Archive for the ‘OES’ category

Grand Chapter Recording

June 3, 2018

As many of my east coast FB friends who are member of OES, I do the recording of the Grand Chapter session. Ever wonder what I do at the table at the back of the hall next to the sound board? Here is a brief explanation of how I do that.


First, here’s the hardware setup. I use a standard Windows 10 laptop. I connect to the hall’s sound board with a Tascam MK122 interface. Tascam no longer makes the model MK122. Here is a reasonable variant that would work, though with a bit more than I would need. It converts standard audio signals to a USB signal. There are two XLR cables. One for each stereo channel. There is also a headphones jack for monitoring the audio.


I used to use a software app called CuBase, but when I upgraded to a new laptop three years ago, the version that I had wouldn’t work. CuBase offered to sell me a new version for about $300. Nope, not gonna do it. The new version of CuBase had way more features than I really needed.

So I started searching for alternatives. I found an app called “Mixcraft” by Acoustica. It seemed to fit my needs and wallet just fine. Here’s a view of the screen while recording:

2018-05-19 13.37.40

The red section of the screen is the currently recording channel. My job during the recording is to balance the input levels. With different speakers and different microphones, I need to make sure that I am getting a solid signal at all times.

Also during the recording, I have an Excel spreadsheet open that I use to log who is speaking and what they’re talking about. This is done so that later I can find a particular speaker and/or report.

Mixcraft uses a project file to manage the operation. I have a different project file for each day of Grand Chapter. I need to stop and restart the recording every 20-30 minutes to allow Mixcraft to write all of the WAV files to disk. I keep a different folder for each day of Grand Chapter.

By the time that all is said and done on Saturday night, I will have about 25 GBytes of WAV files on my hard drive. I try to backup the files to either a thumb drive or portable USB drive.

So when I get home, my job is to create MP3 files and copy them to a thumb drive. I used to write DVD disks but thumb drives are easier to deal with. Mixcraft has a handy function to mix down a select portion of the recording to a MP3 file. Sometimes, I will edit out long stretches of silence. Then I do some editing of the Excel file for accuracy.

And finally, I mail two thumb drives to Grand Secretary in Mass. Archive all of the files in case someone asks for a recording from way back when. I have full recordings going back to 2010 when I started doing the job for MA OES.

It’s Flying Time Again…

May 14, 2018

It’s time for our annual trip to Boston for MA Grand Chapter OES.

I did a few last minute errands this morning. Picked up shirts at the cleaners. Picked up Rx for Mary and went to the USPO to hold the mail.

So the main USPO in San Pedro is this beautiful old Art Deco building. So I took a picture of the lobby. It’s worth a look.

All of my computer gear is packed. My function at GC is to do the recording of the session. To do this I have an interface that patches into the sound system and connects to my laptop via USB interface.

Of course, I am bringing iPad, iPhone x2, iPad mini (for Paula). Plus all of the applicable chargers and cables.

I checked in at noon with Delta. Boarding passes loaded on phones. Got note from Delta that I have to check bags at LAX Term 2, then off to Term 3 due to construction. What a PITA.

I would have liked to do non stop both ways, but to do that on LAX-BOS would mean flight leaves to 0800. To early for us, so flight leaves at noon and change planes in Detroit. Arrive in BOS at about 10 pm EDT. We will be at our hotel by about midnight give or take.

So we expect to see many friends and relatives. Fly back on next Monday.



Wheels Up

May 17, 2017

Well we arrived safe and sound in Boston last night. It was a long day. We were up at 0500 to get ready. We had a light breakfast, showered and got dressed. We got Mary up at about 0630 and got he breakfast ready. By 0700, our care giver had arrived. I gave her the nickle tour. We explained once again to Mary where we were going and when we would be back. She looked like such a lost soul. But for our sanity, we have to do it.

For these trips we hire home care people from a company called CarenetLA to take care of Mary. They do a great job. When we first started to use them a few years ago, we only had them during the day. Now, we need them to be there 24/7.

By 0715, we were out the door and heading to LAX. Our flight was at 1115. We were concerned about traffic and SNAFU’s related to Delta’s gate move from gate 5 to gate7. Local news people were saying allow extra time, so we did. So that means with normal traffic, we were through security with 3 hours to wait. Groan. But it sure feels good to be out on the road.

I am getting to really detest air travel. I mean really, really detest it. Air planes are more crowded. When was the last time you saw an airplane half full? So Paula and I went to the bathroom and looked for a place to sit and wait. Departure lounge was packed. People sitting on the ground. So we headed to the Starbuck’s and got some coffee and a blueberry scone to share. Managed to find two seats.

Okay here’s the deal. Normally, I would prefer to book a non-stop flight. For hour outbound flight from LAX to BOS, that would mean either a flight that leaves very early like 0700 or 0800, gets into BOS at about 5 pm, just in time for rush hour. Or we could take the red-eye leave at 10 or 11 pm and get into BOS at 0600. So we were stuck with the in between option. Booked a flight that left at about 11 am with stop at Minneapolis-St Paul change planes for the final leg to BOS. Taking the 0800 nonstop means getting up at 4 am to get to LAX by 0600.

The other choice is the red-eye. Leave LAX at 10 pm and arrive in BOS at 06:30. No good choices

So. the last couple of three years we have decided to splurge and book first class. If one is careful, you can get a reasonable price. It eases the pain a bit but the flight was still packed. Airlines generally have about 3 levels of coach. Each level up gives you a little more leg room, United calls it “Comfort Plus”, NOT! So with first class, I don’t have to pay for baggage, don’t have to pay for food or drink on the flight. And you get a little bit more attention from the stewardess.

