CatSynth Pic: Sequential Prophet 6 and DSI OB-6

Black Cat, Prophet 6, OB6

This is one lucky cat, with both a Sequential Prophet 6 and an OB6 from Dave Smith Instruments.¬† And the keyboard versions at that ūüėĽ

Photo by Jon Sellers via the Facebook group Synthesizer Freaks.

The two instruments are quite similar in layout and overall architecture but have distinct sounds and other characteristics.  The P6 is a classic Prophet. while the OB-6 has the distinctive sound of its Oberheim filters.

You can read our past NAMM reviews of the P6 in this post, and the OB-6 here.

The Return of Wild Cats on Earth Day

 

After several years, we at CatSynth are resuming our tradition of sharing wild cats on earth day.  Those who follow our Facebook page are regularly treated to photos and videos of wild cats.  We share a few favorites, along with some of our own.

A personal favorite of ours is the fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).  It is unique in that is adapted for swimming and hunting in the water.  The sleek fur, streamlined shape, and folded ears attest to this adaptation.


[By Bernard Gagnon [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons]

The fishing cat has discontinuous populations in rainforests of South Asia and Southeast Asia. It is listed as Vulnerable, primarily due to habitat destruction. The Greensboro Science Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, recently posted this video featuring a mother fishing cat teaching her kitten their aquatic heritage.

Another lesser-known cat is the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus).  It is among the smallest of wild cats, similar in appearance to but significantly smaller than the well-known ocelot.

oncilla
[By Groumfy69 [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons]

The oncilla lives throughout Brazil as well as the highland tropical forests of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. There is even a recorded separate population in Panama. It is listed as Vulnerable in IUCN classification, mainly due (once again) to habit loss.

Both of these cats and many others have a similar spotted look that works well in their forested environments. Our old pal the Pallas cat (Otocolobus manul), also known as the manul, is quite a different beast altogether. It has a squat shape, fluffy fur and a gray color that are suited to its cold rocky environment in Central Asia. Here is a manual I encountered at the Prospect Park Zoo in New York some years ago.

pallas cat

pallas cat

More recently, we attended the Feline NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences, and got to see many wild cats courtesy of Safari West, including this beautiful serval.

serval

While not endangered, servals have been frequently been captured and bred as exotic pets.¬† They do, however, remain wild predators and their domestic captivity usually goes badly for human and feline alike.¬† As our host from Safari West said, “they do not make good pets, but they will eat good pets.”¬† Below is a “cat” that actually is not a cat at all, but a separate genus, the genet.¬† If they had not told me, I might have guessed it was a fishing cat.

genet

Sadly, Safari West was affected by last year’s devastating Tubbs fire in Sonoma County.¬† Several structures burned, and the co-founders lost their own home.¬† Fortunately, most of the property was spared and the animals all made it through the conflagration safely, and Safari West reopened for tours and programs in late November.¬† You can read more about their experience (and find out how to support them)¬†here.

We conclude with our friends at¬†ISEC Canada, an organization dedicated entirely to the conservation of small wild cats.¬† They have many projects underway, including a study of the¬†black-footed cat, another lesser-known small wild cat from southern Africa.¬† It’s esimated range covers parts of Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.


[By Patrick Ch. Apfeld, derivative editing by Poke2001 [CC BY 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons]

The black-footed cat is adorable, and its face closely resembles many housecats.  But once again, this is a wild animal and does not belong in a domestic setting.  We applaud the work of ISEC Canada and other organizations who study and help to preserve them in their wild habitats.

When in Rome: A Weekend in Portland

A week ago, I found myself back in Portland for the first time in four years.¬† Officially, I was there to headline the¬†Volt Divers¬†Cat-tastic¬†Edition show, but geat many other experiences large and small framed the main event.¬† There were synths, cats, food, drink, and rain.¬† Lots of cold rain.¬† And wind.¬† This is not unusual, but it did limit outdoor activities such as industrial and architectural photography.¬† Instead, we enjoyed some of Portlanders’ favorite indoor activities, starting with brunch.

