Happy anniversary to me.
This week's update is late because I've been procrastinating. It's now been a year since I've been doing these roughly-weekly updates, and as of March 3rd, it was the one year anniversary of the close of escrow. It's also been almost exactly two years since I first learned what a Type 47 ABC License was, and a bit over two and a half years since I made my first offer on this club.
So I wanted to do some kind of state-of-the-union thing here, summarize what we've done in the last year. But every time I thought about writing that, I just got depressed at how long it's taking, and found something else to do instead.
So, let's just forget about all that, and move on to ``what happened last week.''
Nothing terribly exciting. More of the beer-line installation is done (but not all of it.) That picture below on the left is of some of the pumps on the inside of the walk-in refrigerator, where the beer lines begin: they move the coolant, CO2, and Nitrogen around through the mile of plastic tubes snaking through the club.
The upstairs front and back bars have been mostly welded together. The bar surface is raw steel, and the front wall of the bar is concrete (really, concrete plaster over wood.) They're doing a really nice job on it: you can't see the weld seams at all. (The right picture below shows a lowered section of the bar: this is the required ``wheelchair service'' area for the upstairs front bar, where no wheelchair can ever be.)
The last of the booths/benches have been installed (in the corners on either side of the upstairs front bar.) Those look really good; the one on the right feels almost like its own little room. And the water heater has finally been installed: check out the maze of plumbing coming out of that monster! Doesn't that look just like the ``pipes'' screensaver? In person, you really have to stare at it for a while before you figure out what goes where, since this club apparently has a four-chambered heart driving its circulatory system.
We had our acoustical engineer come back out and take a look at the soundproofing we've done, and make some suggestions for how to tweak it farther. He had some things to say about our entryways that made me sad. As you'll recall, we built zig-zagging six-inch-thick concrete walls in front of the doors, to act as a sound baffle, and to throw even more mass between the speakers and the outside world. They also looked great: you enter the club by going down a tall concrete hallway. So his comments on that were, ``you did great by putting all this mass in the walls, but then you threw it all away by leaving the exposed concrete surfaces.'' He said that the fact that the walls were hard, flat surfaces meant that the sound would just reflect around the corners, and the density of the walls wouldn't make much difference. He basically told us we should carpet the walls, ceiling, and floor, to turn those areas into big walk-in mufflers.
He suggested one particular soundproofing material, which is basically two inches of very dense fiberglass insulation sandwiched between thick sheets of porous black paper. This stuff is for dampening out sound reflection rather than transmission. So we bought a few rolls of this stuff and glued it to the walls in the entryways. It made a shocking difference! Now as soon as you round the corner, the construction noises just disappear: it's like you put your head in a bucket. So I don't feel so bad about having lost those cool concrete walls, now that I've seen the difference this stuff makes in the amount of sound that it absorbs.
We're still working out how we're going to protect this surface: since it's basically a paper backing, it will get torn and otherwise messed up if it's exposed on its own. Probably we're going to cover it with some kind of tight wire mesh. (It's important that whatever we cover it with not be a solid, flat surface, or we'll defeat its purpose.) Some people just put carpet over this stuff, but I like the idea of a wire mesh better.
We ended up using a wire mesh (``rat wire''') over the soundproofing material. Though I really liked the concrete entry-way, I must say, this stuff looks pretty cool too. And it's almost a Faraday cage, so it's definitely the place to be to avoid lightning or electronic surveillance. It's pretty hard to take a picture of, though: my photos keep coming out looking like either a glittery fabric curtain, or solid black, neither of which are really what it looks like up close and personal, when you're surrounded by it on the walls and ceiling. But here's a closeup of the baseboard, that sort of gives you an idea.
The plumbers have hooked up the sinks behind the bars, and the various refrigerators and ice bins are now in place. As are some of the beer taps! The bars really look like bars now.
The upstairs floors are in the process of being painted: we're using a medium gray epoxy paint, and one of the layers of paint has sand mixed in, to provide better traction after drinks have been spilled on it.
Also the ice makers have shown up, though they haven't yet been hooked up. These are enormous: the ice storage compartment is 2 1/2' x 4' x 5', and then the actual ice maker sits on top of that. And we have two of them: that's 100 cubic feet of ice. Most of the kitchen is ice machine now: the parts that aren't water heater or sink.
We had to have the steel guys re-do the surface of the upstairs back bar. It's not clear how it happened, but somehow we'd made a mistake in the design, and we only realized it after they had welded together the bar surface, and we put a cooler behind it. The bar overhung the cooler by too large a distance, so we had to have them cut it back about ten inches. Which involved taking the whole thing off, cutting out a section, welding it back together, and then re-glueing it to the wooden supports.
