Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Whale Costume: The Latest Software of 2008

Whale Costume is the latest in my series of hand-crafted computer programs. You can download the program for free, listen to a demo recording and find out why I code digital clothing for aquatic mammals in Missouri.Whale Costume lets you play your live voice like a polyphonic keyboard. Just put on some headphones, sing into your computer and type on the home row to make perfectly tuned harmonies like Cher!

Whale Costume works with your normal computer keyboard, but it should work with MIDI inputs as well. So give your pitch-bend wheel a spin! You could even use a MIDI sequencer to pre-program all the melodies of your favorite holiday tunes. Your live voice sings all the parts in unison to make performance fantastic!

Here is some of what I was thinking about as I made Whale Costume...
I've been interested in early animation. It must have been an amazing feeling to first make a living image of thought for all to see.

I think it would be easier to invent a new technique for communication than to dream of content that uses a new medium's full potential. I like to think about the strange possibilities early animators realized.

In the first decades of the 1900's Windsor McCay danced with dinosaurs, fed Manhattan to a dog and avoided foreclosure by flying a house to the Moon. His characters obeyed new laws of fun house physics drawn from ideas.

There was a cartoon from 1946 that I used to watch when I was a kid. It was called "Willie the Operatic Whale." It was a Moby Dick story about a singing whale with three sets of vocal cords. A sea captain is hunting Willie because he believes that the whale has eaten three opera singers. Willie makes performances at the Metropolitan Opera in New York singing all the parts at once all by himself.

So I made a program called Whale Costume that lets you sing with multiple voices.
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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holidays Rule

The Holidays were different for me this year because I live in Kansas City. When I lived in California I would be part of the rush of merry revelers traveling home for the holidays. This year I hosted Christmas Dinner at my apartment. And instead of waking up at my mom's house Christmas morning, I layered my pajamas and jaunted across the neighborhood with presents in tow.

But I do like the formal consistency of the holidays. Everyone gets all dressed up to find their people and have a good time.
I made my annual mix CD to exchange with the Fam. It's a way of keeping up. This year's mix features many familiar voices and celebrities including Conner Martin, Dylan McKeever, John Acquadro, Max Bennett-Parker, Spencer Owen, Thor Andersen, Tyler Martin, Walt Bodine and Yours Truly.

I've witnessed two holiday miracles in the last couple days. First, it is suddenly warm enough to go without a coat. And second, this bike is still in front of the apartment. I don't know who's it is. It's been parked there with confidence and no lock for at least 2.5 weeks. It makes me want to leave all the doors unlocked, the windows open and the computers outside.

And if I haven't given you a wintery hug this week because you are halfway across the world remember that distance isn't relative to our bodies. We are jumping the network.


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Friday, December 26, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Currently, I'm back in Sacramento for our California Christmas! When I left Kansas City a few days ago it was 8 degree, only 8 degrees and so its nice to come to Sacramento for its "T-shirt weather". There were a few things that were really strikingly different from Kansas City that I hadn't realized before, most notably, orange trees just all over! Just on the street, for free, everywhere! Maybe I've mentioned this, but Jamie and I have been trying to get most of our produce from the farmer's market, as sort of a culinary challenge to get creative. Last week, I realized after buying a five pound bag of turnips, that I just don't like turnips or as my grandma said "I turnup my nose at turnips". So turnips, potatoes and cabbage are what's available at the last stand not selling doggie cookies at the farmers market in KC and the streets of Sacramento are bathed in oranges.
This is a plant in my parents' backyard in Sacramento. A similar plant in our conservatory in Kansas City completely froze and is now literally bleeding all over the hardwood floors. In other words, things are getting really cold in KC and I didn't really notice until I came back to Sacramento and saw what a lush tropical paradise it is!

There is a lot excitement with this unbelievably cold weather though. Jamie seems less impressed, expecially since I'm always screaming, "Jamie! Look how cold it is now! Its 5 degrees but says 'feels like' negative 10! Aaaahhh! Looook! Aaaaah!" I'm sure this sort of clammering can get tiresome. Epecially since I say the same thing about our favorite neighborhood cat Jungle Kitty, "Jamie! Look at Jungle Kitty now! Aaaaah! Loook! Aaaah!" You get the picture. I can not believe this! Now 23 degrees is balmy and comfortable
When it gets really crazy cold, we like to go on a walk (that couple is not us, but they must have a similar mentality) so I can know what 12 degrees is like. Very thrilling!