Bloody Mary at Jam on Hawthorne

Portland may be an even “brunchier”¬†place than San Francisco, Oakland, or Brooklyn, judging by the lines I observed at popular spots, including¬†Jam on Hawthorne, not far from my home base in Southeast.¬† Fortunately, as a solo patron who doesn’t mind squeezing into a tight spot at the bar, I didn’t have long to wait to get served.¬† I quite enjoyed the spicy bloody-mary variant with Jam’s proprietary “aardvark sauce”, as well as the rancheros.

The sharper cheese sprinkled on top gave the dish an almost Italian quality, but it retained the hearty beans, spicy sauce, and simple eggs that made it perfect for a cold morning.  The view out to Hawthorne Boulevard displayed some of the local flavors, including that Charlie-Brown-inspired van in the first photo.

Then it was back to our temporary “CatSynth HQ” to relax for a bit.¬† Buddha, one of my hosts, made sure I felt at home.¬† He was rather friendly, and even demanding of attention.¬† I was happy to oblige.

Buddha the cat

After some quality cat time, it was back out to Hawthorne, this time headed over the bridge to downtown.  Downtown Portland is somewhere between the downtown sections of Oakland and Brooklyn in terms of cityscape and vibe, though on a smaller scale than the latter.  It has a regular grid cut by the I-405 freeway and Burnside Street, and a mix of contemporary, mid-century and older buildings.  It was at the base of one of the older buildings that I found a small hair salon that was able to fit me in for a last-minute blowout Рthe weather was not kind to my hair, and I needed to look purrfect for the show that evening.

The next stop took me eastward from downtown to the ragged edges of the city along SE 82nd Avenue (State Route 213).  I was here to pick up a borrowed Nord for the show.  A mixture of auto-shops, low-rise apartments, and shopping centers made this area feel more like Los Angeles (except for the weather) or the far eastern sections of Queens.  But it was still fascinating in its way, and there was an interesting row of shops, bars, and eateries along Stark Street РI wish I had a chance to stop at The Country Cat, but time did not permit this.

With hair done and keyboard secured, it was time to prepare for the show, which back in the industrial section of Southeast along the river at The Lovecraft Bar.

Inside the bar, it was dark.  Really dark.  It took me a few minutes before my eyes adjusted and I could see everyone else busily setting up their mostly modular rigs.  It was all business after that as I set up for the show, but I did have some moments to check out the Lovecraft and horror-themed decor.

I will be covering the show itself in detail in a subsequent article.  But we already have a video published on CatSynth TV, which you can view below.

The next morning I found myself in the Hollywood neighborhood.  It was actually the first time on this particular trip that I found myself north of Burnside in the northeast sector of the city.  Sandy Boulevard was lined with a diverse collection of low-rise businesses.  I crossed I-84/US 30 into the adjacent Grant Park district, which reminded me again of residential neighborhoods with larger lots at the edges of New York City into Westchester and Long Island.  I had some personal appointments that morning but then remained in Northeast to visit House of Dreams cat shelter at their secure undisclosed location.

House of Dreams is a no-kill shelter specializes in cats that have difficulty finding homes and has space dedicated for FelV-positive cats (i.e., those with feline leukemia).   Our show the night before raised funds for their shelter and work, and I of course wanted to come visit the kitties.  We will dedicate an upcoming article and video entirely to House of Dreams, but for now here is a cute picture of Flicka, one of the many sweet cats I met there.

Flicka from House of Dreams cat shelter

We then hopped onto I-84 back west towards the river, passing the convention center and on to Mississippi Street, a trendy area of boutiques, pubs, and restaurants.  This is also the home of Control Voltage, a premier shop for synthesizers of all sorts.  It was relatively easy to find with the sidewalk signage.

Among the many keyboard and modular displays was this rack featuring modules from FolkTek, one of several local makers in the Portland area.  They do have a gorgeous design.

