Of Projectors and Space Heaters

We’re cycling out of the winter mode here in SATX for at least the next week. The sun came out Saturday and it got up to about 63 in the afternoon.

I was up and out pretty early. Early for me, that is. My friend Deborah was planning to have some folks from her Tao group meet at her studio. The little electric heater in her studio had recently crapped out, and I recalled that a neighbor had given me a Wal-Mart gift card for Christmas. I headed south down Roosevelt early in the morning to see what I could find. I made it to Wal-Mart by about 9. I hate the place on general principles, but today the customer service was particularly noticeable in it’s absence. After flagging down three people I finally learned that they were sold out of all their space heaters. None at all. Zip! I thought I’d head down to a region I dread even more than the Wal-Mart on SE Military. I’m talking about all those big box retailing monstrosities out near City Base. Would I have better luck at, say, Home Depot? Nope. Next stop, Conn’s. The unshaven wannabe hipsters working there fidgeted in their soul-crushing polyester outfits and told me, before I’d walked ten feet into the store, that heaters aren’t the sort of things they ever carried. As I thanked them and walked out, one of the more aggressive sales boys croaked out that “maybe you’d like a big screen TV?” Hardly. I then tried the big Target on the far side of the parking lot. I’d forgotten how much I hate the Target color scheme. But the employees are generally pleasant and seem to know what’s where. The chipper high school girl (a far cry from the hungover slugs at Conn’s) told me in an unfaltering and declarative manner that, no, they were all sold out. “Hey, Larry,” she called out to a fat guy pushing a trolly stacked high with boxes of Beer Nuts and a product called the Foot Jacuzzi. “We getting any more heaters?” Larry shook his head without even turning around. “Sorry, man,” she said. “It’s a seasonal thing.” I thanked her. I grabbed some Bustelo coffee and some flavored creamer. It looked like I was giving up on my quest. From a retail standpoint, it would seem that summer, in south Texas, has ended.

I took the scenic route back to my neighborhood, via S. Floras. This allowed me to whip into the drive-thru at Eddies Taco House for a couple of breakfast tacos.

I stopped at my home to pick up my camera. Then I headed over to C4 for my smaller tripod. It can be a pain, at times, having another space, because you find yourself wondering where the fuck you put this or that. Next, I drove to Blue Star. Upstairs I saw that Deborah was already working in her space with some of her Tao group.

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I handed the coffee and cream off to Deborah, and took a peek into one of the adjacent stdio spaces. I was there to meet Russ. He was helping another artist on the second floor, Felipe Reyes, to document the art work of a colleague on display in his studio/gallery. Russ and Felipe knew each other because they both teach at Harlandale High School. It seems Russ has jumped over to the DSLR world of movie-making as well as myself. He has one of the new Canon’s. Compared to mine, it’s huge. I, of course, fell into a deep state of buyer’s remorse.

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Why didn’t I get THAT camera…? Oh, well. The deed had been done. And I also had to remind myself that I had done a fair amount of work with that camera which I was quite proud of. Maybe a Canon will be my next camera. No rush. Just plunge ahead and do good work.

Later, back home, I opened the blinds to let the sun in and forced myself to clean up some. My place has become such an appalling mess that whenever I hear a friend working up towards inviting him or herself to come over to my place, I quickly mention a convenient restaurant, coffee shop, or the very handy C4 Workspace. I succeeded in doing a very good first pass-through on my kitchen and my living room.

There was a point where I was cleaning my sink and I looked out the window (one of the fun features of this place is that the window over my kitchen sink lets me peek out onto the drama that is my neighborhood). I saw Rick and Angela Martinez, the Slab Cinema couple, visiting my next door neighbor. They were on their bikes. Well, dammit, what am I complaining about? Even though the low ’60s is too cold for me, the sun was out, and here I see people I know buzzing about the neighborhood on bikes. I put on my sneakers and shorts, grabbed up my bike, threw it in my truck, and I drove to that little park over near the old old Mission Drive-In Theater. Chilly, I’ll admit, but I had a nice quick ten mile ride to to Mission Espada and back. Shit, it’s probably been over two months since my last bike ride. And it looks like it’ll be in the upper ’60s and lower ’70s this coming week. Finally, sweet respite!

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This new projector is damn slick. It’s 3000 lumens, and that’s bright. Slab Cinema uses a 2700 or 2800 lumen machine. And they can spread a clean and clear image onto the side of a two story building. I don’t know how big that screen was (I speak in the past tense, because it was destroyed in a big wind (though I should add, deep in this double parenthetical, they have a new, inflatable screen, and screenings will continue, when it warms up a bit)), but I remember the last film I watched there in HemisFair Park, and it was a HUGE screen, and the picture quality, rather impressive.

What I can say about my machine is that as a large screen TV, it’s no slouch. In fact when those dorks at Conn’s wanted to know if I might want to buy a large screen TV, I really wanted to spin around and explain the situation: “Look, squirt, I have a NEC 3000 Lumen LCD projector, my entire house is a large screen TV…if I so desire.” And, indeed, lately I’m been watching my “stories” off hulu.com projected onto the wall in my living room. This gives me a 96 inch screen (diagonal). The size is limited because I need to fit the projected image onto the clean space between two doorways. The manual rates this projector to 300 inches, I guess that means a diagonal measurement.

At the moment I’m in my living room at my standing “desk.” I have my laptop connected to the projector off the external monitor port. I have this old Gateway monitor I’ve hooked up to the projector’s output feed. I’ve set my computer to recognize a dual monitor array. Right now I have a browser open (tuned to Pandora, with the Rye Coalition as the operative meme). On top of that is iPhoto, running through a slide show of recent imported images. This is what’s playing on my wall. The laptop’s monitor is set to this word processing program (which is, um, the lowly Text Edit, which I use for all my blogs). I’d probably slide the word processing window so it’d be projected, but I don’t touch type. I spend quite a bit of time looking at my fingers when I type. So, if I were using the wall to see my work, I’d be looking down, looking down, looking WAY UP, looking down, looking down, looking WAY UP…. This isn’t a good situation.

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This photo is the same set up, but while I was experimenting with the VJ software program, GrandVJ. I only had three of the eight channels going, and only one, as I recall was a video clip. I’m still using the demo version. I’ll probably buy it tomorrow. The other program I was playing with–also in demo mode–is really quite a bit more fun. But it’s currently beyond my abilities. I think this one works best for my current needs. One of the cool things about GrandVJ is how it can be expanded upon by adding a midi keyboard and/or a usb mixer. These are two devices that I’m quite confident that if I had, I could operate the system so much faster. But, the good thing is that there’s quit a bit that can be done just with a mouse and a computer keyboard.

In the photo above, the two lower monitors are in the immediate foreground. Inches away. The one at the top is the projected one, about 13 feet away.

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