sound and i can do it in the convenience of my own home studio.
I pulled up some youtubes on how to tune a snare and then how to play brushes. It's scary how much knowledge is out there and it's all at your fingertips.
I love learning something new and I always wanted to play drums. Heck I've always wanted to play everything! ;-)
Here's a photo of our "studio".



Resume

That's ree-zoom not reh-zoo-may. It's been since the end of last ski season, March 2012 that I last posted here. I'm going to post about other things than just fitness but they are things that are fun for me at least.
Previously I thought to stay focused on the fitness things for the sake of my public, all 4 of you (hi, mom!) but really, I don't think any of you care, do you?
So I may also include things I'm doing with music or anything else that interests me. I can always think about things to write while I'm doing them but when it comes time to actually commit them to "paper" ... well i'm lazy. So, we'll see.
Ski season is about to begin for Mrs. MTBMan1 and I. First scheduled day is Mt. Snow. I bought new skis this year which are my first brand new ones. The ones I had before I bought used and last year I rented. The new ones are Atomic Nomad Intruders which I got online from Levelnine Sports. $269 with bindings and free shipping! They look great and got all good reviews. I am psyched to try them out. They are rockered and a little wider underfoot than my other skis, 77mm.

Musically I am all over the map. Mostly I have been recording Mrs. MtBMan1's original songs and having a blast with that. I don't write much myself but love to develop my wife's songs which I think are great and unique. I am using garage band on a macbook pro with a Line6 GuitarPort for an audio interface. I'll post a pic of the "studio" at some point.

ski days 14 & 15, windham and butternut

last Tuesday i skied Windham mountain. As you who have followed this blog know, I never ski without a 'deal'. Tuesday's deal was a gift card for $30 we received as a refund on our daughter's gear rental last december. We knocked off at about 1:30PM that day so they gave us an early return refund for the equipment. I thought that was very nice of them. I didn't expect anything. I figured you rent for the day and that's it. Another positive customer-centric experience that will keep us going back to Windham.
So ... $52-$30=$22 for the lift ticket!
It was a bluebird day. Probably didn't get much above freezing if at all. Conditions were packed powder (a dusting of real snow over man-made). It held up well throughout the day with very little ice poking through even by quitting time. They were 100% open.
My best workout to date putting in 28 runs in a little over 28 miles of actual skiing. I did just about every run on the mountain except for the double-blacks. Upper Wraparound to Whiskey Jack is a blue favorite and Why Not to new-this-year connecting trail, Wintuck, to Lower Wicked is favorite black diamond run.
Got 2 first chairs and first tracks both on the East peak, the D and G lifts.
I did a pole twirling exercise quite a bit that day. I got if from Chris Fellows great book "Total Skiing". You simply twirl your poles in front of your face like a drum major (or -ette) while you ski. It keeps your arms out front of course, keeps you face forward and helps with independence of lower and upper body. I felt like my upper body was enjoying the ride while my legs were doing all the work. It takes a couple of miles before you get the hang of it but it's a fantastic exercise.
Here is the link to my stats for Windham: click here

Yesterday (Friday) was Butternut in Great Barrington, Ma. Since I did a season rental of skis and boots at Butternut, I arrived early and had them hot wax and sharpen the edges. Brian had suggested I get tighter boots so I swapped my boots out for the next smaller size and they fit fine. Hard to tell if any of this made a difference though cause the conditions were so different from what I had been skiing all winter.

We had some warm days and a little rain since Tuesday so there were some large patches of ice showing even when the lifts first started turning. Nevertheless, Butternut was still 100% open and I had a great day. It was a little hard and scratchy in the AM on the east and west edges but the middle had a nice 1/2" to 1" of fresh which was very skiable. You just had to watch out for the ice spots. Nuthatch, for example, had one almost completely across the trail at one point although there was one skier width on either side that you could go around ... or just go straight over the thing! ;-)
By 11AM everything was skiable. Some spots were shaded all day and those remained a bit scratchy but still not as bad as first thing in the morning and they were skiable.
I finally skied Downspout and Chute so now I can say I have skied every trail on the mountain except for the terrain park. That's the only mountain I can say that about. And I skied every one of those trails (20) at least once and most twice on Friday.
Maybe next year I'll get a terrain park pass ($3) just to ski the trails in the park (twister and west way).
I did 21 runs in 17 miles at Butternut.

I tried doing the twirling exercise but the ice patches and mushy conditions required a little more attention than I was comfortable with so I didn't do much of that one.
There was however another exercise (you could actually call it a technique) from Chris Fellows that really helped a lot. It simply involved turning while lifting the uphill ski completely off the snow. This gave a lot of power into the carved turns. Really helpful under the wet snow conditions.

Here are my AlpineReplay stats for Friday at Butternut: click here

Next up: Mt. Snow next Friday. It's going to be a warm week with some rain. Hope the snowpack holds up!!