I chatted with the staff and shot some video for an upcoming CatSynth TV, but also walked away with one of the FolkTek modules, a quad envelope follower that I know will come in handy for some upcoming music projects.

FolkTek quad envelope follower

I wandered a few blocks south on Mississippi to StormBreaker Brewing, which I had remembered from a previous trip. In addition to their beer offerings, they had several suggested beer-and-whiskey pairings, which I of course had to try.

Beer and Whiskey pairing oat StormBreaker Brewing

One of the daily specials, a cream-of-asparagus soup, was perfect for that cold and rainy afternoon.

Cream of Asparagus soup

Although this trip took me to quite a few corners of the city, I still felt there was much undone, especially meeting more of the local synth community, and spending some time outdoors.  So I do expect to be back much sooner than last time.

See more of Portland, Oregon and many other fascinating places in our Highway‚ėÜ app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.¬†

Highway‚ėÜ on Apple App Store¬†.¬† ¬†Highway‚ėÜ for Android

CatSynth Pic: Zelda the Gray (Arturia, DSI, Maschine, and More)

After a brief hiatus over the weekend, we’re back – more on that later.¬† In the meantime, we have this cute photo of¬† Zelda the Gray with a DSI Evolver, Arturia KeyStep, Native Instruments Maschine, and more ūüėļ.¬† From¬†skaterdays¬†on Instagram.

 

New Cartoon: Boink Boink Basement!

Sam Sam makes her cartoon debut in Boink Boink Basement!, our latest offering from artist J.B.

We think she fits right on with the myriad other fascinating elements in this surreal drawing.  And snoopervising is one of the things she does best in creative settings, as can be seen in this previous post.

CatSynth Pic: Black Cat and Modular Synth

This morning we bring you a beautiful black cat with green eyes (like our beloved late Luna), courtesy of our friends at polynominal.com.

We’re pretty sure this is Marcel, who has appeared on CatSynth before,¬† You can see his previous appearances here.¬† As he is the focus of this image optically and conceptually, we are unable to identify the modular synth in the back.

Mensa Cat Monday: Zeno’s Paradoxes

Mensa Cats: Zeno's Paradoxes

We bring you a brand new Mensa Cats cartoon by¬†J.B. (that’s Jason Berry of Vacuum Tree Head).¬† This one expresses not one but¬†two of Zeno’s famous paradoxes in a single frame.

The first is the better-known Dichotomy Paradox, from which the punchline derives.¬† In order to walk into the bar, Zeno (or any of the other patrons) must first walk halfway; and to travel from the halfway point, he must travel half of that distance, and then half of that distance, and so on.¬† It seems that this process of walking halfway would continue forever and one would not arrive and one’s destination, yet we know in reality that we do.

The second paradox is the Arrow Paradox.¬† Consider the frame frozen in time, as indicated by the liquid in mid spill behind the young lady cat, or the multiple instances of Zeno along his path.¬† At any given moment, there is no motion. Zeno’s position does change between moment, but there is an infinite number of other frames, each with a fixed position.¬† As copies/frames of Zeno get closer and closer together, the change in time between them gets infinitesimally small.¬† Yet the process 0f adding up these infinite frames with zero motion in each results¬†in Zeno walking halfway into the bar.

The two paradoxes (and the third, commonly referred to as “Achilles and the tortoise”) are closely related.¬† The first deals with infinitesimal¬†subdivisions of space, while the second deals with infinitesimal subdivisions of time.¬† The key is that while any¬†infinitesimal quantity is smaller than any quantity we can express, it is always still greater than zero.¬† And adding up an infinite number of infinitesimal¬†quantities can sometimes yield a finite number.

Take the halving process in the Dichotomy paradox.  Zeno moves half this distance, then half of that, and so on.  This can be expressed as an infinite sum.

As one gets closer to infinity, the sum gets closer and closer to one.  More formally, we can say that as we approach infinity, the sum goes to 1.  So an infinite number of subdivisions still reaches our goal of the full distance.

