Well, partly insulated, anyway. A contractor came out for about two hours yesterday and insulated the attic—placed batts around the blower for the upstairs AC and blew loose fiberglass everywhere else, and installed screened, louvered vents in both gables. Last night was the first time the upstairs AC cut off before 11 PM since it was installed.

Unbelievable, how much of a difference this has made. Even with the AC there was still the sense of oppressive heat overhead upstairs. But now it feels like the whole house is cooler.

Our first month’s electricity with the AC was $50 less than our monthly oil bill during the winter. I think, thanks to yesterday’s work, that month’s bill will stand as a high water mark.

Next week: the gas-fired high efficiency boiler, at last. I spent last Sunday building a platform against our basement mechanical room wall where it will be mounted. The basement walls slope inward by about five inches about three feet off the ground, and the plumbing contractors needed a straight shot out of the bottom of the boiler for the pipes. So I bolted 3/4″ plywood to the upper concrete wall with big-ass concrete anchors; screwed two-by-fours in a square frame around the outside of the frame; screwed another layer of two-by-fours with longer screws through the first layer into the plywood; and secured a final layer of 3/4″ plywood through the two-by-fours with big lag bolts. Final result sticks out from the bottom of the wall by about 1/4″ and isn’t going anywhere.

I am, though—catching a train to Lancaster, PA on Saturday for the family picnic, then flying from Philadelphia on Sunday to San Francisco for a conference for another few days. So I’ll miss the reveal of the boiler. Maybe, though, when I get back it will be working and the old oil burner will be gone. That would be something.

CD Project Days 1-2: So many

As I write this post, I’m ripping the last of my J. S. Bach discs. I am going more or less, on this project to digitize all my music, in the same order as my discs sit in their cabinet: classical first, then jazz, world, folk, Christmas, and blues, then rock, boxed sets and whatever else is left. I’m actually alternating blocks of classical and jazz so that the library isn’t too overwhelmingly classical for the next month or so.

As I go through the process, I have the opportunity to ask myself questions. Like: why do I have four Anonymous 4 discs? Isn’t one of them enough? In a sense, the answer is yes: they all sound the same if you aren’t listening too closely. Though if I hadn’t kept exploring the group, I wouldn’t have found their sublime Miracles of Sant’Iago, which granted is still four perfect female voices singing Renaissance music but which has much more distinctive material to work with.

But yeah, I have a lot of discs. Why? Sure, I love music, but so do my parents, and they just listen to the radio. Why do I—did I, I guess—buy so many? I read a post recently that talks about the “acquisitive nature of men.” Maybe that’s it, or maybe that’s just a convenient shorthand.

I’ve also had an opportunity to gripe, yet again, about the metadata for classical discs in the Gracenote CDDB. While most jazz data is getting pretty good—even starting to include accurate composer and recording date info, if not lists of performers—I’ve found classical discs that put the name of the composer in the title track, or the piece name in the title track and the movement in the artist.

My preferred order is to use the Grouping field for the work title, as it’s done on the iTunes Music Store, then movement in the track title, performer in the artist line, composer in the composer line (gee, what a concept). Recording date goes in the Year field. I would love to have more dates to play with, but for right now working by composer gets me where I need to go there. To display the information, I made a smart playlist, which simply chooses all music with a genre of Classical, and customized the displayed columns for the playlist so that the order is Grouping, Title, Time, Composer, Artist.

Stats at the end of ripping the last disc of the Furtwängler recording of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion: 9134 songs; 26 days, 5 hours, 24 seconds total time; 46.10 gigabytes. Of these, the cds ripped for the project constitute: 349 songs; 21 hours, 26 minutes, 27 seconds time; 5.81 GB. The whole library numbers include my existing library, and will probably grow dramatically until I get into the rock area, where I’ve already digitized much of the music albeit at a lower bandrate.