Alexis has been spending just about all his time working on deals with various distributors and meeting with promoters. It seems like a couple different promoters stop by every day to check the place out. Like it says on the Contact page, if you're interested in promoting an event here at the club, now is the time to start talking to him about it!
Barry and I have been spending the last few weeks debugging the budget. It's no fun at all. Fortunately we've gotten some good advice from a friend of Alexis's who has been running clubs for years: we got to see the books of a club of comparable size, which helped us a lot with details like how much you really spend on glassware, and what the electricity bill is likely to be.
We did a dry run of our noise abatement test with our acoustical engineer and his very expensive sound meter. The meter looks like it was manufactured in the forties, or like it belongs on a submarine or something. (I really like the action shot on the lower right of Bob and Greg shouting over the music!) Anyway, it's the same kind of meter that the cops have, so we got to see what they'll be seeing. We seem to be in pretty good shape, but we'll see...
And the big news is that the final layers of the downstairs dance floor are going in! It's about halfway done right now. On top of the smooth concrete floor that we poured in December, we're first adding a layer of tar paper (for waterproofing, I'm told); then 1/4" of neoprene (the spongy material used to make wet-suits); then two layers of plywood; then thick epoxy paint. The layers of plywood are glued and screwed to each other, but are only attached to the concrete floor over by the walls. So that will make it be one giant wood sheet, sitting on top of a giant sponge. The floor definitely has a lot of bounce to it already.
They put down the first layer of plywood at a 45° angle, and the second layer in line with the walls, to make sure that none of the joints line up. It's also tongue-and-groove wood, so I don't think there's much chance of one of those sheets ever popping up...
One of the things DNA came with was a funky old timeclock: Stephen got it working again this week. We were pretty confused by it, because it measures in decimal time: that is, instead of minutes, it measures in hundredths of an hour: it represents 5:30 as 5.50, 5:45 as 5.75, etc.
Of course, it has no setting for the year, so Leap Day will be fun. Oh no, another Y2K problem, but this one is with a clockwork computer! (It's electric, but it's brain is all wheels and gears.)
Both Barry and Alexis have had a few phone conversations recently that followed the pattern of, ``do you want to do business with us? Because if the answer is no, just tell us that, and we'll be happy to stop bothering you.''
What's amazing is when these people try to give us the excuse, ``well we weren't in a hurry to get your job done, because it doesn't look like you're very close to opening.'' Which is why? Because everybody tells us that, and so nobody is in a hurry! Giving us that excuse is a good way to trigger a long, painful tirade.
We've also finally made a decision on cash registers: we're going to just buy cheapo non-networked registers, in the interest of economy and expediency, and consider putting in a real point-of-sale system later. Maybe I'll write one, maybe we'll buy one; who knows.
One of our two ice machines is now operational! It made 1,300 pounds of ice cubes in about 12 hours. The other one would be operational, but the drain below it is clogged, so it's turned off. But we're definitely never going to run out of ice... Maybe we can make some extra cash by selling ice to other clubs. Oops, forget I said that: I'll bet you need a different license for that.
The ice machines come in three parts: from bottom to top, there's the bin, the ice maker, and the condenser. The bin is the big box with the doors, and the ice maker sits on top of that. It fills an internal ice cube tray with water, and then drops a 5' sheet of ice cubes into the bin. The mechanism for how it decides that the bin is full is pretty clever: when the ice drops out of the maker, it pushes open a door. If the door doesn't close, then that's because there was nowhere for the ice to fall, so the maker shuts off.
The condenser is the part that makes ``cold''. Because of those pesky laws of physics, to make ``cold'' it also has to make ``hot'', and we don't need any more ``hot'' (or ``loud'') in the kitchen, so the condensers for these machines are up on the roof. There are some high pressure hoses filled with coolant (ammonia or freon, I'm not sure) that run between the condensers and the ice makers.
The scaffolding is gone from the front of the building. Now we get to find out how graffiti-proof this graffiti-proof clear-coat on top of the concrete really is...
The mirror and shelves have been installed behind the downstairs bar, and the soda/juice guns and most of the beer taps are installed.
And they've begun painting the downstairs dance floor. An unfortunate result of this is that there haven't been too many people working, as there are far fewer places for them to stand.
Let's see, what else... I rewrote the Remodeling page to be in the present tense instead of the future tense, since we've actually done most of that work now! And you may have been noticing that the audio stream has not been super-reliable lately. It was offline last week, because the fine folks at icecast.org found some pretty serious security bugs in their server (which we're using to deliver our audio streams) so I took it offline for a few days until I found time to fight with the new version of their server. (It was not what I would call a seamless upgrade.) Anyway, it's back online now, but ever since then, I've been seeing the server being kind of erratic: it's acting the way it does when there is network congestion (skipping, etc.) but at times when there does not, in fact, seem to be any network congestion. So I suspect the new version of the Icecast server is at fault. ``Yay.''