CatSynth 12th Anniversary

It’s our twelfth anniversary!  It’s hard to believe that this little project I started as a lark in 2006 is still going and expanding.  Here is that first picture of Luna that went up on July 19, 2006!

As always, we look to the anniversary as a moment for reflection and for changes.  We don’t have compiled detailed stats this year, but we do have several high-level milestones.  Most notably, we launched CatSynth TV last October, and since then have shared 74 videos! More are on the way.  We have continued to develop our apps, including the original CatSynth: The App! and Highway☆, though there is so much more we want to do there, both with existing and new apps.  And Sam Sam has blossomed into the new star of CatSynth!  With so many facets competing for our attention, there has been less time for the long-form reviews that once dominated this site, though we still write long-form articles when we can.  So with that, we make some announcements:

  • Sam Sam finally takes her rightful place on the masthead alongside the late great Luna!  It’s a change that is long overdue.  And appropriately, we are featuring one of her scratch’n’roll poses.
  • We are going to open up the site to new voices.  We have already had a couple of guest music reviews, and of course the semi-regular Mensa Cats cartoon series.  This is going to expand in the coming months.  If you have an idea for an article you would like to contribute, please let us know.
  • And as always, please keep sending us your cat-and-gear pics.

So please join Sam Sam and me in celebrating twelve years of CatSynth!  We look forward to sharing many more with all of you.

Pick Your Poison: Road Travel in California

We at CatSynth love traveling and exploring our adopted home state.  This includes day trips from the Bay Area as well as longer adventures.  But one thing remains a bit of a challenge.  For much of the state, the main highways are primarily north-south, with very few east-west routes.  One chooses one of the long-haul north-south highways, California 1, US 101, I-5, California 99, or US 395 and is pretty much locked in with only a few options for efficiently traveling east to west.  There is I-80 in the middle north, California 152 or California 46 from the coast through the Central Valley and California 58/I-40/I-15 further south.

 

North of Sacramento, east-west travel becomes even more difficult, with routes like California 20 and California 299 being relatively rural and windy for much of their length.  The end result is that most of our trips – especially single-day trips heading north – are forward and back along one of the main north-south routes unless we have extra time or necessity to use the smaller east-west roads.

This north-south bias can be seen in an almost self-similar way when zooming in on the extended Bay Area.  South of San Francisco, there is California 1, I-280, US 101, I-880, I-680 and then not much at all until one gets to I-5 in the Central Valley.

In the North Bay and wine country, a similar pattern appears with CA 1, US 101 and CA 29, with another large gap until I-505 and I-5.  We have made use of east-west roads like CA 128 to get between them as in our recent wine-country trip that featured Elsie the Library Cat.  But this is a long detour.

This north-south axis may be frustrating at times (especially the further north one gets), but there is nothing particularly sinister about it.  It’s all a matter of Calfornia’s geology.  The interface of the Pacific and North American plates that give us our reputation for earthquakes also lead to long bands of north-south mountain ranges and valleys.  The Sierra Nevada may be the most dramatic, but it is only one of several that form vertical stripes, with the Central, Sacramento, Salinas, and Napa valleys in between.  The San Francisco Bay can be seen as another such valley in a way, with shallows bounded by high hills running north-south.

The exception to the “north-south rule” can be found south of the San Gabrial mountains and into the desert.  From Los Angeles and San Diego, one can easily travel east-west to the desert towns and to the Arizona border on I-10 and I-8, with a network of other east-west freeways in between.  It is definitely a different experience traveling down there once one gets over the Grapevine or the Tehachapi Pass and into the southern realms.  As for the rest of the state, there is no escaping the geographic reality, so it is best to embrace it, and even enjoy it.

Wordless Wednesday CatSynth Pic: Mother-32

CatSynth Pic: White Cat and Modular, Vertical View

A beautiful pic from Davor Gazde and his white feline companion.  It looks like the cat is inspecting the patch quite intently.

We are pretty sure this is the same Modcan modular synthesizer from their previous photos.  You can see all of their contributions via this link.

 

CatSynth Pic: DJ Pearl

Meet “DJ Pearl”, an adorable foster kitten who lives with Shadow and Brodie (whom we met a few weeks ago).  She even has the same affinity for playing the M-Audio Axiom keyboard as Shadow.  Submitted by Anne Corwin via our Facebook page.

Introducing Shadow’s tiny assistant, foster kitten DJ PEARL! She is ready to rock…and looking for her forever family!

Pearl seems so sweet and charming, and we suspect she will end up as a “foster fail” 😻

Pearl seems so sweet and charming, and we suspect she will end up as a “foster fail” 😻

Posted by Anne Corwin on Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CatSynth Pic: Mr Maximillion with Peak, Alpha Base, Moonwind and More

Our pal from Arkansas Mr. Maximillion returns!  We see him with a Novation Peak, JoMoX Alpha Base and Moonwind, Deluge by Synthstrom, Novation Impulse, and more.  From Charles Whiley via Facebook.

CatSynth Pic: Korg Poly-800 and “Time-and-space” effects pedals

Little cat sitting on the corner of a Korg Poly-800 synthesizer.  Submitted by thedigitalpurrgatory (Anton Largoza-Maza) via Instagram.

A cat on a synthesizer with time-and-space effects pedals. [Korg Poly-800, Malekko Ekko 616, GFI System Specular Tempus, Eventide TimeFactor]

 

 

Wordless Wednesday: Sutro Baths Ruins at Lands End

The ruins of the Sutro Baths at Lands End on the western edge of San Francisco.

Quite a few of our recent Wordless Wednesdays have focused on the western parts of the city.  Here are some previous posts:

Wordless Wednesday: Orizaba

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Merced Abstraction

Wordless Wednesday: Windmill (Golden Gate Park)

In addition, there is our video and article about Lake Merced.

CatSynth Pic: Stash

Stash and synthesizers

Meet Stash, who comes to us via Gloria Alexander.

This is Stash, He really likes the music…But I had to stop playing when he landed on the board.

It looks like he’s ready to start singing along!

It looks like he’s ready to start singing along!

Submitted via our Facebook page.  Identification of the synths left as an exercise to the reader.

CatSynth Pics: Synergy Cat

Gracie returns.  This time with not one but two of the rare Synergy synthesizer from Digital Keyboards.  Submitted by our friend Alsún Ní Chasaide via Facebook.

Gracie is absolutely adorable with her poses on the synth 😻.  But she has also chosen a very interesting instrument.  The Synergy is a hardware additive synthesizer with 32 digital oscillators and various modulation sources.  Additive synthesis requires a lot of resources in hardware (i.e., compared to FM), and the Synergy carried a hefty price tag.  There aren’t that many of them in operation today, so it’s quite amazing to see two of them in the same place at once.

From Vintage Synth Explorer:

The Synergy is a digital additive synthesizer manufactured from 1982 to 1985. Of the approximately 700 to 800 that were produced, it is estimated that less than 100 may still be in operation today. In the 1970’s, Bell Laboratories developed a high-speed additive oscillator system which was used by Digital Keyboards, a US-based division of the Italian synth/organ maker Crumar, to create a sophisticated additive synthesizer known as the Crumar General Development System (GDS). The GDS originally sold for about $27,500. The Synergy was essentially a lower-cost version of the GDS, without all the programmability of the GDS, and a price tag closer to $5,300…

…Although the Synergy is not programmable, it does feature 24 tone presets (with many more available via 24-tone cartridges). The sounds are generated by additive synthesis and phase modulation using 32 digital oscillators, computer controlled, and allocated dynamically. Polyphony is variable, depending on the selected tone preset.

You can see some of Gracie’s previous appearances via this link.