Here I am in my standard winter fare, no kidding my sweet California babies. Winter wonderland also means new winterwear on my Etsy, take a look!
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Box of Worms Disaster

In an effort to combat certain policies that Kansas City has about recycling (they disagree with it), we've decided to go overboard! We've been trying to make a worm compost bin with little success. We started it a few weeks ago and only got about twenty worms (it turns out you need hundreds) and it turned into a disgusting poo smelling mess. We think the problem is that it is way too wet in the bin and not enough worms.

We haven't completely giving up though, and my dad bought us some worms online and had them sent to our apartment. They didn't quite make it though, they were sent by this company in a cloth bag with some newspaper in a cardboard box. How can they live like that? They can't it turns out. Anyway, we're still hopeful and there is still a bin that smells like rotting food and mayo on the back porch/garbage zone. In a similar vein, still no recycling for our apartment complex, even though I called the city to argue with someone about it! They are stubborn devils!
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Have patience Kansas City

I was raised in KC and when I visited Memphis I felt a link. Both cities grew up on the river. Kansas City's Muddy MO drains into Memphis' Old Miss 'Sippy. We were reared like siblings, drinking from the same source. As the cities matured, they got angsty and moved out. They tested their limits, discovering layer after layer of suburb while shedding their childhood identities as capitols of corn, beef, wheat and cotton.
Both cities still work to figure out who they are, who they have been and who they want to be. They wake from dreams with words on their lips... Will I ever find my vocation? Is it OK to be friends with Mom? How can I accommodate people, places and ideas to achieve the total participation and successful production that's right for me?
Don't worry, it has already started. Just keep doing what lays before you with the brilliance that suits you best Memphis. Have patience Kansas City.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Julia's in Sacramento

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Moderately Employed

Hey there blog friends, I'm still Sacramento, land of plenty, but I thought I'd update about KC. The problem with my analogue life/digital blog means that by the time I get my film developed, the holiday/graduation/exciting bug is over and long gone. Anyhow, so it means that you might get news of my exciting KC lifestyle in the same time frame as Kansas City gets up to date environmental policies : a little late. So when I start getting recycling at my apartment, you'll get timely blog updates, but until then, sit tight greedy readers! (Don't be fooled though, this post has in fact only digital photos, and no has ever voiced ANY concern for this issue, this is just a warning for the future)

Back to business! I got a job, mostly. I'm a second lens of sorts for a woman who shoots weddings in rural Kansas. Her family has a wedding venue with her family called the Grand Loft and I shoot the less essential shots. Whats not to love?!

The venue is in Osawatomie , Kansas.

Osawatomie has many modern conveniences. For instance they have the oldest psychiatric hospital in Kansas! It also has an "unusually high crime rate" Needless to say, I enjoy it thoroughly! Way better than pets, there's a dance floor!

On a Sacramento note, Rach and I have been out on the town for Thanksgiving eve. I'm not usually "out on the town", but when you're on a tropical California vacation, you're apt to live a little!
We went to Rachel's least favorite bar Club 2 Me. We got facebook invites and couldn't resist, infact she says on the facebook event page "Club 2me? Can't wait to see a bunch of people who forgot I existed, then quickly re-enter their consciousness by wailing along to a Journey song with them and spilling the remnants of a mojito on their fake italian loafers/forever 21 halter!...looking forward to this, seriously! Thanksgiving 2k8!" This turned out to be pretty much true and we had a great time I think. While we were there I only got two glasses related "fun nicknames". I guess thats what you get for confusing people with eyewear - name calling. Club 2 Me!
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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Belated Post! and Big News! Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? Its me, in Sacramento!