This process of applying operations to an infinite number of infinitesimal subdivisions is the principal behind calculus, and a marvelous thing to behold once one gets used to it.¬† The mathematics does not necessarily answer the metaphysical questions raised by these ancient paradoxes, but it is what most interests us at CatSynth.¬† It’s been a while since we last shared the joy and beauty of mathematics on these pages, but it¬†is high time we resume the practice.

 

CatSynth Pic: Cat Playing the Organ

Cat playing organ

Cat playing the organ [Walters, W. 438, 15th c.].  Posted by Damien Kempf on Twitter and spotted by astute reader @endlessscribe.

The image comes from a 15th century prayer book in the collection of the Walters Museum based in Baltimore.¬† From the museum’s digital library:

This late fifteenth-century Prayer Book was made for the Use of Rome and illuminated by followers of Willem Vrelant of Bruges. The manuscript was probably created for the couple depicted in two full-page miniatures (fols. 13v and 103r). The representation of the bride in the full-page miniatures, as well as references to her in suppliant prayers, indicates that the manuscript was commissioned primarily for the bride’s use. Further evidence of this is the prominence of women throughout the illuminations and drolleries, from one who was caught in adultery being brought before Christ, to Veronica extending her veil to Christ as he carries the cross. The decorative aspects of the manuscript stray from the typical border designs of this time period, focusing more on illusionistic Ghent-Bruges’ illumination (post-1475) and less on the Vrelant acanthus-floral borders. Among the number of full-page miniatures, fol. 229v stands out as an exceptional example of an imitation of a late fifteenth-century panel painting.

Interestingly, I did not see the cat among the includes samples.

 

 

Fun with Highways: 45 on California 45

A few years ago, I traveled California’s Highway 41 on my 41st birthday. I had hoped to make this a regular tradition, but various circumstances have kept me from following through, until this year, when I drove the southern half of California¬†Highway 45.¬† It wasn’t exactly on my birthday, and I didn’t complete the route, but was still a fun and eccentric way to celebrate the conclusion of my 45th year of life.¬† It was also a good excuse to try out the new travel-mapping feature in our Highway‚ėÜ mobile app.

Highway 45 begins in the small town of¬†Knight’s Landing in Yolo County, so I first had to schlep up there via Interstate 80 and then turn north on Highway 113 near U.C. Davis.¬† 113 is a major freeway at this point, but a bit further north it narrows to a two-lane country road before reaching the junction with 45.

CA 45 in Knight's Landing, CA

Knight’s Landing was actually a very small but cute town along the Sacramento River. Before embarking on the formal part of the trip, I stopped along the levee at Front Street to view the continuation of Highway 113 across the river.¬† Front Street was rather beaten up compared to the rest of the town center, perhaps due to the nature of the levee or to discourage unnecessary driving, but it made for a nice little walk.

I then returned to the car and finally turned onto Highway 45, heading northwest out of town.

The highway zig-zagged on a grid between fields on the western side of the Sacramento River, but far enough for the river to mostly remain out of sight.  But there were some lovely wide-open farmland vistas, made more dramatic by the bands of clouds in the sky marking what was a lovely day after a week of dreary weather.

It is when the landscape opened up that I was able to fully relax into the trip.¬† There is always a point along the journey during which stresses, mundane or otherwise, start to melt away and the road, landscape, and solitude take over the mind.¬† As Highway 45 is remarkably well signed, there was no ambiguity or uncertainty.¬† The result is a sense of flow and well being that allows one to both think about other ideas, like music, while remaining fully engaged in the moment.¬† It is something I have experienced many walking the streets of San Francisco, but not lately.¬† I certainly hope it isn’t gone – as much as I enjoy these long excursions to other regions, I would love to return to the sense of external flow in my own community as well.¬† Perhaps it is the familiarity or the many stresses and dramas, but I hope to regain it.

The highway turned due north in Colusa County, providing great views of the Sutter Buttes, considered to be one of the worlds smallest mountain rangers.

