Om Street 2017: Time Lapse Video

“On July 22, 2017, over 2500 people gathered on LaSalle Road in West Hartford, CT to “get their asana in the street!” The weather was perfect and the energy was incredible, making the 7th annual OM Street a huge success. The 75 minute all-levels yoga class was led by Barbara Ruzansky of WHY (http://www.westhartfordyoga.com) and included assistants from 40 area studios and businesses. Every studio that gathered their tribe, and every individual that put a mat or a chair on LaSalle represented a community, a coming together of like-minded spirits into something like a neighborhood, like a family.”

Remarkably, I made it into the video frame this year (directly behind, to the left of the tree at the far right lower corner of the shot, blue shirt) standing at the audio table, keeping an eye on the sound. And at the end (around 2:50) I take the front speakers down…

It’s kind of amazing to be part of this each year, to be the adult in charge of the sound system, and that, seven years running, we’ve never had a significant technical issue!

Om Street 2017: Better, Faster, Stronger

We survived the 2017 edition of Om Street: Yoga on LaSalle road, my yoga studio’s annual “yoga in the streets” event that I’ve been audio engineering since the event’s inception in 2011.

Some history via the blogosphere:

Just finished cleaning up the audio equipment from the event this morning; three bins and one large duffel bag loaded with equipment that needed to get sorted, re-wrapped as necessary, and restowed for the next gig.

It was a pretty quick and pain-free recovery this year, owing to a few factors:

  • I ended up wrapping the bulk of the long cables myself – 4 x 100′ XLR (audio) cables, 4 x 100′ extension (AC power) cords, and all of the 1/4″ and speakon speaker cable (several hundred feet worth). There were just 2 x 100′ AC power cords that someone else wrapped and needed to be re-wrapped. In past years the cables were a bit of a hot mess.
  • I had a great assistant (yay, Steve!) who was dedicated to the band, so when I unpacked the storage bin from the band, cables were nicely  wrapped, mic stands nicely folded, mics and headphones all bagged up neatly. He also did a yoeman’s job of setting the band up (mics, direct boxes, and monitor headphones) so I could focus on other things.

Honestly, the only bin that was a bit of a hot mess was the main audio station bin (that I packed, last) because it was kind of the catch-all for everything lying around.

It’s a huge outdoor yoga event:

Om Street 2017 Wide Shot

Om Street 2017 (Breck Macnab Photography / West Hartford Yoga)

And it’s pretty much me handling the audio all by myself. Some things that helped out this year:

  • I added a pair of low cost wireless stick mics for emcee / stage mics this year. In previous years I used the studio wired mics but that’s a couple of fairly long XLR cables I do not need to worry about setting up or striking. I picked them up for Q&A for some larger workshops we have, but they proved useful for Om Street as well.
  • I did some more work on the band monitor setup, adding a small mixer, buying some dedicated cables / adapters, buying a gamer headset for myself (with a small headset mic on a boom), and setting it all up ahead of time to get levels. So the band had great monitors in both ears and we had a talk-back channel, with one band mic and my headset mic going only to the monitor channel, so we could communicate during the practice.
  • I took the time to kit out the audio equipment. Typically I show up with audio stuff in bins sorted mostly by who owns the equipment (yoga studio, or me) and general function (audio cables, power, speaker cabloes, mic stands, etc.). I would end up running around a lot during set-up, getting things to the right place This year I put everything for the band in one bin (power strip, mics, stands, direct boxes, cables, monitor headphones and amplifier) and everything for the main audio station in a second bin. I also got some of those big family zip-lock bags and kitted together all the cables and adapters for the satellite PA systems (200′ and 400′ down the road) so I could unload those with the speakers, stands, and amplifier, and not have to walk back and froth so much.

This year I took the time to sketch out the audio schematic:

RFFlow - Om Street 2017

I’ll add some links to “sure to be posted” video of the event, but here are a few news articles that have already made it to press:

The Guru’s Cat

When the guru sat down to worship each evening, the ashram cat would get in the way and distract the worshipers. So he ordered that the cat be tied during evening worship.

After the guru died the cat continued to be tied during evening worship. And when the cat died, another cat was brought to the ashram so that it could be duly tied during evening worship.

