The end of two eras

Two things happened today of note:

  1. My new audio interface (affiliate link) arrived
  2. The demolition on my kitchen happened

Neither are things I really wanted to have to, y'know, spend this kind of money on right now, but they were both necessary. If badly-timed.

The audio interface

My previous audio interface, the PreSonus FireStudio Project, served me really well since I bought it back in… huh, January 27, 2010. Wow, almost exactly 10 years ago. That’s actually the longest I’ve had a single audio interface last for me! But there’s a few reasons I needed to upgrade to something newer.

The biggest one is just that the drivers are no longer updated for macOS Catalina, and my upgrade was getting pretty overdue.

But there were also getting to be some hardware problems as well. It was crashing pretty frequently and getting really annoying to work with at times.

Anyway, it’s the end of an era because this was also the last FireWire device I was using. The Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 that replaces it is USB-C, and also has way nicer preamps. I did downgrade to a smaller device than what I had before, but it has all the inputs that I was ever using on the FireStudio, and also the next device size up puts almost all of its inputs on the back which makes it actually pretty unwieldy for my studio setup. So in this case the smaller device is better.

The Scarlett also has all of the features I was using on the FireStudio, namely multiple hardware submixes, and it’s also nice that it has multiple headphone outputs, so that lets me decrease some clutter somewhat. The mixer UI is also a lot cleaner than the PreSonus one, although actually figuring out how to set up the submixes ended up being a lot more tricky than expected.

Also I’ve only played with it a little bit and I seem to be getting occasional audio dropouts, so that’ll be fun to figure out. Hopefully it’s something that’ll get ironed out with driver updates or something.

And of course I have so many music projects to finish up. Hopefully I’ll have the energy to do some of that soon.

Kitchen remodel

So, my kitchen had been falling apart for years. Cabinets and drawers literally coming apart, oven stopped working (and for Reasons not worth getting into I couldn’t just, like, replace it), and so it became overdue for a “refresh.” Or, more accurately, a complete gut-and-rebuild.

After having difficulty finding cabinets that would fit in my weird-ass kitchen (because of low ceilings) I ended up just going with Bauformat, where they do custom cabinet manufacturing and design services. They ended up putting together a really nice design with some very nice metal-framed cabinets that ended up not costing substantially more than any of the custom-sized plywood cabinets I could find, and they put together a complete package for a full remodel that seemed pretty reasonable and affordable. And they also worked directly with a builder who gave me a very low estimate for how much it would cost. So, I decided to go for it.

So, it took a few months for things to get manufactured and delivered. And they arrived December 27. Then I asked about the scheduling of the installation.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

Then suddenly the contractor said, oh, yeah, we can do this now! Like, literally tomorrow! Here’s the invoice for how much it will cost!

The invoice was approximately 4x the estimate.

It took a lot of discussion and figuring out of what happened between the estimate and the actual invoice. It seems to be a combination of things; the designer only forwarded along a few of the line items to me, some of those items were split across estimates in weird ways, and there was also a lack of communication between the designer and the contractor about the scope of work. Or something.

Anyway, aside from suddenly having to pay another $6000 that I would rather not have to had paid, the lack of up-front scheduling is really frustrating. I was hoping to have an idea in advance of when to get my appliances delivered, to have a minimal amount of kitchen downtime. Now I’m scrambling to order stuff at the last minute. I’ll have my sink and vent hood soon enough (and for now I’m just going to use my existing faucet), but the appliances won’t be able to come for another two weeks.

And another annoying thing: the installer’s contract includes the price of installing the appliances. Their cost is way higher than what the Home Depot installers would have cost. I was willing to pay more for that if it meant having everything be sequenced properly, but now I’m getting no advantage from that.

Spud thinks that since my job is so small that the contractors are just like, oh hey, we have some free time between bigger jobs, let’s just slot this in now. Which, you know, makes sense from their point of view, but it makes things really shitty for me.

I don’t even know when the cabinets are going to get installed. I was hoping that at the very least installation would happen immediately after demolition, but the contractor was just like… “oh yeah I guess I should find out when we can get the cabinets in” when I asked about the next step. Does he think I don’t want a working kitchen? Or that I don’t mind having my living and dining room be completely useless because the contents of my kitchen are taking up every bit of space?

I’m not even thrilled about having to do this in the first place, but so many things conspired to make this necessary, mostly the weird venting situation for the kitchen and the weird low ceilings that made the custom cabinets necessary.

I had to dig deep into my savings to pay for this; a lot deeper than I was expecting to, even. The total cost of this is going to have set my savings runway back by a good 9 months, bringing me that much closer to being worried about my rapidly-dwindling finances. So of course now I’m also scrambling to find a job again.

I know these are the first-worldiest of first-world problems but it’s still not a great situation for me to be in.

Anyway. Hopefully soon I’ll have a kitchen I can enjoy, and a source of income that helps me not worry about whether I made a gigantic mistake. For now I’m just using an induction hotplate (that I’ve had for a while) and the same toaster oven I’ve been using in lieu of a working oven for a while, and washing my dishes in the bathroom sink. Ugh.

Oh well. Two weeks and I’ll have a nice kitchen and it’s gonna be great.

(Oh and on the plus side, now that the old stove is gone I know how much work needs to be done by the electrician – and it’s not very much. Thank goodness for occasional small favors.)


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