Wednesday, May 09, 2012



I haven't had anyone over to take a peek at the mineral collection in quite some time. The down side is that I was rather embarrassed by the mess and clutter in the surrounding area. The clutter wasn't horrible, but just not up to even my relaxed standards. Gee, when was my last attempt at tidiness? November? The up side is getting charged up with motivation to improve things.

At least as far as the collection itself, I'm fairly methodical. All in small cardboard trays that fill drawers. Inside each tray is a bit of cotton. Looking at the collection, there was a problem.

Specimen #70 was not in it's tray! It took me a moment to realize (or at least to theorize) what had happened. #70 was a piece of purple halite from the Potash Mine of Carlsbad, New Mexico. I bought it because I loved the color. The unusual color was not due to impurities, but rather from an alteration of its typical crystal lattice.

Over time, I saw a bit of the surface was affected by humidity changes over time.  Very small white areas appeared on the piece, but I considered the changes minor and let things be. Now I see tray number seventy is not truly empty, but has a small amount of white salt residue where the purple specimen once resided.

Some of the other cardboard trays and labels in that drawer are now permeated with a salty looking residue. Ugh. I'll have to tidy that all up later.

One regret is not having a good picture to remember it by. The picture I did take isn't all that great. 

I believe that I could have covered it is lacquer or used an airtight container. I'm too much of a purist to consider the lacquer, but would definitely consider an airtight container for future halite specimen storage. I will get a test specimen set up and see how that goes.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Sound Thinking Comment - Audacity Tips

Pokey was nice enough to send comments to me on the "Sound Thinking" post, along with some good additional information. Here it is: Hey, cool. Glad I could help. When ripping Creative Commons Licensed cassettes with Audacity, be sure to record the tape hiss at the beginning. That way you can use it's sound signature to eliminate the hiss from the rest of your rip. 1. Highlight just the white noise. Try to get as clean a sample of it as you can, without any other pops clicks, etc... 2. Click on Effect > Noise Removal > Get Noise Profile 3. click the "|<<" button to un-highlight everything, and bring your cursor back to the beginning of the track. 4. Click on Effect > Noise Removal > OK and watch as the tape hiss is removed from the whole recording. 5. Listen to a sample, and if it sounds good SAVE YOUR WORK. (Save often in audacity) If you don't like it (sometimes noise removal can give the audio a mechanical "cylon" type of sound) click undo. You might be able to play with the sliders a little and get better results, but I haven't had any luck with that. For me either it works or it doesn't. Because of the possibility of using the noise removal feature, I usually rip an entire side of a Creative Commons Licensed cassette all at once, then do the noise removal to the entire recording, and then cut the tracks up. if you think you're going to use noise removal, make sure that you have the "Auto Reverse" feature turned off of your cassette player. Your cassette player will have a different audio signature in reverse than it has in forward, wildly different in some cases. Good luck.