Centuries later learned treatises were written by the guru’s disciples on the religious and liturgical significance of tying up a cat while worship is performed.

– Anthony De Mello, The Song of the Bird

A music festival where I’ve been a volunteer for nearly 25 years is doing their annual mid-winter pre-fest sales – selling a limited number of tickets at a reduced price. It’s a good way to carry the festival organizers over the winter, and to give regular festies a price break.

What’s NOT so good is how they do it – phone only, with a limited staff processing orders manually over a three day period. I’ve seen some posts on social media:

“After 111 attempts to get through, over a span of twelve minutes, tickets have been procured!”

Mine took longer than usual — 179 calls and 48 minutes (you re-dial faster than I do) . . .

and from one of the folks on the other end of the line:

FYI y’all S & A are working fingers off to accommodate youralls calls for tix & are very grateful for your wonderful patience

See, the thing is, this could be done online through eCommerce – put a limited number of tickets for sale (so you do not oversell) and for a limited time. Yeah, there’s a service fee (but probably not all that much higher than the credit card fees) and I suspect most customers would pony up an additional $5 or $10 per ticket to cover an eCommerce solution (and not have to dial in 100+ time). You could sell out your winter pre-fest stock without having to tie up customers, your staff, etc.

But….it’s been done this way for 25+ years and will probably always be done this way. Like the Guru’s Cat, sometimes we do things out of habit or tradition or inertia without stepping back and considering other options.

Good Deed of the Day

Social media good deed of the day – a local contractor (with all of 140 Facebook fans) has been dutifully posting project updates of work done for one of my social media clients (with 26,000 Facebook fans) and tagging us. I noticed.

This morning I did them a solid – grabbed a few photos of the work in process / completed, gave them a shout out and a link, and posted it to my client’s timeline, where, unboosted or sponsored, it has been seen by 1400 folks so far – 10x their organic reach. Great social media fodder for us (infrastructure improvements as we move into the fall / xmas season) and super great exposure for them.

livolsi-social-media-post

Use social media folks, it works!

Social Media: Bad Timing and/or Tone Deaf

 

Popped upon my social media feed this afternoon.

Price Chopper is running a sponsored ad touting their support of Riverfest, at the same time the cancellation of said event is all over most social media feeds.

Riverfront Cancel Facebook

It’s one of the reasons I’m a bit hesitant to embrace scheduled, planned social media posts, and have a more hands-on, direct approach. Because one never knows – some sort of political incident, tragic accident, hilarious meme, or other news story could crop up and the juxtaposition of a social media post (sponsored or otherwise) with a problematic news story could result in a social media fail. Even if there’s no direct connection (as there is here), promoting a fun and games event in the wake of a crime, attack, or natural disaster is at best, tone deaf.

I do schedule some things, but I do so judiciously, and keep an eye on things – ready to pull the plug at any time. And I notice what companies and organizations seem to be managing their social media somewhat robotically or blindly – and make some assumptions about the entity’s customer service accordingly.

God Takes Care of Fools and Small Children

Recently, I’ve noticed a Sponsored Post coming across my social media feed.

Berkshire Sponsored Post

The State of CT Tourism groups is promoting it’s new CT Visit website (and tourism in general) with a post theme – Sea / Air / Risk / Reward. And right in the middle of it is my good friend Robert Zirpolo and his hot air balloon company, Berkshire Balloons.

Now, Robert is way behind the curve on internet marketing. I set up a website for him years ago, and migrated it to a free blog type page so he could update it himself. I’ve set up a Facebook account, and post to it occasionally, but if he posts to it more than a few times a year (usually a “happening now” post of passengers posed pre-flight) it’s a lot. Sponsored or paid advertising? Not hardly. Robert is no fool, but he’s not very aggressive nor savvy when it comes to social media marketing.

And yet, here he is, beneficiary of an aggressive (and no doubt, costly) state of CT tourism campaign. Robert commented this week as he called up looking for crewing help “for some reason, everybody wants to go flying this week”. Pretty sure I know why….

