Dad-again is… Mr. Mom (updated)

See the bottom of the post for the new humble-pie update!

I have a job that keeps me away from home and isolated in a large warehouse. Sometimes I get home and the kids are already asleep, and when I get up for work the next day, I get to see them sleeping and whisper a good-by. After another long day, it has been about 30 hours since I have seen my kids, and I haven’t even been away traveling on business! My days off are spent writing and playing with the kids. Note that house-work is not on my list. My work hours sightly improved while my wife was pregnant. When she got closer to having the baby I helped when I needed to, but I was not overly helpful.

The Baby Is HERE!

My wife went into labor last week and we now have a happy baby girl! I was able to take off work to help around the house. Actually, all that stuff I don’t normally do, I now have to do. In my head, it seemed like I was going to have plenty of time for all of that stuff, and have time to spare. I learned more than I thought in a short amount of time.

I Do Everything Wrong

I soon learned that I needed a method and a schedule to follow for all the chores. I didn’t know what all the chores actually were, so I did what I thought was necessary. I did it all “wrong” and not in the right order? Do not ask me to explain this, I don’t care if it was wrong, everything got clean and no one got hurt. Well, some of the dishes were not clean and I got yelled at for it, but if she ignore dishes, I can ignore dishes… right?

I am an Amazing Cook!

Cooking dinner was, and is, one of the more annoying tasks. I like cooking, I just don’t like cooking when I am tired and the kids are asking when it is going to be done. I found myself tossing crackers or carrots to the kids like birdseed to pigeons, to hold them at bay. When it was all ready, it was the best received dinner. “You cook good daddy,” and “Oh! This tastes great” and “Daddy! I DON’T WANT EGGS!!! WHY DID YOU GIVE ME EGGS!?!?” After everyone is done eating is the perfect time to clean up, not the next morning. I also learned how to clean as I go.

Bed Time and Getting up for School

I can bathe two kids in less than 20 minutes, my wife, about an hour. The whole sympathy factor is not available. Soap, scrub, rinse, dry–done! I must admit, they do not enjoy bath time as much, but they have their teeth brushed and are in bed on time. I rouse my oldest for school gently and make her walk and dress herself. I was told to carry and dress her because she was tired and sleepy in the morning. She now knows the routine and she won’t ask me to pick her up. She is more alert and I have to constantly remind her to not sing that Frozen song or she will wake her mother and new baby sister.

Would I do This Again?

Heck yah! I really don’t want to go back to work. I think I am doing a pretty decent job, and I have found some methods to become more efficient and organized. I have also noted some areas that need modification/ improvement, like the laundry room and the closets. I really like being home and really like my family.

The Humble-Pie Update

Well, I was going to try and wait a week before I posted this, but I couldn’t wait. I am here to say that I am not the bad ass I thought I was. It took me 2 days to realize that my wife was doing laundry behind my back. I was not able to keep up and my daughter still needed cloths for school.

At the end of the day I would miss my kids like I hadn’t seen them. This confused me, and my lovely wife said, “It is because you left them out of your day.” I had brought my fast paced work life home, and it did not include children. I observed my wife watching a movie, folding cloths, and talking to the children at the same time. I cannot do that.

I let the house get messy, and clean what the wife needs most of the time. I can’t do her job the way she can and don’t think I have the patients to do that anyway. By the end of the week I wanted to punch something, but I have never seen her lose patients.

A home makers job is hard. There is no pay. No one thanks you for your sacrifice. You tend the lives around you and nurture their growth. At the end of the day you are rewarded with exhaustion and kids coming into your bed with bad dreams. I am not man enough to do this job, so I will do what I can and support her.

The Real Difference In Guitar Power Tubes

Guitar amps that use tubes are still great, and even after all these years, digital modeling amps still emulate the character that these amps possess. After a while these tubes start to “lose” their sound and then it is time to replace them. There are many opinions on which tubes are best and have the greatest tone, but it is not really that complicated. There are three basic tube types (by purpose) that an amp has and I will go over each one, its alternatives, and its tonal benefits. This will go much faster than you would expect.

Preamp Tubes

The preamp tubes are the first tubes in the electrical signal path. These are the smallest tubes in the amp and are technically two conjoined tubes, a dual triode. Most common is the 12AX7, alternatives are the 12AU7, the 12AY7, and some other 12**7 tubes. They last longer than the power tubes so you won’t need replace these as often. Their differences can be explained best here.

For guitar and bass, I would stick with the 12AX7, it is easier to find since it comes standard on everything! You might think the alternatives would be a great candidate for a reverb channel or an effects loop, but no one would really notice a difference. If anything, you might have to convince yourself that it was worth the experiment.

Power Tubes

This is what most people look for. These are usually the first to fail and the subject of much argument. Common types are 6L6, EL34, 6V6, KT88, EL84, and KT66. The first two in the list are in 90% of all amps, and bass amps usually go for the KT types. All have pentode sockets, with the exception of the EL84. You should only get the type your amp needs, or you can damage your amp. For example, if you are replacing KT88 tubes with 6V6 tubes and don’t have the ability to adjust the voltage, you may melt something.

These tubes are very voltage dependent and their output differences are mistaken for tonal variation. Buying  matched sets is highly recommended if your amp has multiple sockets for power tubes. These tubes must be biased to work properly, that means they have to have their voltage “regulated” by a little knob so thy can be used to their full or desired potential. When the voltage is low, they are said to be “running cold”, and when the voltage is high, they are said to be “running hot.”

Rectifier Tubes

These tubes are the not something you want to do wrong. Replace these with the same type, or if you want to really experiment, check this site here for some basic info, and here for the hard data. If you are changing to some Webber Copper Caps, like I did, then use something comparable.

The rectifier tube can change the feel of your amp, but as I was told by an amp builder– once you crank the amp to make it loud, the whole “sag” thing kind of disappears because the voltage hitting the tube is so constant.

A Note on Brands and Different Manufacturers

You are going to see people say that JJ tubes are the best, and that Ruby Tubes have the best tone, some say that the NOS (New Old Stock) is the way to go. Before you dredge the forums and tear your hair out at Ampage looking for a solid answer to which tube brand sounds the best, ask yourself this question: which sounds better? A Sylvania light bulb or a Phillips light bulb?

Tubes are basically designed to do the same thing, so don’t expect one brand to eclipse the other in terms of tone and sound quality. They all are designing their tubes for the same voltage requirements, not tone. “But cathode bias is the best on a XYZ tube!” No. Unless you have a magic ear, you wont hear it. My friend swapped out all of his Sovtek tubes on his Laney VH100R with JJ tubes because he heard they had great tone. When he got them all in, it sounded terrible because it needed to be rebiased and he had a bad 12AX7. Once he had it all up an running, it sounded exactly the same! Let me end with this, tubes are designed for voltage, not tone.