The Buttes are a small circle of volcanic lava domes that rise suddenly from the rather flat Sacramento Valley.  The contrast is fascinating, and I would love to come back and explore the geology at a warmer time of year.  Unfortunately, public access to the Buttes remains limited as far I can tell. (If any readers have any advice or new information about public access to the Sutter Buttes, please share in the comments.)

At this point, Highway 45 comes closer to the river, and between Grand Island and Grimes, comes right up against levees, before turning north again.  It is not surprising to see such high levees, as the entire region seems like a giant flood waiting to happen.

Further north, we join with California Highway 20, a major east-west highway in this rural part of the state connecting to Yuba City to the east and to Lake County far to the west.  The road became wider, smoother, and significantly busier as we continued on the duplex into the town of Colusa.

CA 20 and CA 45 in Colusa, California

Colusa is a picturesque town on the river, with a small but nice town center and a quiet park along the levee and riverbank.¬† It had warmed up considerably since I last got out in Knight’s Landing, so stopped for a bit to enjoy the sight and sound of the river.¬† You can see a bit in this Instagram video.

Sacramento River in Colusa, CA

A post shared by CatSynth / Amanda C (@catsynth) on

Nearby I found¬†The Tap Room, a small pub that had a large selection of beers including some local brews.¬† I don’t think they had Sutter Butte Brewing, but they did have some selections from Berryessa brewing including this IPA.

IPA at the Tap Room, Colusa California

In the enjoyment of the trip, I had completely forgotten that it was St. Patrick’s Day.¬† But I was quickly reminded by the bartender who was decked in bright green regalia and informed me of the holiday pub crawl that would be happening that evening.¬† This was the talk of the local patrons who started trickling in as the afternoon wore on.¬† Everyone was friendly and welcoming, but a night of drinking was not going to be compatible with my plan to get back to the city safely at a reasonable hour.¬† So I bid farewell and headed out on Highway 20 back to I-5 and I-505 to return to the Bay Area.

Tired but accomplished, I crossed the Bay Bridge back into San Francisco and home later that evening.¬† That would usually be the end of the story, but after resting, we made the last-minute decision to go out again that night.¬† So I found myself getting dressed up and heading back over the bridge for the third time to Oakland to see¬†Chrome with¬†Helios Creed.¬† We met up with quite a few friends at the show and had a great time.¬† You can see a bit of Chrome’s performance in this CatSynth TV.

It was a great day of diverse geography and experiences, albeit a long one.¬† Not every day can or should be like this, but hope there are more to come this year…

See more Northern California in our Highway‚ėÜ app, available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.¬†

Highway‚ėÜ on Apple App Store¬†.¬† ¬†Highway‚ėÜ for Android

Weekend Cat Blogging with Sam Sam: Studio in the Studio…

I have been spending a lot of time at the main software-development and video workstation of late.  As we have seen before, Sam Sam loves to drop by and say hi.

Sam Sam saying hi in the studio

She seems to really like the open shelves as much as I do.

As one can see, cat decor abounds in the studio.  But we also have some other items on display in these shelves.

Sam Sam enjoys peeking through the shelves

On the left (of course) is a Bernie Sanders action figure, made by Brooklyn-based FCTRY, as well as a signed card from the 1990s when we still just Vermont’s representative.¬† ¬†And to the right of Bernie is our Lego recording studio.

Bernie and Lego Studio

The studio is from a series of Lego kits specifically aimed at young women, and I loved the idea of having a “studio in the studio.”¬† It’s great the engineer is a woman, but we thought it needed one more addition.

Black cat in Lego studio

Yes, that’s a little Lego black cat!¬† A tribute to Luna, whom we still miss dearly.¬†ūüíú

Apparently, even Lego cats shed.¬† But our life-size studio tends to be entropy-prone as well, especially before and after live shows.¬† ¬†It definitely needs another clean-up…but first we have a lot of creative projects ahead¬†this weekend.¬† We hope you all have a happy and productive weekend as well.