Last weekend or whenever Veterans Day was, my folks came for a visit! They came to revel in our lifestyle of young twentysomethings! exotic! late nights! (I think readers of this blog know just how untrue this is (especially readers of julia fredenblog!))
What we really did was explore the sights and sounds of Kansas City's (and surrounding areas) past! Truman Library, Battle of Westport plaques, mysterious exotic Mormonism church in Independence, MO, the history lessen never ends! Oh and most importantly, we all watched a lot of Hercule Poirot, my favorite Belgian detective.Jamie claims that this church's (The Community of Christ Temple) spire is really a slide and is there for Jesus to slide down in the second coming, but I am skeptical. This church was, until 2001 was called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and is in Indepence, MO (birthplace of President Harry S Truman) and is not so far from Kansas City. Please explore this, and tell me if you think there is a slide! It has been a conversation piece at several dinners!
There they are at a historic house in Lexington, MO, site of Civil War battle something or other!

Also, big news! My parents and I did a swap, and I'm in Sacramento right now with them until December 1st! Lets communicate!
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I got the computer up and running...

And made a little program that makes you sound like Cher. This could be thought of as my response to Julia's remarkable and awe inspiring crafts. GingerSnap is my computer Kraftwerk.

- GingerSnap -
by Jamie Burkart (Feb ‘08)

This program SNAPS! the pitch of your voice to notes you choose. You know, like Cher! Do you believe in how easy this program is to use?!

What makes GingerSnap cool is the way you perform the pitch of your live voice in real time. Intuitive gestures make it easy to dynamically retune any sound. So, Cher could use this program in live performance to follow the key changes in her song.

More fun GingerSnap projects...
1) Tune your radio and make Ira Glass and Terry Gross part of your band's performances of new music works by Philip Glass and Terry Riley!
2) Let your microphone pick up the sound of your speaker to generate a crystal feedback atmosphere!
3) Advertise a "Duet Performance of 'The Rose'" but when everyone shows up, it's just you and this program. Your real voice and your GingerSnapped voice can do two-part harmony! Just remember, in the winter, far beneath the winter snow, lies a seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes a landscape of crystal feedback atmosphere! Then as everyone is leaving, give them holiday cookies you've cut-up into cute shapes with a pixilated cookie quantizer. GingerSnap!


[2nd Version]
Fixed recording so files are saved to the Desktop. Made a floating window that lets you use you computer keyboard's home row as a MIDI Controller.
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Veteran's Day

So I think that being in Kansas City is about connecting what I want to do with what I'm doing. This Kansas City adventure is about building a lifestyle of connections between people, places and ideas that I care about. It's a nice feeling, becoming who I am.

It's like last week. Julia's parents were visiting from Sacramento for Veterans Day. We've never had so many people for dinner! The regular Sunday night crowd were there. My Mom, her boyfriend Mister Ed, sister Megan, brother Dominic, Julia and I were joined by the Fredenburgs of the West. It was a ruckus night of squash soup, lasagna and apple pie!

It's dangerous to move somewhere away from people you love. Because everywhere there are people worth caring for. And after moving once, you'll always miss someone from where you were.

So it was the most amazing feeling, not last Sunday - but the Sunday before, to be surrounded by so many people from all over who I love so well.

And the more recent Sunday night's dinner was good too.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

New Etsy Update

Great news! New Etsy update! I'm sure its a relief to all you in blog-land that I've updated my Etsy shop once again. Now all of you that have been clamoring to get your grubby little mits on some homemade wares have your chance to finally live big!

Don't worry though, my friends with custom orders, your items are being diligently worked on my me and all of Midwestern elves. They are adorable and all wearing their puffy Chiefs jackets, carefully crafting your custom orders and gearing up for winter.

Things have been getting a little chillier here, well only yesterday, but still! It snowed just a little bit, you really had to look hard to even notice, but it was there alright! I'm just gearing up for winter weather!
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Great Idea

Things are going pretty well, craft wise. So well that I'm constantly crafting. (well to be honest, I've been sick and my parents were visiting us here in KC, where the playas play, so I've taken a break until today.) Here is another custom dress that I made for a lovely someone on Etsy.

All this crafting makes me think I should put an ad on Craigslist for an intern or something. I could even offer course credit to a fortunate textile design student! The art institute is right around the corner from me, an easy commute for any student! They might be a little disappointed though when they get to our apartment and find out that I actually should have put "sweatshop work in my sunroom" instead of "perfect fashion design internship, great experience!" in my Craiglist ad.