Actually the food on both legs was pretty decent. As soon as I sat down on the LAX-MSP leg, stewardess gets me a gin and tonic. Excellent.

So I made the reservations back in February, well before the recent dust ups on United and American. I picked Delta for no other reason that we had used them before and they weren’t bad. I think that any of the few major airlines are capable of doing bad things to there customers. You pick one and you take your chances. You just hope that noone had a melt down on your flight.

So we arrived in MSP on time. I get off the flight and look at the departure screen to see where our gate would be for the MSP-BOS leg would be. Arrival gate was G21, our departure gate was D4. Oh FxxK, I say. MSP is a huge Delta hub. It would be hard to imagine a longer hike between gates. So we get on the moving walkway and head for D4. Halfway there, an airport shuttle driver took pity on us and asked if we would like a lift. Oh yes, please we answer. So off we went. Got to the gate. Delta had just started to board.

So we landed in BOS on time at about 9:30 PM and headed to the rental car bus. At Logan, the rental car companies share a common facility. Got up to the Avis desk and gave my credit card and driver’s license. I had requested a Ford Escape SUV.  They didn’t have any Ford Escapes. So they give me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Are you kidding me? That car is like a tank. It is huge. The major problem is that I will have to return it with a full tank of gas. I shudder to think what that’s going to cost me. Avis is officially on my shit list. There are other rental car companies in this world.

And one more thing. Every time I rent a new car it takes me a day or so to figure out how everything works. I get into the car and it takes me 10-15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the headlights. I can’t find out all the switches because the garage is dark.

And another thing. Man it gets dark out here. As we headed out Rte 2 into the Exurbs the ambient light god darker and darker. It’s not like that in LA. You have to get out into the desert to get that kind of darkness.

And finally, we are now back in the land of Dunkin Donuts. Though, the first Dunkie’s that we saw in the airport was closed. Not that I needed a coffee at 10 pm. Time to dust off the Dunkie’s App. Time to make the donuts.

2017-05-16 21.32.14

Peppermill Resort & Casino

October 3, 2013

In my last post, I talked about the routes from So Cal to the north. It was pointed out by my wife (a native Californian) that there is a fourth route that exists. That would be the inestimable Rt 101. Rte 101 follows the coast from LA to San Francisco. This is the ultimate in scenic routes. You go through Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Carmel and a host of other photo ops along the way. One of these days we will do the 101,

So we arrived at the Peppermill last Saturday for the Nevada Grand Chapter of OES. OES is the Order of Eastern Star which is a fraternal organization for men and women. More about Grand Chapter later.

The Peppermill is a huge facility. Large Casino operation plus meeting and banquet facilities, Checkin went pretty smoothly. There was a short line, but it went pretty quick. The parking was valet parking though you could self park if you insisted. The bellman unloaded all of our stuff and got it up to room real quick.

So far so good. The room was good size. It had king size bed, couch, desk and chairs. Included coffee pot, wifi and all of the normal amenities. Wifi was fast when you could get a signal. It was intermittent at best. One strike for crappy wifi.

The decor was a sort a Queen Anne motif along with paintings of Tuscan motif. Even a painting in the bath room. It seemed a bit odd to me.

We attend four banquet meals during our stay. All of the meals were absolutely fantastic. Feeding a large crowd all at the same time can be a real challenge. The Peppermill wait staff were absolutely fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Okay now lets talk about the casino. Nevada is the only state in the USA that stills allows cigarette smoking in public spaces. I don’t really blame the Peppermill for this but the place stunk of cigarette smoke. They did have a small non-smoking gaming area. This was the first time in over 25 years that I saw a cigarette machine. $9 for a pack of cigarettes.

Casinos are designed to be a disorienting space and the Peppermill is no different. It takes a good long while to figure out your way around. I don’t gamble so I just had to make my way through the casino section. The noise is deafening.

We are looking forward to a trip in November to Las Vegas to a non-smoking, non-casino resort. Betcha didn’t know that such an thing existed in Vegas.

Overall, it was a decent experience. All of the events were in one place. We didn’t have to go anywhere else during our stay. If you don’t care about OES, then stop here.

Nevada OES is certainly much smaller then either CA OES or MA OES. About 20 chapters spread out around the state. Several chapters around Reno and the same around Las Vegas. Getting from the chapters in the north to the ones in Vegas is not so easy. There is I80 running from Reno to Wendover in the East for about 400 miles. There is no interstate between Reno and Las Vegas. So going from Reno to Vegas is a challenge.

That’s pretty much it for the hotel part of this post. The rest is about OES in general and Nevada OES in specific.

The folks that we met at NV GC were very friendly. They made our stay very enjoyable.

The registration process was oh so very easy. They had a single spreadsheet on their web site where you could select our hotel accommodations and the banquets that you planned to attend. Fill out the spread sheet and send it in with one check for the banquets. One stop shopping, so to speak. In CA and MA, one has to download flyers for each banquet. Write a check for each banquet and send it to the chairperson.

Elections were an interesting process. There were five women running for the office of Assoc Grand Conductress. None of the candidates were allowed to give a campaign speech or to campaign during the months leading up to Grand Chapter. The process took four votes before one candidate finally got a majority.
Candidates were asked if they wanted to withdraw, but were not required to do so. In MA the bottom vote getters would be required to withdraw.

Also Grand Sentinel is an elected office like in MA but not in CA. We think the GS goes up the line as in MA. Grand Sentinel in CA is an appointed office and does not go up the line. We met people from CA, AZ, ID and WA. Our thanks to Linda (Grand Representative to MA in NV) for being very gracious host.

So now we are in Utah to visit Neil. We are going to visit the Utah Museum of Science and Industry to see the Leonardo exhibit.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Reno NV