It’s not completely happenstance – Robert donated time, propane, and equipment for a couple of State of CT film shoots last year – I was along to crew for both dates (a windy “no inflate” shoot at Lyman Orchards, and a short, flight with camera, video, and drone filming out of Meriden’s Hubbard Park)

But still – you can’t buy this sort of exposure. Or perhaps, you can’t AFFORD this sort of exposure.

Losing the Neutral Conductor

This one came across my social media timeline this morning (edited a bit):


I came home on Friday, an hour before we had a birthday party planned. There was a cable company guy who came over and asked if I was the home owner. He did not explain the problem very clearly and became very frustrating but in short, he saved our house from burning down.

He shut down the Internet and told us to shut down the electricity. Apparently the neutralizing wire that runs under ground was not working causing brown outs and power shortages. The smell of electrical fire was heavy in the house.

We managed to have a great party despite the problems. The output caused a shortage in the hot tub and pool. We have no refrigeration or dishwasher along with a few other things that burned out. Last night, we found a power strip that had really burned out with burn marks on the floor. As he moved it, the same electric burn smell filled the room.

Through it all God spared us big. We are still without a refrigerator but at least the stove works.


What happened was that this home lost the neutral conductor from the utility to the service entrance. Without that neutral, there’s no return path except for the safety ground, which is often substandard or high impedance (~25 ohms). The result: Phase-Phase voltages (such as used for an electric stove, water heater, or electric dryer) are fine, but Phase-Neutral voltages can be anywhere from 0 VAC to 240 VAC.

So yes, things blow up, burn, etc. and often in a bad way (high current but not a dead short, so not enough to trip breakers). The “power strip with burn marks on the floor” is typical as internal surge suppressors / MOVs overheat, not because of short term transients, but because of prolonged, sustained AC overvoltage.

Oftentimes this sort of situation has some warning signs: lights dimming or brightening as appliances switch on and off, light bulbs failing prematurely. One online board reports:


When i turned the oven on, the fan went back to normal, the lights normal.  The 240v load
apparently balanced the system.


Sadly, a lot of electricians and utility workers are not that well versed in this sort of issue. From the same message board:


So i get on the horn with the power company.  They come out, and basically look at what i’m experiencing and the first thing the guy does is pull the meter.  Then he measures the voltages on the incoming legs.  All is equal.  Then he tells me the problem must be on the inside.  Puts the meter back in and the imbalance returns.  “yep , he says, problem is on your side”.


 

Day Out with Thomas 2016

I’ve spent a few hours each of the past three weekends riding herd on social media and eCommerce for my clients down in Essex as they have hosted Thomas the Tank Engine.

Kind of remarkable how Instagram has become the go-to social media platform – we had our fair share of check-ins on Facebook and a few posts – but scores of Instagram photos – wonderfully annotated, tagged, liked, and commented.

Instagram Sunday 1May16C

Trigger warning for cuteness, face-painting, kids in firetrucks, looking giddily terrified on the gentlest of carnival rides, and of course, Thomas, Percy, and Sir Topham Hatt – https://www.instagram.com/explore/locations/97569397/

Hell Week (Christmas in September)

NPEEach fall, PowerLines takes off our Electrical Engineering cap and puts on our Social Media hat (and eCommerce scarf) as we support the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat during the first few days of selling tickets for their very popular North Pole Express excursion.

When we started working with the folks in Essex (way back in 2002) they ran two Polar Express trains an evening, with nine operating days (Fri-Sun in December)

In 2015, there are four North Pole Express (Warner Brothers bought the rights to the Polar Express name) trains per evening, and thirty-six operating day, from Nov 12 – Dec 29. We started to sell tickets online way back in 2003 (with a javascript ordering form), in 2012 we transitioned to an eCommerce site (Volusion), and in 2015 we’ve moved over to Shopify. PowerLines has done all the eCommerce work – setting up the sites, creating a product database, and managing products from now until the holidays, but especially over the first few days.

These popular tickets sell out quickly – with Saturday tickets going within an hour or so. And throughout, we also keep a close eye on Social Media – addressing customer questions, concerns, and yes, doing a little bit of hand-holding and commiseration of disappointed customers whose desired tickets have sold out.