Art students! Just think about it!
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Monday, November 3, 2008

Halloween Fun

Jamie and I really enjoyed reliving the dream that is high school prom photos! In these type of photos, it's very important (a 17 year old Mathew Debarry, who was the photographer at the prom, told me) to show off your fingernails that you carefully manicured for the occasion.

I'm a ghost, Jamie's mom (Anne) is Tinkerbell, and Dominic (Jamie's brother) is an alien. Sometimes on just the right Halloween night, a totally unscripted, candid photo of a few friends having a good time without any coaxing, can be captured, with out poses.

Jamie was a cube. We went trick or treating with Dominic around the neighborhood, and there were hoards of kids! MANY people were visibly angry at Jamie's costume because it wasn't super clear. "What the heck are you?!" Some people reacted well, but a lot of kids just stared blankly at him with a little bit spit coming out of their mouths.

Things ended a little differently at our favorite annual Halloween riot! Things get a little scary sometimes, but what's Halloween without a little mob danger?!
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

First Crafting Post!

Thats right guys, this is my first blog post about crafts! And I'm sure it wont be the last!

My Etsy shop has been doing rather well ("rather well" means better that what it was before, which was uneventful to say the least). I successfully sold everything in the shop, and had a bunch of custom orders for other things that had already sold. This is great! But also crafting has consumed my every waking hour (when I'm not working on my new found love of blogging!)

Here are a few different views of a dress that I made for a fine female lady in Australia! Exotic! (The top photo is the original version of the dress)

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Michel and Barack Obama, Our New Crafts (we're still doing crafts though too)

One of the many luxuries of living in the Midwest is that presidential candidates come to your town! Sure California has fun in the sun, but Barack Obama and his extended family don't even bother with the beach parties and the obvious electoral votes that will go to him. As a result, Jamie and I have become VERY POLITICAL. Well, to be honest, we are more political than before, but not obnoxiously so, we don't have T-shirts, yard signs, buttons, or even annoying advice for friends.

A few weeks ago, Michelle Obama came to town, and we went to go see her. Emanual Clever (everyone's favorite ex-mayor/current congressperson) spoke and got everyone riled up! There was a big crowd, so mostly what we saw of soon-to-be first lady was a red pantsuit, but it was a fun raucous time!

Last week we got the whole enchilada, with Barack Obama himself! We took Dominic, Jamie's 11 year old little brother, and got on the bus with all the other decked out Obama supporters. It was a pretty long event, just hordes of people and lines and demonstrators and counter demonstrators and demonstrators against demonstrating, so by the time Obama got there everyone was tired of the whole thing. Unfortunately we hadn't been there since three in the morning so we didn't have prime seats, so the result was that we got to see his very bright white button-up and that's about all. We aren't deterred though, and might go to a friendly election party on November 4th! See you all there,

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Hey friends, enemies, and interweb busybodies! This is my first and outdated post about our trip from the Heartland of California to Heartland of the Nation! That's right, here's a little bit about the great trek East on the Missouri Trail! The wonders of Nevada and its scenic rest stops, never ceases to amaze! This was one of very first stops along the trail, and it was here that I got a little nervous about a leering man in the desert. Nevada!

We also stoped at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and enjoyed all the dino memorabilia. Jamie is very smart about computers but not as smart about things that are real vs things that are fake. Here is trying to lure one of the fake dinos into our car with treats and petting.
Here I am, surveying the land, from the view of the dino.

I think our favorite spot on the trip was Strawberry Hotsprings in Colorado. This particular hot spring had all the liberal "back to nature" ideas of home but without all the discouraging cold ocean water!

What a paradise Colorado is! It has everything that I could ever want! Earthy hotsprings, adorable B&Bs, and winter sports! We stayed at the Holiday Chalet in Denver and, as you can see from this photo of the kitchenette, it is adorable! Kudos to the Holiday Chalet.

The haven that is the Holiday Chalet ( (303) 437-8245) also has a tremendous tea service!

It only took us a few days, but we managed to make it to good old Kansas City, MO and set up shop. Stay tuned for updates about Midwestern crafts, Jamie's "how-tos", and tons of webisodes!

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