Ski Day 11 - Bosquet


The problem every year is what to do during president's week break. My limit for a lift ticket is $30 and nobody is giving any breaks during holidays. Can't blame them. Except for Bosquet in Pittsfield Massachusetts. While their daytime rates are at holiday levels ($42 - not bad) they still have $20 night skiing from 3 to 9. Actually $25 because they are using an electronic system where you have to buy an access card for $5 the first time you ski for the season.
A bonus for night skiing is that you lose the crowds. It was very peaceful by about 6:30PM.
I had a good 2 to 2-1/2 hours of daylight. I tried several trails just to get the lay of the land. Jewett, a black diamond, wasn't bad but a little narrow with some icy spots. I'll take a pass on a second run because of conditions.
Roberto's was terrible. Steep, bumps, ice. Bad combination. Not fun. About half way down I did a sit-down and slid the rest of the way almost to the bottom. Next.
I pretty much settled on Grand for the remainder of the night. Upper is black diamond but it's wide and consistent. No icy spots at all. I was able to relax and hit it.
From the top, access to the rest of the mountain besides the aforementioned Jewett and Roberto's is via Easy Rider. There was an icy spot right down the middle and i wrenched my bad right shoulder twice when i hit it, trying to compensate. I found that if i skied on the left side of that trail there was a nice powder stash where everybody riding the middle threw snow. Nice and soft. So I had my favorite run for the night. Left side of Easy Rider, then Grand. Sweet.

Here are a couple of youtube links of videos i did of the day:

http://youtu.be/PahmRMoyAF8

http://youtu.be/CO0nbIEduL4

ski day at Plattekill

Skied today at Plattekill Mountain in Roxbury, NY in the Catskills. They advertised a $15 day so I decided now was the time. The weather has been a bit dicey too; rain just about every week. Today was supposed to be an unrainy day and there was supposed to be rain friday so this was it.

I was the second car in the parking lot. I didn't see anybody on the lifts or the slopes. Eerie. I like it uncrowded but this was a little strange. Eventually people started trickling in.

First run was on Powder Puff to warm up and test surface conditions. Consistent grooming, a little hard, no icy or bare spots. I think I got first tracks on that one

Then I did Sundown to Shredded Mozzarella, a blue run. Not bad. Looked like I was the second skier down it. Shredded Mozz is often tricky. There's a sharp turn with a reverse bank and it's faster than it looks. There's usually some kind of chop from the grooming on the corner too. Took a spill on that one.

My next planned run was Sundown then a right turn on to the Lower Face rather than continue on to Mozz. Lower Face is a Blue run but steeper. What Jiminy would class as a high intermediate. This is usually faster than I'm comfortable with and was what I had planned on working on today.

I pretty much alternated those runs today, concentrating on getting confident on the Face. I kept eyeing the Upper Face which is a black diamond cause it runs right under the lift. I have done it before. I finally tried it and it was ok if a little hairy. But I got down it alright.

After lunch it started snowing. I think it helped conditions a little but psychologically it's a big boost. It's so beautiful.

The upper face kept calling to me. I did it a few more times and got pretty comfortable with it. I think I've crossed a line. I'm craving steeper runs now. More Gs per turn! ;-)

The only other runs open today were the north face and blockbuster. I never got over to that lift. Had enough to work on I guess. Blockbuster was pretty nasty looking. Huge bumps. I think they just made snow and never groomed it out. I never saw one person on it all day.

Had another great day on the slopes. This has definitely been my best season so far in spite of the lack of snow and cold. I know the new skis (Rossi Bandits) have made a huge difference.

Here's video I made going down Powder Puff. I'm just using a regular hand held camera here.


Best Ski day ever

Yes, I had my best ski day ever last week on Wed, Jan 11 at Jiminy Peak in Hancock, MA in the Berkshires. Even though we have had the worst winter since I started skiing in 2007. I think the ski areas especially here in the East have done a heroic job with snowmaking. I have had all good days skiing so far. Surface conditions have all been good it's just that the open terrain has been limited. We need a good nor'easter. We have not had nary a one yet this winter.
So, anyway, why was it my best day ever? Factors: quick lift=lots of runs/hr, better carving skis, decent surface conditions.
Last year I struggled with my 174cm, Salomon Xfree 8s. I think they're too long for me plus too narrow underfoot (62mm) and not much side-cut. Hard to turn.
This year I rented for the season from butternut, 160cm Rossy Bandit's and from my first day I noticed a huge difference. Now I'm carving much easier (still have to think about it, though) and am able to get into a rhythm and keep it up the whole run. Much more fun.
I don't know how many runs I did at Jiminy. Let's just say "a bunch". Felt it some in the quads but not bad. I really could have kept going. Probably could have tried some more challenging runs. That would have worn me out.
I'm using side-slipping too to slow down to a near stop, giving me a chance to check things out on a dicey slope. I find that fun.
Now I'm really getting that weightless moment at the weight-shift point on a carve and that feeling of abandonment to "falling" down the mountain yet in control.
I feel like I'm really skiing now.

Closest I came to getting hurt? In the lift line, of course. I was coming back into the singles line from straight down the mountain and someone was heading into the same line from the side. We both should have stopped. I guess we were both expecting the other one to stop. No harm really, except to pride. We were barely moving.

Next stop: Stratton in Vermont on Wed with Mrs. MTBMan1!