31-Mar-2000 (Fri)

Well, in the last week we've hauled out another dumpster-and-a-half worth of garbage. The place is looking substantially less filthy now. We're in the process of getting quotes from cleaning crews to come in here and clean the living shit out of this place once, and then later, do more normal cleanings a couple times a week. So far they've seen it as a pretty daunting task.

We've also started talking to various people about lights, both people who have lights to sell, and people who just know their stuff. The lights in this place are obviously inadequate, but it's not clear how much of that is the lights themselves, and how much of that is just how badly they were being used. We do have six functioning Trackspots in here, but you'd never know it. So far, pretty much everyone has been trying to convince us to ditch the Trackspots and get more modern lights, like Studio Spots or Technobeams, but as far as I can tell, these newer lights are just not substantially better: they have a few new tricks, like the Studio Spots have irises that let you control the beam width, and the Technobeams have rotating gobos in them so you can project patterns, but these seem really minor compared to the kinds of improvements you can see just by programming a more basic light well.

However, someone told me about these really cool lights that they have in England, but that haven't made it over here yet for some kind of patent extortion / trade embargo reason, that are like all these other lights except that they project full-motion video! That would blow away anything you can do with a gobo or stencil...

I think we probably need more intelligent lights, and don't need nearly as many par cans, but so far I don't see any reason to replace the Trackspots I already own with something else.

(A few words on lighting terminology: Trackspots, Intellibeams, Technobeams, and Studio Spots are all what are called ``intelligent lighting'': these are the lights with the rotating mirrors that can whip tight beams of light around the room really quickly, under control of the programs in a centralized lighting control board. Studio Spots are different in that the whole light moves instead of just the mirror, giving it more degrees of freedom, but presumably slowing it down. They look cool, though. Par cans are basic stage lighting: little barrels that flash and dim, but don't move, and that you change the color of by climbing up and replacing gels. Gobos are little sometimes-rotating glass discs: basically glorified slide projectors.)

We also talked to a few more people about our sound systems, leaving me more baffled than before. Apparently if you talk to three audio engineers you get three contradictory opinions. Everybody wants me to spend more money, which is easy for them, 'cause it's not their money...

It turns out that, while the side and back walls of the club are solid concrete, the front wall is primarily plywood and sheet-rock. Apparently at some point in its past, it had a garage door and a number of giant windows, so it seems like the only cement in that wall are the four big pillars holding up the roof. No wonder our noise abatement inspection went so poorly: the reason the soundproofing on the front wall is inadequate is that there isn't any! So it sounds like my next step is going to be to wall up the windows, and cover the whole front wall with a couple layers of sound board (which, as I understand it, is just a kind of particle board: that porous wood-and-paste stuff that they make cheap bookcases out of) followed by a couple of layers of sheet rock (plaster between two layers of cardboard: that's probably what the walls in your office are made of.)

I guess it's time for me to buy a circular saw and round up the usual suspects. I'll never stop hemorrhaging money if I pay contractors $50/hour to do easy stuff like this...

We got our fire extinguishers charged the other day. I learned (second-hand) about a scam that extinguisher-filling companies tend to pull: it's a good scam! You need to have your extinguishers charged once a year. So after nine months, someone from the extinguisher company will stop by and say ``I'm here to service the extinguishers.'' Doubtless whoever answers the door will just say, ``uh, ok.'' Then they bill you for it, and mark the extinguishers as being good for another twelve months. But this means they're charging you for four years worth of service every three years! Granted this isn't a lot of money, but still.

Anyway, after having blown us off for close to six weeks, our soon-to-be-former electrician finally finished the remaining electrical work we needed (basically, hanging exit signs and emergency lights and associated conduit.) This should mean that we'll pass our fire inspection, which is in a few days, and electrical inspection, hopefully next week. We passed our building inspection today, which is a good sign, because it appears that all three inspectors mainly look for the same things.